Wittgenstein's 'private language' argument
The following consists of comments upon selected passages from
Wittgenstein's 'Philosophical Investigations' relevant to the 'private
For the benefit of those who do not possess a copy of the
Investigations I have quoted in full the sections I am
The original text is shown in red.
I have only been able to deal with a fraction of the relevant material
but there should be enough to serve as a basis for discussion.
Wittgenstein numbers his paragraphs, and so have I.
The following tables indicate the topics of each of the paragraphs.
|243||... could we also imagine a language in which a person could write down or give expression to his inner experiences ... for his private use? ...|
|244||How do words refer to sensations? ...|
|245||For how can I ... try to use language to get between pain and its expression?|
|246|| In what sense are my sensations private? ...|
|256||Now what about the language which describes my inner experiences and which only I myself can
|257||"What would it be like if human beings showed no outward signs of pain... ? ...|
|258|| I want to keep a diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation. ...|
|259||Are the rules of the private language impressions of rules?|
|260||"Well, I believe that this is the sensation S again." ...|
|261||What reason have we for calling "S" the sign for a sensation? ...|
|262||... you must inwardly undertake to use the word in such-and-such a way ...|
|263||... A queer question.|
|264||"Once you know what the word stands for, you understand it, you know its whole use."||
|DB3||243, a language private in the sense of
being capable of referring to private objects (or what have you's), need not also be private in the sense of being
understood by only one person|
244, 245, 246
|DB5||246, making sense.|
|DB7||258, 259, 260|
|DB8||261, 262, 263, 264|
written c1975 edited into HTML 1996/6/23 last edited 1997/2/22