A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF WITTGENSTEIN’S APPRAISAL OF THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM

A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF WITTGENSTEIN’S APPRAISAL OF THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM

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ABSTRACT

This work is a critical examination of Wittgenstein’s views on the mind-body problem. It is done by tracing the evolution of the theory of mind, the mind-body problem, and Wittgenstein’s critique of the notion of the mind. With this submission, the objective of this work is to provide the basis on how psychological concepts can be analyzed to avoid misunderstanding of language used within a particular social context. Wittgenstein’s views on the nature of philosophy and the relationship between philosophy and psychology make it possible to understand and as this thesis argues – see beyond – the conceptual confusion that has since arisen out of philosophic tradition that perpetuates a ‘myth of the mind’. Different schools of thought such as idealism have attempted to solve the ‘riddle’ of the mind and to address the so-called ‘mind-body problem’. Wittgenstein shows that such thinking is particularly muddled up. By critical examination of Wittgenstein’s approach to the mind-body problem, it is argued here that theories based on the tradition of the ‘myth of the mind’ are inherently flawed. Wittgenstein uses his methods, consisting of his notions of ‘grammar’, ‘language games’ and the re-arrangement of concepts, to extrapolate meaning and to see through the conceptual confusions that the use of language causes and that gives rise to the mind-body problem. From this perspective, his notion is quite successful; he makes the problem go away. However, due to the pervasiveness of the Cartesian model, the problem is likely to persist in discourse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page        -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           i

Declaration      -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           ii

Certification    -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           iii

Acknowledgements    -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           iv

Abstract                       -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           v

Table of Contents       -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           vi

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION.

1.1  Background of the Study  -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           1

1.2  Statement of the Problem  -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           1

1.3  Objectives of the Study    -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           2

1.4  Significance of the Study -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           2

1.5  Justification of the Study  -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           3

1.6  Methods of the Study       -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           3

1.7  Scope of the Study           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           3

1.8  Clarifications of Key Terms          -           -           -           -           -           -           -           3

1.9 Organization of the Study -           -           -           -           -           -           -           4


 

CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE.   -           -           -           6

CHAPTER THREE:  WITTGENSTEIN’S APPRAISAL OF MIND-BODY PROBLEM.

 

 

3. 1 A Brief Profile of Ludwig Wittgenstein        -           -           -           -           -           17

3.2 Wittgenstein’s Early Philosophy: The Tractatus        -           -           -           -           18

3.3 Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy: Philosophical Investigations         -           -           19

3.3.1 Language Games     -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           20

3.4 Propositions, Words and Concepts.    -           -           -           -           -           -           21

3.5 Thinking and Language          -           -           -           -           -           -           -           26

3.6 Private Language Argument.  -           -           -           -           -           -           -           28

      3.6.1 The meaning of to mean (for signs and symbols)    -           -           -           -           30

3.6.2 The Inner and Outer            -           -           -           -           -           -           -           32

3.7 Wittgenstein’s Appraisal of the Mind-Body Problem            -           -           -           34

CHAPTER FOUR: EVALUATION AND CONCLUSION

4.1 Evaluation of Wittgenstein’s Appraisal of the

Mind-Body Problem   -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           38

4.2 Conclusion.           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           45

WORKS CITED       -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           47



CHAPTER ONE

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 1.1      Background of the Study

The primacy of language in our daily discourse cannot be overemphasized. This is because it has become a medium through which members of a particular speech culture expresses their ideas, emotions and generally interacts with one another. It is against this background that the researcher takes a critical examination of Wittgenstein’s appraisal of the mind-body problem in which he claims that the apparently difficult ontological question of mind implies a misunderstanding of the use of language (grammar) used within a particular social context.

1.2       Statement of the Research Problem

A serious problem that arises from the mind-body problem debate which dated back from the classical era (Plato etc) down to the modern era (Immanuel Kant etc) is ‘are the mind and body two separate entities? If they are distinct, then how do they interact? And which of the two is in charge?’  In trying to give answers to questions on the mind body problem, Wittgenstein in his appraisal of the mind-body problem brought about even greater problems. Wittgenstein belongs to the two schools of thought (Analytic and Linguistic) which also include G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, A. J. Ayer, Rudolph Carnap, Gilbert Ryle and many others. Common to this tradition is to clarify the meanings and usages of language, for this reason it will no longer be the task of the philosopher to investigate the nature of reality, to build complete systems that seek to explain the universe, or to fashion moral, political, and religious philosophies of behavior. It was to avoid these metaphysical problems that Wittgenstein identifies language with the mind-body problem. The problem this work intends to solve therefore is the problem of Wittgenstein’s extreme analytical views as regarded thinking and language.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this research are to:

        i.            Examine the notion of the mind-body problem from different standpoints beginning from the classical era;

      ii.            Examine Wittgenstein’s analytical approach to the mind-body problem;

    iii.            Critically examine Wittgenstein’s approach to the mind body problem;

    iv.            Argue in line with Wittgenstein’s view that the use of language causes conceptual confusion which gives rise to the mind-body problem.

      v.             To provide the basis on how psychological concepts can be analyzed to avoid language problem.

 1.4      Significance of the Study

This work is significant in that it deals with mind-body problem that has been there since antiquity and traces it down to Wittgenstein. It is also significant in the sense that the issue of meaning coming from a community of language users, and the need to act in coherence with other people, would have important implications for promoting an understanding of the cultures of others. Furthermore, to the extent that it is an addition to the literature on mind-body problem, the work is significant.


1.5       Justification of the Study

This work is justified in the sense that, it is a detailed exposition of Wittgenstein’s appraisal of mind-body problem as it concerns the way it is understood in philosophical psychology. It is further justified as it evaluates Wittgenstein’s approach to the mind-body problem; stating it implications in our everyday life as language users within a particular social context.  

1.6       Methods of the Study

This work is basically a library based research in which works were sourced from books, journals, articles, periodicals and the internet. It employs the philosophical method of conceptual clarification of terms to start with; it then goes into exposition, and then to critical examination. It employs the method of clarification of terms in explicating the sense in which concepts are used in this study. It is expository in the sense that it presents as much as possible Wittgenstein’s appraisal of the mind-body problem. It is critical as it ascertains the worth of Wittgenstein’s appraisal to the mind-body problem by exposing it strengths and weaknesses.

 1.7      Scope of the Study

The scope of this work is limited to philosophical psychology; particularly Wittgenstein’s approach to the mind-body problem. It may bring in some epistemological postulates where necessary. However, it does not study all the issues in philosophical psychology; rather this work is centered on a critical examination of Wittgenstein’s appraisal of the mind-body problem.

1.8       Clarification of Key Terms

i.       Body: The organized physical substance or structure, including the bones, flesh and organs of an animal either living or dead.

ii.      Mind: Mind is defined as the part of the human person in charge of the ability to think, reason, feel and remember things. It is the part of a person that has the ability for rational thought, desire, intention and consciousness..

iii.       Philosophical Psychology: The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy definesPhilosophical psychology as the sub-branch of philosophy of mind which “investigates folk psychology, a body of commonsensical, protoscientific views about mental phenomena. Such investigations attempt to articulate and refine views found in folk psychology about conceptualization, memory, perception, sensation, consciousness, belief, desire, intention, reasoning, action, and so on” (684).

1.9    Organization of the Study

i.            Chapter 1: This is the introductory chapter of the work.

ii.            Chapter 2: The aim of this chapter is to attempt a review of different views on the mind-body problem. This chapter examines the differences and similarities inherent in these views. To achieve these objectives therefore, this research made use of textbooks, journals and other materials that have relevant bearing on the subject matter of this research.

iii.            Chapter 3: In chapter three, we begin by giving a brief profile of Ludwig Wittgenstein so as to understand where his philosophical ideas emanate from. The focus is mainly on his later works, while keeping in mind that the Tractatus gives an important insight into the context within in which his later work developed. This chapter discusses Wittgenstein’s considerations of his method as a therapy to assist in clearing the conceptual confusion that has beset philosophers for over two thousand years, his notion of language meaning evolving out of everyday use; his consideration of language being a form of life and implementation of is method, which attacks the notion of private language that lies at the heart of the dualist notions. Wittgenstein shows that there is no such thing as private language. Aligned with the notion that there is no such thing as private language are his notions concerning the concept of an ‘inner’. He elucidates how these notions have come through the use of grammar. The use of grammar sets the rules of the language used by a community of language users to determine the meaning of words. For Wittgenstein, grammar is determined by the way in which language is used, and this usage may be considered as a form of language game. It sets the parameters for the way in which words are used. Wittgenstein attempted to conduct a perspicuous overview or survey of words and concepts that are used particularly in psychology. Wittgenstein’s conception of psychology rejects the conceptual basis on which the mind-body problem was founded and which turns it into an unnecessary problem, or a solution in search of a problem. His concerns about psychological concepts deal with the inherent conceptual confusions that reside in it. Wittgenstein attempted to solve the mind-body problem by rejecting the notion of it outright, noting that it is an unnecessary construct that has come about through a conceptual confusion. From this perspective, his notion is quite successful; he makes the problem go away. However, due to the pervasiveness of the Cartesian model, the problem is likely to persist in discourse.

iv.            Chapter 4: This is the last chapter of this work which is the evaluation and conclusion; the evaluation is a critique of the attempts to resolve the mind-body problem from a Wittgenstenian perspective – reflecting the pros and cons of this research and the researcher's contribution to knowledge. The conclusion also gives a brief summary of this work.


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