First-Person Knowledge: Wittgenstein, Cavell, and "Therapy"

Meyer, Thomas (2002) First-Person Knowledge: Wittgenstein, Cavell, and "Therapy". In: UNSPECIFIED Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, pp. 159-161.

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The recent publication of The New Wittgenstein
signals the arrival of a distinctive "therapeutic" reading of
Ludwig Wittgenstein"s philosophical enterprise. As
announced in its Preface, this collection presents the
"nonsense" of philosophy as the subject of Wittgenstein"s
therapeutic work. The simple, plain nonsense of many
philosophical remarks is revealed under the scrutiny of
Wittgenstein"s investigations, according to this
interpretation, leading us to see that such remarks "fail to
make any claim at all" (Crary 6). This view of
Wittgenstein"s use of "nonsense" as a term of criticism
begins with the work of Stanley Cavell, on this account,
and has extended more recently to work on a wide area of
Wittgenstein"s concerns, elevating "nonsense" to a central
position in his philosophy. This paper argues that, in at
least one case of Wittgenstein"s talk of nonsense, this
"therapeutic reading" (Crary 7) oversimplifies the subtlety
of Wittgenstein"s writing. Indeed, one of the most
prominent cases of "nonsense" in the later Wittgenstein
concerns the remark "I know I am in pain". Though
Wittgenstein repeatedly treats this remark as nonsense,
this treatment is not final in his philosophy of psychology.
Rather, though his rich discussion in the later manuscripts
of the indeterminacy of psychological judgments, the
relation of these judgments to knowledge, and the role of
first-person psychological descriptions, Wittgenstein is able
to find what sense a remark such as "I know I am in pain"
might perhaps have. "I know I am in pain" may be called
nonsense, but this is not the last word on the matter in
Wittgenstein"s text: as Cavell says, ""it makes no sense to
say these things" (in the way we think it does)" (Cavell 70).
Wittgenstein is able to find what sense our remarks of first
person psychological knowledge might have, contrary to
what the therapeutic reading in The New Wittgenstein
would have us suppose. Therefore, at least in one case,
the therapeutic reading of Wittgenstein goes wrong.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Nonsense; Therapeutic reading; Cavell, S; Wittgenstein, l.
Subjects: Philosophie > Philosophische Disziplinen > Bewußtseinsphilosophie, Philosophie des Geistes und der Psychologie
Philosophie > Philosophische Journale, Kongresse, Vereinigungen > Wittgenstein Symposium Kirchberg, Pre-Proceedings > Kirchberg 2002
Depositing User: Wolfgang Heuer
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2020 14:23
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2020 14:23

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