Human Beings and Automatons

Säätelä, Simo (2002) Human Beings and Automatons. In: UNSPECIFIED Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, pp. 214-215.

[thumbnail of saeaetelae.pdf] PDF

Download (65kB)


J.S. Mill has formulated a classical statement of the
"argument from analogy� concerning knowledge of other
minds: "I must either believe them [other human beings] to
be alive, or to be automatons� (Mill 1872, 244). It is possible
that Wittgenstein had this in mind when writing the following:
"I believe he is suffering.�—Do I also believe that
he isn"t an automaton?
It would go against the grain to use the word in both
connexions. (Or is it like this: I believe he is suffering,
but am certain the he is not an automaton?
Suppose I say of a friend: "He isn"t an
automaton�.—What information is conveyed by this,
and to whom would it be information? To a human
being who meets him in ordinary circumstances? What
information could it give him? (At the very most that
this man always behaves like a human being, and not
occasionally like a machine.)
"I believe he is not an automaton�, just like that, so
far makes no sense.
My attitude towards him is an attitude towards a
soul [eine Einstellung zur Seele]. I am not of the
opinion that he has a soul. (PI p. 178)
Here Wittgenstein contrasts opinion (Meinung) and
attitude (Einstellung). How should this contrast be
understood? On a view such as Mill"s, to regard someone as
a conscious being is to hold certain beliefs about him, beliefs
that can perhaps ultimately be grounded in a theory of some
sort. To have an "attitude towards a soul� is, on the contrary,
to see a person"s gestures and facial expressions as "filled
with meaning�. We have an attitude towards a soul when
confronted with a person, which means that we react to his
presence and behaviour in a certain way.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Human beings or Automatons; Opinion; Attitude; Mill, J.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 14:26
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2020 14:26

Actions (login required)

View Item
View Item