Interpreting Wittgenstein: mind as action, mind in action

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This paper considers recent debates in the study of language use concerning underpinning philosophical commitments and interpretations of Wittgenstein’s private language argument and the issue of mental states. In one interpretation people may both explicitly and implicitly communicate with one another on the proposed and oriented-to basis that their words are expressing inner thought and feelings. This view is posited by those who favour an approach to the study of language use known as discursive psychology. However, despite adopting a philosophical commitment to Wittgenstein’s notion of language games, this approach nonetheless also imports a conversation analytic concern with the action orientation of language as a methodological foundation. In contrast to this, another interpretation argues in favour of a conceptual analysis of the use of mental terms without imputing any psychological construal of those words. This approach, known as logico-grammatical analysis, argues that intelligibility of these words derives from the ability to use and react to language in a criterial fashion and that the analytic focus should be on understanding how words are used in publicly ratifiable ways. The paper considers the tension between these positions in terms of their respective application of Wittgenstein’s philosophical arguments as a means of supporting different analytic approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
JournalThe International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2014

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