The aim of this chapter is to explore Wittgenstein’s suggestive remarks about self-knowledge—that is, our knowledge of our own mental states—and their connection with naturalism. As is well known, Wittgenstein was critical of naturalizing the epistemology of mind in behaviourist or in more physicalist-oriented terms. Yet, he placed great emphasis on the role of instinctive and natural manifestations of our own mental states. These natural manifestations were necessary, in his opinion, to acquire the relevant psychological concepts and thereby get in a position to give new expression to our mental states through language. Furthermore, he thought that these verbal manifestations would become “second nature” to us. So much so, that just as it would not make sense to regard a spontaneous cry out of fear as based on having that emotion in view and on giving expression to it through the cry, he thought that at least some of our psychological “avowals” should not be considered as judgements based on, and justified by having the relevant mental states in view. Rather, he thought they should be seen as immediate and spontaneous, though culturally ingrained, expressions of the mental states that elicited them. A fortiori, in his view, psychological avowals properly so regarded should not be considered as the result of inference to the best explanation starting from the observation of one’s overt behaviour. Wittgenstein put his own variety of naturalism at the service of dissolving—rather than solving—the very problem of self-knowledge. Thus, Wittgenstein is rightly considered the father of both contemporary expressivism and of constitutivism regarding psychological avowals. In particular, his remarks can be seen at the origin of the idea—central to contemporary expressivism—that the main function of (at least some of) our psychological avowals is expressive rather than descriptive. Contemporary expressivists, however, have also tried to move away from Wittgenstein’s anti-epistemological outlook. Contemporary constitutivists, by contrast, are united in rejecting the idea that, at least in some central cases, our psychological self-ascriptions are underwritten by an appropriate epistemic relation linking the subject and her first-order mental states, such that the former can actually be taken to manifest true and appropriately justified beliefs about one’s own mental states. Constitutivists, however, are critical of the idea that the relevant self-ascriptions serve merely an expressive function and that they replace forms of more instinctive behaviour. Wittgenstein was well aware of the limitations of his own expressivist position. He was very careful—indeed much more careful than several contemporary expressivist theorists—not to over-generalize the expressivist treatment. For he was very mindful of the fact that exactly the same twists of phrase could sometimes be used to express judgments about our own first-order mental states and that, in those cases, they would manifest a subject’s own beliefs regarding her first-order mental states, reached through a variety of epistemic methods, all open to error, at least in principle. Hence, just as much as he can rightly be seen as the ancestor of contemporary expressivism and constitutivism with respect to self-knowledge, he should actually be seen as the father of contemporary pluralism regarding self-knowledge as well.
|Data di pubblicazione:||2018|
|Titolo:||Wittgenstein, self-knowledge and nature|
|Titolo del libro:||Wittgenstein and Naturalism|
|A cura di:||Cahill, Kevin; Raleigh, Thomas|
|Nazione editore:||REGNO UNITO DI GRAN BRETAGNA|
|Citazione:||Wittgenstein, self-knowledge and nature / Coliva, A.. - (2018), pp. 96-118.|
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