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private ostensive definition

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


P hilosophy of language In a private ostensive definition, I concentrate my attention on a particular sensation that can be named only by myself privately rather than in terms of a public language. I associate the sensation with a sign , for example the sign “S.” I alone can know the meaning of this private sign, and another person can not understand it. For this to be the case, a private ostensive definition requires that there be a private object that only I can recognize. This view is rejected, along with the possibility of a private language , by Wittgenstein in Philosophical Investigations I, 243–311. If a private object exists as the object of a private ostensive definition, there must be private thought , expressible only in terms of a private language. However, a private language is impossible. Any means of communication must involve criteria of meaning available to others. It is true that sensations have an aspect of subjectivity , but their subjectivity is not of the radical sort that would support a private language and private ostensive definitions. “You keep on steering towards the idea of the private ostensive definition.” Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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