Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language: Preface
Kripke (Saul)
Source: Kripke - Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, 1982
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  1. The main part of this work has been delivered at various places as lectures, series of lectures, or seminars. It constitutes, as I say, ‘an elementary exposition' of what I take to be the central thread of Wittgenstein1's later work on the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mathematics, including my interpretation of the 'private language argument', which on my view is principally to be explicated in terms of the problem of ‘following a rule'. A postscript presents another problem Wittgenstein2 saw in the conception of private language, which leads to a discussion of some aspects of his views on the problem other minds. Since I stress the strong connection in Wittgenstein3's later philosophy between the philosophy of psychology and the philosophy of mathematics, I had hoped to add a second postscript on the philosophy of mathematics. Time has not permitted this, so for the moment the basic remarks on philosophy of mathematics in the main text must suffice.
  2. The present work is hardly a commentary on Wittgenstein4's later philosophy, nor even on Philosophical Investigations. Many well-known and significant topics - for example, the idea of 'family resemblances', the concept of 'certainty' - are hardly mentioned. More important, in the philosophy of mind itself a wealth of material, such as Wittgenstein5's views on intention, memory, dreaming, and the like, are barely glanced at. It is my hope that much of this material becomes fairly clear from an understanding of Wittgenstein6's view of the central topic.
  3. Many of Wittgenstein7's views on the nature of sensations and sensation language are either only glanced at or are omitted altogether; and, as is stressed in the text, I adopted the deliberate policy of avoiding discussion of those sections following §243 of the Investigations that are ordinarily called the ‘private language argument'. I think that many of these sections - for example, §§258ff. - become much clearer when they are read in the light of the main argument of the present work; but probably some of the exegetical puzzles in some of these sections (e.g. §265) are not devoid of residue. The interest of these sections is real, but in my view their importance should not be overstressed, since they represent special cases of a more general argument. Usually I presented this work to sophisticated philosophers, but it is my hope that introductory classes in Wittgenstein8 could use it in conjunction with other material. In classes it would be helpful especially for the instructor to try out the Wittgensteinian9 paradox on the group, and to see what solutions are proposed. Here primarily I mean responses to the paradox that we follow the rule as we do without reason or justification, rather than the philosophical theories (dispositions, qualitative states, etc.), discussed later in the same chapter. It is important for the student to feel the problem intuitively. I recommend the same initial emphasis to readers who propose to study the present work on their own. I also recommend that the student (re)read the Investigations in the light of the structuring of the argument proposed in this work. Such a procedure is of special importance here, since largely my method is to present the argument as it struck me, as it presented a problem for me, rather than to concentrate on the exegesis of specific passages.
  4. Since I first encountered the 'private language argument' and the later Wittgenstein10 generally, and since I came to think about it in the way expounded here (1962-3), his work on rules has occupied a more central position in discussions of Wittgenstein11's later work. (It had been discussed to some extent all along.) Some of this discussion, especially that appearing after I gave my London, Ontario lecture, can be presumed to have been influenced by the present exposition, but some of it, in and out of print, can be presumed to be independent. I have not tried to cite similar material in the literature, partly because if I made the attempt, I would be certain to slight some published work and even more, some unpublished work. I have become satisfied, for reasons mentioned below in the text and footnotes, that publication still is not superfluous.
  5. It deserves emphasis that I do not in this piece of writing attempt to speak for myself, or, except in occasional and minor asides, to say anything about my own views on the substantive issues. The primary purpose of this work is the presentation of a problem and an argument, not its critical evaluation. Primarily I can be read, except in a few obvious asides, as almost like an attorney presenting a major philosophical argument as it struck me. If the work has a main thesis of its own, it is that Wittgenstein12's sceptical problem and argument are important, deserving of serious consideration. Various people, including at least Rogers Albritton, G. E. M. Anscombe, Irving Block, Michael Dummett, Margaret Gilbert, Barbara Humphries, Thomas Nagel, Robert Nozick, Michael Slote, and Barry Stroud, influenced this essay. In addition to the Wittgenstein Conference in London, Ontario, 1976, I gave various versions of this material as Howison Lectures, the University of California, Berkeley, 1977; as a series of lectures in a special colloquium held in Banff, Alberta, 1977; and at a Wittgenstein Conference held at Trinity College, Cambridge, England, 1978. Versions were also given in seminars at Princeton University, the first being in the Spring Term of 1964-5. Only in these Princeton seminars did I have time to include the material in the postscript, so that it has had less benefit of discussion and reaction from others than the rest. …
  6. An earlier version of the work appeared as "Kripke (Saul) - Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language", 1981. …

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