Monday, October 30, 2006

Well stone me witless!

‘The first issue for Wittgenstein in dealing with sensations was the issue of possession. "How do we know who owns particular sensations? This is also Edelman’s first move "only through direct possession by an individual of the appropriate morphology and experience do qualia [sensations that something is conscious of?] arise.
I do not, Wittgenstein points out, either possess or require behavioural or other criterial evidence to justify my utterance of first person, present tense psychological statements such as 'I have toothache', which involve the use of 'I' as subject.
It is a mistake to assume from this that 'I' used as subject refers to an immaterial ego or self seated in my body - on the contrary, Wittgenstein argues, the truth is that 'I' in its subject use is not a referring expression at all - it does not function as the name of anything.
Wittgenstein realised that if we examine carefully what we think we are refering to, when we refer to ourselves, ultimately we cannot find anything. The individual self is illusory.


Art Neuro said...

I would disagree that Wittgenstein made these claims as ontology or mepahysics, but rather epistemology.

I think he was heavily concerned with the placement of experiences as phenomena in their own right, and tried to strip away psychological arguments of perception as evidences for knowledge.

The metaphysical reading of Wittgenstein IS interesting but fails to actually bring about any new insight beyond the possibility of metaphysics itself.
i.e. no new info/knowledge.
So I tend to think it's actually a dead end in terms of thinking.

The more fruitful reading of Wittgenstein is to see him grappling with what can be known or understood to be known given the indefinite-ness of the 'I'. Thus in one sense, he's backing away from the 'cogito ergo sum' into the void of greater *unknowing* - the greater epistemic doubt - because he's unsure of the subject I as having a status with respect to experience.

Just my 2cents.

jeronimus said...

Precisely correct Art.
To believe in an owner of mind
is to step into the realm of

Art Neuro said...

But that's not the point.
W isn't interested in metaphssyics as Cornish presents it. He's interested in epistemology.
So the ownerless mind is an abstraction in order to come at an understanding of the function of *pain* and its relationship to what we call an awareness.
It's not an argument in favour of the individual being illusory in the same sense that say, Buddhists argue this case. In the instance of Buddhists, they DO argue it as metaphysics.

jeronimus said...

That's right. The biogs of W. I have read agree that he was not much interested in metaphysics -(he saw it for the dead end it is).