Saturday, February 16, 2019

Therapy for Philosophers

"The treatment of a question is like the treatment of an illness"                                                                               --Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations  §255
It was one of Wittgenstein's aims to make philosophical inquiry into a therapy and, through an examination of language, purge philosophy of those questions which were based upon illusory concepts, i.e. concepts which were parented by a misapprehension of grammar rather than the facts of nature. 

Therapy for Philosophers

Wittgenstein's technique of philosophical clarification is therapeutic in that it involves a rearrangement of familiar and unfamiliar contexts for the use of expressions that will make the grammar of the relevant expressions surveyable (PI §92, §225). Let's  begin.

Decide which of the following propositions provides the most accurate description of reality:

a) My mind is hungry for a big lunch.
b) My brain is hungry for a big lunch.
c) My body--my stomach--is hungry for a big lunch.
d) I am hungry for a big lunch.

The correct answer is d. The other statements are nonsense. Minds do not exist; brains are only to be found in medical textbooks, or on the tables of surgeons and gourmands; and bodies are only to be found at the morgue, at the beach, in the pages of muscle magazines, or in Newton's descriptions of objects possessing mass.

It is not an easy thing to give up one's mind. If this concept is still difficult, you need more therapy. Consider the following propositions:

a) My mind is thinking about Plato.
b) My brain is thinking about Plato.
c) I am thinking about Plato.
d) You would do well to keep Plato in mind for the exam.
e) An Idea just crossed my mind.
f) The idea went in my right ear and out my left, crossing my mind along the way.
g) Some bees dance.
h) Some bees exist.
i) The dinosaurs no longer exist.
j) On my day off I am going to sit in the park and exist.

Propositions c, d, e, g and i are valid. The rest are nonsense. They exhibit conceptual confusion rooted in the misapprehension of language.

Gregory Peck receives therapy in Hitchcock's Spellbound

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