Department of Philosophy
Graduate Research Seminar

Wittgenstein on the Other Minds Problem

This is a regular seminar in which graduate researchers (MA and PhD) will present their work. This week Jasmin Trächtler (PhD) presents her work. All are welcome.

Wittgenstein med et sitat om hans syn på ords mening som ordets bruk i språket.


In Philosophy of Mind, the topic of “Other Minds” is connected with precarious problems, insofar as it seems not only uncertain how we know what another person is thinking and feeling, but also how we know that she is thinking and feeling – that is, she is an animated being and not simply an automaton. Wittgenstein does not aim at developing a "theory of mind" to address these problems. His approach is one of  describing the use of psychological concepts in our everyday language-games (e.g. “thinking”, “feeling”, “hoping”, etc.) in order to elucidate and disentangle the confused and metaphysical misinterpretations of the so-called "problem  of other minds" offered by philosophers. In the course of these grammatical investigations, Wittgenstein approaches the Other Minds Problem as an issue about the evidence for our statements regarding the other’s sensing and experiencing. He describes this evidence as “imponderable” and characterises our statement’s ground as wavering from almost mathematical certainty in some cases to deep doubts in others. The task of my theses can be framed thus: What is the nature of our psychological statements about the other, if “the most important part is imponderable?”