On Wittgenstein's Notion of Meaning-Blindness: Its Subjective, Objective and Aesthetic Aspects


Department of Philosophy
National Taiwan University
1 Roosevelt Road, Section 4
Taipei 10617


Das Aussprechen eines Wortes ist gleichsam ein Anschlagen einer Taste auf dem Vorstellungsklavier. (Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.) (PU §6)

Polonius: What do you read, my lord?

Hamlet: Words, words, words!

(Hamlet, act 2, scene 2)

Wittgenstein in his later years thought about experiences of meaning and aspect change. Do such experiences matter? Or would a meaning- or aspect-blind person not lose much? Moreover, is this a matter of aesthetics or epistemology? To get a better perspective on these matters, I will introduce distinctions between certain subjective and objective aspects, namely feelings of our inner psychological states versus fine-tuned objective experiences of the outer world. It seems to me that in his discussion of meaning-blindness, Wittgenstein unhappily floats between these two extremes, the subjective and the objective. I will also introduce some notions from Kant's aesthetics, to get a better understanding of the interplay between feeling and meaning. This will shed some new light on Wittgenstein's enquiry into meaning- and aspect-blindness.