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Thought's Social Nature



Abstract: Wittgenstein, throughout his career, was deeply Fregean. Frege thought of thought as essentially social, in this sense: whatever I can think is what others could think, deny, debate, investigate. Such, for him, was one central part of judgement's objectivity. Another was that truths are discovered, not invented: what is true is so, whether recognised as such or not. (Later) Wittgenstein developed Frege's idea of thought as social compatibly with that second part. In this he exploits some further Fregean ideas: of a certain generality intrinsic to a thought; of lack of that generality in that which a thought represents as instancing some such generality. (I refer to this below as the ‘conceptual-nonconceptual’ distinction.) Seeing Wittgenstein as thus building on Frege helps clarify (inter alia) his worries, in the Blue Book, and the Investigations, about meaning, intending, and understanding, and the point of the rule following discussion.