A Meeting of the Conceptual and the Natural: Wittgenstein on Learning a Sensation-Language
Article first published online: 2 JUN 2014
© 2014 Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, LLC
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
How to Cite
Tang, H. (2014), A Meeting of the Conceptual and the Natural: Wittgenstein on Learning a Sensation-Language. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. doi: 10.1111/phpr.12118
- Article first published online: 2 JUN 2014
Since the rise of modern natural science there has been deep tension between the conceptual and the natural. Wittgenstein's discussion of how we learn a sensation-language contains important resources that can help us relieve this tension. The key here, I propose, is to focus our attention on animal nature, conceived as partially re-enchanted (in the sense recommended by John McDowell). To see how nature, so conceived, helps us relieve the tension in question, it is crucial to gain a firm and detailed appreciation of how the primitive-instinctive, a central part of animal nature, actually serves the conceptual. I offer such an appreciation by closely examining §244 of the Philosophical Investigations and Peter Winch's discussion of it. The general aim is to bring out a certain kind of Wittgensteinian “naturalism” (not as a theory but as a general reminder), a “naturalism” that is fully alive to the rootedness of conceptuality in nature. A concomitant aim is to illustrate the truth of Wittgenstein's saying that in philosophy one often has to pay close attention to details.