I think therefore... fuck.
December 15, 2010 11:25 AM Subscribe
Is there a name for the sort of radical skepticism that results from accepting Kripke's interpretation of Wittgenstein but rejecting his solution to the rule-following paradox?
posted by 256 to Religion & Philosophy (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
It's been a long time since I read most of the source material, so bear with me (and please correct me) if I get most of this wrong.
Wittgenstein, in Philosophical Investigations, put forth quite convincingly that it was impossible for any private language (an internal set of object-meaning pairs known only to one person) to actually exist and name something meaningful. In other words, not only do I not know that what I mean by "red" is the same as what you mean by "red," but I can't even be sure that what I mean by "red" is the same as what I mean by "red" and thus any meaning that "red" might hold is lost).
Kripke came along and said that this argument of Wittgenstein's can actually be applied to destroy not just private meaning but all meaning (not only is "red" meaningless, but also "the world" and "addition"). There is no way, says Kripke, to build any correspondence between words, beliefs or propositions and any real facts, truths or states of affairs.
Kripke then rides in and saves the day by saying that all is not lost. Just because our words and beliefs can have no truth-value pertaining to any actual state of affairs, they can still have truth value relative to a shared community agreement regarding some real or imagined the state of affairs.
Thus the crux of Kripke's argument (regarding Wittgenstein and Meaning) is:
1. No word or belief (not even ones like "I think therefore I am") can be shown to correspond to an actual state of affairs.
2. It doesn't matter because the world that we agree to pretend exists functions just as well as would the real thing, leaving us with a new flavour of Epistemic Relativism.
But here's the thing. I know that some other philosophers have come around and basically said that, even if we accept 1, there's no real basis for 2. One angle of attack is simply that 1 quite effectively destroys any theory of other minds. It seems to me though that most critics have been attacking 2 as a minor detour on the way to also rejecting 1.
Are there any major philosophers who have rejected 2 but accepted 1 thus leaving us with a new flavour of radical skepticism?