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Ludwig Wittgenstein, Logical Behaviorism and the Meaning of Sensation-Language

A Thesis
Presented to
The Division of Philosophy, Religion, Psychology, and Linguistics
Reed College

In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Bachelor of Arts

Reed S. Arroyo
December 2013

Approved for the Division

Mark Hinchliff

First of all, I must thank Mark Hinchliff for providing constant help throughout
which strengthened my thesis. I would like to thank Ricardo and Dree for supporting me
and showing me the love that has inspired my passion for learning and intellectual
culture. Also, I would like to thank Professor Robert Paul for introducing me to the
writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Trig Johnson for providing enlightening
conversations. And finally, I am indebted to my girlfriend Serena for providing moral
support and all-around encouragement.

Table of Contents
Introduction: The Meaning of What We Say ................................................................. 7
Chapter 1: BehaviorismSpecifically, of the Logical Variety ................................... 11
Logical Behaviorism ..................................................................................................... 15
The Verificationist Backbone of Logical Behaviorism ................................................ 19
Some Objections ........................................................................................................... 23
Chapter 1 Conclusion .................................................................................................... 24
Chapter 2: Wittgenstein's Proof of the Irrelevancy of Private Mental-States to
Meaning ........................................................................................................................... 27
More Counter-examples to the Classical View ............................................................ 33
Wittgenstein's Theory of Observable Meaning ............................................................ 36
Chapter 2 Conclusion .................................................................................................... 48
Chapter 3: Wittgenstein as a Type of Behaviorist ....................................................... 51
The Similarities ............................................................................................................. 51
The Differences ............................................................................................................. 54
Objections ..................................................................................................................... 56
Conclusion ....................................................................................................................... 65
Bibliography .................................................................................................................... 67

Introduction: The Meaning of What We Say

358. But isn't it our meaning it that gives sense to the sentence? (And
here, of course, belongs the fact that one cannot mean a senseless
series of words.) And 'meaning it' is something in the sphere of the
mind. But it is also something private! It is the intangible something;
only comparable to consciousness itself. How could this seem
ludicrous? It is, as it were, a dream of our language.

A younger version of myself used to think, It is strange that each person lives a
private life, and yet people use language to bridge the gaps between each other. When I
say something about my private experience, only I know the meaning of what I am
saying, and it is only an unexplainable happy fortune of ours that we sometimes
understand each other. It is a very lucky and strange chance event, when somehow
someone is correct in thinking they understand the meaning of my words. That is to say,
I believed that it was only by some unexplainable miracle that my school counselor
understood what I meant when I said something like, The sadness I feel from my going
to a new school. The counselor would say something, and I would think either Yes!
That's exactly what I'm thinking or No, she failed to understand what I was actually
saying. Perhaps, I thought, they understand that I am saying something and what I am
saying, but not why I am saying it. Or something along those lines; but what I know for

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, trans. and ed. G. E. M. Anscombe,
P. M. S. Hacker and Joachim Schulte, 4
ed. (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 120.

certain, is that I thought that behind every thing I said, there was always some remainder
of meaning that other people could not gather from what I was saying. In this sense, the
true meaning of my words, I thought, was exclusively available to me.
Like many people often do, I did not think about how the failure on part of other
people to understand my mind, depended not on there being something which only I
understood and that no one else knew, but on the failure of the utterances I had chosen to
express myself in order to produce in other people the reaction I desired. In other words, I
was so sure that the words I was using meant exactly and only what I wanted them to
mean, and not something irrespective of what I wanted them to mean. As a consequence,
I thought of the problem as irresolvable, and that I was doomed never to meet another
person for whom my words meant the same thing as what they meant for me. Not until
much later, did I start to think that what I chose to say as a means to express myself,
meant something irrespective of my personal caprice. Not until later, did I realize that
language was like a set of tools available to all, and that I just had to learn how to use the
right tools in the right circumstances. Before, it was like I was using a saw when I needed
to use a hammer; and yet since I felt so sure that the saw I was using was actually the
hammer I needed, I thought that other people must somehow be fundamentally
disconnected from the dreams and desires of my mind; or, I thought not that the tool was
the same one in the same toolbox everyone had, but that it was my tool fashioned
exclusively for my purposes. In reality though, as I now realize, the meaning of what I
convey to others consists in the specific tools I use, but which everyone has access to.
Therefore, it is not a question of an irresolvable gap between people's minds, but of the
choice of tools we use in particular circumstances. If what I want is for a person to

understand me as meaning X, well then naturally I have to choose the tool which
effectively means Xand that there is such a tool will be an observable fact of our
language. If I fail to use the right tool, then naturally I will feel misunderstood.
When many people encounter Behaviorism for the first time, they immediately
and violently rejected it because they think it is absolutely misguided. People like this
tend to believe there are two relevant facts: people's private lives and the language people
use to mediate between their private lives. People accuse Behaviorism of completely
forgetting about the essential private side of individual existence, which some think make
interactions through language necessary in the first place. I, myself, used to have such a
reaction to Behaviorism also.
It was not until I encountered Wittgenstein, that I began to see how Behaviorism
seemed more sensible. I realized that, it was not that we had to deny certain entities, since
we had already defined those entities as unobservable and therefore not in need of any
sort of observable disproof. Rather, it was that we should see the meaningfulness of what
we talk about in terms of what we can observe. This much more subtle point, seemed
irrefutable to me. I no longer was even concerned with hypothetical private mental-states,
since such things were now clearly excluded from the realm of meaningful things to talk
about. Whereas I had once believed that the private aspect of my experience entered
meaningfully into the things I said, I now thought that no such thing occurs, and so I was
freed to abandon the pretense that my private experience somehow constituted the
meaning of the things I said. The nonsense, which had me under its spell, was no longer
disguised, and so it no longer seemed to threaten my understanding.

The reason, I think, an encounter with Wittgenstein is conducive to a new
understanding of language about mental-states and sensations, is simply that he presents
the argument in a way which somehow manages to escape most immediate rejections on
the part of popular biases. When one first reads his discussion of sensation and
knowledge of sensation, one entertains his scenarios until, almost unwittingly, one begins
to see how easily his argument convinces. The argument is successful because it makes
clear the exact sense of 'private mental-state that is being denied as a necessary condition
for meaningful talk of sensations. My claim is that when a person has been thoroughly
convinced that Wittgenstein's theory is correct, she implicitly becomes a type of
Behaviorist. This is because I see in the argument of Wittgenstein that has convinced me,
essentially the same argument as a certain type of Behaviorism that had previously not
convinced me. Perhaps my understanding of the original Wittgensteinian position is
wrong, and therefore my understanding of the Behaviorism that I take to be similar to
Wittgenstein is also ill founded. I plan to show this is not the case, by first giving an
overview of Behaviorism in Chapter One, and then giving an explanation of the
interpretation of Wittgenstein that I endorse and which I claim is similar to Behaviorism
in Chapter Two. In Chapter 3, after I have presented both Wittgenstein and Behaviorism
separately, I will argue for their affinity. I will argue that both Wittgenstein and Logical
Behaviorism reject any theory that claims private mental-states necessarily enter into the
meaningfulness of language about sensation; and finally I will propose a preliminary
point of departure for future research into the subject.

Chapter 1: BehaviorismSpecifically, of the
Logical Variety

In this chapter, we will give a general overview of Behaviorism, and specifically
focus on Logical Behaviorism. The latter, will serve to give us a rigorous and logical
perspective on certain issues concerning the nature of language. Although, arguably,
there are many affects and poetic experiences that can deepen our awareness of
language's formal complexity, such things do not have any definitive thesis and therefore
cannot yield certain knowledge in a regular way. If our goal is a systematic explanation
of language, we require something more tractable; and apart from the research projects of
linguistics, there are questions which warrant a more philosophical and general approach.
Logical Behaviorism is potentially one coherent and systematic approach to certain
aspects of language, in that it has well-formulated and fundamental axioms meant for the
parceling out of linguistic meaning. Between three emblematic versions, or camps, of
behaviorism--logical, methodological and psychological--it is only logical behaviorism
that directly addresses questions of language and meaning. Directly, in the sense of it
tackling our most ordinary and typical use of language; and as opposed to 'indirectly' in
the sense of only concerning a theoretical discourse and not plain and ordinary language.
Unlike the other versions of behaviorism, the implications stemming from logical
behaviorism strike at the heart of meaning in its most general form, the language we use

every day. It is primarily the semantic theory at the heart of logical behaviorism that
concerns us.
There is much more to be said specifically about logical behaviorism, but first, we
should understand what is meant by behaviorism more generally. One concise definition
that can serve our purposes is put this way:
Behaviorism is any psychology that sees its mission as the explanation
of behavior and accepts stimuli (more generally, situations) and
responses as its basic data...Science aims at understanding publicly
observable happenings in the world, and the only such events
available to psychology are responses and the situations in which they

In other words, behaviorism is the theory that says animal behavior (of course, this
includes human verbal behavior) can and should be explained without any reference to
unobservable mental states that an individual might or might not possess, simply by
reference to the observable forms of behavior within given environmental circumstances.
This theory therefore restricts psychological data to include only observable stimuli-
response patterns, and not any hypothetical mental states. Even more broadly put,
behaviorism chooses a 'stimuli-response' model of psychology as opposed to a 'stimuli-
mental state-response' model.
The reason for this choice is that any supposed intervening
mental state is in principle unobservable, and is therefore not at all appropriate for the
determination of behavioral theories and experiments. This is not at all yet to say that
behaviorism necessarily denies the being of private subjective experiences, only that it
does not deem them relevant to an explanation of behavior, since it views the sources of

Gregory A. Kimble, Behaviorism and Unity in Psychology, Current Directions in
Psychological Science 9, no. 6 (2000): 208.
Kimble, Behaviorism and Unity in Psychology, 209.

behavior to exist essentially only in observable environmental and physiological
According to this principle, the observation sentences needed to
provide the basis for an empirical science of psychology cannot be
introspective protocols describing the private experiences of a single
individual. What are needed in order to put psychology on a proper
scientific footing are objective records of publicly observable
behavioral events--supplemented where appropriate by objective
records of the associated physiological events occurring beneath the

It is not the case in behaviorism that mental states are necessary explanans of behavior,
and behavioral principles alone are sufficient for the task of explanation. The question, of
whether behaviorism denies mental states in toto is not important for our immediate
purposes, since what is important is that behaviorism certainly does not say such states
are relevant to a psychological explanation of human behavior.
To be clear, and in order to not be accused of misrepresenting behaviorism in all
its vastness, there are strands of behaviorism that allow for inferences that use theoretical
concepts such as that of the 'intervening variable'. In other words, there are behaviorisms
which have practically 'S-I-R' models where I is some intervening variable like a mental-
But, nevertheless, these are still types of behaviorism insofar as the intervening
variables are acknowledged as 'abstractions without material existence' 3 unlike the
observable environmental stimuli and behavioral responses which are essential. These
abstractions, apparently, are used as explanatory ornaments even though they are, strictly
speaking, irrelevant to behaviorism's practice.

U. T. Place, A Radical Behaviorist Methodology for the Empirical Investigation of
Private Events, Behavior and Philosophy 20, no. 2 (1993): 30.

There are several major types of behaviorism, one of which is methodological
behaviorism. This version of behaviorism is most basic, in that it is simply a normative
view concerning the way psychology should be done:
Methodological behaviorism involves a widely accepted professional
orientation towards how one should conduct psychological research
in general.

According to this theory, psychologists shouldn't use concepts which are in principle
supposed to reference unobservable mental-states, since they add nothing to explaining
human behavior, and at worst they only add confusion:
According to methodological behaviorism, reference to mental states,
such as an animal's beliefs or desires, adds nothing to what psychology
can and should understand about the sources of behavior. Mental
states are private entities which, given the necessary publicity of
science, do not form proper objects of empirical study.

As a consequence of this view, behavioral science is seen as absolutely and exclusively
concerned with observable things like animal behavior and environmental circumstances,
and not with things that subsist only in and through conjecture. By extension, this
program is also a way to regulate what sort of language is acceptable in psychological
Another major type of behaviorism is psychological behaviorism. The
distinguishing characteristic of this theory is that it claims that the sources of human
behavior can be exhaustively explained without reference to mental states. This theory is

Willard Day, On the Difference between Radical and Methodological Behaviorism,
Behaviorism 11, no. 1 (1983): 91.
George Graham, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, s.v. Behaviorism, ed.
Edward N. Zalta, accessed December 4, 2013,

similar to methodological behaviorism, but it is construed on positive grounds as a claim
about what behaviorism can do unlike methodological behaviorism's focus on what
behavioral science should not do.

Logical Behaviorism

The last, and most pertinent for our purposes, version of behaviorism is logical
behaviorism. Logical behaviorism is a thesis about the meanings of mental terms and thus
of sentences in which mental terms occur. Logical behaviorists claim that the meaning of
mental-state sentences can be reduced to the meaning of equivalent sentences that only
mention observable behavioral phenomena. For example, according to logical
behaviorism, any sentence in which a mental term occurs such as Wittgenstein believes
that going out into the cold is bad can be accurately translated into a sentence like It is
the case that Wittgenstein rarely or never goes outside when it is cold and when he does
so, he reacts negatively. In other words, logical behaviorism is a theory about the
meaning and semantics of mental term containing expressions, in that it claims that such
expressions can be reduced to expressions equivalent in meaning, and that this can
happen without any loss of semantic information. The theory therefore claims that this
translational work can be done correctly without sacrificing anything which is not
capturable by the newly translated sentence; the two expressions (the one with mental-
predicates and the other without) are semantically identical such that they are
interchangeable without any significant difference in what they actually express; and, an

analytical reconstruction of the two sentences would yield the same meaning. Similarly,
although the sentences are different, they express the same proposition since they are
both true in the same exact circumstances. Put very simply, for any expression or
sentence X that contains mental terms, there is an equivalent sentence Y that does not use
those terms yet means exactly (if translated correctly, of course) what the original
sentence meant:
According to this standard interpretation...statements containing
mental terms can be translated, without loss of meaning, into
subjunctive conditionals about what the individual will do in various
circumstances. So Ryle (on this account) is to be construed as offering
a dispositional analysis of mental statements into behavioral ones.

Logical behaviorism does not simply claim that it is possible to give such an equivalent
translation, rather it claims that since one version of the expression contains only explicit
behavioral terminology, the other version must be seen as expressing this meaning and
not the other way around; and so, although there is a type of equivalency between the
two, the direction of the reduction is always from 'with mental-terms' to 'without mental-
terms'. This is to say that, even though the two expressions can be used interchangeably,
it is the one that is behavioral which is primary, and the other is seen as alternately
expressing the same thing as the behavioral expression; the expression with mental-
predicates is a shorthand way of saying the same as the expression without the mental-
It says that the very idea of a mental state or condition is the idea of
a behavioral disposition or family of behavioral tendencies, evident in
how a person behaves in one situation rather than another. When we
attribute a belief, for example, to someone, we are not saying that he

Julia Tanney, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, s.v. Ryle, Gilbert, ed.
Edward N. Zalta, accessed December 4, 2013,

or she is in a particular internal state or condition. Instead, we are
characterizing the person in terms of what he or she might do in
particular situations or environmental interactions.

What must be extremely precise in order to be clear is the point that the mental-term
version of a proposition does not represent a unique type of 'mental' proposition and it
does not indicate the existence of any unobservable mental entity, rather, it expresses
exactly what is meant by the version containing only behavioral principles. Whatever else
we might think these expressions mean, according to logical behaviorism, they must
actually mean what is paraphrasable in only observable behavioral principles.
Although behaviorism as a whole is admirable as one framework among others, it
is in logical behaviorism that we find the most controversial claims, if only because it is
logical behaviorism which makes not only a normative claim, but a theoretical claim
about the actual meaning of mental-term sentences:
[T]he meaning of a psychological statement consists solely in the
function of abbreviating the description of certain modes of physical
response characteristic of the bodies of men and animals.

What this means, put more directly, is that logical behaviorism claims that, in essence,
mental-term language expresses nothing else than what the very same equivalent
sentences in behavioral language express; and being that behavioral language obviously
only references observable behavior, it follows that mental-term language only indexes

George Graham, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, s.v. Behaviorism, ed.
Edward N. Zalta, accessed December 4, 2013,
Carl Hempel, The Logical Analysis of Psychology, in Readings in Philosophy of
Psychology, ed. Ned Joel Block (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1980-
1981), 19.

that very same behavior and not another type of phenomena. In this way, logical
behaviorism is first, a theory about the actual or real meaning of mental-term language:
In its simplest form, logical behaviorism holds that terms in
psychology can't be taken to refer to mental phenomena per se because
the mental phenomena aren't directly, publicly observable.
Consequently, they can't be measured using the instruments of physics
for purposes of verification. Therefore, logical behaviorism advocates
the semantic thesis that psychological terms must be taken to refer to
either (a) publicly observable behavior, (b) physiological states
correlated with publicly observable behavior, or (c) dispositions to
engage in publicly observable behavior...

And secondly, an implicit philosophical critique of the scientific illegitimacy of assuming
the existence of immaterial, or private, mental entities based solely off the superficial
form of mental-term language.
Practically, the way one would proceed to think correctly in light of logical
behaviorism, is rather straight forward. For example, with reference to the sentence 'Jones
is vain', we can understand its meaning by thinking of it as expressing a proposition about
Jones' habits of behavior which we can perceive, like his tendency to behave arrogantly
or boast in front of others. In essence, such a sentence makes an indicative statement
about his behavior up until the point of the utterance, and it implies that he has a
disposition to act this way again. It does not express anything about a hidden cause of his
The utterance, 'Jones is vain,' to laymen, is no contradictory invitation
to an invisible cartesian peep-show, but the formulation of a law-like
statement about one of Jone's tendencies, which has been inductively
arrived at by observing Jones and can be tested for its truth or falsity
by further observations...Jone's vanity is his actual or possible

Jay Moore, On Psychological Terms that Appeal to the Mental, Behavior and
Philosophy 29 (2001): 167.

boasting, encouraging conversations about himself, etc., and not the
epistemically sealed cause of them.

The Verificationist Backbone of Logical Behaviorism

At some point, any analysis of logical behaviorism will lead one down a path
towards verificationism. The doctrine of Verificationism is closely influential on the
motivating factors and underlying strategies apparent in Logical Behaviorism. For
example, it is through a type of appeal to verificationism that logical behaviorism
concludes the real meaning of mental-term language:
In psychology, verificationism underpins or grounds analytical
behaviorism, namely, the claim that mental concepts refer to
behavioral tendencies and so must be translated into behavioral

Put succinctly, Verificationism is the idea that a non-analytic sentence is only genuinely
meaningful if there is an empirical way to verify its truth or falsity. In other words, a
statement only has determinate meaning (as opposed to associative significance[The
sentence expressing it may be emotionally significant...but it is not literally significant"
insofar as there is a relative circumstance or observation that would affirm or negate the

Morris Weitz, Professor Ryle's Logical Behaviorism, The Journal of Philosophy 48,
no. 9 (1951): 298.
George Graham, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, s.v. Behaviorism, ed.
Edward N. Zalta, accessed December 4, 2013,
A. J. Ayer, Language, Truth, and Logic (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England:
Penguin, 1991), 16.

truth of the statement. Therefore, according to verificationism, a sentence such as 'God is
both nothing and everything', is without literal meaning since it is not clear what relevant
observation there could possibly be for the confirmation of the sentence's validity:
The central idea behind verificationism is linking some sort of
meaningfulness with (in principle) confirmation.

To be clear, the relevant observation might not be actually possible for any given reason,
so long as it is theoretically possible. So, for example, the sentence There is a cat in the
center of the moon might as of yet have no actually observable relevant circumstance,
yet we can at least know what experience would confirm or disconfirm its truth; going to
the moon's center would definitively affirm or negate the truth of the sentence. This is all
to say that, the condition that there be a relevant observation or experience does not
require that such an observation be practically realizable in the present moment, only that
it be theoretically observable under the appropriate circumstances. Therefore, the
difference between 'There is a cat in the center of the moon' and 'God is both nothing and
everything' is that the latter is not even verifiable in principle, while the former is, given
the possible relevant observation. Such observations and possible experiences, when
relevant to any given indicative statement, serve as, or function like, necessary
coordinates for the proper parceling of meaningful content. Within philosophy, there are
many things that could be called versions of verificationism, which vary in the degree to
which their interpretation of 'verifiability' and 'verification' are either more strict or less
strict, more lenient or less lenient etc. What unites all of these types of verificationism is

Richard Creath, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, s.v. Logical Empiricism,
ed. Edward N. Zalta, accessed December 4, 2013,

that they all assert the fundamental necessity of there being observable circumstances
that inform the meaning of any truth-bearing sentence; and such that if these criterial
circumstances are absent, the sentence is meaningless even if it has the form of a genuine
We say that a sentence is factually significant to any given person, if,
and only if, he knows how to verify the proposition it purports to
express that is, he knows what observations would lead him, under
certain conditions, to accept the proposition as being true or reject it
as being false...

As for the set of sentences considered 'meaningful' and the other set of those considered
'meaningless', there is a clear distinction operative. The criterion of verifiability can be
stipulated in a very inclusive way, so that even fantastical sentences are allowed;
something like There is a Pink Unicorn in a cave under Lake Michigan is completely
fine, since it is obvious what sort of experience would provide verification. On the other
hand, a sentence like There is a completely undetectable and ancient entity in the room
is not fine; this example in particular is very pertinent, since it shows how at first glance
it looks like the sentence represents a verifiable statement to the effect of 'There exists a
thing X', but because the thing in the sentence is described as 'completely undetectable',
the sentence precludes having determinate meaning. This point is very subtle, in part
because the type of meaningfulness verificationism concerns itself with is itself very
particular, but according to verificationism, any sentence that asserts the existence of
something-- which is also at the same time claimed to be something in principle
unobservable-- is meaningless. Hopefully, these examples make the verificationist
delineation between sense and nonsense more apparent.

A. J. Ayer, Language, Truth, and Logic, 16.

It should be clear by now how exactly verificationism plays a role within logical
behaviorism. We have shown earlier that logical behaviorism concludes that mental-term
language must actually be nothing other than talk about simple and complex behavior,
since any genuine proposition must be verifiable in terms of relevant observations; and
anything that we can observe, and that is also relevant to propositions which entail
mental-ascriptions, is a type of behavior, not some unobservable hypothetical
For mental conditions, like all others, get the meaning they have from
the circumstances in which we can know it is correct to apply
them...Mental descriptions, like all descriptions, claim that the
conditions criterial for their application obtain; hence they do not, and
cannot, refer to private events but to tendencies for there to be public
and physical events. To suggest otherwise is incoherent, for on the
alternative which construes mental descriptions as analogous to bodily
ones, there will be no criterial conditions for the mental words, so they
will have no meaning at all.

While we see that Verificationism adapts verifiability as a criterion for meaningfulness,
Logical Behaviorism shows that when faced with a proposition involving some sort of
mental-ascription, it is sufficient to talk only about behavior if we wish to determine the
sentence's meaning. The message of Logical Behaviorism is that indexing or representing
unobservable objects or relations is not necessary for determining the meaning of mental-
term propositions; and by essentially asking the same question that is posed by
Verificationism, it determines that only behavior is included in the set of relevant
circumstances for mental-ascriptions:
We cannot conclude, because mental terms are not dispensable, that
they describe something spiritual beyond the body and its
behavior...Behaviorism rejects the idea that the mind is a spiritual

Keith Campbell, Mind and Body, (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame,
1984), 68.

thing, and rejects it principally because there can never be the public
human experience of spirits upon which alone the idea and knowledge
of such things could be founded. Behaviorist theory has no place for
[hypothetical] mental objects.

Some Objections

There are two popular counter-examples often used to refute behaviorism.
each represent an extreme, and I will call one the Zombie scenario and the other the
Intelligent Rock scenario. In the first scenario, you are supposed to imagine a body of
some sort, moving and acting as humans do, but which does not have any mental life. In
the second scenario, you are supposed to imagine an inanimate object, like a rock, that
nevertheless has a vibrant mental life. Both scenarios are meant to show the implicit
disconnection between observable behavior and unobservable private mental-experience.
It is obvious why both scenarios fail though, in that they are not even clearly sensical. For
example, if I imagine the Zombie is observably identical to the person I call my mother,
then I have no reason to think it has any less of a mental-state than my mother. Or, if the
intelligent rock has never spoken to me, or moved, or made any other observable
difference in its surroundings, then I am clearly not justified in thinking that it is any
different from a normal rock. For either counter-example to succeed, we are implictly
supposed to think that the Zombie does differ from a human in some observable way, or

Keith Campbell, Mind and Body, 61.
Alex Byrne, Behaviourism, in A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind, ed. Samuel
Guttenplan (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), 132-140.

that the Intelligent Rock does somehow behave differently than a normal rock. But this is
no refutation of behaviorism. No, rather, it only proves the point that we require
behavioral criteria to differentiate between categories of mental and non-mental.

Chapter 1 Conclusion

The facet of Logical Behaviorism that concerns us can be summarized by saying
it is a behaviorist view which provides a semantic theory for the meaning of expressions
which involve ascriptions of mental-predicates. Unlike other types of behaviorism,
Logical or Analytical Behaviorism offers a theory of what mental terms actually mean, as
opposed to just stating how we should view them in light of a certain scientific pursuit.
Other types of behaviorism might only offer a normative positionhow things should be
doneor they might attempt to exclude certain terms from their practice completely, but
Logical Behaviorism does not attempt to exclude or regulate any terms so much as it sets
out to describe them in their unperturbed actuality. In fact, Logical Behaviorism describes
these terms by appealing to their conditions of assertability and/or truth, and to their
usage; and in doing so, ventures to describe their real nature. Closely tied to the method
of verification and the notions of truth and assertability conditions, is the concept of
'usage' most often associated with the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. As we will see
later in Chapter 3, Wittgenstein's theory of the meaning of so-called mental-terms or,
'sensation-language', is very similar to Logical Behaviorism's theory. We will see how
they can be compared in light of their similar conclusions, and how they can be

contrasted in light of their different methods for reaching the conclusions. But first,
before we speak about the theoretical affinities between Wittgenstein's theory and
Logical Behaviorism, we will proceed in Chapter 2 to give a description of Wittgenstein's
theory of sensation-language.

Chapter 2: Wittgenstein's Proof of the Irrelevancy
of Private Mental-States to Meaning

This chapter will focus exclusively on the Wittgenstein of the Philosophical
Investigations. Specifically, the questions that we will set out to answer include: what
was Wittgenstein's theory of the meaning of terms and expressions that involve mental-
state ascriptions? How does he construct his argument? What opposing view did he
respond to? Was he right? And ultimately, does our interpretation of Wittgenstein imply
that he had views that were similar to Logical Behaviorism?
The classical view regarding the meaning of sensation-language to which
Wittgenstein responded, was the view that expressions like I have a pain or Serena has
an ache refer to mental-states or sensations which are the private experience of the
subject of the attributed property; it is not the mere claim that the experience is a token
example of a generic type, rather it claims that the experience is itself essentially private
and only available to a single observer. Put another way, the classical view took the terms
'pain' and 'ache' to refer to private sensations, or private experiences of mental qualities.
So, under the classical view, 'pain' would refer to a thing which we all might experience
individually, but which we only ever experience in isolation from others. Therefore, I can
speak of knowing that another person is in pain, but not of knowing the pain itself which
only she is privy to. Or, if we think of each person's body as a box, and the pain as a
thing, we can say that only the person who has the box can experience the thing inside;

and, by extension under the classical view, when a person expresses that she has a
sensation, the meaning of her utterance is determined by the thing inside of the box which
only she can observe.
To sum up the Wittgensteinian position, which this chapter explores, and that
refutes the classical view, we can say that it is the position which denies that such things
in the private domain of individual experiences have any causal or logical connection to
the meaning of mental-terms. In other words, the meaning of expressions that we might
wrongly take to be dependent on private mental-states, is actually never determined by or
dependent on any sort of private mental-entity. We will show that this position really has
nothing to do with the denial of any set of entities in toto, but rather with the denial of
any causal or logical connection between a particular hypothetical set of things and the
meaning of certain terms and expressions. We can call the set of terms and expressions,
the set of sensation-languagewhich is to say the set of all terms and expressions we
take to be relevant to propositions about 'mental-properties'; and, we can call the set of
hypothetical private entities, the set of private mental states. The theory which this paper
endorses, as a Wittgensteinian theory of sensation-language, denies that there is any
logical or causal connection between the elements of the two separate sets described
above; specifically, it denies that there is a connection between the meaning of the
elements in the first set and the being of the objects in the second set.
Before we set out to describe the theory we endorse in more detail, let us quickly
and preemptively clarify some possible misunderstandings. The first question one might
have is, why do we choose to deny both a causal and logical connection? Of course, these
are different types of connection, and therefore cannot just be explained by the same

reasoning: a causal connection is one such that it expresses an empirical relation between
an antecedent event and a consequent event; and a logical connection is a conceptual
relation, such that one concept figures into the definition of another. What we mean to
say in including both types, is that first, there is no function that the private mental state
fulfills in the logical determination of the sentences' meaning; and second, the private
mental state does not act as a cause of the meaning such that, the meaning of the
expression alters according to whether or not the private mental state is actual. One
might, under some influence from the classical view, still argue that the private
experience occasions the utterance of the expression, and so acts as a cause of the
utterance-event. But our question is not what causes you to say 'apple' over 'orange', but
how is it that either 'apple' or 'orange' can mean anything effectively in the first place.
We are not concerned with some hypothetical entity that causes the subject to utter an
expression; we are concerned with the meaning of the utterance and the observable facts
about the world that determine our understanding of the meaning.
Another foreseeable objection to the view we just expounded, is that people
obviously do experience things as individuals first and foremost; for example, it is true
that we each have our own sense-organs, which operate for and within a particular
human bodyand some would argue that there are events which only that body
experiences. But the key point is altogether different; to the extent to which it is truly a
private experience, we cannot speak about it. If we can speak about it, it is not a
categorically private experience. The difference hinges on the distinction between a
private experience which is in principle only applicable to one person, and numerically
distinct applications of a certain mental description to particular persons. Two objects

can be qualitatively identical if they are of the same type (i.e 'This rock and that rock; this
tree and that tree.'), and they can be numerically non-identical if they are separate
instantiations of the same object-type. The theory we offer as the right one claims that
any possible experience we can talk about is, in principle, one that could have
qualitatively identical but numerically distinct instantiations, and hence not be private in
the sense which the classical view supposes.
For example, one might say something like 'We all agree that we're looking at a
rock, but how can we tell our experiences of the space within the outer-limit that defines
the rock, are not different? What if, for me, there is a slight impression of blurriness
within my experience of the rock, which you do not have?' And we could respond: 'Well,
perhaps the thing which we agree is definitely a rock looks different to youbut different
in what sense? In whatever sense you explain the difference, I still understand the sense
in which they are different:
294. If you say he sees a private picture before him, which he is
describing, you have still made an assumption about what he has
before him. And that means that you can describe it or do describe it
more closely. If you admit that you haven't any notion what kind of
thing it might be that he has before himthen what leads you into
saying, in spite of that, that he has something before him? Is it not as
if I were to say of someone: "He has something. But I do not know
whether it is money, or debts, or an empty till."

And so, the experience you have described is in no way representative of something
'private'; rather, it shows only the degree to which and way in which your experience is
different. And it does not prove that you are talking about a private phenomenon, so
much as it proves you are talking about a public phenomenon that you in particular

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, trans. and ed. G. E. M. Anscombe,
P. M. S. Hacker and Joachim Schulte, 4
ed. (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 107.

happen to be experiencing in the present moment. If there was some feature of your
experience that was wholly private, then we could not talk about it; because, if we could
truly talk about it, then we would be talking about things that in principle do not depend
on some categorically private experience. We now see how the person who claims that no
one but he can know his own pain, mistakes a simple convention of our language such
that what is incorrigible is the use of 'know' instead of 'believe' in reference to one's own
pain, for some sort of deep incorrigibility about private mental-states:
303. "I can only believe that someone else is in pain, but I know it if I
am."Yes: one can make the decision to say "I believe he is in pain"
instead of "He is in pain". But that is all. What looks like an
explanation here, or like a statement about a mental process, is in truth
an exchange of one expression for another which, while we are doing
philosophy, seems the more appropriate one.

Perhaps we should re-state the dilemma: the classical view would think it sensible
to believe we can talk about experiences that are categorically private. The opposing view
which we offer, claims that anything categorically private would be impossible to speak
about ever; and that, no matter the complexity or seeming particularity of an experience,
it is in principle an experience which anyone who understands the meaning of the words
in the relevant statements could experience. It might be said, I do not know what it is like
to be a female, since I do not have the proper biological make-up or I am not embodied in
the appropriate way. Nevertheless, I know the defining differences in terms of biology,
and I know what it is to have something, and to be something, or to feel sad and
discriminated against etc. So, the experience 'typical' of being female is not something
categorically undisclosed to me, so much as it just is not my experience. The key

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 108.

distinction here, perhaps, is that since I know the meaning of the words comprising the
description, does not imply that the description applies to me; by the same token, given
my understanding of the words describing the experience, I understand what the
experiencewhich is not mineis. This is just like if a person were to tell me that I
cannot understand his experiencethe experience he describes to me with languagebut
I obviously can in a sense, since I understand what they are telling me I cannot
understand. We must be careful not to equivocate the different senses of 'understand'
which we are using. The fact, which we really mean to reiterate in such circumstances, is
simply the fact that it is or is not the actual experience of a particular person at a given
moment in time. This is all to say, whatever a truly and wholly private experience would
be, it is not something that we can talk about; what we can talk about, is what we can
agree we are able to simultaneously experience, given the right conditions. The
precondition for any word having meaning, would be that there be at least one other
person who has had the same experience and can agree that the word refers to that
experience; and so, this would already violate the condition that the experience be wholly
the possession of a single person. Therefore, there is absolutely no such thing as a private
experience that we can also talk about. The extent to which we talk at all, is the extent to
which we agree with others over the presence or absence of a thing in the shared
circumstances; the extent to which we can mean anything, is the extent to which there is
an experience which we share with someone other than ourselves.


More Counter-examples to the Classical View

There are many more obvious counter-examples to the classical view, one is
evident in this anecdote: A neuroscientist wants to isolate the neurological basis for
experiencethat is to say, she wants to find the definite part of the brain without which a
person cannot have experiences. But how will she do this? Perhaps she will selectively
shut-off different parts of the brain, and then perform certain tests, like asking the patient
different questions about his condition, or monitor certain physiological data. But what
will this prove? Perhaps, at any given point in the process of research, she might
permanently have destroyed the capacity for private experience, but just in such a way
that all behavioral capacities and operations remain the same. How will the scientist
become aware that she has crossed that limit? There is no conceivable way through which
she could. Or, vice versa, she might only disable the behavioral capacity but retain the
experiential capacityas if she had paralyzed the patient completely; but in general, in
cases like these, what warrants us to say that 'the lights are still on' so to say, if not for
behavior anyway? Perhaps certain brain activity we associate with experiencebut we
only came to associate it after its correlation with other behavior. It seems that the only
criteria for the supposed difference between experience and non-experience is behavior
itself (including internal physiological behavior), and yet many of us refuse to admit that
the meaning of such distinctions is just a distinction between different forms of behavior.
The whole confusion hinges on the neuroscientist thinking that by 'experience', she means
some sort of unobservable thing, and not some complex of observable phenomena; if this

is what 'experience' meant, then surely her effort would be wasted and be completely
Another scenario that counters the classical view of sensation-language, is that of
the computer scientist attempting to produce so-called artificial intelligence. In his
pursuit, what actually happens is that he checks to see if what he has done to the program
causes a certain observable difference in the system. If it does, he says it now has crossed
the threshold into intelligence. But if intelligence implies private experience happening
behind closed-doors, how did we ever make the jump from observable behavior to private
experience? It seems totally unjustified to make such a leap. Also, not only does this
show the illegitimacy of assuming a computer has private experience at a certain point of
its behavioral development, it also shows that we could replicate the conditions for us
calling a machine intelligent just by feeding it information about the observable world;
for a computer to speak intelligently, it would prove sufficient to provide as input data
only appropriate circumstances in which words should be uttered. Again, it is illegitimate
to make a jump from knowing we provided only observable criteria for language-use, to
thinking that behind-the-scenes we have produced some hidden entity.
Even if we concede that we do not mean by 'experience' some occult and private
phenomena, we might still think that we mean something other than what we now
propose. We might still believe that there is a categorical difference between those things
we ascribe sensations to and those we do not; and we might still believe that the
difference cannot be mediated by appeal to simple facts about the way those things differ
in degree. We might still think that, for example, animals with consciousness serve as
evidence for a wholly new kind of phenomena unlike those kinds that can be explained in

behavioral terms. To these worries we offer two responses. First, there certainly is a
difference between things with consciousness and things without it; after all,
'consciousness' and terms like it have a use in our language, and we do not use them with
reference to just any object whatsoever. In other words, we do not propose the thesis that
sensation-language means nothing. On the contrary, we assume that such aspects of our
language have a use, and proceed to explain the conditions under which such use is
effective. Second, we might believe that the things we ascribe mental-states to differ in
kind and not in degree from those we do not. From the outset though, this is a misleading
perspective, since it is actually a difference both in kind and in degree. Certainly the
sensation/non-sensation distinction is sui generis in the sense of us thinking it necessary
and useful, but we say that insofar as it expresses a difference in kind it is a distinction
that depends solely on a threshold within a continuum. The continuum we speak of is the
fact of observable behavior, and the threshold is a point on that continuum past which we
are warranted to speak of 'consciousness', 'experience', 'sensation', 'mental-state' etc.:
284. Look at a stone and imagine it having sensations. One says to
oneself: How could one so much as get the idea of ascribing a
sensation to a thing? One might as well ascribe it to a number!And
now look at a wriggling fly and at once these difficulties vanish and
pain seems able to get a foothold here, where before everything was,
so to speak, too smooth for it. And so, too, a corpse seems to us quite
inaccessible to pain.Our attitude to what is alive and to what is dead,
is not the same. All our reactions are different.If anyone says: "That
cannot simply come from the fact that a living thing moves about in
such-and-such a way and a dead one not", then I want to intimate to
him that this is a case of the transition 'from quantity to quality'.

Hopefully, this perspective we now propose as the correct one, makes it obvious why we
do not say a rock has consciousness, but we are sometimes almost tempted to say so of

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 104.

things like dynamic, self-regulating and self-adjusting complex systemssuch as
computers, social movements and cultural memes.

Wittgenstein's Theory of Observable Meaning

What we will now call the Theory of Observable Meaning is not something that
Wittgenstein explicitly mentioned or endorsed. At our discretion, we propose it as the
theory implicit in his ruminations on sensation-language in Philosophical Investigations.
The most pertinent passage from the investigations that we will now look at is the
passage containing the 'Beetle in the Box Experiment'. This thought-experiment is the
best and most direct example of Wittgenstein's conclusive refutation of the classical view.
In it, he paints a picture which contains so-called private mental-states, but that offers
them no relevant causal position for what else goes on in the picture. That is to say, he
entertains the classical views notion of a private mental-entity, only to show how no
such thing really matters at all. In section 293, Wittgenstein wrote the following:
Well, everyone tells me that he knows what pain is only from his own
case! Suppose that everyone had a box with something in it which
we call a 'beetle'. No one can ever look into anyone else's box, and
everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle.
Here it would be quite possible for everyone to have something
different in his box. One might even imagine such a thing constantly
changing. But what if these people's word 'beetle' had a use
nonetheless? If so, it would not be as the name of a thing. The thing
in the box doesn't belong to the language-game at all; not even as a
Something: for the box might even be empty. No, one can 'divide
through' by the thing in the box; it cancels out, whatever it is. That is
to say, if we construe the grammar of the expression of sensation on

the model of 'object and name', the object drops out of consideration
as irrelevant.

Let us examine the structure of the argument. First, he asks the audience to entertain the
idea that a word 'beetle' refers to the thing in the box of each person. Then, he supposes
that the things in the boxes are all different from each other, or that the things are
constantly changing in nature. Finally, he supposes that the word 'beetle' still has a use
despite all of these previous suppositions; and by making this last supposition, he has
already shown that the word 'beetle', insofar as it has such a use, does not depend on the
object which we at first thought it referred to. In what sense does it not depend on it? In
the sense of the hypothetical object within the box being completely irrelevant to the
actual use of the word 'beetle'; and what is to differentiate the word from the mere
utterance if not for its conformity with patterns of established convention? There is not
even an indirect connection in such cases, since the thing in the box doesn't even
remotely influence the actually possible usages of the word.
It should be obvious how the Beetle in the Box scenario is illustrative, and
analogous to the circumstances of all expressions of sensation. Knowing that all the
expressions contained within the set of sensation-language are not meaningless (they
have a sufficiently definite use), we have shown that they are meaningful despite any fact
about the supposed thing in the box. The word 'pain' is just like 'beetle', in that it has a
use-determined meaning; but if we think of its function as that of referring to a private
knowledge or experience, we realize its actual use happens to be apparently very
different. If we still assume it has such a function, and that we are just confused as to the

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 106.

facts about its actual usage, then how should we positively think of it? There is no answer
to such a question, and if we tried to describe the meaning of sensation-language
according to such a pretense, we would be left describing nothing or being unable to
describe anything.
Wittgenstein shows that words such as 'pain', like the word 'beetle' in the thought-
experiment, do not mean anything about private experience or knowledge. What he
doesn't do in the experiment though, is say what such words do mean. We can only gloss
over this question now, but a promising beginning is offered in this supplement to the
scenario: Suppose a person in the imagined scenario has a thing X in their box, and
suppose this thing requires water. Obviously, the person cannot just show other people X
in a way which would directly communicate facts about X. Also, suppose the people in
the scenario have a card-system, much like language except with cards instead of words
and combinations of cards instead of sentences. In this card-system, the expression 'I
would like some water' has a direct translation in terms of an analogous combination of
different cards. Now finally, imagine that the person with X used card sequence 'Y' to
express to other people that she would like water. We know that the card-expression has a
definite use, since in all relevant cases in which it is used the same kind of events almost
always followi.e another person retrieves water for the person who presented the card-
sequence. One possible cause of our confusion with sensation-language might be that we
think, because the hypothetical thing X required water, and the possessor of X eventually
received water, that there is some causal connection between the two. When, in actuality,
the relevant causal relation obtains between the water-retrieval and the person, not as the
possessor of X, but as the utterer of Y. The effect of the water being retrieved has as its

cause the presentation of the card-sequence; and the causal power of the card-sequence
has only as its cause the established fact of its usage being determined by conventions of
behavior. The supposed fact that object X required water is entirely irrelevant in relation
to the fact of the card-sequence causing such a possible change in the environment of the
card-presenter. To be precise, what we are saying is that object X has no necessary role as
cause in relation to what is caused when a person utters an expression or presents a
sequence of cards; and, conversely, if we assume that sensation-language does
something, even if that something is expression, then we can say that it doing so is
sufficiently explained by observable (non-private) facts about the world. In other words,
we could understand the meaning of the card-sequence entirely separate from knowing
anything about X; we could in fact know nothing about X, but still know everything
about the card-sequence Y. The supposed sensation that is the object of 'thirst', for
example, is construed through the grammar of the word 'thirst'. We do not confirm that a
person knows the meaning of Y by confirming anything about X; rather, for example, we
might observe how the utterer reacts once the water-retrieval has been completedif
they react a certain way, we say they understand the meaning of what they uttered,
otherwise we say they do not:
296. "Yes, but there is something there all the same accompanying my
cry of pain. And it is on account of that that I utter it. And this
something is what is importantand frightful."Only to whom are
we telling this? And on what occasion?

298. The very fact that we should so much like to say: "This is the
important thing"while we point privately to the sensation is

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 107.

enough to show how much we are inclined to say something which
gives no information.

If a person utters 'I am so thirsty', and we want to know if they understand the meaning of
their own utterance in the relevant language, we do not search for an unobservable object
in vain, but actually observe how they behave once they have obtained a beverage; if they
react in a certain unconventional way, to a sufficient degree, we will be forced to
conclude they simply do not know the meaning of what they ostensibly uttered as a
means of expression. One might also object and say that the person is not using the word
wrongly, he is just using the word to refer to a thing only he can possibly know is being
referred to. If this is the objection, then it will require Wittgenstein's refutation of private
language to defend his theory. For our purposes though, it can be simply said that a
person has no standard of knowing whether she is actually referring to her own private
experience and not something else, and that the 'private language' required for such a feat
would be practically impossible. For one reason, simply because proof of a private
experience would not only require that a person privately claim he has such an
experience, but also that he confirm that other people do not have it; and this would
require that he use language to describe his experience, and therefore nullify the assertion
that he is describing something wholly private. Hopefully it cannot be any clearer that,
things within the domain of 'private' knowledge like 'object X' have no relation to the
understanding and explanation of how expressions we actually are able to use mean
things in the first place.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 107.

What we have outlined now is the theory, which we call the Theory of Observable
Meaning, which claims that sensation-language does not involve private mental-states.
The 'classical view' believes the essence of communication lies in people understanding
each others' private mental experiences:
363. But when I imagine something, something goes on, doesn't it?
Well, something goes on and then I make a noise. What for?
Presumably in order to communicate what went on. But how, in
general, does one communicate something? When does one say that
something is being communicated? What is the language-game of
communicating something?
I'd like to say: you regard it much too much as a matter of course that
one can communicate anything to anyone. That is to say, we are so
accustomed to communicating in speech, in conversation, that it looks
to us as if the whole point of communicating lay in this: that someone
else grasps the sense of my words which is something mental that
he, as it were, takes it into his own mind. If he then does something
further with it as well, that is no part of the immediate purpose of

We have shown this is not the case since, first, the extent to which we can speak about
something is the same extent to which it is in principle not private; and second, we have
shown that the power of communication hinges on the grammar of different patterns of
usage, which in turn hinge on the observable or public features of the world. It is not the
case that we 'read off the facts' from some private mental object and think of the
expression which bests represents it; no, rather, the object of the expression is construed
on the basis of the grammar associated with its usage, including its connection to other
expressions and contexts:
371. Essence is expressed in grammar.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 121.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 123.

373. Grammar tells what kind of object anything is.

Language is not a circuit with a private picture on one end, and an expression which best
approximates the picture on the other end. The objects which we speak of have their
character made explicit in a circuit which only involves grammar and facts of the
observable world. By 'grammar', Wittgenstein meant the shared experience of any given
language's conventions of usage
i.e. When do we use a word or phrase? What occurs
before its employment? What follows its employment? Etc. For example, when do we
use the word 'dead'? In certain contexts only of course, like when an animal no longer
exhibits certain physiological characteristics. This is what we mean by grammar.
Wittgenstein resolutely denied the view that sensation-language operates
according to a split between private mental-states, and their representative expressions.
He proposed the opposite view, that if we speak of an object, it is an object which has its
logical origins as a definite thing in the grammar which defines the contours of its
relations to other objects and relations-between-objects:
374. The great difficulty here is not to present the matter as if there
were something one couldn't do. As if there really were an object,
from which I extract a description, which I am not in a position to
show anyone. And the best that I can propose is that we yield to the
temptation to use this picture, but then investigate what the application
of the picture looks like.

Anat Biletzki, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, s.v. "Ludwig Wittgenstein,"
ed. Edward N. Zalta, accessed December 4, 2013,
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 123.

In other words, it's not like a person uses language in an attempt to describe some
indescribable private object for everyone to understand, but rather it is that the only
object logically available ever is the one everyone can access on equal-footing by
understanding the original set of expressions which defined the supposed object's
particular presenceWhich object? The one with features x,y,z.....
Another objection to the Theory of Observable Meaning goes like this: what
about cases where only a single person discovers a new thing, and then reports back to
others. For example, when an explorer discovers a new geographical location, he might
go back to his society and describe his experiences to others. One might say he is
describing something that everyone else can understand, but that he also actually has an
image before his mind that he cannot put completely into words. In other words, he has
an image that can be partly put into words, and partly not. In this case though, how can
we say anything about what he still cannot put into words? It's not even obvious that he
still has some such part that he cannot put into words. One might also say that the
explorer's words mean for him something over and above what anyone else can
understand from the words; as if everybody else only understood the picture through bits
and pieces, and the explorer understood the singular thing that the whole description
applied to:
280. Someone paints a picture in order to show, for example, how he
images a stage set. And now I say: The picture has a double function:
it informs others, as pictures or words dobut for the informant it is
in addition a representation of another kind: for him it is the picture of
his image, as it can't before anyone else. His private impression of the
picture tells him what he imagined, in a sense in which the picture
can't do this for others. And what right have I to speak in this

second case of a representation or piece of information if these
words were correctly used in the first case?

But our question concerns the meaning of the words, and these are not dependent on
some private image in the explorer's mind. Imagine that it wasn't our explorer 'James'
who discovered the new island, but some other explorer 'Frank', and that our explorer this
time was in the position of hearing the words he would of otherwise used were he in the
same position as before. In this way, we see how the description, as it were, stands alone;
its meaning not determined by a private picture before the mind of any particular utterer.
The classical view looks everywhere except where the obvious answer lies. This
why Wittgenstein says:
464. My aim is: to teach you to pass from a piece of disguised
nonsense to something that is patent nonsense.

What generates the classical view is an insistence on keeping the nonsense disguised as a
real problem. In short, the classical view turns a blind-eye to the relevant facts, and
focuses instead on some hypothetical and ambiguous process or entity:
308. How does the philosophical problem about mental processes and
states and about behaviourism arise?The first step is the one that
altogether escapes notice. We talk of processes and states and leave
their nature undecided. Sometime perhaps we shall know more about
themwe think. But that is just what commits us to a particular way
of looking at the matter. For we have a definite concept of what it
means to learn to know a process better. (The decisive movement in
the conjuring trick has been made, and it was the very one that we
thought quite innocent.)And now the analogy which was to make
us understand our thoughts falls to pieces. So we have to deny the yet
uncomprehended process in the yet unexplored medium. And now it

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 103.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 141.

looks as if we had denied mental processes. And naturally we do not
want to deny them.

As Wittgenstein puts it, the classical view from the outset commits itself to
particular idea that leads nowhere. It insists there is a process or a mental state essential
to sensation-language, and yet leaves the nature of the supposed key element completely
426. A picture is conjured up which seems to fix the sense
unambiguously. The actual use, compared with that suggested by the
picture, seems like something muddied. Here again, what is going on
is the same as in set theory: the form of expression seems to have been
tailored for a god, who knows what we cannot know; he sees all of
those infinite series, and he sees into the consciousness of human
beings. For us, however, these forms of expression are like vestments,
which we may put on, but cannot do much with, since we lack the
effective power that would give them point and purpose.
In the actual use of these expressions, we, as it were, make
detours, go by side roads. We see the straight highway before us, but
of course cannot use it, because it is permanently closed.

In the passage just presented, Wittgenstein is speaking directly to the classical view's
mistaken view that the actual usage of the expression is somehow derivative of or
dependent on some other private mental essence. Let us elaborate by using the particular
example of silent readingthat is, reading, not aloud, but only to oneself. When do we
say a person can 'read silently'? We do so, for example, when we provide new material to
a child, observe them for a period, and then ask them questions about the material.
Assuming they had no prior knowledge of the material, we say, that because they
obviously did not read aloud, there must have been some other process that accounts for
their competency in the material. But we cannot leave this mysterious process so vaguely

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 109.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 134.

defined if we are to take it as the meaning of 'silent reading' in The child can now read
385. Ask yourself: Is it conceivable that someone learn to calculate in
his head without ever calculating aloud or on paper? - Learning it
presumably means: being brought to the point of being able to do it.
Only the question arises, what will count as a criterion for being able
to do it?

Instead, what we actually have are the concrete and material facts about the child's
correct responses to specific questions, and brain-states correlated with cases where we
confirm that a child has mastered 'silent reading'. This is exactly the case with all such
processes, but we nevertheless sometimes choose to conform to the prejudice that 'silent-
reading' refers to something to which the observable facts are inessential. What we
propose is that the meaning of silent reading can be explained in terms of a person's
actual ability to meet observable criteria of successful silent reading, and not in terms of
some private event.
We say that a person has just remembered, and then ask what we mean by
remembered. You say He had before his mind a picture of what happened before, I ask,
how do we know that happened? You say, Now he is speaking aloud about it (the
experience recalled, not the experience of 'remembering'), do you not know? I say yes,
but, we should not say there is a private picture before his mind. We know that he knows
the content of the memory, and we know it now that he has explained it. What more do
we wish to say is going on here in terms of his remembering, when in fact, everything we
need to understand what is meant by a person's remembering, is given by the rules of the

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 125.

language-game of 'remembering'. And neither is the process of remembering nor the
thing remembered categorically private.
We can speak of a word or expression, and the thing to which the word or
expression refers; the meaning of the word, can be given in terms of the being of the
thingi.e the meaning of 'dog' can be explained in terms of the objects that are called
dogs. The connection between the two, inheres within the established usage of the
linguistic community:
383. We do not analyse a phenomenon (for example, thinking) but a
concept (for example, that of thinking), and hence the application of a

384. You learned the concept of 'pain' in learning language.

In other words, for example, when speaking of the word 'tree', we can speak of the
concrete objects trees. But when we speak of pain, we cannot point to an object when we
suppose that the object is private. So, we can speak of the concept of pain, but that just
leads us to speak of the application of the word 'pain'. We suppose the cases are not
analogous, since in one case the word refers to an observable object and in the other to an
unobservable. But they really are analogous, since what actually happens is we do use the
word to refer to observable facts like: verbal reports, crying, cringing etc. If we abandon
the presumption that 'pain' necessarily refers to an unobservable object, we can see the
actual properties of the world that are essential to its application just like we can with
trees! The appropriate circumstances for the use of the word 'tree' involve the observable

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 125.

tree-objects, just like the appropriate circumstances for the use of the word 'pain' involve
the observable pain-objects, like crying, wincing, moaning and reports. It would be
absurd to say that 'tree' doesn't refer to trees, but to something unobservable that we know
after observing trees, but which is not a tree. Yet this is exactly what we do with 'pain'.
We should not, in the case of sensation, want to turn a blind eye to what is actual and
instead imagine some non-actual circumstance.

Chapter 2 Conclusion

For the ending of this chapter, we now move on to some 'deconstructive' passages
from Wittgenstein, which will serve as excellent diagnostic tools for finalizing our lasting
abandonment of the prejudices' of the classical view. Also, as we set out to answer at the
beginning of this chapter, we will intimate some of the similarities between Wittgenstein
and Logical Behaviorism.
Notice, in these passages, the similarities between Wittgenstein and what we
already know about Logical Behaviorism. They both beg the question, of, what are the
criteria? They both insist on the necessary and sufficient role of observable facts in
ascriptions of sensation. Wittgenstein is adamant in showing that the ascription of a
sensation does not happen in a vacuum, as if we were just spiritual minds telepathically in
contact with each other and without need of the observable world's mediation:
391. I can perhaps even imagine (though it is not easy) that each of
the people whom I see in the street is in frightful pain, but is adroitly
concealing it. And it is important that I have to imagine adroit

concealment here. That I do no simply say to myself: Well, his mind,
is in pain: but what has that to do with his body? or After all, it need
not show in his body. And if I imagine this what do I do? What
do I say to myself? How do I look at the people? Perhaps I look at one
and think, It must be difficult to laugh when one is in such pain, and
much else of the same kind.

In this passage, first it is proposed we think of people in pain, but not acting typically like
those in pain usually do, and instead having to conceal their normal reactions. We do not
therefore conclude, since the typical pain-behavior is absent, that the pain is something
unobservable to which no observable fact can be related. Rather, we say something about
their disposition to react to another stimuli, given the fact that they are repressing their
usual reaction; in other words, we say that their 'adroitly concealed pain' consists in, not
the regular display of pain, but a modification of it, such that, for example, the person
would have a hard time laughing and still maintaining their adroit concealment. The
example of laughing while also trying to conceal pain, is just one way we can identify the
criteria to which the particular ascription refers to. More simply, we do not just say a
person is concealing her pain, and then assume that therefore she is essentially acting as if
there were no pain at allif this were the case, there would be no difference between the
absence of pain and the pain which is adroitly concealed. There still has to be some
criteria to ensure the ascription is meaningful; perhaps not the same criteria as regular
pain, but still something which differentiates the person adroitly concealing his pain from
the person without any pain. One might still object, 'What if they are just amazing at
concealing their pain, and they never showed any sign of it, as if it were actually not
there.' But who told us they are in pain? They did notin fact they act in every way to

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 126.

the contrary. We are simply supposed to assume there is pain but, given his apparent
behavior which by all means seems normal and without pain, we could say we have just
as much reason for the assumption that he is in fact concealing sadness, or anger, or any
other mental-state:
393. "When I imagine that someone who is laughing is really in pain
I do not imagine any pain-behaviour, for I see just the opposite. So
what do I imagine?"I have already said what. And I do not
necessarily imagine my being in pain."But then what is the
process of imagining it?"Where (outside philosophy) do we use
the words "I can imagine his being in pain" or "I imagine that . . . ."
or "Imagine that . . . ."? We say, for example, to someone who has to
play a theatrical part: "Here you must imagine that this man is in pain
and is concealing it"and now we give him no directions, do not tell
him what he is actually to do. For this reason the suggested analysis
is not to the point either. We now watch the actor who is imagining
this situation.
[My emphasis in italics]
The classical view rests on the notion that you can separate the sensation from any
and all observable manifestations of it. Because it is so sure that this is a sensible idea, it
makes the abstract hypothesis that the manifestations are inconsequential to the thing
itself. Naturally, when questioned as to what the thing itself is, the only answer they can
truly give, is nothing. Unlike the classical view, we know that sensation is not just a
nothing, and we know this because we accept the meaning of sensation to be the
meaning, not of private phenomena, but of observable phenomena.

299. Being unablewhen we surrender ourselves to philosophical
thoughtto help saying such-and-such; being irresistibly inclined to
say itdoes not mean being forced into an assumption, or having an
immediate perception or knowledge of a state of affairs.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 127.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 108.

Chapter 3: Wittgenstein as a Type of Behaviorist

In this final chapter, using what we already know from the two preceding
chapters, we will compare and contrast Wittgenstein's theory with Logical Behaviorism.
First, we will look at the similarities between the two. Then we will look at some
important differences. Finally, we will engage with some objections to either view, and
provide some possible answers. The main goal of this paper has been to convince the
reader that Wittgenstein, when judged according to his thoughts on sensation-language,
was a type of behaviorist. It has not been our goal, to show that either theory denies
private mental-states; one is mistaken to draw that conclusion. In actuality, we have only
shown that both theories categorically deny that private mental-states can be
meaningfully spoken about. That is to say, we have shown that both theories deny that
the meaning of sensation-language relies on private mental-states. It is in this sense, that
Wittgenstein was a behaviorist.

The Similarities

Since we have already explained both of the theories separately, we know that
both Wittgenstein and Logical Behaviorism deny that the meaning of sensation-language

comes from private mental-states. They reach this same conclusion, in similar ways. For
example, in the Beetle in the Box thought-experiment, we can see a similarity between
Wittgenstein's proof of the irrelevancy of the beetle-object and Logical Behaviorism's
utilization of the principle of verification. Recall that in our discussion of Logical
Behaviorism, we learned about the role Verificationism plays in determining the meaning
of sensation-language. We learned that Verificationism is the view which states that a
sentence is genuinely meaningful only if there is a possible observation which would
determine its truth or falsity.
Logical Behaviorism assumes that mental-terms have meaning, and therefore
determines their meaning in terms of the observable criteria for their application. In other
words, Logical Behaviorism assumes that we actually mean something when we use
mental-terms, and then asks the question: What sort of observations make these sorts of
claims true or false? If we know the answer to this question, then according to Logical
Behaviorism, we know what is involved in the meaning of mental-terms. And according
to Wittgenstein, assuming that 'beetle' has a meaning in the world of the thought-
experiment, it cannot be that of a private mental-state since we have shown that such a
state is irrelevant to the actual use of the word:
293. ... [I]f we construe the grammar of the expression of sensation on
the model of '[private] object and name', the object drops out of
consideration as irrelevant.

Notice that Logical Behaviorism supplies a positive way of knowing what mental-terms
mean, whereas Wittgenstein simply shows that they mean, whatever they mean,
regardless of any fact about a private thing; but both of their points amount to the same

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 106.

thing, which is that they do not think private mental-states matter when discussing the
meaning of mental language.
Some might argue that the connection between Wittgenstein and behaviorism is
tenuous at most. Admittedly, it seems Wittgenstein evaded answering the question
307. Aren't you nevertheless a behaviourist in disguise? Aren't you
nevertheless basically saying that everything except human behaviour
is a fiction? If I speak of a fiction, then it is of a grammatical fiction.

Rather than give a direct answer to the question of whether he is a behaviorist, he
qualifies the sense in which he believes everything except human behaviour is a
fictionhe calls it a grammatical fiction. Although somewhat cryptic, we can
understand what he means with reference to what we already know about Wittgenstein:
304. ...It is not a something, but not a nothing either! The conclusion
was only that a nothing would serve just as well as a something about
which nothing could be said...

In other words, Wittgenstein's apparent attempts to dodge the question are a result
of his belief that one cannot say anything about something private. Still, a grammatical
fiction is a fiction. But what does 'grammatical' add to his answer? Only that he thinks it
is a fiction in the sense of not even being expressible through language. In other words,
anything other than observable behavior cannot be spoken about, and therefore whether it
exists or not, it is still a type of fiction. And as we have seen, Logical Behaviorism is the
view that the meaning of mental-terms does not depend on private mental-experience; but

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 109.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 108.

this is not equivalent to denying private mental-experience. Logical Behaviorism seen in
this light, becomes much more amenable to comparison with Wittgenstein. It is not clear
what definition of 'behaviorism' Wittgenstein was under the influence of, and even he
himself seemed unsure. But when we take into consideration how we have defined
Logical Behaviorism, it seems clear over and over again throughout his Philosophical
Investigations that he was a type of behaviorist; that he thought, not only that private
mental-states were irrelevant to the meaning of sensation-language, but also that only
behavior was relevant:
281. But doesn't what you say amount to this: that there is no pain,
for example, without pain-behavior? It amounts to this: that only of
a living human being and what resembles (behaves like) a living
human being can one say: it has sensations; it sees; is blind; hears; is
deaf; is conscious or unconscious.

It is in this precise sense that Wittgenstein was a type of behaviorist, because he thought
not only that the private thing was irrelevant to the meaning of 'beetle', but also that the
relevant facts were necessarily observable.

The Differences

There are many obvious differences between Wittgenstein's philosophy and
Logical Behaviorism. One difference that is important for our purposes is the difference
in what they propose to replace the Classical View. Wittgenstein never went so far as to

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 103.

propose a theory of the reducibility of sensation-language to behavioral-language in the
Philosophical Investigations. Probably because this was never his goal, since
Wittgenstein was engaged more in the task of deconstructing the Classical View than in
proposing a definite alternative to it. Or, as he put it:
464. My aim is: to teach you to pass from a piece of disguised
nonsense to something that is patent nonsense.

309. What is your aim in philosophy? To show the fly the way out
of the fly-bottle.

In fact, I think the refusal to think of Wittgenstein as at least some form of a behaviorist
stems in part from the fact that he does not explicitly commit himself to any alternative
theory of the actual meaning of mental-terms. His lack of clarity in this regard produces a
want for what could be an actual explanation for these mental-terms.
Logical Behaviorism proposes such an alternative theory. Perhaps Wittgenstein's
lack in this regard was an effect of him thinking that 'behaviorism' implied a rejection of
sensation-language; that is, perhaps he thought that a behaviorist was someone who
rejected the legitimacy of using sensation-language. Of course, if this was what
'behaviorism' implied, then he would be right to reject it. But, Logical Behaviorism never
proposes that we abandon the use of sensation-language, or that we even modify it.
Rather, it only proposes that we think of its meaning in a certain way. As for sensation-
language itself, it can be left alone.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 141.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 110.

I think that when we use our proposed definition of Logical Behaviorism, it
becomes more clear that Wittgenstein's thoughts are remarkably kindred. A main part of
this thesis has been the attempt to look at Wittgenstein and Logical Behaviorism
comparatively, and to tease out of their differences their implicit similarities. Although
they might have seemed more different than similar at first look, I hope that now they
look more similar than before.


What we have claimed is that Wittgenstein and Logical Behaviorism both deny
that we can speak about private mental-states; or alternatively, that they deny that private
mental-states determine the meaning of sensation-language. Although it has been our
main purpose simply to argue that Wittgenstein was a type of logical behaviorist, we are
also committed to the idea that their respective theories are correct. Therefore, we will
consider an important objection to the theoretical framework they both endorse before
ending our discussion
According to C. S. Chihara and J. A. Fodor, Wittgenstein's logical behaviorism is
at fault in at least one major way. They claim that Wittgenstein forgets about one
important factthe fact that we do postulate, speak about and justify in terms of
unobservable inner events all the time. For example, we might say that, although my
pain is not simply my pain-behavior, it is what causes my pain-behavior. This is already
an issue we have dealt with before in Chapters 1 and 2, but it requires more care this

time. Fodor and Chihara correctly point out that for Wittgenstein, the question of what
the pain is can be explained by saying it simply is the pain-behavior:
Again, consider the tendency of Wittgenstein, noted by Albritton, to
write as if X (a criterion of Y) just is Y or is what is called "Y" in
certain circumstances. We can understand a philosopher's wanting to
say that shooting the ball through the basket in the appropriate
situation just is scoring a field goal or is what we call "scoring a field

This is because, for Wittgenstein and logical behaviorism, the pain-behavior serves as
the criterion of the pain; and for them, to think that 'pain' denotes something behind or
beyond simply the pain-behavior, which justifies the use of the word, is to be confused as
to the meaning of 'pain'.
For Fodor and Chihara though, 'pain' denotes something postulated as the cause of
the pain-behavior, but not just the pain-behavior itself. Or, for example in the case of
dreaming, we might not just say that dreaming is the behavior of dream-reports and
neurological data, but rather that it is the inner event which causes these other things. The
reason, they argue, this is a problem for Wittgenstein is that he argues that the meaning of
such phenomena is just the criteria for their ascription. Or in other words, the meaning of
'pain' and 'dream' for Wittgenstein is just the criteria for their applicationi.e. The
meaning of 'dreaming' isn't some inner process, but it is simply dream-reports or
neurological data etc.
As Fodor and Chihara explain, Wittgenstein proposed two categories to help with
the explanation of certain predicates: criterion and symptom. A criterion is a thing which
allows one to truthfully apply a certain predicate; and a criterion must be observable.

C. S. Chihara and J. A. Fodor, Operationalism and Ordinary Language: A Critique of
Wittgenstein, American Philosophical Quarterly 2, no. 4 (1965): 285.

Therefore, the criterion for dreaming is dream-behavior and saying truthfully that
someone is dreaming is just saying that the criterion obtainsor in other words, saying
that someone is dreaming is really just like saying they are making dream-reports or
erratically moving in their sleep etc. A symptom on the other hand is just something that
might correlate with the criterion, but which unlike the criterion is neither necessary nor
sufficient for the ascription.
Fodor and Chihara take issue with this move of Wittgenstein because they think
some words like 'dreaming' denote more than just an observable criterion. For example,
they point out that according to Wittgenstein, there might be two different senses of
'dreaming'. One in which a certain type of brain-activity is the criterion and one in which
dream-reports are the criterion:
For Wittgenstein, not only is it the case that the criteria we use "give
our words their common meanings" (BB, p. 57) and that to explain the
criteria we use is to explain the meaning of the words (BB, p. 24), but
also it is the case that to introduce a new criterion of Y is to define a
new concept of Y.

And both senses might be correlated, such that the criterion of one is the symptom of the
other and vice versa. But Fodor and Chihara argue that 'dreaming' denotes an inner,
unobservable process which explains both the occurrence of dream-reports and the brain-
activity. The process of dreaming, according to them, is explained in terms of another
thing, postulated, as having the properties necessary for causing the correlation between
the other symptoms of dreaming. Fodor and Chihara argue that Wittgenstein is forced to
choose between different senses of 'dreaming' each with their respective observable

Chihara and Fodor, Operationalism and Ordinary Language: A Critique of
Wittgenstein, 290.

criterion, and therefore unable to account for the sense of 'dreaming' which denotes the
unobservable process which science postulates as the reason for the occurrence of varied
symptomatic behavior:
The notion that adopting any test for dreaming which arrives at
features of dreams not determinable from the dream report thereby
alters the concept of a dream seems to run counter to our intuitions
about the goals of psychological research.

Because of this, they claim that Wittgenstein's theory that all predicates must denote their
criteria of applicability is wrong.
Firstly, what Fodor and Chihara fail to recognize, when they say that Here, as
elsewhere, an outer syndrome stands in need of an inner process is that just because
we postulate unobservable things to help explain correlations between observable things,
it does not mean we have to accept that by 'unobservable' we mean anything more than an
abstract theoretical or discursive object. Why Fodor and Chihara think it necessary to
take it as anything more than that is unclear, but it seems they think that certain predicates
commit us to a belief in certain unobservable things. Whether this is the case or not is
also unclear; but it does not seem that science, for example, in order to operate with its
predicates, has to commit itself to anything other than to the theoretical models it uses in
its practice. And so, 'dreaming' can really just denote a theoretical model, and that model
can just be a list of criterion such that: 'Dreaming' means the process which occurs when
X, Y, and Z happen. For example, someone could fake a dream-report without actually
having had a dream, and we might determine that they did so by noticing that they did not
have a certain relevant brain state. And our definition of 'dream' could include the


necessary condition that a certain brain state be present, since we take that brain state as
the cause of a real dream-report as opposed to a fake dream-report that does not have that
cause. The point though, is that Wittgenstein's theory of observable criteria is still correct,
even if some predicates involve particular complexes of observable criteria.
Secondly, Fodor and Chihara imply that since the goal of psychological research
is to have a deeper understanding of actual phenomena, Wittgenstein must be wrong
when he claims that the different senses of 'dream' are at best correlated. Rather, they
claim, dream reports and other observable manifestations of dreaming are all connected
to the same underlying process, such that there is one sense of 'dreaming' which includes
all symptoms. In other words, their claim is that Wittgenstein's theory of criterion leads
one to the conclusion that we cannot have the sort of deep and evolving understanding of
underlying unobservable mechanisms that we take so much of our thought to center on.
According to Fodor and Chihara, under Wittgenstein's logical behaviorism, we
would never be able to make the theoretical inference that tossing-and-turning in one's
sleep and dream-reports are interrelated facets of the same processwe would be stuck,
with different senses of the word 'dream', and no way of tying them together. Fodor and
Chihara also claim that another consequence of Wittgenstein's logical behaviorism is that
it fails to account for the way we make hypotheses about correlations between different
manifestations of dreaming if each manifestation implies a whole new sense of the word
It would seem then that, on Wittgenstein's view, EEG provides us
with, at best, a symptom of positive dream reports; and symptoms are
supposedly discovered by co-occurrences. The difficulty, however, is
that this makes it unclear how the expectation that such a correlation

must obtain could have been a rational expectation even before the
correlation was experimentally confirmed.

And also:
That is, we can see how it could be the case that the correlation of
EEG with dream reports was anticipated prior to observation. The
dream report was taken by the experiments to be an indicator of a
psychological event occurring prior to it. Given considerations about
the relation of cortical to psychological events, and given also the
theory of EEG, it was predicted that the EEG should provide and an
index of the occurrence of dreams.

Fodor and Chihara are right to think that this sort of inference is justified, and therefore
that it deserves an account. But where they are wrong, is in thinking that Wittgenstein's
theory somehow fundamentally fails at providing such an account. Their worry, could
simply be expressed as the question: How is it that we make these theoretical models?
And when are we justified in saying that two different senses of a word can be combined
into a new concept? And it is true that Wittgenstein might not have specifically
addressed this phenomena, but the question is still nevertheless one of observable criteria.
For example, I know that I can apply the word 'sad' either when I see someone crying, or
when I see them pouting. Pouting and crying could each be separate criteria for different
senses of the word 'sad'. Before knowing whether pouting and crying are correlated, I
might make the hypothesis that being sad is a process that sometimes results in crying
and sometimes in pouting. I therefore take the meaning of 'sadness' to be a process that
explains the correlation across cases between crying and pouting. How could this be
though, if crying and pouting are separate criteria for different senses of 'sad'? And if we

Chihara and Fodor, Operationalism and Ordinary Language: A Critique of
Wittgenstein, 291.

form a new meaning for the word 'sad', then have we made any real advancement in our
understanding of an actual process? Well, the answer is that these are irrelevant
questions. The new meaning of the word 'sad' has been given by the hypothesis and its
empirical confirmation; and the criterion for this new meaning of 'sad', is just the set of
observable facts arranged in just the way which the theoretical definition of 'sad' requires.
Fodor and Chihara appeal to examples of theoretical inferences in science about
novel phenomena in order to criticize Wittgenstein's logical behaviorism. But their attack
is misguided, since it attributes to Wittgenstein difficulties that are not obvious. Their
argument amounts to the question: If I use the criterion of X for the word 'pain' and you
use the criterion Y for the word 'pain', and we are therefore meaning different things, how
can someone postulate an overarching process which relates both of our uses? Well, this
was never a question that Wittgenstein spoke about. It seems, like a related but different
issue concerning the nature of scientific reasoning and theoretical conjecture.
Wittgenstein's point still withstands, which is that whatever the new concept of 'pain' or
'dreaming' we produce in the course of our empirical investigations, the concept is still
something which has as its criteria observable facts of the world. As Fodor and Chihara
rightly point out:
In each case, since the features we in fact attribute to these states,
processes, or dispositions are just those features we know they must
have if they are to fulfill their role in explanations of behavior,
etiology, personality etc., it would seem that there is nothing about
them that the child could not in principle learn by employing the
pattern of inference described above...

Chihara and Fodor, Operationalism and Ordinary Language: A Critique of
Wittgenstein, 293-294.

And so, the fact that we employ models to explain disparate instances of behavior, does
not mean that those models involve anything other than the structure of the relation
between the different observable facts.


In conclusion, while it is clear that Wittgenstein and Logical Behaviorism at the
very least provide a theory for the meaning of mental-terms, it is not obvious that they are
mistaken and if they are, in what way. Fodor and Chihara might be right to say, If the
Wittgensteinian argument we have been considering is to be compelling, some grounds
must be given for the exhaustiveness of these types of justification. This it would seem,
Wittgenstein has failed to do.
But it depends on what sense of 'exhaustiveness' they
mean. I think that Wittgenstein's logical behaviorism is exhaustive in showing the
irrelevancy of private mental-states to the meaning of mental-terms. It might not be
exhaustive in another sense, of telling us everything about the relation between abstract
theoretical objects we sometimes posit and observable features of our experience. It
might also not be exhaustive in telling us how it is that we create and produce new
meanings or modify old ones. These questions, I think, are yet to be fully answered. But,
as we have shown in this paper, Wittgenstein and Logical Behaviorism deal a fatal blow
to the Classical View. If there is any lasting merit in the theories of Wittgenstein and
Logical Behaviorism, it is in our abandonment of the Classical View, and in our
beginning a new way of thinking about meaning, human interaction, and the world of
language with which we cannot help but interact.

Chihara and Fodor, Operationalism and Ordinary Language: A Critique of
Wittgenstein, 291.

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