more from Ludwig Wittgenstein

Single Idea 4147

[catalogued under 19. Language / F. Communication / 4. Private Language]

Full Idea

If someone says he only knows what pain is from his own case, suppose everyone had a box with something in it (a 'beetle'). We can't see into other boxes, so we say what a beetle is by looking in our own box. The contents of each box could be different.

Gist of Idea

If we only named pain by our own case, it would be like naming beetles by looking in a private box


Ludwig Wittgenstein (Philosophical Investigations [1952], 293)

Book Reference

Wittgenstein,Ludwig: 'Philosophical Investigations', ed/tr. Anscombe,E. [Blackwell 1972], p.100

A Reaction

But pain is private. Children must guess the meaning of parts of the language that refer to inner experience, like 'sad' or 'hopeful'. Body language brings our private concepts together, but error seems possible.