Other Minds pp 121-130 | Cite as

“Wittgenstein’s” “Attitudinal Approach” to Other Minds

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 246)


So far I have not claimed at any stage to be commenting on Wittgenstein’s views, as opposed to commenting on views claimed by others to be his, or, at any rate, views claimed by others to be readily extrapolable from what he wrote. While firmly intending to remain faithful to this sensible but unheroic limitation, I want to look now at a view of Wittgenstein’s thinking on other minds which seems plausible, and where that thinking interestingly seems both to intersect with and diverge from certain strands of my thinking on other minds.1 That thinking also involves what has been referred to as the “attitudinal approach” to other minds. This remains, I think, an “approach” that is more influential than it is discussed, and it is, at least, an important historical alternative to the analogical inference. In what follows, when it is Wittgenstein’s thinking on other minds as presented by M.R.M. Ter Hark that I am commenting on, I shall refer to this interpretation as “Wittgenstein”.


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Notes to Chapter Eight

  1. 1.
    M.R.M. Ter Hark, ‘The Development of Wittgenstein’s Views about the Other Minds Problem’, Synthese vol.87 (1991) pp. 227–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    It should be noted that mutual behaviourism (holding of ourselves and others) (a) seems never to have been held by Wittgenstein and (b), is in any case, subject to the particular asymmetry I have been insisting on, as argued in chapter two.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Ter Hark, op. cit., section 3’Pretending’ and M.B. Hintikka and J. Hintikka, Investigating Wittgenstein (Blackwell, 1986) pp. 279–84.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    John McDowell, ‘On “The Reality of the Past”’, in Christopher Hookway and Philip Pettit (eds.), Action and Interpretation (Cambridge University Press, 1978) pp. 127–44. In his ‘Criteria, Defeasibility, and Knowledge’ (op. cit.) he does not advocate direct awareness of another’s inner states. However, there is a tantalising discussion on pp. 472–3 (and footnote 1 on p. 473) which might be understood to contain a hint of the “attitudinal approach” as I have elaborated it. It should be noted, once again, that direct observation of the inner selves of others would not avoid the problem of other minds. What is needed is direct knowledge that other human figures have inner selves.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    It is likely that some have “attached” the “attitudinal approach” to whatever “dissolution” of the other minds problem they think successful. The “dissolution” demonstrates the problem’s incoherence. The “attitudinal approach” describes our actual views of others. The work is done by the “dissolution”. Such a strategy would seem to be less attractive than claiming that it is rational to believe in others because it is incoherent to do otherwise.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.La Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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