Frames /sing


Not a Something?

I am curious how many of those who are concerned with the status of Qualia are satisfied with Wittgenstein’s “[pain] is not a something, but it is not a nothing either!”:

304. “But you will surely admit that there is a difference between pain – behavior accompanied by pain and pain – behavior without any pain?” – Admit it? What greater difference could there be? – “And yet you again and again reach the conclusion that the sensation itself is a nothing.” – Not at all. 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. We have only rejected the grammar which tries to force itself on us here.

Philosophical Investigations

To what degree is Wittgenstein’s grammatical dismissal consumptive of the differences in the qualia camps? HIs main point is that the kinds of ostensive langugage games by which we largely compose our notion of “somethingness” are grammatically (that is contextually) inappropriate to the conditions of qualia talk. But his “its not a nothing either” appears like a splitting the baby. What is so tempting about Wittgenstein’s answer is that it is so dismissive, that is seems to undercut the entire discourse of disagreement, and place it at the level of language.

Is it necessary to be a Realist to continue the qualia-debate, to think that sentences get their truth by correspondence to Real Facts of the world? Are their any qualia supporters who are non- or anti-Realists? Does everything hinge on the notion of “something”?

[written September 1, 2007]

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