From AAT to Wittgenstein? Skip it!

Gerrit Hanenburg (
Mon, 23 Oct 1995 14:06:02 GMT

Paul Crowley <> wrote:

>Hey, a Wittgenstein freak!

Thank you. I'm really flattered. :-)

>Anyway his point in PI #25, as I understand it, is to undermine the
>notion of "thinking" as an unseen mental activity which is later or
>separately reported, or communicated, by speech. It's part of his
>whole program to destroy the Cartesian duality.

>He's not saying snakes can think. He's saying that Man does not
>generally, separately "think". "Thinking" is not a mental activity
>that necessarily precedes commanding, questioning, recounting,
>chatting, etc., etc. In a sense, all these *are* "thinking".

My abuse of Wittgenstein was merely an attempt to invite Mark Hubey
to explain why he thinks humans are higher up the evolutionary ladder than
snakes (i.e.evolutionary "advanced").

As to your interpretation of PI #25 I think you're right.
According to Wittgenstein it's language which lures us into thinking
that "thinking" is a separate mental activity.
He already expresses this idea in "The Blue Book"(BB) and "The Brown

BrB#9:"We very often find it difficult to think without speaking to
ourselves half aloud,-and nobody asked to describe what happened in this
case would ever say that something -the thinking- accompanied the
speaking,were he not led into doing so by the pair of verbs
"speaking"/"thinking",and by many of our common phrases in which their uses
run parallel".
He then gives several examples like:"Think before you speak!","He speaks
without thinking","What I said didn't quite express my thought","He says
one thing and thinks just the opposite",etc.
It's language that creates the picture of "thinking" as a separate process.
And this picture holds us captive because it is constantly repeated to us
by our language.