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13 - Criteria

Eric Loomis
Affiliation:
University of South Alabama
Kelly Dean Jolley
Affiliation:
Auburn University, Alabama
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Summary

Wittgenstein introduced the notion of “criteria” in The Blue Book, and it appears frequently in his later writings. The notion almost always appears in the context of the illustrations of certain uses of language. These illustrations typically occur as part of an attempt to clarify or illuminate some aspect of language that has proven philosophically troublesome or contentious, and which has thus served as prod to philosophical theory construction.

Wittgenstein's Blue Book introduction of criteria is embedded in a discussion of our knowledge of states such as pains. A look at this discussion can help us to draw out the nature and purpose of Wittgenstein's use of the notion:

It might be found practical to call a certain state of decay in a tooth, not accompanied by what we commonly call toothache, “unconscious toothache” and to use in such a case the expression that we have toothache, but don't know it. … There is nothing wrong about [this use], as it is just a new terminology and can at any time be retranslated into ordinary language. On the other hand it obviously makes use of the word “to know” in a new way. If you wish to examine how this expression is used it is helpful to ask yourself “what in this case is the process of getting to know like?” “What do we call ‘getting to know’ or, ‘finding out’?”

(BB 23; compare PI §§247, 560)

It is clear that we can assign a sense to the expression “unconscious toothache” in the way that Wittgenstein suggests.

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Wittgenstein
Key Concepts
, pp. 160 - 168
Publisher: Acumen Publishing
Print publication year: 2010

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  • Criteria
  • Edited by Kelly Dean Jolley, Auburn University, Alabama
  • Book: Wittgenstein
  • Online publication: 05 February 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9781844654420.014
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  • Criteria
  • Edited by Kelly Dean Jolley, Auburn University, Alabama
  • Book: Wittgenstein
  • Online publication: 05 February 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9781844654420.014
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Criteria
  • Edited by Kelly Dean Jolley, Auburn University, Alabama
  • Book: Wittgenstein
  • Online publication: 05 February 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9781844654420.014
Available formats
×