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The Aroma of Coffee

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 January 2009

H. O. Mounce
University College of Swansea


My title has been taken from the following passage in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations:

Describe the aroma of coffee—why can't it be done? Do we lack the words? And for what are words lacking?—But how do we get the idea that such a description must after all be possible? Have you ever felt the lack of such a description? Have you tried to describe the aroma and not succeeded? (610).

Research Article
Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy 1989

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1 Nagel, T., Mortal Questions (Cambridge University Press, 1979), 165180.Google Scholar

2 Nagel is aware of the point I am about to make. Indeed, he mentions it in a footnote (see Mortal Questions, 170Google Scholar). My criticism is simply that he does not emphasize, or at any rate develop, the point.

3 Steinbeck, J., The Short Novels (London: Heinemann, 1958), 149205Google Scholar.

4 Kenny, A., Reason and Religion (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987), 85103.Google Scholar