If you were to experience something
but couldn’t understand or express the experience with words
then of course, you wouldn’t be able to accurately
describe the experience to other people.
Thus, no-one else would be able to know
what you experienced
If that were true though,
would that also mean that nither could you?
was a 20th century Austrian-British philosopher,
known for his uniquely innovative
and often confusing ideas
regarding the nature of language, internal experience,
and the relationship between them.
To help illustrate this relationship
Wittgenstein purposed the following metaphorical thought experiment
in his primary later book, Philosophical Investigations
in which he suggested that we imagine a group of people
each person has a box.
Inside each box,
there is a thing that everyone calls a beetle
However, in the context of this thought experiment,
no-one is allowed to look inside anyone else’s box.
Everyone can only look inside their own,
and they’re only allowed to talk about what’s inside their box
So, the question is can anyone ever know
那么 问题是 其他人能否知道
if anyone else actually has a beetle in their box?
And can anyone know
what anyone else’s beetle actually looks like if they do?
Sure, everyone could describe what’s in their box
but they can, of course,
only talk using words everyone shares and understands
regarding what’s in their box,
which in this case, is beetle
According to Wittgenstein though,
the thing inside the box
cannot be meaningfully talked about using the word beetle,
because no-one can ever confirm what anyone means by beetle
As a result, the word beetle can only mean,
the thing that’s in the box
but doesn’t and can’t necessarily describe
the thing that’s actually in anyone’s box
Wittgenstein uses this beetle analogy
to suggest that the felt states and sensations
that occur in a person’s mind,
things like smell, pain, love,
例如气味 痛苦 爱
happiness, sadness and so on
are things that no-one can ever communicate sufficiently enough
to share and reveal their experience of to others
I can never see your beetle,
and you can never see mine
when we attempt to think and communicate about the beetle though,
the word has to be a word that
everyone understands or can be taught
for the word to have any meaning.
According to Wittgenstein and many others,
language is entirely social.
This theory is known as
“the private language argument”.
which proposes that no language can be understandable
if it is solely to one individual.
Rather, language is only formed through shared use
amongst a community of others
Thus the sensation of something
might exist exclusively to oneself
but it can never be understood
in terms of language exclusively to oneself,
meaning we can never know
if anyone experiences anything the same way we experience it
even if everyone talks about it with the same words,
We can only assume
trying to rationalize, communicate
comprehend the mental experience of a sensation as it actually is
试图解释 交流 理解 某种感知在脑中的实际体验
becomes inconceivable after a certain point
For example one could say that
fresh cut grass smells good
but when asked what it smells like
they would have to go on and say things like
It smells natural or
It smells like the season of spring
if then asked what that smells like,
perhaps if one tried hard enough
they could come up with a few other smells to compare it to
but they would eventually and inevitably
reach the limits of language
There would be a final question of what it smells like
that would have no answer
a sensation beyond words
that no-one besides the smeller could know for sure what is like.
“Whereof one cannot speak,
thereof one must be silent.”
Wittgenstein writes when referring to the notion of subjective experience
and that which exceeds language and logical understanding.
Beyond the suggestions of language and shared meaning
arguably, what is most thought provoking about all of this
is the notion that we can never know
what is feels like to be anyone else other than ourselves.
we can never know what the world might look,
taste, smell, sound, and feel like
世界看 尝 闻 听 感觉起来是怎样的
from outside our own head.
We can never verify what
anyone else’s colour blue looks like
or what anyone else’s punch in the arm feels like
or what anyone else’s sense of love or happiness is like
We are all locked inside our minds
yelling out to each other
in an attempt to find out
but never capable of entering anyone else’s
to find out for sure.
Even if the framework structure and wiring of
each of our brains are mostly identical
the unknowable conscious psychological layer on top of it all
transmutes the experience of neurological occurrences
into something abstract
distanced enough from the measurable and communicable
to ever know exactly
what any of it is where it comes from
and how it might change in different heads.
Ultimately, no matter any
philosophical stance or scientific theory
it is fair to argue that
at a minimum no-one can or will ever know
what it means to have navigated and experienced this universe
in the way that you have and will.
Each moment that you experience a particular sense
or image of the world
with your particular conditions of consciousness
is forever yours exclusively,
withholding the mystery of what it means
to actually be you for all of eternity
Perhaps we all feel and experience
in nearly identical ways
or perhaps we all feel and experience
in very dissimilar ways.
your version of blue, your sensation of pain,
your experience of love
could perhaps be its only version of blue,
its only version of pain and
its only version of love to ever exist in the entire universe.
the point is we don’t know,
because each of us holds the answer
that no-one else can ever access
If you were to experience something