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Wittgenstein On Psychology

Illustrious Oxford Professor, P.M.S Hacker, talks to the Heythrop Philosophy Society about Wittgenstein's critique of Psychology.

The HEYTHROP PHILOSOPHY SOCIETY is pleased to present one of the world's most distinguished philosophical therapists: Emeritus Professor PMS Hacker. The talk will be followed by a response from Dr. Michael Lacewing.

Peter Hacker is one of the most powerful contemporary exponents of the linguistic-therapeutic approach to philosophy pioneered by Ludwig Wittgenstein. In this approach, the words and concepts used by the language community are taken as given, and the role of philosophy is to resolve or dissolve philosophical problems by giving an overview of the uses of these words and the structural relationships between these concepts. Philosophical inquiry is therefore very different from scientific inquiry, and Hacker maintains accordingly that there is a sharp dividing line between the two: "Philosophy is not a contribution to human knowledge, but to human understanding" (quoted from "An Orrery of Intentionality").

This has led him into direct disagreement with "neuro-philosophers": neuroscientists or philosophers such as Antonio Damasio and Daniel Dennett who think that neuroscience can shed light on philosophical questions such as the nature of consciousness or the mind-body problem. Hacker maintains that these, like all philosophical problems, are not real problems at all, but mirages arising from conceptual confusion. It follows that scientific inquiry (learning more facts about humans or the world) does not help to resolve them.

His 2003 book "Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience", co-authored with neuroscientist M. Bennett, contains an exposition of these views, and critiques of the ideas of many contemporary neuroscientists and philosophers, including Francis Crick, Antonio Damasio, Daniel Dennett, John Searle, and others.

Hacker in general finds many received components of current philosophy of mind to be incoherent. He rejects mind-brain identity theories, as well as functionalism, eliminativism and other forms of reductionism. He advocates methodological pluralism, denying that standard explanations of human conduct are causal, and insisting on the irreducibility of explanation in terms of reasons and goals. He denies that psychological attributes can be intelligibly ascribed to the brain, insisting that they are ascribable only to the human being as a whole. He has endeavoured to show that the puzzles and 'mysteries' of consciousness dissolve under careful analysis of the various forms of intransitive and transitive consciousness, and that so-called 'qualia' are no more than a philosopher's fiction.

Heady stuff indeed! Do come along.



Dr Peter Hacker | talks | www
Dr Michael Lacewing | talks | www


Date and Time:

13 February 2008 at 3:30 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



Heythrop College
Kensington Square (south west corner)
W8 5HQ
020 7795 6600





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Additional Information:

For more information, and directions, please see www.philoso.co.uk/future.html

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