sexta-feira, 6 de julho de 2018

Advertisement for the book "PHILOSOPHICAL SEMANTICS"

This book is in a certain way a return to the kind of work made in Germany by philosophers like Tugendhat and Habermas in the seventies.
Philosophy is today too much fragmented in sub-theories of questionable relevance. It privileges empty or implausible ideas because they are skillfully developed, not because there is truth in them.

The strategy applied in this book was a different one. I considered the most plausible ideas of theoretical philosophy, show why they must be plausible, develop them, and, assuming a principle of consilience – of a structured reality – try to show how they fit together. The result is a non-expected as much constructive as critical overview of the main problems of theoretical philosophy from the linguistic-analytic perspective.

Table of Contents

Preface...................................................................................................................... xi

Acknowledgments............................................................................................. xviii

Chapter I................................................................................................................... 1
1.        Ernst Tugendhat’s analysis of singular predicative statements
2.        The virtue of comprehensiveness

Appendix to Chapter I........................................................................................... 8
How Do Proper Names Really Work? (Cutting the Gordian Knot)
1.        A meta-descriptivist rule for proper names
2.        Identification rules at work
3.        Objection of vagueness
4.        Signification
5.        Ignorance and error
6.        Rigidity
7.        Rules changeability
8.        Names versus descriptions
9.        Autonomous definite descriptions
10.     Kripke’s counterexamples
11.     Donnellan’s counterexamples
12.     Explanatory failure of the causal-historical view

Chapter II................................................................................................................ 42
The Most Suitable Methodology for Conceptual Analysis
1.        Common sense and meaning
2.        Ambitious versus modest common sense
3.        Resisting changes in worldviews
4.        Primacy of established knowledge
5.        Philosophizing by examples
6.        Tacit knowledge of meaning: traditional explanation
7.        A very simple model of semantic-cognitive rule
8.        Criteria versus symptoms
9.        Challenges to the traditional explanation (i): John McDowell
10.     Challenges to the traditional explanation (ii): Gareth Evans
11.     Unreflected semantic cognitions
12.     Conclusion

Appendix to Chapter II........................................................................................ 79
Modal Illusions: Against Supra-Epistemic Metaphysical Identities
Addendum: disposing of externalism

Chapter III............................................................................................................. 117
Wittgensteinian Semantics
1.        Semantic-cognitive link
2.        Why cannot reference be meaning?
3.        Failure of Russell’s atomistic referentialism
4.        Meaning as a function of use
5.        Meaning as a kind of rule
6.        Meaning as associations of rules
7.        Meaning and language-games
8.        Meaning and form of life
9.        Tying the threads together
10.     Criteria and symptoms revisited
11.     Transgressions of the internal limits of language
12.     The form of semantic-cognitive rules
13.     What is wrong with the private language argument?
14.     Concluding remarks

Appendix to Chapter III..................................................................................... 157
Trope Theory and the Unsustainable Lightness of Being
1.        Introducing tropes
2.        Tropes and universals
3.        Tropes and concrete particulars
4.        Formal tropes
5.        Conclusion

Chapter IV............................................................................................................. 182
An Extravagant Reading of Fregean Semantics
1.        Reference of a singular term
2.        Sense of a singular term
3.        Reference of a predicative expression
4.        Ontological level
5.        Referring to particularized properties (tropes)
6.        Difficulties with the concept of unsaturation
7.        Unsaturation as ontological dependence
8.        Sense of a predicative term
9.        The dependence of the predicative sense
10.     The concept of horse paradox
11.     Existence as a property of concepts
12.     Existence as a property of conceptual rules
13.     Two naïve objections
14.     Attributing existence to objects
15.     The existence of objects and its identification rules
16.     Existence of spatiotemporal locations: indexicals
17.     Advantages of the higher-order view of existence
18.     Ubiquity of existence
19.     Answering some final objections
20.     Reference again: a metaphysical excurse (Mill)
21.     The reference of a sentence as its truth-value
22.     Logical structure of facts
23.     Ontological nature of facts
24.     Church’s slingshot argument
25.     Sub-facts and grounding facts
26.     Taking seriously the sentence’s reference as a fact
27.     The riddle of identity in difference
28.     Contexts of interest: no need for a necessary a posteriori
29.     Sense of sentences: the thought
30.     The thought as the truth-bearer
31.     Facts as true thoughts?
32.     The thought as a verifiability rule
33.     Frege’s Platonism
34.     Avoiding Frege’s Platonism
35.     Further ontological consequences
36.     A short digression on contingent futures
37.     Conclusion

Appendix to Chapter IV..................................................................................... 288
Frege, Russell, and the Puzzles of Reference
1.        Russell’s solutions to the puzzles of reference
2.        Fregean solutions to the same puzzles
3.        Reviewing Fregean assumptions
4.        Reviewing Russell’s assumptions
5.        Building a bridge between both views
6.        Conclusion

Chapter V.............................................................................................................. 313
Verificationism Redeemed
1.        Origins of semantic verificationism
2.        Wittgensteinian verificationism
3.        Verifiability rule as a criterial rule
4.        Objection 1: the principle is self-refuting
5.        Objection 2: a formalist illusion
6.        Objection 3: verificational holism
7.        Objection 4: existential-universal asymmetry
8.        Objection 5: arbitrary indirectness
9.        Objection 6: empirical counterexamples
10.     Objection 7: formal counterexamples
11.     Objection 8: skepticism about rules
12.     Defending analyticity
13.     Conclusion

Appendix to Chapter V...................................................................................... 359
The Only Key to Solving the Humean Problem of Induction
1.        Formulating the Humean argument
2.        The basic idea
3.        Reformulating PF

Chapter VI............................................................................................................. 371
Sketch of a Unified Theory of Truth
1.        The deceptive simplicity of correspondence
2.        Analysis of correspondence (1): structural isomorphism
3.        Analysis of correspondence (2): categorial match
4.        Analysis of correspondence (3): intentionality and causality
5.        Exemplifying correspondence
6.        Compatibility between verificationism and correspondence
7.        Formal definitions of truth
8.        Negative truths
9.        Self-referentiality
10.     Pragmatics of the correspondence relation
11.     Retrograde procedures
12.     A more complex case
13.     General statements
14.     Some funny facts
15.     Expansion to formal sciences
16.     Why can analytic truth be called true?
17.     The insufficiency of coherence
18.     Coherence as a mediator
19.     Roles of empirical coherence
20.     Reverend David’s case
21.     What about the truth of the truth-maker?
22.     Objection of the linguistic-cognitive circle
23.     Answering the objection of the linguistic-cognitive circle
24.     The argument of illusion
25.     Answering the argument of illusion
26.     The argument of science and its answer
27.     Question: How do we warrant the perception of external content?
28.     Answer: A definitional criterion of external reality
29.     Proving the existence of the external world
30.     Skeptical scenarios
31.     Verification and intentionality: Husserl
32.     Solving two Husserlian problems
33.     Truth and factual existence again
34.     The rule’s structural mirroring of the world
35.     Conclusion

Appendix to Chapter VI..................................................................................... 463
Discovery of Wine

References............................................................................................................ 465

segunda-feira, 2 de julho de 2018


DRAFT for the book PHILOSOPHICAL SEMANTICS, to be published in 2018 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Wittgenstein on Meaning and Rules

My aim is not so much to interpret Wittgenstein, as to reconstruct and sometimes develop his insights on meaning in a way that shows more coherence and relevance than we might suppose at first glance.[1] What I am seeking is something that in his own terminology could be called a surveillable representation (übersichtliche Darstellung) of the grammar of the concept-word ‘meaning,’ particularly concerning representative language. Before beginning, I would like to offer my views on something we could call the ‘semantic-cognitive link.’[2]

I support the most common viewpoint concerning the referential mechanism, according to which referential expressions can only refer because of some intermediary link able to associate them with their reference. This view originated in classical antiquity. A fundamental point to be considered is that this link can always be seen from two contrasting perspectives: the semantic and the cognitive.[3] From a cognitive or psychological perspective, the link is usually called an idearepresentationintentionconceptionthoughtbelief and cognition (Aristotle and Locke were models of semanticists who have adopted this perspective). From a semantic perspective, the link is more often called sensemeaninguseapplicationintensionconnotationconceptinformative contentbelief-content, content of thought, propositioncriteriacriterial rule, verificational rule, meaning-rule (the Stoics, Frege, and Husserl were models of semanticists of this last persuasion).
     At this point, an old question arises: What is the appropriate link? Which set of terms should be included or excluded? Should we exclude psychological terms, so as not to contaminate semantics with natural contingency? Or should we abandon a possible commitment to questionable abstract semantic entities, exchanging them for the more feasible concreteness of the psychological, the only thing really able to justify mental causality? Should we read an ambiguous work like the Critique of Pure Reason from a semantic or from a psychological perspective?
     Traditionally, philosophers have dealt with this problem by assuming that one of these two alternatives must be correct. Nonetheless, this is the real mistake. They have assumed that these two alternatives are mutually exclusive. I see this assumption as a false dilemma, generating useless philosophical disputes. The psychological and semantic perspectives should be seen not as mutually exclusive alternatives, but as complementary and at the bottom inseparable.
     The source of the illusion that these two perspectives are irreconcilable lies in the fact that the abstract character of the semantic perspective seems to be committed to some form of realism (Platonist or in a sense Aristotelianist) about universals. In contrast, the cognitivist perspective seems committed to some kind of nominalism or at least particularism attached to the contingency of the psychological subject. Since these ontological commitments are incompatible, the two alternatives also seem incompatible.
     However, when we perceive that these ontological commitments could be avoided, it becomes easy to conclude that the intermediary link between words and things can be dealt with in these two apparently contradictory ways without a real conflict. In order to reach this conclusion, we must realize that when we consider the intermediate link from a semantic perspective, we are not necessarily committed to the appeal to the kind of abstract entities assumed by realism. What we are doing is leaving out of consideration the inescapable fact that meaning can only exist insofar as it is spatiotemporally embodied in specific psycho-physical subjects (or persons).
     In order to clarify the complementarity that I am suggesting, the intermediate link can be considered as both:

(a)   a cognitive link, consisting of semantic elements that must be spatiotemporally realized as ephemeral cognitions experienced in specific psycho-physical subjects;
(b)  a semantic link, which is referred to as the same semantic elements considered in abstraction from their spatiotemporal realization as cognitions going on in a certain specific psychological subject in a specific time and space, but not in abstraction from any spatiotemporal instantiation in at least one only particular psycho-physical subject. So considered, the semantic link can be distributed among an indeterminate number of cognitive subjects, even ones not immediately concerned, which does not make it de-psychologized or disembodied (Cf. Appendix to this chapter).

In other words: the proposed abstraction cannot be achieved in a sense where the semantic link is considered as somehow transcending the realm of specific psychological and physical subjects, since it always requires some form of cognitive spatiotemporal intentional embodiment in order to be an object of consideration. In fact, the word ‘abstraction’ means here simply leaving out of consideration the natural association between a meaning and this or that specific psycho-physical subject which instantiates the meaning, and focusing on the signs that can convey this meaning, insofar as they can be understood by some other psycho-physical interpreter. This is the only way to make a semantic-cognitive link semantically independent of its instantiation in occasional cognitive subjects.
     A very simple example illustrates my point. When I recognize a patch of vermilion of cinnabar (a precisely characterized shade of color), it is because the patch I see matches a memory image of vermilion that I have stored in my long-term memory from earlier experiences. Now, when I speak of a general concept of vermilion of cinnabar, I intend to show that I am speaking not only of this image, which may become conscious in my mind, but also of any other qualitatively identical[4] image of this color that may become conscious in mine or any other mind.[5]
     In other words, contrary to the idea that our semantic link is a type that is a unique abstract Platonic or Sub-Platonic entity, what I am proposing is that we conceive the semantic link in the sense of an arbitrarily chosen model, ideally, as any token that stands for any other token that is qualitatively identical to it.[6] In short, we can define a semantic link X as:

A semantic link (Df.) = any occurrence of X arbitrarily chosen to serve as a model for any other occurrence of some X that is qualitatively identical to the model.

Since all these possible occurrences must be psychological (and certainly also physical), we do not need to transcend the domain of the psycho-physical in order to reach the abstract semantic domain. Moreover, we do not need to have an instantiation of the semantic type in any privileged chosen psycho-physical subject. What we really need is for at least one psycho-physical subject, no matter which, to embody the semantic cognition. But this condition, as we will see later, can easily be accommodated in our commonsense ontological framework supplied by those particularized properties called tropes.
     We can strengthen this compromise solution, if we note that even some sub-items of (a) and (b) show an approximate correspondence to each other. Thus:

(i)    the psychological word ‘idea’ has meaning proximity to the semantic words ‘sense’ or ‘meaning,’ as well as to ‘concept’;
(ii)   the psychological word ‘representation’ has some meaning proximity to the semantic phrase ‘criterial rule’;
(iii) the psychological phrase ‘mental image’ has meaning proximity to the semantic phrase ‘criterial configuration’;
(iv) the psychological word ‘belief’ has meaning proximity to the semantic phrase ‘belief-content.’
(v)  the psychological phrase ‘occurrence of thought’ has meaning proximity to the semantic terms ‘content of thought’ and ‘proposition.’

When we consider the semantic link, words that more easily come to mind are ‘sense’ and ‘meaning’ (generally used as synonyms), here restricted to cognitive meaning or informational content. However, what is sense or meaning? Perhaps the simplest answer is what might be called semantic referentialism, a doctrine that in its crudest form holds that the meaning of a linguistic expression is its own reference. This conception either denies the existence of a semantic link between word and object or minimizes its importance. Wittgenstein described this way of understanding meaning at the beginning of his Philosophical Investigations, where he commented on the so-called ‘Augustinian conception of language’:
These words, it seems to me, give us a particular picture of the essence of human language. It is this: individual words in language name objects – sentences are combinations of such names. – In this picture of language, we find the roots of the following idea: Every word has a meaning. This meaning is correlated with the word. It is the object for which the word stands. (Wittgenstein 1984c, part I, sec. 1)
Wittgenstein’s aim in this passage was to object to semantic referentialism, a theory championed by him in his first and only published book, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. According to his version of semantic referentialism, when completely analyzed, language proves to be composed of atomic propositions constituted by atomic names whose meanings would be the simple and indestructible objects necessarily referred to by them.[7]
     Semantic referentialism is not devoid of intuitive appeal. After all, it is usual to explain the meaning of a concrete substantive by pointing to objects that exemplify what it means. In our childhood, we learned what the word ‘chair’ means because adults showed us examples of this artifact. And we learn the name of a particular person when this person introduces himself to us with her name. Moreover, we learn what a word means or does not mean respectively through positive and negative examples of its application. All this seems to make credible the idea that meaning may be the object actually referred to. This view has at least an almost palpable simplicity: ‘Here is the name “Fido,” there is the dog that is its meaning.’[8]
     However, there are strong well-known arguments against this naive view of meaning. The most obvious is that you cannot predicate of a meaning what you predicate of an object: if a pickpocket steals your wallet, you do not say that the meaning of your wallet was stolen, and if you say that Julius Caesar was assassinated you do not intend to say that the meaning of his name was assassinated.
     Another argument is that many different terms have the same reference, while their senses or meanings are obviously different: the singular terms ‘Socrates’ and ‘the husband of Xantippe’ point to the same person, although they clearly have different meanings. And it is worth noting that the opposite seems to be the case with general terms: the predicate ‘ fast’ in the statement ‘Bucephalus is fast’ allegedly refers to a particularized property (trope) of Alexander’s horse Bucephalus; and the same predicate ‘…is fast’ in the sentence ‘Silver is fast’ allegedly refers to a particularized property (trope) of another horse, Silver. Although the speed of Bucephalus is numerically different from the speed of Silver, in both sentences the word ‘fast’ preserves precisely the same meaning.
     The most decisive well-known argument against the referentialist view of meaning, however, is the most obvious: it concerns the fact that even when a referential expression has no reference, it does not lose its meaning. The singular term ‘Eldorado’ and the general term ‘phlogiston’ do not have any reference, but by no means do they lack a meaning.
     For a long time, semantic referentialism has been criticized by natural language philosophers as based on a primitive and misleading understanding of mechanisms of reference. As John Searle once noted, semantic referentialism ‘is a good illustration of the original sin of all metaphysics, the attempt to read real or alleged features of language into the real world’ (1969: 164). This might contain some exaggeration, but it isn’t wrong.[9]
3. Failure of Russell’s atomistic referentialism
Well aware of difficulties like those presented above, Bertrand Russell tried to defend semantic referentialism in a minimalist fashion, taking into account only alleged atomic elements of language and the world. It is instructive to consider his attempt. For Russell, the meaning of at least some foundational terms – called by him logically proper names – would have their objects of reference serving as their proper meanings. This could be the case, perhaps, with the word ‘red.’ After all, as he noted, a blind man is unable to learn the meaning of red, since he is unable to see the color (1994: 194-5; 201-2).[10]
     However, it is untenable that the meaning of any word can be given by its reference tout court. Changing his example a little, suppose that someone demonstratively applies the word ‘vermilion’ to an occurrence of vermilion of cinnabar, which is a shade of red that in practice the human eye cannot further subdivide (a simpler candidate for ‘simple’ than Russell’s red color, since it does not need to include gradations). Could such an occurrence be the meaning? There is an obvious reason to think that an occurrence of vermilion could not be its meaning: the absence of identity criteria. When we consider the occurrence of vermilion, it will always be different for each new experience. This is true if the vermilion is physically considered as an externally given spatiotemporal property, and also true if it is a phenomenal appearance, a sense-datum, as Russell preferred. Indeed, if the meaning of ‘vermilion’ is nothing but a detected occurrence irrespective of its relation to other occurrences of vermilion, then each new occurrence of vermilion should be a new and distinct meaning – an intolerable conclusion!
     Russell must have seen this problem, for he found a way to defend his view against it. However, as we will see, it was at the cost of becoming entangled in even worse difficulties. He suggested that the object-meaning of a logically proper name would be something immediately accessible – such as sense-data picked out by pronouns like ‘this’ or ‘that’ – only as long as we keep these sense-data present in our consciousness… This means that the meaning also lasts only as long as our personal experience of a word’s object of application! (Russell 1994: 201, 203) However, this is a desperate answer, as clearly it leads to solipsism.[11] What criteria of correction could we apply to fix this ‘meaning,’ in order to know in what cases the word ‘vermilion’ can be reapplied to other occurrences of the sense-data that would at least qualitatively be the same sense-data? Moreover, how could these logically proper names have the intended foundational role in a language? How could we insert this fugitive meaning of a proper name in our common language – a language composed of words whose meanings are permanently shared by their speakers?
     We need to acknowledge that in our language, to know the meaning of a word like ‘vermilion’ presupposes at least the ability to recognize an occurrence of vermilion as being precisely similar to other occurrences of vermilion. But this acknowledgment is not included in the idea that the meaning of a word is nothing more than the occurrence of its reference. The concept of a word’s meaning essentially requires that we should be able to unify its different applications to the same referent, which is not possible by means of Russell’s account alone.
     It is true that if the meaning of a word like ‘vermilion’ were the vermilion-type – understood as an abstract entity common to all occurrences (tokens) – we would be able to solve the difficulty pointed out above. But this solution might commit us to accepting some form of (Platonic or sub-Platonic) realism, raising justified suspicion of an unintelligible reification of the type in a topos atopos. Alternatively, one would need to consider the vermilion-type as being a certain set of occurrences of sense-data that are precisely similar to each other. This reduces the danger of realism, but does not eliminate it, since sets are often seen as abstract entities, and if they are not, then they need here some limiting intention. In addition, sets may be larger or smaller depending on how many members they have, while the meaning of the word ‘vermilion’ has no proper magnitude, neither increasing nor decreasing. Even the resource to open sets would not be helpful since they are abstract constructs and not what is effectively given.
     The most feasible alternative seems to be that we consider the meaning of ‘vermilion’ as some occurrence of vermilion that we are using as a model. This could be either a sense-datum or some particularized property in the outside world, able if necessary to be arbitrarily replaced by another like it or any other occurrence that is precisely similar to this model. Thus, if I recognize what is currently being offered as an occurrence of vermilion, it may be because I realize that this occurrence is qualitatively similar to others that were previously given to me as being those of vermilion. This relies on a model whose copy I have stored in my memory, giving me an awareness of it as a color qualitatively identical to colors I have previously experienced. Thus, recalling the various experienced occurrences of vermilion {V1, V2... Vn} I must have a model Vm in my memory. Hence, I can say that V1 = Vm, V2 = Vm... Vn = Vm and, therefore, that V1 = Vm = Vn, etc. I can do this without resorting to any Platonic entity or to any multiplication of identities of identities or even to the concept of an intentionally defined set – problems often thought to burden particularistic strategies for handling universals.
     What this view amounts to is that what we could call the referential meaning of the word ‘vermilion’ must be identified with a referential connection (a true relation of remembered similarity). Now, this referential connection is a rule that relates cognitive experiences of occurrences of a color to occurrences of color that we in some way use as models, in order to produce an awareness of what is experienced as being qualitatively identical vermilion colors in each case. Moreover, this internal semantic cognition is produced in association with ‘vermilion’: the concept-word for such entities. In this way, both a reference and its name turn out to be in principle interpersonally accessible, once the qualitative identity between occurrences associated with the same word allows for interpersonal accessibility and for the kind of practical implicit agreement necessary to create a linguistic convention. Indeed, this convention can be created, even if in itself the semantic cognition isn’t, as a matter of fact, interpersonally accessible.[12] We should also point out that the semantic rule that uses recollections of models to identify any new instance of vermilion is independent of this or that particular occurrence of vermilion, for it only relates to instantiations of possible occurrences that can satisfy it. This kind of solution is the only that seems to be workable.
     However, this solution has a price: we see on reflection that by adopting it we have already left behind the referentialist conception of meaning. Even to establish a meaning as simple as that expressed by the word ‘vermilion of cinnabar’ we must appeal to something that is more than a rough object of reference and is independent of it, namely, a semantic rule.
     Even if Russell’s semantic referentialism is unsustainable, there is a lesson to be learned from discussing it. Our last suggestion recovers an important idea derived from his semantic referentialism, namely, the idea that the existence of an object of reference is necessary for the names of objects taken as simple in the context of a certain linguistic practice. It is true that we always need to understand the phrase ‘simple object’ as inevitably having a non-absolute sense restricting it to a non-decomposable entity in the framework of some linguistic practice (Wittgenstein 1984c, I, sec. 45-48). And this would be the case with the sense-datum or external property of vermilion of cinnabar as a trope (a spatiotemporally particularized property). The positive conclusion is that for such ‘simple names’ to acquire appropriate meaning they need to have reference.
     This is why, in an important sense, a blind man cannot learn the meaning of the word ‘red.’ Since the color red is in a sense simple[13] and knowledge of it is based on acquaintance, and since the blind cannot have this sensory experience, a blind man cannot learn and apply the conventional criterial rule for the shared referential meaning of the word ‘red.’ At least in the case of this subrogate of a logically proper name restricted to a certain linguistic practice, the existence of some object of reference is indispensable. But this obviously does not lead to the idea that a word’s reference is its meaning. What it means is only that in basic cases a given object of reference is indispensable for the formation of the semantic rule whereby a word acquires its referential semantic function.
We now move on to a second candidate for the semantic link: use or application. Wittgenstein privileged this candidate, suggesting that the meaning of a linguistic expression is its use (Gebrauch) or application (Verwendung). As he wrote in a famous passage of Philosophical Investigations:
You can, for a large class of cases of use of the word ‘meaning’ – if not for all cases of its use –, explain it like this: the meaning of a word is its use in a language. (Wittgenstein 1984c, part I, sec. 43)
This suggestion applies to both words and sentences. It clearly applies to (a) what has been called directive meaning: the illocutionary forces of expressions, which establish kinds of interaction between speaker and hearer in speech acts and can be made explicit by so-called performative verbs like ‘I order,’ ‘I promise,’ ‘I quit’… However, directive meaning, together with (b) expressive meaning, which aims to express internal psychological states, though also considered by Wittgenstein, are two kinds of meaning with little relevance for us here. The focus of our research is the kind of meaning able to link our linguistic expressions with the world, something that is sometimes called (c) the referential meaning – the kind of meaning typically  required for the communication of information.
     My concern here, as was clear right from the start, is the semantic content of declarative sentences, which is the kind of referential meaning we call cognitive, epistemic, informative, descriptive or factual, able to link language with the world and to be endowed with truth-value (Aristotle’s logos apophantikós). Such epistemic, informative or descriptive semantic content should be of major philosophical importance, because by being able to relate language to the world, it should have epistemological and ontological import.
     However, the identification of meaning with use doesn’t apply so easily to the cognitive or referential meanings of our sentences and terms. Consider, for example, a declarative sentence like ‘The tide is high.’ It is easy to imagine an illocutionary use for this sentence, such as warning or informing. However, by identifying meaning with in such cases we would revert to meaning as force. In his theory of speech acts John Searle has distinguished in all utterances the necessary form F(p), where (explicitly or not) F expresses an illocutionary force and p (explicitly or not) expresses a propositional content (1983: 6); no speech act makes real sense without the combination of these two elements. Anyway, if we wish to approach use with cognitive meaning, with and without force we must attend to the use of p as p, which is not the easiest thing to do.
     It is possible to approach pure cognitive or referential meaning with an appeal to use by producing an acceptable extension of the concept of use. Consider first the cognitive meaning of as p without judicative and assertoric force. We can isolate cognitive meaning from force by employing the Fregean device of expressing a sentence’s content only as being regarded, depriving it of any assertoric force. We can do this by making a sentence like ‘The dog has run away’ the subordinate clause of ‘It is possible that the dog has run away.’ The spelling of the complementary sentence ‘…that the dog has run away’, expressing cognitive content, even if not asserted – could also be seen as a use. And use could also in this case be considered to be any realization of a phonetic shape of the mental construction of a verifiability rule constitutive of the sense/meaning of the subordinate clause as conceivably (though not as really) applicable – which in fact does not identify use with meaning.
     But we can also try to approach use to the cognitive or referential meaning involved in the whole act of communication by means of which a speaker intends to share with a hearer his awareness of a real or possible fact. For instance: when a speaker says ‘The tide is high,’ the use may involve (i) the utterance in which a propositional content (cognitive meaning) is expressed, added to (ii) the assertoric force as an external expression of the judicative force. Here the speaker intends to communicatively reproduce the same judgment (the same propositional content plus its judicative force) in the hearer’s mind. In an extended sense this can also be called use: this is use as communication of the judication of a cognitive meaning, the last being what one might suppose to be a verifiability rule applied to a real-actual fact (Cf. Chapters IV and V of this book). If not the identity, we see the narrowness.
     But what about the hearer’s understanding of a statement? The hearer is not using phonetic shapes in his understanding of its meaning. In order to maintain the view that even in this case meaning can be approached to use, we need to resort to a bolder extension of the word. It seems possible to say that we use expressions referentially or not, simply by thinking what we mean when we spell them. When a hearer really thinks the tide is high, it is possible to say that he actually uses this sentence in an epistemic mode by thinking it. Thus, if Paul understands the sentence ‘The tide is high’, or if Anne comes to believe that ‘the dog has run away,’ with or without using words, Paul is repeating (or interpreting) and Anne is producing the judgments of these respective contents internally, that is, they are applying the supposed verifiability rules of these sentences merely in thought. Hence, in normal communication, the use that a hearer gives to heard words by understanding them could consist in conceiving the construction of verifiability rules with their identification and ascription rules in a way similar to what the speaker should do when using words to convey cognitive meaning. The conclusion is that not only the cognitive meaning as the speaker’s thought, but also the hearer’s thought, could be viewed as internalized cognitive way of use, with or without the addition of judicative force, which could also be seen as an internalized form of assertoric force. Finally, if Plato was right that discursive thought is ‘a silent dialogue of the soul with itself,’ we can generalize this process of internalization and consider any cognitive act as a way of use, even without being associated with communicative action.[14] Associating it with language, we might call this the cognitive use of an expression, of which judicative and assertoric forces are only complementary elements.[15]
     It is easy to find objections to the relevance of the proposed extensions of the meaning of the word ‘use’ that I am employing in order to save a supposed identification of use with meaning. Indeed, though they do not seem to be wrong, they can be considered too confusing and cumbersome to justify themselves. However, as will become clear, the real reason why Wittgenstein viewed meaning as a function of use was a different one. It was the pragmatic advantage of locating meaning in its most proper place from the start: in normal linguistic praxis, in the concrete speech-act situation, even in the normal practice of thinking with words. This enables us to individuate the meaning of an expression where it exercises its proper function, so that in this way we achieve the highest level of contextual and interpersonal corrigibility, with a minimal amount of distortion and exclusion.
     This is, I believe, what Wittgenstein’s identification of meaning with use is all about: It allows us to individuate meanings in the natural contexts of their existence, while in doing philosophy we are too easily prone to decontextualize meanings, excerpting and distorting them, in order to develop insights that can be highly illusory. In this sense the maxim that meaning is a function of use can help us in practicing what Wittgenstein called philosophy as therapy, which aims to untie the knots of thought tied by philosophers, insofar as it brings our words back from their metaphysical holidays to their daily chores (Wittgenstein 1984c, part I, sec 116).
A related point arises when we perceive that a really appropriate identification of meaning with use cannot be one of meaning and episodic use tout court, namely, a mere spatiotemporal occurrence (token) of a linguistic expression. This isn’t possible, because each occurrence differs from others in its spatiotemporal location. If it were the case, each new occurrence would be a new meaning, which would result in the semantic catastrophe of making the number of meanings of any linguistic expression unlimited.
     There is, however, a more reasonable alternative. We can understand the words ‘use’ (Gebrauch) or ‘application’ (Verwendung) as an abbreviation of way of use (Gebrauchsweise) or way of application (Verwendungsweise), since the same word can be used many times in the same way. But what is the way of use? Well, it doesn’t seem to be anything other than ‘something of-the-type-of-a-rule’ (etwas Regelartiges) that determines episodic uses. Wittgenstein himself came to that conclusion in an important, though less well-known passage of his last work, On Certainty:
The meaning of a word is its mode of application (Art der Verwendung) ... Hence, there is a correspondence between the concepts of ‘meaning’ and ‘rule.’ (Wittgenstein 1984a, sec. 61-62)
In fact, to use a word meaningfully is to use it in accordance with its mode or way of use or application, it is to use it correctly, and to use an expression correctly, in the right way, is to use it in accordance with those rules that give it its meaning. By analogy, we can say that we use a screwdriver according to its way of use when we use it correctly, according to a rule, turning it clockwise in order to tighten a screw. Consider the following examples of ways of use based on the Linguee Online Dictionary, which includes numerous examples of words used in sentences:

Way of Use: Apply several times to the skin and rub in for several minutes with a circular motion, until completely absorbed.
Way of Use: To color and cover up grey hair, we recommend 20 ml. 6% of a cream oxidizing agent in the proportion of 1 + 1.
Way of Use: Never dispense any pharmaceutical product without a prescription detailing way of use, site, withdrawal periods and other relevant information signed by a physician.

Of course, here ‘way of use’ means rules or sequences or combinations of rules for correctly using things. Now we see clearly that meaning can only be identified with use in the sense of ‘something of-the-type-of-a-rule’ determining episodic uses. And what holds in general for a word’s use also holds here for cognitive or referential use.
     In fact, the identification between meaningfulness and rule is more primitive. Consider the following two signs: ‘OO’ and ‘Oà.’ The second seems to us ‘more meaningful,’ since we have the tendency to link it with a rule pointing in a particular direction. Rules are the ultimate intrinsic source of meaningfulness.
6. Meaning as combinations of rules
However, why does Wittgenstein prefer to say that meaning is determined by rules? Why cannot the meaning of our linguistic expressions be identified with rules simpliciter?
In my view, at least part of the answer was also approached by him with his analogy between language and calculation. (Wittgenstein 1984f: 168; 1982: 96-97). This understanding is reinforced by the many otherwise unjustified considerations in his Brown Book of how complex sequences of rules could be followed in relatively simple language-games, understood as systems of rules. In use, linguistic expressions normally involve calculations, which should be understood as nothing more than combinations of conventional rules. And the cognitive meanings that these expressions have can consist essentially in combinations of more or less implicit, automatized semantic conventions, knowledge of which speakers tacitly share.
Arithmetic can serve as an illustration. If the meaning of a mathematical proposition is constituted by its proof, considering that proof is a combination of rules, this meaning is also a combination of rules. Some people can do the multiplication ‘120 x 30 = 3,600,’ for instance, by combining three rules, first multiplying 100 by 30, then multiplying 30 by 20, and finally adding the results 3,000 and 600 to get the result 3,600. The meaning understood as the cognitive content of multiplying ‘120 30 = 3,600,’ would be given by this and other methods of calculation. Together they should amount to essentially the same general signification – what I would call the same rule-complex (Regelkomplex) – insofar as they proceed in different but complementary ways, i.e., beginning at the same starting points and reaching the same final result.
     We see that what we called ‘something of-the-type-of-a-rule’ can be understood as possible combinations of rules that starting from some initial conditions bring us to some final result. The cognitive meaning of a linguistic expression must also be the same as (i) a specific semantic-cognitive rule or (ii) one or more combinations of semantic-cognitive rules that determine a correct episodic use of the rules. And the cognitive meaning of a linguistic expression is a rule, combination of rules, or a rule-complex that when applied or satisfied brings about a cognition of some state of affairs. Calling such combinations rules – as I do in the present book – is ultimately a justified extension of the term ‘rule,’ since combinations of rules and a variety of combinations of rules that produce the same final results do the same job as rules. Although irreducible to implicitly shared conventions, such combinations can still be seen as conventionally grounded, since they are constituted by elementary rules, namely, ones usually established by convention. Thus, when someone says, as Wittgenstein sometimes does, that meaning is determined by rules, what can be reasonably understood by this is that cognitive meaning may be the application of some combination of rules or some variable combination building a rule-complex enabling us to reach the same cognitive effect, and nothing more.
     Since we are interested in the problem of reference, the meaning that will be considered will be a content – called cognitive, informative, epistemic or referential – that is, something reducible to semantic-cognitive rules responsible for our linguistic awareness of what can be objectively given, which are also criterial rules. So, we are dealing with cognitive-criterial rules responsible for the cognitive or referential significance of declarative sentences. Criteria are, in Wittgenstein’s own terms, ‘what confers to our words their ordinary meanings,’ (1958: 57). As I understand him, semantic-cognitive rules are based on criteria or criterial configurations, which are conditions generated by these rules, insofar parts of them, and hence part of their meaning-giving function. On the other hand, criteria (having process-product ambiguity) can also be considered those cognitively independent conditions that once given satisfy such dependent or internal criterial conditions produced by the criterial rule, making us realize that something is the case. Using Wittgenstein’s own example, if someone says ‘It’s raining’ and this statement is true, this involves applying a criterial rule, a rule which requires that certain conditions must be given – say, drops of water falling from the sky – so that a cognitive awareness that it is raining follows (2001: 28). And this resulting awareness, the cognition, could be understood, as already suggested at the end of the first chapter, as the availability to the system of what results from criterial conditions definitely accepted as satisfied.
     However, if an analysis of the appeal to use leads us to cognitive reference-rules, why appeal to use? Why not just start with an investigation of these rules and their combinations? The answer was already given. Language is primarily an instrument of action, and meaning, cognitive or not, is there mainly to facilitate action. Moreover, semantic rules are not abstract objects in any realist sense, since this is an old philosophical trap (See Appendix to this chapter). If not dispositionally considered, these rules only exist when they are applied. Therefore, attention to correct use helps us to individuate meaning and to find the real cognitive-criterial rules or combinations of rules that must of necessity be applicable, that is, applied either in reality or in imagination, in order to confer meaning to a fully contextualized linguistic expression.
     We can further elucidate what is at stake by appealing to a metaphor: when a post office delivers a letter, the envelope gives general indications as to the addressee’s geographic location (city, state, country, etc.). These general indications can be compared with the grammatical meaning of a sentence and also with its logical analysis. But even if necessary, they are not sufficient. Too many other addressees live in the same country or city or street, just as too many different sentences have the same grammatical or even logical structure. To reduce this vagueness, mail carriers also need the name of the street, the building or house number… Without singularizing details, it can be almost impossible to deliver mail to its proper destination. The same holds for cognitive meaning. It can be decisive to care about the way of applying our expressions in a given context, which can be the whole discursive and practical context, including that of philosophical writings. What an appeal to use does is to lead us to semantic details. The most general traits of an expression’s way of use, though relevant, are common to many other expressions and for this reason in themselves insufficient to individuate meanings. Because of this, the more specific traits of meaning specified in ways of use are also important. And these are traits that expressions can only gain in the real contexts where they are applied. Consequently, these can only be fully explored by surveilling linguistic praxis. This is why it is so important to explicitly consider occasions of use in all their pertinent details. Indeed, the main flaw of many philosophical examples and thought-experiments consists in ignoring apparently irrelevant subtleties. These can be responsible for easily ignored subtle semantic variants that an expression can have in different particular contexts. Consideration of such subtle semantic differences is of particular importance for correcting misconceptions arising from philosophical attempts to use words beyond the limits of meaningful language. Particularly elaborated philosophical examples of overstepping these limits are those concerning the metaphysics of reference and meaning.
There is more to be said about meaning as a function of use. The first thing to note is that a linguistic expression only makes sense when used within a system of rules often called a language-game. To explain this we might again appeal to a metaphor. We can compare a linguistic expression with a chess piece, and its use with a move in playing chess. When we move a chess piece, the meaning of the move is minimally given by the rule that governs the piece’s move. But what the move fundamentally means will depend on the game situation. It will be given by the contextually determined tactic, by the calculation of possible combinations of rules in anticipation of possible moves by the opponent and responses that could be made.
     Something not very dissimilar occurs with linguistic use. The linguistic rules governing what Wittgenstein called ‘superficial grammar’ could be compared to the rules for moving chess pieces. But these grammatical rules – even those of logical grammar – may not be what really matters. Often what is essential are rules, rule-combinations and rule-complexes belonging to what he called ‘deep grammar’ (1984c I, sec. 668). These may have more resemblance to semantic-cognitive rules like those we exemplified before (for the proper name ‘Aristotle’ and for the concept-word ‘chair’). Their combination would justify moves that suggest chess players’ tactical calculations, which is particularly clear when we consider dialogical speech.
     To give an example. One knows that the sentence ‘Calphurnia urged Caesar to stay at home’ is grammatically correct, and one may even know that its logical form is aRb. But this will be of no help if one does not know who Caesar and Calphurnia were, where and when they lived, what relationship they had, and cannot even imagine when or why she has warned him to stay at home. Superficial grammar (or syntax) gives expression to a grammatical sense that is often the same for semantically different sentences. But the semantically relevant rules and combinations of rules that constitute what is meant by a linguistic expression are more flexible and might change not only with the sentence, but also in accordance with the particular factual and linguistic-discursive contexts.
     Furthermore, in a similar way as the rules-combinations responsible for a strategic move in chess gain their meaningfulness depending on the changeable state-context provided by the system of rules that constitutes the game of chess. And the rules determining the application of linguistic expressions are able to produce meaningful utterances only when combined in the changeable context furnished by the system of rules constitutive of the language-game.
     Anyway, a chess metaphor is too liberal, insofar as it does not take account of what Wittgenstein would call the divisions of language. What he called a language-game (Sprachspiel) or a linguistic practice (sprachliche Praxis) is more adequate. A language game can be understood as any linguistic system of rules that typically includes syntactic, semantic and pragmatic rules that belong to our language.[16] Examples of language-games given by Wittgenstein are:
Giving orders and acting according to them, describing an object by its appearance or measures, informing… speculating about an event, making and testing hypotheses… making up a story, reading… solving a riddle, telling a joke, describing a landscape, acting, asking, thanking, cursing, greeting, praying, etc. (Wittgenstein 1984c, sec, 23)
But he also uses the same idea in a wider sense, pointing to more extended domains of language like:
The language of colors, the language of proper names, or even the important ‘knowing games’ from On Certainty, like the game of doubt and the languages of history, physics, chemistry, and arithmetic. (Cf. Costa 1990: 50)
That is: it seems that almost any semiotic chunk of our language, insofar as it is identifiable as such, can be seen as a language-game. Language-games include themselves, one within another, like the case of Cantor’s theory of infinite numbers within the theory of numbers and the language of mathematics; and they can partially overlap one another, as when someone describes a scenario and simultaneously tells a joke, insofar as we remain able to distinguish them (Wittgenstein 1984c, sec. 46-48). Fundamental is that the language-games remain identifiable at the interpersonal level.
     The concept of language-game or linguistic practice contains the concept of the speech act, systematically studied by J. L. Austin and John Searle, but it is much wider. This is why Wittgenstein was not mistaken when he wrote that there are countless language-games (1984c I, sec. 23).
     By making the meanings of expressions the result of rule combinations belonging to rule-systems typified by language-games, Wittgenstein was endorsing what was later called semantic molecularism: What we call the meaning of an expression does not depend on the expression in isolation (semantic atomism), nor on its insertion in language as a whole (semantic holism). It depends more properly on the often variable state-contexts of the linguistic practice in which it is inserted (a molecular subsystem of language). Finally, it is a mistake to believe that meaning is a matter of all or nothing. It is much more reasonable to think that when used according to the rules of a language-game, something of a word’s meaning gradually merges into a maze of partially related meaning-rules.
     In support of the idea that we use and give meaning to the expressions of our own language in language-games, in his Brown Book Wittgenstein described natural language as a great nebula of language-games:
The language of the adult presents itself to our eyes as a massive nebula, natural language, surrounded by more or less defined language-games, which are technical languages. (Wittgenstein 1984e: 122)
Later, in his Philosophical Investigations, he compared language to a great old city:
Our language can be seen as an ancient city: a maze of little streets and squares, of old and new houses, and of houses with additions from various periods; and this is surrounded by a multitude of new boroughs, with straight, regular streets and uniform houses. (Wittgenstein 1984c, sec. 18)    
The nebula, the city, begins with what was built in its original center: the practices of ordinary language, expressing our ordinary commonsense wisdom. To this, there come new insights, like those better organized language-games arising with the emergence of new scientific fields. As with games, the great old city can be subdivided in many distinct ways, one part including another and one part overlapping another.
     There is a noteworthy relation of dependence here: learning and teaching new scientific and technical practices, even the possibility of their understanding and creation, depends on the prior acquisition of more basic language-games governing ordinary life. This coheres with our principle of the primacy of established knowledge (Ch. II. Sec. 4), which leads us to conclude that rejecting the assumptions of our modest common sense by means of science would be a very questionable approach.
     A question that now arises is: in such circumstances, what criteria would we have for identifying meaning variations, or, less ambitiously, what criteria would we have for identifying the language-game in which an expression is used or even misused? Considering that language can be subdivided into multiple and varied ways, it seems that we can apply different criteria to the same linguistic move, insofar as we are able to interpersonally identify and share the criteria we are applying... But in this case, what guides us in choosing a criterion? Is this identification really possible?!
     I believe that an affirmative answer is possible. My tentative suggestion is that the identification of a language-game according to the criteria for the use of an expression (term, phrase, sentence), which also establishes the shareable meaning of the expression, involves what we could call identifying state-contexts, which are created by two factors:

(i)    the relevant factual and linguistic context determining the expression’s use, together with
(ii)   the speaker’s intention in using the word, insofar as this intention is made interpersonally clear, either by spelling or in a contextualized tacit way.

It seems that in the normal case awareness of these two factors, namely, of the state-context of the words’ application by the speaker is what allows the public identification of the relevant language-game in which he is using a linguistic expression and in this way, the relevant meaning rules meant by him. On the other hand, it seems that if the hearer correctly identifies the speaker’s state-context – the right given context implying the intention and possibly complemented by the spoken intention – he identifies the language-game the speaker has in mind and will be able to understand correctly what the speaker means. (A simple case: if a teacher told his students that the philosopher who represented the culmination of the philosophical thought of antiquity was called ‘Aristotle,’ the context shows everyone that he was playing a game of naming in which he intended to speak about the famous Greek philosopher and not about someone else with the same name, despite the fact that this game of naming is included in a game of teaching, which is included in the game of public speaking.)
8. Meaning and form of life
There is a last important concept in the understanding of Wittgenstein’s explanation of meaning. The linguistic practices that form the nebula find their ultimate raison d’être as constituents of what Wittgenstein called a form of life (Lebensform). As he wrote in his few passages on this concept:

…the word ‘language-game’ is used here to emphasize the fact that speaking a language is part of an activity, or of a form of life. (Wittgenstein 1984c, I, sec. 23)

Right or false is what human beings say; and in the language they agree on. This is no agreement in opinions, but in form of life. (Wittgenstein 1984c, I, sec. 241)

What is taken for granted, the given, we could say, are forms of life (Wittgenstein 1984c, II: 572)

He arrived at this foundational idea probably influenced by an article written by the great anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, who suggested that in order to learn the language of a primitive people one needs to share life with them in their society (Malinowski 1989).[17] One example used by Malinowski to illustrate this point can be revealing here: when fishermen in the Trobriand Islands use the phrase ‘paddling in a place,’ they mean they are navigating close to an island village. The waters around the islands are so deep that it is not possible to use a pole to propel canoe, so they need to paddle their boats to reach the village. Only by knowing speakers’ life circumstances can we find the information needed to understand what their expressions mean.
     The relevance of much that Wittgenstein wrote consists in his having seen the importance and comprehensiveness of some ideas. For him, the phrase ‘form of life’ means the way of life in a society. More precisely: the complex of regularities that govern the lives of people in the totality of their social and physical environment.
     We can compare the idea of a form of life with what is involved in two technical terms introduced by J. R. Searle. These are (a) the network of meanings involved in the determination of an intention, and (b) the background of abilities, skills, dispositions, and ways of doing things that are linked with the corresponding network (Searle 1983, Ch. 5). Though including what Searle means by network and background, the concept of form of life is more comprehensive, since even the landscape in which a tribe lives should be comprehended by the concept and may have some influence on the meaning.
     More auspicious is a comparison between the concept of form of life and Husserl’s concept of life-world (Lebenswelt), which for the latter author can be the whole of our shared communal world of human activity (Husserl 1954, Vol. VI: 105 f.), grounding in this way all possible knowledge. For Husserl the life-world, which can be subdivided into a multiplicity of different home-worlds (Heimwelten), forms the holistic framework within which all knowledge is acquired, serving therefore as the ultimate foundation of all human cultural endeavors, gradually extending into scientific ones. Furthermore, although there are different life-worlds, they must have grounding commonalities: aspects like spatiotemporality, materiality, life, birth, death, instincts, hunger, thirst, etc.
     Wittgenstein would probably share this view, at least in its non-theoretical aspects. The comparison shows us something important: we now see that there must be something common in the most basic levels of our different forms of life. For there must be the share of grounding commonalities that serves as a condition enabling us to accommodate ourselves to different forms of life and be able to learn and incorporate other cultures’ languages. What enables us to do this is certainly that we all share a fundamentally common human nature and a similar surrounding world.
9. Tying the threads together
We can now summarize. Language appears in Wittgenstein’s philosophy as an immensely complex system of syntactic, semantic and pragmatic rules: a system we can subdivide in many ways into subsystems called languages, sub-languages and language-games or linguistic practices, which are in turn rooted in a wider ground: the life-form made up of regularities that determine the lives of people in social groups. Linguistic practices constituting our natural language originate spontaneously from our form of life and depend upon it. Here again, we see that creating and learning the specialized language-games of science is only possible because of the assumption of more central practices of natural language ultimately entrenched in life-forms. This is also why an inorganic computer will never be able to give meaning to the signs with which it operates: a silicon-based machine is a by-product manufactured by a life-form and not a biological agent naturally growing within it.
     We can summarize Wittgenstein view on meaning in a formula:

The meaning given to an episodic use of the expression X (Df.): the compliance of this use with rules in the context of an appropriate linguistic practice (the language-game) rooted in a form of life.

This is a characterization of meaning as something that belongs to the praxis of language as it is understood and to our extensions of the concept of use as what is cognitively meant. This assimilation of cognitive meaning to action by means of an extended notion of use as the mode of use and as a rule-in-its-application is what makes it unnecessary to hypostasize semantic rules as abstract objects in any Platonist sense. Meaning is what we think of or speak about as being meaningful; and what we think or speak is meaningful insofar as it is correctly used, namely, used in accordance with the meaning-rules of linguistic practices rooted in our life-form; and the most relevant meaning-rules are the semantic-cognitive ones, allowing us to represent the world.
     This is what I believe we can achieve, based on Wittgenstein’s semantic views: an uncomfortably vague but sufficiently plausible and, I think, minimally distorted surveillable representation of the deep grammar of the concept of meaning. This kind of representation is important insofar as it plays a role as a semantic foundation for philosophy as therapy. This is also why a surveillable representation of the grammar of meaning is central to Wittgenstein’s thought: it is the sustaining core of his philosophy, as much as the doctrine of ideas was the sustaining core of Plato’s philosophy.
10. Criteria and symptoms revisited
Another important distinction that we owe to Wittgenstein, already introduced in Chapter II of this book (sec. 8), is the distinction between criteria and symptoms. Semantic-cognitive rules are criterial rules. Criterial rules are ones based on conditions called criteria.
     There is, as we have also noted, a fundamental difference between criteria and symptoms. Criteria are conventionally grounded conditions that, once accepted as really given, warrant for us the application of a semantic-cognitive rule. Symptoms, on the other hand, are conditions that, once accepted as really given, make the application of a semantic-cognitive rule only more or less probable. A criterion should establish the sufficient conditions for the application of an expression, though not properly as given essences, insofar as criteria for the same rule can be often multiple and varied, as our investigation of proper names has shown. Because of this sufficiency, Wittgenstein also called them definitional criteria, since their description is definitional of an expression or at least takes part in its definition. They are primary criteria, while symptoms are also called secondary criteria (Cf. 2001: 28).
     One example makes Wittgenstein’s distinction clear: a criterion for the application of the concept-word ‘malaria’ is actually finding a bacterium – Plasmodium falciparum – in a patient’s blood. Once we assume that we have found this, by definition we are warranted in saying that the patient has malaria. But if all we find is that the person has a cyclically high fever, we have only a symptom of malaria, perhaps a secondary criterion, something that makes it probable that the patient has contracted the disease.
     Insofar as criteria are also understood as internal constitutive conditions of the semantic-cognitive rules for the referential use of a conceptual expression (Ch. II, sec. 8), they must belong to its meaning, since these rules (whether effectively applied or only imaginatively regarded in their possible application) are constitutive of meaning. When Wittgenstein wrote that criteria ‘give words their common meanings’ (1975: 57), he was referring to criterial rules.
     Finally, criteria play the role of criteria only in the context of the language-games to which they belong. This is the main reason why Wittgenstein says that there can be a grammatical oscillation between criteria and symptoms. With the alternation of linguistic practice, criteria can become symptoms and vice versa (1983c, sec. 79, 354). That is: the same condition that works as a criterion in one practice can serve only as a symptom in another practice and vice versa. And similar changes can also occur as a result of the evolution of language, which may change and improve our conventions, often turning criteria into symptoms by replacing them with new conditions.
     The distinction between criteria and symptoms is also important for the critique of language. Philosophers are all too often inclined to treat symptoms as though they were criteria. To give a very trivial example: consider peoples’ facial and bodily features. These are the physical characteristics by means of which we are able to immediately identify people we know. At first sight, it seems that they are the real criteria for identifying persons – and within some superficial language-games they may work in this way. But if we look more closely, we clearly see that they aren’t. If a person, as happens in fairy tales, were transformed into a donkey, but continued to behave no differently than before, talking to us and in full possession of his memories, personality, knowledge, and abilities, we would be forced to admit that he remained the same person, even though in a different body. This and other more plausible thought-experiments show that people’s facial and bodily appearances are not primary criteria at all, but only symptoms able to make their personal identification probable in an easy and immediate way. To find the ultimate criteria of personal identity is still today a controversial philosophical problem.[18] However, physical appearances will be treated as criteria in the context of some practical language-game, like that of taking attendance in a school class.
11. Transgressions of the internal limits of language
In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein was interested in ascertaining what David Pears has called the external limits of language and its transgressions (1970, Ch. 5). This is relatively easy to spot: a logical contradiction is an external transgression. However, he came to see that most philosophical confusions are caused by the more subtle transgressions of the internal limits of language. These transgressions happen because many of our expressions can be used in different linguistic practices, undergoing in this way more or less subtle changes in meaning. As Wittgenstein also wrote, ‘The place of a word in grammar is its meaning’ (1984d, sec. 23), a place that cannot be fixed beforehand, since it may circumstantially change. Now, when an expression is used simultaneously in different practices, where it should receive a different meaning or meaning-modulation, it turns out to be easier to confuse what we mean with it.
     In Wittgenstein’s philosophy, we can find two forms of confusion or misleading uses of expressions, which we may call equivocity and hypostasis.[19]
     These two forms of transgression have a striking similarity to the psychoanalytic distinction between the two mechanisms of the primary process (primärer Vorgang), called by Sigmund Freud displacement (Verschiebung) and condensation (Verdichtung). Hence, it is worthwhile to explain this process here very briefly. According to Freud, our thinking can involve two distinct processes: the secondary process (sekundärer Vorgang) and the primary process (primärer Vorgang). The secondary process is the typically conscious process of rational thought, in particular, scientific thought. In this process, affective or emotional charges (Besetzungen) are firmly associated with their respective representations (Vorstellungen). The primary process, on the other hand, is found in dreams, neurotic symptoms, humor, artistic creation, religion, and… philosophy! In all these cases, emotional charges are not rigidly associated with their respective representations (or thoughts) and can be transferred to different representations, insofar as the latter can easily be associated with the former representations. The primary process is what produces the conscious manifestation of unconscious or pre-conscious thoughts, in the latter case understood as non-repressed and consequently always able to become conscious.
     The two fundamental mechanisms of the primary process, displacement and condensation, are more deeply explained in Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams (1900, Ch. VI).
     Displacement occurs when the emotional charge of a repressed representation is transferred to another representation, which is able to elude censorship and become conscious, thereby releasing its endo-psychic tension into consciousness. We have displacement when representation R1, repressed and therefore unable to become conscious, has its charge transferred to representation R2, able to evade censorship and become conscious. A Freudian example of displacement is the story of a Jewish woman who could not marry the man she loved because he was a Christian. However, she dreamed that she gave him her comb. This is her conscious representation in the dream; but in her unconscious, the repressed representation was the idea of giving herself to him in love. The emotional charge passes from the repressed representation to the non-threatening one, which is able to outwit censorship, becoming conscious as a dream. This makes it possible for the charge to be released into the dreamer’s consciousness, bringing relief to the endo-psychic tension.
     The mechanism of condensation is somewhat different. Here a representation (or group of associated representations) transfers its affective charges to a partial representation belonging to it, which becomes liberated in consciousness. We can represent this by saying that the charges belonging to the representations {R1, R2… Rn} are usually condensed in one of them, say, R2, which enters into consciousness, in this way allowing the release of emotional charges into consciousness. One example of condensation would be a case if the woman had dreamed that the man she loves forgot his scarf at her home... The scarf is part of the whole representation of the man, and the emotional charges associated with the whole are condensed in this partial representation and released into consciousness.
     It is worth remembering that according to Freud, displacement requires full unconsciousness by being a product of repression, while condensation requires only pre-consciousness (i.e., its representations are potentially but not actually conscious) since it isn’t necessarily a product of repression.
     Now, an investigation of the two mechanisms by which the internal limits of language are transgressed brings into sharper focus the sometimes noted relation between philosophy as therapy and psychoanalysis (e.g., Wisdom 1969), for it shows that philosophical activity is affected not only by a lack of semantic awareness, but also by unconscious motivations.
     Let us see now how the primary process works in cases of confusion arising from linguistic transgressions of normal uses of expressions. By using an expression equivocally, a philosopher shifts the use of this expression, applying it in a state-context of a linguistic practice B, though following the semantic rules that this expression should have in linguistic practice A. This equivocity amounts to displacement, since the emotional charges associated with the first use are transferred to a new representation. On the other hand – in what we call hypostasis – the philosopher tries to apply an expression that can be used according to the rules of two or more linguistic practices, say, A, B, C, etc. simultaneously in a neutral state-context. It is as if there were a single linguistic practice able to bring together these different uses, adding their emotional charges, when in fact this practice does not exists, and there is no justification to initiate it.
     Philosophical examples of these mechanisms can be complicated and difficult to describe, since philosophers, being masters of deception (and self-deception), construct their spider webs of far more abstract and complex material than ordinary mortals can imagine. Hence, I will consider only two very simple examples.
     For the case of displacement, consider the following skeptical paradox attributed to the Megarian philosopher Stilpo, denying the possibility of predication. For Stilpo, if I say that Socrates is wise, this is a contradiction, because I am denying that Socrates is Socrates. That is: I can say of something that it is what it is, but if I want to say something more than this, I fall into a contradiction, for I am denying that it is what it is… The upshot is that all that we can do is to express the identity of a thing with itself or remain silent.
     We can explain Stilpo’s fallacy as due to a failure to distinguish the ‘is’ of copula (predication) from the ‘is’ of identity. We can distinguish a linguistic practice of type A – in which the verb ‘to be’ means ‘is the same as’ (e.g., ‘Socrates is Socrates.’) – from linguistic practices of type B – in which the verb ‘to be’ is used as copula (e.g., ‘Socrates is wise.’). However, Stilpo recognizes the verb ‘to be’ as having only one correct use: that which is found in state-contexts of type A practices. As a result, each time he observes people using the verb ‘to be’ in state-contexts of practice B, he understands their use as following the rule of use that the verb has in practice A – meaning ‘is the same as.’ In this way, he equivocally and systematically displaces the real use from practice A to practice B. Since he sees that in all these state-contexts of practice B he cannot apply the ‘is’ of identity typical of practice A, he falsely concludes that true predication is impossible.
     I will now offer an easy example of hypostasis in philosophy. Consider this suggestion made by a philosopher, according to whom the verb ‘to be’ must have a truly primordial sense, which is not only that of copula, but also of identity and of existence together! To justify this, he considered the sentence: ‘To be is to be’ (Sein ist Sein). This sentence says not only that ‘to be’ has the property of being, but also that ‘to be’ is the same as ‘to be,’ and finally that ‘to be’ has the property of existing (of being).
     Against this folie metaphysique, a critique of language will tell us that it is much more plausible to think that what the philosopher seeks with the ‘is’ in the sentence ‘To be is to be,’ although grammatically correct, is semantically only an incoherent mixture of different uses of the verb ‘to be.’ These were created for different practical purposes but have no justification when mixed together, except the satisfaction of an ad hoc philosophical claim. It is a hypostasis: a condensation arbitrarily mixing three very distinct modes of use – meanings – of the same word in a supposedly neutral state-context. However, these three modes of use belong to three actually distinct practices, say, the identifying practice A, the predicative practice B, and the practice of attributing existence C. In the best case, this is an example of multiple ambiguity; but since the philosopher is claiming to have discovered a way to achieve the primordial sense of Being in a factually arbitrary way, the diagnosis is of mere incoherence and illusion.
     I offer these explanations because in criticizing the metaphysics of reference, we very often denounce equivocity and hypostasis. Wittgenstein suggested that philosophical maladies have their origins in a ‘craving for generality’: in efforts to achieve generalization without sufficient reasons, by reductionist means, usually influenced by the greater success of natural science (1975: 18). We can now suggest that here as well the frequent case of equivocity may also work as a compensatory byproduct of repressing some kind of undesirable awareness.
     An additional point is that striving for generalization is inherent in the philosophical endeavor (particularly as revisionary metaphysics) even if it may be ultimately doomed to some kind of failure. Wittgenstein concedes that the philosophically unavoidable bumps up against the walls of language have the mark of profundity (1984c, sec. 111). The reason for this concession is that these confusions, when able to strike us, have the potential to point to relevant issues insofar as they might force us to search for the right way to avoid the illusions they produce in us. As I intend to show, much of the metaphysics of reference is grounded upon the forms of confusion described above, particularly equivocation (displacement), which makes them the right target for the therapeutic crge.

In an approximative way, we can now expose the general form of a cognitive or criterial semantic rule, anticipating what will be considered in more details in the next chapters. This rule is constituted, on one hand, by a relation that can be summarized in the sign ‘~>,’ which means either a strong inductive inference (p > 0.5) for empirical knowledge, or a deductive inference (p = 1) for logico-conceptual knowledge. By ‘C’ I mean the criteria to be satisfied and, by the result ‘A’ I mean the (usually non-reflexive) meaning-awareness regarding the rule’s application and linguistically expressible by a declarative sentence. Here is the basic schema:

C ~> A

This schema of a semantic-cognitive rule is too simplified, for the criteria are usually multiple, varied and staggered in complex procedures. The satisfaction of a (definitional) criterion under the state-context of a certain practice should give place to a meaning-awareness, a judgment expressible by an assertoric sentence. The cognitive content or meaning or sense is the whole procedure of rule-following, including still unverified criteria, insofar as they also belong to the same ramified rule.
     Complementing what was said, there is a second cognitive element associated with the semantic-cognitive rule, which is the awareness of the consequences of the satisfied content – of the applicability of the rule-combination or rule-complex. I believe this could be explained by theories of consciousness such as those briefly summarized at the end of chapter II. It would be, for instance, what has been called the ‘availability of content to reasoning and action’ (Block), the ‘transmission of content for the mind’s global workspace’ (Baars), ‘brain celebrity’ (Dennett), etc. It is the full consciousness of what the meaning of a declarative sentence represents.
     Calling the meaning or cognitive content [{C1 ˅ C2 ˅… ˅ Cn} ~> A], where each criterion is seen as sufficient for the meaning awareness A, and calling E its cognitive consequences (as the transmission of content to the global workspace of mind), we can summarize a typical common form of semantic-cognitive rule added to its cognitive effects as follows:

[{C1 ˅ C2 ˅… ˅ Cn} ~> A] > E
                                  Semantic Cognitive Content
To this, we should add that when the semantic-cognitive rule is the verifiability rule, the cognitive content is the thought-content expressible by a declarative sentence, as the whole summarized in square brackets.
     In order to better understand this representation of a criterial rule, suppose that C2 is assumed as the given criterion for the meaning awareness of what can be expressed by the statement ‘Calphurnia urged Caesar to stay.’ The understanding that Calphurnia urged Caesar to stay at home is a meaning awareness. A regarded application followed by conscious effects E that can be silently thought or spelled out.[20] Now, we can consider two semantically relevant situations:

(a)   When we add informative content to the verbal formulation of A, associating it at least potentially with some conventional procedure from which it results, for instance, C1 ~> A. Then we have semantic-cognitive meaning; the rule is regarded as at least potentially applicable. This act of regarding is an imaginary rehearsal of the true application. Here the cognitive meaning, for instance, e.g., the verifiability rule, is ‘put under consideration.’ But this does not mean that propositions or thoughts are statically regarded as abstract entities – this does not exist! What is meant is that they are known as applicable or even applied in our imagination, even if in a limited way, only felt as potentially applicable in a real situation, with the result that we make ourselves aware of semantic-cognitive content as a possible occurrence of a rule-in-its-concrete-application. This already makes us to a certain extent aware of the foreseeable effects E, once we are using it as an instrument in a search for possible utilitarian consequences.
(b)  When a criterion, such as C2, is contrastively seen as actually satisfied; then we have an application of the semantic-cognitive rule, which can be symbolized as C2 & [{C1 ˅ C2 ˅… ˅Cn} ~> A] ~> E. This fulfilled, A inevitably produces a true referential awareness, which should bring about E as A’s availability for reasoning and action, its transmission to the mind’s global workspace, brain celebrity, etc. given by theories of consciousness, since it is what results from consciousness of a really given factual content. Here we say that the semantic-cognitive rule is effectively applied or applicable. In this case, we add to the meaning-awareness A a judicative value, and if we associate this cognitive application of the rule with its spelling, we have an assertion, namely, a statement spelling out a sentence whose content is accepted as true, having as C2 its verifier. Notice that what is judged or asserted is the whole content: the verifiability rule along with the satisfaction of its criteria.

It is interesting to note that there is some proximity between our conclusion and inferentialist approaches to meaning. If we say that a content, a semantic-cognitive rule, is available for reasoning and action, we also mean that the content – which is in itself inferential – would be inferentially open to those related contents. This is what I believe can be understood as the cognitive effect of the satisfaction of the semantic-cognitive rule. However, I will not risk mixing this inferential openness proper of the cognitive awareness of content with the real meaning, because this openness is only a consequence of the instantiation of referential or cognitive meaning won through the application of its semantic-cognitive inferential rules.
     The usefulness of these sketched formulations will gradually become clear in the course of this book

I do not believe that there is only one possible interpretation of the so-called private language argument (Wittgenstein 1984c, I, sec. 244-271), a name that isn’t even present in Wittgenstein’s text. There are a variety of more or less interesting interpretative alternatives. In fact, to interpret Wittgenstein is like trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle, knowing from the start that some pieces will inevitably be left over.
     This isn’t a problem for me, insofar as my aim here is not properly interpretative, even if I believe my interpretation is the one most faithful to the central line of Wittgenstein’s thought. What I want is to reconstruct Wittgenstein’s ‘argument’ in a way that makes its consequences as philosophically strong as is reasonably possible. This philosophically strong formulation will be important, because if it is right it means the destruction of all our human subjectivity as it is currently understood and as it has been understood in the traditional philosophy (e.g., in the cogito or regarding sense-data). A private language argument with trivial conclusions would be of scant interest.
     I can begin with the contrasting case: public physicalist language. How do we learn to identify and distinguish different types of physical objects? For example: how does a child learn to identify references of the word ‘ball’? This doesn’t happen by means of verbal definitions, but ostensively: adults point to examples and say things like, ‘This is a ball’ or ‘That isn’t a ball’... and the child eventually learns what types of objects are round balls. But this learning is only confirmed when a new ball is presented and the child shows adults that it is able to re-identify the object as belonging to the ball type. In this case, based on agreement among other speakers of the language regarding correct re-identification, it is possible for everyone (adults and the child) to know that the child has learned the rule for identifying ball-type objects. That is, the only way to know that we have learned a rule is ultimately to confirm our way of application by interpersonal checking.
     Consider now what happens when we try to identify internal mental entities of a phenomenal nature (sensations, emotions). In this case, we cannot do any checking of interpersonal re-identifications. Suppose that a person is expected to learn to identify an internal state, for example, a feeling of pain. Other people cannot teach him to do this, because they cannot know if and when he feels pain or how it feels to him. But let’s suppose that independently of any public language a person decides to point inwardly to some feeling and identifies his feeling through a sign that he himself has invented. Suppose this sign is ‘P’ (for ‘pain’). Imagine now that the next time he feels pain, he says to himself ‘P,’ intending to point to the same internal mental state. In this case, he won’t be able to know if he is really pointing to the same phenomenal state that he initially pointed to, because there are no other speakers who can check the correctness of his rule application, that is, who are able to confirm or refute his identification. As Wittgenstein realized:

‘I impress it on myself’ can only mean: this process brings it about that I will remember the connection correctly in the future. But in this case, I have no criterion of correctness. One would like to say: whatever seems right to me is right. And that only means that here we cannot talk about ‘right.’ (1984 sec. 258)
Where interpersonal correctness criteria cannot be found, we cannot distinguish between following a rule and the mere impression of following a rule. However, this distinction is indispensable, because without it we have no way to construct something that we may effectively call ‘a rule.’
     Since language is a system of rules, the generalization of this result leads us to the radical conclusion that there cannot be a language whose objects of reference are internal phenomenal states. For Wittgenstein the only construable psychological language seems to be the one based on behavioral expressions of internal states, transforming expressions like ‘Ouch!’ into ‘I feel pain.’ (1984c, sec. 244) Nevertheless, he concedes the existence of these mental states, rejecting behaviorism. This is in my view a clearly incoherent move, since under his assumptions real mental states should be beyond the reach of linguistic rules and therefore cognitively inaccessible, not expressible in language and in the end senseless… once he also writes that something about which nothing can be said has as much value as nothing (1984c, sec. 304).
     The problem, as Ernst Tugendhat once noted, is that the private language argument is too counter-intuitive to be correct. The point, however, is to discover where the argument’s weakness lies. In order to find this, we need to make two things clear. The first is that we will probably only stop regarding a rule as a rule if we conclude that it is logically impossible to be corrected. A rule does not cease to be a rule just because for some contingent reason it was not in fact interpersonally checked. After all, it is beyond doubt that many of the rules we follow, for one reason or another, have never been interpersonally checked. I can invent for myself the rule of never eating creamed spinach, and nobody needs to be informed of this rule. There are rules that for merely circumstantial reasons cannot be checked, such as those made by a shipwrecked sailor who is never rescued and consequently lives and eventually dies alone on a remote uninhabited island.
     An objection that could be made to this interpretation is this: Wittgenstein’s argument demands that any rule, in order to be a rule, must be publicly checked for correctness, and not just be able to be publicly corrected (correctable). Even if this interpretation were true, it would be utterly uninteresting. For it expresses only an extremely implausible and methodologically anti-Wittgensteinian idea, jeopardizing our common sense certainty that there are too many rules that we follow that have not been checked by others. In fact, if we wish to overstate skepticism, we could also argue that no rule can be applied in situations where it cannot be subjected to simultaneous interpersonal correction – after all, there is no guarantee that in the absence of this control the rule will be correctly interpreted and applied... However, gratuitous forms of skepticism like these are too implausible to persuade anyone.
     With this in mind, let us now interpret Wittgenstein’s argument as assuming that the rules of a phenomenal language must be logically incorrigible. Let’s suppose that every morning when waking up I unintentionally follow the rule to remind myself of the first sentence of Dante’s Divine Comedy, but that I always immediately forget what I have done. Here we are already close to nonsense, and we would reach total nonsense if it could be proved to be logically impossible to know if this happens.
     We conclude that it is the assumed logical incorrigibility of phenomenal language that definitely convinces us of the plausibility of the private language argument: it seems very plausible to assume that a rule that logically cannot be corrected cannot be considered a rule. If the rules of our (supposedly) private phenomenal language are logically incorrigible, it seems that they cannot, ultimately, be distinguished from mere impressions of rules.
     This reconstruction of Wittgenstein’s argument is not only the most interesting and reasonable. It also uncovers what I believe to be an important implicit assumption made by him. Once he noted, for instance, that even though person A’s nervous system could be connected to that of person B, so that A could feel a wasp stinging B’s hand, only the location of pain would be shared, but not the pain itself. This is because pain felt by A would be A’s pain, while pain felt by B would still be B’s pain (Wittgenstein 1975: 54). In his most famous article, surely read by Wittgenstein, Frege noted that if another person could enter our minds to observe a visual representation, the representation he experienced would be his own and not ours (Frege 1892: 30). Now, this kind of consideration lead to a dogma generally assumed by earlier Twentieth Century analytical philosophers: the thesis that phenomenal states are logically non-shareable.[21] If this thesis is correct, then interpersonal corrigibility of phenomenal language would be logically impossible, which seems to be a reasonable ultimate foundation for the private language argument.
     At this point is understood, all we need, if we wish to destroy the private language argument’s ultimate foundation is to show that the logical non-shareability of phenomenal states is a false principle! That is, we need to show that although the rules of a phenomenal language have never been interpersonally corrected, they are – contrary to what Wittgenstein and many philosophers assumed – logically corrigible from an interpersonal perspective, this being the hidden flaw that tacitly supports the private language argument.
     It’s hard to imagine a thought-experiment able to prove that phenomenal states are logically shareable. We can begin by making an analogy with computers. Suppose A and B are updated versions of the primitive kind of automata called by Grey Walter machina speculatrix, which fed on light and spent all their time in search of it. Suppose automaton A meets automaton B, and that A is able to read the information content that B has accumulated in its searching. Although automaton A can copy these data first, and only afterward read them in its own system, so that such ‘contents of experience’ become an unshared part of itself, there is no contradiction in thinking that A can read these ‘contents’ directly in B, as if they were its own, thereby sharing them with automaton B before selecting relevant data! This would, in fact, be the simplest and most direct method. Why should we think that in an analogous situation we humans would need to be different from machines?
     Perhaps it is even possible to imagine that someday there will be two human beings, A* and B*, who somehow are able to share some functioning of parts of their brains. Suppose that their limbic system is in some way tuned essentially the same, while the cortical regions of A* and B* remain distinct. Now, it seems conceivable that a mental state of pain that occurs in relevant parts of this one and same limbic system could be shared by subjects A* and B*, even though their conscious interpretation of pain, made in their distinct cortical regions, are qualitatively different. If we understand pain as essentially a process occurring in a limbic system, then A* and B* really could share the same pain, demonstrating possible interpersonal checking of the same internal phenomenal state.[22]
     The thought-experiments considered above suggest that it is logically possible to distinguish:

(a)   the subjective interpretation of a phenomenal mental state X
(b) the phenomenal mental state X in itself.

In fact, this separation seems possible. We know cases of hypnosis where people are led to feel pain even though a source of this pain is absent or not to feel a real pain. We know the case of a patient at the dentist who, because he is afraid of treatment, believes he feels pain when he really only feels the sensation of friction…
     Now, if we accept that it is logically possible to separate (a) and (b), then the interpersonal sharing of mental phenomenal states turns out to be logically and maybe physically and practically possible as well, which at least in principle warrants the possibility of the interpersonal checks of identification rules for mental states. In this case, the private language argument fails because the logical non-shareability of phenomenal states is a false principle. In this case, the rules of phenomenal language acquire an epistemic status that does not essentially differ from that of the rule I made for myself of never eating creamed spinach; in principle, both rules could be checked. Consequently, we are entitled to assume that what we now believe to be the rules of our phenomenal language may, in fact, be the actual rules, since they are at least logically susceptible to interpersonal correction.
     Furthermore, we are also entitled to say that the correction of rules for the identification of phenomenal states is highly probable, since this probability is very well confirmed in an indirect way by a multitude of systematically related associations between interpersonally accessible physical phenomena and reports of internal phenomenal occurrences. For example: if wrinkling the forehead is often associated with the statement ‘I feel pain’ when one believes one has a feeling x, wrinkling the forehead indirectly reinforces the probability that when applied the words will really refer to the same feeling – even if only minimally. Against this kind of reasoning, Wittgenstein imagines a situation in which when he believes he has the (non-perceptible) particular sensation P the manometer always shows that his blood pressure has increased. This assures a correlation between his subjective thinking that he has the feeling P and an increase in his blood pressure; but it does not guarantee that the rise in his blood pressure will be correlated with the same sensation on various different occasions (1984c, sec. 270). Indeed, it does not guarantee that the last correlation will be the same, but we feel that in a small measure it increases the probability that P is being correctly correlated with the same feeling. As we normally have a very great interweaving of such correlations, what we normally make is a well-grounded reasoning by analogy, allowing us in the end to reach a very high probability of associating something like the belief that we are having what we call ‘pain’ with the pain that we really feel. The difference is that in normal cases of reasoning by analogy we can do a final check to prove that the inference was correct, while in the case of subjective, inner feelings this seems impossible. But if we can do this in principle – if the principle of the logical unsharability of mental phenomena is not true – there is no justification to question our reasoning by analogy regarding our feelings.
     It seems clear that our reference to internal phenomenal states is not essentially different from the case of the conclusion based on a large amount of convincing circumstantial (indirect) evidence, that a certain woman was in fact murdered by Jack the Ripper, even though the true identity of this serial killer might never be proved. Even if no one actually saw the woman being murdered, the details of the murder and all the circumstantial evidence that taken together point to this very peculiar murderer are already highly convincing.[23]
14. Concluding remarks
Returning to our initial question about the nature of the intermediate link, we can now see more clearly why and how the intermediate link between words and things can be read in two different complementary modes. These are the psychological mode, which considers some particular cognitive bearer of the link, and the semantic mode, in which particular bearers of a link with their psycho-physical particularities are left aside. That is: cognitive meanings are semantic-cognitive rules that can be considered in their possible or effective application and that when regarded from the viewpoint of their conditions of satisfaction, can be seen as semantic-cognitive criterial rules. As will be made plausible in Chapter V, the cognitive meaning of a statement should be nothing but a verifiability rule that really applies when some criterial configuration required by it is adequately satisfied, making the statement true; it being otherwise false.[24]
     Nonetheless, it is important to maintain a clear distinction between the semantic and the psychological aspects of the intermediate link, as philosophers like Frege and Husserl insisted, even if they did it in a needlessly equivocal way. The semantic aspect is conventionally grounded and grammatically necessary; the psychological aspect is spatiotemporally given and in its psycho-physical particularities contingent. But contrary to what these philosophers have supposed, nothing semantic can really exist outside of cognitive instantiations. Semantic entities are nothing more than conventional structures that exist only when embodied in mental acts, in applications of rules, even if considered in abstraction from their contingent bearers. To assume that semantic entities can exist without any psychological basis is to hypostasize their nature.[25]

[1] As will be clear, the assumption that guides my reconstruction is that Wittgenstein was not making repeated attempts to explain the nature of meaning that always ended in some kind of failure, erratically followed by new attempts, as some interpreters seem to believe. What he did was to develop different, often analogical approximations, each addressing the approximated issues from new perspectives, such suggestions being largely complementary. In this way, it is possible to find enough continuity in Wittgenstein’s semantic conceptions, which began with the Notebooks 1914-1916 and ended with On Certainty.
[2] The word ‘semantics’ is understood here in a broad sense that includes pragmatics as the study of words in use, insofar as it is able to influence truth-values of statements.
[3] This semantic versus cognitive dichotomy can be traced at least as far back as Aristotle. The latter viewed the intermediary link as an affectation of the soul (ton en têi psychêi pathêmáton) or thought (noêmata) – a psychological perspective – while the Stoics, who appealed to ‘what is said’ (lectón) or ‘what is meant’ (semainómenon), associated the intermediary link in some way with language – a semanticist view. (Manetti 1993: 93 ff.)
[4] Qualitative identity is the identity between different things; it is opposed to numerical identity, which is the identity of a thing with itself.
[5] Of course, one could also do the same thing without drawing on color memory: suppose that people carry with them templates of vermilion, so that whenever necessary they compare the patches of color they see with these templates. This shows the importance of some empirically given model, as much as the merely complementary role of memory.
[6] It is true that this last ‘any’ allows us to infer that there is a class called the class of all tokens that are qualitatively identical, but this class does not belong to the definition and does not need to be an object of awareness.
[7] As Wittgenstein wrote in the Tractatus: ‘The name means its object. The object is its meaning.’ (1984g, 3.203)
[8] The view was ironized by Gilbert Ryle as the ‘Fido-Fido’ theory of meaning (1957).
[9] Metaphysicians of reference have more recently attempted to reassert this primitive form of semantic referentialism (Cf. Salmon 1993).
[10] As Russell recognized, logical atomism was first suggested by Wittgenstein, who defended it in a full-fledged way in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
[11] This kind of difficulty was already raised in the public discussion of Russell’s speech in ‘The Philosophy of Logical Atomism,’ 1994: 203. (For criticisms see Tugendhat 1976: 382, and Kripke 2013: 15-16.)
[12] See my discussion of Wittgenstein’s private language argument at the end of this chapter.
[13] One could object that since there are many different shades of red (one of them being vermilion), red cannot be simple. But with Wittgenstein we can answer that what we call ‘simple’ depends on whatever linguistic system we have adopted: we can use an old linguistic practice with only three basic colors: red, yellow and blue. Here red will be considered simple; and in this case, distinct shades of red will not be taken into account, even if they are perceptually distinguishable. Instead of being qualitatively identical to the pattern, a new red patch must only be sufficiently identical, insofar as we have parameters to distinguish it from the blurred borders with the other two colors.
[14] Language not only has a communicational function, but also an organizational function, in the sense that we also use it to think, to organize our ideas and our plans of action (Vygotsky). At first sight, the identification of meaning with ways of use doesn’t seem to do justice to its organizational function, but this doesn’t have to be so. It makes sense to say that when I think that the Leaning Tower of Pisa could come crashing down, I am using this name referentially in my mind, in thought, that is, in an internal dialogue with myself.
[15] In insisting that the content of p is a communicable kind of meaning, I distinguish this analysis from the Gricean psychological theory of meaning. H. P. Grice suggested that to display what he calls a non-natural meaning (our semantic-cognitive meaning) of p the speaker must have the intention (i) that the hearer should come to believe that p, (ii) that the hearer should recognize the intention (i) of the speaker, and (iii) that by means of the recognition of (ii), the hearer will come to believe that p. However, what Grice thereby analyzes is not the non-natural meaning in itself, but only the standard procedure by which the non-natural meaning is communicated. (Cf. Grice 1991; see also Tugendhat 1976, Ch. 14).
[16] There are also experimental, simplified or artificial language-games that the philosopher invents to make comparisons… But I am interested here in the language games really constitutive of our natural language.
[17] Although Wittgenstein expressly disliked K. Ogden and I. A. Richards’ book ‘The Meaning of Meaning’, he must have appreciated the short supplement to the book in which Malinowski presents these ideas.
[18] An outline of what I believe to be the most plausible solution is given in Costa 2011, Ch. 5.
[19] These two forms were also noted by Anthony Kenny (1973).
[20] C. S. Peirce’s view, according to which all thought is in signs, seems to be wrong, considering that we are surely able to think without using words. But on second thought, it is plausible that in having these non-linguistic thoughts we are using non-linguistic mental signs, like imagistic and emotivist ones.
[21] See, for instance, A. J. Ayer 1972: 196.
[22] In fact, I think we are not very far from this result than some might believe. Computational fMRI brain reading is already close to being able to reconstruct mental states (images, intentions, memories), making them interpersonally graspable as well for the person who is having these states: you can see your own mental images (visual sense-data) represented on a screen, and others can see your represented images on the same screen. (e.g., Nishimoto 2011) Even if they are not the images (visual sense-data) in themselves, the experiment already suggests that your consciousness of these images is detachable from them.
[23] Costa 1997, 433-448; Cf. also Costa 2011, Ch. 5.
[24] Note that there are non-referential rules: we can not only have rules that relate (a) the empirical data to cognitions, but also (b) cognitions to other cognitions, and (c) cognitions to actions. But concerning the issue of reference, what matters is the first kind of rule, which is responsible for cognitive/referential meaning.
[25] As I see it, there is a great variety of ways to make this hypostasis. One of them is to identify sense/meaning with Platonic entities (Frege, Husserl); another (already criticized in the Appendix to Chapter II) is to identify meaning with something external like essences of things (Putnam); another is to identify meaning with minimum units of reference (Russell); and yet another is the attempt to identify meaning with psychological communicative intentions (Grice).