Wittgenstein Section 184
Uploaded by jazzy321 on Oct 26, 2011
This paper discusses in depth Section 184 of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s book Philosophical investigations. 4 pages; 1 source; MLA citation style.
In his Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein spends a great deal of time trying to understand how we can understand our thought processes, a very challenging endeavor.
This paper considers Section 184 in depth; how it bears on the discussion of the phrase “Now I can go on!” in Section 151; and how other remarks relate back to it.
In Section 184, Wittgenstein attempts the almost impossible task of trying to describe what it is like to suddenly “know” something. The example he uses is a song. If we try to recall a song and cannot, and then it suddenly “pops into our head” and we sing it, what is that moment like? What does it mean for us to suddenly know the song? And if we begin singing only to get “stuck” does that mean we really don’t know it after all? Is it valid to say that we know the song if we cannot sing the whole thing? Or is it a question of knowing it for a moment, and then having part of it “slip away”? In answer to all these questions, Wittgenstein says, “If someone says with conviction that now he knows the tune, then it is (somehow) present to his mind in its entirety at that moment—and this is a definition of the expression ‘the tune is present to his mind in its entirety’.” (P. 64, §184). In other words, Wittgenstein is setting up parameters for what it means “to know”—at the moment that someone says he knows something, that entire thing is present in his mind. Conversely, it seems logical to assume that if we get stuck half-way through the song, we don’t really “know” it, at least not in the way Wittgenstein defines knowing.
But if we look back at Section 151 and the discussion of the phrase “Now I can go on!” we can see how Wittgenstein arrives at this conclusion. In section 151, he gives an example of a mathematical progression; in this case, person A writes down a series of numbers: 1, 5, 11, 19, and 29; after watching A for some unspecified time, B says, “Now I can go on!”
What has happened is that B has discerned the way in which...