“An Austrian Economic model of Wittgenstein’s Philosophies of Language and Mind” by Richard McDonough (Feb 5)

Most scholars understand para. 608 of Wittgenstein’s Zettel (Z608) to propose that language might emerge out of chaos at the neural centre.  These scholars see in Z608 one or another neural theory, causal indeterminism, or connectionist processes, or even the possibility of a pile of sawdust at the neural centre. But these contradict Wittgenstein’s basic views that the philosopher must not advance theories and that the relevant phenomena are “always before one’s eyes” (Philosophical Investigations, pgh. 129; Culture and Value, p. 63). The paper proposes an Austrian economic model of Z608 that better coheres with Wittgenstein’s fundamental views. For example, the Austrian philosopher-economist, Hayek argues that the price of a commodity emerges out of the chaos of activities at the centre of gravity a free market. He proposes no theories about hidden mechanisms but only a description of the economic activities right “before one’s eyes.” Whereas Wittgenstein claims language arises, not out of physical chaos in the brain, but out of the chaotic behaviour in human forms of life, Austrian economists hold that the natural price arises out of the chaotic behaviour in human forms of economic life. Finally, the paper shows how this Austrian economic model of Z608 clarifies Kripke’s suggestion that the Austrian economic calculation argument against socialism parallels Wittgenstein’s “private language argument”.

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Thursday, 5 Feb 2015
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Richard McDonough, James Cook University, Singapore
Moderator: Dr. Qu Hsueh Ming

About the Speaker:

RichRichard McDonough received his BA in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971, his MA in philosophy from Cornell in 1974, and his Ph.d. from Cornell in 1975.  He is the author of two books, about 50 articles in internationally referred journals, several encyclopedia and dictionary entries, 11 book reviews and has acted as a guest editor of Idealistic Studies.  He has taught previously at Bates College, National University of Singpaore, University of Tulsa, University Putra Malaysia, Overseas Family College, PSB Academy, University of Maryland, Arium Academy, and James Cook University.   In addition to philosophy, he has taught psychology, physics, general humanities and writing courses.

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