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Dreaming, Calculating, Thinking: Wittgenstein and Anti-Realism about the Past

William Child
The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-)
Vol. 57, No. 227 (Apr., 2007), pp. 252-272
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4543227
Page Count: 21
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Dreaming, Calculating, Thinking: Wittgenstein and Anti-Realism about the Past
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Abstract

For the anti-realist, the truth about a subject's past thoughts and attitudes is determined by what he is subsequently disposed to judge about them. The argument for an anti-realist interpretation of Wittgenstein's view of past-tense statements seems plausible in three cases: dreams, calculating in the head, and thinking. Wittgenstein is indeed an anti-realist about dreaming. His account of calculating in the head suggests anti-realism about the past, but turns out to be essentially realistic. He does not endorse general anti-realism about past thoughts; but his treatment does in some cases involve elements of anti-realism, unacceptable in some instances but possibly correct in others.

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