In a recent paper, Wittgenstein rejected the idea of mentalism, rejecting the inner vs. outer dichotomy and the idea that language is a calculus of reality. Instead, Wittgenstein advocates the idea of meaning as a process of use, and he rejects the concept of rule, replacing it with the concept of family resemblance. His approach also weakens the notion of the “rule” and re-contextualizes utterances as embedded language-games, rather than a simple reflection of reality.
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While there are plenty of believers in ghosts and divine intervention, a mentalist would say that we can’t directly observe or perceive our minds. We experience mental states through an inner sense, commonly known as the mind’s eye. But this privileged access is only observed by the creature, and others can only infer our mental states from our behavior. It is therefore unfair to lump cognitive psychologists with superstitious members of the public, and a form of libel.
For both sides, the distinction between private and public is crucial. According to Moore, the mind is internal and observable, but the variables that comprise our behavior are external. The difference between private and public makes it impossible to define them and therefore obstructs scientific research. Nevertheless, if we can’t observe our thoughts and feelings, then we can’t study them. That’s why a mentalist can’t understand what neuroscience is telling us about consciousness.
As such, antimentalists’ claims are problematic. They claim that we can’t observe our mind while simultaneously observing our behavior. But, this claim is based on a false premise and a misguided attempt to undermine psychiatric research. However, they also argue that the difference between cognitivism and mentalism is not a philosophical disagreement but a disagreement between two sides of the same issue.
The antimentalists’ war against mentalism is largely a myth. While a mentalist claims that the mind is internal and nonphysical, antimentalists believe that the mind is a material and observable object. While they may disagree on the details of consciousness, they are nevertheless agnostic. The key to understanding the mind is its internality, and the way we think about it.
In order to successfully defend mentalism, antimentalists must demonstrate the inner-world nature of the mind. They assert that the mind is the only object that can directly observe its own mental state. The arguments for this view are based on their own understanding of the concept of a mental object. A person’s state is not externally observable, but can be understood through a particular set of behaviors.
In addition to focusing on the outer world, a mentalist’s perspective focuses on the inner-world. As such, a mental event is a causal mediator between S and behavior. The inner-world is also relevant for a mentalist, as it is the source of its experiences and perceptions. As such, he believes that “mentalism” is an intellectual activity, not a physical thing.