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I see the outer and imagine an inner that fits it.”


When mien, gesture and circumstance are unambiguous, then the inner seems to be an outer; it is only when we cannot read the outer that the inner seems to be hidden behind it.


There are inner and outer concepts, inner and outer ways of looking at a man.


                                     —Ludwig Wittgenstein


[manuscript 171, posthumously published in:

Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology

Volume II – The Inner and the Outer 1949­-51]







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2.3  “(Ist dies eine ‘Weltanschauung’?)”


 This imaginative bit of dialogue cannot but strike the uninitiated as odd. Is he talking to us, about himself—or to himself, about another? Of persons—or of things? The latter ambiguity arises from translation to English, as the German Nouns differ in denotative extension: while inner and Innere both signify a literal ‘interior’ and a figurative ‘heart’, the German Äußere, in contrast to English outer, signifies not only an evident ‘exterior’ but an outer person. This anthropomorphic denotation carries over to speech acts in Äußerung—an expressed remark, an utterance, an observation. But what is he expressing? Which he? Having ‘quoted’ one interlocutor observing a second, he replies in the mouth of a third! (Who—“‘L.W.’”?) We cannot imagine ‘L.W.’ submits inner (mental) states to outer (behavioral) criteria—for where is this dialogue staged if not in the ‘mind’s eye’? Who speaks it, if not an ‘inner voice’? His, yours, mine? That is, if only to read this strange exchange, we must imagine L.W. imagining someone imagining someone imagining.

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