The prejudice in favour of psycho-physical parallelism is also a fruit of the primitive conception of grammar. For if one accepts a causality between psychological phenomena that is not mediated physiologically, one is taken to have thereby admitted the existence, alongside the body, of a soul, a ghostly spiritual entity. (RPP1, para. 906)
The account of the Inner outlined in this book is likely to face two contrasting challenges. Some will complain, as Iris Murdoch has done, that Wittgenstein’s approach to the Inner comes dangerously close to denying the most crucial aspect of an individual’s existence. In contrast, others will argue that Wittgenstein has not gone far enough and is himself still a prisoner of the anthropocentric myth that human consciousness is somehow special. However, as we shall try to show in this chapter, both these criticisms misrepresent Wittgenstein’s argument; indeed, both are founded on the very confusions he was trying to undermine. Rebutting these criticisms should further clarify the thrust of Wittgenstein’s argument and illuminate the non-substantive nature of his philosophy. It will also enable us to underline the importance of distinguishing our shared notion of the Inner (and associated ideas such as the mind), on the one hand, from moral or religious concepts such as the soul and, on the other, from scientific concepts such as the brain. We shall conclude by considering Freud, whose work seems to pose a particular challenge to Wittgenstein’s account, for it seems to refute our cur-
rent psychological concepts and also to present a scientific but substantive view of what human life is really about. Let us begin, however, by considering the idea that Wittgenstein is in some sense denying the existence of the Inner. Here talk of existence is already a sign of confusion, for this suggests that what is at stake is whether a particular thing or object exists, whereas the real issue is the significance of a particular concept or group of concepts. That we use the concept of the Inner (wonder what is going on inside someone’s head, talk of innermost thoughts and feelings, etc.) cannot be denied, what needs to be clarified is the particular grammar of this type of concept. The exact philosophical terminology we use to clarify the Inner is not important-as Wittgenstein said elsewhere ‘say what you choose, so long as it does not prevent you from seeing the facts’ (PI, para. 79). What does matter, however, is clarity, for the difficulty is that we misinterpret our own concepts. To illustrate this point, consider a variant of tennis which Wittgenstein called inner tennis. This game is identical to ordinary tennis except that the players have to form certain images while they play. This imposes a new demand on them, and it might be objected that it is one that is too easily eluded since only the individual herself can say whether she is following the rules. Let us suppose, however, that all the players are totally honest. The important question is the status of the ‘inner move’:
What sort of move is the inner move of the game, what does it consist in? In this, that-according to the rule-he forms an image of…?—But might it not also be said: We do not know what kind of inner move of the game he performs according to the rule; we only know its manifestations? The inner move of the game is an X, whose nature we do not know. Or again: here too there are only external moves of the game-the communication of the rule and what is called the ‘manifestation of the inner process’. (Z, para. 649)
Here we have three descriptions of the move, all of which Wittgenstein accepts as possible. One person compares the inner move to a move in an ordinary sense, another stresses the differences and rejects this comparison (‘there are only really external moves…’), while the third compares it to an action which happens in secret and which no one but the agent herself knows (‘the inner move is an
X’). The issue, however, is not which of these descriptions is accurate, for ex hypothesi they all describe the same reality. Rather what matters is that we are not misled and ‘that we see the dangers of the expression “inner move of the game”. It is dangerous because it produces confusion’ (ibid.).