Major Papers


Mind, Philosophy, Epistemic Privacy, Private Language, Meaning as Use, Quality of Feeling.


In the Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein argues against the possibility of a private language. This argument has semantic implications for how we come to understand the meaning behind our use of mental terms. Namely, that use determines meaning prior to signification. However, an interesting part about Wittgenstein’s private language argument is what it tells us about epistemic privacy. This paper seeks to establish Wittgenstein’s private language argument in a framework which deals primarily with how we come to understand the use behind our mental terms. Once we come to understand the use behind our mental terms, we can come to understand how we come to have knowledge of mental states. The implications for epistemic privacy are twofold. The first, is that other minds are necessary when it comes to self knowledge of mental occurrences. The second, is that mental occurrences are an integral part of conscious experience. Together, these two implications provide an epistemic framework which depicts the mind as something which depends at least in part on other people. Since knowledge of mental occurrences is both dependent on the existence of mental occurrences themselves and the existence of others, minds are not epistemically private.

Primary Advisor

Hans V. Hansen

Program Reader

Philip Rose

Degree Name

Master of Arts



Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year