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Readings: Wittgenstein

What criterion do you use; and by what criterion could you ever hope to establish that your own subjective sense of yellowness is the same as somone else's? Wittgenstein shows us the way out of these puzzles by reminding us that the dictionary defines 'yellowness' as 'of the colour of gold, butter, egg yolks, etc.' In English there are publically agreed rules for using the word. If you follow them and use the word as it is commonly used, then you understand what yellow means. If you have the skill in using colour words in accordance with the public consensus, then you will be able to pass any imaginable test of your colour vision, and reference to your private sensations or to the question of what colour things 'really' are adds nothing, or is made redundant. (Cupitt, The Sea of Faith(1984), 222-3)

...Wittgenstein as a religious man respects the world of public meanings in which he finds himself and struggles, not for Being or for knowledge, but simply for - understanding. He is not a behaviourist or a materialist for whom an objective physical reality comes first, nor is he an empiricist or idealist for whom an objective physical reality comes first. For him, language comes first. In our material-object language we postulate and constitute a public physical world, and in our language about sensations, mental proceses and the like we postulate and constitute an inner world of mind: but in the last resort there is nothing but the facts about our linguistic practices, and the ways in which they are interwoven with the forms of life they have been developed to serve.

(Cupitt, The Sea of Faith(1984), 225)