Wittgenstein on Seeing as; Some Issues

  • Paul F. SnowdonEmail author
Part of the The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)


In his middle and later periods one of Wittgenstein’s concerns was perception. This is, of course, precisely what one would expect given his obvious interest then in the notion of experience and in the language we employ to describe and express our experiences. However, the passage which has attracted most attention is the discussion in sec. XI of part II of Philosophical Investigations which is concerned with “seeing as”, or “aspect seeing”. In this paper the examples that Wittgenstein uses are examined, and some puzzles about them raised. It is suggested that Wittgenstein’s aim is to discredit some supposedly mistaken accounts of what ‘seeing as’ is. These mistaken accounts are supposed to made by Gestalt psychologists such as Kohler, and traditional sense-datum theorists. It is further argued that Wittgenstein’s criticisms are not uniformly cogent. It is, though, conceded that this rich and original passage contains far more than the elements investigated here, so much more needs to be scrutinised.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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