Undoing the Psychologizing of the Psychological
Conversations The Journal of Cavellian Studies
In "Aesthetic Problems of Modern Philosophy," first published in 1965, and later collected in Must We Mean What We Say?, Stanley Cavell wrote: We know the efforts of such philosophers as Frege and Husserl to undo the "psychologizing" of logic (like Kant's undoing Hume's psychologizing of knowledge): now, the shortest way I might describe such a book as the Philosophical Investigations is to say that it attempts to undo the psychologizing of psychology, to show the necessity controlling our
... ontrolling our application of psychological and behavioral categories; even, one could say, show the necessities in human action and passion themselves. And at the same time it seems to turn all of philosophy into psychology—matters of what we call things, how we treat them, what their role is in our lives. Frege, of course, insisted on distinguishing between what is thought in any act of thinking, the content of thought, which he conceived of as having a propositional form, and the thinking of it. A thought is what can be common to different acts of thinking, whether of one's own or of another. It is thus essentially public, essentially shareable, unowned. By contrast the thinking of a thought is necessarily someone's, necessarily owned, and so in that sense private. Frege depsychologized logic, by excluding the psychological from it. The logical must bear no trace of the psychological, for if that were not so, there would be nothing that could be true or false—and so no judgment, no belief, no propositional attitude, as thoughts have subsequently come to be called. There would be in Thomas Rickett's memorable words, merely "mooing." The first person is consequently banished from the logical order, for a first person thought is constituted by the thinking of it. But in depsychologizing logic as he did, Frege seemed to have psychologized psychology. Thus, in speaking of the Investigations as undoing the psychologizing of psychology, I take it, Stanley meant that it seeks to undo what Frege did. However, this doesn't mean undoing what Frege undid, that is, erasing the sharp boundary between the logical and the psychological, but rather to not cede the psychological to psychology: what the PI calls for is to further what Frege began, but, as it were, against Frege. In other words, Stanley saw Wittgenstein as reintroducing the first person as essential to the logical order, the order of what we think.