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R EAD I NG TH E OTH E R

Criteria and identity Before I attempt to resolve these issues a specific contrast between the ordinary and Wittgensteinian cases needs to be highlighted. Return to items (1)–(3) in the list of characterisations of the grammar of ‘criteria’. These relate to what we can call the ‘authority’ or ‘source of authority’ in the ordinary case. With ordinary criteria there is usually an acknowledged or determinable source. This feature does not hold in Wittgenstein’s cases. Wittgenstein’s cases seem always to presume a ‘we’ of some indeterminate kind. They are ‘mine’ because they are ‘ours’. And this indeterminate community’s ‘criteria’ is Wittgenstein’s point of departure in his investigation of the use of psychological concepts and the language of personal experience.1 But note: such a starting point is completely intolerable from the perspective of the traditional problem of other minds. The sceptic (and indeed his opponent, his refuter) claims precisely that the existence or presence of the other must be or is capable of some kind of demonstration. Starting with an appeal to a ‘we’, however indeterminate, begs every epistemological question. If Wittgensteinian criteria are never one’s own alone, how can they be construed as the starting point for a refutation of scepticism concerning other minds? Bluntly, I believe they cannot be so construed. But this needs defence to be convincing. Let us return to the comparison of ordinary and Wittgensteinian criteria. It was noted that ordinary criteria are rules with which we assess or judge an object as having a certain status, as entitled to a particular title. Criteria are the measure with which we establish the identity of a thing. That is, criteria are criteria of identity, of counting as ‘the same’. For example, with respect to the criteria laid down in the Oxford Decree, one can imagine a list of names being compiled and a college official going down the list and ticking off (i.e. making the same mark against the name of) each individual who has satisfied the criteria. Or again, one can imagine a telephone conversation in which one official reads out names and another says ‘Yes’ each time the name of a candidate who has satisfied the criteria is read out. As I have indicated, because of the everyday and unexceptional nature of the ‘objects’ concerned in the case of Wittgenstein’s investigations, ‘criteria’ in his work appear to function as rules for judgements of identity – rules, as it were, for ‘Yes: same’-saying – überhaupt. As a provisional approximation I think that this is acceptable. However, as should by now be expected, I want to resist the assumption that Wittgensteinian criteria can be given expression in the form of definite, ideally exact, rules. Indeed, as I have presented his arguments thus far, this is the central conclusion of Wittgenstein’s ‘grammatical investigations’ of our concepts in general. In my view, his appeal to criteria is not exceptional in this respect. Note how, in the following remarks, Wittgenstein uses the interrogative form in addressing the issue of our criteria:

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Glendinning, simon on being with others heidegger‚ derrida, wittgenstein  
Glendinning, simon on being with others heidegger‚ derrida, wittgenstein  
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