Emotions as Embodied Expressions: Wittgenstein on the Inner Life

  • Lucilla Guidi University of Hildesheim
Keywords: Wittgenstein, Embodiment, Emotions, Expression, Inner Life, Philosophy of Psychology, Ethics


In this paper I will examine the embodied dimension of emotions, and of inner life more generally, according to Wittgenstein’s anti-subjectivistic account of expression. First of all, I will explore Wittgenstein’s critique of a Cartesian disembodied account of the inner life, and the related argument against the existence of a private language. Secondly, I will describe the constitution of inner life as the acquisition of embodied ways of expressing oneself and of responding to others within a shared context, against the background of an inherited weave of cultural expressive practices. Here, I will analyze Wittgenstein’s embodied account of expression, the ‘modified concept of sensing’ and ‘seeing’ which is involved in seeing the emotions of others as their expressions, and consequently Wittgenstein’s critique of an epistemological account concerning our ‘knowledge’ of others’ minds. Finally, with reference to Cavell’s and Mulhall’s readings, I will reflect on the figure of the ‘aspect-blind’, one who ‘just knows’ the emotion of others but cannot acknowledge it, and accordingly is not able to see it as the embodied expression of the other’s inner life. In this way, I wish to argue that Wittgenstein not only calls into question a disembodied account of the inner life from a theoretical point of view, but also shows the ethical consequences of a disembodied account of self through the figure of the aspect-blind. 

How to Cite
Guidi, L. (2019). Emotions as Embodied Expressions: Wittgenstein on the Inner Life. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 12(36), 146-169. Retrieved from https://www.humanamente.eu/index.php/HM/article/view/295