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G. E. M. Anscombe wrote this at the beginning of Modern Moral Philosophy where she claimed that one should not do moral philosophy today:

...that should be laid aside at any rate until we have an adequate philosophy of psychology.

In her introduction to Wittgenstein's Tractatus, she wrote the following claiming there is no epistemology in the Tractatus: (page 27)

...Wittgenstein evidently did not think that epistemology had any bearing on his subject-matter. We find epistemology put in its place at 4.1121: 'Psychology is no nearer related to philosophy than is any other natural science. The theory of knowledge is the philosophy of psychology.'

I get the feeling the term "psychology" or even "philosophy of psychology" has special, negative meanings for both of them, but I may be wrong. I am looking for some clarification on what they mean by psychology or the philosophy of psychology.


Anscombe, G. E. M. (1961). An introduction to Wittgenstein's Tractatus.

Anscombe, G. E. M. (1958). Modern moral philosophy. Philosophy, 33(124), 1-19. https://www.pitt.edu/~mthompso/readings/mmp.pdf


Below are suggested references. I am recording them here to keep track of them.

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    The idea that psychology is a natural science starts with James and Wundt. So it is amazing to see this from Wittgenstein. Up to this point in his career, psychology would still not be seen as a natural science at all by many. But it is also clear by that time that there are philosophies of language, mathematics, etc. So I am not sure he is writing off the philosophy of psychology as not being philosophy, only indicating that it should not be some arbitrary thing disconnected from the science that it describes. – jobermark Jan 4 at 17:14
  • Hacker has a commentary on late Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Psychology, his attitude was indeed somewhat negative:"Wittgenstein is concerned to make surveyable the enormous landscape of the grammar of psychological concepts... which involves eschewing philosophical theory (especially of the sort that apes scientific theory)". Then again, late Wittgenstein was negative on "philosophy of" generally, where "philosophy" is understood in the traditional sense. – Conifold Jan 5 at 8:03
  • On the early Wittgenstein's "logicist" position see commentary here:"the spirit of the Tractatus where the divorce of philosophy from psychology is explicit at TLP 4.1121... An evidence to this can also be cited from the Notebooks where he has implied that the study of thought processes is not psychological but logical (NB 10.11.1914). Yet in sharp contrast to this there is a letter that Wittgenstein wrote to Russell in 1919. In it Wittgenstein explicitly mentions that a gedanke consists of psychical elements." – Conifold Jan 5 at 12:58

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