Date of Award

Spring 1992

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

McNulty, Michael

Second Advisor

Jones, John

Third Advisor

Vater, Michael G.


The problem that the following essay will address is that of devising a viable use for psychological or intentional terms, in short, discourse concerning what-it-is-to-be-a-subject or "subjecthood" in light of, first, Derrida's deconstruction of the transcendental subject and, second, the materialist claim that recent advances in science effectively antiquate any viable role in empirical psychology for the use of terms associated with traditional notions of mind, I will argue that Wittgenstein's remarks concerning private mental objects, the use of psychological terms and the attribution of psychological terms to nonhumans not only provides a clear and important connection between Derrida and materialism but that, supplemented by Daniel Dennett's intentional stance, Wittgenstein also offers a viable working model for the use of psychological terms in empirical psychological investigation, Central to my argument is the claim that psychological terms are best" understood as descriptive metaphors for the complexity of the relationship between an organism and its bio/socio/historical context rather than as names for mental objects or states. I will refer to this approach as a grammar of subjecthood: a heuristic by which to employ terms traditionally associated with mind which is neither essentialist nor reductionist, yet both broadly anthropomorphic and consistently naturalistic. In chapter V and the epilogue I will sketch several possible applications of this view including a moral/political application of the grammar to the development of a feminist standpoint.



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