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PostSubject: Wittgenstein Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:20 pm

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Wittgenstein Sun Aug 16, 2015 7:32 pm

Quote :
"Wittgenstein puts this point by saying that propositions like "physical objects exist" are "grammatical", and have a special role in our discourse as forming part of its very conditions of meaningfulness. Likewise, religious discourse is a language-game in which talk of God similarly plays a fundamental role, and consequently the validity of religious discourse is something internal to itself (a point some theologians have gratefully accepted from Wittgenstein because it helps them defend against the criticism that no independent means exist for substantiating religious claims). There is no question of asking, still less answering, questions about the validity of these languagegames as a whole; they rest upon "the form of life", the shared experience, the agreement, the customs, the rules, which underlie them and give them their content. Accordingly it appears that, in Wittgenstein's view, language and thought are in some sense internally self-determining and self-constituting, and that therefore reality is not, as he had thought of it in the Tractatus, independent of language and thought.

The problems such a view creates are many. One is that if we accept some such view we are obliged to explain what appears to us, in our ordinary experience of it, to be the independent character of the world. Why, if there is no genuinely independent world constraining the way we act, think, and talk, does it seem as if there is one? Why does it at least seem as though our practices and thought have always to accommodate themselves to something intractable and separate? The fact that the world appears to exist independently of us can indeed be explained by anti-realist theories, even by those strong versions which have it that thought or experience is the determiner of what exists. But the details of such a theory are extremely important, since on them turns the theory's very acceptability. If, therefore, Wittgenstein is committed to the view that reality is not independent of language and thought, he does not fulfil a responsibility to say something more about why our experience and beliefs are so trenchantly realist in character.

Another and allied problem which arises from these of Wittgenstein's views is that they sometimes appear to commit him to relativism. This is a point which interests anthropologists as well as philosophers, and in part explains the former's interest in Wittgenstein. What is involved can be explained as follows.

There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of relativism, "cultural" and "cognitive". Cultural relativism is the thesis that there are differences between cultures or societies, or between different phases in the history of a single culture or society, in respect of social, moral, and religious practices and values. For example, one among the things which distinguishes contemporary Western society from, say, Indian society is the markedly different set of practices followed in courtship and marriage. In the latter, marriages are arranged, and the parties to them meet only once or twice, very briefly and in the company of their families, before the marriage ceremony. In the West, courtship is left to chance as to its inception and individual preference as to its continuation and outcome. It is evident that the institution of marriage has different significances in these two societies.

Cultural relativism is not philosophically problematic, for it is clear that our being able to recognize cultural differences of the kind described presupposes an ability on our part to gain access to other cultures so that we can recognize the differences as differences; which shows that there are points in common between cultures which allow mutual access and hence mutual understanding to take place.

Cognitive relativism is a quite different matter. It is the view that there are different ways of perceiving and thinking about the world or experience, ways possibly so different that members of one conceptual community cannot at all grasp what it is like to be a member of another conceptual community. Some philosophers argue that with respect to any culture other than our own, or even with respect to an earlier phase in our own culture's history, we can never have more than an indeterminate grasp, at best, of what it is like to be a member of it. This is because, they argue, any view of the world is a highly theoretical and interpretative matter, and our efforts to make intelligible to ourselves an alien world-view, an alien conceptual scheme, or "form of life" as Wittgenstein would say, will inevitably proceed in terms of our reinterpreting the aliens' concepts, beliefs, and practices into our own terms, which is the only way that we, from our own standpoint, can make any sense of them. On this view it is possible and even likely that there are conceptual schemes so utterly different from our own that we cannot recognize their existence - or if we can, that nevertheless they are quite sealed off from our capacity to get an inkling of what they are like from within. One thing that immediately follows from cognitive relativism is of course that truth, reality, knowledge, moral value, and the like, are our truth, our reality, and so on; they are not absolute but relative; they are parochial to us, even to the slice of history we happen to occupy; and that therefore there are as many versions of "truth", "reality", and "value" as there are different conceptual schemes or "forms of life".

Wittgenstein sometimes appears to be committed to cognitive relativism as just described. He says: "If a lion could talk, we could not understand him" (P II p. 223); "We don't understand Chinese gestures any more than Chinese sentences (Z 219). These remarks suggest relativism across "forms of life"; Wittgenstein may be saying that because meaning and understanding are based upon participation in a form of life, and because the forms of life in which, in their different ways, lions and Chinese engage are quite different from ours, it follows that we cannot understand them - their view of things is inaccessible to us and vice versa. In On Certainty Wittgenstein appears to commit himself to relativism in a single form of life across time, by saying that our own language-games and beliefs change (C 65, 96-7, 256), which entails that the outlook of our forebears might be as inaccessible to us cognitively as is that of the lions or, differently again, the Chinese.

Cognitive relativism is a troubling thesis. Consider the point that it makes the concepts of truth, reality, and value a matter of what sharers in a form of life happen to make of them at a particular time and place, with other forms of life at other times and places giving rise to different, perhaps utterly different or even contrary, conceptions of them. In effect this means that the concepts in question are not concepts of truth and the rest, as we usually wish to understand them, but concepts of opinion and belief. We are, if cognitive relativism is true (but what does "true" now mean?), in error if we think that "truth" and "knowledge" have the meanings we standardly attach to them, for there is only relative truth, there is only reality as we, in this conceptual community at this period in its history, conceive it.

The reading of Wittgenstein which suggests that he takes such a view is consistent with much of what he otherwise says. For Wittgenstein the meaning of expressions consists in the use we make of them, that use being governed by the rules agreed among the sharers of a form of life. This presumably applies to expressions like "true" and "real" themselves, indeed, it is precisely Wittgenstein's point that such expressions cease to be philosophically significant once we remind ourselves of their ordinary employments. It follows that the possibility of there being other forms of life, even just one other, with different agreements and rules means therefore that each form of life confers its own meaning on "true" and "real" and therefore truth and reality are relative not absolute conceptions. This is a highly consequential claim.

From some of what Wittgenstein says, particularly about "natural expression", that is, the way people are apt to feel and act as a result of their human nature, we might be led to suppose that all human communities share the same form of life, and hence that truth is human truth, reality human reality. The form of relativism to which Wittgenstein is committed might, that is, simply be anthropocentrism. This interpretation is supported by his saying that "the common behaviour of mankind is the system of reference by means of which we interpret an unknown language". But the remark about the Chinese (and see also Z 350), which conflicts with the remark just quoted, seems to propose a more radical relativism than that; consistently with one interpretation admitted by the notion of a "form of life", Wittgenstein's view might be that cognitive relativities follow the same demarcation lines as cultural relativities. This would be an extreme relativism indeed.

One need not take as one's target so radical a form of the thesis to show that cognitive relativism is unacceptable, however. This can be demonstrated as follows. Suppose that cognitive relativism is the case. How then do we recognize another form of life as another form of life? The ability to detect that something is a form of life and that it differs from our own surely demands that there be a means for us to identify its presence and to specify what distinguishes it from ours. But such means are unavailable if the other form of life is impenetrable to us, that is, if it is closed against our attempts to interpret it enough to say that it is a form of life. This means that if we are to talk of "other forms of life" at all we must be able to recognize them as such; we must be able to recognize the existence of behaviour and patterns of practices which go to make up a form of life in which there is agreement among the participants by reference to which their practices can go on. Moreover, if we are to see that the form of life is different from our own we have to be able to recognize the differences; this is possible only if we can interpret enough of the other form of life to make those differences apparent. And therefore there has to be sufficient common ground between the two forms of life to permit such interpretation. This common ground has to involve two related matters: first, we have to share with the aliens some natural capacities and responses of a perceptual and cognitive type, giving rise to at least some similar beliefs about the world; and secondly we have to be able to share with them certain principles governing those beliefs; for one important example, that what is believed and therefore acted upon is held to be true. This has to be so because, as remarked, detecting differences is only possible against a shared background; if everything were different participants in one form of life could not even begin to surmise the existence of the other.

But this requirement for mutual accessibility between forms of life gives the lie to cognitive relativism. This is because the respects in which "different" forms of life share an experiential and conceptual basis which permits mutual accessibility between them are precisely the respects in which those forms of life are not cognitively relative at all. Indeed, cultural relativism, which is not just an unexceptionable but an important thesis, itself only makes sense if there is mutual accessibility between cultures at the cognitive level. Hence it would appear that the only intelligible kind of relativism there can be is cultural relativism.

Wittgenstein's relativism, or at least the relativism that sometimes seems to be implied by his views, makes no distinction between the cultural and cognitive types. Indeed, he barely seems to be aware of relativism as a possible and unacceptable implication of some of his remarks, and particularly of his "forms of life" notion. Yet that notion underwrites the whole of the later philosophy, as the "given" or "bedrock" which provides the ultimate basis for meaning, use, rules, knowledge, and the psychological concepts. Therefore, both the intrinsic vagueness of that notion, and its unacceptable entailment or apparent entailment of relativism, raise a question mark over his later philosophy as a whole.

The foregoing discussions concern general points in Wittgenstein's philosophy. I turn now to a more particular matter: Wittgenstein's discussion of rule-following and private language. This constitutes the most central and important aspect of his later philosophy. But here too there are problems, the chief of which is that these of Wittgenstein's views contain an inconsistency. This can be demonstrated as follows.

Wittgenstein's argument against private language is standardly taken to be an argument against the possibility of logically private language, that is, language which only a single individual can know. This allows that there can be contingently private languages, languages which in fact only one person knows but which could be understood by others, which are, in short, translatable into public languages. Sometimes it is thought that an example of a contingently private language would be, say, Pepys' Diary; but this is merely a public language in cypher, and does not constitute a philosophically interesting case of privacy. A better example might be a language invented by someone solitary from birth, a lifelong Robinson Crusoe. Such a language would be private in an interesting sense, but it would be only contingently private because it would admit of being understood by others. On Wittgenstein's view Robinson's language only counts as a language because it admits of being publicly understood.

The commentator's insistence that Wittgenstein intended to rule out logical but not contingent privacy arises from the fact that the conception of contingently private language seems to be perfectly in order; it is widely recognized that such languages are possible and that it would be difficult to argue otherwise.

When we look at Wittgenstein's remarks on rule-following, however, it turns out that he is committing himself to something different from, and much stronger than, the claim that there cannot be logically private languages. What the rule- following considerations entail is that language is essentially public. The argument for this, to recapitulate, is that language use is a rule-governed activity, and that rules are constituted by agreement within a language community (only within such a community can one succeed in following rules, since otherwise one could not distinguish between following a rule and only thinking one is doing so; and where such a distinction is unavailable there is no rule-following and hence no language). But then if language-use is a rule-following activity, and such activity is essentially a matter of public agreement, as Wittgenstein argues, it follows that language is essentially, that is logically, public.

And here is the problem for Wittgenstein: if language is logically public there cannot be languages which are in any sense private. There cannot be a Robinson-Crusoe-from-birth who invents and uses even a contingently private language, because on the rule-following argument he could not, since he is not a member of a linguistic community, distinguish between following a rule and only thinking he is doing so, and hence could not be using a language at all.

Indeed there is a further, allied, reason why on Wittgenstein's principles there cannot be contingently private language. This is that such a language could not get started. This follows from what Wittgenstein says, about language learning, which demands a public setting in which the tyro can be trained in the practices (centrally, the rule-followings) of his linguistic community. For a Robinson-Crusoe-from-birth there can be no such beginning, and therefore, on Wittgenstein's views, no language.

The conflict apparent in Wittgenstein's views, then, lies between the strong claim that language is logically public, and the weaker claim that there cannot be logically private language. The former rules out, while the latter allows, that there can be contingently private languages. Wittgenstein advocates the former when specifically discussing rules, and the latter when specifically discussing private language. However, for his overall position the rule-following considerations and all they involve (agreement, the language community, and so on) are fundamental. Accordingly, it would seem that, when a choice is forced, the strong thesis is the one to which Wittgenstein must adhere, thereby rejecting the weaker. But then the price is commitment to the debatable thesis that there cannot be contingently private language. (The other alternative, abandoning the stronger thesis, is not open to Wittgenstein; if he took it he would be giving up what is crucial to his later philosophy.)

These difficulties in Wittgenstein's position remind one that the rulefollowing and privacy issues give rise to yet another serious problem. The problem has already been mentioned: it concerns the fact that if rules are constituted by agreement within a language community, and are not determined by anything external to that community's practices, then the problem facing a putative private language- user" namely, that he cannot tell whether he is, or only thinks he is, following a rule "also faces the community as a whole. How does the community tell whether it is following a rule? The answer Wittgenstein gives is: it cannot tell. This admission is the nub of the problem. If, in the case of the individual, nothing counts as marking this crucial difference, then according to Wittgenstein the individual is not following rules at all, and hence is not using language. But does this not apply to the language-community as a whole? And if it does, then the paradoxical result would seem to be that the language-community does not use language.

In recent discussions of Wittgenstein, efforts have been made to resolve these and other difficulties. As they stand they are serious and radically undermine Wittgenstein's views. Taken together with the more general criticisms sketched above, they suggest that Wittgenstein's later philosophy is not as it stands persuasive.

If one were to specify a single reason why few philosophers agree with Wittgenstein's basic outlook it would be that they do not accept his diagnosis of the source of philosophical perplexity. Wittgenstein says that problems arise because we misunderstand the workings of our language. He says we are "bewitched" by language; sometimes, he says, we have an "urge" to misunderstand it. But this is implausible. Philosophers as various as Plato, Bacon, and Berkeley have enjoined caution over language, and for excellent reasons, some of them mentioned in connection with Russell's views above; but to say that all philosophical perplexity arises from linguistic misunderstanding is to overstate matters. For one thing, language is an instrument capable of precise use. When it is so used philosophical difficulties can be expressed and investigated clearly. If Wittgenstein's view were right one could sometimes only describe what a given philosophical problem involves if one were sufficiently careless. For another thing, attempts to put Wittgenstein's views into practice show that they do not constitute a solution to philosophical difficulties. Wittgenstein says that we should remind ourselves of the ordinary uses of terms in order to "dissolve" such difficulties. But, as we have seen, attending to the ordinary uses of "good", "true", and "real" does not by itself solve the philosophical perplexities we feel about goodness, truth, and reality. Were matters otherwise, that grateful discovery would have long since been made." [Grayling, Wittgenstein]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Wittgenstein Mon Aug 24, 2015 2:14 am

Quote :
"In Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein claimed that philosophy was a sort of "therapy". The content is based roughly on sections 240-280, where he discusses whether or not language reference private pains.

Pyrrho was an ancient Greek philosopher, who conceived of skepticism as a kind of therapy. He thought that holding two ideas in our mind without deciding which was correct lead to a sort of peaceful tranquility."

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: Wittgenstein Tue Feb 02, 2016 10:48 am



Quote :
"Zizek claims that in our historical moment "the theological dimension is given a new lease on life in the guise of the postsecular 'Messianic' turn of deconstruction". Deconstruction assumes the position of Benjamin's chess-playing puppet, while historical materialism retreats to the dwarf's position. Never sparing of deconstruction, Zizek's formulation here and throughout unapologetically links deconstruction to the pasty liberalism he is so fond of deriding. However, lurking behind Zizek's usual critique of liberal political positions (multiculturalism, identity politics, human rights), there lies a more intriguing relation to deconstruction. Zizek devotes a great number of pages in this book to Saint Paul, one of his heroes, and Jesus, a man whom he values not as the son of God but as he who kills himself in order to save himself from becoming doxa. Jesus seems to figure here as none other than Jacques Derrida, the messianic voice of deconstruction, around whom disciples gather, and Paul as none other than Zizek himself, the outsider who rigorously theorizes and institutionalizes the excess out of the dominant tradition.
Christianity serves as the allegory through which Zizek critiques and proposes a solution to the apolitical "messianism" of deconstruction."

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Wittgenstein Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:29 pm

Gellner's critique of Wittgenstein from the pov. of an enlightenment rationalist/objectivist.


Gellner wrote:
"There is a kind of spectrum of positions:

1. There are no philosophical problems. We use language in certain ways, that is all. (Language is a set of events in the world.) How could there be problems? (The insight that there cannot be philosophical problems, deduced from seeing language naturalistically in the world, is reinforced by the same insight springing from the two-and-two-only-kinds-of-knowledge theory. Neither insight would be as strong alone as the two jointly.) This outlook has its plausibilities. One can easily empathise it.

2. There are no philosophical problems properly speaking, but there are important difficulties generated by language which can be clarified by understanding language.

3. There are philosophical problems, but neither they nor their answers can be articulated, for they concern the very possibility of language and its relation to things, and that cannot be spoken of in language.

4. There are problems, but their answers must not conflict with the actual use of words, for it is the actual use of words which gives them meaning, and a question or answer formulated in defiance of that use lacks sense.

5. You may disregard ordinary language at the end, but only if you have taken care to give meaning to your neologisms. At the start, you must reflect on the actual use.

6. Some problems are by-products of linguistic confusions.

7. Some apparent problems may be by-products of linguistic confusions.

8. I like knowing how I use words. (And make no claims whatever for its relevance. Kindly leave me in peace to get on with it.)

There are, in fact, people at each end of the points along this slippery pole. What is worse, some people are at a number of points at the same time, some slide up and down on it according to convenience, occasion and audience, and some are quite unclear about which position they are at.
Note some of the general features of the spectrum: The higher up along it, the more interesting the position; the lower down, the more trivial and trivially irrefutable.

Some of the positions analysed were characterised by Dr. J. O. Wisdom (not to be confused with Professor John Wisdom) as follows:

Quote :
"According to this phase of logical analysis its followers hold that philosophy arises from a state of perplexity, that all philosophical perplexity is NonSense, that there are no genuine philosophic problems, that there are no genuine philosophic answers, but that there are philosophical perplexities and problems that contain half-truths, and philosophic answers (equally NonSensical) that also contain half-truths: NonSense statement containing a half-truth and NonSense counter-statement containing a half-truth have a therapeutic effect upon each other." [J. O. Wisdom, The Metamorphosis of Philosophy, Cairo 1947, p. 149]
[Words and Things]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Wittgenstein Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:31 pm

Gellner wrote:
"The general public often supposes that Linguistic Philosophy is an attack on metaphysics. But metaphysics is a red herring. In reality, it is simply an attack on thought. It is worth noting an important but misplaced insight of Linguistic Philosophy, especially as expounded by Wittgenstein and John Wisdom, namely the importance of the emotional concomitants of thought. These philosophers have stressed, as previous ones have not, the fact that some of our thinking is accompanied by things such as perplexity, a feeling of cramp, that certain positions are asserted only with bravado, etc.

Earlier philosophers would have supposed such psychological background to be logically irrelevant. Linguistic philosophers are right in noting and stressing it, but quite wrong in diagnosing its source. They suppose it arises from the fact that in dealing with philosophic issues, in which our thought has unhinged itself from the customary rules and habits of the language games of which the relevant concepts are part, and that this is responsible for the perplexity accompanying the question, the bravado accompanying its answer, etc.: they have supposed that these emotions are somehow essentially connected with philosophical (formal, or confused) thinking.

On the contrary, it seems to me that such psychological stresses accompany all or most important thought, and indeed that all or most important thought is a matter of groping amongst "language games", ways of thinking and looking at things, and not a matter of making moves within them. Thinking is seldom a matter of proceeding from premiss or evidence to conclusion but from a sense of bewilderment or confusion to the establishment of some kind of order. What linguistic philosophers suppose to be characteristic, logically and emotionally, of categorial confusion is in fact the general characteristic of thought, other than dead, repetitive, ritualised "thinking", which we hardly call by that name.

There is another respect in which Linguistic Philosophy is a total and harmful travesty of thought and of the manner in which thought progresses: through its Polymorphism. The exaggeration of the truth that things, and in particular types of use of expressions, cannot all be alike leads to another mistake, and one more serious. It leads to the neglect and underrating of the extent to which thought is the introduction of homogeneity and order into things previously diverse. To understand something is, in general, to see it as a case of something more general. Both intellectual and moral progress depends on the discovery and employment of conceptual devices that unify. "Only connect." Wittgenstein's belief that it is more important to see differences than resemblances, that we are more often misled by exaggerating the similarity rather than by overestimating the differences between things, is wrong and harmful. His attitude and philosophy might be summed up by the inversion of E. M. Forster's dictum: in effect, Wittgenstein recommended "Only disconnect". This would lead to the paralysis both of science and of moral progress, which consists, essentially, of unification, of the elimination of arbitrary and unnecessary distinctions. (This cult of diversity and idiosyncrasy is particularly harmful when combined with the uncritical, substantive use of linguistic functionalism, the view that there is a strong presumption in favour of the usefulness of any existing ways of speaking, distinguishing, etc. This then amounts simply to an apotheosis of the status quo, of existing prejudice.)" [Words and Things]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Wittgenstein Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:32 pm

Gellner wrote:
"This being so--philosophy being but a study of language which "leaves everything as it is"--the stage is set for him who places his religion at an altogether different and more fundamental level. A philosophy so emasculated and harmless can be no danger to it. Religion is safe in the background, for in the foreground an innocuous philosophy "analyses concepts" within the safe convention that de facto use alone counts, and that to transcend it, for instance by the setting up of a worldpicture which might conflict with the religious one, or with anything else, is philosophically always mistaken. This is not an uncommon attitude. This not merely leaves religion safe in the background, it also relegates to it all the needs which may exist--such as for some kind of unifying or consoling or directing ideas--by implying both that such needs cannot be met by philosophy and that there is nothing in philosophy which could undermine the religion which does meet them." [Words and Things]

Gellner wrote:
"The argument is often put in the form that, when we have cleared up the verbal misunderstandings, we shall be better equipped to proceed with the real problems (if any). This assumes, absurdly, that we can tell, without knowing what the real solutions of the real problems will be, what are the preconditions of their solution. . . . Note, incidentally, that the value of clarity is not at issue: people have always realised that they must be as clear and consistent as they can be (with some exceptions--but those exceptions are more numerous among linguistic philosophers, where, as an obverse and reaction to the cult of clarity, one finds a strand of high valuation of mystical aphorism, etc.). What is at issue is the very protracted, very meticulous burrowing in the nuances of usage, to the detriment of interest in argument and ideas. And it is absurd to claim, in advance of knowing what the solution of a problem will look like, that it is necessary to begin with that." [Words and Things]

Gellner wrote:
"One overwhelmingly important factor in the emergence of Linguistic Philosophy was the Argument from Impotence. It ran: what else--other than the study of words and our uses of them--could philosophy possibly be?" [Words and Things]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Wittgenstein Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:36 pm

Lyssa wrote:
Gellner's critique of Wittgenstein from the pov. of an enlightenment rationalist/objectivist.


By which I meant:

Gellner wrote:
"The practice of not theorising, not saying anything which would utilise concepts, but just "showing", describing language systems, invented or existing ones, is based on the notion that a thing can somehow be known by coming into contact with it." [Words and Things]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Wittgenstein Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:40 pm

Wittgenstein wrote:
"Everything is what it is and not another thing."

Gellner wrote:
"The old kind of philosophy took language for granted and puzzled about the world. Linguistic Philosophy takes the world for granted and puzzles about language. Instead of asking whether the world can be what we think it is, it asks, given that the world is what we think it is, given that language is true, how language functions and why we should have supposed that it should function in another way, a way which would leave no room for our normal beliefs.

The language of the untutored is said to be somehow closer to reality than a polished, selfconscious, rule-bound manner of speaking.

The Theory of Meaning says that acts such as kicking a stone are what gives terms like "stone" meaning, and the theory of philosophy maintains that the checking of philosophic theories against the meaning of the terms employed in them is the way of testing them. What an improvement on Descartes! Instead of "I think, therefore I am", we get "We speak, therefore the whole world is, and moreover it is as it has always seemed". A rich harvest.
Words mean what a given language, its rules, its custom say they mean, neither more nor less. To deny that a word means what it is customarily said to mean shows either ignorance of the language or a desire for reform of it. Yet the argument is silly, and its silliness can be explained briefly with the help of the simplest of semantic distinctions, namely that between connotation and denotation. The argument confuses the two. The fact that there are standard cases for the application of the term such as "miracle" in a given society in no way proves that such terms have a legitimate use. They do certainly "have a use" but this in no way proves that the terms are justified. The term may in fact have no empirical application though members of a society think it has, or alternatively the term may even be incapable of having application, being internally inconsistent. The fact that a term has a use, a range of uses, or a paradigm use only shows that the users, apart from attributing to it some sense, also suppose that this sense so to speak finds the object to which it refers, in other words its denotation. It in no way establishes that they are right in this supposition.

Voltaire once defined philosophy as what everyone knows and what no one will ever know. It now seems to be only what everyone knows, but proved in a way no one would ever have suspected. The philosophical job is to persuade us of the adequacy of ordinary conceptualisations. It is the story of Plato over again --only this time it is the philosopher's job to lead us back into the cave." [Words and Things]


The problem is when common-sense is inverted and comes to mean common-sensibility, i.e. lcd sense-of-the-commons.

Spinoza promoted conatal self-preservation as an onto-theology of the world.

Wittgenstein brings conatus into the theory of language. Utilitarianism and the self-preservatory aesthetics of the common man in the world, his praxis that enables his survival, his self-preservation is presented as the Real real. Everything else is unreal. "Philosophy in the chair" and all abstractness out of touch with this "Real" real world of the common man is useless.

-


The Hegelian background to Wittgenstein's devaluation of philosophy, and how he meant it - covers a critique of Gellner's critique.

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PostSubject: Re: Wittgenstein Tue May 31, 2016 9:19 am

Gellner wrote:
"Logical Positivism was replaced by a movement best described as Linguistic Philosophy, whose central doctrines and practices spring from the later work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. It seems language is a very manifold activity, intimately and functionally fused with other human activities. The stress is on seeking the role of a linguistic expression in a larger whole. (This is a denial of the doctrine which sees meaning as the ‘coverage’ by a concept, so to speak, of a range of sensations, or indeed of the rival ‘Platonic’ theory which sees it as an attempt to penetrate the veil of appearance and reach out towards a higher reality.) It saw language as a manifold set of tools men use in the world: and past philosophy it saw as the noise made by misused tools. A language was said to be a form of life: in other words, these tools came not in isolation but as parts of linguistic traditions, which social scientists sometimes call ‘cultures’. It saw itself as a technique for eliminating the awkward noises made by dislocated tools, or tools ‘running idly’. No more positive task was there to be done—least of all any interference with ‘forms of life’.

This school itself has tended to split into sub-movements. One influential segment has more or less abjured the general theory concerning the genesis of philosophic questions (the tool-and-rattle theory), but concentrated on the practices that were associated with it or commended in terms of it—above all, the investigation of linguistic habits, their most minute differences, and their social context. The rationale of this ‘softly, softly’ movement is unclear and tends to vacillate between the promise of a new science of language and the delivery of philosophic solutions (to problems that are not clearly specified) in about two or three decades.

Another relevant feature, obvious because overt and indeed much-advertised by the protagonists of these philosophies themselves, is a preoccupation with language, meaning and its obverse, nonsense. This preoccupation and its alleged beneficent consequences are after all claimed by these protagonists to be the distinguishing marks of the new era and of its merits. The advance is indeed breath-takingly radical; it replaces questions such as

‘How many angels can sit on the point of a needle?’, by questions such as

‘In how many senses can an angel be said to sit on the point of a needle?’

The notion of what cannot be said, of the difficulty of saying things, of the traps which beset the attempts, is already conspicuously present with the Idealists. The realists are imbued with the need for utmost care in treading between the snares of speech. By the time we reach logical positivism and then the linguistic philosophers, this is no longer a preoccupation but an obsession. The identification of the stigmata of nonsense becomes the central theme of thought, and one which underlies and pervades all else. No puritan could have been closer to the thought of sin, no Victorian more intimately and pervasively embattled with the idea of sex, than were these thinkers with the idea of nonsense. It is not perhaps an unworthy preoccupation: but why is it so intense, why does it have them by the throat so much, why is it so persistent? Why— and this is the crucial question—do they feel the danger of falling into nonsense to be so pervasive, so close, so haunting, and the goal of speaking sense to be so enormously desirable, so very difficult to achieve? Why do they not, like earlier generations, treat talking sense as the natural and secure birthright of sane men of good faith and sound training, and the talking of nonsense as a real but not very significant danger, like slipping on a banana skin?

Wittgenstein’s mature (linguistic) philosophy is, essentially, a timeless variant of the doctrine of the classical French sociologist, Émile Durkheim. (Neither Wittgenstein nor his followers seem ever to have noticed this.) Durkheim put forward an extremely important theory of knowledge. (Perhaps our contemporary philosophers failed to notice this simply because the title of the book in which Durkheim expounds it does not mention knowledge at all, but implies that the book is about primitive religion.) This theory runs: both empiricism and apriorism are false. In other words, the knowledge we possess, the concepts we employ, can be explained neither as something merely extracted, from sense experience, nor again as a rapport with something super-sensuous, circumventing experience. Above all, the compulsive hold certain concepts have over our thought (e.g. causation, time—we seem unable to circumvent these even in imagination) simply cannot be explained along the lines of those two well-trodden philosophic paths. Instead, Durkheim suggests, it is society, culture, the totality of customs and practices of a social tradition, which inculcates and sustains our concepts, and makes it impossible for us to escape them.

Precisely this is also the core of Wittgenstein’s mature philosophy. He too endeavours to avoid, indeed to destroy, both the empiricist and the apriorist models of knowledge. He speaks of language, but in so broad a sense as to mean, in effect, a culture—the totality of the contexts and functions within which speech takes place and which give utterances their use and hence their ‘meaning’. He does indeed observe that language is a ‘form of life’. Concepts are justified by possessing a role within a language, a ‘form of life’. No other justification is possible.

Wittgenstein’s philosophy is based on the assumption that this somehow constitutes a solution, that it provides an answer to questions concerning the validity of our ideas.19 But plainly it does not constitute a solution at all. It may be true that we cannot stand outside all conceptual systems, all ‘forms of life’, in order to scrutinize some one or all of them: but equally, we cannot fall back into a cosy conceptual cocoon, the language/culture of our ‘form of life’, with the comfortable reflection that any attempt to transcend it is only based on some kind of error concerning the working of language.… We cannot do this, because there are no such conceptual wombs to crawl back into: the modern world is a Babel of ‘forms of life’, undergoing change with bewildering rapidity.

The real trouble with this kind of philosophy is that it wholly obscures both the tremendous changes which our society has undergone, and the choices which it faces. In its preoccupation with allegedly pathological deviations from sense it wrongly implies that there exists some viable status quo ante to which we could return. But there isn’t. The Timeless Ones, who would insinuate that there is, really do more harm than the Luddites. Luddites, by romanticizing the past and rejecting the present (while generally enjoying its comforts, without at the same time contributing towards their greater diffusion), at least highlight the issue on which they adopt a self-indulgent, discriminatory, and wrong attitude.

The Timeless Ones, while tacitly adopting the same attitude, also obscure the very existence of the issue itself. This famous philosophy, which replaced logical positivism, was one of the Bluebird species. The general characteristic of this species is well known. Its argument runs: there is in man a Faustian or Promethean restlessness, a sacred flame, a noble craving for a pilgrimage and the Holy Grail, but beware!—the truth and the salvation are closer to hand than you think. The divine restlessness is misguided. One day, after we have wearied of the long pursuit, lost stomach for the distant desolations, the anguish and the toil of the search, behold!—the scales fall off our eyes, and we perceive that the treasure we had sought so far and perilously was ever close, homely and familiar and freely offered! If only we had known sooner! What tribulations and dangers we might have avoided! But no matter. The dear familiar homely treasure is now all the dearer, now that we know the futility and pain of seeking it in treacherous and sterile distant wastes.

Truth stood revealed. The Bluebird was there, right there, at home, our own, ours only, in our own dear ordinary speech. It had no distant and alien, unsympathetic habitat: it was right there in the palm of our linguistic hand.

How was this marvellous discovery made? This is an interesting though by now familiar story. The view that philosophic truth has such a homely habitat is a corollary of a certain theory of language and of philosophy: Language is a set of tools we use in the world (which is correct). Philosophy is the noise made by dislocated verbal tools (which is almost wholly incorrect). Old philosophy— both its theories and its questions—are, to the proper running of language, as funny noises are to the running of a motor car: they indicate that some bit of the machinery is doing too much or too little. The job of the philosophic thinker or tinker is to remedy this, to restore the status quo ante by identifying and readjusting the misbehaving piece, and to eliminate the noise.

This theory is not true. But why did it seem true to some? In the case of the inventor of this theory, Ludwig Wittgenstein, the answer is, in the main, that this theory is a sweeping and quite unwarranted extrapolation from a more or less correct diagnosis of his own development.

The corollary of this view is of course notorious, and constitutes the heart of the alleged ‘Revolution in Philosophy’: discover how each piece of language truly works, free yourself of misconceptions of how it should work, and impose no such external standard on it; and in consequence, philosophic ‘puzzlement’ will disappear.

But philosophy started precisely because commonsensical notions became unworkable or inadequate.
Men aren’t really as disinterestedly Promethean as all that. If they reach out for independent, god-like norms, as they must, it is not so much hubris as necessity which motivates them. Generality, and the pursuit of independent criteria for the assessment of existing custom, cognitive or other, sprang, not from an error about language, but from a situation in which that custom was seen to be manifold, diversified from society to society (whilst yet those societies were flowing together into one civilization), unstable, unreliable, often inconsistent, and undergoing rapid change. One need only read Descartes, the starting point of modern philosophy, to see that he was driven to seek an independent starting point (which he found in doubt and in the self) by the chaos and contradiction of received ideas.

It should be noted that the basic insight, in the case of both Logical Positivism and Linguistic Philosophy, was, in each case, something extremely close to the two cultures problem. Positivism starts from the chasm between that which is science and that which is not. Linguistic Philosophy starts from the fact that language is an activity; an activity among others; not necessarily pre-eminent; an activity related to others not as (superior) theory to (mundane) practice, but as verbal activity to other and as dignified activities. This is something of which a humanist intellectual cannot but be aware, perhaps bitterly, irrespective of whether he learns it from Wittgenstein: for it is something of which his contemporary loss of status forcibly reminds him, and which contradicts that model of mind and language in terms of which his previous status and preeminence were once justified.

Language is the tool of trade for the humanist intellectual, but it is far more than that. Language is more than a tool of culture, it is culture. The heightened sense of language, the self-consciousness in the employment of it, the urgent desire to find theories as legitimizing or correcting it, the sense of an abyss of meaninglessness ever yawning, and viciously camouflaged, under our feet—all this springs from the fact that the humanist culture itself, the life of the word, the confidence in its capacity to relate to reality, is threatened." [The Devil in Modern Philosophy]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Wittgenstein Tue May 31, 2016 1:29 pm

Like all analytic philosophers, W'Stein was a fetishist. He could not get over his love for language and the peculiarness of it, its power, its seeming accuracy; as a German speaker from an old old establishment of industry, steel and money, he seems easy enough to qualify, in all his aesthetic genius, as just another guy who believed in grammar and language.

His first work is totally naive and silly, despite its perfect hermeticism within that silliness - the silliness is not his own but that of a whole Age of belief in the Word.

His later work is still far too embedded in his earlier passions/fetish for the Word, as to really reflect cognition in the sense that Nietzsche, or Homer, or any real "Poet"* managed to bring alive the word.... W's words are dead, this is very much how he reads, too - they are materials hewn out of wood, not directly out of trees, either, but out of nicely polished blocks of wood delivered to his shop...

There is, I think, literally nothing in Wittgensteins theorizing that relates to anything pertinent. Still, he was awesome. He had character, style, taste - but as a thinker he was only an automaton perpetuating old assumptions, despite being an absolute god compared to Russell.


*
Quote :
directly from Latin poeta "a poet," from Greek poetes "maker, author, poet," variant of poietes, from poein, poiein "to make, create, compose," from PIE *kwoiwo- "making," from root *kwei- "to pile up, build, make"
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PostSubject: Re: Wittgenstein Tue May 31, 2016 1:33 pm

Capable wrote:
There is a deep connection between "working" (employment) and analytic thinking. I don't yet know all the full scope of the logic of this, but I know that it is based on suffering-made-value.


Employment presupposes suffering-made-value, otherwise typical employment/jobs would be impossible. This is categorically different than the kinds of corporeal or human-social sufferings we know are necessarily woven into the fabric of our human lives.


Analytic philosophy was produced as the attempt at justification of the suffering-made-value that became incidentally necessary for employment in the modern world. Anyone who is a "worker" (me included, of necessity I am afraid) and especially anyone who is a "full time worker" (again, unfortunately includes me) is necessarily and de facto "analyticized" to some or other degree in their philosophy and thought. This explains my observation in the previous post, my obsession with talking to analytic philosophers... I am unconsciously trying to work through and overcome this error in myself.


This is true (" Anyone who is a "worker" and especially anyone who is a "full time worker" is necessarily and de facto "analyticized" to some or other degree in their philosophy and thought") based on the simple fact that if one were totally free of the insanity-error of analytic philosophy, then employment/having a "job"would be absolutely, completely impossible.

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