• Constance
    178
    Reading Wittgenstein's Tractatus. He says what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence. Of course, what we can talk about is therefore only what can be said clearly. Really? Do you think this is right? I think Wittgenstein, who says later in this work that this pretty much leaves philosophical conversation hanging in the wind and that all we can do is talk about empirical science, is it right to delimit meaningful propositions to natural science (logic is simply tautological so it tells us nothing, has no meaning)? Or does this kind of thinking simply turn its back on the most interesting dimension of our existence: that threshold where inquiry meets the mystery of our being here? Where religion drops its "rouged" popular notions and yields to what is there, in conditions that constitute the existential foundation for religion: what I call our ethical/aesthetic alienation.
    Wittgenstein leaves such a thing up to some impossible "beyond" that he insists should not be talked about. Something disingenuous about talking about something, as he does, for which there is no ground for discussion.
  • counterpunch
    744
    Yes, I agree with that. It's not that I never mention God, but I know I don't know if God exists. I know I don't know where the universe came from, or what it's expanding into. I know I don't know how life began or what happens after we die. But I am quite well versed on a middle ground scientific understanding of reality, and taking in physics, chemistry and evolutionary biology - have found much wisdom and real hope follows from thinking in those terms. I can speak meaningfully about morality and religion, politics and economics - as evolutionary developments, and as sociological and political phenomena. All that is lost to me is speculative; that which, even if interesting, is bound to be inconclusive.
  • Antony Nickles
    237

    Sounds like you're ready to take a few years off, design your sister's house, punch some grade school children in the face, and then come back and write an entire book trying to figure out why you got sucked into thinking language only worked one way with a single standard, where you'd have to field questions from your old self and imagine examples of what we would say under which circumstances to be able to see all the places langauge reaches in our lives, and why we would want to ignore all that.
  • Jack Cummins
    1.5k

    It is hard to know how far we should go into silence, or talking about what we do not know with certainty. To some extent, speaking about some areas which are speculative can be foolish and get nowhere. But, on the other hand, what are the consequences of silence? On one hand, it could just turn all discussion to science and practical matters such as morals and politics. The danger with that would be that all of these could become inflated in focus, as if they were all that matters. Meanwhile, it is unlikely that people would stop wondering about the deeper questions. If these were not possible areas for discussion would it mean that people had to suffer these thoughts in silence, unable to voice them?

    Obviously, no one has followed Wittgenstein in the literal sense, but it does give us something for personal reflection, as we speak about our views and theories. Perhaps, it means that we should sometimes be a bit more reserved in talking as if we really know. On the other hand, discussion can give rise to new ways of seeing, which goes beyond the individual minds. Also, we often feel the need to voice our ideas and would we only wish to discuss the more tangible? But, what is worth thinking about is the right to remain silent in certain areas where feel we are going to tie ourselves in knots, or be met with such opposition. Here, we may be talking about silence not due to lack of knowing but the unspeakable, which could be that which no one wishes to hear.But, perhaps that is another matter entirely.
  • baker
    600

    Whenever one speaks beyond one's competence, one is bullshitting.
  • baker
    600
    Of course, what we can talk about is therefore only what can be said clearly. Really? Do you think this is right?Constance
    Of course.

    If one has the feeling that one is talking about a topic in a blind-men-and-an-elephant manner, then one is, clearly, not talking clearly. It doesn't matter what the topic is, although the blind-men-and-an-elephant manner seems to be more common when talking about philosophical, religious, or spiritual topics.
  • Miguel Hernández
    66
    The problem is that you can only speak clearly about first-order logic. Most of the propositions of the same "Tractatus" are meaningless applying that own criteria.
  • Constance
    178
    Sounds like you're ready to take a few years off, design your sister's house, punch some grade school children in the face, and then come back and write an entire book trying to figure out why you got sucked into thinking language only worked one way with a single standard, where you'd have to field questions from your old self and imagine examples of what we would say under which circumstances to be able to see all the places langauge reaches in our lives, and why we would want to ignore all that.Antony Nickles

    That single standard pretty much sums up the success of analytic philosophy. And yeah, the "old" self is the everydayness (thinking of Heidegger here) that should be the foundation for discovery. And here, it is just massively interesting because meaning is paramount once again! Finally one can ask about this bewildering place we are "thrown" into and we can have that Kierkegaardian outrage in Repetition:
    Who am I? How came I here? What is this thing called the world? What does this world mean? Who is it that has lured me into the world? Why was I not consulted, why not made acquainted with its manners and customs instead of throwing me into the ranks, as if I had been bought by a kidnapper, a dealer in souls?

    And finally, religion is not just some medieval foolishness, but is grounded actuality (putting aside the foolishness that is there, that is). Why the %^%%$$^ are we born to suffer and die? becomes a philosophical theme!
  • Constance
    178
    Yes, I agree with that. It's not that I never mention God, but I know I don't know if God exists. I know I don't know where the universe came from, or what it's expanding into. I know I don't know how life began or what happens after we die. But I am quite well versed on a middle ground scientific understanding of reality, and taking in physics, chemistry and evolutionary biology - have found much wisdom and real hope follows from thinking in those terms. I can speak meaningfully about morality and religion, politics and economics - as evolutionary developments, and as sociological and political phenomena. All that is lost to me is speculative; that which, even if interesting, is bound to be inconclusive.counterpunch

    The trick, if you don't mind me saying, is to take "inconclusiveness" and give it its due, which is in regions of thought that demand a division, like when you sit before that petri dish doing genetic research. But step away from such definitive contexts of work, and into the broad, nay, infinite landscape of the human reality, into the powerful world of an impossible ontology, and you encounter all "if ands or buts" science routinely ignores. One does this because being a person is NOT AT ALL like a petri dish. Pull away a bit more and you are in religion's domain, and it is here, I claim, we find religion's resting place. Existential religion (I'm going to call it) is our "home".
  • Constance
    178
    But, what is worth thinking about is the right to remain silent in certain areas where feel we are going to tie ourselves in knots, or be met with such opposition. Here, we may be talking about silence not due to lack of knowing but the unspeakable, which could be that which no one wishes to hear.But, perhaps that is another matter entirely.Jack Cummins

    But what if, as I see it, the truth lies in those knots? And the reason metaphysics has been such a bad model is because it created more knots than it undid? And lastly, what is silence? Is it simply turning one's chair to the wall and ignoring the possibilities? The irony of it is that Wittgenstein admired Kierkegaard, who also insisted that there was this impossible unknown, and both were very religious, but the latter turned radically away from privileging science and reason, and made faith into, not a metaphysics, but a new kind of philosophy. An extraordinary achievement.

    But the unspeakable: There are ways to speak meaningfully "around" the unspeakable. In fact, Wittgenstein was doing just this with his infamous disclaimer that the Tractatus was just itself a bunch of nonsense, which had to be discarded after reading (Title should have been, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: Burn After Reading) But for him, it was a line clearly drawn. That was just wrong. The line is just a beginning of real religion, I claim.
  • Constance
    178
    If one has the feeling that one is talking about a topic in a blind-men-and-an-elephant manner, then one is, clearly, not talking clearly. It doesn't matter what the topic is, although the blind-men-and-an-elephant manner seems to be more common when talking about philosophical, religious, or spiritual topics.baker

    It's a metaphor, and such things make for unclear ideas. But there is something important here, I realize. It is not that W is wrong, but that analytic philosophy took its cue that it had to be rigorously devoted to clarity, not considering that one can take the principle of clarity into thematic zones that are stubborn to its rigor. This is existential thought! Reading Kierkegaard, Husserl, Heidegger, Levinas, and others is an exercise in making difficult dimensions of our existence "clear".
  • counterpunch
    744
    Religion is the politics of our ancestors - made necessary when hunter gatherer tribes joined together to form multi-tribal social groups. Hunter gatherer tribes were hierarchies dominated by an alpha male - and it's very difficult for two such hierarchies to coexist. Any dispute over food or sex inevitably splits the social group into its tribal structures of authority. So they needed an objective authority for laws that applied equally to everyone, to maintain a stable cohesive social structure. God is the supreme alpha male; and objective authority for law and order. Now, like I said, I don't know if God exists, but I do know religion is the politics of primitive peoples.

    The point of explaining this to you is to suggest that the actual areas that are not open to me, philosophising on the basis of a scientific understanding of reality, are much less than you might imagine. You would like to construe science as some myopically focused experimental discipline - but science seeks to establish laws that are universally true of reality. Your imagination, by comparison is dwarfed - by the sheer size and complexity of the universe. You worship the book and despise the creation. You have the milky way laid out before you - and instead you put up fairy lights!
  • Constance
    178
    The problem is that you can only speak clearly about first-order logic. Most of the propositions of the same "Tractatus" are meaningless applying that own criteria.Miguel Hernández

    Dividing logic into first and second order is, I think, what gives rise to all the troubled thinking. There is no meta-logic logic. Logic cannot think itself. Does that apply to the ethics? Yes, and I take W as denying, not ethical talk, but any attempt to talk about ethical talk. This would be the "second order" you speak of and I have always thought he was dead right about this. BUT: there are ways think that get closer to this line that separates sense from nonsense, and even broaches the divide. Take Eugene Fink's Sixth Cartesian Meditation. Of Michel Henri's critique of Heidegger.
  • Constance
    178
    Religion is the politics of our ancestors - made necessary when hunter gatherer tribes joined together to form multi-tribal social groups. Hunter gatherer tribes were hierarchies dominated by an alpha male - and it's very difficult for two such hierarchies to coexist. Any dispute over food or sex inevitably splits the social group into its tribal structures of authority. They needed an objective authority for laws that applied equally to everyone, to maintain a stable cohesive social structure. God is the supreme alpha male; and objective authority for law and order. Now, like I said, I don't know if God exists, but I do know religion is the politics of primitive peoples.counterpunch

    Can you imagine thinking of religion without that god notion ruling thought? To me, most atheistic reasoning is straw person arguing: The man in a cloud thinking is demonstrably absurd; therefore, religion is bunk. One has to ask the religious questions behind the myths and anthropological interpretations. There are things, fascinating things entirely unregarded in this dismissive pov.

    The point of explaining this to you is to suggest that the actual areas that are not open to me, philosophising on the basis of a scientific understanding of reality, are much less than you might imagine. You would like to construe science as some myopically focused experimental discipline - but science seeks to establish laws that are universally true of reality. Your imagination, by comparison is dwarfed - by the sheer size, and complexity of the universe. You worship the book and despise the creation. You have the milky way - and instead put up fairy lights!counterpunch

    Hehe, heh; I don't know if I take your meaning entirely, but I like your prestation. I have the highest regard for science, especially when I sit in the dentist's chair. The trouble with what you say is that it reveals none of the "Copernican Revolution" of Kant. Not that I am a Kantian, at all, but he was the father of phenomenology (before Husserl) and I take this to be the final frontier of philosophy.

    Science simply has to know its place, which is not philosophy. Philosophy, I claim, should inquire into the presuppositions of science and the "everydayness" of our existence. It is essentially descriptive of the world, but at the level of basic questions which goes to the structures of experience.

    In other words, to put it succinctly, I am an idealist, not to put too fine a point on it. I think to examine the world philosophically, one has to look to the foundation of thought and experience is presupposed in all we do and say. This brings meaning to the foreground and establishes an entirely independent field of study, which is phenomenology.
  • Jack Cummins
    1.5k

    I am inclined to think that the beauty of philosophy lies within the knots. We may find our meaning in their unraveling and perhaps life would not be so worthwhile otherwise.
  • counterpunch
    744
    There are things, fascinating things entirely unregarded in this dismissive pov.Constance

    What? Like... how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? I wasn't addressing that question. I was addressing the question I addressed - and it's you who are being dismissive. Religion is a poor reflection of reality; created by our ancestors for political purposes. Science is a much clearer reflection of reality. In face of the climate and ecological crisis, it's time to move on.

    To me, most atheistic reasoning is straw person arguing: The man in a cloud thinking is demonstrably absurd; therefore, religion is bunk.Constance

    I'm not atheistic. I've said repeatedly, I don't know if God exists or not. Science does not know if God exists or not. Raising atheism is a straw man argument.

    The trouble with what you say is that it reveals none of the "Copernican Revolution" of Kant.Constance

    I don't put the subject at the centre. I'm an objectivist. Human beings need to learn their place, as subject to forces much greater than they; not least the relationship between truth and causality. If we are not intellectually correct to reality we will be rendered extinct as a matter of cause and effect.
  • Constance
    178
    What? Like... how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? I wasn't addressing that question. I was addressing the question I addressed - and it's you who are being dismissive. Religion is a poor reflection of reality; created by our ancestors for political purposes. Science is a much clearer reflection of reality. In face of the climate and ecological crisis, it's time to move on.counterpunch

    Yes, but read more closely. It is not this that is at issue. It is what underlies popular religious ideas that we are looking into. The past is full of foolishness about everything, but the proper analytic inquiry into what a thing is what we want. Take the notion of God: Why would people invent such a thing? What role does it play in describing the world? Once we dispense with all the "people features" we find there is the foundational alienation, that is, "OPEN" questions as to the meaning of our being, why people experience happiness and suffering, what eternity is and how this enters into base line thinking s to the structures of a self; and so on. Of course, such things, as is true for all thinking, need to be contextualized in a body of other thinking, that is, theory, otherwise, it is altogether alien.

    This body of thought is phenomenology.
    I'm not atheistic. I've said repeatedly, I don't know if God exists or not. Science does not know if God exists or not. Raising atheism is a straw man argument.counterpunch

    But you do talk like one, argue like one, reducing religion to anthropomorphic terms. Conspicuously missing from your remarks are those that would NOT make you an atheist. So tell me a-atheist, what is it that constrains your thinking from being an atheist?

    I don't put the subject at the centre. I'm an objectivist. Human beings need to learn their place, as subject to forces much greater than they; not least the relationship between truth and causality. If we are not intellectually correct to reality we will be rendered extinct as a matter of cause and effect.counterpunch

    Extinct? But this is a practical concern, and being objective about practical matters certainly ranks high on my list of priorities. But the question here is one that is more simply descriptive. What IS there in the world that underlies all the fuss of all the ages about our Being here, in this reality? The fact that it IS a fuss, that there is some monumental unfinished business in the enterprise to explain the world tht remains after science exhaustively does its thing.
  • Constance
    178
    I am inclined to think that the beauty of philosophy lies within the knots. We may find our meaning in their unraveling and perhaps life would not be so worthwhile otherwise.Jack Cummins

    I think you are right about that, more than right, actually. Beauty? Absolutely. Love, joy, bliss and so on, I am convinced these, if you will, resonate through eternity. We are eternity, and I don't mean this is in a flowery poetic sense. I mean, our finitude is coextensive of infinity.
    Alas, there is the horror, the impossible suffering. The "knot" is this human dramatic unfolding with these intensities in play. Of course, religion has been a long played out Deus ex Machina. The question that haunts us is, is there such a thing in some unimaginable form, aka, metaphysical redemption?
  • counterpunch
    744
    Yes, but read more closely. It is not this that is at issue. It is what underlies popular religious ideas that we are looking into. The past is full of foolishness about everything, but the proper analytic inquiry into what a thing is what we want. Take the notion of God: Why would people invent such a thing? What role does it play in describing the world?Constance

    In the archaeological record there's an event, called 'the creative explosion.' Beforehand, about 1.5 million years of stone hand axes, and almost nothing else. Afterward, cave painting, burial of the dead, jewellery, improved tools, and so on. Quite suddenly, people began making things - and either before or after this point in time, I imagine, some smarter than average caveman got to wondering about who made the world, and the animals, and himself?

    In William Paley's 'Natural Theology' 1803 - there's an argument called the 'Watchmaker Argument.' It was taken as the title of a book by Richard Dawkins too. In fact, it goes back to Cicero in Ancient Rome, that we know of, and I suggest much further. Basically, the argument imagines someone walking along and finding a watch. It then goes on to suggest that if that person knows nothing else - they know that somewhere in existence, there's a Watchmaker - because the watch is a designed object.

    So back to our caveman, he's observing the grass grow, the animals eat the grass, the lions eat the animals, and it all fits together rather well. He plucks fruit from the trees that seems placed there just for him and so on. It's not at all inconceivable that he would ask - who made all this? And naturally, he would arrive at the idea of a Creator God, and that is the origin of the concept. It may even be that realisation of this concept drove the creative explosion.

    But you do talk like one, argue like one, reducing religion to anthropomorphic terms. Conspicuously missing from your remarks are those that would NOT make you an atheist. So tell me a-atheist, what is it that constrains your thinking from being an atheist?Constance

    It's because I don't know, and I admit what I am and am not able to know. I don't believe God exists anymore than I believe God doesn't exist. I don't know. I'm okay with it, and apparently, so is God!

    Extinct? But this is a practical concern, and being objective about practical matters certainly ranks high on my list of priorities. But the question here is one that is more simply descriptive. What IS there in the world that underlies all the fuss of all the ages about our Being here, in this reality? The fact that it IS a fuss, that there is some monumental unfinished business in the enterprise to explain the world that remains after science exhaustively does its thing.Constance

    Organisms evolve in relation to reality, and must be correct to reality at every level - the physiological level, that is the structure of their DNA, their cells, their bodies. The behavioural level - move away from danger, toward food, ingest energy, excrete waste, breed, etc. And for human beings - we also need to be correct on the intellectual level, and therein lies the purpose that follows from our nature - that we exist to know reality, and in knowing reality, secure our continued existence. I don't pretend to know what our existence is all about, but if there is a reason, we will find it - and do so by moving toward truth and away from ignorance and falsehood.
  • Jack Cummins
    1.5k

    I think that you are correct to say that 'our infinity is coexistensive of our finitude', and in this way we need to become more humble in our view of the human role in the grand scheme of the universe and beyond. This can involve facing suffering and with some concern for how we as human beings perpetuate it.

    The idea of metaphysical redemption is an interesting one and unusual concept which you suggest for considering. It makes me think of a line in the Echo and the Bunnymen song, 'The Killing Moon, 'Man has to be his own saviour..' and perhaps it would be about looking for answers within our reach rather than just seeing ourselves as helpless victims. This could involve going beyond feeling sorry for ourselves in facing the horrific or the absurd, and also, not thinking that some divine power is going to offer magical solutions.It may also be about going beyond guilt and of facing up to our role and responsibilities to ourselves and all forms of life.

    Perhaps it would also embrace coping with the unknown and be about approaching life with a willingness to understand in the widest sense possible, as Shopenhauer said:'...it is absolutely necessary that a man should be many sided and take large views.' In other words, the less we restrict our vision the better for us
  • Olivier5
    1.7k
    One could define philosophy as an effort to clarify one's ideas in a progressive, heuristic manner. From this perspective, philosophers need to deal with unclarity, try and reduce it, try and think a bit more clearly than yesterday if you wish. I agree that it's not black and white, that there are layers and layers of ambiguities, and that good philosophy works on the ambiguities of life but it shouldn't wallow in ambiguities; it should try and reduce them. So Ludwig was being simplistic here, though he is right to value clarity.

    Many proverbs speak of the limits of speech. Speech is silver, silence is gold... De gustibus non est disputandum... Stay away from people who talk too much... These proverbs point to subject matters (eg tastes) or manners of speaking (eg gossip) which are beyond the remit of useful language. Then there are also purely metaphysical or theological questions without any real bearing on our lives, like the sex of angels or the number of gods, or why there is something rather than nothing at all.
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    Reading Wittgenstein's Tractatus. He says what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence. Of course, what we can talk about is therefore only what can be said clearly. Really? Do you think this is right?Constance

    From time to time, a comparision is made between Wittgenstein's aphorism of the ladder - that his philosophy is something you can discard when you have climbed it - and Buddhism's 'parable of the raft'. And there's another parallel here, between this passage and a very short 'sutta' (teaching story) from the early Buddhist texts:

    Then the wanderer Vacchagotta went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he asked the Blessed One: "Now then, Venerable Gotama, is there a self?"

    When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.

    "Then is there no self?"

    A second time, the Blessed One was silent.

    Then Vacchagotta the wanderer got up from his seat and left.

    Some notes on this exchange: 'Vacchagotta the wanderer' was a particular figure in these texts, who represented 'the philosopher' - he constantly asked questions about whether the world has a beginning or not, whether the Buddha continues to exist after physical death, or not. There are ten such questions, all of which meet with this response, namely, silence.

    After Vacchagotta leaves, Ananda, the Buddha's attendant, asks him why he didn't reply. The explanation can be read in the text. Suffice to say, in this context, that this text is said to be the origin of madhyamaka, which is the influential 'philosophy of the middle way' expounded by the much later Nāgārjuna.

    And I think Wittgenstein's intent here is very similar to the Buddhist intent; that the 'silence of the Buddha' in response to the question was exactly comparable to Wittgenstein's 'that of which we cannot speak'. (And there's another, delightfully-named 'Honeyball Sutta', which I think would also be close in meaning to Wittgenstein, but I'll leave it there for now.)
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k
    Who am I? How came I here? What is this thing called the world? What does this world mean? Who is it that has lured me into the world? Why was I not consulted, why not made acquainted with its manners and customs instead of throwing me into the ranks, as if I had been bought by a kidnapper, a dealer in souls?Constance

    I suppose I should pass over these questions in silence, following Wittgenstein's advise, but what the hell:

    You're you, whatever that may be.
    You "came" here because you were born.
    The world is the environment of which we're a part and in which we interact with other constituents of the environment.
    The world simply is, regardless of any meaning anyone assigns it. It doesn't require meaning to be.
    You weren't consulted because you didn't exist.

    There. Don't you wish I'd passed over those questions in silence?

    Wittgenstein isn't saying we can't ask such questions, nor is he saying we can't "speak" of them. Obviously we can and do. I think he's saying, though, that to the extent those questions are raised, asked and addressed they're better addressed by such as poets and artists and those inspired religious/spiritual among us than by philosophers. I agree with him up to a point, as I think such questions unless addressed by such non-philosophers are answered as simply as I answered them, to the extent they admit of any answer. Beyond such answers, we enter the realm of speculation, imagination and feeling, even art--especially art, I think, and for me poetry and music in particular. Philosophers aren't artists, and merely appear silly and are obscure when they pretend to be.
  • Constance
    178
    So back to our caveman, he's observing the grass grow, the animals eat the grass, the lions eat the animals, and it all fits together rather well. He plucks fruit from the trees that seems placed there just for him and so on. It's not at all inconceivable that he would ask - who made all this? And naturally, he would arrive at the idea of a Creator God, and that is the origin of the concept. It may even be that realisation of this concept drove the creative explosion.counterpunch

    Yes but the creator God is not just an incidental conjuring of an idle mind. Religion and all of its unquestioned domination throughout history cannot be conceived by such a trivial accounting. Religion is the metaphysics of human suffering and joy. Alas, metaphysics is not something one can discuss since it is more about absence where presence is needed: we are quite literally thrown into suffering, death, horror, and love, music, and the many blisses we can discover. You have to look to the need for this world to have its suffering redeemed and its blisses consummated. This is religion in a nutshell at the level of basic questions.
    It's because I don't know, and I admit what I am and am not able to know. I don't believe God exists anymore than I believe God doesn't exist. I don't know. I'm okay with it, and apparently, so is God!counterpunch

    Then you haven't encountered God philosophically, and it is clear you have little regard for the idea. But imagine yourself in medieval Europe during the plague, and there you are with children whose extremities have turned black with gangrene, vomiting blood and bile, and you the same, and there is only wretchedness, and just when you think the worst is behind you, someone knocks over a oil lamp, the place catches fire and you are burned alive.
    Now, this is not to talk as Nietzsche did about the mentality of the weak slave rising in numbers against the naturally gifted ubermensches of the world, though there is something to this. Nor does it look to explanations in mundane things like etymological story telling. It is something more primordial: the world as it is given to us is not stand alone ethically. There is something intrinsically wrong with woman above's situation that has no remedy in this world. Put aside silly ideas about anthropomorphic deities and look to the moral absence of the world.

    Organisms evolve in relation to reality, and must be correct to reality at every level - the physiological level, that is the structure of their DNA, their cells, their bodies. The behavioural level - move away from danger, toward food, ingest energy, excrete waste, breed, etc. And for human beings - we also need to be correct on the intellectual level, and therein lies the purpose that follows from our nature - that we exist to know reality, and in knowing reality, secure our continued existence. I don't pretend to know what our existence is all about, but if there is a reason, we will find it - and do so by moving toward truth and away from ignorance and falsehood.counterpunch

    Sure, but your confidence that "we will find it out" : How does one imagine what the answer would be? Religion, at its core, is an ethical matter, and ethical deficiency. Science, talk about DNA and the rest, has no recourse at all to discover ethical resolutions because science is factual, and ethics is not. E.g., evolution is a good, defensible theory, I think, but saying pain is conducive to reproduction and survival hardly explain the reality of pain, that is, pain the phenomenon. Science never talks about this and Wittgenstein somewhat rightly placed off limits to discussion altogether. Only religion can deal with this. But religion has so much that is absurd.

    I think philosophy should be allowed to take over where science and religion have failed, putting Wittgenstein's taboo aside.
  • Constance
    178
    This could involve going beyond feeling sorry for ourselves in facing the horrific or the absurd, and also, not thinking that some divine power is going to offer magical solutions.IJack Cummins

    Such is the impossibility of the world. Simon Critchley wrote a disturbing book called Little..Less..Almost Nothing. In it he reviews the way philosophy has handled our nihilistic philosophical position, for philosophy is nihilating by nature, inherently atheistic in its true form, for nothing really survives critique at the basic level. He nails it: suffering is something we have to deal with and we can, BUT, what we cannot deal with is the pointless suffering, as if the mystical eternal Being of all things just tortures us, for nothing. This we can't handle. I think if we say we can handle this, we are just kidding ourselves. I claim unredeemed horrible suffering is impossible, just like the logic that says two colors cannot be in the same space, or that sound must be of a certain pitch
    Wittgenstein was deeply religious, but it wasn't scriptural of historical. He simply knew the world could not be ethically explained. I think this is obviously right, but however, we can build language around this. Literature is usually what does this, creating narratives that display the human condition, allowing us to see, assimilate, discuss and grow wiser (one reason Rorty left philosophy to tech literature in his later years). Philosophy can do this more succinctly, that is, it can take that indirect narrative approach and distill it into its essentials. It is being done now by the French phenomenologists.
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    I’ve also experienced being passed over in silence.....
  • god must be atheist
    2.5k
    Of course, what we can talk about is therefore only what can be said clearly. Really? Do you think this is right?Constance

    He did not say this. He said, "what we can say can be said clearly". Big difference.

    But he is wrong. You can say things that can't be said clearly. A clear example of it is talking to a blind man about colours. The speaker can say it; to the listener it will never be clear.

    It is clear to the speaker though. Is that sufficient to say that W was wright? No, because he did not identify the respect in which the said thing was clear: to the speaker, or to the listener.

    Bad, bad, mistake by Wittgenstein. Apparently he was not very clear when he said what he wanted to say.
  • counterpunch
    744


    Yes but the creator God is not just an incidental conjuring of an idle mind. Religion and all of its unquestioned domination throughout history cannot be conceived by such a trivial accounting. Religion is the metaphysics of human suffering and joy. Alas, metaphysics is not something one can discuss since it is more about absence where presence is needed: we are quite literally thrown into suffering, death, horror, and love, music, and the many blisses we can discover. You have to look to the need for this world to have its suffering redeemed and its blisses consummated. This is religion in a nutshell at the level of basic questions.Constance

    I'm speaking in scientific terms of religion as an evolutionary, political and sociological phenomenon. God knows what you're doing!

    Then you haven't encountered God philosophically, and it is clear you have little regard for the idea.Constance

    I just suggested that the concept of a Creator God may be responsible for the "creative explosion" that is, the development of a truly human mode of thought; abstract conceptualisation, and forward facing strategies for survival. That's in addition to God's role as objective authority for multitribal social law. To show the concept any more regard I'd have a join a negro spiritual choir!

    But imagine yourself in medieval Europe during the plague, and there you are with children whose extremities have turned black with gangrene, vomiting blood and bile, and you the same, and there is only wretchedness, and just when you think the worst is behind you, someone knocks over a oil lamp, the place catches fire and you are burned alive.
    Now, this is not to talk as Nietzsche did about the mentality of the weak slave rising in numbers against the naturally gifted ubermensches of the world, though there is something to this. Nor does it look to explanations in mundane things like etymological story telling. It is something more primordial: the world as it is given to us is not stand alone ethically. There is something intrinsically wrong with woman above's situation that has no remedy in this world. Put aside silly ideas about anthropomorphic deities and look to the moral absence of the world.
    Constance

    You realise I suppose that you're asking a modern man; stood on the shoulders of giants who invented modern medicine, anti-biotics, indoor plumbing and electric lights - by thinking in scientific terms, to imagine the suffering of someone who lacked those things, in order to show your need for God in suffering and moral absence? Just in case you don't see it, it's wildly ironic.

    Sure, but your confidence that "we will find it out" : How does one imagine what the answer would be?Constance

    My purpose is to employ the gifts bequeathed to me by the struggles of previous generations, to secure the future for subsequent generations - by knowing what's true, and acting morally on the basis of what's true. When humankind gets there, we'll get there - wherever there is. I don't pretend to know things I don't know, but I do think there's a clear path to follow!

    Religion, at its core, is an ethical matter, and ethical deficiency. Science, talk about DNA and the rest, has no recourse at all to discover ethical resolutions because science is factual,Constance

    Morality is fundamentally a sense, fostered in the human animal by evolution in the context of the hunter-gatherer tribe. Chimpanzees have morality of sorts; they groom each other and share food, and remember who reciprocates, and withhold such favours accordingly. Moral behaviour was an advantage to the individual within the tribe, and to the tribe composed of moral individuals. It's only when hunter-gatherer tribes joined together - they needed God as an objective authority for moral law. The idea that man in a state of nature was an amoral, self serving individualist; Nietzsche's ubermensch - fooled by the weak, is false. Man could not have survived were that so. He already had a very well honed evolutionary moral sense when the need arose to make that innate moral sense explicit. That's religion. It has politics at its core.
  • counterpunch
    744


    I’ve also experienced being passed over in silence.....Wayfarer

    Sorry Wayfarer. I'll butt out. I'm not making any progress with Constance anyhow. The more rational and specific I get, the more emotionally esoteric she becomes. I'd best quit before she starts speaking Aramaic and sending me innards in the post!
  • Constance
    178
    Wittgenstein isn't saying we can't ask such questions, nor is he saying we can't "speak" of them. Obviously we can and do. I think he's saying, though, that to the extent those questions are raised, asked and addressed they're better addressed by such as poets and artists and those inspired religious/spiritual among us than by philosophers. I agree with him up to a point, as I think such questions unless addressed by such non-philosophers are answered as simply as I answered them, to the extent they admit of any answer. Beyond such answers, we enter the realm of speculation, imagination and feeling, even art.Ciceronianus the White

    But he goes further than this. He says such questions are nonsense. Absolutes, world, existence, being--these are nonsense terms, philosophically. And consider his Lecture on Ethics: ethical propositions possess an absolute and talk about the nature of ethics is nonsense. Not to say you can't be a utilitarian or think about how to conceive of ethical choices, but one cannot talk about what it is, because ethics centers on the something that is not factual, which is value. W thought the world simply has this division where meaningful terms stop being meaningful. Kant said the same in his Transcendental Dialectics and W is just following through.
    I think the late 20th C postmodern writers like Levinas show us we can talk, as you say, around things, but Levinas' language (see Totality and Infinity) indulges where W tells us never to go. You're right, I think, about poetry and art, but even in literature the experiences laid bare in dramatic narrative are ambiguous, indirect, they "show" us (and Wittgenstein talked about what can be shown and what can be said, like logic and ethics) the threshold where we raise our bootless cries to heaven, but leave the ethical messiness up to us to make sense of. Philosophy can distill this into clearer thinking.
    To see where W's division does damage, just look at the wasteland of analytic philosophy. They adopt his positivism, simply assuming where questions loom large.
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