• Antony Nickles
    374
    If I can find the time, I think I'll like Cavell.Zugzwang

    The essay we are debating is in Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome. It is a later work that builds on The Claim of Reason, which is a massive undertaking, but also his first book of essays, which are easy enough to get through, Must We Mean What we Say. The Availability of the Later Wittgenstein is a good place to start.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3k
    I do see a reason for the different phrasingAntony Nickles

    So do I, insofar as I speak English. Proving it about someone else's usage takes a bit of legwork, that's all.

    Perhaps as excuses to save pride or avoid shame?Antony Nickles

    If shame is one of the options when you don't feel like playing chess, I've already fucked up pretty badly as a parent.
  • Zugzwang
    131

    Excellent quote.

    ...the idea that our mastery of the use of the word ‘chair’ consists in knowledge of a rule that settles the truth-value of ‘There is a chair’ in every conceivable circumstance is confused... — Baker and Hacker, exegesis of PI 80

    The 'confused' idea here seems founded on 'mathematical' fantasy of how language works. 'God' knows exactly what 'chair' and 'is' and 'there' mean (semantic Platonism.) So 'there is a chair' always has a proper-official-authentic meaning, which the Philosopher can sort out for us. Meanwhile, in the real world...
  • Joshs
    1.9k
    Shared behavioural propensities (looking in the direction pointed at) and common responses to teaching and training (learning the sequence of natural numbers) are presuppositions for the possibility of having such shared rules at all; not the bedrock of justification but the framework for its very possibility. The bedrock is the point at which justifications terminate, and the question ‘why?’ is answered simply by ‘Well, that is what we call “...”.’
    — Baker and Hacker, exegesis of PI 217

    Wittgenstein is pointing here to "extremely general facts of nature" (PI 142) - such as our shared form of life and our natural human reactions - as the "framework for the very possibility" of having shared rules. You and Cavell have it backward in reading Wittgenstein as talking about the end of justification. Witt is not talking about the end of justification, but its beginning; its possibility.
    Luke

    Shared propensities, common responses , cultural norms, categorical patterns of word meanings, are only the presuppositions for the possibility of having shared rules if we recognize that what is common to a group, what is shared, what is associated with a rule, a norm, a category is nothing that strictly belongs to , is encompassed by any framework. There is nothing common to all language games or particular applications of a rule. Wittgenstein’s metaphor of “spinning a thread we twist fibre on fibre” shows the difference between language use as applications of pre-existing categorical , normative and rule-governed frames and language use as a subtle or not-so-subtle re-invention of the sense of norms, rules and categories.
    Family resemblance is the continuous overlapping of fibers altering previous patterns of language use via fresh contexts of use, rather than the churning out of a new instance of a superordinate theme or rule.

    If the precondition for the sharing, commonality and normativity of language is the very thing that prevents language use from being captured within such frameworks, then one could say that the end of justification brings us back to its beginning.

    65. Here we come up against the great question that lies behind all these considerations.—For someone might object against me:
    "You take the easy way out! You talk about all sorts of language ­games, but have nowhere said what the essence of a language-game, and hence of language, is: what is common to all these activities, and what makes them into language or parts of language. So you let yourself off the very part of the investigation that once gave you yourself most headache, the part about the general form of propositions and of language."

    And this is true.—Instead of producing something common to all that we call language, I am saying that these phenomena have no one thing in common which makes us use the same word for all,— but that they are related to one another in many different ways. And it is because of this relationship, or these relationships, that we call them all "language".

    If the precondition for the sharing , commonality and normativity of language is the very thing that prevents
    language usage from ever becoming captured by any framework, then one could say the end of justification brings us back to its beginning.

    67.” I can think of no better expression to characterize these similarities than "family resemblances"; for the various resemblances between members of a family: build, features, colour of eyes, gait, temperament, etc. etc. overlap and criss-cross in the same way.—
    And I shall say: 'games' form a family. And for instance the kinds of number form a family in the same way.
    Why do we call something a "number"? Well, perhaps because it has a—direct—relationship with several things that have hitherto been called number; and this can be said to give it an indirect relation­ship to other things we call the same name. And we extend our con­cept of number as in spinning a thread we twist fibre on fibre. And the strength of the thread does not reside in the fact that some one fibre runs through its whole length, but in the overlapping of many fibres.

    But if someone wished to say: "There is something common to all these constructions—namely the disjunction of all their common properties"—I should reply: Now you are only playing with words.
    One might as well say: "Something runs through the whole thread— namely the continuous overlapping of those fibres.”
  • Zugzwang
    131
    The essay we are debating is in Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome.Antony Nickles

    I tried to find an online copy but found only a review. What do you make of this?
    Pursuing a theme that will be familiar to readers of Cavell's earlier writing, he does not dispute the skeptic's claim that rules lack absolute grounds but laments the skeptic's cure. The cure, associated with Kripke, strips rules of their pretense of resting on an independent reality but then restores a demystified, antifoundationalist version of rules in which they ground themselves not in truth but in consent. Cavell claims that skepticism rejects one justification of conformity to existing rules only to endorse a more sustainable conformity. Skepticism, in this light, encourages conformity to community consensus. This argument about the politics of antifoundationalism should prompt further discussion of the links between liberalism's antifoundationalist update and the ongoing crisis of conformity in US democracy.
    https://www.academia.edu/45638569/Review_of_Stanley_Cavells_Conditions_Handsome_and_Unhandsome

    The comments on 'skepticism' (is that really a good word for it?) remind me of old critiques of OLP, that it was stifling and conformist. 'My' practical (semantic) 'skeptic' isn't sure what 'absolute grounds' are even supposed to be, if not something like God's voice and the threat of Hellfire or the brutally simple addition algorithm.
  • Antony Nickles
    374
    Pursuing a theme that will be familiar to readers of Cavell's earlier writing, he does not dispute the skeptic's claim that rules lack absolute grounds but laments the skeptic's cure. The cure, associated with Kripke, strips rules of their pretense of resting on an independent reality but then restores a demystified, antifoundationalist version of rules in which they ground themselves not in truth but in consent. Cavell claims that skepticism rejects one justification of conformity to existing rules only to endorse a more sustainable conformity. Skepticism, in this light, encourages conformity to community consensus. This argument about the politics of antifoundationalism should prompt further discussion of the links between liberalism's antifoundationalist update and the ongoing crisis of conformity in US democracy.

    Well if this were any more '90s he would have used the word "agreement", but it doesn't seem helpful in getting an idea of the content or Cavell's method or impact. The writer seems particularly stuck with the idea philosophy is always worried about what foundation it does or does not have.
  • Luke
    1.6k
    The 'confused' idea here seems founded on 'mathematical' fantasy of how language works. 'God' knows exactly what 'chair' and 'is' and 'there' mean (semantic Platonism.)Zugzwang

    You draw an interesting connection here between mathematics and Platonism. I wonder if this is what Antony means by “mathematical” in the thread title. As I noted earlier, however, Wittgenstein was not a mathematical Platonist, so this could be the cause of some confusion.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    You draw an interesting connection here between mathematics and Platonism. I wonder if this is what Antony means by “mathematical” in the thread title.Luke

    I speculated that Antony meant something like that. In any case, I've sometimes thought of the later W as trying to wake philosophers up from the language-is-math fantasy. If language was like math , then the philosopher could crank out profound theorems (with perfect certainty and clarity) about Reality and the Metaphysical Subject and Genuine Knowledge. Probably the essence at least of the Future could be inferred, and we'd be essentially free from humiliating surprises. I'm not sure that anti-philosophy evades this temptation, and perhaps it simply continues the quest ironically. (I can't help feeling I've learned something from W and others like him about reality, something of durable value.)
  • Luke
    1.6k
    There is nothing common to all language games or particular applications of a rule.Joshs

    Family resemblance may (or may not) be concerned with the concept “rule”, but I don’t believe that family resemblance relates to particular applications of, or the following of, a rule.

    I would say that there must be something in common in all particular cases of following a rule correctly, otherwise there could be no such thing as following a rule correctly.

    … there is a way of grasping a rule which is not an interpretation, but which, from case to case of application, is exhibited in what we call “following the rule” and “going against it”. — Pi 201
  • Zugzwang
    131
    As I noted earlier, however, Wittgenstein was not a mathematical Platonist, so this could be the cause of some confusion.Luke

    Right. Not a Platonist at all. A critic of Cantor's Paradise.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    The point is that the extension or range of application of any word is a fiction, continually up for negotiation. What distinguishes the 'mathematical' from the 'ordinary' is the reasonable expectation that, however one's own utterances are interpreted (e.g. as plus or as quus), the consequent discourse will be well behaved in maintaining the distinction between distinct extensions, whatever they 'truly' are. This may or may not depend on those extensions being, like tunes, mutually exclusive.bongo fury

    :up:
  • Zugzwang
    131
    The writer seems particularly stuck with the idea philosophy is always worried about what foundation it does or does not have.Antony Nickles

    Ah but so many do raise the same old issues. How can I be sure? Not sure enough to act with confidence...but even surer than that somehow. Infinitely sure. What do we really know? One of the things I got from W was a suspicion about this kind of talk. There are questions which are earnestly uttered and yet eventually reveal themselves as lyrical cries. One can't even imagine the form of the answer, unless it's a hug from Jesus.
  • Joshs
    1.9k


    I would say that there must be something in common in all particular cases of following a rule correctly, otherwise there could be no such thing as following a rule correctly.Luke

    This is the crux of the matter. I claim that Wittgenstein is giving us a way to treat a notion like ‘correctness’ that doesn’t depend on the reproductive representation of an alleged ‘essense’( the essense of what cases have in common). Correctness would not be conformity to a categorical essense, but the fresh generating of a resemblance that produces the possibility of agreement, among other things.



    . Family resemblance may (or may not) be concerned with the concept “rule”, but I don’t believe that family resemblance relates to particular applications of, or the following of, a rule.Luke

    If one treats a rule as a logical inclusion structure, a category to which particular applications belong, then it seems perfectly reasonable to make a distinction between the idea that different senses of a word relate to each other via family resemblance, and the idea that a categorical, normative concept like rule , being that essense common to a family of resemblances , cannot itself be dissolved into an infinity of related senses.

    But I imagine Wittgenstein asking, is not ‘rule’ also a word? And if so, are only some words situational senses tied to other situational senses by resemblance? Are there other , special words, like ‘rule’, that exist in some metaphysical , empirical or theoretical space that resists the situational contingency of sense? Such that while its applications would always differ in sense, it in itself would remain ideally self-identical in its own sense whenever and wherever we speak the phrase ‘this rule’?

    I am inclined to construe actual situational sense as the precondition for the understanding of what would
    otherwise be considered ideal structure( an essense common to its particulars) , rather than the other way around.

    I recognize that the ideality that Hacker imparts to norms, rules and grammars is far removed from approaches to language based on naive realism. Rather than assuming pure relations between sign and referent, Hacker treats rules as contingent , pragmatically based guideposts. He nevertheless retains a restricted notion of ideality.

    I’ll repeat my Hutchinson quote because I think it captures so well what I think Hacker is unable to let go of from Kantian idealism.

    “The mistake here then is (Baker &) Hacker’s thought that what is prob­lematic for Wittgenstein—what he wants to critique in the opening remarks quoted from Augustine—is that words name things or correspond to objects, with the emphasis laid on the nature of what is on the other side of the word-V relationship. Rather, we contend that what is problematic in this picture is that words must be relational at all—whether as names to the named, words to objects, or ‘words’ belonging to a ‘type of use.’It is the necessarily relational character of ‘the Augustinian picture’ which is apt to lead one astray; Baker & Hacker, in missing this, ultimately replace it with a picture that retains the relational character, only recast. There is no such thing as a word outside of some particular use; but that is a different claim from saying, with Baker & Hacker, that words belong to a type of use. For a word to be is for a word to be used. Language does not exist external to its use by us in the world.”
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3k
    Correctness would not be conformity to a categorical essense, but the fresh generating of a resemblance that produces agreement.Joshs

    That's quite appealing, but terribly abstract. There are constraints on or expectations about what sorts of resemblance you generate, and the generating itself, and the agreement. The trick is never landing on a magic formula that someone will take as foundational, right? (I'm thinking of the way people fetishize a phrase like "form of life".)

    I suppose what I'm thinking is that LW's approach is well suited to the undoing work, but can it produce a positive account? Is it a mistake to want a positive account? Did he warn us off all sorts of positive account or only off some popular ones he thought mistaken?
  • Joshs
    1.9k
    That's quite appealing, but terribly abstract. There are constraints on or expectations about what sorts of resemblance you generate, and the generating itself, and the agreementSrap Tasmaner

    It is abstract, and no substitute for great secondary literature from the likes of Cora Diamond , James Conant and Phil Huirchinson fleshing out this position.

    There are indeed constraints on our expectations, but I dont think we can assume that such constraints operate behind the scenes. The best way I can put it is that the situation co-produces the constraints along with the new sense. Put differently, the past is changed by what occurs into it.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3k
    The best way I can put it is that the situation co-produces the constraints along with the new sense. Put differently, the past is changed by what occurs into it.Joshs

    Oh that's much less abstract!

    Anyhow, I'll leave you to it. I like Wittgenstein, but I've never enjoyed Wittgenstein exegesis, so this is not the right party for me.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    But I imagine Wittgenstein asking, is not ‘rule’ also a word?Joshs

    An important point, easy to miss, is that W's insights double-back to subvert taking his statements about language (or yours or mine) too seriously. There will be no final sentence that gets it right in some context-independent way, not even this one. We are barking and meowing our iterable tokens. Challenged, we can only bark and meow still more tokens.

    There is no such thing as a word outside of some particular use; but that is a different claim from saying, with Baker & Hacker, that words belong to a type of use. For a word to be is for a word to be used. Language does not exist external to its use by us in the world.”Joshs

    There is no such thing as a word outside of some particular use. Is this not crazy-talk? To those not in our little game here? Maybe it's useful, hard to say. I can't make rules against it. I can only worry about my own animal noises and scratch-marks. Anyway, the gist seems to be that B & H aren't radical enough. Perhaps you're right, but perhaps you and I can't be radical enough either. The trick is to stay intelligible and make case, all the while subverting that case. (To establish 'scientifically' the impossibility of a certain kind of (fantasy) science.) I remember the TLP's talk of its own nonsense. Perhaps we are breaking the first rule of Fight Club.
  • Antony Nickles
    374
    The question only comes after the expression. My claim is that we don't always intend what we express; that that idea creates a necessity which, as Witt would say, forces a picture upon us (of causality). — Antony Nickles

    You seemed earlier to be disputing that we ever use language intentionally, in relation to our discussion about meaning and use. I did acknowledge earlier that we may not always speak intentionally (e.g. on autopilot), but I would say that we speak intentionally at least most of the time.
    Luke

    The picture you have of how language works creates the picture of intention as present during speech. We can intend what we say, as in choose, for speeches etc., but intend as in cause is not a part of speech. Now #648-660 account for the feeling that intention happens before every expression. The actual grammar of intending is a person being determined about an action (#588); grammatically different than a decision (not that sure). There is something about an intention that is open to other possibilities ("I intended to go, why?") There needs to be evidence other than expressing it (something in the context calls for the expression of it)(#641)--as Austin says, something phishy. We can see intention, even a cat's (#647).

    We can intend to say something--we can reflect and try to say something specific, perhaps explicitly trying to influence (ahead of its reception) which way to take what we think might be misunderstood as another sense of the expression. However, most times we don't intend what we say in this sense, as a deliberate choice. — Antony Nickles

    I think that we generally use words with intention, particularly by intending one meaning of a word or sentence rather than another; intending to express something or other. Whether it is taken in the right way, understood or interpreted correctly by its audience is another matter. However, I confess that I don't think this talk of intention is very relevant to anything Wittgenstein was saying.
    Luke

    The reason why it is relevant is this picture: you say something, something specific, specified by your intention, let's say following the rules, communicated correctly. And so "whether it is", say, heard, is now on us. If we take it in the wrong way and misunderstand, you are still assured you said the right words in the right way to intend one thing rather than another. If there is a problem, it is a problem of "interpretation" rather than the responsibility of the parties. This leads to the characterization of language as slippery, which ends up with us wanting to cause words to follow a set of rules.

    you were bordering on a misunderstanding whereby grammar is no longer about language, but about the things themselves (about "the world" and "our lives in it"). Hence, my blunt responses to remind you that grammar is about language.[/qu

    It would help if you could say more yourself (to me or for yourself) other than grammar is about language. I'll try again. Witt is giving examples of what we say in certain situations, but not to shed light on what we should or should not say, but to see from that data (of the way we say something in a situation) what it reveals about the grammar of the thing. In drawing out the grammar of pain, we find out what is essential to us, meaningful to us, about pain itself. We indirectly get past Kant's line in the sand by looking back at expressions. If that can't be accepted, I'll need a little more justification and evidence to buy that Philosophical Investigations was meant as just some kind of etiquette book about how we should talk.
    Luke
    That, unlike the mathematical, these concepts are opened-ended, extendable into unforeseen contexts. — Antony Nickles

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but you appear to suggest that it is not the concepts themselves which can be extended (in terms of their family resemblance), but it is the applications/uses of the concepts which can be extended "into unforeseen contexts".
    Luke

    Let's try an example, say, the concept of justification. I can be justified if I was right in killing another, in the sense of absolution. But I am also justified to kill another by right, as by authority (by rule, law). Now we say belief (opinion) can be justified. Now based on these first two uses of justification, this could be that my belief has authority (I am right), or it could be in the sense of removing me from any need to stand behind what I say (letting the justification absolve my responsibility). If a police officer, who has the authority to kill someone under certain circumstances, does so under those circumstances, we could say they had justification, but we might be left with the feeling that is no justification, that here, there is authority without absolution. These were two senses/two uses that we could be said to be familiar with, that were applied to a different context (belief), and then both brought to weigh in on their original context in reasonable but contradictory ways.

    If I am asked why, given that I was told to add 2, I wrote ‘1002’ after ‘1000’, there is little I can say other than ‘That is what is called “adding 2”. — Baker and Hacker, exegesis of PI 217

    What will you say to the poor sod who continues to demand further justifications for why we write '1002' after '1000' when we are told to add 2? How will you avoid "repressing" them during this "crisis"?
    Luke

    A. No one is going to ask why; we don't need a justification; and what they say is just condescension; and
    B. That’s math! All I've been talking about is how the ideal of mathematical concepts affects the rest of our concepts.

    Try imagining justifying (the rules of?) the concept of justification in the two uses (senses) in the case of the police shooting above, and now try to reconcile them. Is this enough of a crisis? Is there still "little we can say"? Maybe the law (the rule) represses the sense of what might be just, and a righteousness (based on a moral law) would seem to undermine society's ability to assert its authority.

    Expectation is, grammatically, a state; like: being of an opinion, hoping for something, knowing something, being able to do something. But in order to understand the grammar of these states it is necessary to ask: "What counts as a criterion for anyone's being in such a state?" (States of hardness, of weight, of fitting. — Witt, PI 572

    We do not follow a rule to expect something, but are said to be expecting (in that state). — Antony Nickles

    The rule pertains to the use of the word "expect", not to (how to) expect something. The emphasis is on "said to be" (expecting). - "we are not doing natural science; nor yet natural history".
    Luke

    If grammar are rules, then in what way is the grammatical rule--that expectation is a state--about the way to use the word expect? And the question is actually how do we judge someone being in
    the state of expectation, not just whether we have said expecting correctly.

    Imagine it as grammatical claim meant to differentiate "being in a state" from other concepts, say, "being in a position", and to claim we have ways of judging someone else being in a state. This is not explaining a rule we could say they followed rightly. As you say, we are not doing science, but ask yourself what indicators matter to us in saying someone was expecting--are all of them (any of them) rules?

    115. A picture held us captive. And we couldn’t get outside it, for it lay in our language, and language seemed only to repeat it to us inexorably.Luke

    None of these quotes help your claim that any of this is just about language, particularly without any explanation of your reading of them, instead somehow imagining that it is clear exactly what they are supposed to point out, without saying anything.

    It is not a problem with language that we can't get outside it or that we keep getting the same picture. You are trapped because words are so important, even to you (that you want to fix them), not a trivial annoyance or bewitching filter. It is our desire for certainty that creates the picture. Language is just the means of creating the self-delusion, but it is thus also the method of our self-knowledge.
  • Antony Nickles
    374
    I just ordered the first Hacker & Baker volumeZugzwang

    I don't recommend this. It's like when people teach themselves piano, then, when they try to go back really serious about playing, it is hard to break their old habits, e.g., hold their hands in the formal position, etc. Hacker will just reinforce a reading of Witt that is limited and unconsciously driven by the same forces Witt is trying to investigate. I would suggest Cavell's The Claim of Reason, in which he discusses Hacker, or, easier, the very short essay The Availability of the Later Wittgenstein.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    I don't recommend this. It's like when people teach themselves piano,Antony Nickles
    Well, I prefer (so far) to just pick up Wittgenstein. Or actually, once W breaks the ice, to just start paying more attention to the barks and moans and tweets we do. But this thread has largely focused on what X said about W.
    Hacker will just reinforce a reading of Witt that is limited and unconsciously driven by the same forces Witt is trying to investigate. I would suggest Cavell's The Claim of Reason, in which he discusses Hacker, or, easier, the very short essay The Availability of the Later Wittgenstein.Antony Nickles

    I do appreciate your input, but this is more of 'X gets W right, unlike Y.' Ultimately I think we want to talk about reality. But we keep stacking on layers. Like what C said about H said about W said about reality. I'm not against that game in principle (sometimes its great), but in this context we all have access to the data. We all speak English. We can all just look, give examples and counterexamples.
  • Antony Nickles
    374
    You draw an interesting connection here between mathematics and Platonism. I wonder if this is what Antony means by “mathematical” in the thread title.Luke

    The term "mathematical" is Cavell's, meant to differentiate the type of criteria (how we judge indentity of a thing, the ways it matters, what counts under that concept, etc.) that we attribute to math (chess, etc.), like certainty, predictability, completeness of every application, etc., from the ordinary diverse open-ended criteria for other concepts, like understanding, seeing, apologizing, etc. The starting point is the desire for ordinary criteria to work like mathematical ones and how, here with Kripke, that creates a picture of rules for that kind of backdrop, which limits our options when things go sideways.

    If language was like math… we'd be essentially free from humiliating surprises.Zugzwang

    Behind all the fuss to be certain about what is right, is a desire to predict outcomes, which will avoid our being responsible after our act. That I can say, “Well, I followed the rule correctly!”

    How can I be sure? Not sure enough to act with confidence...but even surer than that somehow. Infinitely sure.Zugzwang

    One new thing I realized in this thread is the difference Witt shows between the sense of certainty as perfection, from certain in the sense of resolute, understanding the terms of our commitment to stand for our actions.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    Behind all the fuss to be certain about what is right, is a desire to predict outcomes, which will avoid our being responsible after our act. That I can say, “Well, I followed the rule correctly!”Antony Nickles

    I think you nailed down something interesting here. We often prefer to be 'robots' on script, to escape any possible blame, as you say. When I was younger, I worked lots of jobs that left my mind free. They didn't pay well, but I followed different scripts. Now things are more complicated. How productive I've been is more nebulous, as is exactly what is expected of me.
  • Antony Nickles
    374
    Well, I prefer (so far) to just pick up Wittgenstein.Zugzwang

    I commend this. Of course going through the book on your own first is paramount. I also think noting one’s own thoughts in reaction are almost more important, as this is not about being told things as much as coming to see something for yourself.

    Or actually,, once W breaks the ice, to just start paying more attention to the barks and moans and tweets we do.Zugzwang

    Witt’s method enables anyone to pitch in on what the implications are of an example of an expression. And our examples can follow our personal interests.
  • Luke
    1.6k
    This is the crux of the matter. I claim that Wittgenstein is giving us a way to treat a notion like ‘correctness’ that doesn’t depend on the reproductive representation of an alleged ‘essense’( the essense of what cases have in common). Correctness would not be conformity to a categorical essense, but the fresh generating of a resemblance that produces the possibility of agreement, among other things.Joshs

    I had planned to edit my post to remove the word "correctly", which is extraneous. As I noted earlier, one can either follow a rule or not follow a rule; it makes no sense to speak of following a rule incorrectly. (Maybe that will teach me not to write a quick response on my phone in the car.)

    However, you could substitute the word "follow" for "correctly" in your comments on 'essences' above, I suppose. In either case, Wittgenstein explicitly rejects essences in favour of family resemblance, as you have noted. I would only dispute that this also forces him to reject conventional uses/meanings, such that our words must have new or different meanings on every occasion of their use. If that were the case, then I would think it impossible to teach anyone a language. See PI 223-227.

    As Baker and Hacker note of PI 223:

    ...when we understand a rule, we do not await its prompt at every step of its application, baffled, as it were, about what to do next. On the contrary, it tells us, once and for all, what to do. For the rule always tells us the same, and in following it, we always do the same. Indeed, this is something one might emphasize in training someone to follow a rule. — Baker & Hacker on PI 223


    If one treats a rule as a logical inclusion structure, a category to which particular applications belong, then it seems perfectly reasonable to make a distinction between the idea that different senses of a word relate to each other via family resemblance, and the idea that a categorical, normative concept like rule , being that essense common to a family of resemblances , cannot itself be dissolved into an infinity of related senses.Joshs

    This seems to me bordering on idealism, which runs counter to Wittgenstein's repeated reminders that linguistic meaning lies in its use (rather than "in the mind"); e.g. language-games, the incoherence of a private language, etc.

    The word "rule" may have a family of related senses but, I would think even according to your own view, Wittgenstein uses it with a particular sense at PI 201.

    235. From this you can see how much there is to the physiognomy of what we call “following a rule” in everyday life. — LW


    [Hutchinson & Read]: “The mistake here then is (Baker &) Hacker’s thought that what is prob­lematic for Wittgenstein—what he wants to critique in the opening remarks quoted from Augustine—is that words name things or correspond to objects, with the emphasis laid on the nature of what is on the other side of the word-V relationship. Rather, we contend that what is problematic in this picture is that words must be relational at all—whether as names to the named, words to objects, or ‘words’ belonging to a ‘type of use.’It is the necessarily relational character of ‘the Augustinian picture’ which is apt to lead one astray; Baker & Hacker, in missing this, ultimately replace it with a picture that retains the relational character, only recast. There is no such thing as a word outside of some particular use; but that is a different claim from saying, with Baker & Hacker, that words belong to a type of use. For a word to be is for a word to be used. Language does not exist external to its use by us in the world.”Joshs

    This seems to me flatly contradicted by Wittgenstein. Hutchinson and Read claim that words do not have (or do not "belong to") a "type of use". At PI 23, Wittgenstein states that there "are countless different kinds of use", goes on to give many examples of the different kinds of use, and then speaks of "the diversity of kinds of words and sentence".
  • Luke
    1.6k
    The picture you have of how language works creates the picture of intention as present during speech.Antony Nickles

    I came across this neuroscience article (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6499020/#sec3title) which I think has a good discussion of Wittgenstein on intention. I note it's quasi-conclusion that Wittgenstein "solves the problem of causation-by-states by positing an equally contested form of causation-by-agents." However, since it still involves causation, I'm not sure you would agree.

    Let's try an example, say, the concept of justification. I can be justified if I was right in killing another, in the sense of absolution. But I am also justified to kill another by right, as by authority (by rule, law). Now we say belief (opinion) can be justified. Now based on these first two uses of justification, this could be that my belief has authority (I am right), or it could be in the sense of removing me from any need to stand behind what I say (letting the justification absolve my responsibility).Antony Nickles

    I don't understand how a belief/opinion "could be in the sense of removing me from any need to stand behind what I say (letting the justification absolve my responsibility)". How is that a belief/opinion? By not understanding this, I don't understand the rest of what you say here.

    If a police officer, who has the authority to kill someone under certain circumstances, does so under those circumstances, we could say they had justification, but we might be left with the feeling that is no justification, that here, there is authority without absolution. These were two senses/two uses that we could be said to be familiar with, that were applied to a different context (belief), and then both brought to weigh in on their original context in reasonable but contradictory ways.Antony Nickles

    Who is "we" in this situation? If "we" feel it is unjust, then why do "we" say it is just? What role do "our" feelings play here?

    Whether or not the killing is just does not affect the two different senses of "justification" (or "just") here.

    What will you say to the poor sod who continues to demand further justifications for why we write '1002' after '1000' when we are told to add 2? How will you avoid "repressing" them during this "crisis"?
    — Luke

    A. No one is going to ask why; we don't need a justification; and what they say is just condescension; and
    B. That’s math! All I've been talking about is how the ideal of mathematical concepts affects the rest of our concepts.
    Antony Nickles

    As Baker and Hacker point out, there is no ideal such that one learns every possible mathematical outcome in advance. Instead, one learns to apply a technique; to follow a rule. It remains to be shown that language is any different to mathematics in this regard.

    Try imagining justifying (the rules of?) the concept of justification in the two uses (senses) in the case of the police shooting aboveAntony Nickles

    These rules of the concept of justification are simply the two different uses (senses) of the word "justification" that you have described; the rules for using these words with different senses. There is no need to justify the existence of the different uses/senses of our words.

    Maybe the law (the rule) represses the sense of what might be just, and a righteousness (based on a moral law) would seem to undermine society's ability to assert its authority.Antony Nickles

    The sense of the word "just" is already established; you already know what it means. Are you saying that the law could repress or change the sense of the word? Okay, but so what? Maybe it doesn't change the sense of the word, and it only changes our views about what acts or events we would classify as being just or unjust. Anyhow, I'm not sure I see the relevance.

    If grammar are rules, then in what way is the grammatical rule--that expectation is a state--about the way to use the word expect?Antony Nickles

    As I said earlier, supported by the SEP article on Wittgenstein, the rules of grammar encompass both how we use words and the criteria of concepts. "Grammar, usually taken to consist of the rules of correct syntactic and semantic usage, becomes, in Wittgenstein’s hands, the wider—and more elusive—network of rules which determine what linguistic move is allowed as making sense, and what isn’t." (SEP) That expectation is a state is part of the criteria of the concept.

    And the question is actually how do we judge someone being in the state of expectation, not just whether we have said expecting correctly.Antony Nickles

    Instead of "how do we judge someone being in that state?", I would say the question is more (or equally): what are the grammatical criteria of the concept of "expectation"? That state, and our judgement of someone being in it, are what we call an "expectation".

    Wittgenstein gives an insight into his grammatical investigation in the next section. You could easily substitute "expectation" for "opinion" at PI 573:

    572. Expectation is, grammatically, a state; like being of an opinion, hoping for something, knowing something, being able to do something. But in order to understand the grammar of these states, it is necessary to ask: “What counts as a criterion for anyone’s being in such a state?” (States of hardness, of weight, of fitting.)

    573. To have an opinion is a state. — A state of what? Of the soul? Of the mind? Well, what does one say has an opinion? Mr N.N., for example. And that is the correct answer.

    One should not expect to be enlightened by the answer to that question. Other questions that go deeper are: What, in particular cases, do we regard as criteria for someone’s being of such-and-such an opinion? When do we say that he reached this opinion at that time? When that he has altered his opinion? And so on. The picture that the answers to these questions give us shows what gets treated grammatically as a state here.
    — LW
  • Antony Nickles
    374
    I came across this neuroscience article (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6499020/#sec3title) which I think has a good discussion of Wittgenstein on intention. I note it's quasi-conclusion that Wittgenstein "solves the problem of causation-by-states by positing an equally contested form of causation-by-agents." However, since it still involves causation, I'm not sure you would agree.Luke

    This is a classic example of how the desire for certainty forces a picture on us that we then try to intellectually solve. It starts out okay by breaking the bad news to "neuroscientists" that intention does not come down to a physical process. Unfortunately, it does not stop there; but why? Why are we driven to continue? The problem is that they want to have our explanation of intention be "normative" or, be subject to "explanation, prediction, evaluation, and regulation". This is their desire. In the essay Must We Mean What We Say, Cavell takes the air out of the desire to find some intellectual normativity by pointing out that something is normative to the extent the practice is normative in our lives. Intention is just not like promising--each concept has its own implications, consequences, or none; you can say whatever you like, but only some things will be considered, say, instructions, or an excuse.

    But the author plows forward claiming that "we need to answer the question: what makes the ascription of an intention (by others or by oneself) legitimate?"(emphasis added) But, again, what is this need? He completely misses the point of #641, taking the phrase "the most explicit expression of intention is by itself insufficient evidence of intention”, to signal that: there must be sufficient evidence of intention out there somewhere! Here he tries to latch onto a pattern in our behavior rather than seeing the grammatical distinction that talking about intention only happens in certain situations.

    The author quotes the same passages I did (#581-583), but they take the "situation"(#581) or the "surroundings"(#583) to be what is happening with the person, their "pattern" over time. Intention not being mental, they would have it be behavioral--"ascribed" to the person--as if to push causality into them externally. But when Witt says an expectation is "imbedded in a situation" (#581), he is saying the context is what makes expectation here even possible (with a bomb about to go off). Only "in these surroundings"(#583) is there any significance (meaning) to "expecting".

    The same applies for intention; it is not a cause, it is an unanticipated part in a situation--"Did you intend to (do something unexpected)?" "I intend to (do something I might not otherwise)." It is the (cultural/personal) expectation that makes the discussion of intention even possible, not the occurrence or lack of someone's "intention". Intention is part of a discussion, not an action, nor a person.

    Still the author clings on. "But does not this overlook one of the most important features of the concept of intention, namely that the commitment they express plays a guiding role in human action?" (emphasis added)--important to whom? why? The machinations the author and all those cited are going through are based on the same fears and for the same desires that shape this discussion about rules.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    as this is not about being told things as much as coming to see something for yourself.Antony Nickles

    :up: :100:

    The book is like a disposable vessel, or rather an incendiary device, since vessel misleads us in to thinking of some stable goo inside the string of tokens.

    Asking a philosopher what 'knowledge' means is like asking him the value of a dollar gold and him telling you how fond or not he is of art on it. The values of tokens are out there. If you want to know the value of a currency, look how it's tangled up in buying and selling stuff with intrinsic value. I think it's the same with tokens (words, equivalence classes of grunts and scribbles).

    If an even cleverer humanoid visits our planet, perhaps they'll see us as many of us see the other primates (incapable of metaphysics, since not truly liberated from materiality and animality.)
  • Luke
    1.6k

    Let me start with the admission that my comments on intention were my own and are possibly not in accordance with Wittgenstein's views on intention. I did not mean for my comments to be taken as an exegesis of Wittgenstein's view on intention. However, I stand by the rest of my comments on Wittgenstein's philosophy and purpose in the PI.

    Having said that, I find that I disagree with your reading of the article:

    This is a classic example of how the desire for certainty forces a picture on us that we then try to intellectually solve. It starts out okay by breaking the bad news to "neuroscientists" that intention does not come down to a physical process. Unfortunately, it does not stop there; but why? Why are we driven to continue? The problem is that they want to have our explanation of intention be "normative" or, be subject to "explanation, prediction, evaluation, and regulation". This is their desire.Antony Nickles

    Of course that's their desire; they're scientists. We should not admonish scientists for attempting to explain, predict, etc.

    In the essay Must We Mean What We Say, Cavell takes the air out of the desire to find some intellectual normativity by pointing out that something is normative to the extent the practice is normative in our lives. Intention is just not like promising--each concept has its own implications, consequences, or none; you can say whatever you like, but only some things will be considered, say, instructions, or an excuse.Antony Nickles

    I don't understand the distinction between normativity and intellectual normativity. I take it to mean it's not the mental (intellectual) which is normative; it's the social practice. Yes, and the social practice includes the use of the word "intention".

    But the author plows forward claiming that "we need to answer the question: what makes the ascription of an intention (by others or by oneself) legitimate?"(emphasis added) But, again, what is this need? He completely misses the point of #641, taking the phrase "the most explicit expression of intention is by itself insufficient evidence of intention”, to signal that: there must be sufficient evidence of intention out there somewhere!Antony Nickles

    Isn't that precisely what Wittgenstein signals here? Otherwise, what does he signal with this statement?

    The author quotes the same passages I did (#581-583), but they take the "situation"(#581) or the "surroundings"(#583) to be what is happening with the person, their "pattern" over time. Intention not being mental, they would have it be behavioral--"ascribed" to the person--as if to push causality into them externally. But when Witt says an expectation is "imbedded in a situation" (#581), he is saying the context is what makes expectation here even possible (with a bomb about to go off). Only "in these surroundings"(#583) is there any significance (meaning) to "expecting".Antony Nickles

    I'll just point out that an intention is not an expectation. Also, it's "embedded".

    The same applies for intention; it is not a cause, it is an unanticipated part in a situationAntony Nickles

    How do you account for PI 647: "What is the natural expression of an intention? — Look at a cat when it stalks a bird; or a beast when it wants to escape." - This is not about "an unanticipated part in a situation."

    It is the (cultural/personal) expectation that makes the discussion of intention even possible, not the occurrence or lack of someone's "intention".Antony Nickles

    Are you saying that "the (cultural/personal) expectation" is an intention?

    Intention is part of a discussion, not an action, nor a person.Antony Nickles

    Consider:

    370. One ought to ask, not what images are or what goes on when one
    imagines something, but how the word “imagination” is used. But that
    does not mean that I want to talk only about words. For the question
    of what imagination essentially is, is as much about the word “imagination”
    as my question. And I am only saying that this question is
    not to be clarified — neither for the person who does the imagining,
    nor for anyone else — by pointing; nor yet by a description of some
    process. The first question also asks for the clarification of a word; but
    it makes us expect a wrong kind of answer.
    — LW

    Imagination is also part of a discussion and is not an action nor a person. It's not a Nothing, but not a Something either. See also PI 305.

    Incidentally, I came across these passages recently, which supports my view that Wittgenstein's focus is on language and its grammar, rather than on the world and morality:

    654. Our mistake is to look for an explanation where we ought to regard
    the facts as ‘proto-phenomena’. That is, where we ought to say: this is
    the language-game that is being played.


    655. The point is not to explain a language-game by means of our experiences,
    but to take account of a language-game.

    656. What is the purpose of telling someone that previously I had such and-
    such a wish? — Regard the language-game as the primary thing.
    And regard the feelings, and so forth, as a way of looking at, interpreting,
    the language-game!
    One might ask: how did human beings ever come to make the kind
    of linguistic utterance which we call “reporting a past wish” or “a past
    intention”?
    — LW (original emphasis)
  • Antony Nickles
    374
    Now we say belief (opinion) can be justified. Now based on these first two uses of justification, this could be that my belief has authority (I am right), or it could be in the sense of removing me from any need to stand behind what I say (letting the justification absolved my responsibility).

    I don't understand how a belief/opinion "could be in the sense of removing me from any need to stand behind what I say (letting the justification absolve my responsibility)". How is that a belief/opinion? By not understanding this, I don't understand the rest of what you say here.
    Luke

    Justification; it's two senses of justification. One is authority, the other sense is a justification that props up my opinion so it doesn't matter that I said it, say, a rule, or scientific methodology.

    If a police officer, who has the authority to kill someone under certain circumstances, does so under those circumstances, we could say they had justification, but we might be left with the feeling that is no justification, that here, there is authority without absolution. These were two senses/two uses that we could be said to be familiar with, that were applied to a different context (belief), and then both brought to weigh in on their original context in reasonable but contradictory ways.
    — Antony Nickles

    Who is "we" in this situation?
    Luke

    Wittgenstein's method is to make a claim that would apply for everyone, for each of us to see for ourselves, "prove" to ourselves in a sense, to accept. So he speaks using "we" and "our" and "us", giving examples of what "we say", etc. There shouldn't be claim I'm making where "we" can't be me, you, anyone, everyone. The fact they might conflict is the point.

    If "we" feel it is unjust, then why do "we" say it is just?Luke

    It could be justified, in one sense, because the police had authority; at the same time, in another sense, there could be no justification as we are not absolved of our guilt, even if only for conferring our authority. Both things pulling at us at the same time is the anxiety that creates the desire to have a rule (rely on definitions) for the "meaning" of a word.

    What role do "our" feelings play here?Luke

    The feeling here was meant as a nagging suspicion, like we're missing something, overlooking a consideration. I'm not sure it plays a role (in the justification?), only that it marks our cultural investment in the conflicting justifications.

    Try imagining justifying (the rules of?) the concept of justification in the two uses (senses) in the case of the police shooting above
    — Antony Nickles

    These rules of the concept of justification are simply the two different uses (senses) of the word "justification" that you have described; the rules for using these words with different senses. There is no need to justify the existence of the different uses/senses of our words.
    Luke

    To say the rules of a concept are simply a description of its use, say, that we are using justification in its sense of authority, does not seem to tell us anything that would make that a "rule". And I did not mean justify the existence of a sense of a concept, I meant justifying how we justify, or justified, as in the kind of justifications that run out, for, in our example, following a rule.

    Maybe the law (the rule) represses the sense of what might be just, and a righteousness (based on a moral law) would seem to undermine society's ability to assert its authority.
    — Antony Nickles

    The sense of the word "just" is already established; you already know what it means. Are you saying that the law could repress or change the sense of the word? Okay, but so what? Maybe it doesn't change the sense of the word, and it only changes our views about what acts or events we would classify as being just or unjust.
    Luke

    Yes, the sense of justification as, say, authority is already established, but it is not unchanging (as our lives change). Also, justification by authority, as much as we are familiar with it, can be different when pushed into a new context, e.g., taken from the church to the state. What is important about it might change, or some criteria for it might matter more, or again (having been ignored previously).

    And you keep talking about words. The law (authority) can repress our sense of right, or our ability to redress its failings. To talk as if this "only changes our views", is exactly the suppression that imagining rules of classification imposes with a picture of right/wrong which leaves our expressions merely opinions.

    Whether or not the killing is just does not affect the two different senses of "justification" (or "just") here.Luke

    This is exactly an example of the death of a moral conversation before it even starts. The desire for our words to bring stability to our lives is why a killing can be justified by a definition. We have no concerns about our concepts? If shame has replaced guilt, what is absolution for us know? how does legislative authority have or not have moral authority? And our culture changes, sometimes because of people dying without justification. What counts and matters to us about authority or having a clean conscious are not fixed timeless equations (which criteria are important, how we are to apply them, what facts count under them). Extending justification in the sense of being wiped clean of guilt from its home in the world of religion into the context of a police shooting affects the grammar and criteria of the concept. In this sense, if we can't find a way to wipe away our guilt for a killing we've authorized, our society is irredeemable.
  • Antony Nickles
    374
    This is a classic example of how the desire for certainty forces a picture on us that we then try to intellectually solve. — Antony Nickles

    Of course that's their desire; they're scientists. We should not admonish scientists for attempting to explain, predict, etc.
    Luke

    Neuroscience pictures the concept of intention (and the entirety of humans) as a physical phenomenon, an empirical occurrence, which comes from the belief that science can explain everything, anything. The conceptual misunderstanding forces their hypothesis on them. They're like a politician, looking around for evidence to shore up the conclusion they've already decided upon.

    He completely misses the point of #641, taking the phrase "the most explicit expression of intention is by itself insufficient evidence of intention”, to signal that: there must be sufficient evidence of intention out there somewhere! — Antony Nickles

    Isn't that precisely what Wittgenstein signals here? Otherwise, what does he signal with this statement?
    Luke

    Yes, that was insufficiently worded. We are not talking about evidence for a scientific explanation, sufficient to make our knowledge of our intentions certain, for the specific type of conclusion that the scientist wants. As with a lot of what Witt says, this is a grammatical statement: that the context of the expression is necessary. There is no intention of an expression if there is not a context in which there are conditions which would make it possible to ask about or have an intention.

    'I am not ashamed of what I did then, but of the intention which I had.'—And didn't the intention lie also in what I did? What justifies the shame? The whole history of the incident. — Witt, PI 644

    Something happened which was out of the ordinary for this incident, something shameful. Why was it out of the ordinary? In every way and everywhere we look and find something unusual from what we would normally expect. These are the criteria and substance of what matters to us about asking after, or explaining, intention, such as the requirement for a reason--for clarification, as an excuse, as a curiosity, etc.

    'But when Witt says an expectation is "imbedded in a situation" (#581), he is saying the context is what makes expectation here even possible (with a bomb about to go off). Only "in these surroundings"(#583) is there any significance (meaning) to "expecting". — Antony Nickles

    I'll just point out that an intention is not an expectation.
    — Witt, PI 644

    The author takes up expecting as similar to intention with the idea that both occur over a period of time. They're not wrong, only that it is the "whole history of the incident" (#644 above) and not just the pattern of the person's behavior, say, extrapolated chronologically.

    quote="Witt, PI 644"]Also, it's "embedded".[/quote]

    You'll have to take that up with Anscombe, or the British in general.

    How do you account for PI 647: "What is the natural expression of an intention? — Look at a cat when it stalks a bird; or a beast when it wants to escape." - This is not about "an unanticipated part in a situation." — Witt, PI 644

    This is the expression of an intention. Neither the look on a cat's face nor the beast's actions would be an intention without the context of the stalked bird or the cage. An intention would never "dawn" on us, like an aspect, unless there was a situation were, say, the bird was out of our frame. "What is that cat (intent on) doing?" or we had not factored in the context that a beast does not normally want to be in a cage (we might think it was just scratching its back or trying to get attention for food; then the context would set the intention in relief).

    it is the (cultural/personal) expectation that makes the discussion of intention even possible, not the occurrence or lack of someone's "intention". — Antony Nickles

    Are you saying that "the (cultural/personal) expectation" is an intention?
    — Witt, PI 644

    The expectations (and the confusion about an expression) are the conditions necessary for there to be intention at all.
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