• Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    The definite article can be used for both the type and a token. For example:
    "The blue whale is the largest mammal."
    "The giraffe has a very long neck."
    "The sensation is a tingling in the toes resulting from a lack of oxygen."
    Luke

    I've told you already, type or token is not the question, it's only how you represent the issue.

    Let's suppose that Wittgenstein's use of "the sensation" is meant to single out a particular type, like in your examples, then unlike your examples he hasn't given anything to identify this particular type. So he is using "the sensation" to single out a particular type of sensation, which supposedly has been identified, and made definite as his use of the definite article "the" indicates, yet the particular type has not been identified and made definite. Hence the ambiguity.

    Imagine that I have an imaginary type of thing in my mind which I refer to as "the thing" and I name it with "T". I can talk about this type, "T", and you can talk about it. So we can talk about this type all we want, as "T", asking me is T in your mind now, was it in your mind yesterday, etc.. But talking about it, unless the talk is aimed at discussing the identifiable features, does not remove the ambiguity (obscurity) as to what T is the name of.

    And in Wittgenstein's case, he doesn't even go so far as to say that "S" represents a type of thing. that is simply your assumption. At 261, he explicitly says we cannot make such a judgement. It is only you who is claiming that "S" names a type, as an attempt to remove the inherent ambiguity, and make the passage intelligible to you.

    You said in the quote at the top of this post that "S" refers to a single token of the sensation. You have also argued previously that "a certain sensation" refers to a single token of the sensation. You are now arguing that neither the symbol "S" nor the word "sensation" can refer to the sensation. So which is it? Do "S" and/or "sensation" refer to a single token of the sensation or can they not refer to the sensation?Luke

    I've been telling you over and over, it's ambiguous, that means "which is it" cannot be determined. That's why I can coherently argue both sides. There is no answer to "which is it", that's the nature of ambiguity. You just don't seem to grasp the nature of ambiguity. We can apprehend ambiguity as either this or that, or neither. If the ambiguity is unintentional, the meaning is either this or that, with potentially a correct answer, but a lack of capacity to determine the correct answer. If the ambiguity is intentional it is neither this nor that, because there is no correct answer. We can't say "both" because we'd be allowing contradiction. If we do not know whether the ambiguity is intentional or not, there is the three basic options, this or that, or neither. Both is nonsensical. We do not know whether Wittgenstein's ambiguity is intentional, so we cannot rule out "neither".

    This is all you could possibly mean by saying that "S" and/or "the sensation" refer to a single token of the sensation. If there are two tokens, then you face the same contradiction that "one particular sensation is being referred to two different times".Luke

    This is not contradiction, and that's what Wittgenstein shows with the chair example. You keep insisting that we cannot experience the same token twice, but this is blatantly false. I see the same token of chair here today, which I saw here yesterday, therefore I experience one token two different times, and refer to it as "the chair". If I didn't believe it was the same token, I would just say that there is a chair here today, and there was a chair here yesterday. But since I believe both instances of "chair" to be instances of the very same token, I refer to them both with "the chair".

    To associate a "certain sensation" with a name/symbol is (supposedly in this scenario) to establish a type, not merely to name a single token. This has been my point. In the most basic terms, it is not logically possible to have the recurrence of a single token, which has only one instance, so Wittgenstein could only be referring to a type of sensation.Luke

    This is completely wrong. "Recurrence" signifies another occurrence of the very same thing, a sort of repeating. The mistake you are making is that you produce the assumption "it is not logically possible to have the recurrence of a single token", and you apply this to what Wittgenstein has said, and this causes you to misread. You refuse to accept what he has said, because you believe strongly in your assumption that it is not logically possible to have a recurrence of the same token. But the chair example proves otherwise, that sensation commonly provides a repeated or recurring experience of the very same token.

    Why do you refuse to consider the example of the chair? Every day I see the same chair in front of me. Is it not true that my sensation of that chair is a recurrence of a sensation of a single token?

    When you come around to accepting the reality that what you claim to be "not logically possible", regularly happens on a daily basis, then you'll reject this assumption that such "is not logically possible", and allow yourself to understand what Wittgenstein is exemplifying.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    Let's suppose that Wittgenstein's use of "the sensation" is meant to single out a particular type, like in your examples, then unlike your examples he hasn't given anything to identify this particular type.Metaphysician Undercover

    The type is "a certain sensation".

    So he is using "the sensation" to single out a particular type of sensation...Metaphysician Undercover

    Exactly.

    ...which supposedly has been identified, and made definite as his use of the definite article "the" indicates, yet the particular type has not been identified and made definite. Hence the ambiguity.Metaphysician Undercover

    The particular type has been identified - as "a certain sensation". What's your definition of "definite"?

    71. One can say that the concept of a game is a concept with blurred
    edges. — “But is a blurred concept a concept at all?” — Is a photograph
    that is not sharp a picture of a person at all? Is it even always an advantage
    to replace a picture that is not sharp by one that is? Isn’t one that
    isn’t sharp often just what we need?
    — LW


    But talking about it, unless the talk is aimed at discussing the identifiable features, does not remove the ambiguity (obscurity) as to what T is the name of.Metaphysician Undercover

    So we can only ever talk about something if "the talk is aimed at discussing the identifiable features" of that something? The purpose of all discussion about something is always to better define it? Go back to PI 71 - sometimes a blurry (or more general) picture is just what we need.

    And in Wittgenstein's case, he doesn't even go so far as to say that "S" represents a type of thing. that is simply your assumption. At 261, he explicitly says we cannot make such a judgement. It is only you who is claiming that "S" names a type, as an attempt to remove the inherent ambiguity, and make the passage intelligible to you.Metaphysician Undercover

    He doesn't even go so far as to say that "S" represents a token of thing either, but that has been your position for more than a month.

    You're jumping to Wittgenstein's conclusion about the scenario at PI 261 here. I am (and we previously were) discussing the scenario at PI 258 itself.

    You keep insisting that we cannot experience the same token twiceMetaphysician Undercover

    I've said numerous times that a token of a chair is not your experience of the chair, but the chair itself. One chair is one token of a chair, no matter how many times you experience it. So, I have not insisted that you cannot experience the same token of a chair twice. If I've "insisted" anything, it's that you cannot experience the same token of a sensation (e.g. a pain) twice.

    "Recurrence" signifies another occurrence of the very same thing, a sort of repeating.Metaphysician Undercover

    What do you think "occurrence" means? It need not have anything to do with "experience". Your experience of a chair is not the chair's occurrence. The chair's occurrence is its existence. The chair has one existence or instance, and thus there is one token of the chair. You can experience the chair's existence many times. Or zero times. There is still one token of the chair.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    The particular type has been identified - as "a certain sensation". What's your definition of "definite"?Luke

    Definite: clear and distinct, not vague..

    If you don't see "a certain sensation" as indefinite and ambiguous, I don't think I can help you to understand ambiguity. You need some elementary level training. Which sensation is he talking about? He's talking about a certain sensation. How does that identify the particular type of sensation referred to, making clear and distinct that type of sensation?

    So we can only ever talk about something if "the talk is aimed at discussing the identifiable features" of that something?Luke

    I've clearly indicated that we can talk about an unidentified thing, Such talk is most likely ambiguous though.

    The purpose of all discussion about something is always to better define it? Go back to PI 71 - sometimes a blurry (or more general) picture is just what we need.Luke

    When the ambiguity is unintentional, we often get beyond it through the use of contextual references, and circumstantial aids like gesturing.

    That Wittgenstein says "sometimes a blurry (or more general) picture is just what we need." is further evidence to my accusation that he employs intentional ambiguity. You ought to take notice of such hints, if you want to really understand what he was doing.

    You're jumping to Wittgenstein's conclusion about the scenario at PI 261 here. I am (and we previously were) discussing the scenario at PI 258 itself.Luke

    When ambiguity is evident, we need to make contextual references, to make a determination of the intended meaning (what was meant by the author). The contextual references which we've looked at in this case, all indicate that the ambiguity is intentional. If it is intentional we can conclude that there is no correct interpretation of what "the sensation" named "S" refers to at 258. as I explained are the consequences of intentional ambiguity.

    If I've "insisted" anything, it's that you cannot experience the same token of a sensation (e.g. a pain) twice.Luke

    And, as I've already explained to you it's nonsense to claim that there is such a thing as a token of a sensation. But there is no point to revisiting that, you have no inclination toward understanding any metaphysical principles.

    What do you think "occurrence" means? It need not have anything to do with "experience". Your experience of a chair is not the chair's occurrence. The chair's occurrence is its existence. The chair has one existence or instance, and thus there is one token of the chair. You can experience the chair's existence many times. Or zero times. There is still one token of the chair.Luke

    You've already made it very clear that you are completely uninterested in trying to understand any complex metaphysics. So I'm not going to waste my time on any complicated explanation when you have not the will to follow. If you truly have the intent to enter into such an endeavour, and have an honest desire to understand, then demonstrate to me that you understand the following, simple principle.

    Any sensation requires an object of sensation, the thing sensed, and the object sensed is distinct from the act of sensing it. In the case of a sensation of a chair, the object is the chair itself, and in the case of a sensation of pain, the object is the pain itself. The object of the sensation is distinct from the act of sensing, such that the thing we call "the pain" is separate and distinct from the act of sensing it, just like the thing we call "the chair" is separate and distinct from the act of sensing it.

    My request from you, is to demonstrate that you understand the logical necessity for this principle. If there was no object of the sensation, then the sensation would be completely imaginary, totally within the individual's mind, without any objectivity. Consider the sensation of the chair, if there was no object, called "the chair" which was being sensed, existing independently of the act of sensation, then the sensation would be completely imaginary. The same principle is applicable to the sensation of pain. If there is no object called "the pain", which was being sensed, existing independently of the act of sensation, then the sensation would be completely imaginary. Do you recognize this need, to assume an object which is being sensed, in any form of "sensation", as a requirement for producing a real representation of what a sensation is?
  • Luke
    1.7k
    Definite: clear and distinct, not vague..

    If you don't see "a certain sensation" as indefinite and ambiguous, I don't think I can help you to understand ambiguity. You need some elementary level training. Which sensation is he talking about? He's talking about a certain sensation. How does that identify the particular type of sensation referred to, making clear and distinct that type of sensation?
    Metaphysician Undercover

    In terms of the type-token distinction, the type is “a certain sensation”.

    How definite do you need him to be? What more information do you need and why do you need it?

    Let’s assume that instead of “a certain sensation” Wittgenstein had said that the diarist has “a certain fruit”. Then you would complain that Wittgenstein was using the word “fruit” ambiguously because he does not tell us what type of fruit it is. And if he said it was an apple you would then complain that he doesn’t tell us what type of apple it is, etc. How far does Wittgenstein need to go before you are satisfied that he is no longer being ambiguous, vague, unclear or indefinite? There is nothing unclear in the first place about what he means by “fruit” or what he means by “sensation”. If there is, then you need to be more exact about what you mean by “definite” and tell us: At what level of detail does it stop being “indefinite” and become “definite”? Otherwise you face the same charge of “ambiguity” in your use of the word “definite”.

    We don’t know the boundaries because none have been drawn. To repeat, we can draw a boundary — for a special purpose. Does it take this to make the concept usable? Not at all! Except perhaps for that special purpose. No more than it took the definition: 1 pace = 75 cm to make the measure of length ‘one pace’ usable. And if you want to say “But still, before that it wasn’t an exact measure of length”, then I reply: all right, so it was an inexact one. — Though you still owe me a definition of exactness. — PI 69

    And, as I've already explained to you it's nonsense to claim that there is such a thing as a token of a sensation.Metaphysician Undercover

    You’ll need to remind me why you think this is nonsense.

    If there is no object called "the pain", which was being sensed, existing independently of the act of sensation, then the sensation would be completely imaginary.Metaphysician Undercover

    Okay, we sense sensations. What’s your point?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    In terms of the type-token distinction, the type is “a certain sensation”.

    How definite do you need him to be? What more information do you need and why do you need it?

    Let’s assume that instead of “a certain sensation” Wittgenstein had said that the diarist has “a certain fruit”. Then you would complain that Wittgenstein was using the word “fruit” ambiguously because he does not tell us what type of fruit it is. And if he said it was an apple you would then complain that he doesn’t tell us what type of apple it is, etc. How far does Wittgenstein need to go before you are satisfied that he is no longer being ambiguous, vague, unclear or indefinite? .
    Luke

    Luke, if he says "a certain type of fruit", then the type of fruit is left unidentified and this is ambiguous. If he says "a certain type of apple", then the type of apple is left unidentified and this is ambiguous. If he is saying "a certain type of sensation" then the type of sensation is left unidentified and this is ambiguous.

    There is nothing unclear in the first place about what he means by “fruit” or what he means by “sensation”. If there is, then you need to be more exact about what you mean by “definite” and tell us: At what level of detail does it stop being “indefinite” and become “definite”? Otherwise you face the same charge of “ambiguity” in your use of the word “definite”.Luke

    I don't believe you can be so persistent in your ignorance of Wittgenstein's use of "the".

    You’ll need to remind me why you think this is nonsense.Luke

    No, I will not do that, because you totally ignored me the last time, saying you refuse to follow any metaphysics. Until you change your attitude I will not waste my time.

    Okay, we sense sensations. What’s your point?Luke

    No, this is not an acceptable relation between sense and sensation. Sensations are the result of sensing, and they are apprehended by the conscious mind. Sensations are not what is sensed. So you have things backward. Sorry Luke, but I see no attempt by you to demonstrate what I asked for.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    Luke, if he says "a certain type of fruit", then the type of fruit is left unidentified and this is ambiguous. If he says "a certain type of apple", then the type of apple is left unidentified and this is ambiguous. If he is saying "a certain type of sensation" then the type of sensation is left unidentified and this is ambiguous.Metaphysician Undercover

    How definite do you need him to be? What more information do you need and why do you need it?

    How far does Wittgenstein need to go before you are satisfied that he is no longer being ambiguous, vague, unclear or indefinite?

    I don't believe you can be so persistent in your ignorance of Wittgenstein's use of "the".Metaphysician Undercover

    At what level of detail does it stop being “indefinite” and become “definite”?

    Sensations are not what is sensed.Metaphysician Undercover

    Is pain not a sensation? Or can we not sense pain? Or both? You said:

    If there is no object called "the pain", which was being sensed, existing independently of the act of sensation, then the sensation would be completely imaginary.Metaphysician Undercover

    Are you arguing against yourself? I still don't see the point of this.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    How definite do you need him to be?Luke

    Well, if he's talking about a particular item, or a particular type, referring to it as "the...", then this particular "something" ought to be identified. I mean, this is philosophy, not a guessing game. "I have a type of fruit in my bag, can you guess what type it is?"

    Of course the real ambiguity is as to whether he's talking about a particular object, or what you call a type, because this is the question of Platonic realism, what sort of existence the so-called "objects" of inner experiences have. But you refuse to acknowledge this.

    And it is quite possible that Wittgenstein is talking about a particular (or a particular type), and hiding the thing he is talking about from us, for the purpose of making a philosophical point, but then we must conclude that the ambiguity is intentional.

    Is pain not a sensation? Or can we not sense pain? Or both? You said:Luke

    If you refuse to acknowledge a difference between the thing sensed, and the sensation, then we simply cannot go any further in this philosophical discussion. Do you apprehend a difference between the chair, as the thing sensed, and the sensation of the chair. If so, then why not recognize a difference between the thing sensed, and the sensation, in the case of pain?

    Suppose we assign "pain" to the sensation itself. We still need a thing sensed, let's say the thing sensed is a wound, or an injury, what I'll call the source of the pain. Can we discuss Wittgenstein's so-called private language argument while maintaining this distinction, without conflating the two in ambiguity? Would you agree, that at 261, when he says "he has something", what the word "something" refers to here, is not the sensation, but the thing sensed, the source of the pain? Would you concur, that at 258 he is talking about the sensation itself, which we call "pain", but at 261 he switches and proceeds from this point onward to refer to the thing sensed (the source of the pain). If a person is not careful in one's reading, one might think that the "something" here is the sensation itself, rather than the source of the sensation.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    Well, if he's talking about a particular item, or a particular type, referring to it as "the...", then this particular "something" ought to be identified.Metaphysician Undercover

    The particular something is identified, as "a certain sensation".

    Of course the real ambiguity is as to whether he's talking about a particular object, or what you call a type,Metaphysician Undercover

    Is that the real ambiguity? You keep saying that the type-token distinction is irrelevant here, except where it suits you to say that the type-token distinction is the main problem here.

    The diarist is supposedly naming a type of "certain sensation" with the use of "S". This means that "S" is the type and its tokens are also called "S", being instances of the type. The "objects" of inner experiences can only be tokens or instances of the type "S". The type "S" cannot be an object, token or instance itself because it is only a conceptual category.

    My point has been that the diarist is not (supposedly) naming only a single token of "a certain sensation", but is (supposedly) naming a type of "a certain sensation".

    And it is quite possible that Wittgenstein is talking about a particular (or a particular type), and hiding the thing he is talking about from us, for the purpose of making a philosophical point, but then we must conclude that the ambiguity is intentional.Metaphysician Undercover

    There is no hiding. The particular type "S" refers to "a certain sensation". All you need to know is how he is using the word "sensation", just as all you would need to know in my alternative example is how he is using the word "fruit". It is obvious in my example from my reference to an apple what the word "fruit" means, and it is obvious from Wittgenstein's scenario and the surrounding passages from his references to "inner experiences" and "pain" what the word "sensation" means. What type of sensation (or fruit) it might be is irrelevant to the scenario.

    If you refuse to acknowledge a difference between the thing sensed, and the sensation, then we simply cannot go any further in this philosophical discussion.Metaphysician Undercover

    I'm reluctant to be dragged into this metaphysical argument unless you can explain its relevance to the current topic.

    Do you apprehend a difference between the chair, as the thing sensed, and the sensation of the chair.Metaphysician Undercover

    Not necessarily. What sort of thing is "the sensation of the chair"? And why do you insist that this relationship must hold in every case? It seems that, in the case of pain, pain is both the thing sensed and the sensation.

    Suppose we assign "pain" to the sensation itself. We still need a thing sensed, let's say the thing sensed is a wound, or an injury, what I'll call the source of the pain.Metaphysician Undercover

    The source or cause of the pain sensation is not the pain sensation.

    Can we discuss Wittgenstein's so-called private language argument while maintaining this distinction, without conflating the two in ambiguity?Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't really follow the distinction or why it should be maintained.

    Would you agree, that at 261, when he says "he has something", what the word "something" refers to here, is not the sensation, but the thing sensed, the source of the pain?Metaphysician Undercover

    I would not agree.

    At PI 261 Wittgenstein tries to accommodate the private linguist by getting us to imagine that she names a sensation by/for herself. However, strictly speaking, in order to be a truly private language, she cannot make reference to a "sensation", "For sensation is a word of our common language". Although she cannot speak of a "sensation", Wittgenstein tries to accommodate the private linguist by allowing that she could instead have "Something" (that is possibly like a sensation, only different). However, strictly speaking, "has" and "something" are also words of our common language, so the private linguist can't rely on those, either. In the end, the private linguist can do nothing but emit an inarticulate sound, but even that doesn't help her.

    "Something" doesn't refer to the source of the pain; it doesn't really refer to anything. It is just Wittgenstein's way of playing along with the idea that a private language is possible, in order to ultimately show that a private language isn't really possible after all.

    Would you concur, that at 258 he is talking about the sensation itself, which we call "pain"...Metaphysician Undercover

    I would concur that at 258 he is talking about "a certain sensation", and, yes, the sensation itself. However, I would not agree that this sensation is "pain". Wittgenstein does not specify what type of sensation it is.

    ...but at 261 he switches and proceeds from this point onward to refer to the thing sensed (the source of the pain).Metaphysician Undercover

    I would not concur.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    The particular something is identified, as "a certain sensation".Luke

    Uh-huh, just like I can identify a particular colour, as "a certain colour". It might be good for a guessing game, but not too good for philosophy

    Is that the real ambiguity? You keep saying that the type-token distinction is irrelevant here, except where it suits you to say that the type-token distinction is the main problem here.Luke

    There is no type/token distinction here, only a distinction between a type and a particular object. The reason why a type/token distinction is insufficient in Wittgenstein's example is that "a token" is necessarily a representative of a type, and Wittgenstein wants to avoid this necessity. That's why he asks at 261, what reason do we have for calling this a sensation. And the answer, eventually, is that it's a sensation because that's what it's called. At this point it becomes a token of a type, when "sensation" is justified. but prior to this, Wittgenstein intends that we just recognize it as a particular. But he has to give it some identity as an internal experience, to be able to even lay out his example, so he just calls it a sensation. The hidden thing must be referred to, in order to set up the guessing game.

    The diarist is supposedly naming a type of "certain sensation" with the use of "S". This means that "S" is the type and its tokens are also called "S", being instances of the type. The "objects" of inner experiences can only be tokens or instances of the type "S". The type "S" cannot be an object, token or instance itself because it is only a conceptual category.Luke

    This doesn't make any sense to me. As I said "certain sensation" and "the sensation" can only refer to a particular to me. Yet you insist it can only refer to a type. Therefore any reasonable person would conclude ambiguity. I don't know why you're being so unreasonable, insisting that it is not ambiguous.

    It seems that, in the case of pain, pain is both the thing sensed and the sensation.Luke

    This is ambiguous though. The "thing sensed" is the wound, injury, or whatever it is which is the source of the pain. If you say "pain" refers to both, the sensation which we call "pain", and the injury which is the source of the pain, you may be charged with equivocating.

    If you deny that there is a thing sensed, as the source of the pain, then you deny the reality and objectivity of the sensation which is called "pain". The sensation of "pain" would be completely imaginary. This is what I tried to explain to you earlier, but you refused to attempt to understand the metaphysics.

    You still refuse to attempt to understand this. But I've made clear the distinction for you, so if you continue to insist that "pain" refers to both the sensation, and the injury, or source of the pain, I will continue to insist that you equivocate.

    "Something" doesn't refer to the source of the pain; it doesn't really refer to anything.Luke

    Come on Luke, you must see how ridiculous this looks. Wittgenstein explicitly says, "He has something", and this is what he means, that there is something which is being referred to. We can either say that "the sensation" has a real source, or it is imaginary. If it's imaginary we can't say that he has something, because he made it up, therefore he would not really be sensing anything and there would be no sensation being referred to. Therefore "something" must refer to the fact that there is a source of the sensation.

    It makes no sense for you to try and say that it isn't anything. That's explicitly contrary to what Wittgenstein said. What he has explicitly done, is create the highest degree of ambiguity possible, a guessing game where the intent is to remove the thing referred to from any category of type whatsoever. Ever play "twenty questions"? That's the type of guessing game we're into here. The thing referred to must be something in particular, something definite, so the person cannot just make it up as the game proceeds.

    I would concur that at 258 he is talking about "a certain sensation", and, yes, the sensation itself. However, I would not agree that this sensation is "pain". Wittgenstein does not specify what type of sensation it is.Luke

    Right, that's why it's ambiguous, and just like a guessing game. I have a sensation named "S". I cannot show it to you, therefore it cannot be a token (example) of a type. Can you guess what type it is? See, he is attempting to create the highest degree of ambiguity possible.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    Uh-huh, just like I can identify a particular colour, as "a certain colour". It might be good for a guessing game, but not too good for philosophyMetaphysician Undercover

    If you think you have to guess what "sensation" means then you have missed the surrounding context.

    If you think it's necessary to guess what type of sensation he means, then you don't understand the purpose of Wittgenstein's remarks on private language.

    But he has to give it some identity as an internal experience, to be able to even lay out his example, so he just calls it a sensation.Metaphysician Undercover

    Can you not know what "sensation" means unless you are told what type of sensation? Can you not know what "fruit" means unless you are told what type of fruit?

    Saying that he identifies it as an internal experience shows that you know how he is using the word.

    That's why he asks at 261, what reason do we have for calling this a sensation. And the answer, eventually, is that it's a sensation because that's what it's called.Metaphysician Undercover

    At 261 he questions calling "S" the sign for a sensation. There is no such “answer” given.

    The "thing sensed" is the wound, injury, or whatever it is which is the source of the pain.Metaphysician Undercover

    It sounds much more natural to me to say that the "thing sensed" is the pain. It sounds very unnatural to me to say that the "thing sensed" is the wound or injury. Regardless, you haven't explained what this has to do with the private language argument.

    Wittgenstein explicitly says, "He has something", and this is what he means, that there is something which is being referred to.Metaphysician Undercover

    Actually, he says "And it would not help either to say...that when he writes “S” he has Something."
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    If you think you have to guess what "sensation" means then you have missed the surrounding context.

    If you think it's necessary to guess what type of sensation he means, then you don't understand the purpose of Wittgenstein's remarks on private language.
    Luke

    We've been through this so many times now that I can't count them. The issue is not what "sensation" means. The question is what does "the sensation" refers to in the context of 258.

    Saying that he identifies it as an internal experience shows that you know how he is using the word.Luke

    Knowing that a sensation is an internal experience, as defined by Wittgenstein, does not tell me what he is referring to with "the sensation". Yes, "the sensation" is supposed to refer to a sensation, which is an internal experience, as defined, but knowing this does not indicate to me, the particular which "the sensation" refers to.

    Suppose I define "chair" as a seat for one person. Then I tell you that I have named a certain chair "C". And then I proceed to talk about "the chair" named C, without telling you any of its identifying features, only that it is a chair. How can you not see that there is ambiguity with respect to what "the chair named C" refers to. Suppose I asked you to bring me the chair named C, so I could sit on it, because it's my favourite chair. How would you know which chair is named C?

    This is why I call it a guessing game. Wittgenstein is saying, that there are many different things, which go by the name "internal experience", further, many of these are called "sensations". Now, out of these many things called sensations, I have taken one and named it "S". Then he leaves it completely ambiguous (a guessing game if you will), as to which sensation is the one which he has named S.

    At 261 he questions calling "S" the sign for a sensation. There is no such “answer” given.Luke

    The answer is at 270, that's why I said the answer is given "eventually".
    And what is our reason for calling "S" the name of a sensation here?
    Perhaps the kind of way this sign is employed in this language-game,—
    And why a "particular sensation," that is, the same one every time?
    Well, aren't we supposing that we write "S" every time?

    Regardless, you haven't explained what this has to do with the private language argument.Luke

    Yes I have, but you haven't been paying attention. At 258, Wittgenstein leaves it ambiguous as to whether "the sensation" as an internal experience, refers to the sensation itself, or the source of the sensation (what I called the thing sensed), as both are internal in sensations like pain. In the case of the chair, the thing sensed is external, so the separation between the sensation and the thing sensed is obvious. At 261 he makes it clear, when he says all we can say is that he has something, that "something" here must refer to the source, rather than the sensation itself. This is because if there was no source (or cause) of the sensation, we could not say that he had anything, the sensation would be completely fictitious. We could not say that he has any sensation

    What makes it not fictitious is that there is an object, a thing being sensed. Otherwise we could not say that he has something, because he might have nothing, and be naming nothing with "S", i.e. using S randomly.

    So, as I explained in the other post, he makes a switch at 261, so that "S" refers to the object, the thing sensed, rather than the sensation itself, from this point onward. That's why it's very important to understand the ambiguity, in order to understand the so-called private language argument, and why the "switch" is made. From 261 onward "S" does not refer to the sensation itself anymore (if it ever did, because that was ambiguous in the first place), it refers to the object being sensed, the source, or cause of the sensation. This "switch", is what allows his use of "S" to be justified, as explained at 265. That there is an object sensed, or that there is a source, or cause of the sensation is what justifies the use So at 270 "S" might simply refer to his blood pressure.

    Actually, he says "And it would not help either to say...that when he writes “S” he has Something."Luke

    Right, this exemplifies the ambiguity he has employed. The use of "sensation" needs to be justified because nothing has indicated to us, that "S" actually refers to something we would call "a sensation". It has not been justified, that whatever it is which is being called by "S" is a token of sensation, that has simply been asserted, S is a certain sensation. So, it does not help, as a means of justification, to say that he must have "something". This is because we still do not know what it is which is referred to as "S", that was left ambiguous, and remains ambiguous. That it must be something does not justify that it is a sensation. And if it's nothing it's totally fictitious, and still not a sensation.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    The question is what does "the sensation" refers to in the context of 258.Metaphysician Undercover

    Why do you need this question to be answered in the context of 258?

    Suppose I define "chair" as a seat for one person. Then I tell you that I have named a certain chair "C". And then I proceed to talk about "the chair" named C, without telling you any of its identifying features, only that it is a chair. How can you not see that there is ambiguity with respect to what "the chair named C" refers to. Suppose I asked you to bring me the chair named C, so I could sit on it, because it's my favourite chair. How would you know which chair is named C?Metaphysician Undercover

    Does "C" have only a private use? No one else but the diarist is supposed to know what "S" refers to.

    However, I know what "chair" refers to, because you have defined it as "a seat for one person". And I know what "sensation" refers to in Wittgenstein's scenario because he talks about it in the context of "inner experiences" and "pain".

    Now, out of these many things called sensations, I have taken one and named it "S". Then he leaves it completely ambiguous (a guessing game if you will), as to which sensation is the one which he has named S.Metaphysician Undercover

    The type of sensation that "S" refers to is irrelevant to Wittgenstein's point. "S" has a private use so you can imagine any type of sensation you like. It makes no difference. Moreover, Wittgenstein proceeds to establish that the diarist cannot rely on the public word "sensation", so "S" cannot name a sensation anyway.

    The answer is at 270...Metaphysician Undercover

    270 is notoriously difficult. I'm not going to touch it until you can show better comprehension of the earlier passages. The section from 270 you quoted does not give you the "answer" you think it does. Suffice it to say that 270 is not a continuation of 258 and 261 but a totally different scenario.

    At 258, Wittgenstein leaves it ambiguous as to whether "the sensation" as an internal experience, refers to the sensation itself, or the source of the sensation (what I called the thing sensed), as both are internal in sensations like pain.Metaphysician Undercover

    The example you gave for the source of pain was an injury or wound. Wounds are not internal and injuries are not necessarily internal, so the source of pain is not necessarily internal.

    You are saying that Wittgenstein might not use "the sensation" to refer to the sensation. You offer no textual support for this absurd claim.

    What makes you think he uses "the sensation" to refer to anything else but the sensation, and in particular that he uses it to mean "the source of the sensation"? Wittgenstein says nothing about "the source".

    At 261 he makes it clear, when he says all we can say is that he has somethingMetaphysician Undercover

    He doesn't say "all we can say is that he has something." He says: "And it would not help either to say...that when he writes “S” he has Something."

    That is, according to Wittgenstein at 261, we cannot say that the diarist has Something.

    Otherwise we could not say that he has something, because he might have nothing, and be naming nothing with "S", i.e. using S randomly.Metaphysician Undercover

    We cannot say that he has something. Wittgenstein shows us that the diarist fails to establish a use of "S" by inwardly associating it with a particular sensation.

    So, as I explained in the other post, he makes a switch at 261, so that "S" refers to the object, the thing sensed, rather than the sensation itself, from this point onward.Metaphysician Undercover

    There is zero textual evidence to support this bizarre claim. What at 261 provides any indication that "S" now refers to the source of the sensation (i.e. "the thing sensed")?

    This "switch", is what allows his use of "S" to be justified, as explained at 265.Metaphysician Undercover

    What is (further) explained at 265 is that the private use of "S" is not justified, since "justification consists in appealing to an independent authority."

    Actually, he says "And it would not help either to say...that when he writes “S” he has Something."
    — Luke

    Right... So, it does not help, as a means of justification, to say that he must have "something". This is because we still do not know what it is which is referred to as "S", that was left ambiguous, and remains ambiguous. That it must be something does not justify that it is a sensation. And if it's nothing it's totally fictitious, and still not a sensation.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    He says: "And it would not help either to say that it need not be a sensation; that when he writes “S” he has Something."

    Wittgenstein disallows the private use of "S" to name a sensation because "sensation" is "a word of our common language". But Wittgenstein also disallows "that when he writes "S" he has Something" for the same reason - because "has" and "something" are also words of our common (public) language.

    You have misread if you think Wittgenstein allows the use of "S" to name Something, and you are wrong that what "S" refers to "must be something". The entire point is that a private language is not possible.

    The private language argument argues that a language understandable by only a single individual is incoherentWikipedia article 'Private language argument'

    What Wittgenstein had in mind is a language conceived as necessarily comprehensible only to its single originator because the things which define its vocabulary are necessarily inaccessible to others.

    Immediately after introducing the idea, Wittgenstein goes on to argue that there cannot be such a language.
    SEP article 'Private Language'
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    Why do you need this question to be answered in the context of 258?Luke

    The question does not need to be answered. The point is that with no way of knowing what "the sensation" refers to, we can conclude that it is used ambiguously. And if the ambiguity is judged as intentional (and I believe it can be), then we need to determine what he is doing with this ambiguity, in order to understand what he is demonstrating with the example.

    In other words, if we judge the ambiguity as intentional, then we conclude that the question of what the thing is which "the sensation called S" refers to, cannot be answered, as I explained to you already. Then to understand the meaning of the passage we need to determine what Wittgenstein intended to do with that ambiguity.

    oes "C" have only a private use? No one else but the diarist is supposed to know what "S" refers to.

    However, I know what "chair" refers to, because you have defined it as "a seat for one person". And I know what "sensation" refers to in Wittgenstein's scenario because he talks about it in the context of "inner experiences" and "pain".
    Luke

    "C" in my example has the same use as "S" has in Wittgenstein's example. The fact that you claim to know what "S" refers to in Wittgenstein's example, as "a sensation", indicates that Wittgenstein is not giving us an example of a "private language". Remember, as I explained to you, 258 is not an example of a "private language" as you define it. A true "private language" in that sense, could not be described like that, using words of common language, like "sensation". It is impossible for Wittgenstein to give an example of a "private language" as you define it, because that would be unintelligible to us, so he gives us an example of something different; "S" is the sign for a certain sensation, but no one knows what that sensation is.

    So the scenario he sets up at 258 is not a "private language". It is a supposed situation where a person has named something (a sensation in this case) with a symbol, and according to what is described at 257, Wittgenstein wants to examine how the person would establish a relationship between a particular thing (the sensation), and the symbol. It is concluded that this is unintelligible, as "private".

    The type of sensation that "S" refers to is irrelevant to Wittgenstein's point. "S" has a private use so you can imagine any type of sensation you like. It makes no difference. Moreover, Wittgenstein proceeds to establish that the diarist cannot rely on the public word "sensation", so "S" cannot name a sensation anyway.Luke

    You seem to be missing the fact that Wittgenstein is making a demonstration, he is giving us an example for the purpose of demonstrating something. Therefore we need to consider the big picture, what he is trying to demonstrate. That's what we learn from experience of studying much philosophy, how to determine what the person is trying to demonstrate.

    We definitely cannot say, as you do, "the type of sensation that 'S' refers to is irrelevant to Wittgenstein's point", because Wittgenstein has clearly taken steps to set up this scenario intentionally. And since expressions like "a certain sensation", and "the sensation" are very deliberately employed at 258, we must respect the reality of this situation, that this is very significant to Wittgenstein's point.

    What you propose, "so 'S' cannot name a sensation anyway", directly contradicts what Wittgenstein says in the example, that "S" is the sign for a sensation, therefore we must reject your proposal. The problem appears to be that you believe Wittgenstein is giving an example of a "private language", when he is not, because this is impossible, so you can only support your belief by contradicting what Wittgenstein actually wrote. Therefore your belief is incorrect.

    He doesn't say "all we can say is that he has something." He says: "And it would not help either to say...that when he writes “S” he has Something."

    That is, according to Wittgenstein at 261, we cannot say that the diarist has Something.
    Luke

    I believe you are misreading this. He is talking about justifying the use of the word "sensation" here. He is saying "it would not help", (in relation to the attempt to justify this use), to point out that when he writes "S" he has "something" which "S" refers to. This is simply due to the obvious, saying that it is "something" doesn't justify calling it a "sensation".

    That is, according to Wittgenstein at 261, we cannot say that the diarist has Something.Luke

    He does not say that we "cannot" say this. He says that it would not help, either, in the attempt to justify the use of "sensation", to say that he "has something". Therefore he says that saying this does not help (in relation to the attempt to justify the use of "sensation").

    We cannot say that he has something. Wittgenstein shows us that the diarist fails to establish a use of "S" by inwardly associating it with a particular sensation.Luke

    You are stuck in your faulty representation of 261 which I pointed out to you earlier. What needs to be justified, according to Wittgenstein, is the use of "sensation" here. He has already shown at 258 that the use of "S' by the diarist cannot be justified, there is no "right" here.

    The diarist has a use of "S", that cannot be denied, because it is stipulated by Wittgenstein's example. Therefore your claim that the diarist "fails to establish a use of 'S'" is false. What Wittgenstein claims, is that whatever criteria, or principles which the person applies in making the judgement of "S", they cannot be understood or described by words. This is the "private" part. It is simply the person's memory, and the application of "private" judgement which cannot be described in words, because we describe things in terms of rules, and this is not a matter of following rules. This "private" aspect of language we cannot describe, so even metaphorical, or analogous description, such as 'it's sort of like rules' or "impressions of rules", are not really useful according to Wittgenstein:
    259. Are the rules of the private language impressions of rules?—
    The balance on which impressions are weighed is not the impression
    of a balance.

    Therefore you need to respect the fact that he is asking a question at 260, when he asks did the man make a note of "nothing". He is not stating that "S" signifies nothing. The parameters of the example stipulate that "S" signifies something, so this would be contradictory. However, he has set up the example with so much ambiguity as to what "S" signifies, that it might appear like "S" could signify nothing. That is why, in our attempt to answer the guessing game, what "S" signifies, we must first rule out the possibility that "S" signifies nothing.

    Remember how I treated your example of "bank". You set up the example of "bank", with intentional ambiguity so as to make an example of ambiguity. Because this ambiguity was intentional, I could say that "bank" in your example referred to neither the financial establishment, nor the side of the river. Because you intended "bank" to be ambiguous, it actually referred to neither. However, this does not mean that "bank" has no meaning in your example. The meaning is ambiguous. But you refused to accept "ambiguous" as meaning.

    What is (further) explained at 265 is that the private use of "S" is not justified, since "justification consists in appealing to an independent authority."Luke

    According to my translation, this is incorrect. What I have is "—But justification consists in appealing to something independent."

    Furthermore, we are not talking about justifying the use of "S" here. That is the misunderstanding which I dealt with already. It is well established at 258, that the use of "S" cannot be justified. So we must drop this notion at that time. Now, proceeding onward he is talking about justifying 'our' use of "sensation" to refer to what the diarist signifies with "S", not the diarist's use of "S".

    The example stipulates that the diarist, Wittgenstein himself, has classed the thing which "S" refers to as "a sensation". Since "sensation" is a word of public language (261), we need to justify that the thing which "S" refers to is a token (to use your word) of the type, sensation. It is asserted by the diarist that it is, but this does not justify it.

    Wittgenstein disallows the private use of "S" to name a sensation because "sensation" is "a word of our common language". But Wittgenstein also disallows "that when he writes "S" he has Something" for the same reason - because "has" and "something" are also words of our common (public) language.Luke

    Again, this is a bad interpretation. We cannot say that Wittgenstein "disallows" such. He is saying that use of these public words needs to be justified, he is not disallowing them. Obviously the claim that he has "something" does not justify the claim that "the something" is a sensation.

    This is the guessing game I described to you. The person has named a thing, "S", and this naming is private to the person. Whatever method the person employs when attaching the name to the thing is completely private, as not being a matter of following a rule, and so it is unintelligible to us. So the person cannot justify the use of "S", that has been ruled out. Therefore, we are given the task of 'guessing' what "S" refers to. The first possibility to rule out, is that "S" refers to nothing (260).

    However, we can rule out this possibility based on what is stipulated in the example. The demonstration stipulates that the person is using "S" to signify "a certain sensation". Therefore the proposal that he has "nothing", can be ruled out as contrary to the premises. Next, Wittgenstein wants us to justify "sensation", that what he has is a sensation. That we've ruled out nothing, and assume that the person has something, does not necessitate the conclusion that what the person has is a sensation.

    Once again, we can turn to the parameters of the example, it is stipulated that what the person has is a "sensation". But this is where it gets complicated. The word "sensation" implies that there is an object sensed, as I explained. If there is nothing sensed, no source of the sensation, then it is not a real sensation, and we're back to nothing. But this is not what is stipulated, it is stipulated that there is a sensation. Therefore we can conclude that there is an object sensed, a source or cause of the sensation. That there is a sensation implies that there is something sensed, and like the example of the chair, the something sensed is the "something independent", which serves to justify the use of "sensation". If there is nothing sensed we cannot call it a sensation, the use of "S" would be a fiction.

    You have misread if you think Wittgenstein allows the use of "S" to name Something, and you are wrong that what "S" refers to "must be something". The entire point is that a private language is not possible.Luke

    Obviously, it is you who has misread. The demonstration is set up very clearly so that "S" is the sign of a sensation. This is very deliberate and explicitly stipulated. You want to turn back on the premises of the demonstration, and deny the principle premise, saying that Wittgenstein disallows such a use. But this would be blatant contradiction. Instead, we must accept what is shown at 258, as Wittgenstein's word on this matter. He shows that the person can use "S", in the way described, but there is no such thing as "right" here. The person uses "S" according to some judgement which is private (not by a public rule), so the person's use of "S" cannot be judged as to whether the rule is followed or not.

    What you are claiming, that Wittgenstein disallows such a use of "S", certainly contradicts the premises of Wittgenstein's demonstration.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.2k
    "Private language" is an oxymoron. There is nothing private about language as it is a social construction and social constructions are agreements between individuals on standards of behavior. Communication between individuals is the use of language so any "private" language would be a useless language.

    The only reason we use language is to communicate individual ideas others. You, as an individual, are already privy to your ideas and thoughts. There is no need to communicate them to yourself.

    Like most everything else, the fundamental components of language are visuals and sounds - part of the basic, fundamental components of mind, along with olfactory, gustatory and tactile sensations that all come together in what we commonly refer to as conscious experience. The brain naturally compares and distinguishes all of these sensations and tries to find patterns to improve its chances of survival. In a way, all the sensations are themselves a language in which the mind tries to understand. In a sense, the world communicates its various states to the mind of the individual via its senses. The senses are, in a way, the translators of the state of the world (which aren't mental states) into mental states for the brain to interpret. If any type of communication, or informative process, could qualify as a "private language" maybe this could be it.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    In other words, if we judge the ambiguity as intentional, then we conclude that the question of what the thing is which "the sensation called S" refers to, cannot be answered, as I explained to you already. Then to understand the meaning of the passage we need to determine what Wittgenstein intended to do with that ambiguity.Metaphysician Undercover

    Once again, "sensation" is not ambiguous given the context, as it clearly refers to an "inner experience" such as pain. It doesn't seem sensible for it to have any other meaning. Only "S" or the type of sensation denoted by "S" might be considered ambiguous or vague.

    "C" in my example has the same use as "S" has in Wittgenstein's example. The fact that you claim to know what "S" refers to in Wittgenstein's example, as "a sensation"Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't claim to know what "S" refers to in Wittgenstein's example, except as a type of "certain sensation".

    258. Let’s imagine the following case. I want to keep a diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation. To this end I associate it with the sign “S” and write this sign in a calendar for every day on which I have the sensation. — PI 258


    Remember, as I explained to you, 258 is not an example of a "private language" as you define it.Metaphysician Undercover

    Where have I defined it? I'm following Wittgenstein's description at 243:

    ...a language in which a person could write down or give voice to his inner experiences — his feelings, moods, and so on — for his own use...[where] The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language. — PI 243

    What definition of a private language are you using?

    What you propose, "so 'S' cannot name a sensation anyway", directly contradicts what Wittgenstein says in the example, that "S" is the sign for a sensation, therefore we must reject your proposal. The problem appears to be that you believe Wittgenstein is giving an example of a "private language", when he is not, because this is impossible, so you can only support your belief by contradicting what Wittgenstein actually wrote. Therefore your belief is incorrect.Metaphysician Undercover

    258 is a kind of reductio ad absurdum, where Wittgenstein attempts to play along with the private language advocate only to show that their assumptions lead to an impossible conclusion. It is not Wittgenstein contradicting himself, but the idea of a private language contradicting itself.

    That is, according to Wittgenstein at 261, we cannot say that the diarist has Something.
    — Luke

    I believe you are misreading this. He is talking about justifying the use of the word "sensation" here. He is saying "it would not help", (in relation to the attempt to justify this use), to point out that when he writes "S" he has "something" which "S" refers to. This is simply due to the obvious, saying that it is "something" doesn't justify calling it a "sensation".
    Metaphysician Undercover

    At 261 he starts out questioning the reasons for calling "S" the name of a sensation. Wittgenstein's description at 243 requires that a private language refers only to what the speaker can know so another person cannot understand the language. He notes at 261 that "sensation" cannot be a word of a private language because it is "a word of our common language, which is not a language intelligible only to me."

    When he goes on to say: "And it would not help either to say it need not be a sensation; that when he writes "S" he has Something," he is talking about "Something" as being a lesser claim than a "sensation". The private linguist may accept that "S" cannot refer to a sensation, as Wittgenstein notes, however he may try to respond that "S" could still refer to "something" (not nothing), even if it is does not refer to a sensation. Wittgenstein is saying that it would not help to make the lesser claim that "S" refers to "something" instead of a "sensation", either. This is because ""has" and "something" also belong to our common language". Just like "sensation", "something" is also "a word of our common language which is not a language intelligible only to me."

    Your account does not explain why Wittgenstein refers to "a language intelligible only to me" at 261.

    What Wittgenstein claims, is that whatever criteria, or principles which the person applies in making the judgement of "S", they cannot be understood or described by words. This is the "private" part.Metaphysician Undercover

    Where does Wittgenstein make this claim?

    It is simply the person's memory, and the application of "private" judgement which cannot be described in words, because we describe things in terms of rules, and this is not a matter of following rules.Metaphysician Undercover

    But it is supposed to be a private language. You cannot have a language without rules. For example, a definition is a rule for how a word is to be used. "A definition serves to lay down the meaning of a sign, doesn’t it?" (PI 258)

    Therefore you need to respect the fact that he is asking a question at 260, when he asks did the man make a note of "nothing". He is not stating that "S" signifies nothing.Metaphysician Undercover

    He says at 260:

    Don’t consider it a matter of course that a person is making a note of something when he makes a mark a say in a calendar. For a note has a function, and this “S” so far has none. — PI 260

    You appear to be considering it a matter of course that the person is making a note of something, despite what Wittgenstein says here.

    The parameters of the example stipulate that "S" signifies something, so this would be contradictory.Metaphysician Undercover

    It's like a reductio.

    According to my translation, this is incorrect. What I have is "—But justification consists in appealing to something independent."Metaphysician Undercover

    It's not incorrect. You're using an older edition.

    Now, proceeding onward he is talking about justifying 'our' use of "sensation" to refer to what the diarist signifies with "S", not the diarist's use of "S".Metaphysician Undercover

    At 258 Wittgenstein asks us to imagine that he keeps a diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation that he associates with the sign "S". He can only be talking about the diarist's use of "S" at 261. "What reason have we for calling "S" the sign for a sensation"… in the imagined scenario at 258?

    It is well established at 258, that the use of "S" cannot be justified.Metaphysician Undercover
    Since "sensation" is a word of public language (261), we need to justify that the thing which "S" refers to is a token (to use your word) of the type, sensation.Metaphysician Undercover

    If it is "well established at 258" that the use of "S" cannot be justified, then why would we need to justify the use of "S" at 261?

    He is saying that use of these public words needs to be justified, he is not disallowing them.Metaphysician Undercover

    The use of all words of our common language need to be justified such that everyone understands them. This is independent of the supposedly private use of "S".

    Obviously the claim that he has "something" does not justify the claim that "the something" is a sensation.Metaphysician Undercover

    Wittgenstein poo poos the idea that the private linguist could have something (if not a sensation). But, assuming you are correct, what do you view as Wittgenstein's supposed reason for stating that "something" cannot be justified as a sensation?

    Whatever method the person employs when attaching the name to the thing is completely private, as not being a matter of following a rule, and so it is unintelligible to us.Metaphysician Undercover

    Surely the private linguist has their own rule for the use of "S". Otherwise, how do they recognise the same thing as "S" again each time? How do they use "S" in the same manner each time? Surely the use of "S" is at least intelligible to the user of "S". If "S" denotes a different type of thing each time, what purpose could that possibly serve?

    Anyway, according to Wittgenstein's original description of a private language at 243, the words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations."

    Next, Wittgenstein wants us to justify "sensation", that what he has is a sensation.Metaphysician Undercover

    How and why would we justify whether what Wittgenstein has is a sensation?

    For “sensation” is a word of our common language, which is not a language intelligible only to me. So the use of this word stands in need of a justification which everybody understands. — PI 261

    The use of this word, like all words of our common language, stands in need of a justification which everybody understands. We don't need to justify the use of "sensation"; it's already justified.

    That there is a sensation implies that there is something sensed, and like the example of the chair, the something sensed is the "something independent", which serves to justify the use of "sensation".Metaphysician Undercover

    How does the source of the sensation justify the use of the word “sensation”?

    You want to turn back on the premises of the demonstration, and deny the principle premise, saying that Wittgenstein disallows such a use.Metaphysician Undercover

    Perhaps "disallow" is not the right word, but Wittgenstein shows at 261 that "S" cannot refer to a sensation if "S" is supposed to have only a private use.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    Once again, "sensation" is not ambiguous given the context, as it clearly refers to an "inner experience" such as pain. It doesn't seem sensible for it to have any other meaning. Only "S" or the type of sensation denoted by "S" might be considered ambiguous or vague.Luke

    Good, we finally have agreement, "the sensation", referring to the particular sensation named "S" is ambiguous.

    Now we can ask whether this ambiguity is intentional or not. In any attempt to understand the meaning of an ambiguous passage of writing, it is necessary to determine whether the ambiguity is intentional or not. It seems obvious to me that in this case it is intentional, as it is meant to be this way for the purpose of the demonstration. Do you agree?

    What definition of a private language are you using?Luke

    The definition you stated, referring to 243. The demonstration of 258 is not an example of a "private language" according to the description of 243, for the reasons I explained.

    258 is a kind of reductio ad absurdum, where Wittgenstein attempts to play along with the private language advocate only to show that their assumptions lead to an impossible conclusion. It is not Wittgenstein contradicting himself, but the idea of a private language contradicting itself.Luke

    There is no contradiction, 258 is simply not an example of a private language. It is only if you think it is supposed to be an example of a private language that the appearance of contradiction arises. But that's only because the example is not consistent with the description of "private language".

    He notes at 261 that "sensation" cannot be a word of a private language because it is "a word of our common language, which is not a language intelligible only to me."Luke

    Right, so it is very clear, that at 258, where Wittgenstein proceeds to name "a certain sensation" with "S", this is not an example of a private language. What is being named with "S" is "a sensation", and "sensation" is a word of our common language. Therefore this is not an example of a private language

    So the example at 258 is already set up within the bounds of common language, to talk about something which is being referred to through the use of common language as a certain sensation. Therefore it is impossible that this is an example of a private language.

    When he goes on to say: "And it would not help either to say it need not be a sensation; that when he writes "S" he has Something," he is talking about "Something" as being a lesser claim than a "sensation". The private linguist may accept that "S" cannot refer to a sensation, as Wittgenstein notes, however he may try to respond that "S" could still refer to "something" (not nothing), even if it is does not refer to a sensation. Wittgenstein is saying that it would not help to make the lesser claim that "S" refers to "something" instead of a "sensation", either. This is because ""has" and "something" also belong to our common language". Just like "sensation", "something" is also "a word of our common language which is not a language intelligible only to me."Luke

    This is totally confused, and going in the wrong direction. Wittgenstein never says "'S' cannot refer to a sensation", nor is this implied. That explicitly contradicts the premise of the demonstration, that the diarist is using "S" to name a certain sensation, as I've already told you.

    I think you need to pay closer attention to the subtleties of the demonstration. Notice that at 258, the author, Wittgenstein, is providing the first person perspective: "I want to keep a diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation." Then by 261 he switches to the third person perspective "when he writes "S", he has something". This switch is not accidental.

    It is demonstrated at 258, that from the first person perspective, the use of "S" need not be justified.: "whatever is going to seem right to me is right. And that only means that here we can't talk about 'right'." There is no such thing as the diarist justifying his use of "S" in naming something, because he can use "S" however he wants, to name whatever he wants. That's the way Wittgenstein set up the example.

    Now proceed to 261. The author of the demonstration, Wittgenstein, has switched places. He is no longer the diarist, but is now an observer, one of us, or "we", and he refers to the diarist as "he". From this perspective, that the thing named with "S" is "a sensation" needs to be justified. This is because "sensation" is a word of the public language, and therefore has meaning within such a language game. We are no longer concerned with how the judgement is made whereby something is judged as fitting the name "S", we are concerned with whether the thing which has been given the name "S" qualifies as a "sensation".

    So the diarist has said at 258, 'I am naming something "S"', and naming this thing this way is his own little private language game. No justification is required for this simple private game of naming something with "S". However, since the diarist has said that the thing named is a "sensation", and "sensation" is a word from a public game, then from the perspective of the people in that game, 'us', or 'we', the diarist needs to justify the assertion that the thing called "S" is a sensation.

    You appear to be considering it a matter of course that the person is making a note of something, despite what Wittgenstein says here.Luke

    It is not a matter of course, but it is stipulated by the parameters of the demonstration. From the first person perspective, 258, it is stipulated that the diarist is making a note of something. That is a premise of the example, so it cannot be otherwise, and we cannot ignore this.

    However, when Wittgenstein switches to the third person perspective, he has to allow that from the perspective of the observers, within the example, it is possible that the diarist is completely lying, and there is absolutely nothing which "S" refers to, he is using the symbol in a completely random way. This is why justification is required. The diarist has claimed 'I have a sensation which i am calling S". That the diarist has something, and that the something is a sensation needs to be justified.

    At 258 Wittgenstein asks us to imagine that he keeps a diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation that he associates with the sign "S". He can only be talking about the diarist's use of "S" at 261. "What reason have we for calling "S" the sign for a sensation"… in the imagined scenario at 258?Luke

    You are not abiding by the switch in perspective. "What reason have we for calling "S" the sign for a sensation". Notice "we"? He is no longer talking about the diarists use of "S", he is talking about our use of "S", as indicated by "we". "Sensation" is our word, in our language game, and if we want to allow "S" into our game, as the name of a sensation, that the thing called S is a sensation must be justified.

    If it is "well established at 258" that the use of "S" cannot be justified, then why would we need to justify the use of "S" at 261?Luke

    The use of "S" in the private game (258) cannot be justified. But when 'we' (the public) refer to 'his' use of "S", saying that "S" is the sign of a sensation (261), where "sensation" is a word of our language, then justification is required.

    The key to understanding the demonstration, which you are not getting, is that when we switch to the perspective of the observers, 'we', it is not a question of whether his use of S is justified, it is a question of whether our use of "sensation", to refer to the thing which he has named S is justified. That is why the first question is whether there is even "something" which the name refers to.

    Wittgenstein poo poos the idea that the private linguist could have something (if not a sensation). But, assuming you are correct, what do you view as Wittgenstein's supposed reason for stating that "something" cannot be justified as a sensation?Luke

    If I claim that I am using "S" to refer to a certain sensation, and you ask me to justify this claim, that the thing I am calling S is a sensation, how is proving that there is something which S refers to, justification for the claim that the thing is a sensation?

    Surely the private linguist has their own rule for the use of "S". Otherwise, how do they recognise the same thing as "S" again each time? How do they use "S" in the same manner each time? Surely the use of "S" is at least intelligible to the user of "S". If "S" denotes a different type of thing each time, what purpose could that possibly serve?Luke

    No, the possibility of a private rule is denied by Wittgenstein. To think of oneself as following a rule, does not mean that the person is actually following a rule. So whatever means the diarist uses to judge the occurrence of a sensation as qualifying for the name "S", it cannot be a rule. That is why we cannot talk about "right" here. According to Wittgenstein there can be no rule being followed here, therefore no such thing as the "right" judgement.

    So all these points you raise, are from Wittgenstein's perspective, unanswerable, and therefore ought not be asked in that way. These questions get approached from the third person perspective outlined at 261. We look for justification that S actually names a sensation.

    Perhaps "disallow" is not the right word, but Wittgenstein shows at 261 that "S" cannot refer to a sensation if "S" is supposed to have only a private use.Luke

    This is not true. What is shown is that the diarist's claim 'S refers to a sensation' remains unjustified (i.e. no such thing as correct or incorrect use) so long as the use of "S" remains private. The problem though is that the diarist already steps outside the bounds of a "private language", by using "sensation" to say what "S" refers to, because "sensation" is a word of public language. So the diarist has already gone beyond private use with this claim. "Private use" and "private language" are two distinct things.
  • Luke
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    Good, we finally have agreement, "the sensation", referring to the particular sensation named "S" is ambiguous.Metaphysician Undercover

    That's not how language works, and not what you've been saying for several pages now.

    It is "S" which supposedly refers to the sensation, not the sensation which refers to "S". And the argument you have been making this whole time is that "the sensation" is ambiguous, not that "S" is ambiguous. You are conveniently trying to conflate the two now, instead of admitting your error.

    It's good to see you finally agree that "sensation" is not ambiguous.

    Now we can ask whether this ambiguity is intentional or not. In any attempt to understand the meaning of an ambiguous passage of writing, it is necessary to determine whether the ambiguity is intentional or not. It seems obvious to me that in this case it is intentional, as it is meant to be this way for the purpose of the demonstration. Do you agree?Metaphysician Undercover

    I agree that Wittgenstein does not specify the type of "certain sensation" that he associates with "S". I suppose he could have said more about it, but describing it using more words from our common language would defeat the purpose. He tries his best at 258 to depict a private language scenario based on the assumptions of the private language advocate without it turning into a public language. He does not succeed, but that's the point.

    What is being named with "S" is "a sensation", and "sensation" is a word of our common language. Therefore this is not an example of a private languageMetaphysician Undercover

    What would be an example of a private language?

    So the example at 258 is already set up within the bounds of common language, to talk about something which is being referred to through the use of common language as a certain sensation. Therefore it is impossible that this is an example of a private language.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, that's the point. Do you at least agree that Wittgenstein attempts to give an example of a private language at 258?

    Wittgenstein never says "'S' cannot refer to a sensation", nor is this implied.Metaphysician Undercover

    You're right. What I implied was that "S" cannot refer to a sensation and still be a word/symbol of a private language, which is intelligible only to me. That is the point of 261. You still have not explained why Wittgenstein says "intelligible only to me" at 261.

    I think you need to pay closer attention to the subtleties of the demonstration. Notice that at 258, the author, Wittgenstein, is providing the first person perspective:Metaphysician Undercover

    He actually begins 258 by saying: "Let's imagine the following case:" Expand the contraction and it becomes "Let us imagine the following case". Please pay closer attention to the subtleties.

    Or did you think he was talking to himself at 258 and then to his audience at 261? I won't bother with the rest of your "perspective" argument.

    We are no longer concerned with how the judgement is made whereby something is judged as fitting the name "S"...Metaphysician Undercover

    This isn't the concern at 258.

    ...we are concerned with whether the thing which has been given the name "S" qualifies as a "sensation".Metaphysician Undercover

    That isn't the concern at 261. You still have not stated what reason Wittgenstein might have for raising this "concern". How does this reading help to make sense of the text? Do you at least acknowledge that Wittgenstein is arguing against the possibility of a private language?

    So the diarist has said at 258, 'I am naming something "S"', and naming this thing this way is his own little private language game.Metaphysician Undercover

    But you said that 258 is not an example of a private language.

    However, since the diarist has said that the thing named is a "sensation", and "sensation" is a word from a public game, then from the perspective of the people in that game, 'us', or 'we', the diarist needs to justify the assertion that the thing called "S" is a sensation.Metaphysician Undercover

    He can't possibly justify it because "sensation" is a word of our common language. The fact that the diarist must rely on the word "sensation" implies that the language is not private.

    From the first person perspective, 258, it is stipulated that the diarist is making a note of something. That is a premise of the example, so it cannot be otherwise, and we cannot ignore this.Metaphysician Undercover

    Maybe he only thinks he's making a note of something but he really isn't. See 260 again: so far "S" has no function.

    "Sensation" is our word, in our language game, and if we want to allow "S" into our game,Metaphysician Undercover

    We don't want to allow "S" into our (public) game. Then it would no longer be private! We are trying to determine whether a private language (or even a private word) is possible.

    The key to understanding the demonstration, which you are not getting, is that when we switch to the perspective of the observers, 'we', it is not a question of whether his use of S is justified, it is a question of whether our use of "sensation", to refer to the thing which he has named S is justified.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is so confused. We are told at 258 that "S" refers to a sensation. We are also told at 258, and you have acknowledged, that "the use of "S" cannot be justified". But now at 261 you claim that we are supposed to justify our use of "sensation" to refer to what one person has? That's not how language, or how the word "sensation", works.

    It wasn't the community of public language users who used the word to refer to what the person has [how would that work exactly?], so why would we need to justify it? Even if it were the community of public language users who used the word to refer to what the person has, to whom would we justify it? To the private language user?

    Wittgenstein poo poos the idea that the private linguist could have something (if not a sensation). But, assuming you are correct, what do you view as Wittgenstein's supposed reason for stating that "something" cannot be justified as a sensation?
    — Luke

    If I claim that I am using "S" to refer to a certain sensation, and you ask me to justify this claim, that the thing I am calling S is a sensation, how is proving that there is something which S refers to, justification for the claim that the thing is a sensation?
    Metaphysician Undercover

    That doesn't answer my question. And you are not being asked to justify this claim.

    No, the possibility of a private rule is denied by WittgensteinMetaphysician Undercover

    The possibility of a private language is denied along with it.

    So all these points you raise, are from Wittgenstein's perspective, unanswerable, and therefore ought not be asked in that way.Metaphysician Undercover

    I put them to you because you seem to think a private language is possible. Do you? If so, then Wittgenstein is not your defender.

    So whatever means the diarist uses to judge the occurrence of a sensation as qualifying for the name "S", it cannot be a rule.Metaphysician Undercover

    What possible (non-rule) means could there be?

    We look for justification that S actually names a sensation.Metaphysician Undercover

    You already said this was denied at 258. Your position at 261 is that we are looking to justify that "sensation" fits what the person has.

    Perhaps "disallow" is not the right word, but Wittgenstein shows at 261 that "S" cannot refer to a sensation if "S" is supposed to have only a private use.
    — Luke

    This is not true. What is shown is that the diarist's claim 'S refers to a sensation' remains unjustified (i.e. no such thing as correct or incorrect use) so long as the use of "S" remains private. The problem though is that the diarist already steps outside the bounds of a "private language", by using "sensation" to say what "S" refers to, because "sensation" is a word of public language. So the diarist has already gone beyond private use with this claim.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    How is what you said different to what I said? I said that "S" cannot refer to a sensation if "S" is supposed to have only a private use. You just repeated it back after saying it's not true.

    "Private use" and "private language" are two distinct things.Metaphysician Undercover

    What distinguishes the private use of "S" from a private language?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
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    It is "S" which supposedly refers to the sensation, not the sensation which refers to "S".Luke

    That is how Wittgenstein dictates the example. There is "a certain sensation" which is signified with "S". Then Wittgenstein refers to this sensation as "the sensation". So, in the demonstration "the sensation" refers to a particular sensation which has been named with "S". You can't change the way the demonstration has been written just because you don't like it, or it's "not how English works" in your opinion.

    He tries his best at 258 to depict a private language scenario based on the assumptions of the private language advocate without it turning into a public language. He does not succeed, but that's the point.Luke

    He does not "try his best at 258 to depict a private language scenario". He already knows that as impossible, so he is depicting something different. He is depicting a private game (though he doesn't call it a game) within the context of a public language. He starts with the premise of "a certain sensation", a public name, and he assumes that thing which is described by the public word "sensation" is something private.

    That is why there is two layers of representation, "the sensation" refers to "a certain sensation signified with S", and this refers to what we know not, something private. But to understand the context, and therefore the meaning of the demonstration, you need to order the layers correctly, because each layer opens up a wider context. So, naming something with S is the immediate, direct description of what the person is doing. Referring to that named thing with "the sensation": is the way that the person is describing that activity to us. So this, describing the thing as a sensation, is less immediate and therefore a wider context. The fact that he in no way points to, or otherwise signifies the thing which "the sensation" refers to (as this is meant to be private), leaves "the sensation" as ambiguous.

    What would be an example of a private language?Luke

    One cannot give an example of a private language, because "give an example" is something already public. You are just giving a person an impossible (self-contradicting) task by asking for this. It is the same issue as to why the type/token distinction is not applicable to Wittgenstein's demonstration. A "token", under the confines of the type/token distinction is necessarily an example of a type. And "a type" is something public, being limited by rules, or criteria.

    If Wittgenstein wanted to portray a private language, he would have to remove the naming of a thing from the confines of these public rules, to make it something private. He'd have to name a thing without naming it as a member (token) of a type, because that would put it within a public language.

    He doesn't do this. The premise states: "I want to keep a diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation." So the thing is clearly named in the context of a type (public language). Therefore the idea of a private naming has already been defeated by the premise. However, he proceeds to show that since the thing named is hidden from the public (kept private), it cannot be a token or example of a type. The ambiguity as to why the thing is not a token of a public language throws you off. It is not as you seem to think, that the naming is an act of a private language, which makes it that the thing cannot be a token of "sensation", it is the case that the thing named is kept private, and cannot serve as an example, which makes it so that it cannot be a token.

    You did not seem to grasp this the last time I brought it up. A token is an example of a type. A type is public, and an example of a type must be public as well, only being "a token" in relation to the conception of the type. The thing named with "S", though it is stipulated by the person naming it, as a member of a type, is held private by that person, and therefore cannot serve as an example (token) of that type. The thing cannot be considered as a token of a public language, because the thing itself is held private. This is not an example of a private language because that would require that the naming of the thing would be held private. It is impossible to exemplify such a thing.

    A true "private language" would require that the naming of the thing be private. Wittgenstein does not keep the naming of thing private, he only keeps the thing private. The result is the problem of justification. But this is not at all an example of a private language, it is an example of naming a private thing through the use of public language, and this is meant to portray what commonly occurs in language use. It is not meant to portray a private language, which is something which does not occur.

    You already said this was denied at 258. Your position at 261 is that we are looking to justify that "sensation" fits what the person has.Luke

    Yes, this is the switch in perspective which I described to you. At 258, from the first person perspective, the use of "S" cannot be justified "there is no right here"; "I" can apply S to whatever I want. But at 261, from the perspective of the observers, "we", that the thing named with "S" has been called a "sensation" and this needs to be justified.

    These are the two layers of representation described above. The first layer is naming something with "S". The second layer is the person claiming that the thing named as S is a sensation, thereby referring to the thing as "the sensation". The first is portrayed as a private act, but it is not an activity of a private language, because according to the parameters of the example, the person already apprehends the thing as a "sensation", which is the word of a public language. The second layer, the use of the public word "sensation" to refer to the thing, requires justification.

    How is what you said different to what I said? I said that "S" cannot refer to a sensation if "S" is supposed to have only a private use. You just repeated it back after saying it's not true.Luke

    Consider that the person could be using "S" completely privately without knowing that "S" refers to something which we would call a "sensation". The use of "S" could be completely private, yet from our perspective, "S" refers to a sensation. That is the difference.

    You have reversed the layers of representation so that "the sensation" is between "S" and the object named. This makes it so that "S" cannot have a private use without excluding "the sensation". But this is an improper representation of the layers. When properly represented, "S" refers directly to the object, and "a sensation" is a description of that object. Then we can portray the private application of "S' to an object, and allow that this object may or may not be a sensation. That is why our use of "sensation" to describe this object needs to be justified.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    That is how Wittgenstein dictates the example. There is "a certain sensation" which is signified with "S". Then Wittgenstein refers to this sensation as "the sensation". So, in the demonstration "the sensation" refers to a particular sensation which has been named with "S". You can't change the way the demonstration has been written just because you don't like it, or it's "not how English works" in your opinion.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is not how Wittgenstein dictates the example. He associates "the recurrence of a certain sensation" with the sign "S" and writes the sign "S" in a calendar for every day on which he has the sensation.

    He does not "try his best at 258 to depict a private language scenario". He already knows that as impossible, so he is depicting something different. He is depicting a private game (though he doesn't call it a game) within the context of a public language.Metaphysician Undercover

    That's different, is it?

    A true "private language" would require that the naming of the thing be private.Metaphysician Undercover

    What definition of a private language are you using? Earlier you said you agreed to Wittgenstein's description of a private language that he gives at 243:

    ...a language in which a person could write down or give voice to his inner experiences — his feelings, moods, and so on — for his own use...[where] The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language. — PI 243


    Wittgenstein does not keep the naming of thing private, he only keeps the thing private.Metaphysician Undercover

    We don't know what "S" refers to, so how is it not private?

    At 258, from the first person perspective, the use of "S" cannot be justified "there is no right here"; "I" can apply S to whatever I want.Metaphysician Undercover

    If he applies it to whatever he wants, then he is not applying it only to his immediate private sensations, as per the description of a private language at 243.

    The first layer is naming something with "S". The second layer is the person claiming that the thing named as S is a sensationMetaphysician Undercover

    It's not merely "something" in the first place. This is why Wittgenstein intercepts this anticipated response from the private language advocate at 261:

    And it would not help either to say that it need not be a sensation; that when he writes “S” he has Something — and that is all that can be said. — PI 261

    Consider that the person could be using "S" completely privately without knowing that "S" refers to something which we would call a "sensation". The use of "S" could be completely private, yet from our perspective, "S" refers to a sensation. That is the difference.Metaphysician Undercover

    So you're saying that it need not be a sensation; that when he writes "S" he has Something — and that is all that can be said?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    This is not how Wittgenstein dictates the example. He associates "the recurrence of a certain sensation" with the sign "S" and writes the sign "S" in a calendar for every day on which he has the sensation.Luke

    You are not grasping this correctly. He does not associate "the recurrence of a certain sensation" with the sign "S". "The recurrence of a certain sensation" is a phrase of language. This is not what he marks with an "S", but he uses this phrase to describe to us what he marks with an "S". He has something (private) which he signifies with "S". He is telling us (publicly) about this activity of marking in the diary, with that phrase, and is calling it (the thing signified by S) "the sensation". Therefore this phrase, "the recurrence of a certain sensation" refers to the thing he is signifying by marking with an "S", as does "the sensation", not vise versa.

    What definition of a private language are you using? Earlier you said you agreed to Wittgenstein's description of a private language that he gives at 243:Luke

    Yes that's the one, 243: "The individual words of this language are to refer to what can only be
    known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language".

    The example at 258 is not such a "private language" because he explicitly states: "Let us imagine the following case. I want to keep a diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation." He is talking about "a diary", and "a certain sensation", He is not using words which another person cannot understand. Nor is he even attempting to do such. He is arguing that the concept of a private language doesn't even make sense, words are already public, by the nature of what words are, they exist in the context of other words which provide grammar (257), so it doesn't even make sense to speak of words which another person can't understand.

    It's not at all accurate to say that the demonstration at 258 is an example of a private language, nor is it an attempt at exemplifying a private language.

    We don't know what "S" refers to, so how is it not private?Luke

    It's not private because we have a public word which refers to the thing named "S", it is "sensation". But you can't seem to get the referencing right. The issue though, which Wittgenstein brings up, is are we justified in using this word.

    If he applies it to whatever he wants, then he is not applying it only to his immediate private sensations, as per the description of a private language at 243.Luke

    I know, it's not an example of a private language. How many times do I have to demonstrate this to you? See, "private sensations" is a public concept, and it is the confines of that public concept which restricts the way that he may use the name. So even the idea of "private language", as described, is self-refuting, as nonsensical. Why would the person with the supposed private language be restricted only to naming private sensations with that language? If "private language" made any sort of sense we couldn't say that this language would be restricted by any conceptions imposed by the confines of our public language. It couldn't be restricted at all. But then how could it be a language?

    So you're saying that it need not be a sensation; that when he writes "S" he has Something — and that is all that can be said?Luke

    Sorry, I just can't help you. I don't know what you're asking.
  • Luke
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    This is not how Wittgenstein dictates the example. He associates "the recurrence of a certain sensation" with the sign "S" and writes the sign "S" in a calendar for every day on which he has the sensation.
    — Luke

    You are not grasping this correctly.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    What I wrote is almost verbatim from 258.

    He does not associate "the recurrence of a certain sensation" with the sign "S".Metaphysician Undercover
    I want to keep a diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation. To this end I associate it with the sign “S”... — PI 258

    Seriously?

    "The recurrence of a certain sensation" is a phrase of language. This is not what he marks with an "S"Metaphysician Undercover
    ...and write this sign in a calendar for every day on which I have the sensation. — PI 258

    It's "a phrase of language" that you have much difficulty with.

    According to the description, he writes the sign "S" in a calendar for every day on which he has the sensation. The word "recurrence" implies that it's the same type of "certain sensation" each time. Otherwise, you need to provide an alternative account of the word "recurrence".

    He is telling us (publicly) about this activity of marking in the diary, with that phrase, and is calling it (the thing signified by S) "the sensation".Metaphysician Undercover

    You said in your previous sentence that the sensation is not what he marks with an "S".

    Therefore this phrase, "the recurrence of a certain sensation" refers to the thing he is signifying by marking with an "S", as does "the sensation", not vise versa.Metaphysician Undercover

    He says that he associates the recurrence of a certain sensation with the sign "S". You are saying that he associates Something (or "the thing") with the signs "S", "sensation" and "recurrence of a certain sensation". Therefore, what you are saying is not what Wittgenstein is saying.

    We don't know what "S" refers to, so how is it not private?
    — Luke

    It's not private because we have a public word which refers to the thing named "S", it is "sensation". But you can't seem to get the referencing right
    Metaphysician Undercover

    You've just told me that "S", "sensation" and "recurrence of a certain sensation" all refer to Something. Now you are saying that "sensation" refers to "S". Is that different again?

    Also, I said that we don't know what "S" refers to, and you have responded to say that "sensation" refers to "S". Does that mean that "S" also refers to "sensation"? Are you saying that we do know what "S" refers to?

    At 258, from the first person perspective, the use of "S" cannot be justified "there is no right here"; "I" can apply S to whatever I want.
    — Metaphysician Undercover

    If he applies it to whatever he wants, then he is not applying it only to his immediate private sensations, as per the description of a private language at 243.
    — Luke

    I know, it's not an example of a private language. How many times do I have to demonstrate this to you?
    Metaphysician Undercover

    You've missed the point. He must apply "S" only to his immediate private sensations per the definition of a private language given in 243. Therefore, YOUR claim that he "applies it to whatever he wants" is wrong. He cannot apply "S" to whatever he wants.

    Why would the person with the supposed private language be restricted only to naming private sensations with that language?Metaphysician Undercover

    Because that's the definition of private language you have agreed to, as per 243. Otherwise, provide your own definition of a private language.

    If "private language" made any sort of sense we couldn't say that this language would be restricted by any conceptions imposed by the confines of our public language. It couldn't be restricted at all. But then how could it be a language?Metaphysician Undercover

    That's right. How could it be a language?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
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    Luke, your post is so confused, and your replies so brief and unexplained, that I cannot even begin to understand what you are trying to express, in the majority of your replies.

    We have two principal disagreements. First, how Wittgenstein uses "S", and "the sensation" at 258, and second, whether 258 is meant to be an example of "a private language".

    Let's start with the first. Do you agree that "S" is supposed to signify, or be "the name of" whatever it is which is described as recurring? This is not only consistent with, but very clearly what he is talking about in the context, i.e. 256, 257. He is talking about establishing a direct relationship between a name and a sensation, and that's what's meant, and described at 258, establishing a direct relationship between a sensation, and its name "S", by giving that sensation a name, "S".

    So, from the first person perspective which Wittgenstein provides us at 258, we have a recurring 'thing' (whether type or token is irrelevant here), we have "S" as the sign, or name of this thing, and we have the person referring to this thing as "the sensation", in telling us about the thing he has named "S".

    Do we have agreement on this, or not?

    I think that if we cannot come to some agreement on this fundamental understanding as to what Wittgenstein is giving us as his example, there is no point in going further. We'd have such completely different ideas about what is going on in that example, that any discussion of the example would be completely pointless. Accordingly, discussion of our second principal disagreement, whether this is meant to be an example of "a private language" or not, is pointless until we have agreement as to what has been given to us in the example.

    If you don't agree with what I propose above, there is still another possibility for agreement. We could simply agree that the example is ambiguous. If we agree on that, then we can conclude that discussion of the second disagreement will be fruitless, and therefore unnecessary, because there is no correct understanding due to the ambiguity.

    What do you say?
  • Luke
    1.7k
    Do you agree that "S" is supposed to signify, or be "the name of" whatever it is which is described as recurring?Metaphysician Undercover

    Wittgenstein clearly specifies it is the recurrence of a sensation. I don't see why you call it "whatever it is".

    He is talking about establishing a direct relationship between a name and a sensation, and that's what's meant, and described at 258, establishing a direct relationship between a sensation, and its name "S", by giving that sensation a name, "S".Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, I agree.

    So, from the first person perspective which Wittgenstein provides us at 258, we have a recurring 'thing' (whether type or token is irrelevant here), we have "S" as the sign, or name of this thing, and we have the person referring to this thing as "the sensation", in telling us about the thing he has named "S".Metaphysician Undercover

    Again, why call it a "thing"? It's a sensation.

    Do we have agreement on this, or not?Metaphysician Undercover

    For the most part.

    Accordingly, discussion of our second principal disagreement, whether this is meant to be an example of "a private language" or not, is pointless until we have agreement as to what has been given to us in the example.Metaphysician Undercover

    Compare 243 with 258. He is clearly talking about the same thing here:

    ...a language in which a person could write down or give voice to his inner experiences — his feelings, moods, and so on — for his own use...[where] The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language. — PI 243

    I first want to observe that a definition of the sign cannot be formulated. — But all the same, I can give one to myself as a kind of ostensive definition! — How? Can I point to the sensation? — Not in the ordinary sense. But I speak, or write the sign down, and at the same time I concentrate my attention on the sensation — and so, as it were, point to it inwardly. — PI 258

    Ask yourself why a definition of the sign cannot be formulated. The reason he performs this "ceremony", as he calls it, is in an attempt to have "S" refer to his immediate private sensation, just as he describes at 243, which you have agreed describes a private language.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    Compare 243 with 258. He is clearly talking about the same thing here:Luke

    Why would you say this, right after insisting that he is talking about a "sensation" at 258? When he talks about the private language at 243 he says "The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know". Obviously "sensation" doesn't refer to something only he can know, and S is described as a sensation.

    Ask yourself why a definition of the sign cannot be formulated.Luke

    The reason why a definition cannot be formulated is because what is proposed is a direct relation between a word and a thing (a sensation in this case). So the situation is a naming, like what a proper noun does. There is no definition in this type of usage, just a direct relationship between the name and the thing named, such that the thing named defines the name. That's why he proceeds to say that he can give himself a sort of ostensive definition by pointing to the thing inwardly.

    However, the thing is described as "a sensation", or an "inner experience", and these are words of a public language, Therefore there is no real attempt at exemplifying a private language here. There is a private naming, within the context of a public language. The parameters as to what type of thing is being named are laid out by the public language. This he describes at the end of 257, just before launching into the example.

    "And when we speak of someone's having given a name to pain, what is presupposed is the existence of the grammar of the word "pain"; it shews the post where the new word is stationed." ---257

    As explained, "sensation" shows the post where the new word "S" is stationed. This is not a private language.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    Why would you say this, right after insisting that he is talking about a "sensation" at 258? When he talks about the private language at 243 he says "The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know".Metaphysician Undercover

    Nice cherry picking. Are you blind? How many times do I need to quote the passage from 243 before you comprehend that it contains the word "sensation"? Look:

    But is it also conceivable that there be a language in which a person could write down or give voice to his inner experiences — his feelings, moods, and so on — for his own use? —– Well, can’t we do so in our ordinary language? — But that is not what I mean. The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language. — PI 243

    Are you trying to pretend that he does not talk about "sensations" at 243? Or do you have a reading difficulty?

    Obviously "sensation" doesn't refer to something only he can know, and S is described as a sensation.Metaphysician Undercover

    No shit, Sherlock. But "sensation" is given as part of the description of a private language at 243 that you agreed to. Did you agree to that definition by mistake? Again, if you don't like it, then provide your own definition of a private language. But bear in mind that you will no longer be discussing Wittgenstein's private language argument.

    Therefore there is no real attempt at exemplifying a private language here.Metaphysician Undercover

    No real attempt? You said that it was not possible to provide an example of a private language, so what sort of attempt do you expect? Wittgenstein's point is that it is not possible and this is what he is showing us. That's why he tries to provide an example of a private language and fails. If you think there's a way to successfully provide an example of a private language, then show us. Otherwise, stop complaining that it's not an example. I said from the outset that he attempts to provide an example, that he does not succeed, and that that's the point. If you think he is saying or showing something else, then spit it out.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    Nice cherry picking. Are you blind? How many times do I need to quote the passage from 243 before you comprehend that it contains the word "sensation"? Look:Luke

    I don't see how the mention of "sensations" at 243 is relevant. The words of this proposed "private language" cannot be understood by another person. "Sensation" is not such a word. But "S" at 258 is said to be the name of a sensation. Therefore 258 is not an example of a private language.

    No shit, Sherlock. But "sensation" is given as part of the description of a private language at 243 that you agreed to. Did you agree to that definition by mistake?Luke

    The description, or definition, of "private language", is not itself a private language. So "sensation" might be used in the definition of a private language, but since it is a publicly understood word, it cannot be part of a private language. This is very simple. Do you understand this?

    That's why he tries to provide an example of a private language and fails.Luke

    As I demonstrated with the quote from the end of 257, he is not at all trying to provide an example of a private language. Please read 257 again. He is showing how a new word, produced from a private experience might fit into, or receive a place. in an existing public language, as indicated by the last sentence in 257.

    Once you understand this, you might then move on toward understanding why he says at 261, that the use of "sensation" as the word for what S is, must be justified. "S" is the new word with the private referent, and "sensation" is the public word. That the thing, if there even is a thing, which is named by "S", is consistent with the criteria of "sensation", must be justified. This is how "S" might receive a place in the public language.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    I don't see how the mention of "sensations" at 243 is relevant. The words of this proposed "private language" cannot be understood by another person.Metaphysician Undercover

    You cannot ignore these parts of 243:

    But is it also conceivable that there be a language in which a person could write down or give voice to his inner experiences — his feelings, moods, and so on — for his own use? ,,,

    The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations.
    — PI 243

    You are ignoring everything here except "The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know". How can you possibly think this gives you a better understanding of the text?

    The mention of "sensations" is relevant because sensations are the basis of Wittgenstein's private language; immediate private sensations are what "the words of this language are to refer to".

    The words of this proposed "private language" cannot be understood by another person. "Sensation" is not such a word.Metaphysician Undercover

    So you do know what "sensation" means now? It's no longer ambiguous and has no meaning?

    But "S" at 258 is said to be the name of a sensation. Therefore 258 is not an example of a private language.Metaphysician Undercover

    I agree. As I said, he tries and fails to provide an example of a private language according to the description he gives at 243 which includes the word "sensations".

    The description, or definition, of "private language", is not itself a private language.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is new. Who said that it was?

    So "sensation" might be used in the definition of a private language, but since it is a publicly understood word, it cannot be part of a private language. This is very simple. Do you understand this?Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes.

    "S" is the new word with the private referent, and "sensation" is the public word. That the thing, if there even is a thing, which is named by "S", is consistent with the criteria of "sensation", must be justified.Metaphysician Undercover

    Why is it only the word "sensation" that requires justification at 258? Why not all the other words too? What makes this word so special? Does the "sensation" at 243 also require justification? And what is this process of justification? How are these words justified? Please answer these questions to help support your argument.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    You cannot ignore these parts of 243:Luke

    I don't see your argument. A private language is a language in which a person speaks about one's inner sensations, and no one else can understand the words (243). At 258 is given an example of the naming of an inner sensation in which we have the ability to understand the name, as the name of a sensation. You seem to conclude that since they both concern inner sensations, the latter is a private language.

    It's ironic how we've changed positions. I spent days arguing that we cannot know exactly what "S" refers to because of ambiguity (we can't understand the meaning of S), while you argued that we can understand what S signifies, a sensation. Now you're saying that this is an example of a private language. If this is the case, then you must concur that we cannot understand the meaning of S, as indicated by the description, or definition of "private language".

    The difference between us, is that I attribute the inability to understand "S" to intentional ambiguity by the author, and you seem to think that this is because it is supposed to be a private language. We could discuss whether intentional ambiguity constituted a private language, to see if there is consistency between us, but we wouldn't get far. With intentional ambiguity the words cannot be understood by others, as required for a private language, but they do not refer to private sensations. As I explained earlier, with intentional ambiguity the word has no proper referent, its meaning is ambiguous.

    To have a private language, as defined, both conditions, must be fulfilled, reference to inner sensations, and impossible for others to understand..

    You are ignoring everything here except "The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know". How can you possibly think this gives you a better understanding of the text?Luke

    I'm not ignoring it, I'm just pointing out the insufficiency to you. It's basic logic. If a definition stipulates two requirements, then fulfilling one of the requirements is insufficient for designating that the thing meets the conditions of the definition.

    I agree. As I said, he tries and fails to provide an example of a private language according to the description he gives at 243 which includes the word "sensations".Luke

    You continue to refuse to consider the immediate context of the example. As I've explained already, 257 makes it very clear that he is not trying to provide an example of a private language with the first person perspective laid out at 258. The existence of the grammar of the word "sensation" is presupposed, and it acts as a post where the new word "S" is stationed. That's made very clear at the end of 257. Obviously this is not intended to be an example of a "private language" as defined. And, from 260 onward, when he looks at the example from the third person perspective, he discusses justifying the use of "sensation" for the positioning of the new word "S".

    You might see the mention of "private language" inserted at 259, and think that this means 258 is supposed to be an example of a private language, but this is only evidence of intentional ambiguity. Clearly Wittgenstein indicates at the end of 257, that the proposed new word "S", is given it's position relative to the grammar of "sensation". To suggest that the new word is given position according to some sort of private system of rules, directly contradicts this.

    Now, do you see what Wittgenstein intends, for us to do, in understanding, to avoid the apparent contradiction creating the appearance ambiguity at 259? We must reject the notion of private rules, as explained earlier in the text, and reject that there is even impressions of rules (259) involved here. "The balance on which impressions are weighed is not the impression of a balance". Therefore we are left to conclude that the new word "S" finds its place according to the grammar of "sensation", as described at 257. And so there is no intent that 258 is an example of a private language, because this would require that the position of S would be done through some private sort of balance. That is not the way that the example is expressed.

    Why is it only the word "sensation" that requires justification at 258? Why not all the other words too? What makes this word so special?Luke

    The use of the word "sensation" requires justification because it is the word used to describe the thing which S is directly related to, as the name of. That is the layering of reference. The diarist names something S, then tells the public that the thing named S is of the type "sensation". The diarist cannot point to the thing named by S, to show that it is an example of a sensation, demonstrating that the use of "sensation" is called for (the thing is correctly classified), so "sensation" must be justified in some other way, i.e. we turn to something independent.

    Does the "sensation" at 243 also require justification? And what is this process of justification? How are these words justified? Please answer these questions to help support your argument.Luke

    Justification of such words is done through reference to something independent, as explained by Wittgenstein. This is actually quite similar to scientists making revelations about things which cannot be directly observed. These things are in a sense "private", as not directly revealed to to the senses of any human being. They are as the religious would say, private to God Himself. Through hypothesis, the scientist will name such unrevealed things. giving the newly named things contextual position by means of the grammar of the words of the hypothesis. The name of the thing is positioned within a conceptual structure of other known names. Then the hypothesis, that the newly named thing deserves that contextual position which it is given, must be justified through independent experimentation.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    I'm not ignoring it, I'm just pointing out the insufficiency to you.Metaphysician Undercover

    What insufficiency? You said in your previous post "I don't see how the mention of "sensations" at 243 is relevant". Now you claim to be "pointing out the insufficiency"? Rubbish.

    I spent days arguing that we cannot know exactly what "S" refers to because of ambiguityMetaphysician Undercover

    This is a lie. You spent days arguing that the meaning of "sensation" is ambiguous, not that "S" is ambiguous.

    It's basic logic. If a definition stipulates two requirements, then fulfilling one of the requirements is insufficient for designating that the thing meets the conditions of the definition.Metaphysician Undercover

    There are not two conditions.

    When he says "The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know", the word "this" is indicative of the language he mentioned earlier, namely: "a language in which a person could write down or give voice to his inner experiences — his feelings, moods, and so on — for his own use".

    Your attempt to recast your ignorance of the text as "basic logic" is a sham. You clearly don't accept Wittgenstein's description of a private language, however you refuse to provide your own.

    If this is the case, then you must concur that we cannot understand the meaning of S, as indicated by the description, or definition of "private language.Metaphysician Undercover

    I did say that:

    We don't know what "S" refers to, so how is it not private?Luke

    You responded:

    It's not private because we have a public word which refers to the thing named "S", it is "sensation".Metaphysician Undercover

    You don't concur with yourself.



    You are no longer talking about Wittgenstein's private language argument, and it is obvious now that you never were, because you don't understand it. All you have is misplaced condescension. I have wasted too much time already trying to help you understand it. Since you are not actually discussing Wittgenstein's PLA, there's little point in continuing. I'll leave the following quotes here for the sake of anyone else who might accidentally take you seriously. They're not aimed at your reading level, because you fail to notice even the relevance of the word "sensations" at 243.

    Imagine that one wants to keep a diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation. This is, after all, something one might well want to do, perhaps for the sake of recollection in tranquillity (MS 116, 136) or for medical purposes (MS 119, 132v). And it is certainly something we can do. But now suppose that we conceive of doing so in accordance with the model of the putative ‘private’ language. So we think that to do so, one must associate the sensation with a sign, say ‘S’, and then simply write ‘S’ down on a calendar whenever one has a sensation. To show the incoherence of this conception is the purpose of §§258 — Baker and Hacker exegesis of §258

    On this latter reading, §§258 and 270, for example, are attempts to give the interlocutor [i.e. the private language advocate] what he says he wants, but which, in the end, amount to nothing (in the case of 258) ...

    However, to investigate the possibility of the imagined diary case by exploring it from the inside (the only way, he thinks, really to expose the confusions involved) requires him to use certain words when it is just the right to use these words which is in question. Thus he is forced to mention in §258 examples like ostensive definition, concentrating the attention, speaking, writing, remembering, believing and so on, in the very process of suggesting that none of these can really occur in the situation under consideration (§261).
    — SEP article 'Private Language'
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    There are not two conditions.

    When he says "The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know", the word "this" is indicative of the language he mentioned earlier, namely: "a language in which a person could write down or give voice to his inner experiences — his feelings, moods, and so on — for his own use".
    Luke

    Luke, think about what "only the speaker can know" means. If I talk about my pains, can you know what I'm talking about? Of course you can. Then I am not using a private language, despite talking about my inner feelings. Therefore, the conditions for being a "private language" must be more than just a language about one's inner feelings. The second condition is that only the speaker can know what the words refer to. Obviously this second condition is not fulfilled when "S" is described as a "sensation". This is because "the existence of the grammar of the word...[sensation]... shews the post where the new word...(S).. is stationed." (257).

    Describing S as a "sensation", "a word of our common language" (261), so that we can all know what "S" refers to, negates the possibility that the demonstration is intended as an example of a private language, as defined.

    All you have is misplaced condescension.Luke

    My condescension is aimed only at those who assume to have a thorough understanding of what Wittgenstein has demonstrated when they obviously do not. I don't think that's misplaced when directed toward you.
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