• Tom Storm
    8.4k
    I am just pointing out that concepts like certainty and knowledge, as products of discursively formed social practices, differ in their meaning from era to era and culture to culture. Foucault performed an archeological analysis of such notions over the past millennium in the West to demonstrate that the very sense , value and use of terms like certainty and knowledge changed significantly from the Classical to the Modern period, across all modes of culture. So claiming that the desire for certainty is ancient is like saying that the desire for Romantic love is ancient, which is to confuse what is universal and transparent with what is culturally and historically contingent.

    If there is any motive which transcends the locality of cultural eras, I suggest it is the need for intelligibility. We have always striven to make sense of each other and our world, and we do this by constructing through joint action shared systems of intelligibility. At a number of points in the course of cultural history, certain senses of the concept ( or family of concepts) of certainty were co-constructed. It was a means to an end; the means was the use of the term certainty and the end was the aim of making the world intelligible.

    I think Wittgenstein’s focus on the desire for certainty resonates best in the context of the still-dominant influence of Enlightenment tropes of Truth. In poststructuralist and other postmodern forms of discourse, the idea of certainty is no longer considered useful. This is not due to a repression of the desire for it, but because the concept has lost its intelligibility.
    Joshs

    That's beautifully expressed. Probably belongs in the Certainty thread too.
  • Joshs
    5.2k
    That's beautifully expressed. Probably belongs in the Certainty thread tooTom Storm

    I Certainly hope so
  • schopenhauer1
    10k

    I was reacting more to his not having a justification. Not sure I’m convinced about the realism implication. More this:
    He asks endless questions without trying to draw these together into a comprehensive answer. In fact, he seems proud that he makes no attempt at theorising. Perhaps it is no surprise there is so much misunderstanding surrounding his worksRussellA

    Even if I had credentials as a fully academic professor of philosophy…writing on an obtuse style..well I gave my answer. I dont care what ethos you give it (But he’s the great X!).

    I rather read a clear wrong philosopher than an obtuse can never be wrong one.
  • Banno
    23.4k
    In fact, he seems proud that he makes no attempt at theorising.RussellA
    Wittgenstein's work shows the poverty of what is here being called "theorising". There's something oddly obtuse in denouncing him for not doing something that he has shown to be an error.
  • Sam26
    2.5k
    What twaddle.Banno

    What shit is more like it.
  • schopenhauer1
    10k
    shown to be an error.Banno


    What pray tell is the error he has shown? Neither his language games argument nor his "silence" argument (from Tractatus), necessarily precludes providing context, connecting with other ideas, etc.

    But most importantly, he admitted so himself!

    The thoughts that I publish in what follows are the precipitate of philosophical investigations which have occupied me for the last sixteen years.
    They concern many subjects: the concepts of meaning, of understanding, of a proposition and sentence, of logic, the foundations of mathematics, states of consciousness, and other things. I have written down
    all these thoughts as remarks, short paragraphs, sometimes in longer
    chains about the same subject, sometimes jumping, in a sudden change,
    from one area to another. a Originally it was my intention to bring
    all this together in a book whose form I thought of differently at
    different times. But it seemed to me essential that in the book the thoughts
    should proceed from one subject to another in a natural, smooth
    sequence.
    After several unsuccessful attempts to weld my results together into
    such a whole, I realized that I should never succeed. The best that I
    could write would never be more than philosophical remarks; my
    thoughts soon grew feeble if I tried to force them along a single track
    against their natural inclination. —– And this was, of course, connected
    with the very nature of the investigation. For it compels us to travel
    criss-cross in every direction over a wide field of thought. —– The philosophical remarks in this book are, as it were, a number of sketches of
    landscapes which were made in the course of these long and meandering journeys.
    The same or almost the same points were always being approached
    afresh from different directions, and new sketches made. Very many of
    these were badly drawn or lacking in character, marked by all the defects
    of a weak draughtsman. And when they were rejected, a number of
    half-way decent ones were left, which then had to be arranged and often cut down, in order to give the viewer an idea of the landscape. So this
    book is really just an album
    — PI - Wittgenstein
  • schopenhauer1
    10k
    ~~Banno

    What happened? I liked the emoji :razz: !
  • schopenhauer1
    10k
    Okay, but @Banno I did admit as such that language as use can be confirmed experimentally with the bridging being a form of intentional learning, as informed by that Tomasello article:
    https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2020.0320

    So it's not like I am disagreeing per se. I certainly agree with him that the kind of formalism of Russell's enterprise was not going to work and that it was just a synthetic language game that was trying to account for an ordinary language game which is more explained by intention, etc. But I bring your attention to the questions I had for RusselA:

    As an aside I don't think Wittgenstein or Tomasello have a great theory for "self-talk". Much of our talk is just our own conversation with our self. If I make statement, "That is a rock" to myself, silently in my mind, and have no intention other than what I am seeing, and it's not done to remember something, but as some sort of habit when I see something, what intention is behind that? What use is that? There doesn't seem to be much intent or use in that kind of statement. So then does it not have meaning? It does though. That indeed is a rock. There is a correspondence there.schopenhauer1
  • Sam26
    2.5k
    What pray tell is the error he has shown? Neither his language games argument nor his "silence" argument (from Tractatus), necessarily precludes providing context, connecting with other ideas, etc.schopenhauer1

    First, I should've responded like I did. Second, I'm not sure that my disagreements are the same as @Banno's. - some probably are. Third, I'm responding to passages like the following, which seems a clear misunderstanding of Wittgenstein. I think most people who study Wittgenstein, even many who disagree with some of Witt's remarks, would find @RussellA's remarks in the following quote just wrong.

    Wittgenstein asks questions, but avoids trying to answer them
    There are two parts to my understanding of language: i) words have a use in the language game and ii) the language game has a use in the world. Wittgenstein deals with the first part, but ignores the second. Wittgenstein is like a mountaineer who buys all the ropes, crampons, thermal weatherproof clothes and tents but then never goes to the mountain, justifying himself by saying that the actual climbing of the mountain is a meaningless pursuit.
    RussellA
    .

    The idea that Wittgenstein ignores how language-games have a use in the world seems way off the mark, since he constantly talks about meaning (use) in reference to the world (including our forms of life in the world). I don't see how anyone who has read Wittgenstein can make such a statement. This isn't about some subtle disagreement, but about the meat and potatoes of the Investigations.

    I commend anyone who spends time trying to understand Witt, even when I disagree. His writing style doesn't lend itself to easy interpretations. I think the problem lies in reading too many secondary sources. Secondary sources can be a great help, but you have to read many different sources to get a good balanced understanding, and even this doesn't always help.

    One of the reasons why Witt doesn't always answer a question is that he's trying to make us think. He's not trying to avoid answering the question. I can't imagine Witt shying away from answering questions. And finally, if you understand that Witt is giving us a method of doing philosophy and not a linguistic theory, this will help steer you in the right direction. Our tendency is to look for a theory and miss the method. It's the method that is most important. This is Wittgenstein's legacy I believe.
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    Wittgenstein's work shows the poverty of what is here being called "theorising". There's something oddly obtuse in denouncing him for not doing something that he has shown to be an error.Banno

    If Wittgenstein is against theorising, then why did he write that the meaning of a word can be either i) its use in language or ii) what it points to.

    PI 43 - For a large class of cases—though not for all—in which we employ the word "meaning" it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language. And the meaning of a name is sometimes explained by pointing to its bearer.

    Or is PI 43 the interlocutor's opinion rather than Wittgenstein's?

    It gets more complicated when the Wikipedia article on Philosophical Investigations writes that in the use theory of meaning, words are not defined by reference to the objects they designate. If that is the case, then PI 43 is contradictory!
    Wittgenstein claims that the meaning of a word is based on how the word is understood within the language-game. A common summary of his argument is that meaning is used. According to the use theory of meaning, the words are not defined by reference to the objects they designate or by the mental representations one might associate with them, but by how they are used.

    It seems strange that PI 43 would be famous, yet not something that Wittgenstein actually believed in.
  • Fooloso4
    5.5k
    He asks endless questions without trying to draw these together into a comprehensive answer. In fact, he seems proud that he makes no attempt at theorising.RussellA

    The same was and is said of Socrates. The reason in both cases can be found in the preface to PI:

    I should not like my writing to spare other people the trouble of thinking.
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    The idea that Wittgenstein ignores how language-games have a use in the world seems way off the markSam26

    He does not ignore the fact that a language game has a use in the world.Fooloso4

    I agree 100% that Wittgenstein does not ignore the fact that the language game has a use in the world, such as teachers, pain, slabs, roses, shopkeepers, pupils, pillars, etc.

    Perhaps a better wording would have been: "It seems that Wittgenstein's position is that i) words have a meaning because of their use in the language game, ii) the language game has a use in the world. He seems to ignore the fact that words also have meaning because of their use in the world".

    From Wikipedia Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein is criticizing the view that the meaning of language derives from pointing out objects in the world, but rather the meaning of a word is its use in language.
    Section 43 in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations reads: "For a large class of cases—though not for all—in which we employ the word "meaning," it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language." Wittgenstein begins Philosophical Investigations with a quote from Augustine's Confessions, which represents the view that language serves to point out objects in the world and the view that he will be criticizing. The individual words in a language name objects—sentences are combinations of such names. In this picture of language, we find the roots of the following idea: Every word has a meaning. This meaning is correlated with the word. It is the object for which the word stands.

    From the IEP article on Ludwig Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein has been described as a Linguistic Idealist, where language is the ultimate reality and as an Anti-Realist, someone who cannot get outside their own language in order to compare what is in their language with what is in the world.

    Given the two sentences "the house is on the hill" and "the hill is on the house", each having a different meaning, what determines the correct sequence of words?

    I can understand Augustine's position that we can discover the correct sequence of words by observing the world, and finding a correspondence between the words and objects in the world. We observe that the house is on the hill, and therefore the proposition "the house is on the hill" is true and the proposition "the hill is on the house" is false.

    But I cannot understand the position that the meaning of a word derives from its context within the language game. How can a sentence determine the correct sequence of words within itself ?

    The same was and is said of Socrates.Fooloso4

    Perhaps one advantage of science is that it does try to answer the questions it has raised.
  • schopenhauer1
    10k
    One of the reasons why Witt doesn't always answer a question is that he's trying to make us think. He's not trying to avoid answering the question. I can't imagine Witt shying away from answering questions. And finally, if you understand that Witt is giving us a method of doing philosophy and not a linguistic theory, this will help steer you in the right direction. Our tendency is to look for a theory and miss the method. It's the method that is most important. This is Wittgenstein's legacy I believe.Sam26

    Fair enough. No doubt he runs a gamut of interesting questions. I’d just rather there be an explicitness to the kinds of things he is countering. A survey of other theories and how his own weighs against that. He’ll mention a Frege or an Augustine or a Socrates every once in a while, but not enough I think.

    Perhaps it is just my distaste for the so called “linguistic turn” where language is turned into first philosophy. I grant that his illustration of how language is constructed adds some jumping off points. I just don’t see the need to fanboy it’s a holy script.

    Our tendency is to look for a theory and miss the method. It's the method that is most important. This is Wittgenstein's legacy I believe.Sam26

    The method of asking questions and answering them in Socratic fashion? Seems to be a long tradition but he does that only about language use.

    The same was and is said of Socrates. The reason in both cases can be found in the preface to PI:

    I should not like my writing to spare other people the trouble of thinking.
    Fooloso4

    Maybe it's this presumption that I have trouble with. It makes one seem "above the fray". Come into the pig pen, my dear Witty!

    But at the same token, you are doing precisely here, what Witty himself would refuse to do (pour of other people's words) in such a devout manner.
  • Sam26
    2.5k
    Maybe it's this presumption that I have trouble with. It makes one seem "above the fray". Come into the pig pen, my dear Witty!schopenhauer1

    He's trying to get people out of the pig pen. He's trying to clarify our philosophical thinking, which is no easy task. I think Wittgenstein went off the rails a bit when it comes to what can be said, i.e., in terms of metaphysics.
  • schopenhauer1
    10k
    He's trying to get people out of the pig pen. He's trying to clarify our philosophical thinking, which is no easy task. I think Wittgenstein went off the rails a bit when it comes to what can be said, i.e., in terms of metaphysics.Sam26

    See it's that attitude bolded that rubs me the wrong way. My first reaction is, "Oh is he!" followed by "Wow Socrates, you're so clever!". What I am talking about is discussing the relevant theories at hand and comparing and contrasting and defending your position in a systemic way. This doesn't mean that you must exclude your exposition (he does that well already), just that it should be nested within a more systemic or analytic approach in order for him to not just be a prophet but a philosopher. Character of Socrates the question asker is cool, but it is Plato that we read for his system and theories, and Aristotle who we read who refute Plato and provide reasons for such, etc.
  • Sam26
    2.5k
    Why are trying to make Wittgenstein fit your idea of what should or should not be said. All your doing is inserting your subjective feelings into the conversation, as though you know best what Witt should be saying and not saying. None of us can hold a candle to his ability to think through these linguistic ideas, including many professional philosophers.
  • Paine
    2k
    From the IEP article on Ludwig Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein has been described as a Linguistic Idealist, where language is the ultimate reality and as an Anti-Realist, someone who cannot get outside their own language in order to compare what is in their language with what is in the world.RussellA

    That is precisely incorrect. Consider the following:

    182. The grammar of "to fit", "to be able", and "to understand". (Exercises: (i) When is a cylinder C said to fit into a hollow cylinder H? Only while C is stuck into H? (2) Sometimes we say that C ceased to fit into H at such-and-such a time. What criteria are used in such a case for its having happened at that time? (3) What does one regard as criteria for a body's having changed its weight at a particular time if it was not actually on the balance at that time? (4) Yesterday I knew the poem by heart; today I no longer know it. In what kind of case does it make sense to ask: "When did I stop knowing it?" (5) Someone asks
    me "Can you lift this weight?" I answer "Yes". Now he says "Do it!"—and I can't. In what kind of circumstances would it count as a justification to say "When I answered 'yes' I could do it, only now I can't"?
    The criteria which we accept for 'fitting', 'being able to', 'understanding', are much more complicated than might appear at first sight. That is, the game with these words, their employment in the linguistic intercourse that is carried on by their means, is more involved—the role of these words in our language other—than we are tempted to think.
    (This role is what we need to understand in order to resolve philosophical paradoxes. And hence definitions usually fail to resolve them; and so, a fortiori does the assertion that a word is 'indefinable'.)
    — Philosophical Investigations

    I can understand Augustine's position that we can discover the correct sequence of words by observing the world, and finding a correspondence between the words and objects in the world.RussellA

    To which Wittgenstein's first comment upon was:

    Augustine does not speak of there being any difference between kinds of word. If you describe the learning of language in this way you are, I believe, thinking primarily of nouns like "table", "chair",
    "bread", and of people's names, and only secondarily of the names of certain actions and properties; and of the remaining kinds of word as something that will take care of itself. Now think of the following use of language: I send someone shopping. I give him a slip marked "five red apples". He takes the slip to the shopkeeper, who opens the drawer marked "apples"; then he looks up the word "red" in a table and finds a colour sample opposite it; then he says the series of cardinal numbers—I assume that he knows them by heart—up to the word "five" and for each number he takes an apple of the same colour as the sample out of the drawer.——It is in this and similar ways that one operates with words.——"But how does he know where and how he is to look up the word 'red' and what he is to do with the word 'five'?"——Well, I assume that he acts as I have described. Explanations come to an end somewhere. But what is the meaning of the word "five"?—No such thing was in question here, only how the word "five" is used.
    — PI 1

    The Wiki article can be discarded at the get go.
  • schopenhauer1
    10k
    Why are trying to make Wittgenstein fit your idea of what should or should not be said. All your doing is inserting your subjective feelings into the conversation, as though you know best what Witt should be saying and not saying. None of us can hold a candle to his ability to think through these linguistic ideas, including many professional philosophers.Sam26

    I don't think you see how you sound from an outsider perspective here. You sound like because he asked a lot of questions and answered his own questions, that he has these god-like qualities.

    A lot of what he says is intuitive, but fleshed out (language is a game constructed from its usage). He gives many examples of such. Cool. But it makes not commitments really one way or the other of its own implications other than that his previous theory (and to some extent Augustine and Russell) were wrong. Well, yeah.. Interestingly, I think he did a great job taking himself to task about his own idea of "atomic facts". Why? Because in Tractatus he just started there and had no real context for it. He provided more context for it (and why it is wrong) in the PI than the Tractatus which started from this very important assumption!

    But anyways, no he doesn't have to fit my theory of how good philosophy should be written. I just question why he is to be fanboyed to death. He himself, did not do such, yet apparently he is put on a pedestal and is now thoroughly worshipped for it. It certainly gives Philosophy of Language stuff to churn over and over. As long as it is open-ended, it can never be wrong, right? So make few commitments and you can carve your name in history!
  • Sam26
    2.5k
    You seem to think that if you view Witts work as above most philosophers that it's somehow giving him godlike power. I'm just saying that his intellect IS superior to most philosophers. For me that's an objective fact. Forget philosophy and just look at his life as a whole in terms of his capabilities. It's not a matter of worshipping Witt, it's just recognizing his amazing mind. If you think otherwise that's ok too. If studying someone who you think has important things to say is fanboying, then I guess I'm guilty.
  • schopenhauer1
    10k
    If you think otherwise that's ok too. If studying someone who you think has important things to say is fanboying, then I guess I'm guilty.Sam26

    It's not even so much just fanboying. Look, I "fanboy" on Schopenhauer. Perhaps I'll start a thread on something about him shortly, even. But Schopenhauer made a lot of commitments in his works, that can be criticized and compared one way or the other. Schopenhauer himself put his theories in context to other philosophies, etc. I find much of what he writes as having some element of intangible wisdom to it. You might find the same with Wittgenstein. However, I also disagree and am critical of a lot of foundational stuff in Schopenhauer as well, whilst still being charitable to where he is coming from. I don't see that as much from the Wittgenstein fanboy crowd. So here is @RussellA who clearly has read Wittgenstein and quotes him at length, but dares to challenge him. And it seems that Wittgenstein can never do wrong with many of his defenders. I don't know, that to me goes beyond just being a fan.

    It's always "misinterpretation" because "obviously" if one read him "correctly" one would have to agree with him!
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    Sure, but what is considered "real" here? Objects only or abstracted entities (like "justice" or "compassion")? These don't exist "in the world" except as notion in people's internal cognitive understanding.schopenhauer1

    Simplifying, as I understand it, words have meaning in two ways. First, meaning by description, in the sense of Wittgenstein's use theory of meaning and second, meaning by acquaintance, in the sense of Augustine's correlation of word with object.

    As regards meaning by description, it is true that there are some words in language that don't refer to the world but do refer to other words in the same language. For example the word "unicorn" describes neither something existing in the world nor is described by its definition "a mythical animal typically represented as a horse with a single straight horn projecting from its forehead", but rather replaces the words "a mythical animal typically represented as a horse with a single straight horn projecting from its forehead".

    If every word in language gained its meaning by description, language would be self-referential and unworkable. At lest some of the words in language need to gain their meaning from a correspondence or correlation with objects or events in the world, typified by the word table and the expression pain behaviour

    What is real? The unicorn exists as a combination of words. As the words are real, does this mean that the unicorn is also real. Is a table real? The Indirect Realist would say that tables don't exist in the world, and the Direct Realist would say that tables do exist in the world. Both would agree that tables exist as concepts in the mind, but then again, are concepts real?

    One can also make the case that ChatGPT is an extension of one's own intent.schopenhauer1

    I don't know how ChatGPT works exactly, but it seems to use statistical mapping. The parts may be copied from existing authored sources, and thereby have intentional content, but the parts may be combined statistically using historical data, which has no intentional content.

    For example, Harry Guinness in the article How Does ChatGPT work?, gives his own example
    Harry Guinness is a freelance writer and journalist based in Ireland. He has written for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and Popular Mechanics. He covers topics ranging from technology and photography to travel and culture.
    He notes that parts have been copied verbatim from his previous web sites, but the list of publications has been basically made up. As the New York Times and Guardian have been historically grouped together, ChatGPT had assumed because he had written for the New York Times, he had also written for the Guardian

    As the statistical nature of ChatGPT breaks any intentionality on the part of ChatGPT, it can only be the reader who can bring intentionality to the text.

    I think that the article I posited from Tomasello et al, can elucidate more on how "intentionality" and its evolution into a communal "intentionality" can help solve thisschopenhauer1

    Michael Tomasello makes the point that human culture has developed from collaboration and shared intentionality rather than individual learning alone. As a believer in Enactivism, this seems highly plausible. For example, sand dunes take their form not from the wind alone, not from the sand alone, but from a dynamic interaction between the two.
  • Fooloso4
    5.5k
    And it seems that Wittgenstein can never do wrong with many of his defenders.schopenhauer1

    I won't speak for anyone else, but as I see it, what is at issue is not agreement or disagreement but the strength of an interpretation. A problematic interpretation is problematic whether the interpreter agrees or disagrees with an author.
  • schopenhauer1
    10k
    I won't speak for anyone else, but as I see it, what is at issue is not agreement or disagreement but the strength of an interpretation. A problematic interpretation is problematic whether the interpreter agrees or disagrees with an author.Fooloso4

    Sure, and perhaps that is the case in this instance. That remains to be seen (because after all, these are two-sided interlocutors on an internet forum so we can't just assume strong incredulity means thus wrongly interpreted).

    There are two things going on here. There is really a misinterpretation and this is clearly demonstrated, or the interpretation is correct and the disagreement is over the substantive issue. But it would be a bad faith argument if all disagreements were seen to be but mere misinterpretations (indicating that true interpretation sees the clear and present truth of the substantive issue and being in accord with the prophet/philosopher).

    Even where I strongly agree with Schopenhauer, I will allow for others who read him to be wrong about their estimation of his thoughts (even if I think they interpreted right). I do not think "knowing" Schopenhauer's philosophy confers one's epistemic understanding to accord with the "truth" by way of simply understanding what he is saying.
  • Banno
    23.4k
    43. For a large class of cases of the employment of the word “mean- ing” a though not for all a this word can be explained in this way: the meaning of a word is its use in the language. |21|
    And the meaning of a name is sometimes explained by pointing to its bearer.

    If Wittgenstein is against theorising, then why did he write that the meaning of a word can be either i) its use in language or ii) what it points to.RussellA

    He clearly didn't write anything of the sort. He wrote that one of the ways in which words can be used is to point.

    The Wiki article leaves much to be desired. Check out it's history and talk. It needs attention from a dedicated team, or a specialist in the topic.
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    That is precisely incorrect. Consider the following:Paine

    PI 182. The criteria which we accept for 'fitting', 'being able to', 'understanding', are much more complicated than might appear at first sight. That is, the game with these words, their employment in the linguistic intercourse that is carried on by their means, is more involved—the role of these words in our language other—than we are tempted to think.

    Does this cylinder C fit into this cylinder H ?

    An engineer would say "Of course, I fitted it yesterday". A Professor of Linguistics would say "depends what you mean by "fit", it's a complicated question, the proper use of words, I am sure there's a definition, but we cannot depend on that, as definitions change"

    PI 182 sounds more like the anti-realist linguist than the realist engineer.

    To which Wittgenstein's first comment upon was:Paine

    PI 1 - Now think of the following use of language: I send someone shopping. I give him a slip marked "five red apples". He takes the slip to the shopkeeper.................But what is the meaning of the word "five"?—No such thing was in question here, only how the word "five" is used.

    The customer walks into the shop and presents a piece of paper with the word "apple" written on it to the shopkeeper.

    The word is meaningless to both the customer and shopkeeper, unless both the customer and shopkeeper are aware of a priori agreed rule that if someone walks into a shop with a slip of paper with a word written on it, then the shopkeeper must then go to a particular drawer that has the same word stencilled on the front of it, open the drawer, and then give to the customer whatever object there is in the drawer.

    By itself, a single word has a meaning but no use. For example, if I walked into a room and said "apple", I would be looked at as if I were mad. The listeners would know that "apple" meant a round, edible fruit produced by an apple tree, but they would see no use in my having said it.

    Similarly the word "apple" written on the slip would have a meaning but no use. It would only have a use if a priori agreed rule was in place.

    The use of the word "apple" on the slip of paper is to activate a prior agreed rule. The content of the rule is independent of the word. The rule could be to open a particular drawer, or it could equally be to make an apple pie.

    The interlocutor asks of Wittgenstein, "what is the meaning of the word "apple"", and Wittgenstein replies that the word has no meaning, it only has a use.

    But what is the word's use?

    Its use is not for the customer to be given an apple. Its use is to initiate a prior agreed rule, regardless of the consequences of the rule.

    When Wittgenstein writes that words don't have meaning but only a use, this can only be interpreted as saying that the use of words is to initiate prior agreed rules regardless of the consequences of such rules.
  • Luke
    2.6k
    When Wittgenstein writes that words don't have meaning but only a use...RussellA

    Wittgenstein never says this. He says that the meaning of the word "five" was not in question in the shopkeeper scenario; not that it has no meaning.

    Wittgenstein does not endorse but rejects the Augustinian picture of language wherein "Every word has a meaning. This meaning is correlated with the word. It is the object for which the word stands."

    At 43, he tells us that for a large class of cases, "the meaning of a word is its use in the language".

    At 1, he says that with regards to the shopkeeper's actions: "It is in this and similar ways that one operates with words." Do you think the shopkeeper was wrong to count out five red apples in response to being handed the slip of paper? Do you think that the word "five" means something else (or nothing at all) in this scenario?
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    At 43, he tells us that for a large class of cases, "the meaning of a word is its use in the language".Luke

    When Wittgenstein talks about "use", I am unclear whether he is referring to the word having a use in a sentence or the sentence having a use in the world.

    PI 43 For a large class of cases—though not for all—in which we employ the word "meaning" it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language. And the meaning of a name is sometimes explained by pointing to its bearer.

    I can read the sentence "the meaning of a word is its use in the language" in two ways:

    1) The word "five" has a meaning because it has a use within a sentence, such as "I want five apples". Even before I use the sentence "I want five apples" in the world, the word "five" has a meaning because it has a use within a sentence.

    2) The word "five" has a meaning because the sentence it is within has a use in the world. For example, my saying "I want five apples", the shopkeeper hearing me, who then starts to count out five apples. If the shopkeeper doesn't hear me, and doesn't count out five apples, then as the sentence has no use in the world, the word "five" has no meaning.

    Which reading is correct. Or is there another reading?
  • Paine
    2k
    PI 182 sounds more like the anti-realist linguist than the realist engineer.RussellA

    It is realist to the degree that W defers to the engineer as providing a clear example of the statement meaning something.
  • Fooloso4
    5.5k


    The example of the shopkeeper and the apples is in response to the picture of language as words naming objects.

    In this picture of language we find the roots of the following idea: Every word has a meaning. This meaning is correlated with the word. It is the object for which the word stands.
    (PI 1)

    Red is not the name of an object, but names the color of the apples. Five tells him how many, and is not an object either. Apple names an object, but naming apples is not what this use of language is about.

    What is the meaning of the slip of paper with the words "five red apples"? The object, the slip of paper, is not the meaning of the slip of paper. If the shopkeeper's apprentice hands him this slip of paper it might be an inventory list. If I found it I would not know what it means. I would not know what to do with in. Perhaps it is an IOU or some ingredients for a recipe.

    The sentence "I want five apples" specifies how many apples I want, but the meaning of the sentence is under determined. What it means to the shopkeeper is not what it means when I express a wish.
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