• Fooloso4
    3.7k
    I said that his use of "ethics" at PI 77 was in a manner consistent with the views he presented in the Tractatus, which you quoted in your post just after you made this comment (see above).Luke

    Yes. We are in agreement.

    You appear to be making a distinction between "what can be shown" and "what can be seen or experienced". I consider these to be the same.Luke

    Again, we are in agreement. My comment was not directed against you but against how someone might read your question:

    Does he show it instead of say it in the PI?Luke

    They might ask you to point to where he shows it.

    Then I am unsure why you appear to be arguing against my position that ethics is not the subject of the Philosophical Investigations.Luke

    Sorry, I am not arguing against you. I was trying to work through the claim, which we both stated, that they are consistent.
  • Luke
    2.1k
    Sorry, I am not arguing against you. I was trying to work through the claim, which we both stated, that they are consistent.Fooloso4

    My apologies, @Fooloso4, I misread you as siding with the "ethical" reading of the text. I should have read you more closely.
  • Antony Nickles
    569
    You're assuming what ethics and moral philosophy looks like.
    — Antony Nickles

    Of course. So are you. We each have an understanding of the (linguistic) terms "ethics" and/or "moral philosophy".
    Luke

    I am not assuming it, I am making a claim that Witt is thinking of the moral realm as something particular, yet different. You just denied he is, without any explanation of what it's supposed to look like or include. This is not just words to me.

    And what Witt would call "morality" is when we enter an unknown situation-..." Nickles

    Do you have any textual support for this?
    Joshs

    Justifications coming to an end, rule-following and its limits, continuing a series (able to go on) or being inclined to give up on the other (student), aspect-blindness, whether we can know the other (pain, thoughts). He discusses how our ordinary criteria work, but also how they break. Instead of a moral theory or rules I can tell you, Witt is showing us that it is a moment, a crisis.

    The subject is language because it is the means by which we struggle against the bewitchment of our understanding--it is the "resource", not the cause. — Nickles

    I don't follow. Language is the means by which we struggle, but language is not the cause of our struggle?
    Joshs

    Yes. We struggle against our bewitchment (by certainty) through the method (OLP) of looking at our expressions (“language”) surrounding an example (and context) to see the variety of other workable criteria there are and to recognize our desires (for projecting criteria of certainty) and our real need (what is essential to us as evidenced by our criteria for a thing).

    Grammar is found in language use, and relates to our linguistic practices. If you are saying that these practices themselves have grammar, then I disagree.Joshs

    Most of the time there is no space between our words and our lives (as with knowledge and pain)--we have not come to a point of loss. Here, the desire for certainty forces the skeptic to remove words from their ordinary contexts and expressions, which creates the problem that they then project onto the world, as intellectual (there is something mysterious, hidden, unknowable). For example, they might say: "because agreement on ethics is not ensured, it is irrational".

    The term “use” is for the options (“senses” he will also call them) that a practice has, it’s different “possibilities”; for example: knowing your way about, knowing your phone number, knowing as acceptance, being aware—he will also umbrella it under the term “concept” (which is not in the sense of idea or “linguistic”). "Use" is not a connection between, or manipulation of, us, words, and the world. You express yourself (even if you choose the words)--as in: “I know they are in pain”--and that can then be judged (by our ordinary criteria) as: I am aware of it, rather than I am certain about their sensation. We can look and see how it is here between the two senses of the expression, its uses.

    Crystalline purity does not refer to there being only one criterion of language (as if there are many more besides this one); crystalline purity refers to the mistaken presupposition that there is a non-empirical "essence of language" that it is the philosopher's task to discover.Joshs

    I was using the term that Witt does to cover the category of criteria, as if requirements, which we are susceptible to desire (not mistake): universality, certainty, repeatability, predetermination, prediction, grounds for judgment as to right and wrong, reasons outside of our character and responsibility, only knowledge, true/false, correspondence to reality, etc. This manifests in different ways, but is basically getting our (human) messy selves out of the picture, which puts us in limbo with no ordinary criteria or context.

    ...but also that [ordinary criteria are] not an alternative or rejection [of logic or essence or ...], but the opportunity to ask: why do we do that? Is it right, good?
    — Antony Nickles

    Do you have any textual support for this?
    Joshs

    From the beginning of this post I have been arguing this. He is trying to figure out how he got into the mindset he did in the Tractatus, the motivation of the interlocutor's questions, his discussion of temptation, obsession, need, etc. Why do we want to have something private, hidden? The question is everywhere. There is not an answer "...if everything can be made out to accord with the rule, then it can also be made out to conflict with it." #201 All the examples are to get you to see yourself in him, his journey, his failings, his revelations--that philosophy has a way and its own satisfactions.

    I don't see that he is recommending that we should change, except for the way that we do philosophy and think about philosophical problems. Again, if this makes it about ethics, then every philosophical work is about ethics.Joshs

    Yes, I think Witt's work is an example that every work of philosophy is about us and the human condition--philosophy is the betterment of the self. Nietzsche and Emerson court controversy to implore us to perfect ourselves. This is the moral urgency of Socrates stopping people on the street or Marx calling for a revolution because he wanted the things that produce us to be our own. Witt is showing us that epistemology must include us (is ethical), even to see when knowledge is no longer the issue.
  • Antony Nickles
    569
    I have tended to read Antony’s interpretation of the later Wittgenstein as consonant with that of the ‘new school’.Joshs

    Categorizing each other, rather than responding to our claims and readings, diminishes our effort to personally respond to a text or discussion and learn something new or change. That said, the deepest layer of this reading (the fallout from the skeptic's desire for knowledge) comes from studying Stanley Cavell, who I would say, more than anyone, carries the flag for modern OLP and yet still marches to the beat of his own drum (his interests in philososphy).
  • Luke
    2.1k
    I am not assuming it, I am making a claim that Witt is thinking of the moral realm as something particular, yet different. You just denied he is, without any explanation of what it's supposed to look like or include.Antony Nickles

    I could provide a dictionary definition if you like, to show how people typically use these terms:

    Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior". The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matters of value; these fields comprise the branch of philosophy called axiology.

    Ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. As a field of intellectual inquiry, moral philosophy is related to the fields of moral psychology, descriptive ethics, and value theory.
    Wikipedia

    I would say that Wittgenstein speaks of right and wrong behaviour, but only as it relates to language use, or that he discusses the philosophical misconceptions we have about language and meaning. However, you seem to be suggesting that Wittgenstein is talking about more than just language use and meaning, and that he is referring to right and wrong behaviour more generally. This is where I disagree with you.

    And what Witt would call "morality" is when we enter an unknown situation-..." Nickles

    Do you have any textual support for this?
    — Joshs

    Justifications coming to an end, rule-following and its limits, continuing a series (able to go on) or being inclined to give up on the other (student), aspect-blindness, whether we can know the other (pain, thoughts). He discusses how our ordinary criteria work, but also how they break. Instead of a moral theory or rules I can tell you, Witt is showing us that it is a moment, a crisis.
    Antony Nickles

    1. Where is your textual support that this is "what Witt would call "morality""? Where does he call this
    "morality" in the text? I think you are seeing something that isn't there.

    b. I just wanted to note that you attributed this quote and the ones that follow to @Joshs instead of to me, for some reason.

    Fourthly, I don't read it this way at all. These are not examples of "when we enter an unknown situation"; or, at least, that is not what Wittgenstein is talking about in those examples.

    When he comes to the end of his justifications, then his "spade is turned" and he has stopped digging. There is nothing more he can do in terms of explaining or justifying why he follows the rule as he does; that is just how he does it. This is his response to the sceptic's unreasonable demands for further justification - at some point there is just how we act. It is not that W's justifications or what he does are unknown, and neither is it the beginning of some unknown situation (except only, perhaps, for the misguided sceptic).

    "One might for example suppose that he has read sceptical philosophers, become convinced that one can know nothing, and that is why he has adopted this way of speaking. Once we are used to it, it does not infect practice." (OC 517)

    Regarding "rule-following and its limits":

    "there is a way of grasping a rule which is not an interpretation, but which, from case to case of application, is exhibited in what we call “following the rule” and “going against it”." (201)

    Again, there is no unknown here. Of course, there may be borderline cases of rules, just as there can be "blurred concepts" (71), but this does not make them any less the rules that they are. A rule might have blurred edges, but it can be more clearly defined if necessary, just like the definition of the word "game" at 68-69: "Is it just that we can’t tell others exactly what a game is? — But this is not ignorance. 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!" The rules can still be followed or not followed despite being "not everywhere bounded". And I know that you want to focus (or believe that W's focus is) on those situations which might call for a change to the rules or the institution of new rules, but in those cases - until the new rules have been decided upon - we are no longer talking about rule-following.

    Regarding "continuing a series (able to go on) or being inclined to give up on the other (student)", where does Wittgenstein talk about how we ethically treat the student that we give up on? Most of this section attempts to disrupt the picture of understanding as a mental process: "Just for once, don’t think of understanding as a ‘mental process’ at all! — For that is the way of talking which confuses you. Instead, ask yourself: in what sort of case, in what kind of circumstances, do we say “Now I know how to go on”? I mean, if the formula has occurred to me.—" (154)

    Regarding "whether we can know the other (pain, thoughts)", of course we can, because the words "pain" and "thoughts" do not have private meanings. "If we are using the word “know” as it is normally used (and how else are we to use it?), then other people very often know if I’m in pain." (246) However, as elsewhere, this is not about ethics irrespective of language.

    He discusses how our ordinary criteria work, but also how they break. Instead of a moral theory or rules I can tell you, Witt is showing us that it is a moment, a crisis.Antony Nickles

    When he shows how they break, or how they have blurred edges and indeterminate borders, it is usually to demonstrate that those criteria are still usable and that the demand for perfection or determinacy is unreasonable, rather than to open the discussion of "what happens next?"

    "100. “Still, it isn’t a game at all, if there is some vagueness in the rules.” But is it really not a game, then? — “Well, perhaps you’ll call it a game, but at any rate it isn’t a perfect game.” This means: then it has been contaminated, and what I am interested in now is what it was that was contaminated. — But I want to say: we misunderstand the role played by the ideal in our language. That is to say: we too would call it a game, only we are dazzled by the ideal, and therefore fail to see the actual application of the word “game” clearly."

    Most of the time there is no space between our words and our lives (as with knowledge and pain)--we have not come to a point of loss. Here, the desire for certainty forces the skeptic to remove words from their ordinary contexts and expressions, which creates the problem that they then project onto the world, as intellectual (there is something mysterious, hidden, unknowable). For example, they might say: "because agreement on ethics is not ensured, it is irrational".Antony Nickles

    Yes, I agree. I only disagree with you where you seem to claim that our practices have grammar independently or irrespective of our language use.

    From the beginning of this post I have been arguing this. He is trying to figure out how he got into the mindset he did in the Tractatus, the motivation of the interlocutor's questions, his discussion of temptation, obsession, need, etc. Why do we want to have something private, hidden? The question is everywhere. There is not an answer "...if everything can be made out to accord with the rule, then it can also be made out to conflict with it."Antony Nickles

    I don't believe that Wittgenstein is simply asking himself why he has, or had, these philosophical tendencies. I believe he has figured out how he got into the mindset that he did in the Tractatus and he attempts to show those still in that mindset the way out. I don't believe that we want to have something private, hidden - that is simply the misconception of meaning and understanding that philosophers had inherited.

    "All this, however, can appear in the right light only when one has attained greater clarity about the concepts of understanding, meaning something, and thinking. For it will then also become clear what may mislead us (and did mislead me) into thinking that if anyone utters a sentence and means or understands it, he is thereby operating a calculus according to definite rules." (88)
  • Antony Nickles
    569
    I could provide a dictionary definition if you like, to show how people typically use these terms [morality and ethics]:

    "Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior".
    Luke

    Witt is looking at how our practices work and break down, including why we abandon our ordinary criteria. The approach above is caught in the trap Witt is diagnosing: thinking we can have a defendable system of how to pre-judge behavior.

    "[Axiology] concerns matters of value"Luke
    As opposed to matters of fact, or logic. Welcome to the Tractatus. Once again, Wikipedia fails.[/quote] I would think with your adamant denial you would have your own thoughts on this issue.

    Where does he call [loss of direction] "morality" in the text? I think you are seeing something that isn't there.Luke

    Again, Witt is not spelling it out for you. He is pointing in a direction and requires you to pick up the thread, the examples, the questions. Most times our actions don't require philosophy. When they do, our conceptual investigation shows us what our interests are in others pain, following rules, justification, etc. Just as Plato would think we knew what virtue was, but then tear it apart to learn more about it.

    When he comes to the end of his justifications, then his "spade is turned" and he has stopped digging. There is nothing more he can do in terms of explaining or justifying why he follows the rule as he does;Luke

    We are inclined to say this to the student. We do not have to; it does not show that our action is our explanation. What it demonstrates is that the relationship between the student and teacher is more important than justifying the explaination. We can simply judge the student as wrong and stop the conversation, or start again, ask more questions, move to other examples, etc. The skeptic assails us with questions and doubts; Witt is trying to give them reasons in order to understand how to continue with them, with that part of them in us.

    I don't believe that we want to have something private, hidden - that is simply the misconception of meaning and understanding that philosophers had inherited.Luke

    You've called the skeptic (the interlocutor) unreasonable and say they have simply misconceived how language is used. But the book is an investigation of why we want to flee from our ordinary criteria, why regular humans would rather know the other rather than be bound to their claim on us. He takes skepticism seriously as an ongoing threat to our ability to remain responsible (morally) to what we have said and done.

    You seem hell-bent on maintaining your position, with little interest in understanding what I am saying about the matter at hand (explanation vs description, the hidden). I don't believe I have anything I could say that would satisfy your vague objection that grammar is literally about how to use words, rather than showing us something about the world, and thus, ourselves.
  • Luke
    2.1k
    Witt is looking at how our practices work and break down, including why we abandon our ordinary criteria. The approach above is caught in the trap Witt is diagnosing: thinking we can have a defendable system of how to pre-judge behavior.Antony Nickles

    Please point me to where he says anything about "why we abandon our ordinary criteria" or about "thinking we can have a defendable system of how to pre-judge behaviour".

    As opposed to matters of fact, or logic. Welcome to the Tractatus. Once again, Wikipedia fails. I would think with your adamant denial you would have your own thoughts on this issue.Antony Nickles

    I don't understand what you're saying here; I thought we were talking about PI. All I've done is to provide a definition to show how the terms "ethics" or "moral philosophy" are commonly used and understood. You are the one saying that Wittgenstein considers ethics and/or "the moral realm" as "something particular, yet different". I don't have many thoughts on this issue, because I don't consider the PI to be about ethics. You still need to demonstrate not only that the PI is focused on ethics, but also how Wittgenstein's ethics is "particular, yet different" to ethics as it is typically conceived.

    Most times our actions don't require philosophy.Antony Nickles

    We seem to have different conceptions of philosophy. I see the PI as a response to those philosophers who came before him, in the academic discipline of philosophy that dates back to before Plato. You seem to consider philosophy as something that is required only when we do not know how to go on?

    When they do, our conceptual investigation shows us what our interests are in others pain, following rules, justification, etc. Just as Plato would think we knew what virtue was, but then tear it apart to learn more about it.Antony Nickles

    Wittgenstein does not "tear apart" our concepts. Instead, he gets us to reconsider how words get their meanings, and instructs us to look at how words are actually used. His interest in the use of concepts helps to dispel the myth that the words "pain", "understanding", "meaning", etc., are used to refer only (or at all) to mental processes. That is what I consider the PI to be about.

    What it demonstrates is that the relationship between the student and teacher is more important than justifying the explaination. We can simply judge the student as wrong and stop the conversation, or start again, ask more questions, move to other examples, etc.Antony Nickles

    Sure, we can do all those things, but where does Wittgenstein indicate that this is his main concern (or even one of his concerns) in the text?

    You seem hell-bent on maintaining your position, with little interest in understanding what I am saying about the matter at hand (explanation vs description, the hidden). I don't believe I have anything I could say that would satisfy your vague objection that grammar is literally about how to use words, rather than showing us something about the world, and thus, ourselves.Antony Nickles

    And you have not addressed any of my objections or the alternative readings of the text that I have offered, which I supported with quotes.
  • Joshs
    4k




    Regarding "rule-following and its limits":

    "there is a way of grasping a rule which is not an interpretation, but which, from case to case of application, is exhibited in what we call “following the rule” and “going against it”." (201)

    Again, there is no unknown here. Of course, there may be borderline cases of rules, just as there can be "blurred concepts" (71), but this does not make them any less the rules that they are
    Luke

    You and I had a discussion about a year ago concerning the relation for Witt between a rule and the use of a rule.
    I suggested that you stand on one side of a rift between Wittgenstein interpreters who support Hacker’s understanding of this issue and those , like the later Baker , Cavell, Conant, Hutchinson and Rouse, who reject it. I think this rift colors your debate with Antony concerning the ethical in Wittgenstein’s thinking.


    What Rouse had to say concerning
    “Wittgenstein's well-known remark that requests for justification of a practice must eventually en-counter a stopping point at which one can only say, "This is what we do" (1953, par. 217), supports Antony’s contention concerning the creative, enactive, and, yes, ethical reaponsivity of language use.

    When he comes to the end of his justifications, then his "spade is turned" and he has stopped digging. There is nothing more he can do in terms of explaining or justifying why he follows the rule as he does; that is just how he does it. This is his response to the sceptic's unreasonable demands for further justification - at some point there is just how we act. It is not that W's justifications or what he does are unknown, and neither is it the beginning of some unknown situation (except only, perhaps, for the misguided sceptic)Luke

    We are inclined to say this to the student. We do not have to; it does not show that our action is our explanation. What it demonstrates is that the relationship between the student and teacher is more important than justifying the explaination. We can simply judge the student as wrong and stop the conversation, or start again, ask more questions, move to other examples, etc. The skeptic assails us with questions and doubts; Witt is trying to give them reasons in order to understand how to continue with them, with that part of them in us.Antony Nickles


    “Wittgenstein is often read as appealing to a social regularity, but his remark can instead be heard with the inflection with which a parent tells a child, "We don't hit other children, do we?"

    Such statements or rhetorical questions do not describe regularities in children's actual behavior. On the contrary, parents make such comments precisely because children do hit one another. Parents do so, however, in response to or anticipation of such "deviant" behavior in order to hold it accountable to correction. Children's behavior in turn is only partially accommodating to such correction: sometimes obeying, sometimes challenging or circumventing corrective responses, some-times disobeying and facing further consequences, and so forth.

    Remember that we cannot appeal to social regularities or collectively presupposed norms within a practice: there are no such things, I have argued, but more important, if there were they would not thereby legitimately bind us. Any regularities in what practitioners have previously done does not thereby have any authority to bind subsequent performances to the same regularities. The familiar Wittgensteinian paradoxes about rule following similarly block any institution of norms merely by invocation of a rule, since no rule can specify its correct application to future instances (Wittgenstein 1953). Practices should instead be understood as comprising performances that are mutually interactive in partially shared circumstances.”(Rouse)
  • Luke
    2.1k
    You and I had a discussion about a year ago concerning the relation for Witt between a rule and the use of a rule.
    I suggested that you stand on one side of a rift between Wittgenstein interpreters who support Hacker’s understanding of this issue and those , like the later Baker , Cavell, Conant, Hutchinson and Rouse, who reject it. I think this rift colors your debate with Antony concerning the ethical in Wittgenstein’s thinking.
    Joshs

    Okay, then I guess it “colours” your position, too. That says little more than that we disagree.

    What Rouse had to say concerning
    “Wittgenstein's well-known remark that requests for justification of a practice must eventually en-counter a stopping point at which one can only say, "This is what we do" (1953, par. 217), supports Antony’s contention concerning the creative, enactive, and, yes, ethical reaponsivity of language use.
    Joshs

    I’ve already provided a response stating why I disagree.

    Remember that we cannot appeal to social regularities or collectively presupposed norms within a practice: there are no such things, I have argued, but more important, if there were they would not thereby legitimately bind us.Joshs

    What work is “legitimately” doing here? That social norms do not force us to behave in certain ways? Of course not. Why do you or Rouse expect them to?

    Any regularities in what practitioners have previously done does not thereby have any authority to bind subsequent performances to the same regularities.Joshs

    Sure, there is nothing compelling people to follow social norms, but most people do anyway. That’s what makes them social norms.

    The familiar Wittgensteinian paradoxes about rule following similarly block any institution of norms merely by invocation of a rule, since no rule can specify its correct application to future instances (Wittgenstein 1953).Joshs

    Nonsense. "…there is a way of grasping a rule which is not an interpretation, but which, from case to case of application, is exhibited in what we call “following the rule” and “going against it”." (201)

    The “correct application to future instances” is exhibited by following the rule. At the very least, this is what Wittgenstein says.

    Practices should instead be understood as comprising performances that are mutually interactive in partially shared circumstances.”(Rouse)Joshs

    Wittgenstein is not discussing “practices”, or how social norms develop or are maintained; he is discussing rule following.
  • Antony Nickles
    569
    His interest in the use of concepts helps to dispel the myth that the words "pain", "understanding", "meaning", etc., are used to refer only (or at all) to mental processes. That is what I consider the PI to be aboutLuke

    I'm not arguing against this; the picture of mental processes is of the kind of "hidden" thing under discussion here (one example among others like rules, meaning, essence, knowledge, etc.) I am merely claiming that Wittgenstein goes further to find out why we project these myths and that that cause is not dispelled in a generalized way for all time.
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