• Shawn
    12.6k
    This seems to be an old question that either I am unaware of has been put to rest or still lingers on after the ILP (Ideal Language Philosophy) has been trumpeted.

    What is the status of treating common sensical language as the correct interpretation as philosophy done correctly. Anyone?
  • Andrew M
    1.6k
    What is the status of treating common sensical language as the correct interpretation as philosophy done correctly. Anyone?Shawn

    Ordinary language is not the last word: in principle it can everywhere be supplemented and improved upon and superseded. Only remember, it is the first word. — J. L. Austin
  • Banno
    19.9k
    Ordinary language philosophy is an approach, a method, and so will be "correct" if it helps in sorting out a given philosophical problem. It's not so much about treating common sensical language as correct, as identifying misuses of language and bringing them back to their more common use.

    So if someone holds their hand before them and expresses doubt as to it's being real, one is entitled to ask what they mean by that doubt - are they asking if it is a fake? a hallucination? a prosthetic? The question drags the supposed argument back from the metaphysical.
  • Shawn
    12.6k
    So if someone holds their hand before them and expresses doubt as to it's being real, one is entitled to ask what they mean by that doubt - are they asking if it is a fake? a hallucination? a prosthetic? The question drags the supposed argument back from the metaphysical.Banno

    Yes, well little to argue about Moore's two hands example. In a manner, wouldn't further doubt or doubt at all beg the question or are we just being uncharitable about what our senses are telling us about the his two hands example?
  • Banno
    19.9k
    Not sure what you are asking. Roughly speaking, the ordinary language response from both Wittgenstein and Austin is that it is unreasonable to doubt that the hand before us is real.
  • Shawn
    12.6k


    If you don't mind there's some kind of issue I raised in my recent other thread that has import here if you don't mind me presenting. Such as the the rebuttals towards OLP in favor of ILP regarding the existence of entities such as Pegasus or Santa Clause. Or would you say there's no issue here at all?

    See:
    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/13691/in-what-sense-does-santa-claus-exist
  • T Clark
    10.7k
    What is the status of treating common sensical language as the correct interpretation as philosophy done correctly. Anyone?Shawn

    So if someone holds their hand before them and expresses doubt as to it's being real, one is entitled to ask what they mean by that doubt - are they asking if it is a fake? a hallucination? a prosthetic? The question drags the supposed argument back from the metaphysical.Banno

    Banno and I discussed the meaning of the word "real" in a recent thread. In that discussion, I wrote the following:

    I don’t think the idea of “real” has any meaning except in relation to the everyday world at human scale. Reality only makes sense in comparison to what humans see, hear, feel, taste, and smell in their homes, at work, hunting Mastodons, playing jai alai, or sitting on their butts drinking wine and writing about reality. Example - an apple is real.T Clark

    So I guess I would say that it's not ordinary language philosophy that is needed, it's ordinary experience philosophy. The more we talk about philosophical questions that have no relation to the way people live their lives the less value our ramblings have. That's why I hate the so-called "Trolley Problem" so much. None of the 50 or so billion people who have lived since trolleys were invented have ever found themselves in a situation like that and if humans are around for another 10,000 years, none of the billions yet unborn ever will.
  • T Clark
    10.7k
    Nice.Tom Storm

    Thank you.
  • Banno
    19.9k
    This is a case where we have learned a lot from formal languages, from the way in which first order logic clearly differentiates the existential quantifier from the domain of discourse shows up quite a few of the issues around our common use of existence. Santa can be a part of our domain of discourse, and in that regard one might say he exists, but that is not saying much more than that we talk about him. So we can say that he has a red suit and lives at the North Pole and so on, without committing to the possibility of meeting him at the pub - although we might meet someone dressed as him. but folk get tripped up over such issues, so you'll have to excuse me if I don't say much more. See What is real or this or this.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    If you don't mind there's some kind of issue I raised in my recent other thread that has import here if you don't mind me presenting. Such as the the rebuttals towards OLP in favor of ILP regarding the existence of entities such as Pegasus or Santa Clause. Or would you say there's no issue here at all?Shawn

    Excellent! @Banno, Shawn is right! ILP > OLP.
  • Richard B
    173
    I like this quote from Wittgenstein in Culture and Value, “People say again and again that philosophy doesn’t really progress, that we are still occupied with the same philosophical problems as were the Greeks. But the people who say this don’t understand why it has to be so. It is because our language has remained the same and keeps seducing us into asking the same questions. As long as there continues to be a verb ‘to be’ that looks as if it functions in the same way as ‘to eat’ and ‘to drink’, and as long as we still have the adjectives ‘identical’, ‘true’, ‘false’, ‘possible’, as long as we continue to talk of river of time, of an expanse of space, etc. etc., people will keep stumbling over the same puzzling difficulties and find themselves staring at something which no explanation seems capable of clearing up. And what’s more, this satisfies a longing for the transcendent, because in so far as people think they can see the “ limits of human understanding”, they believe of course that they can see beyond these.”
  • Pantagruel
    2.3k
    Ordinary language is essentially a kind of socio-cultural baseline. If you believe (as I do) that one aspect of philosophy is that it re-integrate specialized insights as cultural verities (which is both an ideal and a prerequisite for its most comprehensive self-perpetuation), then ordinary language is integral, although not, I would say, exclusive of more technical languages.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    The meaning of words is shown by common usage, but new meanings are possible on account of the web of possible associations between words, concepts and things within any language. The creative imagination invents new meanings by extrapolating from, and extending this web.
  • Sam26
    2.2k
    I like this quote from Wittgenstein in Culture and Value, “People say again and again that philosophy doesn’t really progress, that we are still occupied with the same philosophical problems as were the Greeks. But the people who say this don’t understand why it has to be so. It is because our language has remained the same and keeps seducing us into asking the same questions. As long as there continues to be a verb ‘to be’ that looks as if it functions in the same way as ‘to eat’ and ‘to drink’, and as long as we still have the adjectives ‘identical’, ‘true’, ‘false’, ‘possible’, as long as we continue to talk of river of time, of an expanse of space, etc. etc., people will keep stumbling over the same puzzling difficulties and find themselves staring at something which no explanation seems capable of clearing up. And what’s more, this satisfies a longing for the transcendent, because in so far as people think they can see the “ limits of human understanding”, they believe of course that they can see beyond these.”Richard B

    This is a great quote, as it points to a fundamental problem with language, i.e., that it can twist our conceptual frame of reference into tight little knots of confusion. This is true even if you think you understand Wittgenstein. The best we can hope for is to try to understand Wittgenstein's linguistic methods to untie these knots, but unfortunately, even those who have studied Wittgenstein for years can't seem to untie some of the knots. It could be argued that even Wittgenstein was confused on some level, viz., on the reach of language. I'm speaking here of the metaphysical reach of language.

    So, I agree with the above quote, until the last sentence or two. My disagreement, though, takes nothing away from his genius. It is still my opinion that if you don't at least try to understand Wittgenstein's methods, that you are doing a disservice to your own understanding of the concepts used in our philosophical discourse. The point being, you'll be more confused than you should be. Most of the discussions in forums like this reflect these linguistic confusions. In fact, most of the threads are filled with linguistic confusions, you can see it in the type of questions being asked.
  • Richard B
    173
    but unfortunately, even those who have studied Wittgenstein for years can't seem to untie some of the knots. It could be argued that even Wittgenstein was confused on some level, viz., on the reach of language.Sam26

    Yep, you can see in Wittgenstein’s writings he spent the last twenty years of his life trying to untangle the knot called Tractatus.
  • Shawn
    12.6k
    Most of the discussions in forums like this reflect these linguistic confusions.Sam26

    What kind? What methodology ought one adopt if not an ordinary language one? That's all we can default towards. So, methodological nominalism prevails, yes?
  • Sam26
    2.2k
    What kind? What methodology ought one adopt if not an ordinary language one? That's all we can default towards. So, methodological nominalism prevails, yes?Shawn

    If you're asking what kind of confusions, they're everywhere. Pick a subject, and linguistic confusions abound. pointed some out in his quote of Wittgenstein, and the PI is full of examples. Almost any discussion on the nature of truth, knowledge, belief, reality, consciousness, metaphysics, religion, atheism, etc., contain linguistic errors.

    I'm not against Wittgenstein's ordinary language methodology, i.e., if one is understanding what he means by ordinary language. It surely doesn't mean that the man on the street is necessarily speaking more precisely, although in many cases he may be. The logic of conceptual use, as seen in Wittgenstein's later philosophy is reflected in our forms of life, which tends to bring out the correct grammar (or logic) behind the use of our words/concepts. Understanding ordinary use in this sense can shed light on the nature of the correct use of words, or again, the logic that follows the history of ordinary usage. This is not as easy as one, two, three, it's extremely complex, and confusing. Note how in many threads/discussions many of the discussion break down over the use of words Even people who think they understand Wittgenstein can't sort out some of the issues (I include myself in this group). This is one of the reasons we shouldn't be so dogmatic about our particular philosophical ideas or theories. We are easily misled down this or that road.

    Because of my metaphysics I tend towards some of Plato's ideas, but this is a bit off topic. And, because of my metaphysics I believe Wittgenstein was wrong about the limits of language, not that there aren't limits, but where the limit is to be drawn. If, as I suspect, our consciousness extends into the metaphysical, then language use does also.
  • Shawn
    12.6k
    The logic of conceptual use, as seen in Wittgenstein's later philosophy is reflected in our forms of life, which tends to bring out the correct grammar (or logic) behind the use of our words/concepts.Sam26

    I side with the earlier Wittgenstein; in that he was mostly correct about logical forms instead of forms of life. Here's why, due to the logical syntax of language and grammar, we are compelled by our very own way of linguistic use to default to methodological nominalism and OLP. Yet, it's through logic that these mistakes are spotted and rooted out in our everyday ordinary language.

    This is where I believe Bergmann is correct that through logic and analysis we come to our conclusions about truth and facts. To draw a distinction between OLP and ILP in a strict manner wouldn't make sense, but I don't think that the proposal theory of language as seen through Ayer or Austin really is too myopic.
  • Shawn
    12.6k
    To draw a distinction between OLP and ILP in a strict manner wouldn't make sense, but I don't think that the proposal theory of language as seen through Ayer or Austin really is too myopicShawn

    I didn't want to edit the previous post, because this follows. However, in my opinion proposal theories of language are myopic because the suppositions and baggage of epistemic criteria utilized rely too heavily on epistemic content to dismiss. Hope that made sense.
  • Sam26
    2.2k
    There are some important ideas in the Tractatus, but Wittgenstein rejects the a priori logic behind the Tractatus in favor of a more broad view of logic. His logic in the T. is much too restrictive in terms of meaning. I'm not familiar with Bergmann. My interpretation of W. mostly came from studying and reading W., that's not to say that we can't learn from others who have studied W., we definitely can, but read broadly.
  • Shawn
    12.6k
    There are some important ideas in the Tractatus, but Wittgenstein rejects the a priori logic behind the Tractatus in favor of a more broad view of logic.Sam26

    I believe that logic was too broad. It seems as though Wittgenstein set up the cart correctly, with logical analysis behind ordinary language. Let me say this more clearly, that (and this sounds pragmaticistic) that only upon "verifying" or scrutiny of concepts and ontological placeholders, that we encounter "facts" or "truth" in our ad posteriori conclusions on common sensical propositions in the world. So, when confronted with greater examination, we resort to logic and analysis that we can derive our sound and logical conclusions based off of empirical or analytical methods.

    So, put simply, OLP comes first, and then ILP takes place upon scrutiny. I guess that's why Wittgenstein called his second book, the Philosophical Investigations, whilst relying on some form of logical analysis on forms of life within the scope of investigating their nature. Yes, and then there was Kripke.
  • Sam26
    2.2k
    I believe that logic was too broad. It seems as though Wittgenstein set up the cart correctly, with logical analysis behind ordinary languageShawn
    .

    Are you saying that Wittgenstein's restrictive logic in the Tractatus is correct, viz., that the meaning of a word is the object that it denotes. It's this restrictive logic that Wittgenstein rejects in his later philosophy. Moreover, it's clearly incorrect. There's not much dispute about it. The logic in the Tractatus breaks down the proposition into it's smallest part (names), which has a one-to-one correspondence to the smallest part of a fact (objects). It's a picture theory or truth-function theory of meaning.
  • Shawn
    12.6k
    The logic in the Tractatus breaks down the proposition into it's smallest part (names), which has a one-to-one correspondence to the smallest part of a fact (objects). It's a picture theory or truth-function theory of meaning.Sam26

    I think in terms of how Wittgenstein approached the analysis of meaning in the Tractatus is most compatible with science. Thus, (and it's only my opinion here), that the logic of the Tractatus is most in correspondence with the language of science; but, that's just my personal liking I'm disclosing here, despite what you think of the superiority of the Investigations over the Tractatus.
  • Richard B
    173
    I think in terms of how Wittgenstein approached the analysis of meaning in the Tractatus is most compatible with science. Thus, (and it's only my opinion here), that the logic of the Tractatus is most in correspondence with the language of science; but, that's just my personal liking I'm disclosing here, despite what you think of the superiority of the Investigations over the Tractatus.Shawn

    I suppose you like it but don't believe it since you continue to ignore 7. "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." Just a joke.

    And 6.53 "The correct method in philosophy would really be the following: to say nothing except what can be said, i.e. proposition of natural science..." and 6.54 "My proposition are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless..." So, you like this approach because Wittgenstein admits his words are nonsense, and through nonsense you will see the world right.

    So, his approach to meaning and the underlying structure of language is shown to be meaningless and nonsense by his approach.

    No wonder Wittgenstein spent the last twenty years untangling this approach.
  • Shawn
    12.6k
    So, his approach to meaning and the underlying structure of language is shown to be meaningless and nonsense by his approach.Richard B

    You might want to see what Frege meant by "nonsense" before reading the Tractatus. He borrows a lot of terminology from Frege and precise stipulations of it in the Tractatus.

    This might not be emphasized enough, given that when he said his propositions are nonsense only after surveying the field of natural sciences. So, you have to climb the ladder first until you see the new way of how sense and nonsense emerge or dissolve after reading the Tractatus.
  • Richard B
    173
    I guess when he spoke of “silence” he meant something else too because you still have a lot to say.
  • Shawn
    12.6k


    Ethics is not a mute field. The Tractatus was a book about ethics in large part.
  • Richard B
    173
    So, you have to climb the ladder first until you see the new way of how sense and nonsense emerge or dissolve after reading the Tractatus.Shawn

    Let us continue to see what the author had to say about his first book.

    1. In the Preface of PI, Wittgenstein says, "For since beginning to occupy myself with philosophy again, sixteen years ago, I have been forced to recognize grave mistakes in what I wrote in that first book."
    (Tractatus)

    2. PI 24 "It is interesting to compare the multiplicity of the tools in language and of the ways they are used, the multiplicity of kinds of words and sentence, with what logicians have said about the structure of language (Including the author of the Tractates Logic-Philosophicus.)"

    3. PI 114 "(Tractatus 4.5) 'The general form of propositions is This is how things are'. That is the kind of proposition that one repeats to oneself countless times. One thinks that one is tracing the outline of the thing's nature over and over again, and one merely tracing round the frame through which we look it."

    Just to list the more explicit entries.
  • Shawn
    12.6k


    I liked the Blue and Brown books more, due to elucidating the nature of this thread. Thank God people took notes during his lectures at Cambridge.
  • Sam26
    2.2k
    So, his approach to meaning and the underlying structure of language is shown to be meaningless and nonsense by his approach.Richard B

    My understanding is the following:

    He clearly says in the preface, "[T]he aim of the book is to draw a limit to thought, or rather-- not to thought, but to the expression of thoughts..." Also, "If this work has any value, it consists in two things: the first is that thoughts are expressed in it, and on this score the better the thoughts are expressed--the more the nail has been hit on the head--the greater will be its value." And finally, "...the truth [my emphasis] of the thoughts that are here communicated seems to me unassailable and definitive. I believe myself to have found, on all essential points, the final solution of the problems."

    It seems to me that Wittgenstein wanted us to view the Tractatus as any other work of philosophy (as we proceed through it), viz., that the propositions in it are "true." As one climbs the ladder with Wittgenstein, one comes to realize that the propositions in the Tractatus, as traditionally thought of, are nonsense. Why? Because in drawing a limit to thought (what can be said) we come to see that the propositions of the Tractatus have gone beyond what can be said. It's in this way, that the propositions are nonsense, they have gone into the metaphysical. So, as we take the journey with him (which is the process of showing) we come to realize that the propositions, as traditionally thought, are not true, but nonsense, because there are no facts that correspond to them. He believed, of course, that in taking this journey, we then see the world aright.

    Much of philosophy, he believed, transcends the limit of language, and is therefore meaningless in much the same way that the propositions of the Tractatus are meaningless. Even in his later philosophy he believed that such a limit existed, and that much of philosophy, was an attempt to say what cannot be said. Although, his later philosophy is broader in scope, in terms of how the logic of language determines the limits of what can be said.
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