• Pussycat
    173

    So where is it that W says that we cannot know God using reason, but that we can know God experientially?
  • Fooloso4
    960
    So where is it that W says that we cannot know God using reason, but that we can know God experientially?Pussycat

    In answer to the first part of the question, once again:

    6.432
    How things are in the world is a matter of complete indifference for what is higher. God does not reveal himself in the world.
    — T

    In the Tractatus W. is almost silent about God, which of course would be expected, but there are a few statements in the Notebooks, a few of which I already pointed to can be found in an earlier post.

    Wie sich alles verhalt, ist Gott. Gott ist, wie sich alles verhalt

    God is how all things stand, how it is all related (NB 1.8.16)

    To believe in a God means to see that the facts of the world are not the end of the matter. To believe in God means to see that life has a meaning (NB 8.7.16)
    — NB

    He expresses a trust in God as a father (NB 11.6.16)

    In A Lecture on Ethics he speaks of the experience of feeling absolutely safe in which nothing can injure him regardless of what happens (Philosophical Occasions p.4)

    The meaning of life cannot be found in either the world or in the “I” but only in the relation between them.

    There are two godheads: the world and my independent “I”. (NB 8.7.16) — NB

    Although what happens in the world is independent of my will, nothing that happens in the world has any meaning independent from the will.

    Once again:

    Being happy means being in agreement with the world (NB 8.7.16)
    Living in agreement with the world is living in accord with one’s conscience, which is the voice of God.

    I am then, so to speak, in agreement with that alien will on which I appear dependent. That is to say: “I am doing the will of God” (NB 8.7.16)
    — NB
  • Pussycat
    173
    "A Lecture on Ethics", yes, I remember I linked that to Wallows a while back, I don't know what he has done with it.

    So there W closes the lecture with:

    This running against the walls of our cage is perfectly, absolutely hopeless. Ethics so far as it
    springs from the desire to say something about the ultimate meaning of life, the absolute good, the absolute valuable, can be no science. What it says does not add to our knowledge in any sense. But it is a document of a tendency in the human mind which I personally cannot help respecting deeply and I would not for my life ridicule it.

    So "does not add to our knowledge in any sense". Then why do you say that these sort of things, God etc, can be known experientially? Wittgenstein above strictly ousts knowledge away from them, why don't you?
  • Fooloso4
    960
    Ethics so far as it springs from the desire to say something ... What it says does not add to our knowledge in any sense

    In other words, as I have been saying, there is not discursive knowledge regarding the ethical.
  • Pussycat
    173
    Yes, but there is no experiential knowledge either. In fact, there is no knowledge at all about stuff like that.
  • Fooloso4
    960


    It is quite clear that there is ethical experience. One knows what it is, according to W., to be a happy man. One knows what it is to be in agreement with the world, with one's conscience, the will of God. One knows what it is for life to have value and meaning. One knows what it is to live in the eternal present. One knows the mystical (it makes itself manifest). One know how to see the world aright and what it is to see the world aright. One knows how all things stand, how it is all related, that is, God.
  • Wallows
    8.7k


    I overslept and missed the lecture.

    Where are we in the text, @Fooloso4?
  • Pussycat
    173
    God's will, yeah right!

    Anyway, you brought me W's lecture on ethics to corroborate your analysis of the Tractatus that whatever is beyond logic, language and the world is only knowable experientially and not by rational discourse, however W clearly does not attribute any knowledge and in any sense to all these experiences, as he notes at the end of his lecture. And neither is there a similar statement in the Tractatus, relating - how to call them, transcedental experiences, or even better metaphysical experiences, as you would have them - to knowledge.
  • Fooloso4
    960


    There are various forms of knowledge including things that can only be known via experience. And that is why Wittgenstein remains silent about such experiences. What he says at the end of the lecture:

    Ethics so far as it springs from the desire to say something ... What it says does not add to our knowledge in any sense

    supports that. I have highlighted "our" because this points to the difference between discursive knowledge, that is, knowledge that can be conveyed from one person to another, and what I can know only by experience.

    Your complaint is like saying that there can be no knowledge of the taste of vanilla ice cream.

    A couple of more quotes from the lecture:

    Now instead of saying “Ethics is the enquiry into what is good” I could have said Ethics is the enquiry into what is valuable, or, into what is really important, or I could have said Ethics is the enquiry
    into the meaning of life, or into what makes life worth living, or into the right way of living. I believe if you look at all these phrases you will get a rough idea as to what it is Ethics is concerned with.
    — Lecture

    Now when this is urged against me I at once see clearly, as it were in a flash of light, not only that no description that I can think of would do to describe what I mean by absolute value, but that I would reject
    every significant description that anybody could possibly suggest, ab initio, on the ground of its significance. That is to say: I see now that these nonsensical expressions were not nonsensical because I had not yet found the correct expressions, but that their nonsensicality was their very essence. For all I wanted to do with them was just to go beyond the world and that is to say beyond significant language.
    — Lecture

    The meaning and value of life are not things that can be expressed in language. I cannot know what they are based on anything you can say, but that does not mean I cannot know that life has meaning and value. It is not a criticism of either W. or my interpretation of him to point out that they do not relate to discursive knowledge, that is rather, exactly the whole point of the distinction between what can be said and what shows itself, what makes itself manifest.
  • Pussycat
    173
    And the part where he says that it is a chimaera?
  • Pussycat
    173
    I overslept and missed the lecture.Wallows

    Watch out! you will get a bad grade. :razz:
  • Pussycat
    173
    What do you think is this chimaera he is referring to?
  • Fooloso4
    960


    I have not idea what the chimaera you are referring to that you say he is referring to is. If you would like to discuss it cite in in context and tell me what you think it is.
  • Pussycat
    173
    Now perhaps some of you will agree to that and be reminded of Hamlet's words: "Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." But this again could lead to a misunderstanding. What
    Hamlet says seems to imply that good and bad, though not qualities of the world outside us, are
    attributes to our states of mind. But what I mean is that a state of mind, so far as we mean by that a
    fact which we can describe, is in no ethical sense good or bad.

    Here he is starting to attack also the "thinking" mode of being ethical, besides the "saying". For the "saying", it is clear as rain what he contends, he said it so many times over, and we discussed it as well, agreeing that what he means is that language and logic cannot capture ethics, that all ethical propositions are nonsensical, and so all ethical ideologies that have been written are in fact ethical idiotologies, with the most prominent moralists and ethicists being the most idiots of all. But this left people with believing that it's ok if we cannot speak of the ethical, because we can think of it, and also act upon this thinking, so that we can know what the right/good/ethical way to live is, and also follow it. Well here he is trying to also bring down this castle, the last fort, the last resort of the ethical man.

    And now I must say that if I contemplate what Ethics really would have to be if there were such a science, this result seems to me quite obvious. It seems to me obvious that nothing we could ever think or say should be the thing.

    So Ethics is no science for W as there is nothing to be learnt by studying it. This applies to thinking as well, not just saying: "nothing we could ever think or say should be the thing".

    And similarly the absolute good, if it is a describable state of affairs, would be one which
    everybody, independent of his tastes and inclinations, would necessarily bring about or feel guilty
    for not bringing about. And I want to say that such a state of affairs is a chimera. No state of affairs
    has, in itself, what I would like to call the coercive power of an absolute judge.

    So here comes the part about the chimera, hell, I thought he wrote it "chimaera", I like it better this way, just like I prefer daemon to demon. Anyway, he sees the "absolute right way to live life", as that being thought of or expressed by the ethical man, as a chimera. What he means by that? Let us first take what the wikipedia article is saying about the chimera: "The term "chimera" has come to describe any mythical or fictional animal with parts taken from various animals, or to describe anything composed of very disparate parts, or perceived as wildly imaginative, implausible, or dazzling. The sight of a Chimera was an omen for disaster". So by chimera he means that we, more than often, get carried away or are overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings that point us to an "absolute right road", but that this is wildly imaginative, not having anything to do reality, but rather with psychology as he contends later:

    Then what have all of us who, like myself, are still tempted to use such expressions as 'absolute good,' 'absolute value,' etc., what have we in mind and what do we try to express? Now whenever I try to make this clear to myself it is natural that I should recall cases in which I would certainly use these expressions and I am then in the situation in which you would be if, for instance, I were to give you a lecture on the psychology of pleasure.

    It is therefore when and because we feel good with ourselves, pleasurable, that ethical thinking and saying springs. But it's all purely imaginative and overwhelming. So I see here W argue in favour of amorality, just like Nietzsche, the opinion that ethics is non-existent, in thinking or in saying, in this world or beyond. And it is a contradiction in thought, or rather a paradox, if the only possibility for an ethical man would be for him to deny ethics alltogether.
  • SapereAude
    19
    I would like to jump into the reading group. About where is the group in terms of section in the text?
  • Fooloso4
    960
    Here he is starting to attack also the "thinking" mode of being ethical, besides the "saying" ... But this left people with believing that it's ok if we cannot speak of the ethical, because we can think of it, and also act upon this thinking ...Pussycat

    I don’t know who you are referring to but certainly not anyone who understands Wittgenstein. He is not “starting to attack also the ‘thinking’ mode of being ethical”. Setting the bounds of thought is fundamental to the Tractatus (see the preface, 4.113-4.114).

    Well here he is trying to also bring down this castle, the last fort, the last resort of the ethical man.Pussycat

    There never was a “thinking mode of being ethical” for W. Ethics was always beyond the bounds of what can be thought.

    You have completely missed the point. The “ethical man” has nothing to do with either what is said or thought to be ethical.

    So Ethics is no science for WPussycat

    Right. He is not attacking ethics, he is attacking the idea of a science of ethics.

    And similarly the absolute good, if it is a describable state of affairs

    The ethical cannot be found in the world. He was quite clear on this in the Tractatus. Ethics has nothing to do with states of affairs.

    And I want to say that such a state of affairs is a chimera.

    It is not ethics that is a chimera but the idea of an ethical state of affairs.

    It is therefore when and because we feel good with ourselves, pleasurable, that ethical thinking and saying springs.Pussycat

    Again, you do not understand him. See the paragraph after the one you quote:

    And there, in my case, it always happens that the idea of one particular experience presents itself to me which therefore is, in a sense, my experience par excellence and this is the reason why, in talking to you now, I will use this experience as my first and foremost example.(As I have said before, this is an entirely personal matter and others would find other examples more striking.) I will describe this experience in order, if possible, to make you recall the same or similar experiences, so that we may have a common ground for our investigation. — Lecture on Ethics

    His investigation of the ethical is to take place via personal experience. It is the common ground.

    So I see here W argue in favour of amorality, just like Nietzsche, the opinion that ethics is non-existent, in thinking or in saying, in this world or beyond.Pussycat

    Here you betray your lack of understanding not only of Wittgenstein but of Nietzsche as well. What they have in common is the fundamental importance of value and meaning for life. They differ, however, in where that is to be found. For Nietzsche it is the revaluation of values. For Wittgenstein:

    Ethics, if it is anything, is supernatural and our words will only express facts; as a teacup will only hold a teacup full of water and if I were to pour out a gallon over it. — Lecture on Ethics

    I believe the best way of describing it is to say that when I have it I wonder at the existence of the
    world. And I am then inclined to use such phrases as 'how extraordinary that anything should exist'
    or ‘how extraordinary that the world should exist.'

    I will mention another experience straight away which I also know and which others of you might
    be acquainted with: it is, what one might call, the experience of feeling absolutely safe. I mean the
    state of mind in which one is inclined to say 'I am safe, nothing can injure me whatever happens.'
    — Lecture on Ethics

    This running against the walls of our cage is perfectly, absolutely hopeless. Ethics so far as it
    springs from the desire to say something about the ultimate meaning of life, the absolute good, the
    absolute valuable, can be no science. What it says does not add to our knowledge in any sense. But
    it is a document of a tendency in the human mind which I personally cannot help respecting deeply
    and I would not for my life ridicule it.
    — Lecture on Ethics
  • Pussycat
    173
    You have completely missed the point. The “ethical man” has nothing to do with either what is said or thought to be ethical.Fooloso4

    Right, so how does this "ethical man" differ from someone that is not? If it doesn't have anything to do with whatever he says or thinks, then what else is there?
  • Pussycat
    173
    I don't think we are anywhere in particular, we are just discussing bits and pieces, here and there.
  • Fooloso4
    960
    Right, so how does this "ethical man" differ from someone that is not? If it doesn't have anything to do with whatever he says or thinks, then what else is there?Pussycat

    This has already been addressed. It is not a matter of what he says or thinks, but of what he does, how he lives.
  • Fooloso4
    960
    ↪SapereAude I don't think we are anywhere in particular, we are just discussing bits and pieces, here and there.Pussycat

    You really do have a large blind spot.
  • Fooloso4
    960
    I would like to jump into the reading group. About where is the group in terms of section in the text?SapereAude

    I have gone through the whole of the Tractatus section by section, section by section, beginning on page 12. I skipped over the parts that address formal logic and, so to speak, climbed the rungs of the latter.
  • Pussycat
    173
    This has already been addressed. It is not a matter of what he says or thinks, but of what he does, how he lives.Fooloso4

    Ok, and what he does and how he lives can be described by a very certain state of affairs, like we are watching him from afar how he goes about his own business and life, and record all his actions in our little book. But, according to W, there is no ethical state of affairs, "no absolutely right road", as he puts it. Therefore in fact, the way the ethical man lives is also nonsensical and idiotic, just like his saying or thinking, as far as he believes this to be so that is.
  • Fooloso4
    960


    With regard to actions and consequences:


    6.374
    Even if all that we wish for were to happen, still this would only be a favour granted by fate, so to speak: for there is no logical connexion between the will and the world, which would guarantee it, and the supposed physical connexion itself is surely not something that we could will.

    6.41
    The sense of the world must lie outside the world. In the world everything is as it is, and everything happens as it does happen: in it no
    value exists—and if it did exist, it would have no value.
    If there is any value that does have value, it must lie outside the whole sphere of what happens and is the case. For all that happens
    and is the case is accidental.
    What makes it non-accidental cannot lie within the world, since if it did it would itself be accidental.
    It must lie outside the world.

    6.422
    So our question about the consequences of an action must be unimportant.—At least those consequences should not be events. For there must be something right about the question we posed. There must indeed be some kind of ethical reward and ethical punishment, but they must reside in the action itself.
    (And it is also clear that the reward must be something pleasant and the punishment something unpleasant.)

    6.43
    If the good or bad exercise of the will does alter the world, it can alter only the limits of the world, not the facts—not what can be expressed by means of language.
    In short the effect must be that it becomes an altogether different world. It must, so to speak, wax and wane as a whole.
    The world of the happy man is a different one from that of the unhappy man.
    — T

    It is not the consequences of our action, which is something over which we have no control, but “good will”.

    Actions are guided by conscience:


    Being happy means being in agreement with the world (NB 8.7.16)
    Living in agreement with the world is living in accord with one’s conscience, which is the voice of God.

    I am then, so to speak, in agreement with that alien will on which I appear dependent. That is to say: “I am doing the will of God” (NB 8.7.16)
    — Notebooks
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    I just wanted to say thank you to @Fooloso4 and @Pussycat for entertaining this thread. I don't have much to say; but, thanks.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    I would like to jump into the reading group. About where is the group in terms of section in the text?SapereAude

    I figure we're kind of doing this at whim, so feel free to address any part you find confusing from the book and we will try and address things as they come along.

    Cheers.
  • Pussycat
    173
    it's good fun, ain't it?
  • Pussycat
    173
    Ah yes, the will, forgot about that one, this be the last refuge of the ethical man, well until he finds another one that is, but he is running short on options, I'll tell you that, where is he gonna run to when all options are exhausted? But what you are saying sounds very Kantian like, in fact, a prima vista, I would say it's 100% percent Kant, what do you think?
  • Fooloso4
    960
    I would say it's 100% percent Kant, what do you think?Pussycat

    No, they are fundamentally different. There is for Wittgenstein no categorical imperative.
  • unenlightened
    3.8k
    Take a break, chaps, watch a movie.

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