• Posty McPostface
    5.6k
    Yeah, I'd say that of course the external world exists. My point is maybe that it doesn't exist as a theoretical object.macrosoft

    But, according to the totality of things being facts, then all we have are symbols, models, and theories which we can devise about the world.
  • macrosoft
    381
    But, according to the totality of things being facts, then all we have are symbols, models, and theories which we can devise about the world.Posty McPostface

    That's why I object to the world as the totality of facts if/when these 'facts' are understood as explicit propositions, etc. Exactly because I don't check and see if I have hands, and also what it is to drink coffee with those hands doesn't fit all that nicely under the word 'fact' or 'symbol' or 'model' or 'theory.' Is the experience of taking a hot bath on a cold day a fact? Is a smile from a girl who thinks you're clever a fact? That she smiled may be, but not the smile itself or the way it made you feel.

    It seems to me that early Wittgenstein was especially concerned with the theoretical gaze. But this is a secondary feature of reality, merely one mode of being and language game among others. To talk about reality as a whole merely from a contemplation of man as the scientist is like talking about the beach and only mentioning the sand --and not the girls in bikinis or the sun and the breeze, etc.
  • Posty McPostface
    5.6k


    I agree with most of what you have said. I don't think fact making is really a big issue then. Or how do facts obtain in reality?
  • macrosoft
    381
    I agree with most of what you have said. I don't think fact making is really a big issue then. Or how do facts obtain in reality?Posty McPostface

    It's hard to know how to approach a question at that level of generality. I will say that I think life is ultimately mysterious. We understand things without understanding how we understand them. We learn how to use words like 'facts' in all kinds of particular contexts. Somehow things tend to go smoothly. People work together and build machines that fly through the air, without ever conclusively grounding science or solving the classic philosophical problems. Time hurtles on. Some of us use our free time to try and get clear about fundamental things. Some of us do manage to get clearer on this or that issue, perhaps by finally confessing a fundamental unclarity in our foundations (my approach.)
  • Posty McPostface
    5.6k


    Interesting. What do you have to say about Wittgenstein's flawed approach in the Tractatus?
  • macrosoft
    381
    Interesting. What do you have to say about Wittgenstein's flawed approach in the Tractatus?Posty McPostface

    I still like the TLP, so I just think it has its blindspots. And I haven't re-read it for a long time, so I am just informally gossiping about what it meant and means to me. What I have been trying to say in various ways is that language is not how philosophers often want it to be. IMV, this becomes 'obvious' if one really looks at it with fresh eyes.

    The form of the TLP hints at a certain approach to philosophy. It's a spiderweb, with everything in its place. It attempts to nail certain words to certain meanings, so that it can run its strings from this essence to that essence. But this is an artificial approach that fundamentally misgrasps its object, which I think the later Wittgensein would agree with, though I don't appeal to him as an authority. The only authority is introspection and paying attention to how language is for us. [And why this is hard to do is because we are locked into a certain method that we haven't really consciously adopted. It is the water in which we swim, almost invisible to us.]
  • Posty McPostface
    5.6k


    The Tractatus was a good work.

    What are your thoughts about solipsism?
  • macrosoft
    381
    The Tractatus was a good work.Posty McPostface

    I agree. It's a masterpiece. The tension between its motive and its form is endlessly fascinating. It's a young man's book, a radical book, an arrow aimed at God.

    What are your thoughts about solipsism?Posty McPostface

    It doesn't really make sense. We are so deeply in a world with others that solipsism is like origami that we fold for others in the first place.

    We might say that the sincere pessimist is a suicide and that the sincere solipsist is a madman. Of course I am not using 'sincere' technically or scientifically but expressing my own personality or grasp of the situation here.
  • Banno
    3.5k
    By the fact that understanding and communication do not at all work via literally sharing meanings.Terrapin Station

    So you and I cannot possibly mean the same thing when we each say "Paris is the capital of France"?
  • Terrapin Station
    4.3k
    Then how do they work?Posty McPostface

    So, in a nutshell, communication obtains when multiple parties interact (not necessarily in real time or directly, and when separated in time, the multiple parties can be two temporal instances of the same person) in a way involving understanding.

    Understanding obtains when one assigns meanings to objects, actions or events in a way that is coherent and consistent to one and that also makes sense in the context of both future and past related objects, actions and events, especially those (one considers) related to the objects, actions or events in question.

    Mutual understanding obtains when multiple parties do this in conjunction with each other, so that if there are two parties, say A and B, A is in the state in the paragraph above with respect to B, and B is in the state described in the paragraph above with respect to A.

    Note that this does not imply that A and B have similar content to their states. Since meaning is subjective and inherently first-person in my view, we can never know whether A and B have similar content to their states.
  • Terrapin Station
    4.3k
    IMO, it's very tempting to understand an 'ordinary language' position in terms of an ought. And in some cases an ought may come along for the ride. But for me any kind of ought is secondary. I'm trying to describe what is, as I experience it. The 'way most people talk about something' is the metalanguage withing which we construct our ideal object languages (AKA says what counts as real). For the most part, these object languages are the concern of a few experts, academics or in-their-free-time, who largely see themselves as talking about what is really real and yet don't change their actions in the world significantly with the rise or the fall of a thesis. Do I see the tree? Or do I see my seeing of the tree? Either way I swerve my car to miss it, or I swerve my seeing of the car to miss the seeing of the tree. (My tiny ought sneaks in here as a preference for the simpler expression, but I understand why others emphasize mediation at the expense of style.)

    Don't get me wrong. I think meanings are important, even if they don't change our actions. Maybe they make us happier to do the things we were going to do anyway. The 'value' of life is maybe mostly in the so-called subjective realm. A person might be happy in a clam living in a single-wide trailer, smoking weed, and misreading Hegel on the typewriter. (That's not me, but I can think of far worse fates.)
    macrosoft

    I don't understand your answer at all. You brought up that how most people use language doesn't cohere with my stated view.

    I'm wondering why it matters, in your view, that how most people use language doesn't cohere with my stated view.

    It implies that you think that our views should cohere with how most people use language. Why?

    I was trying to avoid a bunch of posts a la "your response makes no sense to me," because there are at least a handful of posters here who post a lot where maybe 80-90% of the time, I'd have to answer with "your response makes no sense to me." But maybe it's better if I announce that every time rather than trying to "politely" plow ahead anyway, because that doesn't seem to go anywhere.
  • Terrapin Station
    4.3k
    But why add this 'literally'?macrosoft

    Because some people have a belief that it works by literally sharing meanings. So I'm clarifying that I'm disagreeing with that.

    Doesn't this assume that uses of 'sharing meanings' are employing some kind of fancy metaphysical machinery that you object to?macrosoft

    Some uses. Yes. That's what I'm addressing.

    But I don't think they aremacrosoft

    In some cases they are. I've been doing this a long time, and I've had various discussions over the years with philosophers who believe that we literally share meanings in communication.

    I'm certainly not claiming that everyone believes that. Different people believe different things. By pointing out that I'm saying that we don't literally share meanings, I'm presenting a view in distinction to folks who believe that we do literally share meanings.

    You seem to hold a view that we all really believe the same things. That's not at all the case.

    We have a kind of pre-theoretical familiarity and skill with language. That is what I'm aiming at, not an ought but the natural consequences of the perception of an is. To grasp language in a new way is to rethink what you have been asking it to do. An architect draws up plans for a house made of bricks, say, and then discoverers that the only material available is flesh, living flesh.macrosoft

    No idea what that has to do with the rest of the post. I'm not quite sure what you're saying there, either.
  • Terrapin Station
    4.3k
    So you and I cannot possibly mean the same thing when we each say "Paris is the capital of France"?Banno

    Not literally the same, no.
  • macrosoft
    381
    In some cases they are. I've been doing this a long time, and I've had various discussions over the years with philosophers who believe that we literally share meanings in communication.Terrapin Station

    OK, I'll grant you that. But for me this falls under the critique of terminological dispute. It is an issue between philosophers with little or no relevance at all for our actions in the world. 'Differences that make no difference.' I am expressing a different kind of preference of my own in that view, admittedly. I'm not saying 'it is the case that that approach is wrong.' Instead I'm saying 'I don't think that kind of issue is very exciting, because it feels/looks like grammer preferencing. '

    You seem to hold a view that we all really believe the same things. That's not at all the case.Terrapin Station

    I'll readily grant that we believe very different things at the explicitly conceptual level. But I think this happens against a receding background of a taken-for-granted sense of the world and a basic know-how with ordinary language.

    What do we make of all of these endless differences? One way to try to deal with the complexity is to look for differences that make a significant difference. One philosopher believes that we see the tree. The other that see only the seeing of the tree. They do have different meanings in mind. But these different meanings are mapped to the same behavior away from the study where metaphysical questions have a kind of chess-like fascination. So the meanings are different but the difference is less exciting from a perspective more interested in stronger differences.

    No idea what that has to do with the rest of the post. I'm not quite sure what you're saying there, either.Terrapin Station

    I grant that it's a weird approach.All I can say is to really try to pay attention to your reading as you read, your writing as you write. See how the meanings flow non-atomically.
  • Posty McPostface
    5.6k
    @macrosoft, what are your further thoughts about atomic meaning? I believe they are important to discourse, and the trifle differences become apparent with their examination. Are you a Pragmatist by any chance?
  • Posty McPostface
    5.6k
    Understanding obtains when one assigns meanings to objects, actions or events in a way that is coherent and consistentTerrapin Station

    What do you mean by "coherent" and "consistent" here?
  • macrosoft
    381
    macrosoft, what are your further thoughts about atomic meaning? I believe they are important to discourse, and the trifle differences become apparent with their examination. Are you a Pragmatist by any chance?Posty McPostface

    I was strongly influenced by pragmatism, but I guess I'm a macrosoftist, and macrosoftism is always still underway. I am working it out even now in this conversation and highly doubt that I will ever stop working it out. Philosophy is, as W might, say the clarification of thought, not some fixed body of thought. I'd say that existence is endlessly dynamic. The future exists as possibility in a concrete situation with a history.

    On 'atomic meaning,' I'd say again that something like holism is 'obvious,' except that it is covered over by a method that is applied uncritically. Why do people want atomic meanings? Why do philosophers think the way to go is to ask 'what is X?' while taking X out all contexts? I'd say that it's largely because of a scientistic approach that takes itself for granted as the only 'objective' or 'rational' approach. You might say that philosophy is just identified semi-consciously with some kind of super-science. It obsesses over the criteria for statements being correct or objective, without asking after its own motives in the wider context of existing as a mortal human being.

    There is an obsession with some kind of 'perfect' certainty, which really has a theological flavor. And there is also a sort of (inappropriate to its object) mathematical approach to language. Because so many share this hope, they end up arguing about how to set up the 'object' language. This object language is lots of stipulated definitions that make flexible and vague ordinary language into something more exact in order to make the word-math more plausible.

    They don't tend to question the hope or the method to begin with (and the method deserves its due, by the way). It's exactly the 'obviousness' of the method that makes it invisible. The way they reach for the 'object' (existence) is like the way I reach for coffee. The difference is that this way of reaching for the object is actually malleable. But those who grasp the object in a different way (meaning holism, for instance) are not easily understood from within the atomic paradigm. Why? Because those in the atomic paradigm are constantly getting entangled in trying to do math with what the semantic holist says. They think he must be doing the kind of thing that 'of course' philosophers are trying to do. His terms are 'zoomed in' on. His tree math doesn't add up. But the 'tree math' approach is exactly what he's trying to offer an alternative to.
  • Posty McPostface
    5.6k


    Interesting. I think you are right to treat the atomic propositions with contempt. There's something to be said about arguing over trifle differences. I take the Wittgensteinian approach and push for less ambiguity and vagueness. What are your thoughts on this feature of the language that is 'ambiguity' and 'vagueness'?
  • macrosoft
    381
    Interesting. I think you are right to treat the atomic propositions with contempt. There's something to be said about arguing over trifle differences. I take the Wittgensteinian approach and push for less ambiguity and vagueness. What are your thoughts on this feature of the language that is 'ambiguity' and 'vagueness'?Posty McPostface

    'Contempt' is a harsh word. You might say that I like philosophy to include the concerns of existentialism. It doesn't matter to me what we call it. If we 'existentialists' get kicked out for being insufficiently scientific or academic, then not much will change. We will be 'anti-'philosophers or alternative philosophers. The word is just a tree. The grasp on existence and what is most worth talking about will be the same. I'm guessing that Dostoevsky will always be more interesting to me than the k-nearest neighbors algorithm.

    When it comes to vagueness, I think it's natural that we work against it when the stakes are high. Basically it is 'expensive' to clarify meaning. We have to hang around and talk until we have the mutual sense of understanding one another. But we are busy creatures! Most of the time when we ask 'how are you?' we are more than happy with 'fine, and you?' A general sense of what is going on is often enough and let's us get back to detailed work.

    Also in ordinary life we don't usually zoom in on our language. It just flies out of us routinely. Much of our activity is semi-conscious or automatic. Heidegger's first draft of Being and Time is 100 pages of brilliant philosophy that includes this kind of awareness and really complements Wittgenstein. I don't have any big endorsement of Heidegger as a whole. So far I haven't felt my way into his later work. I even find the style off-putting.
  • Banno
    3.5k
    Not literally the same, no.Terrapin Station

    What exactly is the word 'literally' doing here? Are you opposing it to 'metaphorical'?

    If so, what could it mean to say we cannot both literally mean Paris by the word "Paris", but might metaphorically both mean Paris?

    Or are you just claiming that my idea of Paris and your idea of Paris might be different?

    Because while that might be arguable, both your idea of Paris and my idea of Paris are of Paris; we mean the very same city.

    You might think Paris to be the capital of France; I might think it to be the Capital of Belgium; and yet both you and I may mea, by "Paris", the very same thing; that city. We share the meaning of "Paris".

    How can this be reconciled with:

    Meaning occurs only in individual's heads. It can't be shared in any manner. It's something inherently mental.Terrapin Station
  • Posty McPostface
    5.6k
    You might say that I like philosophy to include the concerns of existentialism.macrosoft

    What are those?
  • Terrapin Station
    4.3k
    What exactly is the word 'literally' doing here? Are you opposing it to 'metaphorical'?Banno

    Opposing it to figuratively or manner-of-speaking "the same." For example, we nominalists will often say something like "It's two copies of the same CD." We don't mean that it's literally the same, but we're not going to bother having to explain the basic ideas of nominalism every time we talk, especially when it's folks who wouldn't particularly be interested in it.

    If so, what could it mean to say we cannot both literally mean Paris by the word "Paris", but might metaphorically both mean Paris?Banno

    I didn't say anything like that. The context is whether we're sharing meanings with others, or whether we can have the same meanings in mind. That's a different idea than whether each of us has a "literal" meaning of Paris in mind. I said that we don't literally have the same meaning of Paris in mind. In other words we're not actually somehow sharing just one "object" between the two of us when we're referring to us having a meaning of Paris in mind. It's not akin to there being one football that we can both touch or that we're passing from one person to the other. Rather, we each have our own football. If we each have our own football, it's not literally the same football that we're sharing.

    Meaning isn't the same thing as a referent/reference or extension by the way. A computer and robot arm, say, could be set up so that when the word "moon" occurs in a program, the robot arm points at the moon. This doesn't amount to the computer/robot arm system "doing meaning." And the meaning certainly isn't the object itself. There's something intensional that we're doing mentally when we "do meaning.". (Something like the moon is a better example of this because something like "Paris" only exists due to the way that people think about it in the first place. If people were to suddenly disappear there would be no cities, towns, counties, provinces, states, countries, etc. Those things are just abstractions/ways that we think. Things like the moon are a different issues, though)
  • Terrapin Station
    4.3k


    Non-contradictory and it makes clear sense to us.
  • macrosoft
    381
    What are those?Posty McPostface

    But surely you already know. In short, the big meanings of life, the kind of things that religion and art also aim at. Who I am? Who shall I be? What can I become? What is good? What is evil? And these questions aren't idle theoretical curiosity. They are asked sincerely, sometimes desperately. I would include pessimism, stoicism, cynicism, etc. in 'existential' philosophy, simply because they are concerned with our entire existence and not simply with a theory of knowledge. One might say that philosophy is (or can be or should be or shouldn't be) one manifestation of the spiritual, a manifestation especially concerned with clarification and self-consciousness.
  • macrosoft
    381
    If people were to suddenly disappear there would be no cities, towns, counties, provinces, states, countries, etc. Those things are just abstractions/ways that we think. Things like the moon are a different issues, though)Terrapin Station

    Why is the moon a different issue? Presumably human cognition 'chunks' reality into objects of concern. Most would agree that some kind of ur-object-stuff is out there whether we are around to see it or not, but I don't see any exact threshold between 'models' or 'chunking' like houses and the same 'chunking' into moons or electrons or even theories of knowledge.
  • macrosoft
    381
    I don't understand your answer at all. You brought up that how most people use language doesn't cohere with my stated view.

    I'm wondering why it matters, in your view, that how most people use language doesn't cohere with my stated view.

    It implies that you think that our views should cohere with how most people use language. Why?

    I was trying to avoid a bunch of posts a la "your response makes no sense to me," because there are at least a handful of posters here who post a lot where maybe 80-90% of the time, I'd have to answer with "your response makes no sense to me." But maybe it's better if I announce that every time rather than trying to "politely" plow ahead anyway, because that doesn't seem to go anywhere.
    Terrapin Station

    Fair enough, and I appreciate your honesty. I'll grant that when people share their own perspective that there is some whiff of 'be like me: let's all do it this way.'

    Does it deeply matter to me that I convince you? Not really, though of course I would enjoy dragging you in the direction of my way of seeing things. That's just how people are. But I also take a real delight in my way of seeing things, and it just revs up my mind to always find a new way to say it. I'm guessing that we are both conscious that our conversation is public, so there is something performative here. We know we are being overheard. Frankly, I am more motivated to write when there is at least a possible audience. And then I think the give-and-take flow of conversation is a very natural structure.

    Why do I preach the gospel of semantic holism? I guess I just like my philosophy more literary and existential, so I am making a case for abandoning certain intricate issues for those I find more exiting. I like the cynics, skeptics, stoics, etc. I like 'big' visions of what it means to exist and of what is virtuous. I think philosophy can be continuous with literature and music. For instance, Nietzsche is like conceptual rock'n'roll. He's not exactly systematic, but he's a thrill to read. I hope this helps.
  • Posty McPostface
    5.6k


    What camp do you fall in? Sorry for pigeonholing here.
  • macrosoft
    381
    What camp do you fall in? Sorry for pigeonholing herePosty McPostface

    I try to be an original philosopher, synthesizing and paraphrasing everything that seems great. On an 'existential' level, I have no choice. I react to being thrown into this particular life. On a creative level, I just really like pulling phrases out of my soul, especially when I can sketch the forest. It's great feeling when you re-read something and feel that you really captured something potent.
  • Posty McPostface
    5.6k
    I try to be an original philosopher, synthesizing and paraphrasing everything that seems great. On an 'existential' level, I have no choice. I react to being thrown into this particular life. On a creative level, I just really like pulling phrases out of my soul, especially when I can sketch the forest. There's just some kind of reliable pleasure in grasping the essence of situations conceptually/metaphorically.macrosoft

    Share some wisdom then. Please, and thanks.
  • macrosoft
    381


    Thanks for the invite. I mostly like to react. It feels more natural.

    In a good way, you kind of remind me of my cat. You push lots of buttons to see what happens. She pushes objects around with a sort of focus and curiosity.
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