• Metaphysician Undercover
    5.7k
    You said that the use produces a boundary.Luke

    It's not necessary.
  • Luke
    485
    Yet it seems unavoidable according to your claim: "The boundary is produced when the word is used."
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.7k

    Use for a particular purpose creates a boundary. If it's used for something other than a particular purpose, then I assume there would be no boundary created. But the next issue is whether there is exactitude or precision to such boundaries. And that reflects the unmentioned question of whether "special purpose" is something which has exact or precise boundaries.

    The concept is being framed up as something having no particular boundaries, which can be made into something with particular boundaries, through the application of boundaries. The issue being that since its inherent nature is to be free of boundaries, the boundaries which are applied cannot obtain the status of precise, or exact, because that would create absolute restrictions, annihilating the concept as inherently unbounded. Consider that if the concept could be bounded in any absolute way, this would contradict its own nature, as being unbounded, leaving it no longer a concept. So the applied boundaries must still allow the concept some degree of unboundedness, in order to maintain the concept's nature as a concept (being inherently unbounded). Thus the boundaries are vague and inexact.
  • Luke
    485
    So he never introduced the notion of "conventional use", as you are claiming. You are adding that, and it distorts what Wittgenstein has actually said. He has distinguished between having a boundary and not having a boundary. The boundary is produced when the word is used. Each instance of use being for a particular, or "special" (besondern) purpose.Metaphysician Undercover

    You claim that my talk of conventional use distorts the matter, but you fail to mention how. You say here that W distinguishes having and not having a boundary, that the "boundary is produced when the word is used" and that each instance of use is for a special purpose. Furthermore, in your previous post you read Wittgenstein as posing a paradox and to be saying that: "the concept "game" has no boundary unless someone gives it a boundary by using it for a specific purpose. However, whenever the word "game" appears, it's an instance of someone using the concept for a specific purpose."

    Now, after I pointed out your error, you pretend that none of this was your position.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.7k

    Sorry, but I just can't see your point. you appear to have gotten totally confused.

    Furthermore, in your previous post you read Wittgenstein as posing a paradox and...Luke

    I said that I could see the likely possibility of a paradox ("probable paradox") involved with the position Wittgenstein is arguing. I did not say that I read Wittgenstein as posing a paradox. Perhaps this is why you appear so confused, you misunderstood, or didn't correctly read what I wrote.

    Now, after I pointed out your error, you pretend that none of this was your position.Luke

    What you call my "error" was based in your unwarranted introduction of the concept of "conventional use". Remove that assumption (that there is such a thing as "conventional use") because it is unsupported by the text, and the appearance of error disappears.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.7k
    Your claim that I was making an error was based in this:

    Wittgenstein is referring to the conventional use of the word, not to a special purpose use.Luke

    Once you remove this division, which you made rather than Wittgenstein, and recognize that every instance of usage is for a particular purpose, whether that purpose involves creating a definitional boundary or not, (such boundaries being unnecessary for use), then your claim that I made an error is unsupported.
  • Luke
    485
    What you call my "error" was based in your unwarranted introduction of the concept of "conventional use". Remove that assumption (that there is such a thing as "conventional use") because it is unsupported by the text, and the appearance of error disappears.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is clearly not what I was referring to as your "error". Your error was your repeated claim that a) use creates a boundary; and that b) instances of use are for a special purpose.

    It may be helpful to think of the boundary as the limits of the concept; as those borderline cases where it is difficult to decide whether something falls under the concept or not, e.g. whether a hot dog is a sandwich. Wittgenstein says that we do not need to decide this boundary once and for all in order to use the concept. However, we can decide to draw a limit to the concept, if we choose to, for a special purpose. It is not an instance of use that draws this boundary, but our agreement in a particular instance or for a particular purpose to use the word in this special (more specific) way. Otherwise, there is no boundary to the concept and it will just have it's usual unbounded meaning.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.7k
    Your error was your repeated claim that a) use creates a boundary; and that b) instances of use are for a special purpose.Luke

    There's no error,.it's clear from what Wittgenstein says. A boundary may be created in use for a special purpose. But it is not necessary to create such a boundary in instances of use. What I said, was that every instance of use is an instance of use for a particular purpose. However, it's not necessary that every instance of use for a particular, or "special" purpose, is an instance of creating a boundary.

    However, we can decide to draw a limit to the concept, if we choose to, for a special purpose. It is not an instance of use that draws this boundary, but our agreement in a particular instance or for a particular purpose to use the word in this special (more specific) way. Otherwise, there is no boundary to the concept and it will just have it's usual unbounded meaning.Luke

    Each instance of use is carried out by an individual. An individual person uses a word. A person may decide to create a boundary through definition of the term (as in a logical proposition). Agreement is irrelevant. Wittgenstein says nothing about agreement here.
  • Luke
    485
    §70. W's interlocutor expresses concern that "if the concept 'game' is without boundaries in this way, you don't really know what you mean by a 'game'." W responds that he can use the description "The ground was quite covered with plants" without having to provide a definition of 'plant' in order to demonstrate his understanding. W states that a satisfactory explanation (i.e. demonstration of his understanding) of this statement could be a drawing, together with an explanation that "The ground looked roughly like this". Wittgenstein says that he could even explain that "It looked exactly like this," but he advises that his use of "exactly" here is not and need not be precisely exact. This level of precision is not required in order to explain what one means, or demonstrate one's understanding.

    W gives a scenario in which he is asked to "Show the children a game" and he teaches them a gambling game. The person giving the order complains that they didn't mean that sort of game. W asks whether the person must have had the exclusion of the gambling game in mind when they gave the order. This again demonstrates that there is no boundary to the concept prior to setting one for a special purpose, in which case the concept gets more specifically defined via its agreed upon use. It also touches on Wittgenstein's rejection of the notion that meaning is determined by the mind.

    §71. Wittgenstein dismisses the idea that a concept "with blurred edges" is not useful (or not a concept), stating that it is often more useful than a concept with "sharp" edges.

    But is it senseless to say “Stay roughly here”? Imagine that I were standing with someone in a city square and said that. As I say it, I do not bother drawing any boundary, but just make a pointing gesture - as if I were indicating a particular spot. And this is just how one might explain what a game is. One gives examples and intends them to be taken in a particular way.

    W advises that he is not intending the person receiving the explanation to find the features common to all of the examples; commonalities that W was somehow unable to express. "Here giving examples is not an indirect way of explaining - in default of a better one." Giving a different type of explanation, such as a dictionary definition, could equally be misunderstood. But the giving of examples in this way is how we do commonly explain the meaning of words, including "game".
  • Isaac
    714
    I think it's important, as we think about what Wittgenstein is saying, to think about how we as individuals make these kinds of mistakes in our own thinking. So, where have we gone wrong in our thinking by making the mistakes that Wittgenstein points out. It's one thing to grasp what he's saying, but it's another to actually apply it as we do philosophy.Sam26

    Just skimming through what has been written so far and I found this, which seems not to have been taken up on. I'm not a full blown 'therapeutic philosoper' by any means, but I completely agree that it would be totally missing the point if people did not apply what Wittgenstein is saying to their own thinking, including their understanding and interpretation of the text.

    I suspect, from reading some of your interpretations thus far, that you may well have quite a different take on the implications of the PI for our own thinking than I do. As such I would be interested to read what your thoughts are on this.
  • StreetlightX
    3.7k
    If you guys and gals want to speak of 'applying Wittgnestien', here's what could be a fun exercise. With respect to the current sections of the PI that we're reading, what is wrong with this OP?:

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/4917/is-cell-replacement-proof-that-our-cognitive-framework-is-fundamentally-metaphorical

    Maybe an opportunity for @Banno to chime in.
  • Wallows
    8.2k


    I actually wanted to just post "meaning is use" in that thread but it would have come off as shitposting.
  • Sam26
    1.3k
    I know that most of us agree that Wittgenstein wants us to see meaning or sense in terms of use, but I think it's a mistake to say that meaning equates to use (at least dogmatically). I've said it myself, but we have to be careful, i.e., if meaning equates to use, then it would follow that anyone, or any group who used a word or concept incorrectly, could make the claim that their use of the word is the correct use. So, use must be seen in the wider social context, but even here it can be difficult to say that one use is correct over another use. Especially if we're acknowledging that words (sense or meaning) don't always have clear borders. Moreover, given this, there can be genuine disagreement over a particular use of a word.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.7k
    I've said it myself, but we have to be careful, i.e., if meaning equates to use, then it would follow that anyone, or any group who used a word or concept incorrectly, could make the claim that their use of the word is the correct use.Sam26

    As we get further into how Wittgenstein describes what it means to follow a rule, you'll see that this is exactly what follows from his position. To act correctly is to be observed as following a rule. But there is no principle whereby we might judge which rule is the correct rule when two fundamental rules contradict. There is no principle whereby "correct" or "incorrect" might be judged of rules themselves, because this is judged in relation to rules. That is a problem which I believe I've brought to your attention before, (I know I've explained it to Luke). But supporters of Wittgenstein seem to always be insistent that it is not a real problem.

    It's ultimately a moral issue, distinguishing right from wrong. Other metaphysics, like Plato's for example, turn to something further like "good", or religions turn to "God", as a principle to resolve the value of any particular rule. Then there are metaphysics which produce ideas like utilitarianism, and pragmatism. It's all somewhat arbitrary, so the issue is never really resolved whether you take Wittgenstein's position, another metaphysical position, or a religious position. So I think Witty's point just ends up being that it's a waste of time to look beyond "the rule" for the principle of right and wrong.
  • Sam26
    1.3k
    MU, what you're saying goes way beyond what I'm saying, so don't equate the two.
  • Wallows
    8.2k


    @Banno and @unenlightened what are your thoughts?
  • Sam26
    1.3k
    I'm not saying that there aren't problematic ideas within Wittgenstein's thinking. No method, not even Wittgenstein's, will solve every problem, but his method comes as close as you can to solving linguistic problems of the sort he's talking about.

    The way you talk about rules seems confusing to me.

    I think Streetlight, Luke, Fooloso4, and myself are pretty close in our interpretation as far as I can tell, but your interpretation seems a bit off. Wittgenstein isn't exactly the easiest to interpret, but it's not beyond our reach either, at least generally.

    On the whole I think the thread is going well. I hope we don't give up on it like so many other threads.
  • Fooloso4
    592
    On the whole I think the thread is going well. I hope we don't give up on it like so many other threads.Sam26

    I have not given up but I don't have anything to add to the current sections and since I am a late comer don't want to push forward.
  • Banno
    5.3k
    Sam is right.

    Instead of examining meaning, examine use.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.7k
    MU, what you're saying goes way beyond what I'm saying, so don't equate the two.Sam26

    I definitely would not equate the two, because what I'm saying goes way beyond what you're saying. Nevertheless it's an extrapolation of the same principle, some metaphysical implications.

    The way you talk about rules seems confusing to me.Sam26

    So far, Wittgenstein has not laid down the law, what exactly is a rule. Maybe that's why I am confused. Notice though, how he's described concepts, as unbounded, vague, even ambiguous. Maybe the meaning of "rule", being a concept, is like this. In that case you and I could each go in different directions of interpretation, while both following the same rule. What if a word itself, or a collection of words, is a rule? Then my interpretation is just as much following the rule as yours, or anyone else's is. And there is no correct interpretation, or correct way to follow a rule, only agreement and disagreement.

    On the whole I think the thread is going well. I hope we don't give up on it like so many other threads.Sam26

    I agree.
  • Sam26
    1.3k
    What I'm saying is that use in itself doesn't always determine meaning. If that was the case, then how would we be able to determine that someone was incorrectly using a word? What we would have to say, is that their use is so far outside the boundary of correct use, or so far outside the rules normally associated with correct use, that its lost its sense or meaning. However, what if a group has been incorrectly using a word or concept for years, how does one correct that, or does one correct it? Or has the meaning of the word evolved into something else? But what if the meaning of the word as they define it, is associated with some mental object - that would surely be incorrect, even if they had been doing it for years.

    So all I'm saying Banno, is that examining use is not necessarily going to resolve the problem, again what if it's an incorrect use? I do agree that generally use gives us the correct sense or meaning, but can we say that dogmatically. Can every case of incorrect use be resolved using Wittgenstein's method? Would Wittgenstein himself say such a dogmatic thing? I'm not sure. I'd be interested in what you and others think.
  • Banno
    5.3k
    Somewhere he says something like "don't look to the meaning, look to the use!"

    I sometimes read this as providing a philosophical out from those torrid interminable discussions of the meaning of this or that term.

    Yes, use is neither correct nor incorrect. It just is. In a nearby thread I am using "necessary" in terms of possible worlds, while @tim wood uses it in Kant's more conceptually enigmatic way. Neither is correct; but one way might lead to a simpler, less knotty outcome.

    , I'm not looking for more places to enter discussion right now; quite the opposite. I find myself here when I should be doing other stuff. But I might take a look...

    I've avoided this thread for that reason, and because of the presence of @Metaphysician Undercover, with whom I have some issues. Good to see Meta participating. Doubtless his eccentric approach will have folk re-thinking and re-enunciating things with care.

    Can every case of incorrect use be resolved using Wittgenstein's method?Sam26
    Of course we can't know that; what we can look for are places where distinct uses are thought to be the same - "does nothing exist", for instance; or where use in one area is taken to contradict use in another - free will and physical determinism, for instance.
  • Banno
    5.3k
    ...or thinking that there is something that counts as a real individual... as opposed to how we use terms for individuals.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.7k

    Thanks for the encouragement Banno. I'll try to keep on track of the thread, I promise.
  • Banno
    5.3k
    Yeah, well. I think you crazy. But persistent. And occasionally interesting. But mostly frustrating. Basically, an arse pain.
  • Banno
    5.3k
    §71. The "stand roughly there" bit. Brilliant.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.7k

    I assume that at 71, he's leading up to his discussion of definition at 72-73. What do you think he's saying with the analogy of "stand roughly there"? Is he saying that a definition need not be exact? You still know where to stand even though he has not told you exactly where to stand. Does "roughly there" signify a bounded area, without boundaries? Wouldn't that be contradictory? To avoid contradiction, which do you think it signifies, a bounded area, or not?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.7k
    Try this. "Stand roughly there" does not signify an area at all. It signifies a point, which has not been properly determined.
  • Luke
    485
    §72. The section is headed 'Seeing what is in common', and reintroduces similar themes to those raised in the discussion of pointing (at the shape, colour, etc.) at §33-36. Wittgenstein provides three examples of "explaining" to another person how to find a common colour.

    The first example contains various multicoloured pictures in which one of the colours is yellow ochre. Wittgenstein tells the student that the common colour in all of these examples is 'yellow ochre'. Note that Wittgenstein gives an account of the odd type of "explanation" he will provide here: "an explanation that another person will come to understand by looking for, and seeing, what is common to the pictures. Then he can look at, can point to, the common feature."

    The second example contains figures of different shapes which are all painted the same colour. Wittgenstein again tells the student that the common colour in all of these examples is 'yellow ochre'.

    The third example contains samples of different shades of blue. Wittgenstein tells the student that the common colour in all of these examples is ("what I call") 'blue'.

    I take it that the student does not know in advance the names of the colours, and that he is being taught to identify them via Wittgenstein's "explanation" of seeing what is in common. I use scare quotes here because Wittgenstein "explains" only that there is a common colour and then assumes the other person will find it themselves without any further instruction. Note that in the 'blue' example, there are no two identical colour samples - therefore, what commonality is the student supposed to find by sight alone?
  • Luke
    485
    Try this. "Stand roughly there" does not signify an area at all. It signifies a point, which has not been properly determined.Metaphysician Undercover

    What do you mean by "properly determined"?
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