• unenlightened
    3.3k
    Not perfect, not indubitable, but quite a nice talk about Mr W, that might be of interest.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k

    Would you agree that confidence is required for activity, and doubt being an activity therefore requires confidence, but certainty is a special type of confidence which is not required for doubt?
  • javra
    712
    Meta is the one who involved the word "possibility" in this discussion. Wittgenstein was content to remove the practicality of doubt.Banno

    Got it.

    The problem specifically is that I often have the confidence required to proceed with an action, while I am actively doubting whether I will be successful in that procedure. This confidence I would not call certainty, because I am doubtful. So I am really calling into question your definition of certainty. If certainty is a type of confidence, as you claim, then it must be a type of confidence in which doubt is excluded, [...]Metaphysician Undercover

    I look upon it this way: all subjective certainties will entail respective states of confidence, but not all states of confidence will entail certainties. This to me gets into the complexities of human consciousness—which, imv, always entwines with our sub/unconscious mind, from where emotive states result. Hence, for one example, we can be emotively confident of an activity while consciously doubting ourselves in terms of this very activity. And yes, ditto to certainty being a type of confidence wherein the mental activity of doubt is absent—this for the timespan of the given certainty.

    Debating definitions of certainty I think is deserving of its own thread, especially since folks here want to get on with their analysis of Wittgenstein. I’m hesitant to currently start one. Still, for accuracy’s sake, I personally define certainty so (this in the most general way possible): the state, or an instance, of givens that do not compete with alternative givens and thereby hold determinate presence. For example, an idea X which we consciously hold in manners devoid of alternative ideas that compete with idea X for what in fact is shall, then, be a held certainty concerning idea X—this for the timespan in which idea X holds a determinate cognitive presence within our minds; again, this on account of not competing with credible alternatives for what in fact is. As a more concrete example, Pyrrho held a certainty, thus defined, that his methods lead to eudemonia (rather than being uncertain or doubtful about this being so).

    Let me know if you’d like me to start a thread dedicated to definitions of certainty, uncertainty, and doubt. I have an online chapter that addresses this very subject which I could link to, and which could do with some criticism. But I doubt I’ll partake in the thread as much as would be appropriate. I might start it next weekend if there is a call for it.
  • javra
    712
    Would you agree that confidence is required for activity, and doubt being an activity therefore requires confidence, but certainty is a special type of confidence which is not required for doubt?Metaphysician Undercover

    yes

    p.s. I should say "yes" with certain caveats, but these would amount to the same overall summary I'm thinking.
  • Fooloso4
    231
    Debating definitions of certainty I think is deserving of its own thread, especially since folks here want to get on with their analysis of Wittgenstein.javra

    I agree.
  • Luke
    321
    I think that explanation in general, as the means by which we remove doubt, is being rejected, for the reason that explanation cannot remove doubt unless it is the final explanation.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is inconsistent with his statement at §87: "an explanation serves to remove or to prevent a misunderstanding". He is not rejecting explanation here. Also, he states that an explanation removes misunderstanding, not doubt.

    Consider the section we've moved up to now, at 109 he says "We must do away with all explanation, and description alone must take its place."Metaphysician Undercover

    Wittgenstein uses the word in two different contexts at §87 and at §109. At §87, he is talking about explanation in general, and distinguishes everyday (non-philosophical) explanations from "complete" and "final" (philosophical) explanations. Whereas at §109 he is talking about explanation as the traditional solution to philosophical problems. His use of "explanation" at §109 is made in the context of the surrounding sentences. Just prior to your quote, he states: "And we may not advance any kind of theory. There must not be anything hypothetical in our considerations." And later: "The problems are solved, not by coming up with new discoveries, but by assembling what we have long been familiar with." He is not talking about just any explanation here, but specifically hypothetical, theoretical explanations involving "new discoveries".

    Wittgenstein eschewed the traditional view of philosophy as queen of the sciences, and rejected the accepted wisdom that the philosopher's role was to advance theories and hypotheses in a manner akin to the scientist. Hence: "It was correct that our considerations must not be scientific ones." This follows from his remarks at §89 onwards, in which he is working to dispel widely-held philosophical assumptions, such as that "The essence [of language] is hidden from us" (§92). See also §126.

    A description of how our language actually works is not necessarily an explanation of this type (i.e. an hypothesis or theory). However, it is another way of removing misunderstanding, which can therefore be considered as a more general type of explanation.

    There's two different approaches to how one might learn a rule, which Wittgenstein has been stressing almost from the beginning of the text. One is that the rule is told to us (explanation), and the other is that we might learn simply by observation. I think that this is first mentioned at 31, where he says one might learn the rules of a game just by watching.Metaphysician Undercover

    I think you have misread. He says at §31 that we can imagine someone who has learnt the rules without ever having been shown a chess piece (therefore, not by observation); or we can imagine someone having learnt the game "without ever learning or formulating the rules". The purpose of this example is to support what he says at §30, that an ostensive definition can only explain the meaning of a word "if the role the word is supposed to play in the language is already clear".

    So he is pointing us toward the possibility that we might learn rules simply through observation, without any explanation required, as his effort to avoid this problem. I think that this would be like a basic form of inductive reasoning.Metaphysician Undercover

    This sounds a lot like the Augustinian assumption at §1, of which Wittgenstein is critical. At §32, Wittgenstein clearly describes his criticism:

    Augustine describes the learning of human language as if the child came into a foreign country and did not understand the language of the country; that is, as if he already had a language, only not this one. Or again, as if the child could already think, only not yet speak. And “think” would here mean something like “talk to himself”. [my emphasis] — PI 32

    You appear to assume, along with Augustine, that a child can reason before it has been taught language; that it can already think, only not yet speak. Your attribution of this "possibility" to Wittgenstein is antithetical to the text.

    I think it is important to note that Wittgenstein is trying to get to the bottom of language, the foundations. We can't simply assume that we learn rules through explanation because explanation requires language, and so the language by which we learn the fundamental rules, could have no rules at all.Metaphysician Undercover

    I think it is important to note that Wittgenstein is not trying to do any such thing, assuming that by "bottom" or "foundations" you mean something like the "essence" of language; something beneath the surface or hidden from view. As Wittgenstein states at §97: "We are under the illusion that what is peculiar, profound and essential to us in our investigation resides in its trying to grasp the incomparable essence of language."
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    Sorry Luke, I can't even begin to understand what you're saying about "explanation". It's completely out of line with what's in the text. And the rest of your post makes no sense either. Here's some examples:

    A description of how our language actually works is not necessarily an explanation of this type (i.e. an hypothesis or theory). However, it is another way of removing misunderstanding, which can therefore be considered as a more general type of explanation.Luke

    Do you not see, that he has made a distinction between explanation and description? That was the purpose of my quote above. "We must do away with all explanation, and description alone must take its place." Notice he says "all explanation", not this or that type of explanation, and recommends replacing explanation with description. It is incorrect for you to characterize description as a type of explanation.

    think you have misread. He says at §31 that we can imagine someone who has learnt the rules without ever having been shown a chess piece (therefore, not by observation); or we can imagine someone having learnt the game "without ever learning or formulating the rules". The purpose of this example is to support what he says at §30, that an ostensive definition can only explain the meaning of a word "if the role the word is supposed to play in the language is already clear".Luke

    He clearly states at 31: "One can also imagine someone's having learnt the game without
    ever learning or formulating rules. He might have learnt quite simple board-games first, by watching, and have progressed to more and more complicated ones." It is incorrect for you to say that this is "not by observation".

    You appear to assume, along with Augustine, that a child can reason before it has been taught language; that it can already think, only not yet speak. Your attribution of this "possibility" to Wittgenstein is antithetical to the text.Luke

    This is an incorrect interpretation of what I said. It isn't even close.

    think it is important to note that Wittgenstein is not trying to do any such thing, assuming that by "bottom" or "foundations" you mean something like the "essence" of language; something beneath the surface or hidden from view. As Wittgenstein states at §97: "We are under the illusion that what is peculiar, profound and essential to us in our investigation resides in its trying to grasp the incomparable essence of language."Luke

    It is incorrect to say that the foundation of a thing and the essence of a thing are the same.

    It appears to me like you are just disagreeing with whatever I say, for the sake of disagreeing. You've shown nonsensically incorrect interpretations of what I've wrote, combined with nonsensically incorrect interpretations of passages from Wittgenstein's Philosophical investigations to support your disagreement with me. If you prefer to disagree rather than to understand, then my efforts
    are pointless.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    §120.

    Suppose our everyday language is inadequate to answer the questions asked by philosophers. We might consider constructing a new language in which to set out such issues with complete clarity.

    But how could such a language be constructed, except in using our existing language?
  • Luke
    321
    He clearly states at 31: "One can also imagine someone's having learnt the game without ever learning or formulating rules. He might have learnt quite simple board-games first, by watching, and have progressed to more and more complicated ones." It is incorrect for you to say that this is "not by observation".Metaphysician Undercover

    You said that "he is pointing us toward the possibility that we might learn rules simply through observation". To learn the game without ever learning the rules, as W states, is not to "learn the rules simply through observation" as you claim. Read the bloody text.

    This is an incorrect interpretation of what I said. It isn't even close.Metaphysician Undercover

    You suggested that we could learn rules (I assume this includes language?) through observation and/or inductive reasoning. Therefore, you are suggesting that a child can learn language through inductive reasoning, and that, therefore, a child can reason before it can think (i.e. talk to itself - see §32). That's precisely what you are saying.

    It is incorrect to say that the foundation of a thing and the essence of a thing are the same.Metaphysician Undercover

    Then explain what you mean.

    If you prefer to disagree rather than to understand, then my efforts are pointless.Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't have Fooloso4, Banno, unenlightened, Sam26, and others telling me that I have misunderstood the text. It is you who does not understand and refuses to listen.
  • Luke
    321
    Sorry Luke, I can't even begin to understand what you're saying about "explanation".Metaphysician Undercover

    Consider it this way: The type of explanation that Wittgenstein says must disappear at §109 is the same sort of "complete" and "final" (i.e. philosophical) explanation that he mentions at §87.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    A faultless language.
    120. When I talk about language (words, sentences, etc.) I must speak the language of every day. Is this language somehow too coarse and material for what we want to say? Then how is another one to be constructed? -- And how strange that we should be able to do anything at all with the one we have!

    In giving explanations I already have to use language full -- blown (not some sort of preparatory, provisional one); this by itself shows that I can adduce only exterior facts about language.

    Yes, but then how can these explanations satisfy us? -- Well, your very questions were framed in this language; they had to be expressed in this language, if there was anything to ask!

    And your scruples are misunderstandings.

    Your questions refer to words; so I have to talk about words.

    You say: the point isn't the word, but its meaning, and you think of the meaning as a thing of the same kind as the word, though also different from the word. Here the word, there the meaning. The money, and the cow that you can buy with it. (But contrast: money, and its use.)

    Russel thought we could build a faultless language could be based on sense data. Wittgenstein I thought it could be built from names for simple objects. Davidson thought we might translate English into a first order language.

    SO, could it be done?
  • unenlightened
    3.3k
    contrast: money, and its use. — W

    What use is money? you can't eat it, you can't milk it, you can't wear it or warm yourself with it.

    If it had any use at all, it would be less useful.

    Could this thought be expressed in a perfect language so as not to be paradoxical?

    Money is a bit like the standard metre - one cannot say that it is either useful or useless, it is the measure of usefulness. If it had any other use than as a measure, it would not be the medium of exchange, but another object of exchange.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    SO, could it be done?Banno

    Wittgenstein is saying that it cannot be done, and implying that we're fools for trying. That's the point about the ideal, we cannot make language into something which it is not. Our description of what language is, tells us that it is not idealistic like that. The very nature of language disallows the possibility that it could be ideal. No degree of explanation can take away that fundamental aspect, that it is not ideal, because such explanation would only be carried out in language which is not ideal.

    See how he is distinguishing between what we require of language (it must be like this) through the lens of the ideal, and what language is really like ( the description: it is like this). The point being that what we want language to be like (the ideal) clouds our vision with respect to our description as to what language really is like. So we must discard that ideal, and produce a true description of what language really is like.

    This subject of an ideal, faultless language, is related to the point Aristotle made about logic, it can only lead us from the more certain to the less certain. Adhering to this principle, we can conclude that if there is some degree of uncertainty in the fundamental aspects of language, and language is what is used to express logic, then we cannot produce a logic with an ideal (faultless) certainty. Since such an ideal, faultless language, would be produced from existing language which is not faultless, such an effort is impossible and therefore useless.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    Consider it this way: The type of explanation that Wittgenstein says must disappear at §109 is the same sort of "complete" and "final" (i.e. philosophical) explanation that he mentions at §87.Luke

    He said we must do away with "all explanation", to be replaced with "description". The point being that explanation is always intended to clarify some meaning, so it is always to some extent, clouded by an ideal. It's intentionality is grounded in the ideal. Only by opting for description instead of explanation can we free ourselves of the ideal, and get a true understanding of language as based in our "real needs" (108), rather than the false description as based in an ideal (notice the influence of Karl Marx). Language is derived from real material needs, not from some ideal.
  • Fooloso4
    231
    Sorry Luke, I can't even begin to understand what you're saying about "explanation".Metaphysician Undercover

    Sorry MU but I found Luke's explanation of different kinds of explanation clear and correct.

    I am not going to argue the point.
  • Fooloso4
    231
    Suppose our everyday language is inadequate to answer the questions asked by philosophers. We might consider constructing a new language in which to set out such issues with complete clarity.

    But how could such a language be constructed, except in using our existing language?
    Banno

    I think that there is another issue here having to do with the limits of language. Why is it that one can't put certain things into words? But just what is it that one wants to put into words? Are they already understood with complete clarity without words? Can we do that? Can something be thought clearly and not said clearly?

    He is not referring to those ethical and aesthetic experiences of the Tractatus that cannot be put into words, but to philosophical questions that only arise because the language is misunderstood. It is not a matter of the inadequacy of language but of a philosophical assumption about a metaphysics of meaning.

    This is a grammatical joke. Suppose I wanted to say something but could not find the words. I make them up. What do they mean? That thing that I had not been able to put into words. And what is that? There is no connection between the words and anything else except something in my mind that I still have not been able to convey.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    Ideal. A word no so much encumbered by baggage as buried in it. Your use of it makes your point obscure.

    Do you agree with Wittgenstein here?
  • Banno
    4.8k
    Asking what it is that can't be said. Grayling, in the video provided by @unenlightened, refers to this as the other , unwritten half if TI. Much of philosophy is trying to say stuff that can't be said. Aesthetics and ethics included.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    Sorry MU but I found Luke's explanation of different kinds of explanation clear and correct.Fooloso4

    The point though, is that Wittgenstein is making no such distinction between types of explanation at 87. Luke is making this distinction. So that distinction is misleading, and ought not be considered in the context of this text.

    Ideal. A word no so much encumbered by baggage as buried in it. Your use of it makes your point obscure.Banno

    The term "ideal" has gotten a lot of use in this section, and we need to grasp the way that Wittgenstein is using it. That's what I'm trying to do. Remember at 98, he created a separation between "ideal" and "perfect". And there was a similar reference at 81 There is a related metaphysical separation between "good" and "beauty", which also manifests sometimes in the division between ethics and aesthetics. It seems to me, that at this point in the text, the separation between "ideal" and "perfect" corresponds roughly to the separation he has now made between "explanation" and "description". An explanation is related to an ideal, following definite rules like logic. But a description, being other than an explanation, may be unclear, and vague (which is not permitted of an explanation), yet the description still has a perfection about it, just by being a description, as 98.

    Do you agree with Wittgenstein here?Banno

    For me, the principal point for judgement is consistency. A point of inconsistency would be a point to disagree with. I don't think I see anything to disagree with here. But if we assume that he is trying to describe something here at this part of the text, I haven't quite put my finger on it, because I don't think he's done a good job of pointing out what it is that he is describing. He seems to be pointing to a fork in the road, or something like that, two distinct ways in which language is used. One way is to assume ideals, and proceed in the manner of using language in relation to the ideals (explanation). This, I think, amounts to "the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language". The other way, is the way of true philosophy, which is to use language in description, to describe what is. Until I get a firm grasp of what he is trying to describe here, I cannot say whether I agree description.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k

    Consider the inquiry at 88. It appears like there might be a distinction between an exact explanation and an inexact explanation, as two distinct types of explanation. In reality though, "exact" and "inexact" are judgements (reproach and praise) concerning the relationship between the explanation and the goal. The "final explanation" is not a different type of explanation, it simply has a different relationship to the particular goal, being the "ideal" for that particular goal. If you could choose the ideal explanation for a particular purpose, from all possible explanations, this would not make the one designated as "the ideal" into a different type of explanation.

    Consider 98. Every sentence has perfection proper to itself on account of being a sentence. If you judge one sentence as the ideal, or "the final explanation" for a particular purpose, that judgement does not place the sentence into a different category of type. That judgement is determined in relation to the goal, so any sentence may be "the ideal", depending on what the goal is..
  • Fooloso4
    231


    I will have a look at Grayling.
  • Sam26
    1.2k
    Russel thought we could build a faultless language could be based on sense data. Wittgenstein I thought it could be built from names for simple objects. Davidson thought we might translate English into a first order language.

    SO, could it be done?
    Banno

    Wittgenstein never thought that there could be a perfect language. Russell thought that Witgenstein was trying to construct a perfect language in the Tractatus, but Wittgenstein commented somewhere that Russell misinterpreted the Tractatus. Any language for everyday use will have some of the same problems that our current language has. I'm not sure what you meant by faultless, I interpreted it to mean perfect.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    I chose faultless over perfect to indicate a language that was not " too coarse and material for what we want to say".

    Think of a language in which no problems or errors are purely linguistic.
  • csalisbury
    1.6k


    The whole scenario (really, his whole life) couldn't possibly lend itself better to a screenwriter. I'm surprised W hasn't gotten the biopic treatment yet ala The Imitation Game or A Beautiful Mind.

    For a different kind of treatment, if you haven't seen it yet -



    h/t tgw
  • Banno
    4.8k
    I think of that skit as more Austin than Wittgenstein.
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    I'm sure you're right ( I haven't read Austin really), for me it was a pavlov association w/ 'slab'
  • Banno
    4.8k
    §121 A neat metaphor... Should we trust it?

    Orthography or orthografy?

    After telling us to take care with metaphors, he uses one.
  • Luke
    321

    We are under the illusion that what is peculiar, profound and essential to us in our investigation resides in its trying to grasp the incomparable essence of language. That is, the order existing between the concepts of proposition, word, inference, truth, experience, and so forth. This order is a super-order between — so to speak — super-concepts. Whereas, in fact, if the words “language”, “experience”, “world” have a use, it must be as humble a one as that of the words “table”, “lamp”, “door”. [§97]

    ...we are not striving after an ideal, as if our ordinary vague sentences had not yet got a quite unexceptionable sense, and a perfect language still had to be constructed by us. [§98]

    When we believe that we have to find that order, the ideal, in our actual language, we become dissatisfied with what are ordinarily called “sentences”, “words”, “signs”. [§105]

    When philosophers use a word a “knowledge”, “being”, “object”, “I”, “proposition/sentence”, “name” — and try to grasp the essence of the thing, one must always ask oneself: is the word ever actually used in this way in the language in which it is at home? —
    What we do is to bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use. [§116]

    When I talk about language (word, sentence, etc.), I must speak the language of every day. So is this language too coarse, too material, for what we want to say? Well then, how is another one to be constructed? — And how extraordinary that we should be able to do anything at all with the one we have!
    In giving explanations, I already have to use language full-blown (not some sort of preparatory, provisional one); this is enough to show that I can come up only with externalities about language.
    Yes, but then how can these observations satisfy us? - Well, your very questions were framed in this language; they had to be expressed in this language, if there was anything to ask! [§120]
    — PI

    The remarks at §121 regarding orthography I consider to be an extension of this line of thinking: that philosophy should treat all language as being on the same playing field, and not treat some terms (e.g. "super-concepts") as being more important or meta- than others. Philosophers have tended to ask questions such as 'What is beauty?' or 'What is truth?', but not questions such as 'What is a door?' Philosophers have misguidedly placed concepts such as these above other more mundane concepts, have sought the essence of these things, and have tended to think that a more perfect language is required (or that our everyday language is inadequate) to capture that essence. Wittgenstein proposes instead that ("we") philosophers "bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use."
  • Banno
    4.8k
    Yep, well thought through. Thanks.

    I would like to see a thread called "What is a door?". Will you start one? The point of course would be to display all the ways philosophers can define things...
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    I would like to see a thread called "What is a door?".Banno

    This question assumes essentialism. If there is such a thing as what a door is, that is the essence of "door". For Aristotle this essence becomes the basis for deductive logic. There is for example, a specific definition or formula, which is correct, and therefore forms the essence of "man". If the thing we call Socrates fulfils that essence, then by deductive logic, Socrates is a man. Deductive logic requires such essences to be applicable.

    What Wittgenstein is arguing is that this representation of language is false, created with some sort of ideal in mind, an ideal which cannot be upheld in practise, and is not evident in common usage. So as much as we might use language in this way, as though there is such a thing as what a door is (essence), it is a fundamental deception, because there really is no such essence. Therefore in our inquiry as to what language is, we must put aside this type of language use, the deception based in the illusion of an ideal, to describe how language really is.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.