• Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k

    Here's another issue which has since come to my mind. If we have these two fundamentally different ways of using language, the one assumes an ideal, and proceeds in that way, in logic and explanation, and the other, common usage, assumes no such ideal, and does not proceed according to theoretical rules of essentialism, but by practise, then doesn't an accurate description of language require considering both of these branches of language use?

    It wouldn't suffice as a description of language use, to simply reject the one form of language use, the one which assumes an ideal, as a form of deception and therefore not true language use, when it really is a form of language use actually in practise. At issue is the accuracy of Wittgenstein's description. And, to "describe" is an intentional act, with a goal, so even description as a way of using language, is reducible to the way of using language which assumes an ideal. If this is the case, then the division is annihilated as inaccurate, the assumption of an ideal has not be removed from any language use, and it has not been demonstrated that it is possible that there is any language use which does not assume an ideal. Then all language use is of the sort which assumes an ideal, so that Wittgenstein's enterprise here is undermined.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    ...it really is a form of language use actually in practise.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yesterday, upon the stair,
    I met a man who wasn't there!
    He wasn't there again today,
    Oh how I wish he'd go away!

    When I came home last night at three,
    The man was waiting there for me
    But when I looked around the hall,
    I couldn't see him there at all!
    Go away, go away, don't you come back any more!
    Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door...

    Last night I saw upon the stair,
    A little man who wasn't there,
    He wasn't there again today
    Oh, how I wish he'd go away...

    This too "really is a form of language used actually in practise". It uses language to discuss a man who isn't there.

    Just like "assuming an ideal".

    Looking to use rather than meaning allows a treatment of the philosophical language game of finding ideals. Like the little man in Antigonish, ideals are supposed into the discussion, where they put on the show of taking a place in a language game. Like the little man, we look for them but they are not there.

    So I disagree that we have "two fundamentally different ways of using language". We have a view of language derived from looking at its use, and a game of finding ideal meanings that, like Antigonish, does not mesh with the world.

    The reason for invoking an ideal was that they explain how words get their meanings. Looking to use instead of meaning removes this need.
  • Luke
    321
    The point though, is that Wittgenstein is making no such distinction between types of explanation at 87. Luke is making this distinction.Metaphysician Undercover

    How do you account for the 'Whereas' at §87?
  • Luke
    321
    If we have these two fundamentally different ways of using language, the one assumes an ideal, and proceeds in that way, in logic and explanation, and the other, common usage, assumes no such ideal, and does not proceed according to theoretical rules of essentialism, but by practise, then doesn't an accurate description of language require considering both of these branches of language use?Metaphysician Undercover

    Not really, because the (non-common) "usage" which assumes an ideal is only found in philosophy. Wittgenstein is attempting to illustrate that this way of thinking leads to misunderstanding and is the wrong way to do philosophy, or to solve philosophical problems. Wittgenstein refers to himself making this ideal assumption with his Tractatus at PI §114. Keep in mind that it is the assumption (of an ideal) - the thinking - that is misguided.

    It may also be put like this: we eliminate misunderstandings by making our expressions more exact; but now it may look as if we were aiming at a particular state, a state of complete exactness, and as if this were the real goal of our investigation. [§91]

    For although we, in our investigations, are trying to understand the nature of language — its function, its structure — yet this is not what that question has in view. For it sees the essence of things not as something that already lies open to view, and that becomes surveyable through a process of ordering, but as something that lies beneath the surface. Something that lies within, which we perceive when we see right into the thing, and which an analysis is supposed to unearth.
    The essence is hidden from us’: this is the form our problem now assumes. We ask: “What is language?”, “What is a proposition?” And the answer to these questions is to be given once for all, and independently of any future experience. [§92]

    94. ‘Remarkable things, propositions!’ Here we already have the sublimation of our whole account of logic. The tendency to assume a pure intermediary between the propositional sign and the facts. Or even to try to purify, to sublimate, the sign itself. — For our forms of expression, which send us in pursuit of chimeras, prevent us in all sorts of ways from seeing that nothing extraordinary is involved.

    These concepts: proposition, language, thought, world, stand in line one behind the other, each equivalent to each. (But what are these words to be used for now? The language-game in which they are to be applied is missing.) [§96]

    97. Thinking is surrounded by a nimbus. — Its essence, logic, presents an order: namely, the a priori order of the world; that is, the order of possibilities, which the world and thinking must have in common. But this order, it seems, must be utterly simple. It is prior to all experience, must run through all experience; no empirical cloudiness or uncertainty may attach to it. —– It must rather be of the purest crystal. But this crystal does not appear as an abstraction, but as something concrete, indeed, as the most concrete, as it were the hardest thing there is (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 5.5563).
    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.

    101. We want to say that there can’t be any vagueness in logic. The idea now absorbs us that the ideal ‘must’ occur in reality. At the same time, one doesn’t as yet see how it occurs there, and doesn’t understand the nature of this “must”. We think the ideal must be in reality; for we think we already see it there.

    102. The strict and clear rules for the logical construction of a proposition appear to us as something in the background — hidden in the medium of understanding. I already see them (even though through a medium), for I do understand the sign, I mean something by it.

    103. The ideal, as we conceive of it, is unshakable. You can’t step outside it. You must always turn back. There is no outside; outside you cannot breathe. — How come? The idea is like a pair of glasses on our nose through which we see whatever we look at. It never occurs to us to take them off.

    107. The more closely we examine actual language, the greater becomes the conflict between it and our requirement. (For the crystalline purity of logic was, of course, not something I had discovered: it was a requirement.) The conflict becomes intolerable; the requirement is now in danger of becoming vacuous. — We have got on to slippery ice where there is no friction, and so, in a certain sense, the conditions are ideal; but also, just because of that, we are unable to walk. We want to walk: so we need friction. Back to the rough ground!
    — PI
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    So I disagree that we have "two fundamentally different ways of using language". We have a view of language derived from looking at its use, and a game of finding ideal meanings that, like Antigonish, does not mesh with the world.Banno

    As I explained in the post, if it is all just one way of using language, that way assumes ideals. So if all forms of language use are reducible to one fundamental way, that way has inherent within it an assumption of ideals, whether or not the ideals are real. And, whether or not the ideals are sought, or found, is not relevant. What is relevant is that they are assumed to exist, and so we must respect this in our description of language.

    Not really, because the (non-common) "usage" which assumes an ideal is only found in philosophy.Luke

    This depends on your definition of philosophy, but the so-called non-common usage exists throughout logic, science, and is fundamental in educational institutions. So its status as "non-common" is questionable.

    Keep in mind that it is the assumption (of an ideal) - the thinking - that is misguided.Luke

    You may insist that this assumption of an ideal is misguided, but the effort here is to describe the way that language is, not to dictate how language ought to be. To say that our goal is to produce a real description of language as it is, but also say that we ought to leave out of the description all language use which assumes ideals, because this is misguided language use, is self-defeating. So if the assumption of ideals is fundamental to a large part of language use, we cannot neglect this in our description of language. Nor ought we neglect this part of our language use from our description simply because we think that this is misguided language use. And, as I explained to Banno above, it's quite possible that the assumption of ideals underlies all language use. The question would be whether all language use is goal oriented, and whether a goal can exist without the assumption of an ideal. If a person has a goal, then obtaining that goal is the assumed ideal. Notice that even to have the goal of describing language implies the assumption of an ideal, if a goal implies an ideal.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    As I explained in the post, if it is all just one way of using language, that way assumes ideals.Metaphysician Undercover

    No you didn't, and it doesn't.

    But keep thinking about it.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k

    A goal implies an ideal, obtaining that goal is the ideal. Anytime there is a goal, an ideal is assumed. So unless we can get to a description of language such that language is not goal oriented we cannot have a description of language which does not describe language as assuming ideals. It is the natural outcome of describing language use as an intentional activity that the assumption of ideals will be inherent within language use. Only if we can remove the intentional aspect of this activity (language) in our description, can we remove the assumption of ideals from our description.

    But I really do not know how this would leave our description of language use if we completely removed intentionality from this activity.

    69. How should we explain to someone what a game is? I imagine
    that we should describe games to him, and we might add: "This and
    similar things are called 'games' ". And do we know any more about
    it ourselves? Is it only other people whom we cannot tell exactly what
    a game is?—But this is not. ignorance. We do not know the boundaries
    because none have been drawn. To repeat, we can draw a boundary—
    for a special purpose. Does it take that to make the concept usable?
    Not at alll (Except for that special purpose.) No more than it took
    the definition: i pace = 75 cm. to make the measure of length 'one
    pace' usable. And if you want to say "But still, before that it wasn't
    an exact measure", then I reply: very well, it was an inexact one.—
    Though you still owe me a definition of exactness.
    — PI

    Consider the reference to "special purpose" here. A word like "game" could have meaning with absolutely no boundaries to that meaning. That would be like infinite possibilities for the potential use of the word. However, what if each and every time that the word is used, it is used for a "special purpose"? Then, each and every time that the word is used, a boundary is produced by that act of usage (context), and the word has meaning which is specific to that particular purpose of that context. Each instance of usage is using the word for a special purpose.

    Now consider the "perfect order" referred to at 98. The sentence only has a perfect order because it has been created intentionally, for that "special purpose", in that context. The very principle by which Wittgenstein removes the ideal, here at 98, claiming that the sentence may be "perfect" without striving after an ideal, already assumes intentionality within the sentence, as creator of the perfect order which is the existence of the sentence itself. The "ideal", or "goal", is already assumed to exist within the very utterance of the sentence. Therefore the ideal is not to be sought after at all, it is already there, as evidenced by the existence of the sentence, as a perfect order..

    The assumption of the ideal is not excluded. Instead of assuming that the ideal as something which we seek, and strive after in logic and such linguistic enterprises, the ideal is assumed by Wittgenstein to already inhere within language use. Each instance of language use is for a special purpose, and this gives the sentence a perfect order for that special purpose. So the ideal is right there, within each instance of use, as each instance of use is the ideal representation of that specific purpose. Maybe this is the rotation referred to at 108, the ideal is already there within, and not something we seek after.

    .
  • Banno
    4.8k
    This reminds me of the apocryphal of Davidson saying his claims not so much defeat the sceptic as tell him to bugger off.

    You keep coming back to §98. But it is only a small part. Read §99, which has one of his alternate voices; he sets up the case you are arguing! The in §100, rejects it.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    §122 perspicuous.

    §123 "I don't know my way around"

    §124 Philosophy leaves language as it was found. And mathematical logic.

    I'm not so sure. I think, for example, the way Kripke uses possible world semantics to deal with modality in English does help us to find our way around, brings perspicuity to our discussion.
  • Luke
    321
    The question would be whether all language use is goal oriented, and whether a goal can exist without the assumption of an ideal.Metaphysician Undercover

    You have an uncanny knack for misreading. It's not about "whether all language use is goal oriented", or about "whether a goal can exist without the assumption of an ideal". Wittgenstein never mentions this. I grant you that he talks about exactness and inexactness and goals at §88, but not in the way you present it, and §88 is mostly irrelevant to the sections we are now discussing. The ideal we are now discussing is an assumption which can result from the sublime nature of logic.

    "In what way is logic something sublime?
    For logic seemed to have a peculiar depth — a universal significance.
    Logic lay, it seemed, at the foundation of all the sciences. — For logical investigation explores the essence of all things. It seeks to see to the foundation of things, and shouldn’t concern itself whether things actually happen in this or that way. —– It arises neither from an interest in the facts of nature, nor from a need to grasp causal connections, but from an urge to understand the foundations, or essence, of everything empirical. Not, however, as if to this end we had to hunt out new facts; it is, rather, essential to our investigation that we do not seek to learn anything new by it. We want to understand something that is already in plain view. For this is what we seem in some sense not to understand." [§89]

    Our inquiry is a grammatical one, which sometimes involves analysing our forms of expression as a method of removing misunderstandings. This procedure resembles taking things apart [§90].

    However, this might lead some people (including the young Wittgenstein) to incorrectly assume that there is "something like a final analysis of our linguistic expressions, and so a single completely analysed form of every expression". In other words, some philosophers might assume that they should be aiming at a state of complete exactness, "as if this were the real goal of our investigation" [§91]. (Hint: it isn't.)

    This misguided view finds its expression "in the question of the essence of language, of propositions, of thought". This view presupposes that the essence is something hidden beneath the surface (as opposed to "something which already lies open to view"), and that a philosophical analysis will unearth this essence. [§92]

    Those who make these assumptions are "unable simply to look and see how propositions work". [§93]

    "[O]ur forms of expression, which send us in pursuit of chimeras, prevent us in all sorts of ways from seeing that nothing extraordinary is involved". [§94]

    Logic presents the "a priori order of the world; that is, the order of possibilities, which the world and thinking must have in common". This order "is prior to all experience, must run through all experience; no empirical cloudiness or uncertainty may attach to it."
    "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."
    "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]

    "§101. We want to say that there can’t be any vagueness in logic. The idea now absorbs us that the ideal ‘must’ occur in reality. At the same time, one doesn’t as yet see how it occurs there, and doesn’t understand the nature of this “must”. We think the ideal must be in reality; for we think we already see it there."

    None of this is about "whether all language use is goal oriented, and whether a goal can exist without the assumption of an ideal." The 'ideal' Wittgenstein is talking about here is a presupposition or attitude that some philosophers adopt in relation to logic, language and related philosophical problems (such as in response to Augustine's question: 'What is time?').
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    You keep coming back to §98. But it is only a small part. Read §99, which has one of his alternate voices; he sets up the case you are arguing! The in §100, rejects it.Banno

    98 is important because it is a clear and unambiguous separation between "ideal" and "perfect". This separation was started at 81, where he discussed logic as an "ideal language" following fixed rules of calculi. Notice that he says here, that following these fixed rules does not make logic a "better", or "more perfect" language.

    In the meantime, in the sections between these two passages, he has associated "ideal" with the idea of achieving the goal. At 88, we look for the exactness which is appropriate to the goal, we do not look for "the ideal" exactness. "There is no single ideal of exactness". It is implied that the "ideal" is that which achieves the goal. At 87, the sign-post is in order if under normal circumstance it serves the purpose. Serving the purpose is the real ideal, as expressed at 88.

    The point being, that if we remove the notion of "ideal" as meaning the perfect, best, most exact, etc., as useless and misguided, as Wittgenstein is doing, yet we continue to use the word "ideal", as Wittgenstein does, then "ideal" must still have meaning, according to that usage. So he is not deny the reality of the ideal, in the sense that would leave the word "ideal" as totally useless, he is still allowing it to be a useful term, but misunderstood by those who use it to signify that crystalline purity, or absolute exactness, which he talks about. At 100, "But I want to say: we misunderstand the role of the ideal in our language.".

    Accordingly, I maintain what I said in the last post, as 100 is clear support of it. he doesn't dismiss "ideal" he says we misunderstand it. So he has positioned the word "ideal" (defined it you might say), such that it does not refer to some sort of perfect exactness, or crystalline purity, which we might seek after with "ideal languages" like logic, "ideal" refers to whatever serves the purpose. And if logic is an ideal language, it is because it serves the purpose, not because it seeks some absolute exactness. Whatever suffices to achieve the goal, is the ideal. And those who seek some form of absolute perfection as "the ideal" really misunderstand the role of "the ideal", within language, which is just to fulfill the goal. Consider the game analogy. To win the game is the goal, therefore whatever brings this about is the ideal. It makes no sense to say that it is better, or more ideal, to win by a score of 10-0, than a score of 1-0. To win is the goal and it makes no sense to think of one as a more perfect win than another.

    The ideal we are now discussing is an assumption which can result from the sublime nature of logic.Luke

    Right, this sense of "ideal" is what he is dismissing as "misunderstanding the role of the ideal in our language", at 100. To think that logic seeks after some pure crystal, perfect exactness, as "the ideal", is to misunderstand "the ideal". This preconceived idea is what bewitches us (109). It is the glasses which distort the view at 103. However, he does not reject "ideal" as a totally useless word which people are going around using when it really has no use. He calls it a misunderstanding of "the ideal". He still allows that "ideal" has a role in language. But it really means, as described at 87-88, that which serves the purpose. At 87, there is no room for doubt, whenever the sign-post serves the purpose. We can take this as the true understanding of "ideal", the goal being fulfilled, not that absolute exactness, which the example of time demonstrates is completely unreal. The "ideal", what we are striving for, is what serves the purpose, it is not an absolute.

    This principle, if you bear it in mind, will become more and more evident as we proceed from this point in the book.

    132. We want to establish an order in our knowledge of the use
    of language: an order with a particular end in view; one out of many
    possible orders; not the order. To this end we shall constantly be
    giving prominence to distinctions which our ordinary forms of
    language easily make us overlook. This may make it look as if we
    saw it as our task to reform language.
    Such a reform for particular practical purposes, an improvement in
    our terminology designed to prevent misunderstandings in practice,
    is perfectly possible. But these are not the cases we have to do with.
    The confusions which occupy us arise when language is like an engine
    idling, not when it is doing work.
    133. It is not our aim to refine or complete the system of rules for
    the use of our words in unheard-of ways.
    For the clarity that we are aiming at is indeed complete clarity. But
    this simply means that the philosophical problems should completely
    disappear.
    The real discovery is the one that makes me capable of stopping
    doing philosophy when I want to.—The one that gives philosophy
    peace, so that it is no longer tormented by questions which bring itself
    in question.—Instead, we now demonstrate a method, by examples;
    and the series of examples can be broken off.—Problems are solved
    (difficulties eliminated), not a single problem.
    There is not a philosophical method, though there are indeed
    methods, like different therapies.
  • Luke
    321
    Serving the purpose is the real ideal, as expressed at 88.Metaphysician Undercover

    He is not referring to "the ideal" at §88; he is referring to ideal exactness. Furthermore, he is criticising, not defining, the unspecified notion of ideal exactness. He says "we don't know what we are to make of this idea". He goes on to talk about other kinds of ideals (other than ideal exactness) from section §89 onwards.

    Baker and Hacker, in their exegesis of §103, detail various misconstruals of 'the ideal':

    The ‘ideal’, misconstrued, is evident in the preconception of the strict rules of the logical structure of propositions, in the idea that the sense of every sentence must be absolutely determinate, in the thought that every proposition must have the form ‘Such-and-such is thus-and-so’, in the supposition that the real name must be simple, in the conception of the sentences and words of ordinary language as merely crude surface manifestations of the real propositions and names hidden in the medium of the understanding. Caught thus in the web of illusion, the conception seems irresistible.Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning, Volume 1 of An Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations : Part II: Exegesis §§1–184, Volume 1

    These are not all about 'serving a purpose' or 'achieving a goal'.

    However, he does not reject "ideal" as a totally useless word which people are going around using when it really has no use. He calls it a misunderstanding of "the ideal". He still allows that "ideal" has a role in language.Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't know where you got the idea that W was possibly attempting to"reject "ideal" as a totally useless word".
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    He is not referring to "the ideal" at §88; he is referring to ideal exactness. Furthermore, he is criticising, not defining, the unspecified notion of ideal exactness. He says "we don't know what we are to make of this idea". He goes on to talk about other kinds of ideals (other than ideal exactness) from section §89 onwards.Luke

    Whether you call it "ideal exactness", or "the ideal exactness" is not relevant, we are talking about the same thing. And yes, he is criticising this notion, we agree on that. But if we look back and apply the term in retrospect, at 87, the final explanation, the one which requires no further explanation to avoid misunderstanding would be the ideal explanation. At 85, the sign-post which leaves no room for doubt would be the ideal sign-post.

    but that is where I found some inconsistency. He is criticising this notion of "ideal", as if it is misguided, and we ought not use it, but he does not seem to be capable of restraining himself from using it. In On Certainty he seeks that very ideal certainty, which is described as no room for doubt.

    Now, at this section which Banno was referring to, around 108, 109, I am starting to notice a very similar inconsistency. He is critical of this use of "ideal", but at the same time he is telling us as philosophers our task is to describe language usage, not to tell people how to use language. So to adhere to the principle he is stating, he ought to describe this role which "ideal" has in our language, without being critical of it, as if he thinks it is wrong.

    The point being that this sense of "ideal" which Wittgenstein is critical of actually plays a very important role for us. When we keep in mind the ideal, as a perfection which can never actually be achieved, we are inspired to always better ourselves. This is an acknowledgement that if I am doing something in a particular way, it is never the best way. The way I am proceeding is never the ideal way. Despite the fact that my method serves the purpose, I ought to always be open to the possibility that someone will come and show me a better way. This what the notion of "ideal", as a perfection which is unobtainable, gives us, the attitude that there is always a better way possible. This is the principle by which we better ourselves, rather than settling for what serves the purpose. It is what musicians do in practise, and what athletes do, accept that there is always a better, and this allows them to continually better themselves.

    These are not all about 'serving a purpose' or 'achieving a goal'.Luke

    The point I was making is that Wittgenstein appears to be trying to replace the notion of "ideal", in the sense that he is critical of, the perfection, best, crystalline purity, with the notion of "serves the purpose". He introduces this notion of "serves the purpose" at 87-88. Now notice at 105, he says that if we are always thinking that we must find the ideal, we get dissatisfied. I would call this a frustration, like the athlete who for a period of time is working hard but doesn't see any improvement. So he proceeds at 106-107, looking into this problem, of seeking the ideal when it is actually impossible to achieve the ideal. The more we understand the nature of "ideal", the more we recognize that by its very nature, it is what is impossible to achieve, so this is the slippery slope at 107. We must get our feet back on solid ground But if we let go of the ideal (108), where does this leave logic, which appears to have derived its rigour from assuming the ideal? What Wittgenstein suggests (108) is that we rotate our investigation around our "real needs". So this brings us back to that earlier principle (87), "fulfils its purpose". This is why I say that he is replacing the sense of "ideal" as that impossible to obtain perfection, with another sense of "ideal", which is more like "fulfils the purpose". Notice at 81, and 98, he drives a wedge between "ideal", and "perfect".

    ,
  • Luke
    321
    Whether you call it "ideal exactness", or "the ideal exactness" is not relevant, we are talking about the same thing.Metaphysician Undercover

    I made a distinction between "ideal exactness" and "the ideal", and referenced other types of ideal than ideal exactness.

    But if we look back and apply the term in retrospect, at 87, the final explanation, the one which requires no further explanation to avoid misunderstanding would be the ideal explanation. At 85, the sign-post which leaves no room for doubt would be the ideal sign-post.Metaphysician Undercover

    This has already been addressed: "an explanation serves to remove or to prevent a misunderstanding —– one, that is, that would arise if not for the explanation, but not every misunderstanding that I can imagine." You have in your mind some ideal explanation that accounts for every imaginable doubt, but this is not Wittgenstein's idea. Then you accuse him of being inconsistent based on your own ideal.

    He is criticising this notion of "ideal", as if it is misguided, and we ought not use it...Metaphysician Undercover

    Where do you get the idea that Wittgenstein is trying to reject any form of language use? As I stressed earlier, it is about particular assumptions, presumptions, preconceptions, misconceptions, or misguided ways of thinking. Wittgenstein diagnoses particular forms of wayward thought in philosophy, including those listed by Baker and Hacker:

    - the strict rules of the logical structure of propositions;
    - that the sense of every sentence must be absolutely determinate;
    - that every proposition must have the form ‘Such-and-such is thus-and-so’;
    - that the real name must be simple;
    - that the sentences and words of ordinary language are merely crude surface manifestations of the real propositions and names hidden in the medium of the understanding.

    These misconceptions are "like a pair of glasses on our nose through which we see whatever we look at. It never occurs to us to take them off." (§103) These misconceptions can be cured by simply looking at how language actually works (§93). Nowhere does Wittgenstein advocate that we ought not to use the word "ideal", or any other word. Wittgenstein is trying to dispel particular philosophical dead ends of thinking.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    @Metaphysician Undercover at this stage I'm sick of you holding the thread up. There's a whole book here. Move on.
  • Isaac
    340
    at this stage I'm sick of you holding the thread up. There's a whole book here. Move on.Banno

    Move on with what? Because what MU has had to say here is the only thing of philosophical interest. I disagree with virtually everything he's had to say, and most of it sounds batshit crazy to me, but at least he's had the guts to say it instead of trotting out bland paraphrasing of standard interpretations out of fear you might say something wrong.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    Fuck off, then.

    If you need this space just to repeat yourselves ad nauseum, then I'll stop attempting to move the thread on to the more interesting parts of the book.
  • Isaac
    340
    If you need this space just to repeat yourselves ad nauseum, then I'll stop attempting to move the thread on to the more interesting parts of the book.Banno

    We've all read the bloody book. No one needs to 'move on' to get to more interesting bits because everyone has copy of the more interesting bits which they can read for themselves any time they like. By virtue of the Internet, everyone also has access to the interpretation of the more interesting bits by various experts in their field, taking various different approaches, which, again, they can read any time they like.

    The one thing that requires an Internet forum to achieve is discussion. The raising of questions, personal ideas for critique, disagreements for resolution (or not). I'm not literally saying that nothing of any philosophical interest has even been tried here (my language was unapologetically rhetorical), many of your recent comments have at least raised an issue, but then it goes nowhere. The moment it gets into territory where some actual independent thinking needs to be done it peters out. The reason why MU's disagreements and misunderstandings have dominated the thread is simply because no one's been talking about anything else.

    This book is, in my opinion, the single most important philosophical text ever written. It has, if it is taken seriously, ramifications for every discussion on this site, and it's very frustrating that, instead of discussion about the implications therein, it's being used as a dick measuring competition based on who knows what Wittgenstein 'really' meant.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    I made a distinction between "ideal exactness" and "the ideal", and referenced other types of ideal than ideal exactness.Luke

    I don't see your distinction. How is ideal exactness any different from any other ideal, qua 'ideal"? So how is "ideal" in the sense of ideal exactness any different from "ideal" in "the ideal"? I suppose you're trying to make the same distinction as we did with "red". There are red objects, and also an imaginary red, the latter being only in the mind. The problem here is that there is no such thing as an ideal object, so the ideal, whatever it is, ideal exactness, ideal explanation, or ideal certainty, is always in the mind. Therefore there is no such distinction to be made.

    This has already been addressed: "an explanation serves to remove or to prevent a misunderstanding —– one, that is, that would arise if not for the explanation, but not every misunderstanding that I can imagine." You have in your mind some ideal explanation that accounts for every imaginable doubt, but this is not Wittgenstein's idea. Then you accuse him of being inconsistent based on your own ideal.Luke

    The problem, is that doubt is in the mind, it is imaginary. What is called for at 85, is to leave no room for doubt, and this implies removing every misunderstanding which I can imagine, because its this recognition of the possibility of misunderstanding, by the mind, which is doubt. Therefore, if he moves on to say, "but not every misunderstanding I can imagine", he is being inconsistent with "it sometimes leaves room for doubt, and sometimes not". Either there is no room for doubt, and this implies every misunderstanding I can imagine, or we accept "not every misunderstanding that I can imagine", and allow that there is room for doubt. But we can't have both because that's contradictory.

    Where do you get the idea that Wittgenstein is trying to reject any form of language use? As I stressed earlier, it is about particular assumptions, presumptions, preconceptions, misconceptions, or misguided ways of thinking. Wittgenstein diagnoses particular forms of wayward thought in philosophy, including those listed by Baker and Hacker:Luke

    This is actually very simple and straight forward, so I can't understand why you don't see it. In philosophy, if we diagnose a particular form of thought as "wayward", we are rejecting the way that the philosopher is using language. This is common, and called disagreement.

    Nowhere does Wittgenstein advocate that we ought not to use the word "ideal", or any other word. Wittgenstein is trying to dispel particular philosophical dead ends of thinking.Luke

    Yes, this is exactly the point, to dispel a philosophy as a "dead end", is to reject the way that the philosopher uses language, demonstrating that this is a dead end usage of language. Then that material gets tossed aside as unproductive, and may disappear forever. The problem, in this particular instance, as I described in my last post, is that the role of "ideal" is the very opposite of the dead end. Accepting that there is an ideal, which has not yet been obtained, is what leaves us open to continually bettering ourselves. If, instead of "ideal" we accept "fulfils its purpose", as our goal, then we have no inspiration to find a better or more efficient way to do what we are doing. Therefore, rejecting "the ideal", in favour of "fulfils its purpose" is really what is the dead end, because the end, or goal, is already reached when the purpose is fulfilled, and there is nothing further, no ideal, to strive for.

    at this stage I'm sick of you holding the thread up. There's a whole book here. Move on.Banno

    As you might know by now, I don't take orders very well, I tend to misunderstand them. So what exactly are you telling me? Am I preventing you from reading or talking about other parts of the book? Or are you telling me that I ought to read faster, and get on with it? Tell the slowpoke to hurry along, the herd's getting ahead, you might get lost to the wolves. If it's the latter, you're wasting your effort trying to change the way that I read. At my age if the wolves haven't gotten me yet, I'm not too worried about it.
  • Luke
    321
    How is ideal exactness any different from any other ideal, qua 'ideal"?Metaphysician Undercover

    The issue is that Wittgenstein is discussing other particular types of ideal that you are failing to acknowledge.

    This is actually very simple and straight forward, so I can't understand why you don't see it. In philosophy, if we diagnose a particular form of thought as "wayward", we are rejecting the way that the philosopher is using language.Metaphysician Undercover

    It is very simple. Wittgenstein is attempting to dispel misconceptions; he is not attempting to dictate any changes to the use of the word "ideal".

    The problem, in this particular instance, as I described in my last post, is that the role of "ideal" is the very opposite of the dead end.Metaphysician Undercover

    The problem is that you make sweeping abstract generalisations about the word "ideal", without regard for how Wittgenstein is using this term or to what he is referring.

    Accepting that there is an ideal, which has not yet been obtained, is what leaves us open to continually bettering ourselves. If, instead of "ideal" we accept "fulfils its purpose", as our goal, then we have no inspiration to find a better or more efficient way to do what we are doing. Therefore, rejecting "the ideal", in favour of "fulfils its purpose" is really what is the dead end, because the end, or goal, is already reached when the purpose is fulfilled, and there is nothing further, no ideal, to strive for.Metaphysician Undercover

    Wittgenstein offers no positive determination or definition of "the ideal" (especially outside of any particular language game), yet you are hellbent on trying to find one.
  • emancipate
    77
    This book is, in my opinion, the single most important philosophical text ever writtenIsaac

    Could you expand upon this (or anyone else who happens to agree)? I'm genuinely curious. I have no philisophical knowledge of Witty at all.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    The issue is that Wittgenstein is discussing other particular types of ideal that you are failing to acknowledge.Luke

    No, he's not talking about different types of ideals. He is talking about striving after "the idea". If he talks about ideal this, or ideal that, ideal exactness, ideal languages, or ideal logic, "ideal" is the adjective. These are not different types of ideals. They are different types of things described by the same adjective, "ideal", and therefore we ought not assume that "ideal" refers to a different type of ideal in each case. Read 100 -110 and tell me how many times he mentions "the ideal".

    But the only clear step he has taken to define "ideal" is to call for a separation between "ideal" and "perfect", at 81 and 98. And this is inconsistent with the way that "ideal" is commonly used.

    It is very simple. Wittgenstein is attempting to dispel misconceptions; he is not attempting to dictate any changes to the use of the word "ideal".Luke

    Then why is he calling for a separation between "ideal" and "perfect" at 81 and 98? Such a separation is completely inconsistent with the way that "ideal" is commonly used.

    The problem is that you make sweeping abstract generalisations about the word "ideal", without regard for how Wittgenstein is using this term or to what he is referring.Luke

    To the contrary, I have paid very close attention to the way that he has used "ideal". That's how I've noticed this odd separation between "ideal" and "perfect" which is inconsistent with common usage. You, clearly have not paid any attention, claiming that he is talking about different types of ideals, and not "the ideal". He wants to investigate what role "ideal " plays in our language, and we clearly talk about "the ideal this", or "the ideal that". For some strange reason though, he also wants to separate "ideal" from "perfect", which is inconsistent with the role that "ideal" plays in our language.

    Wittgenstein offers no positive determination or definition of "the ideal" (especially outside of any particular language game), yet you are hellbent on trying to find one.Luke

    "Ideal" is an important term in this part of the book. In order to understand what Wittgenstein is saying here, we need to understand how he is using this term. I'm trying to understand what he is saying. If to you, being hell bent on trying to understand what he is saying appears like being hell bent on trying to find a definition of "the ideal", then so be it. Can you offer an explanation for why he drives a wedge between "ideal" and "perfect"? It's clearly not a case of describing how we use language.
  • Luke
    321
    If he talks about ideal this, or ideal that, ideal exactness, ideal languages, or ideal logic, "ideal" is the adjective. These are not different types of ideals. They are different types of things described by the same adjective, "ideal", and therefore we ought not assume that "ideal" refers to a different type of ideal in each case.Metaphysician Undercover

    You were previously only willing to acknowledge that the "ideal" adjective applies to exactness, whereas I repeatedly noted that Wittgenstein also applies it to many other things. You have otherwise treated "the ideal" as a catch-all noun, and have largely disregarded Wittgenstein's particular uses.

    Read 100 -110 and tell me how many times he mentions "the ideal".Metaphysician Undercover

    Wittgenstein references "the ideal" in regard to the ideal language, the ideal sentence, the ideal exactness, the ideal (purity of) logic, the ideal game, the ideal application of the word "game", and the ideal order between sentences, words and signs.

    Can you offer an explanation for why he drives a wedge between "ideal" and "perfect"?Metaphysician Undercover

    I disagree that W makes a distinction between "ideal" and "perfect" at §98 or §81. To be charitable, he appears to use two different senses of "perfect" in those sections: an ideal perfection of which he is critical, and a non-ideal perfection of which he is not critical.

    The non-ideal perfection of which he is not critical is found where he says that "there must be perfect order even in the vaguest sentence" (§98). Here, the "order" of the vague sentence is already "perfect" as it is. This is contrasted (in the same section) with the ideal meaning of "perfect" where he says: "we are not striving after an ideal, as if...a perfect language still had to be constructed by us."

    This does not help to support your claim, however, since he uses "ideal" only in a critical sense. This is consistent with W's other critical references to "the ideal" which are made to denounce common preconceptions regarding the once lofty aims of traditional philosophy, such as that it should seek to make new discoveries, to invent new languages, to provide a final analysis, to reveal hidden essences, etc.
  • Isaac
    340
    Could you expand upon this (or anyone else who happens to agree)? I'm genuinely curious. I have no philisophical knowledge of Witty at all.emancipate

    It's because it tries to show that a statement does not have some sublime meaning simply by virtue of being sayable. That the surity we have that some proposition we have constructed has grasped the "facts of the matter" is nothing to do with reason but is just a psychological artifact of the way language works. In essence it digs what's left of philosophy out of the massive pit it had burrowed itself into and gives it a purpose in an age where 'reckoning' how the world is from an armchair no longer passes muster.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    Wittgenstein references "the ideal" in regard to the ideal language, the ideal sentence, the ideal exactness, the ideal (purity of) logic, the ideal game, the ideal application of the word "game", and the ideal order between sentences, words and signs.Luke

    OK, so do you recognize that these instances do not refer to different types of ideals? There are different types of things referred to here, language, sentence, exactness, but "ideal" is used in the same way, so it is not a different type of ideal. Like when I say there's a red book and a red piece of cloth I am not referring to different types of red. The question is, why does he say it's misleading to associate "perfection" with "ideal" at 81. And also, at 98 he implies that there is a perfection which is something other than ideal. How is it possible that there is a perfection which is not ideal?

    The non-ideal perfection of which he is not critical is found where he says that "there must be perfect order even in the vaguest sentence" (§98). Here, the "order" of the vague sentence is already "perfect" as it is. This is contrasted (in the same section) with the ideal meaning of "perfect" where he says: "we are not striving after an ideal, as if...a perfect language still had to be constructed by us."Luke

    The problem here, is that he is saying that we are not striving after an ideal, we are not trying to construct a perfect language. If he is calling logic an ideal language, as at 81, it is "ideal" in some sense other than striving after perfection. So "ideal' has a meaning here other than as a perfection which we strive after. Now at 98 he gives "perfect" a meaning such that if a thing has been ordered, it is perfect simply by the fact that it has been ordered, regardless of how well ordered it is. The result is that "ideal" means something other than a perfection which we strive after, and anything we say is perfectly stated because it has been ordered by the act of saying it.

    How is this a realistic description of how we use language? Do we not always recognize the possibility of a better, more perfect way of saying things? Do we not use "ideal" to indicate the belief that there is a better way? You might insist that Wittgenstein is simply describing these two distinct ways of using "ideal", and "perfect", but the way that he describes them excludes the possibility of accepting both ways. One contradicts the other, and to use them both would result in a very messy equivocation. So it is quite clear that he is opting for one over the other.

    This does not help to support your claim, however, since he uses "ideal" only in a critical sense. This is consistent with W's other critical references to "the ideal" which are made to denounce common preconceptions regarding the once lofty aims of traditional philosophy, such as that it should seek to make new discoveries, to invent new languages, to provide a final analysis, to reveal hidden essences, etc.Luke

    For Wittgenstein to be critical in this way is hypocrisy. He is distinctly saying that the work of philosophy is to describe the use of language, not to criticize it. To criticize it is to pass judgement, and this implies that one ought, or ought not use language in a particular way. Where does Wittgenstein show any principles to give this criticism any repute? Such hypocritical criticism is nothing more than a potential for ridicule.
  • Luke
    321
    How is it possible that there is a perfection which is not ideal?Metaphysician Undercover

    Perhaps he is not using these terms synonymously despite your preconception that he must.

    So "ideal' has a meaning here other than as a perfection which we strive after.Metaphysician Undercover

    You have it backwards. It is the ideal which we are not striving after at 98.

    The result is that "ideal" means something other than a perfection which we strive afterMetaphysician Undercover

    You again have it backwards. Stick to what's written instead of speaking in abstract terms.

    He is distinctly saying that the work of philosophy is to describe the use of language, not to criticize it. To criticize it is to pass judgement, and this implies that one ought, or ought not use language in a particular way. Where does Wittgenstein show any principles to give this criticism any repute? Such hypocritical criticism is nothing more than a potential for ridicule.Metaphysician Undercover

    This makes no sense. You state that W distinctly says that the work of philosophy is not to criticise the use of language, but you then appear to imply that W criticises language use. Where does he do so? Your abstract bombast is tiring.

    On a personal note, I will be undergoing extensive medical treatment for a few months so I possibly might not be around for a while. However, on the plus side, I had Daniele Moyal-Sharrock follow me on academia.edu today for some unknown reason.
  • emancipate
    77
    . In essence it digs what's left of philosophy out of the massive pit it had burrowed itself into and gives it a purpose in an age where 'reckoning' how the world is from an armchair no longer passes muster.Isaac

    Interesting. Perhaps it's because I read mostly continental stuff, yet this doesn't seem like a unique vision. Maybe this was a bigger deal in the analytic tradition. I have heard that Witty crossed the analytic/continental divide though.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    You have it backwards. It is the ideal which we are not striving after at 98.Luke

    Right, this is the point. If we are not striving after an ideal, then what are we striving after? If any vague, unclear, or ambiguous sentence is in itself perfect, then why would we ever strive to produce better, more clear sentences, which would better facilitate understanding?

    There is an inconsistency between saying that vague and ambiguous sentences are perfect, and also saying that there is a goal of avoiding misunderstanding. A vague or ambiguous sentence supports misunderstanding, and therefore cannot be perfect in relation to this goal. Some metaphysicians, such as Aristotle and Aquinas have resolved this issue by referring to degrees of perfection. In this way, even the most vague or ambiguous sentence would have some degree of perfection, by the very fact that it exists in an ordered way, but it does not obtain the highest degree of perfection which is only afforded by the ideal. This allows two senses of "perfect", "perfect" in the sense of having been given order, and also "perfect" in the sense of the best possible order (ideal). But as you pointed out earlier, Wittgenstein does not mention "degrees" and so he seems to be unfamiliar with this potential resolution to that problem. Therefore he is left with the inconsistency which stems from the difference between the perfection of the ideal, and the perfection which things have by the very fact of having an ordered existence. And, he seems to be critical of associating "perfect" with "ideal". But this is simply how we use those words, and it cannot be denied. Nor does it make sense to say that it is misguided, or a misunderstanding of any sort to associate "ideal" with "perfect".

    This makes no sense. You state that W distinctly says that the work of philosophy is not to criticise the use of language, but you then appear to imply that W criticises language use. Where does he do so? Your abstract bombast is tiring.Luke

    I was replying to your statement:
    This does not help to support your claim, however, since he uses "ideal" only in a critical sense. This is consistent with W's other critical references to "the ideal" which are made to denounce common preconceptions regarding the once lofty aims of traditional philosophy, such as that it should seek to make new discoveries, to invent new languages, to provide a final analysis, to reveal hidden essences, etc.Luke
    It is you who has stated that W was being critical of others' use of "ideal" (aims of traditional philosophy). So there is no need for me to point you to where he criticizes the language use of others, you must already know, because you are the one whose made that assertion.

    I actually do not think that he is being critical in the way that you claim. And I was only pointing out that if he is being critical in the way that you claim, it is a case of being hypocritical.

    However, even if he is not being critical of others, as you claim he is, and not being hypocritical in that way, there is still the matter of inconsistency in his use of "ideal" and its relationship with "perfect".

    On a personal note, I will be undergoing extensive medical treatment for a few months so I possibly might not be around for a while.Luke

    All the best, and take good care of yourself.
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