• Isaac
    718
    It's very simple, "use" implies intent. There is no "using" without intent.Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't see intent having such a leading role. Imagine a sign actually being made and put in place. Who really intends for the pointy end to point to Dublin? I doubt very much if anyone involved actually does, they just do. If anyone really has an intent, it would be to get paid.
  • Fooloso4
    959
    "The only way we have to judge whether a person followed a rule or not is to judge whether the person behaved as intended.". It is important, I think, to stress (as you have done in your post) that a single person's intent does not make a rule.Isaac

    Intent is not limited to what a single person intends. If we come across a sign and do not know how to read it, we may ask about its intended meaning, which means, "what are we supposed to do?" We might also ask "what is the convention that determines the meaning of the sign?".

    It is only when someone knows how to read the sign that a judgment can be made as to whether the rule is being followed. Here we are not talking about some idiosyncratic intent that stands opposed to the convention, but about what one is to do in accord with the intended meaning as determined by convention.

    What does a yellow traffic light mean? If one's answer is based on observed practice he might conclude that it means to speed up to get through the light before it changes to red. This, however, is not its intended meaning, which is to proceed with caution. It's intended meaning is set by law.
  • Isaac
    718
    What does a yellow traffic light mean? If one's answer is based on observed practice he might conclude that it means to speed up to get through the light before it changes to red. This, however, is not its intended meaning, which is to proceed with caution. It's intended meaning is set by law.Fooloso4

    I don't see the authority law has to determine its meaning. The amber light means what it means to the community of light-users. I don't see how the intention of the law-maker somehow gets imbued into reality. It's intended meaning is nothing more than an historical footnote. It's meaning (which is what matters philosophically) is its current use.
  • Fooloso4
    959
    The amber light means what it means to the community of light-users.Isaac

    The meaning of the light is determined by law. The community may have some say in what the law should be, but this is not so straight forward. The laws are part of the community. Members of the community might push to have the law changed, but drivers do not get to decide what the traffic laws will be simply because they use the roads.

    It's meaning (which is what matters philosophically) is its current use.Isaac

    If some percentage of drivers speed through a yellow light this does not change the meaning of the light. They are breaking the law, even if they are the majority of drivers. The law is not simply what "everybody does". The law is does not take into consideration only what people do, but what they should do to ensure the safely of everyone who uses the road.

    The traffic light is intended to regulate the flow of traffic. It does not leave it up to the drivers of motor vehicles to determine what the light means.
  • Isaac
    718
    The meaning of the light is determined by law.Fooloso4

    How? The law-makers say "amber means get ready to stop" how does their saying so make it mean that?
  • unenlightened
    3.7k
    Whenever you find a dispute about what determines the meaning of an amber light, and once you have clarified whether it is flashing or steady, on the side of a vehicle or the top of a vehicle or fixed to a pole with or without other coloured lights, or a road sign, and of course specified which country it is in, then it is probably worth considering what determines the meaning of 'meaning'. because it can be used as a synonym for intention, significance, understanding, and ever so many other subtle variations, even as far as 'use'. Of course those of us that speak the Queen's English, know that meaning is determined by Her Majesty.

    Personally if pressed on the meaning of the amber traffic light, I would suggest it functions roughly as a punctuation mark - a change warning between stop and go, having no instructional content of its own.
  • Isaac
    718
    it is probably worth considering what determines the meaning of 'meaning'.unenlightened

    Perhaps we should, but as with the light, I should also want to know how that which determines the meaning of meaning enforces such a determination.
  • unenlightened
    3.7k
    It's the stiffness of the upper lip old chap. Either that or it would have to be determined by our agreeing it. And whereof we cannot agree the meaning, thereof we cannot meaningfully speak together. And how shall we reach agreement about what have not agreed the meaning of when we cannot meaningfully speak together? Lets hope that there are things that go without saying...
  • Fooloso4
    959
    The law-makers say "amber means get ready to stop" how does their saying so make it mean that?Isaac

    Because that is the standard that was set up and enforced.
  • Isaac
    718
    Because that is the standard that was set up and enforced.Fooloso4

    Yes, but how does their setting up a standard and legally enforcing it make it 'mean'?

    What word would be left to describe the rules of an urban race gang -
    "when you see the amber light go as fast as possible",
    "right" says the other gang member, "so amber means go as fast as possible",
    "no" says the first, "amber 'means' get ready to stop"
    The conversation doesn't make sense.
  • Fooloso4
    959
    Yes, but how does their setting up a standard and legally enforcing it make it 'mean'?Isaac

    Are you asking what makes a standard a standard? Its general acceptance by the community. The United States does not use the metric system. I cannot tell you how that came about. From time to time there is talk of changing to the metric system, but it has not happened.

    The conversation doesn't make sense.Isaac

    Meaning is not monolithic. What a traffic sign means as a matter of law may not be what it means in the rules of a race. Different activity, different rules.
  • Isaac
    718
    Are you asking what makes a standard a standard? Its general acceptance by the community.Fooloso4

    Right, so if 'the community' dynamically evolve a standard which differs from that of the people who created or instigated the lights, then that is what the meaning is, not the intent of the instigator. The intent of the instigator (law-maker, traffic light designer, whatever) may incidentally cause the meaning, or it may not. Acceptance by the community is the final arbiter, and if the community say amber means 'rush to get through' then that's what amber means.

    Meaning is not monolithic. What a traffic sign means as a matter of law may not be what it means in the rules of a race. Different activity, different rules.Fooloso4

    Exactly, but what is the commonality? Community acceptance. So it is not correct to say that the meaning of an amber light is determined by the law-makers. It may or may not be depending on how law abiding the community is. They could theoretically ignore their wishes completely.

    The only common thread joining all these potential origins of a particular meaning is the acceptance and use of a community, so it is simple to say that the communities accepted use determines meaning, the role of any other factors is incidental only.
  • Fooloso4
    959
    Right, so if 'the community' dynamically evolve a standard which differs from that of the people who created or instigated the lights, then that is what the meaning is, not the intent of the instigator.Isaac

    The intent is to regulate the flow of traffic. That does not change even if the standard by which the flow of traffic is regulated changes. To use one of Wittgenstein's tribe examples, a colorblind tribe would not have color coded traffic lights. They would have some other standard, but the intent would still be to regulate the flow of traffic.

    Acceptance by the community is the final arbiter, and if the community say amber means 'rush to get through' then that's what amber means.Isaac

    If it becomes the law then that is what it will mean. If it is found that there is an increase of accidents at the light, they may revise the law. It is still a matter of established standards and the intent to regulate traffic.

    Community acceptance. So it is not correct to say that the meaning of an amber light is determined by the law-makers.Isaac

    In a community governed by law the community accepts the law or attempts to change it.

    It may or may not be depending on how law abiding the community is. They could theoretically ignore their wishes completely.Isaac

    In that case the issue is not the color of the light but the lights themselves. They would no longer function as they are intended to. Without consent, either voluntary or involuntary, the law cannot be enforced. Suppose at some time in the future the traffic laws are ignored and not enforced, but the traffic lights still change color. If I were to ask what it means for the lights to change color the answer might be, "it does not mean anything" or "when people obeyed the traffic laws amber meant proceed with caution". There is no inherent meaning in an amber light, it is part of a practice, what Wittgenstein would call a way of life.

    so it is simple to say that the communities accepted use determines meaningIsaac

    This does not mean that intent plays no role in the practice. It is not as if traffic lights came first and then the community decided what the meaning of these lights would be. Traffic lights are installed with an intended purpose.
  • Isaac
    718
    The intent is to regulate the flow of traffic. That does not change even if the standard by which the flow of traffic is regulated changes. To use one of Wittgenstein's tribe examples, a colorblind tribe would not have color coded traffic lights. They would have some other standard, but the intent would still be to regulate the flow of traffic.Fooloso4

    I didn't say the intent would change or go away, I said the meaning would no longer be related to it. The intent of the law-makers might have been to regulate traffic flow, the intent of the wider community might just be to get to work on time.

    If it becomes the law then that is what it will mean.Fooloso4

    So you keep saying, but I've yet to see how. I get that the law becomes what it means if the community assents to using it that way, but then it is the community's assent which causes meaning.

    In a community governed by law the community accepts the law or attempts to change it.Fooloso4

    No, it absolutely doesn't, people break the law all the time and it doesn't mean that they have declined to be governed by law in general. It just means that law is only seen as set of proscription, not the final word on the meaning of life.

    This does not mean that intent plays no role in the practice. It is not as if traffic lights came first and then the community decided what the meaning of these lights would be.Fooloso4

    It is absolutely that. Traffic lights came first (with the intention of controlling traffic flow), then the community learns the pattern (amber indicates its about to turn red), and derives a meaning (rush to get through) depending entirely on it form of life, not on the original intention of those who made the lights.
  • Fooloso4
    959
    I didn't say the intent would change or go away, I said the meaning would no longer be related to it.Isaac

    But it is still related to it, that is, to regulating the flow of traffic.

    the intent of the wider community might just be to get to work on time.Isaac

    The wider community interested in getting to work did not install the traffic light.

    So you keep saying, but I've yet to see how. I get that the law becomes what it means if the community assents to using it that way, but then it is the community's assent which causes meaning.Isaac

    The community assents to give the law makers power to make and enforce the law. If they do not like the law they attempt to change it. But until the law is changed members of the community can be fined or jailed for breaking the law.

    No, it absolutely doesn't, people break the law all the time and it doesn't mean that they have declined to be governed by law in general. It just means that law is only seen as set of proscription, not the final word on the meaning of life.Isaac

    You have lost me here. I said nothing about declining to be governed by law. And I have said nothing about the meaning of life. We were talking about traffic lights, not the meaning of life. Or at least that is what I was talking about.

    Traffic lights came first (with the intention of controlling traffic flow)Isaac

    The lights did not come first. They did not appear before the intention or simultaneously with the intention of controlling traffic.

    then the community learns the pattern (amber indicates its about to turn red), and derives a meaning (rush to get through) depending entirely on it form of life, not on the original intention of those who made the lights.Isaac

    The lights have a legal meaning. If you run a red light because you rush to get through, it does not matter what meaning you or others derive. You have broken the law. The meaning of the light is clear and unambiguous. No judge would buy your story.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    MU seemed to have raised the zombie of personal intent creating the rule again with the ambiguous "The only way we have to judge whether a person followed a rule or not is to judge whether the person behaved as intended.". It is important, I think, to stress (as you have done in your post) that a single person's intent does not make a rule. I realise we haven't yet reached the private language argument, but things have once or twice seemed to be heading down that dead end.Isaac

    The problem here is that only individual people have intent. We can generalize, take a vote or something, and say it is "the will of the people" or some such thing, but to say that numerous people have the "same" intent is very sketchy, and highly improbable. Here's a good example of that very problem in Fooloso4's post:

    The intent is to regulate the flow of traffic. That does not change even if the standard by which the flow of traffic is regulated changes. To use one of Wittgenstein's tribe examples, a colorblind tribe would not have color coded traffic lights. They would have some other standard, but the intent would still be to regulate the flow of traffic.Fooloso4

    Whose intent is it to regulate the flow of traffic? It's obviously not the intent of the traffic lights. You might say that it's the intent of the state, or the city, but these aren't the type of things which have intent. It would make more sense to say that it's God's intent, at least god is supposed to be a being with intention. And as described above, a group of people do not have a single, "same" intent, so "it's the will of the people" doesn't make sense either.

    I don't see intent having such a leading role. Imagine a sign actually being made and put in place. Who really intends for the pointy end to point to Dublin? I doubt very much if anyone involved actually does, they just do. If anyone really has an intent, it would be to get paid.Isaac

    The issue is that with "meaning is use", Wittgenstein has clearly referenced purpose and therefore deferred to intention. To understand a word's meaning is to understand its use, which means that we need to understand its purpose and therefore the intention behind it. Normally, in questions of intention (which are often moral questions), we hold a person responsible for one's own actions. Therefore the person who plants the sign is responsible for which way it is pointed. If it points to Dublin, then it is the person who planted it, who intended it to point that way. I don't see how you could think that the person who planted the sign just planted it randomly without intending to have it point the way that it does, regardless of whether or not that person was getting paid to plant it.

    As I said in my earlier post, Wittgenstein has decided that the fundamental principles of language are moral principles, rather than logical principles. He has dismissed those elements of crystalline purity required (the ideal) for ideal understanding, to be replaced with "serves the purpose". But now, by describing language use as a human activity, intended to serve a purpose, he has stumbled into the field of moral philosophy. The fundamental principles which support language are the same principles which support morality.

    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.

    Notice, he has not really dismissed "striving for the ideal". Our aim is complete clarity, which will make philosophical problems disappear. But now the philosophical problems have become much more complicated because we have to deal with "serves the purpose", and therefore intention. There is not one "purpose", but a complex, and philosophy takes the characteristics of therapy.
    — Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
  • Isaac
    718


    You are making some very strange assertions which seem completely unrelated to the point at hand. We are discussing the meaning of signs, yes? Signs in the broad sense of the word, as in symbols or structures to which people respond in a manner not directly resultant from the physical form of the object. A signpost was one example, the amber traffic light another.

    The meaning of the sign is the message contained in its structure. As if we could translate the structure to a sentence - "walk in the direction of the pointy end if you want to get to the place written on the flat bit", "slowly bring your car to a halt if it is safe to do so".

    The reason why this is all relevant to the PI, is because (amongst other things) Wittgenstein says that there is a problem with these 'translations' in that they themselves are just symbols, and to say their meaning in further translations becomes circular. To say their meaning with further signs (such as ostension or samples) becomes circular, hence the conclusion that our form of life teaches us how to respond.

    Just checking we're on the same page with this because some of the comments seem to be completely unrelated, as if I needed teaching how town planning works, or the function of law in a democratic society. If you extend me the courtesy of assuming I already know these things, we can move on to the reason I mention them. If instead you're just going to repeat platitudes as if I was five, then we might as well just stop now.

    So, are you actually interested in the position I'm holding, or are we just going back to the same pissing contest which has dogged this thread thus far for the prize of sitting in the 'teacher's chair'?
  • Isaac
    718
    The problem here is that only individual people have intent. We can generalize, take a vote or something, and say it is "the will of the people" or some such thing, but to say that numerous people have the "same" intent is very sketchy, and highly improbable.Metaphysician Undercover

    Really? Why do you think it's 'sketchy' the London Marathon is run by a few thousand people each year, I think it's pretty safe to say they all at least have in common he intent to run as much as they are able along the set route. Unless you're going to get into some totally unnecessary sorties paradox, I don't see the problem with saying these people all have the same intent.

    It would make more sense to say that it's God's intentMetaphysician Undercover

    Well. If you seriously think it would make more sense to say that it is the intent of a supernatural being who created a billion planets only to populate one of them, mostly with bacteria, but with one species whose main purpose it seems is to sing to him on Sunday, then you clearly have a very different definition of 'sense' to me.

    If it points to Dublin, then it is the person who planted it, who intended it to point that way. I don't see how you could think that the person who planted the sign just planted it randomly without intending to have it point the way that it does, regardless of whether or not that person was getting paid to plant it.Metaphysician Undercover

    Clearly you've never had any dealings with the public sector. I've seen signs hung the wrong way round. I've seen pdf forms which are not even fillable. I had to complete a spreadsheet only last week where one of the columns was supposed to contain two numbers separated by a comma, rendering all calculation on that row entirely false. I don't know what utopia you live in, but here in the real world people just unthinkingly do stuff to get paid, get home and do it all again the next day.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    Really? Why do you think it's 'sketchy' the London Marathon is run by a few thousand people each year, I think it's pretty safe to say they all at least have in common he intent to run as much as they are able along the set route. Unless you're going to get into some totally unnecessary sorties paradox, I don't see the problem with saying these people all have the same intent.Isaac

    Different runners run the marathon for different reasons, I've seen them interviewed. So I don't see any common intent there. Many may have a similar intent, but if we hold to a strict sense of "same" which is common in philosophy, and called for by the law of identity, their intentions are not the same.

    Well. If you seriously think it would make more sense to say that it is the intent of a supernatural being who created a billion planets only to populate one of them, mostly with bacteria, but with one species whose main purpose it seems is to sing to him on Sunday, then you clearly have a very different definition of 'sense' to me.Isaac

    It makes more sense to say that a being who is assumed to have intention has intention (even if that being is fictional), than it does to say that a thing which is known not to have intention has intention. That is my opinion, and that is why "God" makes more sense to me in that particular context. The idea of panpsychism does not make sense to me, neither does the idea of a world-soul, or universal-soul make sense to me. Maybe you reason to think otherwise.

    I've seen signs hung the wrong way round.Isaac

    OK, "wrong way round" implies that a mistake was made. Now who would you hold responsible for the sign being hung the wrong way around? Unless the sign-hanger was instructed to hang it that way, the responsibility for that mistake rests on the sign hanger. Or would you prefer to blame the state-soul? The state-soul made the mistake. Saying that the person did it "unthinkingly" does not remove the intentionality from the act. Habitual acts of human beings are still classified as intentional acts. "Unthinkingly" does not absolve one from blame.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k

    There's a lot said by Wittgenstein in the upcoming section 137-200, about what you might call the "unthinkingly" way of doing things. I'm going to read that section again, and take some notes. I'll get back to you on this subject, perhaps we can discuss it further.
  • Isaac
    718
    Different runners run the marathon for different reasons, I've seen them interviewed. So I don't see any common intent there.Metaphysician Undercover

    Hence my reference to the sorties paradox. We simply cannot proceed with any investigation if we hold such a high standard for 'the same'. We cannot talk about anything, because all terms are artificial groupings of things which are only similar, not truly 'the same'. In order to show the relevance of what you're saying here you'd need a supporting argument as to why the level of similarity in intent I'm referring to was not acceptable for the type of investigation this is.

    It makes more sense to say that a being who is assumed to have intention has intention (even if that being is fictional), than it does to say that a thing which is known not to have intention has intention.Metaphysician Undercover

    A fictional being is also not known to have intention. God may or may not have intention in exactly the same way a community may or may not have intention, or a rock, or my ideas. We simply have no data whatsoever to go on, and to presume such a thing even exists requires an acceptance of the supernatural, which then easily allows for anything else to have intention by the same special pleading "it does so supernaturally".

    OK, "wrong way round" implies that a mistake was made. Now who would you hold responsible for the sign being hung the wrong way around? Unless the sign-hanger was instructed to hang it that way, the responsibility for that mistake rests on the sign hanger.Metaphysician Undercover

    Responsibility depends on circumstance. Like Foolso you seem to be just assuming the rule of law/society. If the sign-hanger didn't give a toss about their job, just wanted to get home quickly and 'the wrong way round' was quicker than the right way, then he didn't make a mistake. He achieved exactly what he set out to do. A mistake is only judgeable from a perspective.

    There's a lot said by Wittgenstein in the upcoming section 137-200, about what you might call the "unthinkingly" way of doing things. I'm going to read that section again, and take some notes. I'll get back to you on this subject, perhaps we can discuss it further.Metaphysician Undercover

    I think there's considerable feeling here that we progress in order, so perhaps this should wait until the others get there.
  • Fooloso4
    959
    We are discussing the meaning of signs, yes? Signs in the broad sense of the word, as in symbols or structures to which people respond in a manner not directly resultant from the physical form of the object. A signpost was one example, the amber traffic light another.Isaac

    At the moment, we are or were talking about traffic lights. It is, however, part of a larger discussion that includes the relationship between intention and meaning. You asked:

    Yes, but how does their setting up a standard and legally enforcing it make it 'mean'?Isaac

    You rejected the claim that the meaning is established by law and said it was a matter of community assent. But yellow does not mean caution because the community assented to that meaning. What they assented to is the law. And that does not mean the law that yellow means caution but assent to the establishment and enforcement of law, which includes traffic laws, which include use caution when the light is yellow.

    The meaning of the sign is the message contained in its structure.Isaac

    And what is the meaning of the message? Clearly a sign contains a message. The question we have been dealing with is what it means.

    To say their meaning with further signs (such as ostension or samples) becomes circular, hence the conclusion that our form of life teaches us how to respond.Isaac

    It is not our form of life that teaches us how to respond, but rather what we are taught as part of our form of life. And this happens in a variety of different ways - training, explanation, following the example of others, and so on.

    So, are you actually interested in the position I'm holding, or are we just going back to the same pissing contest which has dogged this thread thus far for the prize of sitting in the 'teacher's chair'?Isaac

    First, I did not think it was a pissing contest. If you are vying to sit in the 'teacher's chair' then have at it. As far as I am concerned Wittgenstein holds the chair. As to the position you are holding, I cannot say if I am actually interested in that position until I know what it is. As of now, I do not know what that position is.
  • Isaac
    718
    What they assented to is the law. And that does not mean the law that yellow means caution but assent to the establishment and enforcement of law, which includes traffic laws, which include use caution when the light is yellow.Fooloso4

    Yes, and I said that consent to the establishment of law does not seem to imply a necessity abide by it, so I'm still at a loss to see how law makes what I wants a thing to mean actually have that effect in an unwilling/uncaring community.

    It is not our form of life that teaches us how to respond, but rather what we are taught as part of our form of life. And this happens in a variety of different ways - training, explanation, following the example of others, and so on.Fooloso4

    This is the kind of condescending comment I was referring to. Have I really given the impression that I'm not at least fairly well versed in Wittgenstein? So what is the relative liklihood that I... a) didn't know that teaching how to respond takes many forms and is within a form of life, or b) just used "our form of life teaches us" as a shorthand for the situation explained by Wittgenstein that I presume we are all familiar enough with that I don't have to spell it out each time I refer to it?

    A little charity in reading rather than constant presumption of ignorance about the subject would really make the conversation go a lot smoother.

    As to the position you are holding, I cannot say if I am actually interested in that position until I know what it is. As of now, I do not know what that position is.Fooloso4

    A fact which doesn't surprise me as you haven't even asked yet, just pedagogically listed some facts related to things I've said.
  • Fooloso4
    959
    This is the kind of condescending comment I was referring to. Have I really given the impression that I'm not at least fairly well versed in Wittgenstein?Isaac

    And this is why I think it is best that I no longer respond to you. Being well versed in Wittgenstein does not mean that you cannot be mistaken. There is a great deal written about "form of life" by well regarded scholars of Wittgenstein that is in dispute.

    As to the position you are holding, I cannot say if I am actually interested in that position until I know what it is. As of now, I do not know what that position is.
    — Fooloso4

    A fact which doesn't surprise me as you haven't even asked yet
    Isaac

    I am not here to solicit opinions. If you have a position you want to present then do what everyone else does, present it. Why would you wait for me to ask? If you do present it, I think it best, given your sensitivity to my criticism, that I simply ignore it.
  • Isaac
    718
    I am not here to solicit opinions.Fooloso4

    Yeah, that pretty much sums up 90% of my experience on this forum. You do know what a 'forum' is, what 'discussion' is? What are you posting on a public forum for if not to solicit opinion? As I said, nothing but a pissing contest for the teacher's chair.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    We simply cannot proceed with any investigation if we hold such a high standard for 'the same'. We cannot talk about anything, because all terms are artificial groupings of things which are only similar, not truly 'the same'. In order to show the relevance of what you're saying here you'd need a supporting argument as to why the level of similarity in intent I'm referring to was not acceptable for the type of investigation this is.Isaac


    That's not true at all, "same" has a very useful purpose, it refers to one identical thing, one and the same. And, similar things can be members of the same group, so can different parts be parts of the same whole. But similar things are never the same thing. If two things are similar, then call them "similar", or perhaps members of the same group. There is no need to say that similar things are "the same", no purpose to that. We have two distinct words, "similar" and "same", each with its own purpose. What's the point in calling two similar things "the same" unless your intent is to deceive?

    So, the very opposite of what you propose is what is really the case. There's no point in proceeding with any such investigation if we allow ourselves to refer to similar things as the same? All we could do is confuse ourselves. That's why we distinguish "similar" from "same", to avoid the confusion which results from thinking that similar things are the same thing. We need high standards of identity if we have any desire to make progress in a philosophical investigation such as this, and this means maintaining the distinction between "similar" and "same".

    To reply to your claim then, no degree of similarity is acceptable for calling two distinct things "the same", because "similar" refers to a multitude of things and "same" refers to one thing. So it is impossible that similar things are the same thing. Therefore please do not say that similar things are the same, because we know that this is impossible.
  • StreetlightX
    3.8k
    A relevant quote relating to issues around §116:

    "In the work of Wittgenstein ... appeals to "what we ordinarily say" take on a different emphasis [from Moore]. In [Wittgenstein] the emphasis is less on the ordinariness of an expression (which seems mostly to mean, from Moore to Austin, an expression not used solely by philosophers) than on the fact that they are said (or, of course, written) by human beings, to human beings, in definite contexts, in a language they share: hence the obsession with the use of expressions. "The meaning is the use" calls attention to the fact that what an expression means is a function of what it is used to mean or to say on specific occasions by human beings ... Wittgenstein's motive (and this much is shared by Austin) is to put the human animal back into language and therewith back into philosophy." (Stanley Cavell, The Claim of Reason).
  • StreetlightX
    3.8k
    §117:

    This is a bit tough and I have to go a bit beyond what's just there to make sense of this one, but here's what I make of it: the metaphysician insists that she is using an expression in just the same way that it is used in an 'ordinary' circumstance (or what Witty refers to as a 'special circumstance'): "I’m using it with the meaning you’re familiar with."

    And Witty's response is something like: you can't just say this. If meaning is use in a language-game, the language-game needs to be in place if that 'same' meaning is to be preserved - and it's not at all clear that, in the metaphysician's use, that language-game (or any language-game) is in place.

    This is why Witty is critical of the idea that the meaning of terms is retained in "every kind of use": but Witty's whole point is that there is no 'every kind of use': use is always 'language-game relative' - use in this or that language-game, not "every kind of use".

    And this in turn leads to Witty's critique of the idea that a word's meaning is separable from a word's use: "As if the meaning were an aura the word brings along with it and retains in every kind of use." Which, is some sense, follows analytically from the equation of meaning and use that Witty's attempted to establish (if meaning is use, it obviously cannot be otherwise than that use).
  • sime
    375
    Suppose "pi" defines the perfect circle. Do you think that striving to resolve the exact mathematical value of pi would be a case of striving after the ideal? We all think that pi has no end, and to prove that it has no end is a fruitless task, like proving infinite has no end. But what if someone found the end?Metaphysician Undercover

    When writing pi as 3.14159... the dots "..." do not abbreviate the numeric result of an algorithm, rather the dots express that pi is a sequence generating algorithm, as opposed to referring to a particular numeric result of using such an algorithm. Hence "pi has no end" is true in referring to a sequence generating process.

    All that said, Wittgenstein wrote remarks on several occasions that indicated his recognition of a theological sense in which mathematicians like Georg Cantor thought of the infinite cardinal numbers as representing platonistic "completed " infinities; namely in Wittgenstein's acknowledgement of the "giddy feelings" that accompany thinking about set-theory from the platonistic perspective, and that have psychologically motivated it's development. Wittgenstein, while clearly recognising this theological motivation and use of mathematics, forewarned that it led to the unnecessary development of confusing and over-complicated formalisms of logic that were misleading when it came to the practical application of logic and mathematics.
  • unenlightened
    3.7k
    And this in turn leads to Witty's critique of the idea that a word's meaning is separable from a word's use: "As if the meaning were an aura the word brings along with it and retains in every kind of use." Which, is some sense, follows analytically from the equation of meaning and use that Witty's attempted to establish (if meaning is use, it obviously cannot be otherwise than that use).StreetlightX

    And yet words do have a aura that is the ghost of all the uses in all the games of the ancestors. This supernatural meaning is employed by poets and advertisers who say literally meaningless things that nevertheless convey - something that perhaps cannot be said explicitly. We talk about 'subtext' as well as 'context'.

    The inseparability of meaning from use must work both ways, so when I use 'supernatural' in this game, the aura of the Roman gods is somehow invoked, whether I intend it or not.
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