• Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    He makes no mention of the "goal of philosophy" in either of those sections. If you want to pretend like you've already proven otherwise, then so be it.Luke

    109 We must do away with all explanation, and description alone must take its place.
    And this description gets its light, that is to say its purpose, from the philosophical problems.
    124. Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundation either. It leaves everything as it is.
    125. It is the business of philosophy, not to resolve a contradiction by means of a mathematical or logico-mathematical discovery, but to make it possible for us to get a clear view of the state of mathematics that troubles us: the state of affairs before the contradiction is resolved.
    126. Philosophy simply puts everything before us, and neither explains nor deduces anything.—Since everything lies open to view there is nothing to explain.

    Take it as you will, but if "the business of philosophy" is to do such and such, then I would assume that its aim or "goal" is to do that. Don't you think?

    If one describes philosophy such that the business of philosophy is to explain nothing, yet it is the goal of philosophy to clarify (which is to explain), there is a problem with the description.

    Your claim that "he is talking about the ordering of words in a sentence" at §98 is ridiculous.Luke

    A sentence consists of words and nothing else. If a sentence has perfect order within it, then that order must be the order of its words. If you happen to think that the "perfect order" which is "in the vaguest sentence", could possibly refer to something other than the ordering of its words, perhaps you could try your hand at explaining this.
  • Luke
    533
    Take it as you will, but if "the business of philosophy" is to do such and such, then I would assume that its aim or "goal" is to do that. Don't you think?Metaphysician Undercover

    There is a distinction to be made - which I have tried to make it in my previous posts - between the work of philosophy and the goal of philosophy. I think that the work of philosophy, per Wittgenstein, is to lay things out to get a clear view, but that this is not the goal of philosophy. The goal of philosophy is to make the philosophical problems disappear, which is achieved when we attain complete clarity (§133). The process of arriving at that goal (i.e. the work of philosophy) is not the goal.

    A sentence consists of words and nothing else. If a sentence has perfect order within it, then that order must be the order of its words. If you happen to think that the "perfect order" which is "in the vaguest sentence", could possibly refer to something other than the ordering of its words, perhaps you could try your hand at explaining this.Metaphysician Undercover

    That is to say, we are not striving after an ideal, as if our ordinary vague sentences had not yet got a quite unexceptionable sense, and a perfect language still had to be constructed by us. — On the other hand, it seems clear that where there is sense, there must be perfect order. — PI §98

    My reading: On the one hand, we don't need to provide some unexceptionable sense to our ordinary (vague) sentences or to construct a perfect language. On the other hand, the sense of our ordinary vague sentences is already in perfect order. So there must be perfect order even in the vaguest (i.e. in terms of sense) sentence.

    In his book, Wittgenstein's Investigations 1-133: A Guide and Interpretation, author Andrew Lugg comments about §98:

    It seems undeniable that even a vague sentence like 'There is something on the table' must have a 'perfect order' buried in it, one that pins down its meaning exactly. [...]

    The fact that ordinary language lacks the definiteness philosophers aspire to is no strike against it. Sentences that fall short of perfection in the philosopher's sense are not unusable. Ordinary sentences should not be regarded 'as if [they] had not yet got a quite unexceptionable sense'. They do not have to have a perfect order of the sort philosopher's envision to make perfectly good sense in the normal course of events.
  • StreetlightX
    3.9k
    That's reasonably intuitive from the perspective of pure math or logic (though still debatable), but it's very wrong for applied math/physics and statistics.fdrake

    Hmm, I think Witty's point deals more with facts 'of' math: things like Goldbach's conjecture, the 'neverendingness' of transcendental numbers, how to deal with negation, the Riemann hypothesis and so on. I imagine that Witty's response to the formula your provided is that it isn't a 'mathematical' one, but a physical one. So there, you're dealing with a fact of how long it takes for an object to drop - and therefore an empirical fact, and not a mathematical one (even as it employs mathematical 'means'). The idea (in §124) is that you can't 'philosophize' your way to, say, a proof or disproof of Goldbach's conjecture. Only actually doing the math can furnish such a proof. This is the sense in which philosophy 'leaves mathematics as it is'.

    I know it seems a finicky distinction, but I think that's the 'range of application' of what Witty is saying. One should also read these passages with Witty's intellectual context in mind: he's responding here to Frege, Russell, Cantor and the like: the 'atmosphere' in which his words are being set out are against these debates on the status of math qua math. Some of this might be brought out in read §125. Let me move on to that and see.
  • StreetlightX
    3.9k
    §125

    §125 is a slightly deeper exploration of math that was broached in §124. In particular, it takes contradiction in math as a working example. If, in §124, it was asserted that it isn't philosophy's job to extend math in any way ("it leaves everything as it is"), here in §125 philosophy cannot, or rather, is "not in the business" of solving mathematical contradictions. So what does, or can, philosophy do?

    I read §125 as saying that what philosophy can do is show how contradictions can arise: we lay down rules, and in following the rules, we end up with a contradiction. Note the 'deflationary' import of this: contradictions result from the rules we lay down - they are not, as it were, mathematical 'facts', like 'this stone is grey'. No change of rules will change the (empirical) fact that the stone is grey. Changing the rules however, will change whether or not a contradiction results. This is all to emphasise (again) that philosophy works at the level of the understanding, and not at the level of facts.

    The philosophical 'problem' is in understanding just this 'status' of contradiction: to understand that it results from our 'entanglement in rules': that it has this status, is just what philosophy can show - can do (as distinct from what it cannot do: 'solve' the contradiction). So this is not a 'mathematical discovery': one might call it instead a 'discovery about math'.
  • StreetlightX
    3.9k
    §126, §127

    Not much to say about these other than they recapitulate, again, that philosophy is descriptive and subtractive, and not explanatory. That said, I'm not sure what it is that the philosopher 'marshalls' when he or she 'marshalls recollections': recollections of what? Any ideas?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    There is a distinction to be made - which I have tried to make it in my previous posts - between the work of philosophy and the goal of philosophy. I think that the work of philosophy, per Wittgenstein, is to lay things out to get a clear view, but that this is not the goal of philosophy. The goal of philosophy is to make the philosophical problems disappear, which is achieved when we attain complete clarity (§133). The process of arriving at that goal (i.e. the work of philosophy) is not the goal.Luke

    You're missing a key part of the description, which is explored at 128-132. This is the method by which philosophy proceeds toward its goal of making philosophical problems disappear. And the method is an arrangement of the order (a hierarchy) in language-games. The method described by Wittgenstein is known as platonic dialectics. Prior to this point in the book, the strategies of platonic dialectics have been dismissed, because the method of philosophy described by Wittgenstein has been just to look at things and describe things. The point I'm making is that at 127 there is a shift in the description of the method of philosophy, from simply describing things and even doing things (laying things out) to provide a clear look at things, to now, actively arranging things for the purpose of clarity. The latter might be called explanation.

    My reading: On the one hand, we don't need to provide some unexceptionable sense to our ordinary (vague) sentences or to construct a perfect language. On the other hand, the sense of our ordinary vague sentences is already in perfect order. So there must be perfect order even in the vaguest (i.e. in terms of sense) sentence.Luke

    Right, the sentence is vague in the terms of sense. I agree. Bit the sentence only has a sense because it has an order. The order, within the sentence is what gives it a sense. If it had no order it would have no sense.

    It seems undeniable that even a vague sentence like 'There is something on the table' must have a 'perfect order' buried in it, one that pins down its meaning exactly. [...]

    As I said, the sentence consists of words. If the order is not the order of the words, then what is it? To say that the order is somehow "buried in it" does not answer the question. We could break down a spoken sentence and analyze the individual syllables and sound patterns (which Plato actually did), or we could break down a written sentence and analyze the individual letters, looking for the buried order, but the point is that we ought not invoke some sort of mystical spirit to account for "the sense". "The sense" must be discoverable from the physical "order".

    I'll just say that I believe the problem with this way of looking at "sense" is that it neglects "context" as contributing to the sense. So if we attribute sense to order, then we have to bring context into order, such that the context of the sentence is part of the sentence's order. Wittgenstein deals with context in terms of language-games, so now at 128-130, he is discussing the ordering of language-games which a philosopher might do. But this still does not give us everything which is necessary, to describe context in the sense of the particularities and peculiarities of individual situations.
  • Sam26
    1.3k
    "The fundamental fact here is that we lay down rules, a technique, for a game, and that then when we follow the rules, thing do not turn out as we had assumed. That we are therefore as it were entangled in our own rules (PI 125)."

    This is true not only of mathematics, but of any language we use to describe reality. Part of language's function, as I see it, is to describe reality, and we create language-games (governed by rules) to do just that. The contradictions, may not be contradiction of facts in the world, but the contradictions arise in the way we describe things, and the rules involved in the language-games used.

    "A whole series of confusions has arisen around the question of consistency.

    "Firstly, we have to ask where the cotnradiction is suppose to arise: in the rules or in the configurations of the game.

    "What is a rule? If, e.g., I say 'Do this and don't do this', the other doesn't know what he is meant to do; that is, we don't allow a contradiction to count as a rule. We just don't call a contradiction a rule - or more simply the grammar of the word 'rule' is such that a contradiction isn't designated as a rule. Now if a contradiction occurs among the rules, I could say: these aren't rules in the sense that I normally speak of rules. What do we do in such a case? Nothing could be more simple: we give a new rule and the matter's resolved (Philosophical Remarks, p. 344, Notes of December 1931)."
  • Sam26
    1.3k
    Not much to say about these other than they recapitulate, again, that philosophy is descriptive and subtractive, and not explanatory. That said, I'm not sure what it is that the philosopher 'marshalls' when he or she 'marshalls recollections': recollections of what? Any ideas?StreetlightX

    It isn't so clear, but it seems that in context it's reminders of (you must have a different translation, mine uses reminders, not recollections) of just what it is that philosophy, as Wittgenstein sees it, is trying to do (PI 126). This is where I part company with Wittgenstein.
  • Luke
    533
    You're missing a key part of the description, which is explored at 128-132.Metaphysician Undercover

    Did you have any further defence for your claims about the goal of philosophy? I directly responded to your question. Don't insult me with this crap.

    The point I'm making is that at 127 there is a shift in the description of the method of philosophy, from simply describing things and even doing things (laying things out) to provide a clear look at things, to now, actively arranging things for the purpose of clarity. The latter might be called explanation.Metaphysician Undercover

    Read the latest article I posted re: explanation.

    the sentence consists of words. If the order is not the order of the words, then what is it?Metaphysician Undercover

    It might surprise you that there is more to a sentence than its words; sentences also have a meaning or a sense. Furthermore, the word "order" can have more than one meaning. At §98, "order" refers to the sense/meaning of a sentence. (How many times do I need to say that?) At §132, "order" refers to the arrangement of grammatical evidence.
  • StreetlightX
    3.9k
    Hmm, I don't think that works: "The work of the philosopher consists in marshalling recollections... of just what it is that philosophy is trying to do".

    That said, I think there's a grammatical ambiguity that might be helpful to exploit. Is it:

    (1) "The work of the philosopher consists in [marshalling recollections] [for a particular purpose]."; Or,
    (2) "The work of the philosopher consists in marshalling [recollections for a particular purpose].

    That is, what does the 'for a particular purpose' qualify: the marshalling ('assembling' in Anscombe's translation), or the recollecting ('reminding' in Anscombe's translation)? I suspect it's the second: what is recollected is the purpose - the use - of words in a language-game. And the philosopher needs to recall that, so as to not to attempt to provide theses or theories of language. So if this reading is correct, one recollects (remembers) the purpose of a word (I think here again of §87: "The signpost is in order - if, under normal circumstances, it fulfils its purpose"; the philosohper's job consists in recalling these purposes). I think that works.
  • Sam26
    1.3k
    Hmm, I don't think that works: "The work of the philosopher consists in marshalling recollections... of just what it is that philosophy is trying to do".StreetlightX

    I have Anscombe's translation (third edition). I'm not sure exactly what Wittgenstein's is saying, you may be right.
  • fdrake
    2.5k
    I know it seems a finicky distinction, but I think that's the 'range of application' of what Witty is saying. One should also read these passages with Witty's intellectual context in mind: he's responding here to Frege, Russell, Cantor and the like: the 'atmosphere' in which his words are being set out are against these debates on the status of math qua math. Some of this might be brought out in read §125. Let me move on to that and see.StreetlightX

    That seems clear enough to me, thanks.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    Did you have any further defence for your claims about the goal of philosophy? I directly responded to your question. Don't insult me with this crap.Luke

    I pointed out that your response missed a key point. The so-called goal of philosophy requires a process, or work, described at 130-132, which is inconsistent with the described work of philosophy prior to 127. Why does that insult you?

    It might surprise you that there is more to a sentence than its words; sentences also have a meaning or a senseLuke

    Meaning is use in the context of this book, and the way a sentence is used (therefore its meaning) is distinct from the sentence itself. We cannot say that the meaning is a property of the sentence, it is the use.

    At §98, "order" refers to the sense/meaning of a sentence. (How many times do I need to say that?)Luke

    Order does not refer to sense or meaning, I went through this already. Order is what is required for a sentence to have a sense. 'If there is a sense there must be order' does not indicate that "order" refers to sense.

    At §132, "order" refers to the arrangement of grammatical evidence.Luke

    Right, and at 98, "order" refers to the "grammatical evidence" of the sentence. That's why the two uses of "order" are comparable. If you read from 130 on toward 132 you'll see that this order, which you call "grammatical evidence", is understood by comparing language-games, similarities and differences.

    Referring back to 98, how an individual composes a sentence, the choice and ordering of words, and what follows, the "sense" of the sentence, depends on the language-games which the individual is involved in. So the "grammatical evidence" (order) of the sentence (98), which allows the sentence to have a sense, is the very same "grammatical evidence" (order) which underlies our knowledge of the use of language: It is an understanding of the order of language-games which allows one to know the sense of a sentence, as well as to have knowledge of the use of language. Knowing how to grasp the sense of a sentence is the very same thing as having knowledge of the use of language.
  • Fooloso4
    960
    That said, I'm not sure what it is that the philosopher 'marshalls' when he or she 'marshalls recollections': recollections of what? Any ideas?StreetlightX

    I think it refers to "the actual use of language" (124) "to bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use (116)"
  • Luke
    533
    I pointed out that your response missed a key point. The so-called goal of philosophy requires a process, or work, described at 130-132, which is inconsistent with the described work of philosophy prior to 127. Why does that insult you?Metaphysician Undercover

    You said that the business (work) of philosophy was the goal of philosophy, and I painstakingly pointed out to you that this was incorrect. What I found insulting was that you made no acknowledgement of your error, you adopted the distinction I made which demonstrated your error, and then you proceeded to tell me that I had overlooked something. Furthermore, what you claim I had overlooked was virtually a change of subject which had little to do with our prior disagreement regarding the goal of philosophy.

    Order does not refer to sense or meaning,Metaphysician Undercover

    That's how Wittgenstein is using it, whether you agree or not. I supported this with quotes from a secondary source reading of the text. In another reading, Baker and Hacker offer (my bolding):

    ‘. . . our language “is in order as it is” ’: an allusion to TLP 5.5563 (see 2.1),
    contra Russell and Frege. In the Preface to the Tractatus Russell had revealed
    his incomprehension:

    Mr. Wittgenstein is concerned with the conditions for a logically perfect language —
    not that any language is logically perfect, or that we believe ourselves capable, here
    and now, of constructing a logically perfect language, but that the whole function of
    language is to have meaning, and it only fulfils this function in proportion as it approaches
    to the ideal language which we postulate. (TLP p. x)'


    This view W. repudiated, both then and later. What was wrong with the Tractatus
    conception of the ‘good order’ of ordinary language was, among other things,
    its forcing the requirement of determinacy of sense upon language. This theme
    is pursued in §§98–107.
    Baker and Hacker

    See the association of order and sense? Wittgenstein repudiated the view that the good (or perfect) order of ordinary language requires a determinacy of sense. This is why he says at §98 that there is perfect order even in the vaguest sentence (i.e. a sentence with weakly determinate sense). "Order" here refers to sense, or determinacy of sense; it does not refer to an arrangement of words.

    Right, and at 98, "order" refers to the "grammatical evidence" of the sentence.Metaphysician Undercover

    No, it doesn't. I'm not going to argue about §98 any further.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    You said that the business (work) of philosophy was the goal of philosophy, and I painstakingly pointed out to you that this was incorrect.Luke

    Despite your pains, there is no such error. If the work of philosophy is to do X, then the philosopher's goal is to do X. You are incorrectly arguing that if this work is used for some further end, then that end is the goal of philosophy. It is not. That further end is the goal of some other discipline which might use the work of philosophy toward that further end. The goal of each discipline is to do the work which is proper to that discipline, and nothing else. That's why these distinct fields of study are called "disciplines", we are disciplined not to have goals outside the boundaries which define the work of the field.

    I supported this with quotes from a secondary source reading of the text.Luke

    There's a big problem for you though, none of your quotes support your claim. They support mine.

    See the association of order and sense?Luke

    Yes, the association is exactly as I said, and as Wittgenstein said, sense is dependent on order. If there is a sense, then there is an order. But it is not the case that order requires sense. So order is independent from sense. Your quoted passages say nothing about the order, I did say something about the order. And if it is an order, something can be said about it.
  • Luke
    533


    Your latest post is full of complete jibberish and unsupported assertions. I'm not going to bother responding to you any further.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k

    I support that. But that's just an assertion.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    "The signpost is in order - if, under normal circumstances, it fulfils its purpose"; the philosohper's job consists in recalling these purposes). I think that works.StreetlightX

    I believe the multitude of purposes is represented as a multitude of language-games at 130. Often a specific game has a particular object, goal or end.

    But this is where we have the inconsistency which I've been discussing with Luke. He now (131-133) proceeds to talk about arranging and ordering the recollections for a particular purpose which he names as "clarity". This is to create an order, or hierarchy of purposes, not "the order", but one order out of many possible orders. But this act of creating an order is completely inconsistent with simply laying things out to view, with no explanation. Ordering for the purpose of clarity is explanation.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    To me, the inconsistency which comes into play at 127 is obvious. But I see the switch at 127 as necessary because the position held before this is untenable, and that is best displayed at 98.

    This is where I part company with Wittgenstein.Sam26

    Why does Sam26 part company with Wittgenstein at this point, while I see the opposite, this is where Wittgenstein becomes more reasonable? I find that he becomes more reasonable, in the sense that he recognizes that things get ordered towards a particular goal, but I do not necessarily agree with his stated goal of philosophy, "clarity".
  • Sam26
    1.3k
    The main area that I part company with Wittgenstein is in reference to the limit of language. He still believes in the PI that there is a limit, I do not.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k

    Language is limited by purpose, because it is subjugated by purpose, is it not? I think maybe this is the essence of the shift that he has made at this point in the text. Earlier, the concept of game was described as inherently unbounded. Wittgenstein wanted to describe all concepts as essentially unbounded, yet boundaries could be created for a specific purpose. Now, he seems to be positioning purpose, and consequently the boundaries associated with purpose, as immanent within the order which is necessary for meaning. So purpose, and the boundaries which come with it, are necessary for meaning. Now the unbounded really has no place in language.

    This is the logical consequence of his premise "meaning is use". This premise forces purpose as a logical necessity. "Use" implies purpose, as there is never a use without a purpose. So if meaning is use, the limitations and boundaries associated with particular purposes are necessary for any meaning. The only way I can think of to avoid this would be to associate meaning with something other than use, something limitless, without an end. This would free language from the limits of the particular purposes of sentient beings.

    There's a lot to be said on this subject because it strikes to the deepest level of ontology.
  • StreetlightX
    3.9k
    Yeah, I've come to a similar conclusion. :up:

    §128

    This is another very tough one, thanks again to any lack of elaboration on Witty's part. The immediate remark that comes to mind is §109: "We may not advance any kind of theory. There must not be anything hypothetical in our considerations. All explanation must disappear, and description alone must take its place" (emphasis in the original).

    So in §109 it is held that we cannot (should not?) advance theories (theses). Here it is held that even if one were to advance any, "it would never be possible to debate them, because everyone would agree to them".

    A theory, on Witty's account so far, is one that sets out what language 'should' be - an idealized account of how it 'should' function. Witty denies that any such theory can (should?) be advanced. If so, what would it mean to say that 'if' one were to advance a theory, everyone would agree to it? There's a paradoxical air to this, like: 'You can't do the Thing. And even if you could do the Thing, it wouldn't be the Thing you think you're doing': after all, what is a 'thesis' that no one could debate? Would it even be a thesis? Maybe that's Witty's point. But it seems a clunky way to put it.

    Does Witty simply mean that all theory collapses into description? But surely people can describe 'wrongly' - we can be wrong about descriptions, and therefore there is room for debate? Questions to provoke some replies, hopefully.

    ---

    I will also mention that I can't help but feel a very strong connection here to TLP 7: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent" - another paradoxical statement, if not an outright tautology: if we can't speak of it, why the imperative ('must') to be silent about it? So too with §128: if we can't advance theses, what would it mean to say that if we could, everyone would agree to them? There's something, I think, to this oscillation between "can't" (a 'descriptive') and "mustn't/shouldn't" (an 'imperative'), but I don't know what to make of it. Hmm...
  • Isaac
    849
    A theory, on Witty's account so far, is one that sets out what language 'should' be - an idealized account of how it 'should' function.StreetlightX

    Why do you say that Wittgenstein circumscribes what 'a theory' is in this way? Most exegesis assumes these sections refer to philosophy in general, but you've taken a very much narrower interpretation here.
  • StreetlightX
    3.9k
    I've tried to bring this out in many of my comments here, but I refer you to this one in particular.

    I'll only add that I too think that these sections refer to 'philosophy in general', with the caveat that Witty has just such a circumscribed notion of what 'philosophy' consists in.
  • Isaac
    849


    I've a lot of sympathy for the the approach you've outlined there, but a lot if what Wittgenstein has to say about what philosophy consists in seems to me to be prescriptive too. Not in the sense that we 'must' do things this way as opposed to some other, but that we 'must' realise that things are this way (as opposed to some other). The 'must' remains, and so the normative force remains.

    As such, whilst I agree with your opposition to the anthropological approach, I think that it makes more sense (to me anyway) to say that Wittgenstein denies that there can be any such theory (one that does not constituted of linguistic exposition) and that such theories can be meaningfully adjudicated on (because there are no facts therein). But, he is not saying that we can't try nonetheless, hence the normative element 'must'.

    It's a conclusion of the theme that because we can say something, it does not mean that that something can be interrogated out of the context in which it is performative.

    So my personal answer to the seeming paradox you present is that Wittgenstein is simply using the hypothetical philosopher's own terms here. He's saying in 109 that we (the enlightened philosophers) may not advance anything they (the benighted philosophers) would call a 'theory', because there must not be any a element of adjudication to our model. But in 128, he's saying that if there were to be such a thing as a thesis in philosophy (ie, if we were to keep the term and proceed to determine what type of activity would fit it) such a thing would be nothing more than a description with which all would agree.

    Does Witty simply mean that all theory collapses into description? But surely people can describe 'wrongly' - we can be wrong about descriptions, and therefore there is room for debate?StreetlightX

    That people can be wrong about description does not mean that there can be room for debate, the two are not necessarily linked. The possibility of being wrong only implies that a fact of the matter exists. Debate implies that additionally some means of adjudication exists (otherwise debate is pointless). It is this second element to which I think Wittgenstein refers.

    Going back to, for example, 125. See the references to 'us', 'we', 'our'... It is not the extra-mental facts that Wittgenstein is talking about here, but our own, personal entanglement, to which philosophy then gives a civil status.
  • StreetlightX
    3.9k
    That people can be wrong about description does not mean that there can be room for debate, the two are not necessarily linked.Isaac

    Mmm, that 'theory' simply collapses into description is the most strightforward reading - especially if your counter-objection holds - but for whatever reason it also feels like a very disappointing reading. I think because it simply feels like word-play to me, 'too-clever-by-half' kinda thing.

    --

    With respect to normativity, I largely agree that there is a normative force to Witty's own strictures about what philosophy 'is' or 'ought to be', and if I drew too sharp a distinction it was for brevity's sake. A more nuanced take might distinguish two 'sources' of normativity: idealizations and actual use.
  • Luke
    533
    ...the kind of explanation he struggled to avoid was only the scientistic kind, and that this leaves coherent room in Wittgenstein’s philosophy for both the conceptual and the theoretical, thinly rendered. Perhaps the temptation for the latter – which we might call simple explanation – was too great to pass up, particularly as it makes so obvious the idleness of explanations that involve speculative metaphysics or the fabrication of ghostly processes. Simple explanation thus became an extension of the perspicuous presentations of a philosopher aware of all the wrong ways of importing explanation into philosophy. Indeed, non-theory-laden, perspicuous explanation is the only kind of explanation that should be expected from a clear philosophical vision.Daniéle Moyal Sharrock
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k

    I think 128 is meant to be paradoxical. The only thing which cannot be debated is tautology, allowing freedom for skepticism. But tautology is to say the very same thing in two different ways, and this is literally impossible. It's actually contradiction when taken literally. So tautology has no foothold against the skeptic. Therefore, the thesis, or proposition which everyone agrees with, (the tautology), is in fact impossible so the philosopher ought not even attempt this. There is no point to the philosopher even putting forward a thesis (assuming that agreement is a goal of philosophy).

    In any case, take 128 as a pretext to what follows. What is hidden from us (129) is the differences between language-games (130). We make translations, for example, and state tautologies, assuming to say the very same thing twice, but this assumption obscures the fact that we are not actually saying the very same thing with the two distinct sayings, due to the differences between language-games.

    I believe this is a very important indication of Wittgenstein's distinction between what is and what must be. A philosopher might say that the translation (the copy) must say the very same thing as the original, or else there would be misunderstanding. This is what he referred to as the "requirement" in relation to logic. It must be this way or else the result is absurdity. But it's merely a prejudice toward what it means to understand that forces this requirement on us. Understanding does not require exactness, sameness, what is required is to serve the purpose.

    It's a Platonist assumption that two distinct sentences symbolize one and the same idea. But when we take the original and the copy for "what is", they are very clearly physically different from each other. And, the meaning of each is understood through language-games which are different from each other. So we must get rid of this Platonist prejudice which inclines us to think that two distinct statements "must" say the very same thing in order for logic to exist, and for human beings to communicate and understand each other.

    Perhaps we have been inclined to misread Wittgenstein's "must" as "ought". He seems to use "must" to refer to some logical conclusion which is forced on us by prejudice and presupposition. So we look at mathematics, logic, and language, with the attitude that they "must" be this way, in order to do the work that they do. But this "must" is forced by a prejudice concerning what they are actually doing. And this prejudice may itself be a misunderstanding. So Wittgenstein is saying that we ought to release this prejudice which makes us look at language, logic, and mathematics through the lens of what they must be, to look at them as they actually are.
  • Fooloso4
    960
    Does Witty simply mean that all theory collapses into description? But surely people can describe 'wrongly' - we can be wrong about descriptions, and therefore there is room for debate? Questions to provoke some replies, hopefully.StreetlightX

    I do not think theory collapses into description. I take the point to be that attempts to establish a theory of language or a theory of meaning, questions of the essence and foundations of language that must be uncovered misleads and confuses us. We are not in need of a theory of language. Description serves to point to what he wants us to see: “Don’t think, but look!” Wittgenstein does not describe language as a whole but language games, that is, not a theory of language but descriptions of language use in practice.

    5. If one looks at the example in §1, one can perhaps get an idea of how much the general concept of the meaning of a word surrounds the working of language with a haze which makes clear vision impossible. - It disperses the fog if we study the phenomena of language in primitive kinds of use in which one can clearly survey the purpose and functioning of the words.
    A child uses such primitive forms of language when he learns to talk.
    Here the teaching of language is not explaining, but training.

    65. Here we come up against the great question that lies behind all these considerations. - For someone might object against me: “You make things easy for yourself! You talk about all sorts of language-games, but have nowhere said what is essential to a language-game, and so to language: what is common to all these activities, and makes them into language or parts of language. So you let yourself off the very part of the investigation that once gave you the most headache, the part about the general form of the proposition and of language.”
    And this is true. - Instead of pointing out something common to all that we call language, I’m saying that these phenomena have no one
    thing in common in virtue of which we use the same word for all a but there are many different kinds of affinity between them. And on account of this affinity, or these affinities, we call them all “languages”.

    89. With these considerations we find ourselves facing the problem: In what way is logic something sublime?
    For logic seemed to have a peculiar depth a 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.

    92. This finds expression in the question of the essence of language, of propositions, of thought. - 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.

    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.

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