## Philosophical Investigations, reading it together.

• 3.6k
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.

I agree that this is a point that Witty makes, but is that the point being made here?: How does one derive the above (what I quoted of you), from this?:

"If someone were to advance theses in philosophy, it would never be possible to debate them, because everyone would agree to them."

How is what you've said, the point of this? Something still needs to be said about the possibility of debate, as well as agreement.
• 714
How is what you've said, the point of this? Something still needs to be said about the possibility of debate, as well as agreement.

I'm probably sticking my neck out too far in this, but there's a considerable amount of artificial constraints placed around Wittgenstein's comments in these sections. We'd be naive to ignore the politics. He's taking a fairly hefty swipe at the whole philosophical establishment. There's little doubt that Wittgenstein thought he'd basically 'solved' philosophy in the Tractatus, and there's a fair reason to believe he thought he'd similarly dismissed three-quarters of what he'd missed in the investigations.

The reactions and interpretation of this work nonetheless come largely from those engaged in the very persuit against which the mortal blow has been struck.

A colleague of mine once described the effect as like that of being in the middle of a particularly engaging crossword and having someone point out that you could put any letters in any of the boxes and it wouldn't really matter.
• 437

We are not told what such theses might be, but we are told what they would not be - they would not be theories of the essence of language. As he says in the next paragraph:

129. The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. (One is unable to notice something a because it is always before one’s eyes.) The real foundations of their inquiry do not strike people at all. Unless that fact has at some time struck them. a And this means: we fail to be struck by what, once seen, is most striking and most powerful.

Given their simplicity and familiarity they are not things that would be called into question. But, of course, there will always be "that guy" who does question them. And so, debate may ensue. And with that we start down the path of endless confusion.

He continues:

130. ... Rather, the language games stand there as objects of comparison which, through similarities and dissimilarities, are meant to throw light on features of our language.

131. For we can avoid unfairness or vacuity in our assertions only by presenting the model as what it is, as an object of comparison - as a sort of yardstick; not as a preconception to which reality must
correspond. (The dogmatism into which we fall so easily in doing philosophy.)

Where we seem to be in disagreement is with regard to the meaning of 'the everyday use of language'. As I understand it, he is referring to actual language games, that is, what we say and do within our forms of life.
• 3.6k
But I'm not interested in what the theses are. At least, not in this passage. I'm interested in why, were such to be produced, "it would never be possible to debate them, because everyone would agree to them.".
• 3.6k
"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 don't allow it ' means there is a rule against it. The rule of rules.

I'm interested in why, were such to be produced, "it would never be possible to debate them, because everyone would agree to them.".

Here we are - the rule of non-contradiction. Everyone agrees because disagreement cannot be understood. Is it not the case that a theory of language is the rules? And the rules as expressed in the language.
• 437
But I'm not interested in what the theses are. At least, not in this passage. I'm interested in why, were such to be produced, "it would never be possible to debate them, because everyone would agree to them.".

What I take him to be saying is that given the simplicity and familiarity of aspects of things that are most important for us, one does not question them. Unless,of course, one is a philosopher.
• 437
"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.
— Sam26

'We don't allow it ' means there is a rule against it. The rule of rules.

It is not that there is a rule against it, but that if it is contradictory it cannot be followed, and if it can't be followed it can't count as a rule to be followed.
• 444
A thesis implies a conjecture or hypothesis about the essential, hidden nature of things, which is a scientific or metaphysical endeavour. Wittgenstein is not interested in discovering something hidden, but in reminding us of something we already know: our grammar.
• 3.6k
It is not that there is a rule against it,

No, it is that there's a rule against it. Either there's a rule against it, or there's no rule against it. that's the rule.
• 5.6k
Something still needs to be said about the possibility of debate, as well as agreement.

Actually, a lot more needs to be said about debate and agreement. Wittgenstein falls short here. By 133 he is talking about "clarity" as if clarity is the sole cause of understanding, and the resolution to all philosophical problems. However, "agreement", the attitude required for agreement,, how agreement is derived through discourse, and its relation to understanding, is completely neglected by Wittgenstein here.

It's as if he takes it for granted that a clear description will automatically produce agreement. A philosophical theses must be a description, and if it's a clear description, it will be agreed upon. He may revisit this issue later. For example, it's clearly a duck, therefore not a rabbit, and the clarity of the description ought to lead necessarily to agreement. Even"'clarity" does not seem to be capable of resolving philosophical problems because a clear description cannot change a person's attitude.
• 3.6k
I'm not convinced by any of the readings of §128 put forward here so far. Right now, I'm inclined to read it as an ill-tempered sneer: 'you can't put forward theses, and even if you could, they'd be trivial anyway. Nah nah na na nah'.
• 444
Per the article that I keep recommending:

What Wittgenstein is saying here is not that there cannot be any philosophical theses, but that should there be, they would be, or so he believes, non-debatable and uncontroversial.

Does this mean that what philosophy advances is just trivial? Wittgenstein said as much to Moore:

[Wittgenstein] said that he was not trying to teach us any new facts: that he would only tell us ‘trivial’ things – ‘things which we know already’; but that the difficult thing was to get a ‘synopsis’ of these trivialities […]. He said it was misleading to say that what we wanted was an ‘analysis’, since in science to "analyse" water means to discover some new fact about it, e.g. that it is composed of oxygen and hydrogen, whereas in philosophy ‘we know at the start all the facts we need to know’ (MWL 114)
• 5.6k
Well, I'll state the obvious, 128 falsifies itself. It's a philosophical thesis which cannot be agreed with.

What 128 actually says is that the only thing philosophy can do is to state the obvious. Since it's obvious, no one will debate it. He's simply wrong though, as skepticism demonstrates. So we cannot look at 128 as anything other than a false thesis.
• 41
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.

The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. (One is unable to notice something a because it is always before one’s eyes.) The real foundations of their inquiry do not strike people at all. Unless that fact has at some time struck them. a And this means: we fail to be struck by what, once seen, is most striking and most powerful.
— W
FWIW, this reminds me of phenomenology. The stuff that is usually too close for us to notice is uncontroversial, but only after someone manages to see it and point it out. And maybe it can only be pointed out a little bit here and there. ('Form of life' is something like 'by means of a faculty.')

We mostly just do it, and doing it well has been far more important for our species than knowing how we do it so well. The way Google is currently doing machine translation suggests that we'll never get a exhaustive, intelligible model of our language use. Symbolic AI isn't used for this, for example. Instead it's a big black box of numbers learned from lots of examples as the parameters in a brain-mimicking neural network --as opaque as we are. For me this connects to the spirit of empiricism. We see that mastery comes from practice and exposure, but perhaps that mastery is distributed like those millions of parameters. In isolation they mean nothing. Their meaning is entirely relational.

• 5.6k
FWIW, this reminds me of phenomenology. The stuff that is usually too close for us to notice is uncontroversial, but only after someone manages to see it and point it out. And maybe it can only be pointed out a little bit here and there. ('Form of life' is something like 'by means of a faculty.')

There's still a problem here. Some people are near-sighted, some people are far-sighted, some see both well, and some don't see at all. When someone sees something, and points it out to another who does not see it, this does not necessarily make the other person agree that it is there. When an individual has deficient eyesight, you cannot make the person see something by pointing to it. And that person will only agree that the thing is there, if there is trust in the one pointing it out. You might say religion is built on this trust (faith), for every person who sees God there are multitudes who do not, but they agree, and follow on trust or faith.

That's why 128 is simply false. Pointing out to a person, something which you understand, and the other person does not understand, and even presenting it in many different ways, will not necessarily incline the other person to agree. This is very evident here at TPF. The underlying attitude which is conducive to agreement is something completely different.
• 41

I understand your concerns. Still, I read Wittgenstein as pointing to a mostly unnoticed background that makes such disagreements possible/intelligible. Were it not for this background, the debate could not continue. It looks to me that knowledge-how is deeper and prior to the knowledge-that which would like to assimilate it but can't.

I do agree that phenomenology is intrinsically controversial. If some phenomena are mostly too automatic to notice, then those who claim to notice such things can always be accused of describing something merely idiosyncratic. All one can do is point. If Wittgenstein is ultimately pointing out something elusive but mundane, then getting tangled up in the thousand arrows/reminders as they were supposed to form a system is the wrong way to go. Does he offer a system? Or is he pointing at the impossibility of a system but pointing at all the rough edges that make such a system impossible? I'm in the second camp. The conditions of intelligibility look stubbornly opaque to me. The paradigm shift in AI encourages me in this position.

This link is nice because it addresses the issue in another lingo.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/knowledge-how/
• 5.6k
I understand your concerns. Still, I read Wittgenstein as pointing to a mostly unnoticed background that makes such disagreements possible/intelligible. Were it not for this background, the debate could not continue. It looks to me that knowledge-how is deeper and prior to the knowledge-that which would like to assimilate it but can't.

I see what you saying, but stating it as "the background which makes disagreement possible", is only an inversion of "the background which makes agreement possible". The latter recognizes that agreement is not automatic. The problem being that disagreement is prior to agreement because agreement requires some sort of understanding, which is gained, whereas disagreement (lack of agreement) does not. So disagreement (lack of agreement) precedes agreement which is something which comes into existence in a temporal order, from a lack of agreement. There is no background required for disagreement, it is simple difference.

We see that agreement is necessary for knowledge-that. And, we see that distinct people can know how to do the same thing (produce the end result) in different ways. They therefore disagree. So agreement is not necessary for knowledge-how, and as you say, and knowledge-how is prior to knowledge-that. If you were to ask, what good is agreement, for what purpose do we agree, someone might say that it is required for Knowledge-that. But how is knowledge-that better than knowledge-how? And if this can't be shown what's the point to agreeing? Then unless we agree simply for agreement sake, agreement cannot be automatic.

Look at 129, what you call "the background", is probably what he refers to as the most simple and familiar. it is the one thing which is always there, yet unnoticed because it is the background. The background is disagreement. It is always there, everywhere, in the background. But what drives us is agreement so most disagreement goes unnoticed. Then it appears like agreement is the background and disagreement springs from agreement. That is, until it strikes you that the real background is disagreement, difference, and this is what is most striking and powerful.
• 41
There is no background required for disagreement, it is simple difference.

IMV, the complete absence of a shared background between people wouldn't even be called disagreement. They wouldn't have anything to disagree about. It seems to me that sharing in the same reality and at least one language is presupposed in an argument. How can I disagree with Snorf from a trans-human dimension when he says

Dalk fadlka454df acdmlk(%df dfokmsdfbl)#$kmdsfv mldkfvmlkdfvmdfvlkdfvm )(*342 — Snorf And what would I disagree about? When humans disagree, it's not usually an idle question. How best to do things and what should be done in the first place come to mind. If you were to ask, what good is agreement, for what purpose do we agree, someone might say that it is required for Knowledge-that. But how is knowledge-that better than knowledge-how? And if this can't be shown what's the point to agreeing? Then unless we agree simply for agreement sake, agreement cannot be automatic. It seems to be that the coordination of action is at least one reason agreement is so important. Humans are the supreme team-player among mammals, even or especially when it comes to literally destroying some other team. I agree non-automatically that agreement is not (always) automatic. It's as if consciousness or attention is summoned to wherever habit finds itself in a jam. The jam that gets our attention has a background of smoothly functioning nonjam. To disagree with you on the issue at hand is still to agree with you about the linguistic conventions that make this disagreement intelligible. Along these lines, I can try to question myself radically, but I can't question that same radical questioning as it pours out of me. I can't get ahead of my knowing-how. I depend on it as I try without success to get a final, superior perspective on it. The background is disagreement. It is always there, everywhere, in the background. But what drives us is agreement so most disagreement goes unnoticed. Then it appears like agreement is the background and disagreement springs from agreement. That is, until it strikes you that the real background is disagreement, difference, and this is what is most striking and powerful. I have a vague sense of agreeing with you, but for me you have turned the page here in a way that I can't follow. In the context that I take for our background, the background is ours. We are on the same stage in front of the same cardboard scenery, hence the metaphor. What you say above reminds me of 'war is god' and other important insights (that conflict/chaos is the mother of order, etc.) • 1.3k Maybe something like the following: Once some of these passages are understood it will not only make clear some of what Wittgenstein is doing, but also help us to get a better picture of his method/s overall. Wittgenstein's philosophy is a kind of confession, especially as he criticizes his former self (Tractatus). You can see this in passages where he says "I'm tempted here to say," or "I feel like saying." etc. We don't develop theories based on confessions, they are either helpful or honest, or not. Confessions can be seen as cures, because remember, Wittgenstein is showing the fly the way out by clarifying the obvious through a series of case histories, like a doctor might do. All throughout the PI Wittgenstein is drawing our attention to some very important linguistic facts, and it's each of these facts should serve as reminders. Each case study has something important to tell us about how easy it is to get tied up into linguistic knots. We often forget, especially while doing philosophy, the important ideas that Wittgenstein points out. However, Wittgenstein's cure is to keep these reminders before our eyes, or at our side as cures for what ales us. Reminders are exactly what is needed to keep our philosophy down to Earth and clear, that way, we can find our way about. We often ask ourselves the wrong questions while reading the PI, it should never be, what kind of theory is Wittgenstein espousing? Again, what are the reminders, they are the case histories, they help us achieve clarity, as opposed to the confusion that is caused by being tormented by language (as in the bewitchment of language). Once clarity is achieved, then we can stop doing philosophy and rest our minds - we can walk out of the bottle. • 5.6k IMV, the complete absence of a shared background between people wouldn't even be called disagreement. They wouldn't have anything to disagree about. It seems to me that sharing in the same reality and at least one language is presupposed in an argument. How can I disagree with Snorf from a trans-human dimension when he says Dalk fadlka454df acdmlk(%df dfokmsdfbl)#$kmdsfv mldkfvmlkdfvmdfvlkdfvm )(*342 — Snorf

And what would I disagree about? When humans disagree, it's not usually an idle question. How best to do things and what should be done in the first place come to mind.

You are framing "disagreement" in a very particular, and I would say peculiar way, as if disagreement only exists if it is expressed. But disagreement is to hold a difference of opinion, just like agreement is to hold a similar opinion. We ought to consider the possibility that each of these may exist without the respective opinions being expressed in language. If we do this, we should see that disagreement is the background of unexpressed opinions, while language and communication are the means by which agreement emerges.

So let's hypothesize that at a time prior to human language, there were animals who were thinking, and therefore had some sort of opinions, but those opinions were generally in disagreement. There is an issue with your expression of "sharing in the same reality", because one's reality cannot be otherwise from what is present within one's mind. If we want to make a generalization concerning "the reality", then the reality is that each of these animals has a different reality. It is only when human beings come to communicate, and agree, that there becomes such a thing as "the reality".

I have a vague sense of agreeing with you, but for me you have turned the page here in a way that I can't follow. In the context that I take for our background, the background is ours. We are on the same stage in front of the same cardboard scenery, hence the metaphor. What you say above reminds me of 'war is god' and other important insights (that conflict/chaos is the mother of order, etc.)

So this opinion, "the background is ours" is where the mistake lies. "Our background", is artificial, created through language and agreement. This background of commonality is the mistaken assumption which we must dispense. It is that faulty requirement Wittgenstein refers to. We tend to assume that this underlying agreement, this common background, "must" exist in order for language to work. But in reality, it's just not there, and that assumption just leads us to different forms of Platonism where the fundamental agreement, and commonality of opinion, precedes human existence. In reality human beings work with language to create an environment of agreement ("the world") from a background of disagreement. The real background consists of isolated individuals with differing cognitions (disagreement), from which agreement is cultured through training etc..
• 444
But disagreement is to hold a difference of opinion, just like agreement is to hold a similar opinion. We ought to consider the possibility that each of these may exist without the respective opinions being expressed in language. If we do this, we should see that disagreement is the background of unexpressed opinions

In other words:
We ought to consider that unexpressed opinions can be either an agreement or a disagreement.
If we do this, we should see that all unexpressed opinions are a disagreement.

Yeah, that follows.
• 41
There is an issue with your expression of "sharing in the same reality", because one's reality cannot be otherwise from what is present within one's mind. If we want to make a generalization concerning "the reality", then the reality is that each of these animals has a different reality. It is only when human beings come to communicate, and agree, that there becomes such a thing as "the reality".

This is a delicate issue. I see the value of the approach that starts within an individual brain/mind and works outward, and it's good for many purposes. But I think it might get in the way of contemplating language. In short, it's tempting but artificial. The background or framework that we are always already in seems to include an elusive sense of The World that is not theoretical. We are just always already in a world of objects that we can talk about, and our primary relationship to these objects is messing with them. And perhaps language in primarily about coordinating our messing with these objects. We don't stare at tools. We use them. And they exist differently for our use than they do for our staring. In short I'm saying that we apply this Heideggerian insight to language and get some of what I find anyway in Wittgenstein.

IMV the correspondence theory of truth, despite all its problems in the ether of speculation, is part of this automatic framework. It's so automatic that even its critics tend to use it as they criticize it. 'The correspondence theory of truth is wrong ---doesn't correspond to truth.'

"Our background", is artificial, created through language and agreement. This background of commonality is the mistaken assumption which we must dispense.

For me it's the other way around. The automatic and therefore elusive background is genuine. The hammer in the hand that's being employed has a different kind of being than the hammer that's being stared at and described in terms of its density and shape. In the same way we use language automatically even as we construct artificial theories about what we are doing.

We tend to assume that this underlying agreement, this common background, "must" exist in order for language to work. But in reality, it's just not there, and that assumption just leads us to different forms of Platonism where the fundamental agreement, and commonality of opinion, precedes human existence.

For me we don't even consciously assume this background. 'Assumption' is artificial here. The child learns to talk before she learns to talk about her talk philosophically. The stuff closest to us is to close for us to me without straining to notice it. Recall that a more mundane example of the background is just the ability to speak English --along with the largely unfathomed and perhaps unfathomable depths of all this means.

From my point of view, your ability to say 'it's just not there' depends precisely on its being there. You are intelligibly telling me that I am wrong about our shared world, that this background is a mirage or a superstition --- does not correspond to the way things really are. I'm claiming that we talk and act (without consciously assuming it) as if we share a world and can both understand and be understood. When we try to sort this out carefully, we find it hard to tell a consistent story. Our know-how won't fit inside our know-that. Our conscious models tend to run aground, hence the endless debates in philosophy, while the rest of the world just uses this framework that philosophers stubbornly insist on squeezing into a little system of knowing-that.

Words like 'truth' and 'know' are so easy to use when we aren't playing philosophy. They are the hammer driving a nail in a concrete situation. Pluck them out and just stare at them and a debate about these mundane things will rage for centuries. Yet within this same debate they'll be used in the ordinary-primary-easy way without anyone remembering that they don't yet know what they 'really' mean. If the joke wasn't misleading, we might say that what they 'really' mean is whatever philosophers don't mean by them, or when they use them without their thinking caps on.

The real background consists of isolated individuals with differing cognitions (disagreement), from which agreement is cultured through training etc..

I understand that approach too. It's a good model when dealing with certain issues. Certainly our collisions with others and objects shape our individual models of or perspectives on the world toward consensus. But we've been doing this a long time! Our species has been designed by the training you mentioned on the genetic level. So I'd say goodbye blank slate and goodbye isolated ego. Yes I can look at an individual human, but that's like looking at a wolf and ignoring to what degree the wolf is a 'cell' in the pack. So the individual wolf is real, but our thinking of the wolf is shallow when we ignore the pack (and then its environment, etc.) With humans the situation is seemingly even more extreme.
• 444
The kind of misunderstandings which give rise to philosophical problems are, as we have seen, deeply rooted in ordinary thinking; these are features which are hidden not because they are unfamiliar but precisely because they are too familiar. New and unusual things are noticed: everyday occurrences are not. Hence a philosophical discovery does not, as a scientific one so often does, point out something novel and singular (and often meet with scepticism on that account); it points out something which, once seen, seems obvious. For this reason, a philosophical argument is not so often regarded with scepticism and mistrust but treated rather as a mere truism.

The aim of philosophical reasoning is what Wittgenstein calls complete clarity. It is characteristic of his whole conception of the nature of a philosophical problem, that this complete clarity does not lead to the solution of the problem, but to its disappearance. And to say that it disappears instead of being solved, is to emphasize that the origin of the philosophical perplexity is an error, or rather a misunderstanding – a misunderstanding of the logical grammar of the sentences concerned. When the misunderstanding has been healed, the source of the problem has not been ‘solved’, it has Vanished. Wittgenstein says the problem is like a fly in a fly-bottle; and the philosopher’s job is to show the fly the way out of the bottle.

This metaphor has a further significance. To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle is not to describe or demonstrate the innumerable directions in which the fly might fly, but simply to show the one that will take it out of the bottle, and that, incidentally, will also be the way that took it into the bottle. Equally, philosophy does not need to describe or demonstrate the many, often countless, uses of a word or an expression, but only the one – or ones – that will make the problem disappear, and this is a matter of revealing the misconception of the logical grammar of the utterance or expression that gave rise to the problem.
• 5.6k
In other words:
We ought to consider that unexpressed opinions can be either an agreement or a disagreement.
If we do this, we should see that all unexpressed opinions are a disagreement.

Yeah, that follows.
Luke

The conclusion is not supposed to follow logically, it is supposed to be an observation which will be made if you look at things the way I said. Your disagreement is evidence that what I say is true.

This is a delicate issue. I see the value of the approach that starts within an individual brain/mind and works outward, and it's good for many purposes. But I think it might get in the way of contemplating language. In short, it's tempting but artificial. The background or framework that we are always already in seems to include an elusive sense of The World that is not theoretical. We are just always already in a world of objects that we can talk about, and our primary relationship to these objects is messing with them. And perhaps language in primarily about coordinating our messing with these objects. We don't stare at tools. We use them. And they exist differently for our use than they do for our staring. In short I'm saying that we apply this Heideggerian insight to language and get some of what I find anyway in Wittgenstein.

The problem I see with this perspective is that tools (therefore language if it is a tool) are themselves artificial. So if we describe our relationship with the world, as "messing" with it, we also need to account for the creation of the tools by which we mess with it. Therefore there is something amiss with the following statement of yours: "We are just always already in a world of objects that we can talk about, and our primary relationship to these objects is messing with them". Notice that you say we are already in a world of objects "that we can talk about". The reality is that we cannot talk about anything until we have "language" to use for that purpose.

I suggest that to understand the nature of language we need to remove the presupposition that language exists, because the existence of language is contingent. Resist the temptation to take it for granted, and consider the conditions which produce its existence.

I will grant to you, as a starting point, that prior to language, there was a world which living things were messing with, for the sake of agreement, because we need agreement for a starting point. The question of whether or not these words, "world" and "messing with" are truly adequate, I'll put aside for now so we can have a starting point. But I cannot agree with your proposition that this was a world of objects. That there are objects prior to the language which refers to objects is a critical point which some philosophers have cast doubt on. Is it the act of identifying and naming something which individuates that thing from its environment, as "an object", or do objects already have existence separate from their environment prior to being apprehended as such? I think Heidegger and phenomenology in general, supports the former, that an "object" is artificial in this sense, it is created by the act which individuates and identifies it as such.

If it is the case, that objects are artificial in this way, then all objects are themselves, in this sense created, and they may themselves be tools. Therefore the fundamental agreements of language are the agreements concerned with which aspects of the world that we are messing with, are individuated and identified as objects. Once we agree what it is that is the object we are referring to, then we can work on agreement concerning what can be said about the object. From this perspective, prior to identifying and naming things as objects, animals without language would not have apprehend the world which they are messing with as consisting of objects.

IMV the correspondence theory of truth, despite all its problems in the ether of speculation, is part of this automatic framework. It's so automatic that even its critics tend to use it as they criticize it. 'The correspondence theory of truth is wrong ---doesn't correspond to truth.'

Consider correspondence in a slightly different way now. We would commonly think that correspondence is creating and arranging our words to correspond with the world. However, we were already messing with the world before we even created language. In this act of messing with the world, there is always the element of arranging the world to correspond with "what we want". With the advent of words, "what we want" may become truth, having our words correspond to the world. Then we might mess with the world with the intent of producing truth, or correspondence. So correspondence might be just as much involved with arranging the world to correspond with our words, as it is arranging our words to correspond with the world. Furthermore, since our "messing with the world" to produce what we want goes much deeper, extending far before the existence of language as a tool for this purpose, it is very likely that correspondence is more of an aspect of us arranging the world to match our words rather than vise versa.

For me it's the other way around. The automatic and therefore elusive background is genuine. The hammer in the hand that's being employed has a different kind of being than the hammer that's being stared at and described in terms of its density and shape. In the same way we use language automatically even as we construct artificial theories about what we are doing.

We agree that the background provides what we call the "automatic", but where we disagree is whether the true and natural automatic reaction is to agree or disagree. I believe that the true automatic reaction is disagreement, like Luke's above, and what is evident anytime we dig down to the fundamentals of ontology, is disagreement. At the fundamental level, metaphysics, there is nothing but disagreement until we decide on principles of agreement. And agreement must be cultured and trained into us through discipline.

For me we don't even consciously assume this background. 'Assumption' is artificial here. The child learns to talk before she learns to talk about her talk philosophically. The stuff closest to us is to close for us to me without straining to notice it. Recall that a more mundane example of the background is just the ability to speak English --along with the largely unfathomed and perhaps unfathomable depths of all this means.

But the background must be prior to language, as what provides for the existence of language. And when we dig down through language, and see that it consists of all sorts of different language-games and vague concepts, as Wittgenstein describes, we find that the background is one of disagreement.

When we look at what is close to us we see all sorts of agreement. We might falsely conclude, and therefore assume that the background is a background of agreement. But when we step back to look at the wider picture we see a vast array of different language-games, and recognize that agreement only exists within particular, individual language-games, and the true background, which is the background of all language, is a background of difference, disagreement.

From my point of view, your ability to say 'it's just not there' depends precisely on its being there. You are intelligibly telling me that I am wrong about our shared world, that this background is a mirage or a superstition --- does not correspond to the way things really are. I'm claiming that we talk and act (without consciously assuming it) as if we share a world and can both understand and be understood. When we try to sort this out carefully, we find it hard to tell a consistent story. Our know-how won't fit inside our know-that. Our conscious models tend to run aground, hence the endless debates in philosophy, while the rest of the world just uses this framework that philosophers stubbornly insist on squeezing into a little system of knowing-that.

Words like 'truth' and 'know' are so easy to use when we aren't playing philosophy. They are the hammer driving a nail in a concrete situation. Pluck them out and just stare at them and a debate about these mundane things will rage for centuries. Yet within this same debate they'll be used in the ordinary-primary-easy way without anyone remembering that they don't yet know what they 'really' mean. If the joke wasn't misleading, we might say that what they 'really' mean is whatever philosophers don't mean by them, or when they use them without their thinking caps on.

I mostly agree with all of this, but only because I agreed above to the proposition of "a world". But now you've added "shared" to say it's a shared world, and I don't really agree with your use of that term. Notice though, that what you are talking about is "endless debates", and this is more descriptive of a background of disagreement rather than a background of agreement. The fact that we produce agreements for particular purposes, at a particular places and times, and this allows us to talk and act as if we share a world, indicates that for these purposes we share a world. Of course this is the way things "really are", but what good does it do to assert that? Both "agreement" and "disagreement" must be shared, so saying that the background is "shared" does nothing to support the position that the background is one of agreement rather than one of disagreement.

I understand that approach too. It's a good model when dealing with certain issues. Certainly our collisions with others and objects shape our individual models of or perspectives on the world toward consensus. But we've been doing this a long time! Our species has been designed by the training you mentioned on the genetic level. So I'd say goodbye blank slate and goodbye isolated ego. Yes I can look at an individual human, but that's like looking at a wolf and ignoring to what degree the wolf is a 'cell' in the pack. So the individual wolf is real, but our thinking of the wolf is shallow when we ignore the pack (and then its environment, etc.) With humans the situation is seemingly even more extreme.

It appears to me, like what you are saying here is that there is no need to analyze the foundation, the bottom, the basis of language, because it's been there for so long that we must already know it. So you look at the forest, and you know the forest like the back of your hand, but you haven't got a clue what a tree is. Nor do you have the inclination to understand what a tree is, because you assume that you must already know all about trees to be able to know the forest.
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Your disagreement is evidence that what I say is true.

Which part is true? That unexpressed opinions can either be an agreement or a disagreement, or that unexpressed opinions can only be a disagreement?
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Your disagreement is evidence that the background of unexpressed opinions is comprised of disagreement. If it were comprised of agreement, then when the time came to express yourself you would express agreement. You did not.
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I'm just pointing out that you've contradicted yourself, so perhaps I agree with one statement but not the other. However, I don't think I need to agree or disagree with either of your statements to make this observation.
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For Wittgenstein the process (his methods) take us from confusion to enlightenment. "This is reminiscent of a Zen master's procedure: 'Before you have studied Zen, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers; while you are studying it, mountains are no longer mountains and rivers are no longer rivers; but one you have had Enlightenment, mountains are once again mountains and rivers are rivers (D. T. Suzuki, Zen Buddhism: Selected writings of Suzuki, pp. xvi-xvii)." It seems that the ideal for Wittgenstein is complete clarity, and clarity, as it were, is what's always been before our eyes.

Each linguistic confusion has a particular cure, which is why Wittgenstein's methods are like curing an illness, that is, there is no one particular method that works for all linguistic confusions. Always ask yourself, "What is Wittgenstein doing (K. T. Fann, Wittgenstein's Conception of Philosophy, p. 104 - 105)."

Even though Wittgenstein wants us to not think of his writings as advancing a theory, I think he is putting forth a theory, a kind of anti-theory. It's a theory of method. It's as though we're looking at the linguistic landscape from a variety of angles, which gives us a better picture of language and how clarity is achieved.

We must remember the cures as we think of the many confusions that arise in philosophical thinking. This gets back to "assembling reminders." If we forget the cures, we will continue to live with the illness (confusion). Each reminder serves a particular purpose (PI 127), that is, it untangles linguistic knots.

I once started a thread, "Does Language Deceive Us?" - this is what I had in mind, namely, linguistic knots or confusion.
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To change my words from "we should see that disagreement is the background of unexpressed opinions" to "all unexpressed opinions are a disagreement", is not to demonstrate a contradiction but to exemplify a straw man. "Background" implies that there is also a "foreground", so your representation of the background as "all" is unjustified. I distinctly said that we must consider the possibility of both agreement and disagreement within the realm of unexpressed opinions.
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To change my words from "we should see that disagreement is the background of unexpressed opinions" to "all unexpressed opinions are a disagreement", is not to demonstrate a contradiction but to exemplify a straw man.

Explain the difference. What do you mean by "the background of unexpressed opinions"?

"Background" implies that there is also a "foreground", so your representation of the background as "all" is unjustified.

How can unexpressed opinions have a foreground and a background? What does that mean?
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