• Fooloso4
    960


    "Listen to this (hour long) lecture" is not a satisfactory response. The title of the thread you started is: "Wittgenstein's Relation to Science and Ontology". What does the lecture say about this? What does speculative realism say about this? I am asking you. A lecture or article or book might be cited in support of what you say but if we are going to discuss it then you need to state things in your own words.

    You said:

    Perhaps it was the necessary qualities of human epistemology that lead to and are connected with understanding the necessary qualities of ontology that shaped it.schopenhauer1

    I do not know if this is speculative realism or not, but it is something that I can work with. Wittgenstein rejects the idea that there are necessary qualities of human epistemology that lead to and are connected with understanding the necessary qualities of ontology. He rejects the claim that epistemology and ontology have necessary qualities. That things are as they are does not mean they must necessarily be as they are or will be.

    One thing that Wittgenstein wants to show with his examples of imagined tribes is that what we know is part of our form of life. Different circumstances, different practices, and different concerns yield different concepts, different ways of seeing things. This is not, however, a causal relationship. There can be other ways of looking at something and different ways of seeing things.
  • fdrake
    2.5k
    Also, fdrake I know you have mentioned speculative realism. Can you elucidate on this view, and how it matches up with Witty's critique, or vice versa?schopenhauer1

    Not without you doing more work, no I can't.
  • frank
    2.9k
    Why do scientific facts obtain so well? You can say that it is similar to how a carpenter creates a masterpiece furniture, but is that the same? A man-made object created by someone, or a social convention, can be arbitrarily changed, and is contingent, varied. Any decision on it would be the freedom of the carpenter, or the architect.schopenhauer1

    We can look back and see that worldviews change over time. For instance, people once thought the sky was a hard dome. The transformation of the concept of sky isn't something we decided upon. It was part of a large-scale alteration in worldview. Don't think of concepts as toys we play with and change by fiat. Declarations come downstream of seismic changes in outlook.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k
    We can look back and see that worldviews change over time. For instance, people once thought the sky was a hard dome. The transformation of the concept of sky isn't something we decided upon. It was part of a large-scale alteration in worldview. Don't think of concepts as toys we play with and change by fiat. Declarations come downstream of seismic changes in outlookfrank

    Good point.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k
    Not without you doing more work, no I can't.fdrake

    What does that look like for you? Also realize, unfortunately, I have a lot of other stuff I have to do to not go homeless, so though I'd love to delve many hours into the minutia mongering of every math problem that ever existed, every proof, every speculative realist argument, every Wittgenstein quote, I have to do this cursory, more playful approach. I know.. shitty of me.

    Edit: I don't want to be over dramatic here.. not going homeless, means working for money to survive.
  • fdrake
    2.5k
    What does that look like for you? Also realize, unfortunately, I have a lot of other stuff I have to do to not go homeless, so though I'd love to delve many hours into the minutia mongering of every math problem that ever existed, every proof, every speculative realist argument, every Wittgenstein quote, I have to do this cursory, more playful approach. I know.. shitty of me.schopenhauer1

    Pick up the thread. Play about with it for a bit, see what strands come undone. Weave them back together into something coherent.
  • I like sushi
    1.2k
    “Man only plays when he is in the fullest sense of the word a human being, and he is only fully a human being when he plays”


    ― Friedrich von Schiller
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k
    A lecture or article or book might be cited in support of what you say but if we are going to discuss it then you need to state things in your own words.Fooloso4

    I did, but you said you didn't understand speculative realism. I thought I might not be doing a good job of explaining so I sent articles and videos from those more well-versed. However, my take on it is that there is something that humans can glean (hence speculation) that is going on behind the scenes. Yes we will always provide the humanistic ways of seeing the world (unless one is to concede to naive realism, which most aren't), but the speculation is hinting at what kind of things we may speculate is happening outside the anthropomorphic. So Harman (the guy in the video) has ideas of objects other than humans interacting with each other. He thinks objects have been deflated into the subjective experience of objects, and thus aren't given the attention they deserve as interacting entities that they are. He explains things like the fact that until I mentioned "floor" right now, you didn't even think about it, but it is nonetheless interacting. There is something going on, whether our POV draws attention or understands it, that is the world outside the human. Humans then, are just another interacting entity/object of the world, which is quite different philosophical space than the more correlationist approach of the Kantian turn into epistemology. Correlationism is the idea that
    ‘the idea according to which we only ever have access to the correlation between thinking and being, and never to either term considered apart from the other’ — After Finitude/Meillassoux

    The SR camp would reject (for the most part) correlationism, and the critical approach of epistemology over ontology.

    Further Levi Bryant explains
    Although Meillassoux does not himself specify this, correlationism presumably comes in a variety of different forms, and is therefore not restricted to theories focused on the relation between mind and being. Thus the relation between transcendental ego or lived body and the world in phenomenology would be one variant of correlationism, while the relation between language and being in Wittgenstein, Derrida and Lacan, or between power and knowledge in Foucault, would be other variants. In each case we encounter the claim that being cannot be thought apart from a subject, language or power.
    ...
    Kant claimed that in traditional forms of epistemology the mind was conceived as a mirror that reflects being as it is in-itself, independent of us. He argues that mind does not merely reflect reality, but rather actively structures reality. Consequently, on the other hand, he argues that we can never know reality as it is in itself apart from us, but only as it appears to us. If the mind takes an active role in structuring reality (for us) we are unable to know what it is in-itself because we cannot determine what, in appearances, is a product of our own minds and what is a feature of things as they are in themselves. This is because we cannot adopt a third-person perspective that would allow us to compare things as they appear to us and things as they are in themselves. Consequently, knowledge is restricted to appearances and we must remain agnostic as to what being might be like in itself.

    The claim that modern philosophy is inspired by Kantian correlationism is not the claim that most modern philosophers embrace the specific details of Kant’s philosophy. Clearly Wittgenstein, for example, does not adopt Kant’s account of transcendental categories, pure a priori intuitions, or the transcendental ego when he speaks of language games. Rather, the correlationist gesture consists solely in the claim that we can only think the relation between being and thinking and that therefore our knowledge is restricted to appearances.
    ...
    One of Meillassoux’s central projects lies in finding a way to break out of the correlationist circle. He seeks to determine whether it is possible to think the absolute or being as it is in-itself apart from mind, and what characteristics the absolute might possess. Meillassoux’s discussion of ancestrality or statements about time prior to the existence of human beings is not an argument against correlationism per se, but is designed to present readily familiar and widely accepted claims about cosmic time prior to the existence of life and humans that ought not be permissible within a correlationist framework. If correlationism is true, what entitles us to make claims about the nature of the universe billions of years prior to the emergence of life or mind? Meillassoux presents his account of how we might break out of the correlationist circle in his discussion of the principle of factiality in After Finitude.

    That is to say Kant is the originator of this correlationism, found right up to and beyond Wittgenstein, and to this day in both analytic and continental traditions.

    Sorry for all the quotes, but this does a much better and clearer job than I can do on this subject, and essentially says what I need to say. Yes, I am a bit confused how Meillassoux breaks out of the correlationist vicious circle with ideas of "factiality", but ancestrality

    He rejects the claim that epistemology and ontology have necessary qualities. That things are as they are does not mean they must necessarily be as they are or will be.Fooloso4

    Though the "necessary ontology creates necessary epistemology" is just one version, no SR philosopher actually holds it. Some very "scientistic" and "neo-pythagorean" philosophers/scientists/mathematicians like Max Tegmark may have theories approximating to that, but SR usually conveys idea of "hidden but hinting" nature of the ontological reality (my phrase, not theirs). Meillasoux for example, has the view that everything is in fact radically contingent, because the way something is, can always be something else. Thus the only necessity is contingency. Thus, his ontological claim is some sort of hype-chaos of radical contingency.

    One thing that Wittgenstein wants to show with his examples of imagined tribes is that what we know is part of our form of life. Different circumstances, different practices, and different concerns yield different concepts, different ways of seeing things. This is not, however, a causal relationship. There can be other ways of looking at something and different ways of seeing things.Fooloso4

    Right, there is a pragmatist streak here, despite claims otherwise. To use Wittgenstein phrasing, it at least has "family resemblances". Can the objective world outside of the social/mental sphere be understood outside of the criss-crossing web of a humans in their form of life? I know WIttgenstein's answer.

    But is that all there is? Again, why do things seem to "work out" when math is applied to empirical investigations. The world is "for us" perhaps, but precisely because science was contingently constructed, we can say that it didn't have to go that way. Humans are "hitting upon" something that happens to correspond to certain epistemic human ways of being in the world.
  • Fooloso4
    960
    However, my take on it is that there is something that humans can glean (hence speculation) that is going on behind the scenes.schopenhauer1

    It is just this tendency to posit a hidden world behind the world that Wittgenstein rejects. How does one peak behind the curtain? By imagining that there must be something going on and speculating that it must be this or that?

    Yes we will always provide the humanistic ways of seeing the world (unless one is to concede to naive realism, which most aren't), but the speculation is hinting at what kind of things we may speculate is happening outside the anthropomorphic.schopenhauer1

    How does speculation avoid being something other than some way we see the world? It seems to be self-deluding - picturing some hidden way things must be and ignoring the fact that the picture one conjures or deduces is a human artifact.

    So Harman (the guy in the video) has ideas of objects other than humans interacting with each other.schopenhauer1

    Isn't this the way those who are not "doing philosophy" think of the world? Cats have kittens without ever interacting with humans. The universe seems to have gotten along on its own without interacting with humans for most of its history. The problem is not with recognizing this but with what we make of it, how we comprehend it. This is not an unmediated activity.

    He thinks objects have been deflated into the subjective experience of objects, and thus aren't given the attention they deserve as interacting entities that they are.schopenhauer1

    This may be the case for those who hold certain theories of subjective experience, but replacing one theory with another is still to see things according to the picture one paints. Hence, Wittgenstein's rejection of philosophical theory.

    In each case we encounter the claim that being cannot be thought apart from a subject, language or power.

    What does this mean? How can being be thought without a being that thinks, i.e., a subject? How can being be thought without language?

    He seeks to determine whether it is possible to think the absolute or being as it is in-itself apart from mind, and what characteristics the absolute might possess.

    The absolute? The absolute is a conceptual construct. Whatever characteristics one might speculate it might possess is something one does within language, within a historically determined world-view.

    Clearly Wittgenstein, for example, does not adopt Kant’s account of transcendental categories, pure a priori intuitions, or the transcendental ego when he speaks of language games. Rather, the correlationist gesture consists solely in the claim that we can only think the relation between being and thinking and that therefore our knowledge is restricted to appearances.

    This is a misunderstanding of Wittgenstein. Once again: In On Certainty Wittgenstein quotes Goethe: “In the Beginning was the Deed”(402). The relation of other animals to the world is not via thinking and at its most fundamental level it is not for us either.

    Meillasoux for example, has the view that everything is in fact radically contingent, because the way something is, can always be something else.schopenhauer1

    This is similar to Wittgenstein's view, although it may be misleading to call it an ontology. It is, rather, the rejection of the claim that there is a necessary order. I do not know what the qualification "radically" means. Wittgenstein makes no ontological claim about "some sort of hype-chaos of radical contingency".

    Can the objective world outside of the social/mental sphere be understood outside of the criss-crossing web of a humans in their form of life?schopenhauer1

    If you think it can then how?

    Again, why do things seem to "work out" when math is applied to empirical investigations.schopenhauer1

    That is a good question. One might speculate on the existence of a mathematical Platonic realm. One might claim that this realm is real, but this "realism" would be "imaginary realism". (If one wants to understand Plato the careful attention should be paid to the importance of the role of the imagination. The ever present objects of poiesis and the absence of objects of noesis - despite all the talk of Forms. Here we see the fundamental difference between Plato and Platonism.)
  • Wayfarer
    8k
    It's worth recalling the definition of ontology, particularly in respect of the aspect of the definition that declares ontology as 'the study of 'being qua being'. It's not, therefore, necessarily the study of objects, which appear to beings, or phenomena, which are 'what appears'. It sounds trite but seems often forgotten; nowadays, the terms 'existence', 'being', and 'reality' are often assumed to be synonymous, but there are important philosophical distinctions between them.

    why do things seem to "work out" when math is applied to empirical investigations?schopenhauer1

    I think the attitude of Scholastic~Aristotelian realism helps cast some light:

    whatever is received is in the recipient according to the mode of being that the recipient possesses. If, then, the senses are material powers, they receive the forms of objects in a material manner; and if the intellect is an immaterial power, it receives the forms of objects in an immaterial manner. This means that in the case of sense knowledge, the form is still encompassed with the concrete characters which make it particular; and that, in the case of intellectual knowledge, the form is disengaged from all such characters. 'To understand' is to free form completely from matter.

    Moreover, if the proper knowledge of the senses is of accidents, through forms that are individualized, the proper knowledge of intellect is of essences, through forms that are universalized. Intellectual knowledge is analogous to sense knowledge inasmuch as it demands the reception of the form of the thing which is known. But it differs from sense knowledge [insofar] as it consists in the apprehension of things, not in their individuality, but in their universality.

    From here. (Also see Jim Franklin on Aristotelian realism.)

    How is this relevant? Because modern science comprises largely the 'quantification of those attributes of objects that can be abstracted to mathematics'. In this way, mathematical logic is applied to phenomenal objects, but only insofar as these are able to be quantified. So this enables us to apply logical methods, which ancient philosophy believed only applied to the domain of abstract logic, to empirical facts, through the application of universal laws to particular instances, by virtue of the universality of mathematical reasoning. That is the distinct characteristic of the modern mathematical sciences commencing with Galileo.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k
    It is just this tendency to posit a hidden world behind the world that Wittgenstein rejects. How does one peak behind the curtain? By imagining that there must be something going on and speculating that it must be this or that?Fooloso4

    A quote from a book review of SR philosopher Steven Shaviro (https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/the-universe-of-things-on-speculative-realism/):
    The most significant parallel between Whitehead and the speculative realists, on Shaviro's account, follows directly from Whitehead's critique of the bifurcation of nature. When it comes to the bifurcation between the phenomenal appearances of "the red glow of the sunset" and the physical reality of "'the molecules and electric waves' of sunlight refracting into the earth's atmosphere", Whitehead is quite clear in arguing that one is not more real than the other. To the contrary, for Whitehead "we may not pick and choose". The red glow of the sunset and the electric waves of sunlight each have for Whitehead, as Shaviro points out, "the same ontological status" (2). Stated differently, nature is not divided between material things that are inaccessible to us except insofar as they are taken up by the mind in the form of impressions and ideas; rather, things are always already present in other things. Whitehead is clear on this point: "an actual entity is present in other actual entities" (Process and Reality, 50; cited 8).

    How does speculation avoid being something other than some way we see the world? It seems to be self-deluding - picturing some hidden way things must be and ignoring the fact that the picture one conjures or deduces is a human artifact.Fooloso4

    Again, a quote says it more aptly than me from Critique of Shaviro (COS)
    Shaviro, by contrast, will accept the idea that there is more to reality than what is actually given or present to us -- "Things are active and interactive far beyond any measure of their presence to us" (49). This surplus or excess, however, is not a hidden reserve withdrawn from relations but is instead an excess of relations that cannot be captured and constrained within a predetermining set of normative categories and objective types. The goal for philosophy, Shaviro claims, is therefore "not to deduce and impose cognitive norms, or concepts of understanding, but rather to make us more fully aware of how reality escapes and upsets these norms" (67). This is again why when we do philosophy "we are compelled to speculate," for when we are "confronted with the real" this reality escapes our "cognitive norms, or concepts" and puts us into a situation where "we must think outside our own thought" (67). We are forced into doing philosophy as speculative realism, and speculative realism, if done right, "must maintain," as Shaviro sees it, "both a positive ontological thesis and a positive epistemological one" (68). The ontological thesis asserts that "the real not only exists without us and apart from our conceptualizations of it but is actually organized or articulated in some manner, in its own right, without any help from us" (68); and the epistemological thesis claims that "it is in some way possible for us to point to, and speak about, this organized world-without-us without thereby reducing it yet again to our own conceptual schemes" (68).

    This is a misunderstanding of Wittgenstein. Once again: In On Certainty Wittgenstein quotes Goethe: “In the Beginning was the Deed”(402). The relation of other animals to the world is not via thinking and at its most fundamental level it is not for us either.Fooloso4

    A SR philosopher might reply
    Shaviro's strategy in providing both a positive ontological and epistemological thesis is to push the anti-correlationist arguments one finds among speculative realist philosophers to their logical conclusion. Underlying these arguments is perhaps the central claim of his book: that "all entities have insides as well as outsides, or first-person experiences as well as observable, third-person properties" (104). For Shaviro, "the problem with Harman is that he seems to underestimate this latter aspect," the public, third-person aspect of entities. By accepting the two-sided nature of entities, Shaviro adopts a form of panpsychism, and one of the motivations for this move is that it responds to an alternative approach one finds among speculative realists whereby they overcome the problem of correlationism by purging thought from being (see 73). Both Meillassoux and Brassier, for instance, offer a version of this argument. Meillassoux calls for a version of the distinction between primary and secondary qualities in order to show how an object can be "formulated in mathematical terms . . . (and hence) can be meaningfully conceived as properties of the object in itself" (citing Meillassoux, 74). Brassier goes even further and argues that our thought, including mathematical thought, "is epiphenomenal, illusory, and entirely without efficacy" (74). Whether a meaningful grasp of objects as they are in themselves is possible or not, both Meillassoux and Brassier are agreed on one thing, according to Shaviro, and that is "that they both assume that matter in itself -- as it exists outside of the correlation -- must simply be passive and inert, utterly devoid of meaning or value" (77). Thought and matter are thus put into polar opposition with one another -- or Meillassoux and Brassier continue to assume the validity of the bifurcation of nature (77) -- whereas Shaviro, following Whitehead, calls for a contrast of thought and matter, a contrast wherein everything entails both a subjective aspect and an objective aspect, an inside and an outside. — COS
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k
    That is the distinct characteristic of the modern mathematical sciences commencing with Galileo.Wayfarer

    Yes, but this is simply explaining the question again. Why is it so? If humans can't help but think this way, then why? Sure, we can say humans have a tendency to systematize, predict probabilities, find patterns, inference, etc. But then, why when investigating the world, do these properties work? Okay, we can say "evolution". But then what is it about evolution that allows for properties to work? Evolution works by way of differential survival rates. Thus, it may be said that it was advantageous for humans to think in these ways.

    To use Heiddeger's ready-at-hand concept liberally, this might be about being's way of interacting with the world through non-reflective capacity. It would be "doing without thinking about it". This may be many types of animals without the recursive nature that language-syntax-conceptual capacities provide. With the slow but steady decoupling of the human animal from "just do" with more recursive modes of cognition, we get inferencing and social learning mechanisms that form the world into ever-present concepts. Thus "water in glass" presuppose a world composed of divisible concepts like water and glass. This conceptual decoupled cognitive capacity was useful precisely because of its ability to see the patterns of the world in a way that allowed for survival. Recognizing patterns becomes the reason why humans can survive. Thus the patterns weren't meant "for humans", humans wouldn't be otherwise without recognizing patterns as this is how survival differentials played out. Thus we couldn't help but recognize patterns, and accurately. Thus these patterns were prior to and independent of human conventionalizations of the best ways to recognize them.
  • Wayfarer
    8k
    Reply to above posted here as not relevant to this thread.
  • 2019
    2
    Oskari Kuusela gives his interpretation of Wittgenstein in his latest book. My understanding is as follows. Based on Wittgenstein's own remark that he had made contributions to logic, he tries to show that Kantian readings of him* can't explain this fact, even if they avoid the problem of armchair empiricism of which Wittgenstein was accused of but he himself denied that he was undertaking. Wittgenstein's preoccupation with logic was based on the work of Russel, Frege and his own TLP. Later, he rejected calculus-based methods, but it's not clear what his contributions to logic are if his work on it amounts to this rejection. Also, according to Kuusela, under kantian readings of Wittgenstein, grammatical statements constitute philosophical theses, which Wittgenstein famously denied.

    So, Kuusela argues that Wittgenstein's contribution wasn't just a negative one. He takes Wittgenstein to hold, throughout his life, a conception of philosophy as a logical investigation. TLP, while preserving the basic assumptions of Frege's and Rusell's approach to logic, was trying to fill the gaps and solve the difficulties that this approach faced. Later on, he came to see as problematic the notion of a universal logical calculus or that logic's non-empirical status could be explained by thinking of propositions as being abstract entities. Kuusela claims that Wittgenstein continued to hold logic as a non-empirical discipline, even though it (i.e. logic) is able to take into account empirical facts about language users and their environment.

    He sees Wittgenstein as trying to extend logic beyond calculus-based methods, by introducing alternative logical methods such as grammatical rules, language-games and a "quasi-ethnology". Kuusela takes Wittgenstein's late contributions to be a hybrid between "ideal" and "ordinary" language philosophies. In the sense that he still maintained a basic article of Russel's approach, according to which philosophical problems are primarily logical and are solved by logical investigations, while, at the same time, extending logic beyond calculus-based methods and into "ordinary" language-games, grammar etc. In that, Kuusela argues against Russell and others who viewed Wittgenstein's later thought as a curious kind of empirical linguistic anthropology and as an abandonment of his work on logic.

    So, ultimately, under Kuusela's reading, Wittgenstein's late philosophy tries to fill in the gaps in what he took to be an impoverished conception of logic. Logical calculi preoccupied with grammatical form are useful in certain contexts but may not be as useful in others and certainly they are not all there is to logic. They are part of it. Wittgenstein's own methods, such as language-games, are different parts of it and the bulk of PI's investigations are examples of cases where the employment of logical methods such as language-games might be preferable to calculus-based methods.

    There might be problems, philosophical or otherwise, where the idealizations of logical calculi do a good enough job. But ideal languages with fixed and precise rules are simplified descriptions of something far more complex and open-ended. Natural languages are not as simple as ideal languages, nor are they governed by such fixed and precise rules. Wittgenstein argues that some philosophical dead-ends are reached precisely because we're not using good enough logical methods and we end up describing our concepts as simpler than they really are.

    Logical necessity, which makes no exceptions, is not explained solely by rules and conventions, they are not the source of necessity, even though language is an evovled spatio-temporal phenomenon for Wittgenstein. Kuusela names Wittgenstein's attempt to do justice both to empirical facts and logical necessity, non-empiricist naturalism. Empirical generality cannot account for logical necessity and universality, but empirical facts are nevertheless not irrelevant to logic. Regarding Wittgenstein's discussion of pain expression in the PI, Kuusela writes:

    "Instead of using a rule or a set of rules as a mode of representing language use, §244 describes an aspect of language use by means of a natural historical picture or model. Importantly,this involves construing the notion of language use more broadly than as rule-governed use—which also throws light on the sense in which Wittgenstein’s methods do not involve a commitment to a theory or thesis about language use as rule-governed, or that it is always possible to describe language in terms of rules. Rather, the notion of rule-governed use is merely one of several related notions of the use of language that Wittgenstein employs"

    With respect to how the use of "natural historical pictures" or "empirical facts" establishes logical necessity without collapsing into empiricism, Kuusela explains that:

    "Accordingly, insofar as the employment of calculi and grammatical rules consistently with Wittgenstein’s method does not involve a collapse into empiricism, neither does the employment of natural historical pictures. The explanation why is now easy to state: none of these different kinds of clarificatory devices is used to make empirical statements, when employed for the purpose of logical clarification. The difference of the use of natural historical pictures in Wittgensteinian logic from empirical assertions can be further clarified with reference to certain formal features of the use of natural historical pictures, namely their manner of justification and their generality."

    Wittgenstein's model is justified, not because it corresponds with empirical facts, but due to its clarificatory power, which makes comprehensible the object of inquiry (pain) without producing conundrums that other models produce. For example, Wittgenstein's model does not have to deny the possibility of knowing other people's sensations, like the model which takes sensation-language as naming inner states.

    Since Wittgenstein is not concerned with empirical facts, he does not need to refer to a certain space or time when he brings up his examples. As devices of logical clarification, these examples are universal and necessary, just like logic. The gain here is that it manages to clarify language without having to postulate abstract entities (e.g. ideal languages) to which our natural language must conform to get it right. Wittgenstein turns the classical account on its head. The classical account just ignored the way language is actually used and sought to find the ideal which would dictate proper usage. Wittgenstein takes into account the way we talk in order to show the logic behind it, its grammar, by comparing language with calculi or games according to fixed and exact rules.

    By employing these means of idealization in logic, we bring into focus and clarify certain aspects and uses of language which account for specific problems. But what these idealizations help us figure out does not hold just for this calculus or that language-game, it is true of our natural language which is the object of inquiry. That's a difference between logical and scientific modelling. In science, models are approximations of its object (nature or reality) in a way that logical models are not such approximations of its object (language). As Wittgenstein puts it:

    "But if you say that our languages only approximate to such calculi you are standing on the very brink of a misunderstanding. For then it may look as if what we were talking about were an ideal language. As if our logic were, so to speak, a logic for a vacuum.—Whereas logic does not treat of language—or of thought—in the sense in which a natural science treats of a natural phenomenon, and the most that can be said is that we construct ideal languages. But here the word "ideal" is liable to mislead, for it sounds as if these languages were better, more perfect, than our everyday language; and as if it took the logician to shew people at last what a proper sentence looked like"

    When the scientist abstracts away certain features of reality to build her model, she leaves something out. What she presents to us now is not reality, she's not making ontological claims, anymore than cartographers do. Are maps ontological statements? Idealizations in science are methodological choices. Ideally, science would like to produce ever more accurate approximations of reality until they're not approximations (not that this is possible though). On the other hand, there's no such need or aim in logical modeling. According to Kuusela:

    "For the descriptions of logic in idealized terms are not merely approximate clarifications in the absence of more proper clarifications. Rather, clarification by means of ideal languages constitutes a particular method for resolving philosophical problems"

    "As outlined, unlike science logical clarification does not ultimately aim at a comprehensive non-idealized account of its objects of study. Due to their problem-relativity logical clarifications can remain idealizations, as long as they account for whatever is relevant for the problems at hand."

    Or, in the words of Wittgenstein:

    "Just as a judge treats certain cases as paradigms, so to speak as ideal cases, so too we construct ideal cases, grammatical pictures, in order to secure different perspectives in cases of philosophical dispute and to settle the conflict. We wish to investigate language solely from the point of view of a procedure governed by definite rules, under such an aspect. To a certain extent the method is similar to the one proposed by Boltzmann: describing a physical model, for instance a model of Maxwell’s equations, without making any claim that it conforms to something else. Rather, it is simply described, and then the resemblance will become evident to us. The model is none the worse for this. It is a thing in its own right, and it serves a purpose as well as it can. What Boltzmann accomplished by this means was a kind of safeguarding of the purity of his explanations. There is no temptation to falsify reality, but the model is, so to speak, given once and for all, and it will itself show to what extent it is correct. And even where it does not do so, it does not thereby lose its value.It is in this sense that one can say: We have no system. That is, there is no possibility of another’s agreeing or disagreeing with us; for we really indicate only a method. It is as if Boltzmann’s model were simply placed beside the phenomenon of electricity and someone said: ‘Just look at that!’."

    ---

    * according to which "grammatical statements articulate conditions of intelligibility for the employment of concepts, clarifying what is necessarily assumed in their use and what their possible uses are."
  • StreetlightX
    3.9k
    Stellar post. I think the focus on necessity is exactly right, and is missed by many who take Witty to be just engaging is some kind of linguistic anthropology.
  • sime
    377
    Am i right in suspecting that Speculative realism is continental-philosophy's muddled attempt at analytic philosophy?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    Natural languages are not as simple as ideal languages, nor are they governed by such fixed and precise rules.

    ...

    Rather, the notion of rule-governed use is merely one of several related notions of the use of language that Wittgenstein employs"

    ...

    The gain here is that it manages to clarify language without having to postulate abstract entities (e.g. ideal languages) to which our natural language must conform to get it right. Wittgenstein turns the classical account on its head. The classical account just ignored the way language is actually used and sought to find the ideal which would dictate proper usage. Wittgenstein takes into account the way we talk in order to show the logic behind it, its grammar, by comparing language with calculi or games according to fixed and exact rules.

    ..

    Rather, clarification by means of ideal languages constitutes a particular method for resolving philosophical problems"
    2019


    Schopenhauer1 appears to be trying to draw some sort of ontological conclusions from this Wittgensteinian perspective. If natural languages are not rule-based, and rules only emerge in our attempts to produce ideal languages, then where do the patterns (which Shop refers to), and order, which is found in natural languages, and in nature in general, come from? Can we conclude that the patterns and order which we observe as existing in the natural world, are not rule-based?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k

    My response is here: https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/295093 . Anyone who wanted to further comment on this particular response to Wafarer is found in that thread as Wayfarer chose to continue the discussion there, which may be more appropriate.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k
    Kantian readings of him* can't explain this fact, even if they avoid the problem of armchair empiricism of which Wittgenstein was accused of but he himself denied that he was undertaking.2019

    There may be a bit of this in Witty in regards to language when it comes to research on the origins, neuroscience, etc. But he was getting at a priori understanding at a much broader level, which from the 10,000 ft. level can be considered a legitimate move when characterizing what is going on. He is being "meta" here of empiricism, logic, and ordinary language and the approaches of these in themselves and combined.

    That is, there is no possibility of another’s agreeing or disagreeing with us; for we really indicate only a method. It is as if Boltzmann’s model were simply placed beside the phenomenon of electricity and someone said: ‘Just look at that!’."2019

    Yes, science never has to be "exact", just point the way of correlation. But the fact that this correlation is there, is in fact, "saying" something itself. That is my theme in this thread, or at least what I am currently entertaining for a point of discussion here.
  • Fooloso4
    960


    How do we reconcile logical necessity with his remark that the rules of grammar are arbitrary?

    PI 497. The rules of grammar may be called “arbitrary”, if that is to mean that the purpose of grammar is nothing but that of language.

    Language has no single purpose, but it could not serve many of its purposes if it did not have a logical structure, that is, if what is said does not make sense. There is something arbitrary about language and something non-arbitrary about the grammar or logic of language. This does not mean that there is a fixed logical structure underlying language, but that all language-games have a structure. This is not an empirical claim but a logical one.
  • sime
    377
    In my opinion, Wittgenstein wanted to use the word "grammar" to refer to the pre-theoretical, intuitive, ineffable and phenomenological aspects of meaning - but found himself unable to do so, due to

    i) the common usage of the word "grammar" to refer to the conventions of linguistic protocol.

    ii) The paradox that some form of linguistic protocol must be used if grammatical sentiment is to be communicated - which leads to verbal contradictions in cases where we say that a particular word or set of words has meaning but cannot be given a verbal definition.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k
    Language has no single purpose, but it could not serve many of its purposes if it did not have a logical structure, that is, if what is said does not make sense. There is something arbitrary about language and something non-arbitrary about the grammar or logic of language. This does not mean that there is a fixed logical structure underlying language, but that all language-games have a structure. This is not an empirical claim but a logical one.Fooloso4

    This reminds me of ideas of the Chomskean sort. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_grammar
  • Fooloso4
    960


    As I understand it, Wittgenstein is not claiming that there is a universal grammar, but that any grammar must make sense.

    498. When I say that the orders “Bring me sugar!” and “Bring me milk!” have a sense, but not the combination “Milk me sugar”, this does not mean that the utterance of this combination of words has no effect. And if its effect is that the other person stares at me and gapes, I don’t on that account call it an order to stare at me and gape, even if that was precisely the effect that I wanted to produce.

    499. To say “This combination of words has no sense” excludes it from the sphere of language, and thereby bounds the domain of language. But when one draws a boundary, it may be for various kinds of reason. If I surround an area with a fence or a line or otherwise, the purpose may be to prevent someone from getting in or out; but it may also be part of a game and the players are supposed, say, to jump over the boundary; or it may show where the property of one person ends and that of another begins; and so on. So if I draw a boundary-line, that is not yet to say what I am drawing it for.

    500. When a sentence is called senseless, it is not, as it were, its sense that is senseless. Rather, a combination of words is being excluded from the language, withdrawn from circulation.

    One might imagine a language game in which "Milk me sugar" makes sense, but the grammar of the invented game would have to make clear what this means, how the phrase is being used in that game, what one is supposed to do with it.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k
    As I understand it, Wittgenstein is not claiming that there is a universal grammar, but that any grammar must make sense.Fooloso4

    No, I wasn't suggesting he does, just the idea that grammar might have universal elements possibly due to how cognition in humans generally works. Chomsky's UG is definitely of a different language theory than Wittgenstein's. It does not mean I am discounting it, but giving another theory. I don't like only viewing these problems with one strategum. For example Quine, Russell, Chomsky, and others represent a different approach, at least how I interpret it. Actually any one of these isolated theories can be combined. Witty doesn't have to be contrary to any other theories, but they can accord but apply to different areas or levels of investigation of the large phenomenon of language.

    One might imagine a language game in which "Milk me sugar" makes sense, but the grammar of the invented game would have to make clear what this means, how the phrase is being used in that game, what one is supposed to do with it.Fooloso4

    Yes, phrases must make sense in their use-contexts. What makes science interesting is falsification. Falsification and the ability to get a result other than prediction tells us something. The data doesn't necessarily accord with the initial logic. However, that any data can be systematized can then subsume this position back to plain old epistemological constraints. This is true, but a lot of what is predicted is not what would be readily apparent to a common sense worldview.
  • Fooloso4
    960
    ... giving another theory. I don't like only viewing these problems with one strategum.schopenhauer1

    Okay. It is sometimes difficult to tell whether someone thinks that what is being said is roughly the same thing in two different ways.

    Witty doesn't have to be contrary to any other theories, but they can accord but apply to different areas or levels of investigation of the large phenomenon of language.schopenhauer1

    Maybe. One issue I have with this is that it compounds interpretative problems. instead of dealing with the interpretation of one thinker we are now dealing with the interpretation of two or more.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    Language has no single purpose, but it could not serve many of its purposes if it did not have a logical structure, that is, if what is said does not make sense. There is something arbitrary about language and something non-arbitrary about the grammar or logic of language. This does not mean that there is a fixed logical structure underlying language, but that all language-games have a structure. This is not an empirical claim but a logical one.Fooloso4

    This says nothing more than "if there is order in the universe, it must be a logical order". But this is the "classical account" that 2019 refers to, which Wittgenstein turns on its head. It must be turned on its head because it puts the horse before the cart. Clearly, logic is derived from, or comes from language. Therefore there is no such thing as logic prior to language, nor was there logic when the first language-games started to exist.. Furthermore, the structure or order which underlies natural language games, just like the structure and order which underlies the entire universe, cannot be attributed the property of "logical", because there was no such thing as logic when these things came into existence..
  • schopenhauer1
    3.2k
    Clearly, logic is derived from, or comes from language. Therefore there is no such thing as logic prior to language, nor was there logic when the first language-games started to exist.. Furthermore, the structure or order which underlies natural language games, just like the structure and order which underlies the entire universe, cannot be attributed the property of "logical", because there was no such thing as logic when these things came into existence..Metaphysician Undercover

    We have to be careful here not to mince words. There is this sense that people are using Wittgenstein as an escape hatch for any sense of meaning. One can always be accused of not playing the language-game right, and thus "making no sense". There could be a sense that languages had to conform to some sort of coherency while it was developing. Evolution also plays by certain rules, dictated by the necessity of survival for biological organisms. Also, it could be said that humans are a "symbolic species", the groundwork for conceptual thought itself is already there, and the background for which language-games play out. So in all these senses, @Fooloso4 could have a point. Presumably, he is not talking about logic in the formal sense, but a structuring that takes place in the development of language.
  • Fooloso4
    960
    Clearly, logic is derived from, or comes from language.Metaphysician Undercover

    Grammar is a logical order. It is not derived from language, it is integral to it. There can be no language that is not a logical language.

    ...
    ... nor was there logic when the first language-games started to existMetaphysician Undercover

    How can there be a language-game that is not logical? How would anyone know what anything means? All language-games are logical. It is not a question of which came first. Even the builder's language is logical.

    Furthermore, the structure or order which underlies natural language games, just like the structure and order which underlies the entire universe, cannot be attributed the property of "logical",Metaphysician Undercover

    The structure or order is logical. What would an illogical order be if not disorder?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    Evolution also plays by certain rules, dictated by the necessity of survival for biological organisms.schopenhauer1

    I don't think so. Evolution does not follow any rules.

    Presumably, he is not talking about logic in the formal sense, but a structuring that takes place in the development of language.schopenhauer1

    What are you saying, that evolutionary processes follow some sort of informal logic? Who would have been carrying out this logical thinking which took place in the early development of language?

    Grammar is a logical order. It is not derived from language, it is integral to it. There can be no language that is not a logical language.Fooloso4

    I think we already went through this in the other thread and I demonstrated that this is a mistaken view. Logic requires language, but language does not require logic. Watch a baby learn to talk, that child is not using logic. The child learns to talk before the child learns to be logical. We reason with language, so language is required for reasoning. And we cannot reason without language. Language has given us the tool required for reasoning. How could that language which came into existence prior to reasoning be a logical language?

    How can there be a language-game that is not logical? How would anyone know what anything means? All language-games are logical. It is not a question of which came first. Even the builder's language is logical.Fooloso4

    Why must one know logic to communicate? Many animals communicate without using logic. It's not a question of knowing what something means, because meaning is use in the Wittgensteinian context, so there is no necessity for "what" something means. It's a question of being able to communicate. Your assumption that a language game must be logical is unfounded, just like you assumption that to use language requires that we know "what" is meant. Knowing-how does not require knowing-what.

    The structure or order is logical. What would an illogical order be if not disorder?Fooloso4

    Logic is a process carried out by human minds. There could, for example, be an order which the human mind, due to its limited capacity, could not understand. This order would not be logical, nor would it be disorder. The infinite order escapes the grasp of the human mind with its finite logic. Logic is based in definition, and therefore relies on definiteness, whereas order goes far beyond, to the indefinite, the infinite. So it is necessary to conclude that there is order which is not logical order.
  • Banno
    5.6k
    Evolution does not follow any rules.Metaphysician Undercover

    :rofl:
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