• Outlander
    2k


    Fun fact: Socrates was imprisoned for his own safety. Just about everybody who knew him either wanted to kill him or make him "go away". And eventually succeeded, mind you. You don't happen to have access to any wild hemlock, do you? :smile:

    "Never assume malice for what can be adequately explained by simple ignorance and misunderstanding (or earnest and genuine albeit unrefined or naive curiosity)." :cheer:

    Were it not for those who follow this sacred principle, I likely may have not lasted the years myself. :grin:
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    Of all the people I've engaged with over the years in this forum you're one of the few that remind me of a troll.Sam26

    If you do not wish to discuss and defend your opinions, which is standard philosophic practice, then just don't respond. The insult is uncalled for. I suspect it has more to do with the fact that I challenge you and point out your mistakes rather than the way I engage, although you might see them as one and the same. There are many here who do not share your opinion. Quite the opposite. The fact of the matter is that your views have changed considerably over the years. I doubt that would have happened without criticism.

    In any case, given your problem with the way I engage with you I no longer will.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    I don't have much more to say, so I'll end this here.

    Happy Hunting.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    We think of our interaction with the world as if it's a conversation we're having with it.frank
    I don't, but you might. Perhaps one advantage of so doing is that it displays how integral language is to our interactions with the world.

    Again, that something counts as a hinge is not a general characteristic. One can set up circumstances where "This is a hand" does not function as a hinge. Counting as a hinge, being indubitable, is a role within a language game; something one does with a sentence.

    Your last paragraph stand, I think. The vatted brain is still involved in the various discussions that make up the world, even if that world is a simulation.


    The salient point I would make for you is that a game can only be played if some propositions are, not exempt from truth or falsity, but treated as being true.

    I suspect saying that this or that belief is a hinge might mislead one into forgetting that the it is a hinge only within the games we play, the things we are doing - perhaps into thinking that it is a hinge always and in all circumstances.

    So consider again the wider context of 13:3, one of the mentions of 'hinge"...
    340. We know, with the same certainty with which we believe any mathematical proposition, how the letters A and B are pronounced, what the colour of human blood is called, that other human beings have blood and call it "blood".
    341. That is to say, the questions that we raise and our doubts depend on the fact that some propositions are exempt from doubt, are as it were like hinges on which those turn.
    342. That is to say, it belongs to the logic of our scientific investigations that certain things are in deed not doubted.
    343. But it isn't that the situation is like this: We just can't investigate everything, and for that reason we are forced to rest content with assumption. If I want the door to turn, the hinges must stay put.
    344. My life consists in my being content to accept many things.
    345. If I ask someone "what colour do you see at the moment?", in order, that is, to learn what colour is there at the moment, I cannot at the same time question whether the person I ask understands English, whether he wants to take me in, whether my own memory is not leaving me in the lurch as to the names of colours, and so on.
    346. When I am trying to mate someone in chess, I cannot have doubts about the pieces perhaps changing places of themselves and my memory simultaneously playing tricks on me so that I don't notice.
    — OC
    Notice how this ends by listing prerequisites for asking about a colour and playing chess. These are the what is held firm in order for the game to be played, the task to be done: 'Here is a hand".

    As for types of hinges, there are I think at least two*. There are things that must be in place in the world in order for the game to occur - slabs and blocks for the builder, apples for the shop keeper, hands for Moore, and so on. There are also what might be called constitutive statements - getting the ball in the net counts as getting a goal; this wall counts as dividing my property from yours... See Searle.

    There may be other candidates for taking on being undoubted for the sake of getting things done.

    I sometimes find @Fooloso4's comments unhelpful because they offer a criticism - often quite minor - without an apparent alternative or solution. But there is also the more general point I've made about the exegesis of a text such as On Certainty, that as it is a work in progress, there is no reason to expect it to be coherent and consistent. What counts in such a text is exactly what you, Sam, have described yourself as doing - going beyond the text to see where it leads. Wittgenstein is not Aristotle. Not a body of rules to be assimilated, but a set of tools to be made use of.

    Anyway, my notes on Moyal-Sharrock would now make an essay, if they could be put into some sort of coherence. I more or less agree with their text, all except the conclusion. I suspect Moyal-Sharrock is arguing against the likes of Fodor and in so doing has placed too much emphasis on belief as trust rather than belief as an attitude. This is where I would like to take this conversation next.

    *Well, prima facie, at least two. It is worth considering if "This is a block" and "This is a hand" ought be analysed as "This counts as a block" and "This counts as a hand".

    Edit: Oh, and another point about §340. Notice that the things listed - the colour of blood, that it is called "blood", how "a" and "b" are pronounced, mathematical propositions - are routine, mundane. So many of the examples given in OC have this characteristic - my address, that I am dreaming, that this is a tree... Calling these "hinges" perhaps gives them too much celebrity; they are a commonplace aspect of our use of words. Not so special.
  • frank
    14.9k

    This is a hand is a proposition. I was giving you my handy dandy explanation of what a proposition is: that it comes from interaction with the world, framed as a conversation.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    Sure. Propositions as proposals as to how things are. Did I say something contrary to that?

    Ordinarily,
    Statements are grammatical combinations of nouns and verbs and such like; Some statements are either true or false, and we can call these propositions. So, "The present king of France is bald" is a statement, but not a proposition.Me
    And yes, their illocutionary force is to say how things are.
  • frank
    14.9k

    I think your account is missing this: that propositions are not first or second person accounts. They're in third person. They aren't necessarily spoken by any human at any time. I think this is where Austin's usefulness ends.

    It's a tricky point, but it's this: when you repeat a proposition, you're essentially repeating what you think the world would say. Expressing a proposition implies a world who (in our imaginations) can speak.

    So you can't use any particular proposition to prove that there is a world. It doesn't work that way.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    that propositions are not first or second person accounts. They're in third person.frank
    Odd. I would count "I have a laptop" as a proposition in the first person, and "You have an internet connection" as a proposition in the second person. True, rendered in a first order logic they do come out as third person, but I don't see that as a characteristic of propositions so much as of force.

    But yes, there are unspoken propositions.

    And yes, you can't use any particular proposition to prove that there is a world, since there being a world is presupposed by there being propositions.
  • frank
    14.9k
    I would count "I have a laptop" as a proposition in the first person,Banno

    The thing is, that the same P can be expressed by a lot of different methods: verbal sequence, marks on page, interpretive dance, sculpture, etc. Maybe I should say a P can be expressed in a first person account, but the P itself is denoted by what philosophers call "eternal sentences." Those sentences are from the narrator's POV. It's the world talking, so to speak.

    And yes, you can't use any particular proposition to prove that there is a world, since there being a world is presupposed by there being propositions.Banno

    Right. You can't express a proposition without presupposing a world.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    I sometimes find Fooloso4's comments unhelpful because they offer a criticism - often quite minor - without an apparent alternative or solution.Banno

    Perhaps there is no solution. For a thinker like Wittgenstein that may be the point!

    But there is also the more general point I've made about the exegesis of a text such as On Certainty, that as it is a work in progress, there is no reason to expect it to be coherent and consistent.Banno

    And where does that leave the reader?

    I really do think with my pen, because my head often knows nothing about what my hand is writing.
    (CV 17)

    If I am thinking about a topic just for myself and not with a view to writing a book, I jump about all round it; that is the only way of thinking that comes naturally to me. Forcing my thoughts into an ordered sequence is a torment for me. Is it even worth attempting now?

    I squander an unspeakable amount of effort making an arrangement of my thoughts which may have no value at all.
    (CV 28)

    The act of thinking, both for the writer and the interpretive reader, takes place without sight of the finish line. There may, in fact, be no finish line.

    It is not just a stylistic peculiarity that Wittgenstein wrote aphorisms.

    It is within the space and tension of interpretive uncertainty that we engage the text, whether it is a completed whole or not.
  • frank
    14.9k

    This is philosophy, not theology. Feel free to engage the ideas in play rather than becoming caught up in interpretation of the text.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    This is philosophy, not theology. Feel free to engage the ideas in play rather than becoming caught up in interpretation of the text.frank

    As I understand it, interpretation is about the ideas in play. It differs from theology, or at least to some forms of theology, in that it does not assume the truth of those ideas. The ideas remain in play. It is about becoming clear as to what those idea are. It is all too common, for both "professionals" and amateurs alike, to make claims about what those ideas are for the author in question and then arguing for or against those claims. It is one thing to take an idea and run with it, it is quite another to attempt to understand the author. I do not think there is anything wrong with the former. Ideas can take on a life of their own, but I believe that some thinkers can teach us things and if we are to learn from them then we would do well to attend to what they say and take care to understand them. In a thread on a particular work by a particular author what that author says and means remains in question.
  • frank
    14.9k

    Start with thinking for yourself. Then all the philosopher does is broaden your horizons.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    Start with thinking for yourself.frank

    Thinking for yourself is not something that occurs in isolation. To the extent it does, we suffer from the isolation that comes from imagining we are original thinkers.

    This is exactly what Wittgenstein is referring to in the remark:

    I ought to be no more than a mirror, in which my reader can see his own thinking with all its deformities so that, helped in this way, he can put it right.
    (CV 18)

    Many get this backwards. They recognize their own thinking in what he says, and believe he is in agreement with them.

    If I am not quite sure how I should start a book, this is because I am still unclear about something, For I should like to start with the original data of philosophy, written and spoken sentences, with books as it were.
    And here we come on the difficulty of "all is in flux". Perhaps that is the very point at which to start.
    (CV 8)

    Thinking for myself, I agree with Wittgenstein. When as a freshman in college I took a course is something called "philosophy", something I knew nothing about. I arrogantly assumed that I, from the vantage point of the advances in knowledge since these dusty old books were written, had nothing to learn from them and much that I could teach them. Having had the good fortune of being introduced to primary works of philosophy and, more importantly, how to read them, I came to see just how wrong I was.

    Over the years I have heard many people claim to be original thinkers. None of them are.

    Then all the philosopher does is broaden your horizons.frank

    We find in Plato's dialogues some who are angry and resent Socrates. They blame him for pulling the rug out from under them, for destabilizing what they assumed were the firm foundations on which they stand. They feel like they have been stung by a torpedo fish and are numb and disoriented.
  • frank
    14.9k

    :grin: Read more Emerson. He'll show how to think for yourself.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k


    I have read Self-Reliance and a few other things that I do not recall at the moment. He is not to my taste. I have heard enough of my own thoughts and those of others not:

    To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, -- that is genius.

    If I come to experience "the divine spirit" then perhaps I will accept that there is such a thing. Until I receive "a divine wisdom" I will think for myself and not think such a thing true based on what Emerson or anyone else may claim, and will not "accept the place divine providence has found for ..." me. He says:

    And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny ...

    Why must I accept that? Is trusting myself really the same as trusting transcendent destiny? Thinking for myself I do not trust it. But my trust in myself is tempered by my awareness of my ignorance of such things.

    It seems to me that all this is thinking for myself but believing what someone has said to think and believe.
  • frank
    14.9k

    To each his own
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    The salient point I would make for you is that a game can only be played if some propositions are, not exempt from truth or falsity, but treated as being true.Banno

    I would say that what we are dealing with aren't propositions in the normal sense or Wittgenstein wouldn't have singled them out as hinge, bedrock, foundational, etc. I never thought they were exempt from truth or falsity. I said that generally hinges are not thought of as true or false. there are exceptions, and Wittgenstein gave examples of those exceptions.

    "Treated as true" is an interesting phrase. How does this differ from normal propositions that we treat as true? Do we treat hinges as true, but they're not really true? Or, maybe we act as though they're true, like the rules of chess. "It's true that I have a hand" seems as odd as saying "I know I have a hand," again generally speaking because of the exceptions.

    I've brought up the idea that there are pre-linguistic hinges (e.g. animal beliefs) that seem clearly to have no association with truth or falsity unless you bring in the linguistic concepts of true and false. This is also why I think there are different categories of hinges. It seems that this is implied in OC. It's "the deed" that comes first, i.e., how we act that shows the hinge.

    I suspect saying that this or that belief is a hinge might mislead one into forgetting that the it is a hinge only within the games we play, the things we are doing - perhaps into thinking that it is a hinge always and in all circumstances.Banno

    I agree.

    Much of what I've been doing is thinking out loud. So, my analysis is partly an exegesis, which is difficult because we don't know which parts of OC Witt would have left in or out of a final draft, and partly where I think his thoughts lead.

    I think OC has something important to contribute to epistemology.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k


    Right. That is, after all, what thinking for yourself is about.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    Maybe I should say a P can be expressed in a first person account, but the P itself is denoted by what philosophers call "eternal sentences." Those sentences are from the narrator's POV. It's the world talking, so to speak.frank
    There's a lot in that, most notably the notion that a proposition is something apart from the utterances that instantiate it.

    Let's contrast two ideas. There is a similarity between "It is raining" and "Il pleut". How do we analyse this similarity? Here are two ways of thinking about this. The first is that there is something that both "It is raining" and "Il pleut" stand for or refer to, and that thing is the proposition present in "It is raining" and "Il pleut". The second is that the use to which we put "It is raining" is much the same as the use to which we put "Il pleut", and so the similarity between them is about their place in our language games.

    In the first, an abstract entity is invoked, and immediately followed by all sorts of philosophical investigations - what is the nature of this abstract entity, the proposition? Is it real, is it a Platonic form, is it an eternal statement, and so on. Thousands of years of misguided verbiage ensue.

    In the second, we might simply have a translation: "Il pleut" is true IFF it is raining, and no abstract entity is invoked.

    If we see things in the first way, it seems legitimate to supose, as you do, "that the same P can be expressed by a lot of different methods", and to supose that the true form of a proposition is to be found in a disembodied third person account.

    If we see things the second way, we simply have a group of statements with a functional similarity - in French or English, as in the first or second person.

    Now of course there are all sorts of issues to be dealt with in seeing the issue in this second way, but amongst them is not the ontological status of propositions.

    And if we see things in the second way, it remains that we might on occasions speak metaphorically of the proposition expressed by two differing statements, but we should baulk at going looking for that proposition. No need to hunt the Snark.

    I would say that what we are dealing with aren't propositions in the normal sense...Sam26
    I think they are exactly that: normal propositions. They do not differ in their structure from any other proposition. Where they differ is in the place they take in the things we do with words.

    Hence "treated as...". "Here is a hand" might be treated as indubitable in Moore's lecture, but perhaps not in Frankenstein's laboratory.

    Look at the wording of this:
    655. The mathematical proposition has, as it were officially, been given the stamp of incontestability. I.e.: "Dispute about other things; this is immovable - it is a hinge on which your dispute can turn." — OC
    "...has, as it were officially, been given the stamp of incontestability". Being outside of contention is a role taken on in the way we make use of mathematical propositions. It is given to the statement by the way we make use of it.

    I've sometimes toyed with the idea that any proposition could take on the role of being indubitable, in a suitably constructed language game - in much the same way, after Feyerabend, that an observation statement can be discounted as a falsification if suitable auxiliary hypotheses are invoked. Here considerations go off into the nature of modality, and the sort of propositions that might be true in all circumstances. I think one is left with little more than the desire to be consistent in how one expresses oneself.

    In OC Wittgenstein spends much effort in looking for propositions that are indubitable in all circumstances, but in all circumstances finds situations in which a proposition might be doubted:
    658. The question "But mightn't you be in the grip of a delusion now and perhaps later find this out?" - might also be raised as an objection to any proposition of the multiplication tables. — OC
  • frank
    14.9k
    In the first, an abstract entity is invoked, and immediately followed by all sorts of philosophical investigations - what is the nature of this abstract entity, the proposition? Is it real, is it a Platonic form, is it an eternal statement, and so on.Banno

    Not at all. I said a proposition is what we imagine the world would say. If you notice, my account of propositions is very similar to Russell's. He believed a true proposition is simply a state of the world. But that left him confused as to how propositions can be false. My solution: we're descendants of people who thought the world could talk. That heritage is the origin of the concept of propositions.

    I won't derail the thread further. I don't think you're likely to get what I'm saying. :wink:
  • Banno
    23.7k
    I don't think you're likely to get what I'm saying.frank
    Seems so. The world doesn't talk, people talk.
  • frank
    14.9k
    The world doesn't talk, people talk.Banno

    I know that. By the way, you haven't escaped abstract objects. A sentence is also abstract.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    I think they are exactly that: normal propositions. They do not differ in their structure from any other proposition. Where they differ is in the place they take in the things we do with words.Banno

    Ya, that's one of the disagreements we have, among others, but that's philosophy.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    Yep.

    So, to make a start on Understanding On Certainty, Moyal-Sharrock, the contention there is something like that hinges are not belief-that, but belief-in, or trust.

    Now I want to be clear that there is a use of the word "belief" that is belief-in, as opposed to belief-that. Indeed, it is clear from etymological considerations that this form is the earlier - back to the PIE root *leubh- for care, trust, love.

    Moyal-Sharrock, I think rightly, rejects reducing belief-that to belief-in. Rightly, since these are at least superficialy different uses, with corresponding differences in their grammar. Belief-that takes a statement as its target, while belief-in takes some logical individual.

    Moyal-Sharrock goes on to commit the reverse error, attempting to reduce belief-that to belief-in. Here we might do well to recall this:
    We might very well also write every statement in the form of a question followed by a "Yes"; for instance: "Is it raining? Yesl" Would this shew that every statement contained a question? — Philosophical Investigations §22
    We can interchange sentences between belief-in form and belief-that form; this does not show that either has some sort of priority.

    Moyal-Sharrock's discussion is broad and strongly argued, and this is but a start.
  • Banno
    23.7k
    By the way, you haven't escaped abstract objects. A sentence is also abstract.frank
    Is it? A sentence is a string of words, and so at the least is not as abstract as something like "the thing that is common to 'it is raining' and 'il pleut'"...whatever that is.
  • frank
    14.9k

    The same sentence can be presented by any number of utterances, whether sounds or marks on a screen. Sentences are commonly accepted as abstract objects.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    I'm not a fan of spending too much time on secondary sources. I think that for the most part, they lead us astray, not always of course. Most of my time is spent reading primary source material even though Witt's OC is incomplete. He's written enough prior material to give us a good idea of his thinking. And even the ideas I've tried to expand have some connection to passages in OC. I think OC is the most lucid of all Witt's writings, so I try to take the passages in OC at face value without trying to overanalyze them. Whether I succeed at this is another story. I think when we were explaining objects in the thread on TLP there was a tendency to go beyond Witt's ideas, i.e., to overanalyze the concept. I don't want to be too dogmatic about what I'm saying here, but I think generally this is the case.

    What I like reading secondary sources for is to compare my interpretation with that of others. I'm not saying there aren't good reasons to read secondary sources, only that when it comes to interpreting this or that passage in Witt's writings it's easy to go down the wrong path. Of course, it's easy to go down the wrong path no matter what you do, which is why it's a fool's errand to think this or that interpretation is correct. No matter what you say there's going to be a few people who will disagree.

    I like reading Witt to see where it leads me.
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