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Wittgenstein and radical Konstructivism [message #2519] Sun, 29 November 2009 04:41 Go to next message
David Kästle is currently offline  David Kästle
Messages: 2
Registered: November 2009
Junior Member
If you want to answer to this, just the passages that are typed fat (at the bottom) are the genuine problems, that concern me.

I don't want to discuss radical Konstructivism (rK) here. There is just one thing I am trying to understand about Wittgensteins thought.

My Professor is in many parts a rK. He says, that we are just aquainted with our constructs about the world, not with the world itself. True enough, that the concepts that we create are neither right or wrong, they neither fir the world nor fit it not. The conceptual scheme that we use can just be practial for what we want to do with it or unpractical for it (that is Wittgensteins autonomy of language principle). You can for example tell the lenght of something in meter, kilometer, centimeter, but also in miles, and lightyears, neither measure is the right one.

From this the rKs seem to me wrongly to infer, that every judgement that we make about the world also carries this arbitraryness with it, that the concepts (that comprise/are part of the judgement) have. They want to say, that because our concepts are arbitrary, our judgements are also. And thus we can never know anything about the 'real world' (thought of as looked at without any (allways arbitrary) concepts).

But thats a wrong conclusion. Even the most prinitive conceptual scheme, that divides the world just in two cathegories, say red and not-red things, is enough to create right or wrong (and not just practical or not practical) judgements.

Now comes my problem: When I thus argument against my Professor, how can I argument, that our judgements can be true? Because for this, he might say, you need to have absolutely sure evidence, that (at least one) judgement is true. But for no jedgement there seems to be evidence, that is enough to guarantee the truth of it. There seems to be allways the possibility, that new evidence shows, that the judgement is not true.

Now this is the typical sceptical problem. I don't know how to encounter it with Wittgenstein. He would say (in OC): It's the sceptical, that needs to make intelligible his doubt, who needs to argue, that it really is not sure. But if the sceptic just want to say, that we don't know, that there is a tomato in front of us (if there is one, that we see), because it could be an illusion, than why does he need to arguen further? Is he not just right to say, that we don't know?

I definitely see a problem here in the sceptics argument, because it seems then, that we lose the use of 'knowlege' and thus he himselve would not even be able to state, that we can not speak of knowledge here (in the case of the tomato). But I feel just not clear about what to say against the sceptic or the rK. I still want to say: „he is right, what justification do we have to say, that we know... ?"

This is my trouble. I think it has something to do with 'normal conditions' as Anscombe calls it (in 'On brute facts'). But I still can not 'stop doing philosophy' here. Can someone help me to stop?


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and radical Konstructivism [message #2525 is a reply to message #2519] Sun, 29 November 2009 21:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, David Kästle <wittrsamr@...> wrote:

> If you want to answer to this, just the passages that are typed fat (at the bottom) are the genuine problems, that concern me.
>
> I don't want to discuss radical Konstructivism (rK) here. There is just one thing I am trying to understand about Wittgensteins thought.
>
> My Professor is in many parts a rK. He says, that we are just aquainted with our constructs about the world, not with the world itself. True enough, that the concepts that we create are neither right or wrong, they neither fir the world nor fit it not. The conceptual scheme that we use can just be practial for what we want to do with it or unpractical for it (that is Wittgensteins autonomy of language principle). You can for example tell the lenght of something in meter, kilometer, centimeter, but also in miles, and lightyears, neither measure is the right one.
>

This reminds me a bit of what I took Neil to be saying though, perhaps, he will say I have gotten him wrong, which may well be the case. I am never quite sure in these discussions.

But it seems to me that insofar as your professor is addressing the contrast between the idea that we know the things in the world through bits and pieces (sense data) and the idea that we know the world in terms of complex objects first, I would tend to agree with the latter. While it may be reasonable to say that the organisms we are build up the world from such stimuli, the idea of sense data already occurs in terms of a complex picture of the world that sees objects rather than Russellian sense data.

On the other hand, while the ideas we hold about the world are somewhat contingent and imposed on the world (here is where it seems to me Neil's point comes in) there is a point where the conventions we choose must accord to some extent with the reality of our environments. If you want to say "The conceptual scheme that we use can just be practical for what we want to do with it or unpractical for it", then the fact remains that noting can be practical for anything if there is not some accord with the world at large, some matching of the convention selected to the way things actually are.



> From this the rKs seem to me wrongly to infer, that every judgement that we make about the world also carries this arbitraryness with it, that the concepts (that comprise/are part of the judgement) have. They want to say, that because our concepts are arbitrary, our judgements are also. And thus we can never know anything about the 'real world' (thought of as looked at without any (allways arbitrary) concepts).
>


I think you are right here. It is a wrong inference if, in fact, it is what they are saying.


> But thats a wrong conclusion. Even the most prinitive conceptual scheme, that divides the world just in two cathegories, say red and not-red things, is enough to create right or wrong (and not just practical or not practical) judgements.
>

I would link this to the idea that things may match up in lots of ways, i.e., that lots of approaches, lots of conventions, might work, but that just any approach is not necessarily going to work. If we have different ways of measuring distances still there are some basic facts involved, e.g., that a distance involves points traversed spatially, that time in movement between the endpoints matter, and so forth. Just because there is a very wide range of possible variant ways of capturing information about distance and measuring it doesn't mean that any approach will suffice.


> Now comes my problem: When I thus argument against my Professor, how can I argument, that our judgements can be true? Because for this, he might say, you need to have absolutely sure evidence, that (at least one) judgement is true. But for no jedgement there seems to be evidence, that is enough to guarantee the truth of it. There seems to be allways the possibility, that new evidence shows, that the judgement is not true.
>

Isn't this a different issue, namely what does it mean to speak of anything being true? What are the criteria for claiming truth, in what contexts, etc.? Philosophers in the West have traditionally sought certain truth, something indubitable that can be established by argument alone for all time and against any and all comers. But is that what it means to say of anything that it is true? With the later Wittgenstein shouldn't we ask for the use and view it in context? And isn't it the case that the idea that one can know anything in the world to be true in an apodictic (and discursive) sense an overstepping of the philosophers bounds on examination of how words like "true" are actually used in ordinary language?


> Now this is the typical sceptical problem. I don't know how to encounter it with Wittgenstein. He would say (in OC): It's the sceptical, that needs to make intelligible his doubt, who needs to argue, that it really is not sure. But if the sceptic just want to say, that we don't know, that there is a tomato in front of us (if there is one, that we see), because it could be an illusion, than why does he need to arguen further? Is he not just right to say, that we don't know?
>

Is philosophical skepticism the real thing? Does a philosopher disregard the traffic on crossing the street even if he is the sort who says we can know nothing for sure? But if he does not act with disregard of the traffic, then what sort of skepticism does he really adhere to?


> I definitely see a problem here in the sceptics argument, because it seems then, that we lose the use of 'knowlege'

Yes, I have noticed the same with those who follow Popper's notion that we can never know anything for sure and so all the knowledge we claim can be no more than conjecture, more or less robustly refuted, Such a strategy does away with the very idea of knowledge since conjecture or guessing is merely speculative knowledge, an idea advanced contingently, waiting to be strengthened on the basis of experience. While it can be fairly argued that all knowledge is contingent in an important sense (we never know what will happen next), still that is not how we operate in the world and to operate in the world we must have this thing we call knowledge, among other things of course. But what will count as knowledge will depend, as with truth, on the context of the use, the language game within which we are speaking of knowing something.


> and thus he himselve would not even be able to state, that we can not speak of knowledge here (in the case of the tomato). But I feel just not clear about what to say against the sceptic or the rK. I still want to say: „he is right, what justification do we have to say, that we know... ?"
>
> This is my trouble. I think it has something to do with 'normal conditions' as Anscombe calls it (in 'On brute facts'). But I still can not 'stop doing philosophy' here. Can someone help me to stop?
>

As in where to come to rest or to stop feeling that we know but we don't know so how can we think we know?

I think the answer lies in going back to ordinary usage. There it will be seen when and why it is appropriate to speak of true things and knowledge, and why the philosophical problem of radical skepticism is a false one, the outcome of mixing our uses.

SWM

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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and radical Konstructivism [message #2528 is a reply to message #2519] Mon, 30 November 2009 00:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Rajasekhar is currently offline  Rajasekhar
Messages: 52
Registered: August 2009
Member

>
> I definitely see a problem here in the sceptics argument, because it seems then, that we lose the use of 'knowlege' and thus he himselve would not even be able to state, that we can not speak of knowledge here (in the case of the tomato). But I feel just not clear about what to say against the sceptic or the rK. I still want to say: „he is right, what justification do we have to say, that we know... ?"
>
> This is my trouble. I think it has something to do with 'normal conditions' as Anscombe calls it (in 'On brute facts'). But I still can not 'stop doing philosophy' here. Can someone help me to stop?
>
> Sekhar says

We ignore simple things and land in a muddle.
Three limitations of language one must aware, 1 meaning is indirect 2 meaning is partial 2 meaning is not what it denotes.
How we acquired language in our child hood,same manner we are acquiring ideas even to day.
Essentially languages constructed for the sole purpose of ones own movement internally and externally.
Language is a divisive phenomena so what our vision is.
All these problems exist both in the language and humans since word apple is not real fruit.

thank you
sekhar
>
> ==========================================
>
> Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/
>


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Re: Wittgenstein and radical Konstructivism [message #2536 is a reply to message #2519] Tue, 01 December 2009 05:16 Go to previous message
bumblecone is currently offline  bumblecone
Messages: 4
Registered: November 2009
Junior Member
I definitely see a problem here in the sceptics argument, because it seems then, that we lose the use of 'knowlege' and thus he himselve would not even be able to state, that we can not speak of knowledge here (in the case of the tomato). But I feel just not clear about what to say against the sceptic or the rK. I still want to say: „he is right, what justification do we have to say, that we know... ?"

Ok first ask your professor how he makes it to work everyday.

when your professor says "how do know its a tomato", tell him thats not a proposition. ask him then to phrase the question in a deductive arugument.

the result will be the sceptic can no more prove that it is an illusion rather then an actual tomato, the arugment on certainty goes both ways. it becomes a question of rationality and you can respond. "until u can prove it with certain knowledge it is reasonable to beleive that it is an actual tomato". this will give you the upper hand in the argument.
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