Wittgensteinians
Life in the Post-Analytic World, Given by the Man Who Ended Philosophy As History Knew It

Home » Discussing Books or Works » Wittgenstein and the Tractatus » [Wittrs] What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do?
[Wittrs] What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5265] Fri, 23 July 2010 10:03 Go to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, wittrsamr@... wrote:
<snip>

Neil wrote:

> . . . I am reading TLP with no expectation that
> it could work, but still interested in what W was trying to do. Perhaps
> I'll be surprised, though since W later rejected it himself, that seems
> unlikely.

Out of curiosity Neil, what would count as its "working" do you think? Was it, say, intended to accomplish something concrete? Did Wittgenstein have in mind with the Tractatus a particular project such as, say, Russell's effort to show that mathematics was, finally, built on a foundation of logic? Does the Tractatus aim to show us some such, e.g., provide a foundational explanation of all knowledge?

Or was it aimed at just locking down an picture of the way language works, in keeping with the later Russellian project of constructing an ideal language that would be better suited than our ambiguous ordinary language(s) for expressing thoughts, and especially expressing scientific thoughts, with sufficient clarity?

Or was the point of the Tractatus simply to halt the questioning philosophers feel by giving the fullest account possible of things and putting everything in its place (hence the similarity with his later treatment of philosophy as method, as a kind of therapy to create the condition where one can walk away from the issues without carrying a sense of perplexity with one forever)?

Or, as some have suggested, was the point of the Tractatus to create a bigger picture of the universe than we are accustomed to when we merely think empircally, i.e., was it intended to raise our level of apprehending, to open our minds, that is, to give us a transcendent view of things?

The tractatus apparently continues to offer all these possibilities, even today. I was wondering which of these (or some other) tempts you, given your comment above about doubting that the Tractatus actually works? What would count as working in this case? That is, what is/was the Tractatus supposed to do for its readers?

SWM


========================================Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


[Wittrs] What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5269 is a reply to message #5265] Sat, 24 July 2010 01:02 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
Messages: 793
Registered: August 2009
Location: Form of Life
Senior Member


... the Tractatus and the Investigations have exactly the same object
(intention). They both are trying to sort good from bad thoughts -- trying to
understand sense from nonsense and senselessness.

Most good Wittgensteinians do not think the Tractatus to be the elephant in the
corner (or even to be a mistake). In fact, they would see the Tractatus and the
Investigations being the very same sort of vehicle, only with a completely
different engine. That's all Wittgenstein really did; he built a new motor for
his creation. And when he did so, he reached heights in engineering (philosophy)
never even dreamed of and barely understood even today.

I don't know which is a more flawed approach: reading Wittgenstein in order to
play the game of "dissect the argument." Or reading Wittgenstein while thinking
that the Tractatus is some sort of pre-season in the philosophic sport (and that
lecture notes and diary writings aren't important enough).

If you take a look at Monk's recent book on how to read Wittgenstein, I think
there are more Tractarian ideas that he focuses upon than non-Tractarian. What
Wittgenstein ultimately rejects in the Tractatus is its APPROACH, not
necessarily the work it gets done. Like I say, the work it gets done at the end
of the day is not objectionable or something that should be abandoned -- it's
just that the new creature does the work much much better (more efficiently and
powerfully). And the great mistake, therefore, is not what the creature was or
did, but rather the APPROACH it takes.

One wants to say: the engineering has a design flaw (or is designed by things
known before the world changes).

I know of no artist or engineer who would cast aside either a prototype or a
first line when talking about a product that changed the world (twice).

Regards and thanks.

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
New Discussion Groups! http://ludwig.squarespace.com/discussionfora/



==========================================

Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


[Wittrs] Re: What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5270 is a reply to message #5265] Sat, 24 July 2010 11:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
iro3isdx is currently offline  iro3isdx
Messages: 119
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member

--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <SWMirsky@...> wrote:


> responding to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wittrs/message/6026


> SWM:
> Out of curiosity Neil, what would count as its "working" do you
> think?

When it comes to questions of natural language, human thought, meaning,
etc - subjects that philosophy traditionally studies - I don't expect
that any "working" formal account is even possible.


> SWM:
> Was it, say, intended to accomplish something concrete?

I am not a mind reader. I cannot guess Wittgenstein's intentions.

My best guess is that it was intended to be tentative and exploratory,
but with no expectation that it would be definitive. But then, I am not
a real philosopher, so what would I know?


> SWM:
> Did Wittgenstein have in mind with the Tractatus a particular project
> such as, say, Russell's effort to show that mathematics was, finally,
> built on a foundation of logic?

Again, I have no idea as to what were Wittgenstein's intentions. But,
now that you brought it up, let me comment on Russell. Most
mathematicians will say nice things about the Russell and Whitehead
"Principia." But, deep down, they have little on no respect for
Russell as a mathematician. Someone who has earned a Ph.D. in
mathematics will have heard of Newton, Leibniz, Weierstrass, Gauss,
Hilbert, Cantor, and many others. But the chance are that the only
thing he will have heard about from Russell, will be the Russell
paradox.

Most mathematicians do not see logic as a foundation for mathematics.
They tend to see logic as a branch of mathematics, and for many of them
it will be looked at as a minor branch of mathematics.


> SWM:
> Or, as some have suggested, was the point of the Tractatus to create
> a bigger picture of the universe than we are accustomed to when we
> merely think empircally, i.e., was it intended to raise our level of
> apprehending, to open our minds, that is, to give us a transcendent
> view of things?

I still cannot read minds.

Any sort of logical structuring of language, thought or knowledge
(whatever it was that Wittgenstein was addressing), can only possibly
give us a far smaller picture than what we already have. That's why
such efforts are doomed to fail.

Regards,
Neil

========================================Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


[Wittrs] Re: What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5277 is a reply to message #5269] Sat, 24 July 2010 22:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:

> ... the Tractatus and the Investigations have exactly the same object
> (intention). They both are trying to sort good from bad thoughts -- trying to
> understand sense from nonsense and senselessness.
>

The same or similar aims then? But different approaches!

> Most good Wittgensteinians do not think the Tractatus to be the elephant in the
> corner (or even to be a mistake).


Does Wittgenstein count?


> In fact, they would see the Tractatus and the
> Investigations being the very same sort of vehicle, only with a completely
> different engine. That's all Wittgenstein really did; he built a new motor for
> his creation.



No, he radically changed his views even if he persisted throughout with a similar project.


> And when he did so, he reached heights in engineering (philosophy)
> never even dreamed of and barely understood even today.
>

That last, at least, I would agree with.

> I don't know which is a more flawed approach: reading Wittgenstein in order to
> play the game of "dissect the argument." Or reading Wittgenstein while thinking
> that the Tractatus is some sort of pre-season in the philosophic sport (and that
> lecture notes and diary writings aren't important enough).
>


Like paying attention to his own remarks?


> If you take a look at Monk's recent book on how to read Wittgenstein, I think
> there are more Tractarian ideas that he focuses upon than non-Tractarian.


I'll take a look when I get the chance. However, my view is generally that Wittgenstein is usually dispositive on the subject of Wittgenstein.


> What
> Wittgenstein ultimately rejects in the Tractatus is its APPROACH, not
> necessarily the work it gets done. Like I say, the work it gets done at the end
> of the day is not objectionable or something that should be abandoned


The problem is he saw that it didn't get the work done. It didn't explain things as he thought because there were still difficulties and conclusions in its statements. And it didn't end philosophy (he, himself, felt moved to return and try again). I would suggest that his years away from philosophy including the periods of solitude and the periods when he taught grade school helped him see that the kind of metaphysical approach he took from Frege and Russell was seriously missing the mark.


-- it's
> just that the new creature does the work much much better (more efficiently and
> powerfully).


And doesn't contain the "grave errors"?


>And the great mistake, therefore, is not what the creature was or
> did, but rather the APPROACH it takes.
>
> One wants to say: the engineering has a design flaw (or is designed by things
> known before the world changes).
>

If it didn't work, and even he thought it didn't, then it failed. That he started over, that he tried again, is no mark against him. It's to his credit.

> I know of no artist or engineer who would cast aside either a prototype or a
> first line when talking about a product that changed the world (twice).
>

He actually did it at least thrice. The first time was logical atomism which Russell credited him with formulating. The second time was when the Tractatus was taken as a kind of bible by the logical positivists. And the third, of course, was when he was in the vanguard of the ordinary language movement, a reaction to the old ideal language analysts like Russell and Moore. (Avrum Stroll argues that On Certainty represents still another turn but I don't see that at all, thinking instead that On Certainty was of a piece with the Investigations.)

SWM

========================================Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


[Wittrs] Re: What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5278 is a reply to message #5270] Sat, 24 July 2010 22:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "iro3isdx" <xznwrjnk-evca@...> wrote:
<snip>

> > SWM:
> > Was it, say, intended to accomplish something concrete?
>
> I am not a mind reader. I cannot guess Wittgenstein's intentions.
>
> My best guess is that it was intended to be tentative and exploratory,
> but with no expectation that it would be definitive. But then, I am not
> a real philosopher, so what would I know?
>
>

When I was much younger and a lot more arrogant I tried to do something like the Tractatus (before I had even read Wittgenstein by the way so I was really ignorant). My aim was to put everything I thought I knew about the world in general into an ordered presentation so that things would be clear, everything I counted of significance could be made comprehensible by showing how one thing led to another, how different claims interlocked, etc. I wanted to present the definitive case for what we could know and what conclusions we could draw from it. Perhaps, just perhaps, he was thinking to do the same thing?


> > SWM:
> > Did Wittgenstein have in mind with the Tractatus a particular project
> > such as, say, Russell's effort to show that mathematics was, finally,
> > built on a foundation of logic?
>

> Again, I have no idea as to what were Wittgenstein's intentions. But,
> now that you brought it up, let me comment on Russell. Most
> mathematicians will say nice things about the Russell and Whitehead
> "Principia." But, deep down, they have little on no respect for
> Russell as a mathematician. Someone who has earned a Ph.D. in
> mathematics will have heard of Newton, Leibniz, Weierstrass, Gauss,
> Hilbert, Cantor, and many others. But the chance are that the only
> thing he will have heard about from Russell, will be the Russell
> paradox.
>

Yes, I fear that Russell is much overrated as a philosopher though he was a major heavyweight in his time.

> Most mathematicians do not see logic as a foundation for mathematics.
> They tend to see logic as a branch of mathematics, and for many of them
> it will be looked at as a minor branch of mathematics.
>

Interesting.

>
> > SWM:
> > Or, as some have suggested, was the point of the Tractatus to create
> > a bigger picture of the universe than we are accustomed to when we
> > merely think empircally, i.e., was it intended to raise our level of
> > apprehending, to open our minds, that is, to give us a transcendent
> > view of things?
>
> I still cannot read minds.
>

I was just trying to see what it was you think the Tractatus failed to accomplish. Since you suggested it had failed to "work" obviously there must have been something you think it was meant to do but failed to do. I wanted to discover what that was.

> Any sort of logical structuring of language, thought or knowledge
> (whatever it was that Wittgenstein was addressing), can only possibly
> give us a far smaller picture than what we already have. That's why
> such efforts are doomed to fail.
>
> Regards,
> Neil
>

I think Wittgenstein came to see that in his later period which is why he abandoned the Tractatus (ceased doing philosophy that way, ceased arguing to defend its points, acknowledged that it contained "grave errors", and completely changed his method of doing philosophy).

SWM

========================================Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


[Wittrs] Re: What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5280 is a reply to message #5278] Sun, 25 July 2010 09:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
iro3isdx is currently offline  iro3isdx
Messages: 119
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member

--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <SWMirsky@...> wrote:


> responding to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wittrs/message/6040



> SWM:
> When I was much younger and a lot more arrogant I tried to do
> something like the Tractatus (before I had even read Wittgenstein
> by the way so I was really ignorant). My aim was to put everything
> I thought I knew about the world in general into an ordered
> presentation so that things would be clear, everything I counted
> of significance could be made comprehensible by showing how one
> thing led to another, how different claims interlocked, etc. I
> wanted to present the definitive case for what we could know and
> what conclusions we could draw from it.


I would never have tried that, because it would have seemed obvious that
it couldn't work.


Here's what linguist Jacques Guy said about language in a usenet post in
2000: "The ultimate secret of language is this: language is absurd,
illogical. If it were not, it would not work."


That pretty much reflects my view. It was posted in sci.lang on Sun, 05
Nov 2000 14:25:36 +0000, msgid is <3A056DE0.F5181A09@alphalink.com.au>


It should be obious that I am not thinking about these questions at all
like the ways that philosophers think. That's why it is hard for me to
imagine what might have been motivating Wittgenstein.



> SWM:
> I was just trying to see what it was you think the Tractatus
> failed to accomplish. Since you suggested it had failed to "work"
> obviously there must have been something you think it was meant to
> do but failed to do. I wanted to discover what that was.


I presume it was attempting to provide some sort of organized way of
looking at language and/or thought. However, I did not think that
possible (roughly, for the reasons that Jaques Guy gives).


In the "mechanistic and adaptive" thread, I suggested that logic is
mechanistic and rigid, but that we use it adaptively. If I were to
comment on natural language, I would say that it is highly adaptive, and
hence not amenable to control. And I would say much the same about
human thought.


Regards,
Neil


========================================Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


[Wittrs] Re: What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5288 is a reply to message #5280] Mon, 26 July 2010 09:41 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "iro3isdx" <xznwrjnk-evca@...> wrote:

> --- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <SWMirsky@> wrote:
>
>
> > responding to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wittrs/message/6040

> > SWM:
> > When I was much younger and a lot more arrogant I tried to do
> > something like the Tractatus (before I had even read Wittgenstein
> > by the way so I was really ignorant). My aim was to put everything
> > I thought I knew about the world in general into an ordered
> > presentation so that things would be clear, everything I counted
> > of significance could be made comprehensible by showing how one
> > thing led to another, how different claims interlocked, etc. I
> > wanted to present the definitive case for what we could know and
> > what conclusions we could draw from it.

> I would never have tried that, because it would have seemed obvious that
> it couldn't work.
>

I guess that's evidence of your seeming disinterest in philosophy. Perhaps it is part of the philosophical mindset to have the inclination to put it all together, try to organize all knowledge in such a way as to yield a bigger picture (a metaphysical one, after all), to want to be able to say here are the truths of what we can know and this is how we know them to be true.

Anyway, I made many attempts, usually like the Tractatus with lots of short statements that seemed to me fraught with meaning and that led on to other things that were implied by them or implied by them combined with bits of knowledge that I thought no one in his or her right mind would ever challenge.

It took me a while to discover that such a project is a pipedream, at least for the likes of me. Wittgenstein fared better, for his Tractatus wowed important philosophers in Europe, England and America and became the subject of study and debate for years afterwards. As we have seen, that is still the case today, even though he, himself, essentially discarded it in his later years in favor of a very different way of understanding/doing philosophy and by explicitly acknowledging that it contained "grave errors".



>
> Here's what linguist Jacques Guy said about language in a usenet post in
> 2000: "The ultimate secret of language is this: language is absurd,
> illogical. If it were not, it would not work."
>
>

There was a very interesting article on how language shapes our thinking in this weekend's Wall Street Journal. No mention of Wittgenstein in it, however. I am reminded of an exchange I had with Rafe Champion (an Australian or New Zealander, I think), a Popperian acolyte, on the Critical Rationalism list who once asserted that while Popper had contributed so much to the methods, theories and practices of the Social Sciences, what, he asked rhetorically, had Wittgenstein left us? His unspoken conclusion was, of course, nothing. After all the later Wittgenstein was anti-theoretical and not overly interested in the sciences per se, while his earlier work had been explicitly discarded by him and did not hold much interest or influence for any but a small body of philosophers.

I demurred, of course, arguing that Wittgenstein had left us a bevy of important insights that changed the way we thought about a wide array of things and that this had already worked itself into the broader culture and into the sciences themselves. That article, I think, which failed to reference Wittgenstein, is a case in point. The very idea that language has a shaping role re: how we think about things came to fruition in his work and took hold more broadly over the years, reaching far beyond the narrow field of philosoophy. In tthe various points the author of the piece was making concerning a series of experiments performed by psychologists, one could see, again and again, the Wittgensteinian points about how language works and how it serves to give form and structure to our ideas confirmed again and again.

But one has to be familiar with Wittgenstein (the later work, of course) to see this.


> That pretty much reflects my view. It was posted in sci.lang on Sun, 05
> Nov 2000 14:25:36 +0000, msgid is <3A056DE0.F5181A09@...>
>
>
> It should be obious that I am not thinking about these questions at all
> like the ways that philosophers think. That's why it is hard for me to
> imagine what might have been motivating Wittgenstein.
>
>

Yes, maybe that's the key. On the other hand, however limited a thinker I am, I do have that philosophical tendency, that mindset which prompts us (some of us, anyway) to look for the connections, for the big picture that can be drawn from the smaller ones. I think it is a great contribution of the later Wittgenstein to have shown why that is the wrong way to proceed, why it's about seeing particular things clearly in the end, rather than constructing a theoretical scaffolding of everything.

>
> > SWM:
> > I was just trying to see what it was you think the Tractatus
> > failed to accomplish. Since you suggested it had failed to "work"
> > obviously there must have been something you think it was meant to
> > do but failed to do. I wanted to discover what that was.
>
>
> I presume it was attempting to provide some sort of organized way of
> looking at language and/or thought. However, I did not think that
> possible (roughly, for the reasons that Jaques Guy gives).
>
>

Interestingly, I put up a poll recently asking posters here what they thought the Tractatus aimed to do and included five possibilities that occurred to me. So far only one poster, Kurt Wischin (who rarely if ever posts actively here) has offered an answer. Even I haven't done so yet. Why? Because everytime I try it seems to me all the possibilities make equal sense, i.e., that there is no one answer and, maybe, an "all of the above" response is the better one. But truthfully, if so, maybe "none of the above" is even better. Maybe, in fact, there is no answer at all and maybe that, finally, IS the problem with the Tractatus -- and Wittgenstein himself saw it.


> In the "mechanistic and adaptive" thread, I suggested that logic is
> mechanistic and rigid, but that we use it adaptively. If I were to
> comment on natural language, I would say that it is highly adaptive, and
> hence not amenable to control. And I would say much the same about
> human thought.
>

I am still not clear on this insight of yours. I am ascribing my lack of clarity on it to my own inability to follow you at this point. But generally I would say that the distinction you are trying to draw looks rather artificial and false to me. After all, your example of a park bench giving way as being "adaptive" is also perfectly explainable in terms of physics in which case it would seem to be "mechanical" in the sense you are using these two terms. But maybe I'm still just not getting it.

SWM

>
> Regards,
> Neil

========================================Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


[Wittrs] Re: What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5289 is a reply to message #5288] Mon, 26 July 2010 11:41 Go to previous messageGo to next message
iro3isdx is currently offline  iro3isdx
Messages: 119
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member

--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <SWMirsky@...> wrote:


> responding to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wittrs/message/6051


> SWM:
> I guess that's evidence of your seeming disinterest in philosophy.

If "seeming disinterest" has to do with how it seems to you, then you
would know best about that.

What does "philosophy" mean here. If it means "that which analytic
philosophers do", then your comment (even without the "seeming") is
close. However, if it means looking at the big picture, about how
everything works, then it is way off.

The thing I find strange about analytic philosophy, is that it seems to
go out of its way to avoid doing any philosophy (in the second sense
that I gave).

We sometimes use the metaphor "can't see the forest for the trees." And
it seems to me that most of what philosophers do is counting trees and
just hoping that will give them ideas about the forest. So, in terms of
this metaphor, Tractatus is all about trees, while PI at least begins
to look at forests and notices that a forest is a lot more than a mere
collection of trees.


> SWM:
> I am reminded of an exchange I had with Rafe Champion (an
> Australian or New Zealander, I think), a Popperian acolyte, on the
> Critical Rationalism list who once asserted that while Popper had
> contributed so much to the methods, theories and practices of the
> Social Sciences, what, he asked rhetorically, had Wittgenstein left
> us? His unspoken conclusion was, of course, nothing.

By contrast, I see Popper as not having done anything important, while
the later Wittgenstein is very important. What's important about
Wittgenstein, is not that he gave us good answers; rather, it is that
he began to raise the sort of questions that point to what philosophy
should be about.


> SWM:
> Yes, maybe that's the key. On the other hand, however limited a
> thinker I am, I do have that philosophical tendency, that mindset
> which prompts us (some of us, anyway) to look for the connections,
> for the big picture that can be drawn from the smaller ones.

And I am the opposite. I like to start with the big picture, and from
that work down to what the big picture tells us about its smaller
parts. Of course, it isn't quite that simple. One sometimes goes from
the small parts to the larger things, and sometimes the other way. But
going from the large, and working down to the small, is what dominates
my style of thinking.


> SWM:
> Interestingly, I put up a poll recently asking posters here what they
> thought the Tractatus aimed to do and included five possibilities
> that occurred to me.

None of the provided answers seemed to fit, so I did not participate.

Regards,
Neil

========================================Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


[Wittrs] Re: What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5292 is a reply to message #5289] Mon, 26 July 2010 12:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "iro3isdx" <xznwrjnk-evca@...> wrote:

> --- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <SWMirsky@> wrote:

> > responding to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wittrs/message/6051
>
>
> > SWM:
> > I guess that's evidence of your seeming disinterest in philosophy.
>
> If "seeming disinterest" has to do with how it seems to you, then you
> would know best about that.
>

Well, you have said you aren't interested in philosophy, have you not? My reason for saying "seeming" is that you still frequently engage in the various philosophical questions and concerns posed here and by doing so evidence some interest in them. So I was attempting to qualify my acknowledgement of your expressed disinterest with the fact of your occasional engagement.


> What does "philosophy" mean here. If it means "that which analytic
> philosophers do", then your comment (even without the "seeming") is
> close. However, if it means looking at the big picture, about how
> everything works, then it is way off.
>

I think "philosophy" is one of those terms for which there is not a single, definitive definition.

Some think of philosophy as a super science, covering and unifying all the othes.

Others think of it as the underlaborer, the specific discipline that attends to our concepts in order to support other efforts, including the scientific.

There are some, too, who think philosophy is about big pictures in the sense of having a unique domain of interest which is, essentially, the overarching structure of everything including all knowledge. It is this approach which is most readily identifiable, I think, with classic metaphysics though metaphysics may be found in the first "definition" I suggested, too.

The Wittgensteinian notion (the later Wittgenstein anyway) seems to think of philosophy as a method of clarifying what we think and say rather than a doctrine and, in this, it is most like the underlaborer conception although there are other variants of that including the ideal language practitioners among whom I would place most analytical thinkers who are interested in converting all claims and thoughts into expressions of some form of formal logic. In this, they differ radically from Wittgensteinian analysis (especially the later kind).

Of course "philosophy" sometimes also just means one's particular overarching perspective or point of view, regardless of the rigor with which it is arrived at or defended.

So the term is a rather problematic one. Perhaps as the U.S. Supreme Court once ruled on the question of pornography, it is not really definable but we know it when we see it.

But given the many arguments about it, perhaps, too, we really don't.


> The thing I find strange about analytic philosophy, is that it seems to
> go out of its way to avoid doing any philosophy (in the second sense
> that I gave).
>

If you mean in terms of constructing overarching claims about how the world is and how it works, that is the point of the analytical turn, isn't it? That is, the idea was to get away from trying to promulgate and defend (in argument) claims about the world that were like the empirically based claims of science except that, unlike those, they were only provable (or not) by logic. In fact, the point of the analytic turn is to recognize that one can say little if anything about the world itself through logic alone. If one does want to speak about the world in such a broad way, then science (empirically grounded research and theorizing) is the only way to do it. However, because there are some things that are simply beyond the scope of empirical study, the question is whether philosophy offers us another way (a better or higher way, perhaps). Analytic philosophy's answer, in general, is that it does not. Wittgenstein, it seems to me, was always in the analytic camp though he was a subscriber to the ideal language approach when he began and ultimately moved away from it when he saw all the flaws in that way of thinking.


> We sometimes use the metaphor "can't see the forest for the trees." And
> it seems to me that most of what philosophers do is counting trees and
> just hoping that will give them ideas about the forest. So, in terms of
> this metaphor, Tractatus is all about trees, while PI at least begins
> to look at forests and notices that a forest is a lot more than a mere
> collection of trees.
>

Intriguingly I would characterize them in the opposite manner. It seems to me that the Tractatus is all about studying the forest where as the Investigations give that up in favor of exploring the trees! The difference is that by going to the trees (as in going to the mattreses?) Wittgenstein recognized that one could not simply do the work in terms of making logical assertions and arguments. What was needed, instead, was to start actually looking and paying attention to what was there and that the insights that follow on this approach change the way we understand the old philosophical questions.

>
> > SWM:
> > I am reminded of an exchange I had with Rafe Champion (an
> > Australian or New Zealander, I think), a Popperian acolyte, on the
> > Critical Rationalism list who once asserted that while Popper had
> > contributed so much to the methods, theories and practices of the
> > Social Sciences, what, he asked rhetorically, had Wittgenstein left
> > us? His unspoken conclusion was, of course, nothing.
>

> By contrast, I see Popper as not having done anything important, while
> the later Wittgenstein is very important. What's important about
> Wittgenstein, is not that he gave us good answers; rather, it is that
> he began to raise the sort of questions that point to what philosophy
> should be about.
>

I think he gave us some good answers, too, though they were not of the sort of answers some (most?) were expecting. Sometimes his answer was, that's the wrong question, or that isn't even an intelligible question at all!

>
> > SWM:
> > Yes, maybe that's the key. On the other hand, however limited a
> > thinker I am, I do have that philosophical tendency, that mindset
> > which prompts us (some of us, anyway) to look for the connections,
> > for the big picture that can be drawn from the smaller ones.
>

> And I am the opposite. I like to start with the big picture, and from
> that work down to what the big picture tells us about its smaller
> parts.


But that interest in the "big picture" is very much a philosophical quirk which perhaps explains why you do find engaging on philosophical lists of interest! By the way, my point above was to note how it is the big picture that draws me, too. My reference to the smaller pictures was not to say I am mainly interested in these but to show what I mean by "the big picture", i.e., that it is how the smaller pictures of our experience find unity, etc. Again I see here how you and I really seem to speak different languages!


> Of course, it isn't quite that simple. One sometimes goes from
> the small parts to the larger things, and sometimes the other way. But
> going from the large, and working down to the small, is what dominates
> my style of thinking.
>
>

That IS certainly an approach of classical philosophy and what I think engaged the early Wittgenstein, too. Later, he came to see that the big picture cannot be captured in theses (as he sort of grasped by the end of the Tractatus). The big picture for him in his later period can be said to arise as we work through the little ones more carefully!

> > SWM:
> > Interestingly, I put up a poll recently asking posters here what they
> > thought the Tractatus aimed to do and included five possibilities
> > that occurred to me.
>
> None of the provided answers seemed to fit, so I did not participate.
>
> Regards,
> Neil
>

Apparently you are not alone (even counting me!). Perhaps others here have other possibilities to put up? Or perhaps that kind of question cannot work vis a vis the Tractatus because it has no point, no work to do! In which case, why did he write it? Was it just an exercise in personal philosophical therapy (a la his later insights)?

SWM

========================================Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


[Wittrs] Re: What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5308 is a reply to message #5278] Tue, 27 July 2010 19:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
gabuddabout is currently offline  gabuddabout
Messages: 24
Registered: December 2009
Junior Member
Stuart writes:

"Yes, I fear that Russell is much overrated as a philosopher though he was a major heavyweight in his time."


I don't think you tell the truth. In fact, I thihk you rather enjoy saying the above about Russell from time to time. Indeed, there is nothing to fear from Russell except the hardship philosophy has with notions like probability, causation, personhood, anomic properties, and so on.

Read Russell and find that you come away with more than you do compared to Witters. Is philosophy idle tea-table amusement or is it supposed to connect to science?

Anyway, I did read Hacker's contribution on Witters in _A Companion to Analytic Philosophy_ and found how illuminating Witters could be--a lot of the good stuff has been incorporated in Searle's work from _Speech Acts_ on.

Searle is the best Wittgensteinian-inspired writer I have ever encountered who went beyond him in attempting to square philosophy with natural science.

Other Wittgenstein-inspired writers like Hacker would make the thesis that the brain causes consciousness a species of the incoherent..

And still other Wittgenstein-inspired writers will want to think for themselves without having a guide or clue from the very people like Russell who have thought about a lot of it first.

Cf. Russell's _Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits_. Not bad for an overrated philosopher in the eyes of some.

Cheers,
Budd


========================================Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


[Wittrs] Re: What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5311 is a reply to message #5308] Tue, 27 July 2010 20:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "gabuddabout" <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
>
> Stuart writes:
>
> "Yes, I fear that Russell is much overrated as a philosopher though he was a major heavyweight in his time."
>
>
> I don't think you tell the truth.


No, huh? Well then I must be lying about what I really think about Russell then, eh? And what would my motivation be for doing that?


> In fact, I thihk you rather enjoy saying the above about Russell from time to time. Indeed, there is nothing to fear from Russell except the hardship philosophy has with notions like probability, causation, personhood, anomic properties, and so on.
>

Russell's logical atomism was a disaster and even he finally abandoned it.

> Read Russell and find that you come away with more than you do compared to Witters. Is philosophy idle tea-table amusement or is it supposed to connect to science?
>

Well to each his own. I suppose it's not surprising that you would find Russell more to your tastes than Wittgenstein. Russell in those essays on logical atomism ties himself up in a tangle of knots from which he is finally unable to extricate himself.

> Anyway, I did read Hacker's contribution on Witters in _A Companion to Analytic Philosophy_ and found how illuminating Witters could be--a lot of the good stuff has been incorporated in Searle's work from _Speech Acts_ on.
>

You'd do better to go to the videotape and just read Wittgenstein. He's way more illuminating in person than when mediated by the comments of others.


> Searle is the best Wittgensteinian-inspired writer I have ever encountered who went beyond him in attempting to square philosophy with natural science.
>

Well I suppose I could take a leaf from your book and say that I think you're just "lying". But then why would I do such a silly thing? By the way, unless you are conversant with Wittgenstein via his own work, how would you know how good or bad Searle is in his alleged Wittgenstein inspiration?


> Other Wittgenstein-inspired writers like Hacker would make the thesis that the brain causes consciousness a species of the incoherent..
>

I am not up on Hacker but what I have seen so far of that claim strikes me as a misunderstanding of Wittgenstein on this sort of thing.

> And still other Wittgenstein-inspired writers will want to think for themselves without having a guide or clue from the very people like Russell who have thought about a lot of it first.
>

Russell faded during Wittgenstein's lifetime and the work he produced shows why.


> Cf. Russell's _Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits_. Not bad for an overrated philosopher in the eyes of some.
>
> Cheers,
> Budd
>

Russell was certainly prolific but his later work consisted mostly of histories, polemics and popularizations. His earlier work, like the Principia Mathematica, is now dated. As Neil, a practicing mathematician, has noted, mathematicians do not take that work seriously and it has had little impact on the philosophy that came after.

SWM

========================================Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


[Wittrs] Re: What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5318 is a reply to message #5311] Wed, 28 July 2010 19:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
gabuddabout is currently offline  gabuddabout
Messages: 24
Registered: December 2009
Junior Member


--- In WittrsAMR@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
>
> --- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "gabuddabout" <wittrsamr@> wrote:
> >
> > Stuart writes:
> >
> > "Yes, I fear that Russell is much overrated as a philosopher though he was a major heavyweight in his time."
> >
> >
> > I don't think you tell the truth.
>
>
> No, huh? Well then I must be lying about what I really think about Russell then, eh? And what would my motivation be for doing that?

The same as when getting Searle so wrong you would have to be way dumber than you prolly in fact are.
>
>
> > In fact, I thihk you rather enjoy saying the above about Russell from time to time. Indeed, there is nothing to fear from Russell except the hardship philosophy has with notions like probability, causation, personhood, anomic properties, and so on.
> >
>
> Russell's logical atomism was a disaster and even he finally abandoned it.

It takes a major dude to admit that. But atomism is not yet dead for concepts--or at least Fodor wants to be pronounced _demonstrably_ dead if dead.

>
> > Read Russell and find that you come away with more than you do compared to Witters. Is philosophy idle tea-table amusement or is it supposed to connect to science?
> >
>
> Well to each his own. I suppose it's not surprising that you would find Russell more to your tastes than Wittgenstein. Russell in those essays on logical atomism ties himself up in a tangle of knots from which he is finally unable to extricate himself.


BS. Even according to you. Did you forget that a couple seconds ago you said Russell abandoned the position? Now how does one abandon a position "from which he is finally unable to extricate himself. You talk looser than a whore on buy-one-get-two-free day.



>
> > Anyway, I did read Hacker's contribution on Witters in _A Companion to Analytic Philosophy_ and found how illuminating Witters could be--a lot of the good stuff has been incorporated in Searle's work from _Speech Acts_ on.
> >
>
> You'd do better to go to the videotape and just read Wittgenstein. He's way more illuminating in person than when mediated by the comments of others.


I should take your word for that but I'm already corrupted by Searle's clear and distinct prose, some of which is inspired by Witt's deepness that can be whistled.
>
>
> > Searle is the best Wittgensteinian-inspired writer I have ever encountered who went beyond him in attempting to square philosophy with natural science.
> >
>
> Well I suppose I could take a leaf from your book and say that I think you're just "lying". But then why would I do such a silly thing? By the way, unless you are conversant with Wittgenstein via his own work, how would you know how good or bad Searle is in his alleged Wittgenstein inspiration?

Well, one doesn't have to know a lot about Witt. because Witt. was all about getting down to business. Searle gets down to business and doesn't idle in his thinking. Witt. wanted to think of philosophy as a distinct exploration, eventually, of how words are used. This has to include science. And that is why it should connect to science. Philosophy is just a systematic way of getting at the best ideas around. Searle does that. Witt. was all about that--and that is why he wanted no followers. Searle doesn't mind followers. But you have to understand his position in order to follow. You just get him wrong and can't follow. But following isn't a bad thing if it amounts to ceasing questions that are nonsensical.
>
>
> > Other Wittgenstein-inspired writers like Hacker would make the thesis that the brain causes consciousness a species of the incoherent..
> >
>
> I am not up on Hacker but what I have seen so far of that claim strikes me as a misunderstanding of Wittgenstein on this sort of thing.

Perhaps Hacker is al wet on Witters here. Cf. _Philosophy and Neurobiology_, Searle's response especially.

>
> > And still other Wittgenstein-inspired writers will want to think for themselves without having a guide or clue from the very people like Russell who have thought about a lot of it first.
> >
>
> Russell faded during Wittgenstein's lifetime and the work he produced shows why.

Well, that was enlightening. But you're all wet here. The evidence is that Fodor is continuing along Russell's path insofar as Russell considered behaviorism absurd..
>
>
> > Cf. Russell's _Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits_. Not bad for an overrated philosopher in the eyes of some.
> >
> > Cheers,
> > Budd
> >
>
> Russell was certainly prolific but his later work consisted mostly of histories, polemics and popularizations. His earlier work, like the Principia Mathematica, is now dated. As Neil, a practicing mathematician, has noted, mathematicians do not take that work seriously and it has had little impact on the philosophy that came after.
>
> SWM

Also enlightening, but also consider Russell's excellent little chapter on philosophy of mind in _Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits_. Psychology is queen when it comes to concepts--computational functionalist explanations have trouble with semantic content. There is semantic content (contra Dennett and other eliminativists). Ergo, there is a potentially viable science called psychology. And it ain't got with PP gizmos.

Surely Russell's views faded given the popularity of functionalism. But it is turning around, no thanks to many so-called Wittgensteinians and, of course, thanks to easy introductions to philosophy of mind like Searle's brief introduction recently written along with Fodor's work, hard as it is to pull off but evidently not quite as dead as some Wittgensteinians may think for whatever slippery reasons.

Cheers,
Budd



========================================Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


[Wittrs] Re: What was the Tractatus Intended by its Author to Do? [message #5321 is a reply to message #5318] Thu, 29 July 2010 02:37 Go to previous message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
-- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "gabuddabout" <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
<snip>

> >
> > > Read Russell and find that you come away with more than you do compared to Witters. Is philosophy idle tea-table amusement or is it supposed to connect to science?
> > >
> >
> > Well to each his own. I suppose it's not surprising that you would find Russell more to your tastes than Wittgenstein. Russell in those essays on logical atomism ties himself up in a tangle of knots from which he is finally unable to extricate himself.
>
>
> BS. Even according to you. Did you forget that a couple seconds ago you said Russell abandoned the position? Now how does one abandon a position "from which he is finally unable to extricate himself. You talk looser than a whore on buy-one-get-two-free day.
>

That's why he gave it up. He realized there was no way forward.

>
>
> >
> > > Anyway, I did read Hacker's contribution on Witters in _A Companion to Analytic Philosophy_ and found how illuminating Witters could be--a lot of the good stuff has been incorporated in Searle's work from _Speech Acts_ on.
> > >
> >
> > You'd do better to go to the videotape and just read Wittgenstein. He's way more illuminating in person than when mediated by the comments of others.
>
>
> I should take your word for that but I'm already corrupted by Searle's clear and distinct prose, some of which is inspired by Witt's deepness that can be whistled.
> >

Searle writes clearly in a superficial way but his arguments are confused.

> >
> > > Searle is the best Wittgensteinian-inspired writer I have ever encountered who went beyond him in attempting to square philosophy with natural science.
> > >
> >
> > Well I suppose I could take a leaf from your book and say that I think you're just "lying". But then why would I do such a silly thing? By the way, unless you are conversant with Wittgenstein via his own work, how would you know how good or bad Searle is in his alleged Wittgenstein inspiration?
>
> Well, one doesn't have to know a lot about Witt. because Witt. was all about getting down to business.


Incredible!


> Searle gets down to business and doesn't idle in his thinking.


Even those who are confused can still find themselves in gear. It's just that they don't know which way they are going or how to get there.


> Witt. wanted to think of philosophy as a distinct exploration, eventually, of how words are used.


A simplification.


> This has to include science. And that is why it should connect to science.


Who supposes otherwise? Except that it doesn't compete with science or rely on the methods of science, of course. It's a different game, a different practice.

> Philosophy is just a systematic way of getting at the best ideas around. Searle does that.


He's confused.


> Witt. was all about that--and that is why he wanted no followers. Searle doesn't mind followers.


Ah, so that's it!


> But you have to understand his position in order to follow. You just get him wrong and can't follow. But following isn't a bad thing if it amounts to ceasing questions that are nonsensical.
> >

Some followers are nothing but true believers -- people attached to an idea, a man or a dogma. Following in philosophy is a bad idea if you are serious about being anything more than a scholar or spokesperson for someone else.


> >
> > > Other Wittgenstein-inspired writers like Hacker would make the thesis that the brain causes consciousness a species of the incoherent..
> > >
> >
> > I am not up on Hacker but what I have seen so far of that claim strikes me as a misunderstanding of Wittgenstein on this sort of thing.
>
> Perhaps Hacker is al wet on Witters here. Cf. _Philosophy and Neurobiology_, Searle's response especially.
>

Why do you have such an aversion to laying out and actually addressing the arguments of the people whose names you invoke?

> >
> > > And still other Wittgenstein-inspired writers will want to think for themselves without having a guide or clue from the very people like Russell who have thought about a lot of it first.
> > >
> >
> > Russell faded during Wittgenstein's lifetime and the work he produced shows why.
>
> Well, that was enlightening. But you're all wet here. The evidence is that Fodor is continuing along Russell's path insofar as Russell considered behaviorism absurd..
> >

So you are telling us that Fodor is a follower of Russell? Or in the Russellian tradition? What evidence have you for that?

> >
> > > Cf. Russell's _Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits_. Not bad for an overrated philosopher in the eyes of some.
> > >
> > > Cheers,
> > > Budd
> > >

> >
> > Russell was certainly prolific but his later work consisted mostly of histories, polemics and popularizations. His earlier work, like the Principia Mathematica, is now dated. As Neil, a practicing mathematician, has noted, mathematicians do not take that work seriously and it has had little impact on the philosophy that came after.
> >
> > SWM
>
> Also enlightening, but also consider Russell's excellent little chapter on philosophy of mind in _Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits_. Psychology is queen when it comes to concepts--computational functionalist explanations have trouble with semantic content. There is semantic content (contra Dennett and other eliminativists). Ergo, there is a potentially viable science called psychology. And it ain't got with PP gizmos.
>

Your "contra Dennett" assertion above shows you don't understand Dennett anymore than you get Searle. Dennett never denies that we have understanding or understand things. He denies that there is some special mental property essential to the occurrence of understanding called, in the plural, "qualia". In like vein I'm sure he would say that there is no special property called "semantics". We might want to say that the term refers to the occurrence of understanding when we are distinguishing the form of a symbol from its meaning (the getting of which is what constitutes understanding).


> Surely Russell's views faded given the popularity of functionalism. But it is turning around, no thanks to many so-called Wittgensteinians and, of course, thanks to easy introductions to philosophy of mind like Searle's brief introduction recently written along with Fodor's work, hard as it is to pull off but evidently not quite as dead as some Wittgensteinians may think for whatever slippery reasons.
>
> Cheers,
> Budd
>

Oy.

SWM

========================================Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/


Previous Topic: [Wittrs] Tractatus, Propositions-1
Goto Forum:
  


Current Time: Sun Feb 25 21:02:03 EST 2018

Total time taken to generate the page: 0.01737 seconds