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[Wittrs] Philosophers, dodgeball and the "drawing game" [message #2043] Sat, 31 October 2009 14:51 Go to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
Messages: 33
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Sean, I was impressed by the excerpt below which you presented to us recently
-----------------------------------

... from Culture and Value in 1931:

"Philosophers often behave like little children who scribble some marks on a piece of paper at random and then ask the grown-up "What's that?" It happened like this: the grown-up had drawn pictures for the child several times and said: "this is a man," this is a house, "etc. And then the child makes some marks too and asks: what's THIS then? (CV, 1931 p. 17).

"Here's what's going on. The father sees a house. He draws what he sees. He sees a man. He draws what he sees. The boy, however, just sees the BEHAVIOR of drawing. He sees the drawing game. And so what the boy is doing is rational to his point of view. But it has no relevance to what the man is doing. And the larger point here is that the man is doing the same sort of look-and-see (monkey see, monkey do) that the child is doing, only he is doing it with "the world." And so ordinary people language in ordinary ways and philosophers language in artificial ways. It's like one trying to play catch with another trying to play dodge-ball. The only thing common to them is the ball (language)."

---------------------------------------------------------

The point you made about this drawing game above in your recent attempt at "correspondence" with SWM is right on. I just wanted to let you know that it is well taken. And quite fascinating how this little bit of stuff presages the discussion of "language games" and children's learning in the Investigations.

How can it be anything less than conspicuous that Wittgenstein is here showing us how the philosopher does not understand the nature of the "game", in particular "that sort of game in which language plays a part". It seems that as I get back to my Wittgenstein reading it is startling how the notion of "language game" is misunderstood, and how there is a meaning given to it quite apart from that which seems natural to me and which I believe was Wittgenstein's intent.

The notion of "language game" seems to be taken as some kind of "play with language', "playing with words" , "language as a game", and that "language (whatever that may be) IS in the end a game, with rules and grammar and so on. However , to me "language game" more properly means in a "game in which language plays an essential role"

One might say that, in using the term "language game" Wittgenstein is 'pointing" to THE GAME and not pointing us to the language, and that the word "language" as part of "language game " is only being used adjectivally. So why not look were he points?

When W speaks of the game of fetching the slabs and stones in ¶2, the game is the entire activity which entails and is dependent upon the use of language as an integral aspect of it It is not the word use or the speaking or the uttering or the understanding or the definitions of the terms. It is the entire productive activity described in ¶2.

In ¶7, Wittgensteins says, "I shall also call the whole, consisting of language and the actions into which it is woven, the "language-game".

In ¶19, -And to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life.


In ¶23 "Here the term "language-game" is meant to bring into
prominence the fact that the speaking of language is part of an activity, or of a form of life

As someone who has spent much time on evolutionary theory and ethology as well as on psychology, to me the key here is "game", and it seems to me that humans (more or less or perhaps for now, as best as we can define it) are the only creatures capable of engaging in "language games", i.e. "games in which language plays a part", while other species can still indeed play 'games", as puppies do when mock fighting with each other, as as birds and innumerable species illustrate in various mating rituals, or as even bees do when they engage in constructr ive social activity which is somehow organizing
and somehow organized by means of their actions and interactions. Only in these species the "games" do not, as many human games do, involve "language"...and so they are not, in my way of thinking, properly designated as 'language games".


If the "game being played" is changed by some sort of tacit agreement among the participants, then we have a "different game" and the "role played by language in that game" is different, and must be recognized as such (except by the occasional deluded philosopher, of course), even though the word or the "utterance" in and of itself is the same.

In the lesser known ¶21 Imagine a language-game in which A asks and B reports the number of slabs or blocks in a pile, or the colours and shapes of the building-stones that are stacked in such-and-such a place.--- Such a report might run: "Five slabs". Now what is the difference between the report or statement "Five slabs" and the order "Five slabs!"?--- Well, it is the part which uttering these words plays in the language-game. This is clearly what you attempted to clarify to our friend SWM with your example of the same action "ball throwing" potentially being an integral part of many games, including "dodge ball" or "playing catch".

To me, this is clearly what Wittgenstein wishes to tell us by the famous chess example of the 'king.

In ¶31 he says, " When one shows someone the king in chess and says: "This is the king", this does not tell him the use of this piece-- unless he already knows the rules of the game up to this last point... Only when the student knows the game of chess, has some idea that the pieces move about a board and that players try to win by capturing the other's pieces, and what that means, can the teacher's statement, "This is the king," show the student how to use this information to
play the game of chess.

The analogy that Wittgenstein is drawing here is not between language, per se and the game of chess. But between the type and nature of the "game" which we must come to terms with each time we wish to discuss "language' and naming and the grasping at the "meaning" or 'definition" of individual words. The game of chess is not meant to be the analog of "language" but of the "language game", that is, the game of which the piece called the King is an integral part".


In ¶31, Wittgenstein concludes, " We may say: only someone who already knows how to do something with it can significantly ask a name.

And, indeed, Wittgenstein does make room for a variant of the language game, a subspecies of the game of chess, which might be called the game of taking pieces off the board and pointing to them and asking what their 'name" is. This would be very much what he brings up in ¶21 above, when instead of moving the piece on the board, we pick it up and point to it and name....a subspecies or new variety (as Darwin would call it) within the older 'language game".

What seems to happen with philosophy, according to Wittgenstein, as I believe you rightly assert, is that the new "variety" of game which springs up in the middle of species of the original "language game"....is then taken out of context and given a life of its own, much like the children's "drawing game" which you cite up above. And the child in that example does not understand that the drawing and naming is only extract from a broader game and that the mere 'drawing", much as the "mere naming" does not lead to anything. The items drawn by the adult arise from his knowledge of that game, much as the knowledge of chess allows us to point to and speak of the
naming of the piece as "King". but just as the child does not
understand the mere naming and pointing out of context without a basis in the underlying "language game" (the game of which that language and language use is an integral part) leads nowhere, so, too, does the typical philosopher not understand that his preoccupation with the isolated words can only lead to an equivalent 'nowhere", i.e., "non- sense'

As a last note, the use of "form of life" by Wittgenstein to describe the grounding of language has always suggested (to me) an apt analogy between the biological notion of "speciation" as species emerge from the matrix of life as "new forms".

All that Wittgenstein had to say about "language games' can be taken and the notion of "language game" replaced by "variety' which has a technical meaning within "the Origins" and then we can understand the "meaning is use" issue much better. Because the games discussed are "language games", i.e., those kinds of games which are dependent on their exercise, their implementation, and indeed their "survival" over iterations, generations, different times and different players, the question of the "use" of the language term in the game is not the 'personalized" simply located "buzz" it gives an individual player making a particular 'move" in the particular playing of the "game" on that particular occasion, but is more than the manner in which the "use' of the term enables the productive playing of the game in that instance. More importantly, the "use" is the manner term" plays a role in contributing to the 'survival" of the game itself ...to be played on another day by either the same players or new generations of players. That to me is the broader significance of the "meaning is
use" statement.

And, yes, by the way, naturally, "if a lion could speak we wouldn't understand him"

CJ

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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Philosophers, dodgeball and the "drawing game" [message #2045 is a reply to message #2043] Sat, 31 October 2009 16:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
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On Oct 31, 2009, at 2:51 PM, CJ wrote:

>
>
> How can it be anything less than conspicuous that Wittgenstein is
> here showing us how the philosopher does not understand the nature
> of the "game", in particular "that sort of game in which language
> plays a part". It seems that as I get back to my Wittgenstein
> reading it is startling how the notion of "language game" is
> misunderstood, and how there is a meaning given to it quite apart
> from that which seems natural to me and which I believe was
> Wittgenstein's intent.
>
> The notion of "language game" seems to be taken as some kind of
> "play with language', "playing with words" , "language as a game",
> and that "language (whatever that may be) IS in the end a game, with
> rules and grammar and so on. However , to me "language game" more
> properly means in a "game in which language plays an essential role"
>
> One might say that, in using the term "language game" Wittgenstein
> is 'pointing" to THE GAME and not pointing us to the language, and
> that the word "language" as part of "language game " is only being
> used adjectivally. So why not look were he points?
>



More on Playing Games and Playing Language Games

If anyone is interested in reading a great book, not by a philosopher,
but by a Dutch philologist, J. Huizinga, which I have come to
appreciate as one of the ten books most influential in my intellectual
life (already counting the Tractatus and the Investigations as two of
those) then I would like to recommend "Homo Ludens: A Study of the
Play Element in Culture .. (written in 1938) which analyzes all the
institutions of our culture in the light of a definition of man, not
as Homo Sapiens, but as Homo Ludens, in terms of his "ludic behavior"
rather than his rationality....What is most fascinating is that the
analysis, though historical and anthropological in flavor, is
fundamentally grounded in an analysis of language, as we might expect
any treatise coming from a philologist.....

..Interestingly (as you can see) Huizinga was a contemporary of
Wittgenstein's and not at all very far geographically removed, so it
would not have been at all surprising if Wittgenstein were at least
passingly familiar with his work.....

If you read it and appreciate its scholarship, which links up the very
language by means of which we unthinkingly refer to all the facets of
our life with the manner in which these various facets are
quintessential "play behavior" and truly 'games' in the purest sense
of the word, your thinking will never be the same......

CJ

PS: You know, I think it might be interesting for all of us to make up
lists of our TOP TEN. Doing so would likely make a much better
introduction to the group about our background and our orientation
than various other possibly irrelevant demographics........

For those of you who are interested, I have included below a few
excerpts from the beginning of the book, from
http://www.questia.com/library/book/homo-ludens-a-study-of-the-play-element-in -culture-by-j-huizinga.jsp

FOREWORD

A HAPPIER age than ours once made bold to call our species by the
name of Homo Sapiens. In the course of time we have come to
realize that we are not so reasonable after all as the Eighteenth
Century, with its worship of reason and its naive optimism, thought
us; hence modern fashion inclines to designate our species as
Homo Faber: Man the Maker. But though faber may not be quite
so dubious as sapiens it is, as a name specific of the human being,
even less appropriate, seeing that many animals too are makers.
There is a third function, however, applicable to both human and
animal life, and just as important as reasoning and making --
namely, playing. It seems to me that next to Homo Faber, and
perhaps on the same level as Homo Sapiens, Homo Ludens, Man
the Player, deserves a place in Our nomenclature.
It is ancient wisdom, but it is also a little cheap, to call all
human activity "play". Those who are willing to content them-
selves with a metaphysical conclusion of this kind should not read
this book. Nevertheless, we find no reason to abandon the notion
of play as a distinct and highly important factor in the world's
life and doings. For many years the conviction has grown upon
me that civilization arises and unfolds in and as play. Traces of
such an opinion are to be found in my writings ever since 1903.
I took it as the theme for my annual address as Rector of Leyden
University in 1933, and afterwards for lectures in Zürich, Vienna
and London, in the last instance under the title: "The Play
Element of Culture. Each time my hosts wanted to correct it
to "in" Culture, and each time I protested and clung to the
genitive, * because it was not my object to define the place of play
among all the other manifestations of culture, but rather to
ascertain how far culture itself bears the character of play. The
aim of the present full-length study is to try to integrate the
concept of play into that of culture. Consequently, play is to be
understood here not as a biological phenomenon but as a cultural
phenomenon. It is approached historically, not scientifically. The
reader will find that I have made next to no use of any psycho-
Logical interpretations of play however important these may be,
and that I have employed anthropological terms and explanations
but sparingly, even where I have had to quote ethnological facts.
He will find no mention of mana and the like, and hardly any of
magic. Were I compelled to put my argument tersely in the form
of theses, one of them would be that anthropology and its sister
sciences have so far laid too little stress on the concept of play
and on the supreme importance to civilization of the play-factor.
The reader of these pages should not look for detailed docu-
mentation of every word. In treating of the general problems of
culture one is constantly obliged to undertake predatory incursions
into provinces not sufficiently explored by the raider himself. To
fill in all the gaps in my knowledge beforehand was out of the
question for me. I had to write now, or not at all. And I wanted
to write.

Leyden,
June 1938.

NATURE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF PLAY AS A
CULTURAL PHENOMENON

PLAY is older than culture, for culture, however inadequately
defined, always presupposes human society, and animals have not
waited for man to teach them their playing. We can safely assert,
even, that human civilization has added no essential feature to
the general idea of play. Animals play just like men. We have
only to watch young dogs to see that all the essentials of human
play are present in their merry gambols. They invite one another
to play by a certain ceremoniousness of attitude and gesture. They
keep to the rule that you shall not bite, or not bite hard, your
brother's ear. They pretend to get terribly angry. And -- what is
most important -- in all these doings they plainly experience
tremendous fun and enjoyment. Such rompings of young dogs are
only one of the simpler forms of animal play. There are other,
much more highly developed forms: regular contests and beautiful
performances before an admiring public.

Here we have at once a very important point: even in its
simplest forms on the animal level, play is more than a mere
physiological phenomenon or a psychological reflex. It goes
beyond the confines of purely physical or purely biological
activity. It is a significant function -- that is to say, there is some
sense to it. In play there is something "at play" which transcends
the immediate needs of life and imparts meaning to the action.
All play means something. If we call the active principle that
makes up the essence of play, "instinct", we explain nothing; if
we call it "mind" or "will" we say too much. However we may
regard it, the very fact that play has a meaning implies a non-
materialistic quality in the nature of the thing itself.
f play as a function are generally taken for granted and form the
starting-point of all such scientific researches. The numerous
attempts to define the biological function of play show a striking
variation. By some the origin and fundamentals of play have been
described as a discharge of superabundant vital energy, by others
as the satisfaction of some "imitative instinct", or again as simply
a "need" for relaxation. According to one theory play constitutes
a training of the young creature for the serious work that life will
demand later on. According to another it serves as an exercise in
restraint needful to the individual. Some find the principle of
play in an innate urge to exercise a certain faculty, or in the desire
to dominate or compete. Yet others regard it as an"abreaction" --
an outlet for harmful impulses, as the necessary restorer of energy
wasted by one-sided activity, as "wish-fulfilment", as a fiction
designed to keep up the feeling of personal value, etc. 1


All these hypotheses have one thing in common: they all start
from the assumption that play must serve something which is not
play, that it must have some kind of biological purpose. They all
enquire into the why and the wherefore of play. The various
answers they give tend rather to overlap than to exclude one
another. It would be perfectly possible to accept nearly all the
explanations without getting into any real confusion of thought --
and without coming much nearer to a real understanding of the
play-concept. They are all only partial solutions of the problem.
If any of them were really decisive it ought either to exclude all
the others or comprehend them in a higher unity. Most of them
only deal incidentally with the question of what play is in itself
and what it means for the player. They attack play direct with
the quantitative methods of experimental science without first
paying attention to its profoundly aesthetic quality. As a rule they
leave the primary quality of play as such, virtually untouched.
TO each and every one of the above "explanations" it might well
be objected: "So far so good, but what actually is the fun of play-
ing? Why does the baby crow with pleasure? Why does the
gambler lose himself in his passion? Why is a huge crowd roused
to frenzy by a football match?" This intensity of, and absorption
in, play finds no explanation in biological analysis.

__________________

Since the reality of play extends beyond the sphere of human life
it cannot have its foundations in any rational nexus, because this
would limit it to mankind. The incidence of play is not associated
with any particular stage of civilization or view of the universe.
Any thinking person can see at a glance that play is a thing on
its own, even if his language possesses no general concept to express
it. Play cannot be denied. You can deny, if you like, nearly all
abstractions: justice, beauty, truth, goodness, mind, God. You
can deny seriousness, but not play.

But in acknowledging play you acknowledge mind, for whatever
else play is, it is not matter. Even in the animal world it bursts
the bounds of the physically existent. From the point of view of a
world wholly determined by the operation of blind forces, play
would be altogether superfluous. Play only becomes possible,
thinkable and understandable when an influx of mind breaks down
the absolute determinism of the cosmos. The very existence of
play continually confirms the supra-logical nature of the human
situation. Animals play, so they must be more than merely
mechanical things.

We play and know that we play, so we must
be more than merely rational beings, for play is irrational.
In tackling the problem of play as a function of culture proper
and not as it appears in the life of the animal or the child, we begin
where biology and psychology leave off. In culture we find play
as a given magnitude existing before culture itself existed, accom-
panying it and pervading it from the earliest beginnings right up
to the phase of civilization we are now living in. We find play
present everywhere as a well-defined quality of action which is
different from "ordinary" life. We can disregard the question of
how far science has succeeded in reducing this quality to quantita-
tive factors. In our opinion it has not.

At all events it is precisely this quality, itself so characteristic
of the form of life we call "play",
which matters. Play as a special form of activity, as a "significant
form", as a social function -- that is our subject. We shall not look
for the natural impulses and habits conditioning play in general,
but shall consider play in its manifold concrete forms as itself a
social construction. We shall try to take play as the player himself
takes it: in its primary significance. If we find that play is based
on the manipulation of certain images, on a certain "imagination"
of reality (i.e. its conversion into images), then our main concern
will be to grasp the value and significance of these images and
their "imagination". We shall observe their action in play itself
and thus try to understand play as a cultural factor in life.





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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Philosophers, dodgeball and the "drawing game" [message #2047 is a reply to message #2043] Sat, 31 October 2009 17:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
kirby urner is currently offline  kirby urner
Messages: 349
Registered: August 2009
Location: Portland, Oregon
Senior Member
CJ writes:

> How can it be anything less than conspicuous that Wittgenstein is here
> showing us how the philosopher does not understand the nature of the "game",
> in particular "that sort of game in which language plays a part".  It seems
> that as I get back to my Wittgenstein reading it is startling how the notion
> of "language game" is misunderstood, and how there is a meaning given to it
> quite apart from that which seems natural to me and which I believe was
> Wittgenstein's intent.

Yes. I lot of readers stumble on the word game, some even taking
offense that it seems to trivialize a vital human activity.

They couple this with Wittgenstein's reputation for "reducing
philosophical problems to language" and fixate on this word "game" as
more proof that we're dealing with some kind of nihilism that drains
away all meaning from philosophy especially.

They get hung up on the connotations they bring to the reading, apply
a bias or prejudice, and don't allow the text itself to teach what is
meant by the "language game" concept.

It's as if they already know, and are anxious to get on to the juicy
part, i.e. their vociferous defense of life being meaningful or
philosophy being deep or whatever aesthetic gossip.

> The notion of "language game" seems to be taken as some kind of "play with
> language', "playing with words" , "language as a game", and that "language
> (whatever that may be) IS in the end a game, with rules and grammar and so
> on.  However , to me "language game" more properly means in a "game in which
> language plays an essential role"

We discover with only a few moments of thought that our concept of
"game" is tightly coupled with our concept of "rule". He has chosen
his terms wisely, for their already inherent relationships, which is
partly what makes his later philosophy seem as if it's written in
ordinary language, minus the austere and cryptic logicism in the
Tractatus.

His meanings are "with the grain" of ordinary language, i.e. he wants
to talk about rules, and games tend to have rules.

He also wants to talk about "understanding" and how it relates to
"continuing a series" or "continuing a game". At what point do we say
someone understands? When they start playing by the rules. These
sound like tautologies and, in a real sense, that's precisely what
they are. To investigate a grammar is to trace through its truisms,
its certainties (less matters of fact, than facts about language
itself).

> One might say that, in using the term "language game"  Wittgenstein is
> 'pointing" to THE GAME and not pointing us to the language, and that the
> word "language" as part of "language game " is only being used adjectivally.
>  So why not look were he points?

It's the fact that language is *woven in* with activities, and that
these activities are constitutive of the rule-following, that helps us
get away from the notion that language is "just words". The act of
playing of chess is not just an analogy for operating in language
(although we might use it that way, and Wittgenstein encourages this)
but it is also one more activity within our language i.e. to play
chess is to engage in "languaging" as Sean calls it. It's not
"language happening over here" and "playing chess over there".

> When W speaks of the game of fetching the slabs and stones in ¶2, the game
> is the entire activity which entails and is dependent upon the use of
> language as an integral aspect of it   It is not the word use or the
> speaking or the uttering or the understanding or the definitions of the
> terms. It is the entire productive activity described in ¶2.
>

I would say the slabs themselves have semantic value in the language
game, are as much a part of the language as any other aspect of the
activity, including the vocal utterances, gestures, and whatever
printed signs or glyphs.

> In ¶7, Wittgensteins says,  "I shall also call the whole, consisting of
> language and the actions into which it is woven, the "language-game".
>

That's the key idea: "the whole" is the language-game, not just some
"language part" as distinct from some "not-language part".

> In ¶19, -And to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life.
>
> In ¶23 "Here the term "language-game" is meant to bring into prominence the
> fact that the speaking of  language is part of an activity, or of a form of
> life
>

In another passage he says this idea of language or thought as
something unique proves to be a superstition, not a mistake. I think
what he means by this is: we're perfectly within our rights to draw
this arbitrary line between languaging and not-languaging, so it's in
no way a mistake to make such a line, but then to fervently believe in
its reality, its designating something "in nature" is superstitious.

> As someone who has spent much time on evolutionary theory and ethology as
> well as on psychology, to me the key here is "game", and it seems to me that
> humans (more or less or perhaps for now, as best as we can define it) are
> the only creatures capable of engaging in "language games", i.e. "games in
> which language plays a part", while other species can still indeed play
> 'games", as puppies do when mock fighting with each other, as as birds and
> innumerable species illustrate in various mating rituals, or as even bees do
> when they engage in constructr ive social activity which is somehow
> organizing and somehow organized by means of their actions and interactions.
>  Only in these species the "games" do not, as many human games do, involve
> "language"...and so they are not, in my way of thinking, properly designated
> as 'language games".
>

I think you're within your rights as a human language user, to exclude
the dances bees engage in, as semantic or linguistic.

It's a truism in some grammars (forms of life) that only humans use
language, and so the fact of gorillas or chimps using American Sign
Language to sign to one another and their human counterparts is
described in other terms, to preserve this truism, keep it consistent.

To me, these maneuvers come across as dogmatic, i.e. I'm not of the
school that humans are set apart from the other animals by some hard
and fast criterion in the language use department, but I am accepting
of fellow humans who feel it's important to make up these criteria.

My friends in San Jose (since moved to New Mexico) had a parrot named
"Red Devil" by a gorilla who knew a subset of ASL. That's how she
consistently referred to this bird. It's appropriate that we're
talking about a parrot, as some who work with those animals will
assure you that they sometimes say things with meaning, aren't just
copying phrases... these become epistemological arguments pretty
quickly.

> If the "game being played" is changed by some sort of tacit agreement among
> the participants, then we have a "different game" and the "role played by
> language in that game" is different, and must be recognized as such (except
> by the occasional deluded philosopher, of course), even though the word or
> the "utterance" in and of itself is the same.
>

In some games, especially financial ones, the rules are indeed always
changing, and whereas some people have the job of making these rule
changes explicit (legislators, regulators), others are forever seeking
loopholes, finding ways to change the rules by following them
according to some creative interpretation, if that makes any sense.

> The analogy that Wittgenstein is drawing here is not between language, per
> se and the game of chess.  But between the type and nature of the "game"
> which we must come to terms with each time we wish to discuss "language' and
> naming and the grasping at the "meaning" or 'definition" of individual
> words. The game of chess is not meant to be the analog of "language" but of
> the "language game", that is, the game of which the piece called the King is
> an integral part".
>

It's also important to his invented concept of language game that we
might invent them. Why? In the course of doing philosophy, the
actual warp and woof (the tapestry) may simply be too complicated and
nuanced to see into with perspicuity. We're fighting our own
bewitchment and unless we manage to distill something complex to
something easier to wrap our minds around, then we may never gain any
traction.

Language-games help us investigate language "in the rough". We may
take a "found activity" (like a "found object" in art) and call it a
language-game, or we may synthetically generate such a game, and an
imagined tribe to go with it, for the purpose of doing philosophy.
This game with the slabs is an excellent example, whereas chess is
more in the "found object" category.

> In ¶31, Wittgenstein concludes, " We may say: only someone who already knows
> how to do something with it can significantly ask a name.
>

In other words, this whole idea of "referring to referents" is a
vastly ramified social activity that takes some years to master (we
learn it in childhood). By the time we're adults, "referring to
something" seems like a blindingly simple maneuver, and so we tend to
take it as a primitive, something to use as a baseline or foundation
for what we mean by "meaning". "To mean is to refer to something"
would be emblematic of the older way of thinking that Wittgenstein is
seeking to challenge with his "to mean is to operate with a tool"
dictum (paraphrasing).

> And, indeed, Wittgenstein does make room for a variant of the language game,
> a subspecies of the game of chess, which might be called the game of taking
> pieces off the board and pointing to them and asking what their 'name" is.
>  This would be very much what he brings up in ¶21 above, when instead of
> moving the piece on the board, we pick it up and point to it and name....a
> subspecies or new variety (as Darwin would call it) within the older
> 'language game".

You can endless analyze language-games into sub-games, or compare them
to closely similar language-games (family resemblance concept). That
grid of 64 squares, alternating dark and light colored, is a motif we
find elsewhere in language. We call it a "checked" pattern, have the
game of "checkers".

This relates to our notion of property, real estate, dividing up a
terrain into squares. The whole idea of a grid (as in "grid of
streets") comes into play, and relates to our notion of "rules" and
"rulers", both in the sense of marked off measuring rods ("rulers"),
and in the sense of potentates dividing up the land, parceling it out
to nobles, allied military commanders. Back to chess, with its king
(and more activist queen).

http://www.victorianweb.org/art/illustration/tenniel/lookingglass/2.3.html

> What seems to happen with philosophy, according to Wittgenstein, as I
> believe you rightly assert, is that the new "variety" of game which springs
> up in the middle of species of the original "language game"....is then taken
> out of context and given a life of its own, much like the children's
> "drawing game" which you cite up above.  And the child in that example does
> not understand that the drawing and naming is only extract from a broader
> game and that the mere 'drawing", much as the "mere naming" does not lead to
> anything.  The items drawn by the adult arise from his knowledge of that
> game, much as the knowledge of chess allows us to point to and speak of the
> naming of the piece as "King". but just as the child does not understand the
> mere naming and pointing out of context without a basis in the underlying
> "language game" (the game of which that language and language use is an
> integral part) leads nowhere, so, too, does the typical philosopher not
> understand that his preoccupation with the isolated words can only lead to
> an equivalent 'nowhere", i.e., "non-sense'

Language idling, language going on vacation. The thing about forms of
life is they evolve over time in response to pressures. Solo
philosophers, clever and with good "languaging" abilities, are able to
throw together usage patterns of varying longevity and utility. Some
have a longer "half life" than others.

This is especially true in mathematics, a kind of logical space that's
both stringent and lenient. Stringent in the sense that the rules
need to be clear enough to allow multiple people to follow them to the
same results, Lenient in the sense that the activities need not be
"about" anything in particular i.e. there's no pesky notion of
"reality checks" that in some other walks of life would force a game
to revamp or die, because of inconsistencies with "facts on the
ground" so to speak.

> As a last note, the use of "form of life" by Wittgenstein to describe the
> grounding of language has always suggested (to me) an apt analogy between
> the biological notion of "speciation" as species emerge from the matrix of
> life as "new forms".
> All that Wittgenstein had to say about "language games' can be taken and the
> notion of "language game" replaced by "variety' which has a technical
> meaning within "the Origins" and then we can understand the "meaning is use"
> issue much better.  Because the games discussed are "language games", i.e.,
> those kinds of games which are dependent on their exercise, their
> implementation, and indeed their "survival" over iterations, generations,
> different times and different players, the question of the "use" of the
> language term in the game is not the 'personalized" simply located "buzz" it
> gives an individual player making a particular 'move" in the particular
> playing of the "game" on that particular occasion, but is more than the
> manner in which the "use' of the term enables the productive playing of the
> game in that instance.   More importantly, the "use" is the manner   term"
> plays a role in contributing to the 'survival" of the game itself ...to be
> played on another day by either the same players or new generations of
> players.  That to me is the broader significance of the "meaning is use"
> statement.

Yes, I'm on the whole in sympathy with what you're saying in that "the
meaning" (in terms of use) is not some local "buzz" attendant upon the
individual user, some private "only meaningful to me" experience.

When we investigate meanings, we trace a grammar of truisms, or
interconnecting moving parts, a machinery. This machinery is "dipped
in blood" in the sense that significance has a musical or visceral
aspect. People suffer and die as a consequence of not following some
rules (such as running a red light).

It's not that flesh and bone experience is irrelevant to meaning. But
it's still a matter of weaving everything together in patterns, not a
simple matter of language over here (on the one side) pointing to
not-language over there (on the other side), as if one were the map,
the other the territory.

Maps are part of the territory, the scenery. You have your maps *in*
the world, just as subway maps are posted inside of subway trains.
Language is not a way of getting outside the world. It's more just an
aspect of the world worlding (languaging < worlding).

> And, yes, by the way, naturally, "if a lion could speak we wouldn't
> understand him"
> CJ
>

We don't have those truisms worked out yet. With gorillas though, we
already understand them sometimes. Many humans are less
understandable (are more like lions in that sense).

Kirby
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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Philosophers, dodgeball and the "drawing game" [message #2048 is a reply to message #2047] Sat, 31 October 2009 18:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
Messages: 159
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, kirby urner <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
>
> We discover with only a few moments of thought that our concept of
> "game" is tightly coupled with our concept of "rule".

I believe Wittgenstein is all for games, and all against rules.

Are you saying that is what we are to learn?

Games need not have very strict rules, I think W's notion of "game"
is much more like that of the more modern "game theory", in which
it is simply the notion of multiple agents, multiple players, which
is the core concept. The rules may be no more than that - as in
the old Star Trek TOS "fizzbin" game.


> In another passage he says this idea of language or thought as
> something unique proves to be a superstition, not a mistake. I
> think what he means by this is: we're perfectly within our rights
> to draw this arbitrary line between languaging and not-languaging,
> so it's in no way a mistake to make such a line, but then to
> fervently believe in its reality, its designating something "in
> nature" is superstitious.

Big Yes.

We are within our rights to stipulate - stuff.

In fact, it seems to be that, or else discover the ultimate
and essential truth of the universe and deal with it directly.

However, I'm not sure what role this has played in Wittgenstein's
writings, at least his explicit writings, I think it is tacitly
implied, and properly read in, but where would he come close
to saying such a thing?

Josh





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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Philosophers, dodgeball and the "drawing game" [message #2049 is a reply to message #2043] Sat, 31 October 2009 19:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
Messages: 33
Registered: September 2009
Member
Kirby,

There is much to say in response to the range of ideas you offered.
For now, since there is considerable agreement and joint recognition
about much of what Wittgenstein is trying to tell us...and show
us.....I'll just quickly jot down a few other preliminary off the cuff
thoughts that your response provokes...


Kirby said;

Yes, I'm on the whole in sympathy with what you're saying in that "the
meaning" (in terms of use) is not some local "buzz" attendant upon the
individual user, some private "only meaningful to me" experience.


The thing about forms of
life is they evolve over time in response to pressures. Solo
philosophers, clever and with good "languaging" abilities, are able to
throw together usage patterns of varying longevity and utility. Some
have a longer "half life" than others.

CJ said:

As a last note, the use of "form of life" by Wittgenstein to describe
the
>grounding of language has always suggested (to me) an apt analogy
between
> the biological notion of "speciation" as species emerge from the
matrix of
> life as "new forms".
> All that Wittgenstein had to say about "language games' can be
taken and the
> notion of "language game" replaced by "variety' which has a technical
> meaning within "the Origins" and then we can understand the
"meaning is use"
> issue much better. Because the games discussed are "language
games", i.e.,
> those kinds of games which are dependent on their exercise, their
> implementation, and indeed their "survival" over iterations,
generations,
> different times and different players, the question of the "use" of
the
> language term in the game is not the 'personalized" simply located
"buzz" it
> gives an individual player making a particular 'move" in the
particular
> playing of the "game" on that particular occasion, but is more than
the
> manner in which the "use' of the term enables the productive
playing of the
> game in that instance. More importantly, the "use" is the
manner term"
> plays a role in contributing to the 'survival" of the game
itself ...to be
> played on another day by either the same players or new generations
of
> players. That to me is the broader significance of the "meaning is
use"
> statement.

One of my own pre-occupations is that, in general we don't know, in
science, or social science, or philosophy for that matter how to
properly talk about "time". In accord with that concern of mine, I
interpret the "meaning is use" notion as not only NOT LOCAL in terms
of SPACE or extension but ALSO NOT LOCAL in terms of TIME. So that I
would agree with you that "Forms of life" evolve over time, and also
believe that "language games" evolve over time, as well.

In other words, the "language component " of the entirety which is the
"game that includes language use as an essential aspect' is of use not
only to enable any given instance of the "game" to go on and bring
itself to some productive resolution (before some other game takes
over) but by enabling the enactment of each instantiation of the
"game" it enables the survival and ongoing evolution (if that is in
the cards) of the game over time, over generations of enactments of
the game, and then, more broadly, over generations of players who come
to "play the game" as it is handed down to them.

One of the most remarkable contributions of modern times, "The Origin
of Species", is, of course, remarkable in multiple ways. But the
manner in which Darwin cleverly deals with the notion "time" and
refuses to get bogged down in 'instantiation" by simply "moving on" to
deal with the vicissitudes of "populations of organism" over
"generations" is little appreciated. Indeed, if we take a closer
look at "Origins" we find that it has little to do with "species" and
indeed nothing at all to say in an explicit way about 'the origin" of
species. Most of the discussion in "Origins" is about 'varieties" and
how different "varieties" relate to each other and how one or the
other variety may come to surplant another or to coexist side by
side. These "varieties" are expressly not so different or
"understandable as being different" as are formal "species'. They
simply share some characteristics with each other and not other
characteristics. Darwin's 'Origins" "begins" there and then for the
most part seeks to chronicle the vicissitudes of various "varieties".

The notion of 'family resemblance" that Wittgenstein employs...and
which seems to be either so puzzling or so repugnantly "loose and
fuzzy" to many others..... reflects a very similar understanding and
intellectual "stratagem" on Wittgenstein's part. As a "naturalist" of
a certain kind quite on a par with Darwin, Wittgenstein's "family
resemblances" are enough to get "the ball rolling" and to allow him
not to get bogged down in various "continuity" arguments.

Strategically, Darwin does not seek to provide an account of the
manner in which events or occurrences in the life span of a given
individual or even in a given generation of individuals who are
participants in the population being studied and which is labelled as
exemplifyiing a "variety" . Darwin actually does what his idol Newton
did in formulating his mechanics and is bold enough to employ a notion
of the convenient fiction known as "instantaneity" insofar as he
simply bypasses the occurrences within generations and posits that the
life span of a generation is essentially "zero" and can be considered
as "instantaneous". As part of this strategy he also refuses to be
bogged down in discussion of either individual organisms or of
abstract ideal entities known as "species' but he engages us in his
reasoning in terms of "varieties" just as Wittgenstein urges us to be
content with "family resemblances" which are not either neat or sharp
or hard and fast abstract slices into "ideals".

It is all well and good to talk in some very general way about
"species" as it is to talk about "language games" but there must be
(and seldom is) sufficient awareness by theory makers and philosophers
of the need for clearcut demarkation between whether our talking is
in regard to events within the lifespan of an "instantiation" or
whether our talking is in regard to events over time (defined as a
succession of instants) between different instantiations. What I
hope to achieve in a future discussion of Wittgenstein's "language
games" is an understanding of them not only WITHIN given
instantiations at given "instants" taken up within the discussion but
also BETWEEN different instantiations over time.



Kirby said,

I think you're within your rights as a human language user, to exclude
the dances bees engage in, as semantic or linguistic.

It's a truism in some grammars (forms of life) that only humans use
language, and so the fact of gorillas or chimps using American Sign
Language to sign to one another and their human counterparts is
described in other terms, to preserve this truism, keep it consistent.

To me, these maneuvers come across as dogmatic, i.e. I'm not of the
school that humans are set apart from the other animals by some hard
and fast criterion in the language use department, but I am accepting
of fellow humans who feel it's important to make up these criteria.

My friends in San Jose (since moved to New Mexico) had a parrot named
"Red Devil" by a gorilla who knew a subset of ASL. That's how she
consistently referred to this bird. It's appropriate that we're
talking about a parrot, as some who work with those animals will
assure you that they sometimes say things with meaning, aren't just
copying phrases... these become epistemological arguments pretty
quickly.


Well, Kirby, you caught me there. I was hoping to get away without
bringing up apes and thought I could sneak by with diverting focus to
the language of bees. For the sake of discussion, I just (for the
present) thought I would start with a tentative assumption that, while
various creatures all exhibit "forms of life", and indeed many can be
understood as engaged in "games", perhaps if we define the use of
language as an aspect of the game in humans alone that might be of
some benefit for now in dealing with the other issues germane to human
"games".

Interestingly, I believe that Terrence Deacon (The Symbolic Species:
The Coevolution of Language and the Brain) is the proponent of a
theory of language use which makes plenty of room for interesting
discussion and for further attempts at dealing with "continuity"
issues in our own evolution.

According to Deacon, the prevalent "mythology' as to language use,
i.e., that it somehow arose as a consequence of either increased brain
size or capacity or anatomy due to various other vicissitudes, but
that rather the gradually increasing use of language as part of our
"form of life" was itself responsible for the increase in either brain
size or capacity or other aspects of anatomy. Deacon's research
suggests human brains (below) developed language to cope with their
new ecological role: as scavengers for meat. The change boosted the
size of human versus chimpanzee brains (above), but also changed how
different brain areas communicate with one another

Clearly, if this were the case (an argument to which I am quite
sympathetic0 then, over generations, the increasing incorporation of
'language' into 'games" by quasi humans or "missing links" would have
led to the change in brain anatomy. Just where the gorillas and
various other apes who are being taught the rudiments of "naming"
might be, if allowed a few millenia to evolve is a question......that
I find interesting, as well.

Apropos of the issue (above) which you raised of the evolution of
'forms of life' and my favorite 'issue" of the evolution of 'language
games', it is entirely possible (and my belief) that what Deacon's
work points to (as well as quite a bit of more recent work in
evolution theory) that the evolution of the 'forms of life"
themselves might be not strictly a cause of "the evolution of language
games" but that, in reverse, the evolution of "language games" may
indeed lead, in turn, to the evolution of 'forms of life"....albeit as
only one possible element in provoking such evolution of "forms of
life". In other words, the advent of various "games" not unlike
Wittgenstein's slab game would generate a natural selection pressure
on those offspring in the culture who were able to properly play that
game. So that here we have a reversal. With the advent of "language
games" leading to alterations in brain anatomy and complexity, rather
than the "language game" being a passive outcome of some sort of
anatomical mutation in brain capacity. The "language game" could well
be the "horse and not the cart"


Here's an excerpt from a review of Deacon: http://sciencematters.berkeley.edu/archives/volume4/issue31/story1.php
.


"In development, brains adapt to the body they find themselves in,"
Deacon says. For example, if an extra limb or eye is are grafted onto
a frog during development, the embryo grows nerves to make the new
appendage functional, despite the fact that its DNA contains no
instructions for coping with extra organs. "It's an embryological
adaptation process, in which the wiring becomes fitted to both the
populations of neurons and muscles and the kinds of signals that have
to be carried around."

Our language facility, Deacon writes in his award-winning 1997 book
The Symbolic Species, was an adaptation to a new set of environmental
needs. About two and a half million years ago, our ancestors made a
radical shift in culture: they began using stone tools to scavenge
meat on the open savanna. They had to cooperate in small social groups
to compete with other animals for downed prey. At the same time, such
social closeness sparked conflicts over food resources and mates. To
overcome these challenges, early hominids needed an unprecedented form
of communication.

The human knack for speech requires a high degree of neural
complexity. Conducting even the simplest conversation requires input
from multiple areas of the brain. Most biologists consider greater
complexity the result of intensified natural selection. Deacon,
however, thinks that the neural architecture for language was the
brain's response to a release from natural selection. In recent
research and his upcoming book, Homunculus, Deacon shows that
devolution can bring developmental plasticity to the fore.

He cites the evolution of song in the Bengalese finch. In 300 years of
domestication, the bird's song has changed radically from that of its
ancestor, the white-rumped munia. Where the munia is a chirping
automaton, using one brain structure to make a simple, unlearned,
unvarying song, the Bengalese finch is a font of musical creativity.
It shuffles song phrases, copies tunes from other birds, and uses
multiple brain structures to learn, acquire, and control its melodies.

Yet all selection on the finch's song was eliminated by its human
owners, who bred the birds solely for their plumage.
"Ironically, shielding them from any sexual selection affecting song
produced a brain radically more complicated for the control of song,"
Deacon says. "With the degradation of tight song control, cross-talk
between connected brain structures that previously didn't play any
role now allowed auditory memory, motor learning, and social biases to
influence the structure and production of song."

Like the munia, chimpanzees use instinctive, stereotypic vocalizations
closely tied to aggression, fear, or other emotions. In humans, the
emergence of tools and cultural processes relaxed those rigid
vocalization patterns, setting the stage for an explosion of
linguistic invention. Unlike other animals, "human babies start
babbling in a relaxed, nonemotional state early in life," Deacon says.
"A significant part of our ability to do language is the result of
loosening up those constraints."

The evolution of language, Deacon says, "was not just nature versus
nurture. Our language adaptation reflects the special demands of
symbols, in much the same way as beaver bodies reflect the demands of
the ponds they create. We're a biological expression of culture.

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[Wittrs] [C] Re: Philosophers, dodgeball and the "drawing game" [message #2065 is a reply to message #2043] Sun, 01 November 2009 08:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
Messages: 33
Registered: September 2009
Member
Kirby,

There is much to say in response to the range of ideas you offered.
For now, since there is considerable agreement and joint recognition
about much of what Wittgenstein is trying to tell us...and show
us.....I'll just quickly jot down a few other preliminary off the cuff
thoughts that your response provokes...


Kirby said;

Yes, I'm on the whole in sympathy with what you're saying in that "the
meaning" (in terms of use) is not some local "buzz" attendant upon the
individual user, some private "only meaningful to me" experience.


The thing about forms of
life is they evolve over time in response to pressures. Solo
philosophers, clever and with good "languaging" abilities, are able to
throw together usage patterns of varying longevity and utility. Some
have a longer "half life" than others.

CJ said:

As a last note, the use of "form of life" by Wittgenstein to describe
the
grounding of language has always suggested (to me) an apt analogy
between
the biological notion of "speciation" as species emerge from the
matrix of
life as "new forms".
All that Wittgenstein had to say about "language games' can be
taken and the
notion of "language game" replaced by "variety' which has a technical
meaning within "the Origins" and then we can understand the
"meaning is use"
issue much better. Because the games discussed are "language
games", i.e.,
those kinds of games which are dependent on their exercise, their
implementation, and indeed their "survival" over iterations,
generations,
different times and different players, the question of the "use" of
the
language term in the game is not the 'personalized" simply located
"buzz" it
gives an individual player making a particular 'move" in the
particular
playing of the "game" on that particular occasion, but is more than
the
manner in which the "use' of the term enables the productive playing
of the
game in that instance. More importantly, the "use" is the manner
term"
plays a role in contributing to the 'survival" of the game
itself ...to be
played on another day by either the same players or new generations
of
players. That to me is the broader significance of the "meaning is
use"
statement.

One of my own pre-occupations is that, in general we don't know, in
science, or social science, or philosophy for that matter how to
properly talk about "time". In accord with that concern of mine, I
interpret the "meaning is use" notion as not only NOT LOCAL in terms
of SPACE or extension but ALSO NOT LOCAL in terms of TIME. So that I
would agree with you that "Forms of life" evolve over time, and also
believe that "language games" evolve over time, as well.

In other words, the "language component " of the entirety which is the
"game that includes language use as an essential aspect' is of use not
only to enable any given instance of the "game" to go on and bring
itself to some productive resolution (before some other game takes
over) but by enabling the enactment of each instantiation of the
"game" it enables the survival and ongoing evolution (if that is in
the cards) of the game over time, over generations of enactments of
the game, and then, more broadly, over generations of players who come
to "play the game" as it is handed down to them.

One of the most remarkable contributions of modern times, "The Origin
of Species", is, of course, remarkable in multiple ways. But the
manner in which Darwin cleverly deals with the notion "time" and
refuses to get bogged down in 'instantiation" by simply "moving on" to
deal with the vicissitudes of "populations of organism" over
"generations" is little appreciated. Indeed, if we take a closer
look at "Origins" we find that it has little to do with "species" and
indeed nothing at all to say in an explicit way about 'the origin" of
species. Most of the discussion in "Origins" is about 'varieties" and
how different "varieties" relate to each other and how one or the
other variety may come to surplant another or to coexist side by
side. These "varieties" are expressly not so different or
"understandable as being different" as are formal "species'. They
simply share some characteristics with each other and not other
characteristics. Darwin's 'Origins" "begins" there and then for the
most part seeks to chronicle the vicissitudes of various "varieties".

The notion of 'family resemblance" that Wittgenstein employs...and
which seems to be either so puzzling or so repugnantly "loose and
fuzzy" to many others..... reflects a very similar understanding and
intellectual "stratagem" on Wittgenstein's part. As a "naturalist" of
a certain kind quite on a par with Darwin, Wittgenstein's "family
resemblances" are enough to get "the ball rolling" and to allow him
not to get bogged down in various "continuity" arguments.

Strategically, Darwin does not seek to provide an account of the
manner in which events or occurrences in the life span of a given
individual or even in a given generation of individuals who are
participants in the population being studied and which is labelled as
exemplifyiing a "variety" . Darwin actually does what his idol Newton
did in formulating his mechanics and is bold enough to employ a notion
of the convenient fiction known as "instantaneity" insofar as he
simply bypasses the occurrences within generations and posits that the
life span of a generation is essentially "zero" and can be considered
as "instantaneous". As part of this strategy he also refuses to be
bogged down in discussion of either individual organisms or of
abstract ideal entities known as "species' but he engages us in his
reasoning in terms of "varieties" just as Wittgenstein urges us to be
content with "family resemblances" which are not either neat or sharp
or hard and fast abstract slices into "ideals".

It is all well and good to talk in some very general way about
"species" as it is to talk about "language games" but there must be
(and seldom is) sufficient awareness by theory makers and philosophers
of the need for clearcut demarkation between whether our talking is
in regard to events within the lifespan of an "instantiation" or
whether our talking is in regard to events over time (defined as a
succession of instants) between different instantiations. What I
hope to achieve in a future discussion of Wittgenstein's "language
games" is an understanding of them not only WITHIN given
instantiations at given "instants" taken up within the discussion but
also BETWEEN different instantiations over time.



Kirby said,

I think you're within your rights as a human language user, to exclude
the dances bees engage in, as semantic or linguistic.

It's a truism in some grammars (forms of life) that only humans use
language, and so the fact of gorillas or chimps using American Sign
Language to sign to one another and their human counterparts is
described in other terms, to preserve this truism, keep it consistent.

To me, these maneuvers come across as dogmatic, i.e. I'm not of the
school that humans are set apart from the other animals by some hard
and fast criterion in the language use department, but I am accepting
of fellow humans who feel it's important to make up these criteria.

My friends in San Jose (since moved to New Mexico) had a parrot named
"Red Devil" by a gorilla who knew a subset of ASL. That's how she
consistently referred to this bird. It's appropriate that we're
talking about a parrot, as some who work with those animals will
assure you that they sometimes say things with meaning, aren't just
copying phrases... these become epistemological arguments pretty
quickly.


Well, Kirby, you caught me there. I was hoping to get away without
bringing up apes and thought I could sneak by with diverting focus to
the language of bees. For the sake of discussion, I just (for the
present) thought I would start with a tentative assumption that, while
various creatures all exhibit "forms of life", and indeed many can be
understood as engaged in "games", perhaps if we define the use of
language as an aspect of the game in humans alone that might be of
some benefit for now in dealing with the other issues germane to human
"games".

Interestingly, I believe that Terrence Deacon (The Symbolic Species:
The Coevolution of Language and the Brain) is the proponent of a
theory of language use which makes plenty of room for interesting
discussion and for further attempts at dealing with "continuity"
issues in our own evolution.

According to Deacon, the prevalent "mythology' as to language use,
i.e., that it somehow arose as a consequence of either increased brain
size or capacity or anatomy due to various other vicissitudes, but
that rather the gradually increasing use of language as part of our
"form of life" was itself responsible for the increase in either brain
size or capacity or other aspects of anatomy. Deacon's research
suggests human brains (below) developed language to cope with their
new ecological role: as scavengers for meat. The change boosted the
size of human versus chimpanzee brains (above), but also changed how
different brain areas communicate with one another

Clearly, if this were the case (an argument to which I am quite
sympathetic0 then, over generations, the increasing incorporation of
'language' into 'games" by quasi humans or "missing links" would have
led to the change in brain anatomy. Just where the gorillas and
various other apes who are being taught the rudiments of "naming"
might be, if allowed a few millenia to evolve is a question......that
I find interesting, as well.

Apropos of the issue (above) which you raised of the evolution of
'forms of life' and my favorite 'issue" of the evolution of 'language
games', it is entirely possible (and my belief) that what Deacon's
work points to (as well as quite a bit of more recent work in
evolution theory) that the evolution of the 'forms of life"
themselves might be not strictly a cause of "the evolution of language
games" but that, in reverse, the evolution of "language games" may
indeed lead, in turn, to the evolution of 'forms of life"....albeit as
only one possible element in provoking such evolution of "forms of
life". In other words, the advent of various "games" not unlike
Wittgenstein's slab game would generate a natural selection pressure
on those offspring in the culture who were able to properly play that
game. So that here we have a reversal. With the advent of "language
games" leading to alterations in brain anatomy and complexity, rather
than the "language game" being a passive outcome of some sort of
anatomical mutation in brain capacity. The "language game" could well
be the "horse and not the cart"


Here's an excerpt from a review of Deacon: http://sciencematters.berkeley.edu/archives/volume4/issue31/story1.php
.


"In development, brains adapt to the body they find themselves in,"
Deacon says. For example, if an extra limb or eye is are grafted onto
a frog during development, the embryo grows nerves to make the new
appendage functional, despite the fact that its DNA contains no
instructions for coping with extra organs. "It's an embryological
adaptation process, in which the wiring becomes fitted to both the
populations of neurons and muscles and the kinds of signals that have
to be carried around."

Our language facility, Deacon writes in his award-winning 1997 book
The Symbolic Species, was an adaptation to a new set of environmental
needs. About two and a half million years ago, our ancestors made a
radical shift in culture: they began using stone tools to scavenge
meat on the open savanna. They had to cooperate in small social groups
to compete with other animals for downed prey. At the same time, such
social closeness sparked conflicts over food resources and mates. To
overcome these challenges, early hominids needed an unprecedented form
of communication.

The human knack for speech requires a high degree of neural
complexity. Conducting even the simplest conversation requires input
from multiple areas of the brain. Most biologists consider greater
complexity the result of intensified natural selection. Deacon,
however, thinks that the neural architecture for language was the
brain's response to a release from natural selection. In recent
research and his upcoming book, Homunculus, Deacon shows that
devolution can bring developmental plasticity to the fore.

He cites the evolution of song in the Bengalese finch. In 300 years of
domestication, the bird's song has changed radically from that of its
ancestor, the white-rumped munia. Where the munia is a chirping
automaton, using one brain structure to make a simple, unlearned,
unvarying song, the Bengalese finch is a font of musical creativity.
It shuffles song phrases, copies tunes from other birds, and uses
multiple brain structures to learn, acquire, and control its melodies.

Yet all selection on the finch's song was eliminated by its human
owners, who bred the birds solely for their plumage.
"Ironically, shielding them from any sexual selection affecting song
produced a brain radically more complicated for the control of song,"
Deacon says. "With the degradation of tight song control, cross-talk
between connected brain structures that previously didn't play any
role now allowed auditory memory, motor learning, and social biases to
influence the structure and production of song."

Like the munia, chimpanzees use instinctive, stereotypic vocalizations
closely tied to aggression, fear, or other emotions. In humans, the
emergence of tools and cultural processes relaxed those rigid
vocalization patterns, setting the stage for an explosion of
linguistic invention. Unlike other animals, "human babies start
babbling in a relaxed, nonemotional state early in life," Deacon says.
"A significant part of our ability to do language is the result of
loosening up those constraints."

The evolution of language, Deacon says, "was not just nature versus
nurture. Our language adaptation reflects the special demands of
symbols, in much the same way as beaver bodies reflect the demands of
the ponds they create. We're a biological expression of culture.

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[Wittrs] [C] Re: Philosophers, dodgeball and the "drawing game," and TIME [message #2081 is a reply to message #2043] Sun, 01 November 2009 15:16 Go to previous message
cmoel888 is currently offline  cmoel888
Messages: 4
Registered: August 2009
Junior Member


CJ, I sympathize with your feeling that, "in general we don't
know, in science, or social science, or philosophy for that matter how
to properly talk about "time."" I have done something to help
solve that problem.

I hold that the static systems of logic—descended from Aristotle
through Boole [1], Frege, Pnueli, Prior, and all modern logicists and
natural philosophers—are lacking in several respects. These many
models of logical specification [2] are unable to describe or to create
any more than was given (sum of the parts); or directly express
causation (which instead must be divined from the static
representations); and they can't be used to express or treat dynamic
or changing scenarios, thus they can't deal directly with ongoing
time or processes which evolve with time. Now these observable
attributes, including synergy or emergent behavior, cause and effect,
dynamic activities and ongoing time, are very evident in the real world.
The simple process of combustion, which takes place many times per
second in billions of engines worldwide, could not be directly and
completely specified in any of those existing systems of logic without
describing a succession of frozen states, frame-by-frame. This failing,
of course, justifies the existence of the hard sciences in order to
"take up the slack." Chemistry, for instance, has means with
which to describe and explain combustion.

1. George Boole's An Investigation of the Laws of Thought.

2. About thirty "non-standard" logics (aside from predicate
calculus and propositional logic) are listed in
http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/courses/logsys/nonstbib.htm
<http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/courses/logsys/nonstbib.htm>

In my perception, one of the troubles with philosophy, logic,
computational "intelligence," etc. is that the formal logic used to
specify, explicate, deduce, and substantiate or support concepts and
systems, is confined to frames in the space-domain. All temporal
references, therefore, must be referred to tokens and labels situated in
space. The ancients played with concepts by writing them down and by
thinking of them in fixed format. We can now do the same using
computers, but the operators have not expanded with the passing of
millennia. We are thus limited to combinations and sequences of AND
(conjunction), NOT (negation), and STORE (memorize). The whole of
computer science is founded on not much more than those operators.
First-order and modal logics are fundamentally static means through
which actions are reckoned from fixed statements or frames, evaluated
after-the-fact. Such static treatment, even aided by super-fast
computers, often fails to produce results appropriate for dynamic
processes.

Using static and fixed labels, formal logic discourse admits only of
existence, non-existence, and conjunction in both space and time. This
package of restrictions in thought exempts dynamics from that frozen
arena. But life exhibits self-motivated activities. How can such
functions be specified or even explored by using formal logic that
admits only static states or static labels about dynamic states? Aside
from how an item, or a condition, is and how it relates to other things
in tableaux, I want to know or be able to precisely and concisely
specify how it came to be, what caused it, and how it acts. There
doesn't seem to be any such treatment in formal logic, although in
ordinary language we routinely express dynamics in a way that most
understand our meaning.

My question was, and is, "How do you properly treat dynamical situations
with only static tools such as Turing machines and Boolean logic?" The
accepted answer is, "frame by frame." That acceptance, in my
estimation, is insufficient. As Bergson put it, in Time and Free Will,
"Where is the becoming?" As Dr. Lee Smolin (in The Trouble With Physics)
asked, "How can we represent time without turning it into space?" I have
answered all of those questions with a new system of logic that includes
verbs as dynamic operators and which allows causative forces and the
changes they make to be recognized, specified, documented, and analyzed;
and (in control systems) to have direct and instantaneous effects on
physical processes.

In my non-computational, non-Turing method of reckoning, Natural Logic
(NL), I have greatly expanded the vocabulary of logic. In NL there are
many more logic functions (permutations of logic operators) and
corresponding logic elements than are available in the combinations of
AND, NOT, and STORE of purely conventional means. The new operators and
elements operate natively in the time and space-time domains on the
natural flow of events and condition changes in dynamic processes.

The ancients held that the logical forms, especially premises, were to
be held unchanged (otherwise how could conclusions be valid?). It has
been held so even in modern times, although now we can see that change
is the only constant. There is, however, no "logic of change" currently
accepted. I invented one that is useful in the world of automation. It
may also be useful to logicists in general and to philosophers.

Best regards,

Charlie


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