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[Wittrs] Wittgenstein on Nominalism [message #2206] Sun, 08 November 2009 23:15 Go to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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From PI ... 

"383. We do not analyse a phenomenon (for example, thinking) but a concept (for example, that of thinking), and hence the application of a word. So it may look like what we were doing were nominalism. Nominalists make the mistake of interpreting all the words as NAMES, and so of not really describing their use, but only, so to speak, giving a paper draft of such a description." PI, 4th, p.125.

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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Wittgenstein on Nominalism [message #2217 is a reply to message #2206] Mon, 09 November 2009 07:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
nobul savage is currently offline  nobul savage
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yourve just described conceptual or linguistic idealism as in the Tractatus

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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Wittgenstein on Nominalism [message #2224 is a reply to message #2217] Mon, 09 November 2009 17:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anna Boncompagni is currently offline  Anna Boncompagni
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>>> Brendan: yourve just described conceptual or linguistic idealism as in
the Tractatus

I dont't think that analysing concept can be called "idealism", why should
it be? Or you mean that nominalism as it is described in the PI corresponds
to the Tractatus' idealism? (But isn't nominalism exactly the opposite of
idealism?)

>>> P.I. (...) Nominalists make the mistake of interpreting all the words
as NAMES, and so of not really describing their use, but only, so to speak,
giving a paper draft of such a description.

What I cannot grasp completely of these words is the expression "paper
draft". Why is a description of a name a paper draft? Maybe, because it can
mean anything, depending on the use of the name?

PS - Hello Wittrs, it's difficult for me to follow all these discussions,
but I'm back and I'd like to try to follow at least some of them... :-)

Anna

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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Re: Wittgenstein on Nominalism [message #2225 is a reply to message #2224] Mon, 09 November 2009 18:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(reply to Anna)

... I took the matter as saying this.

It does no good to say that words are "names," because this form of talking would end up saying that (real) names are "name-names." Just as it does no good to say that words are pictures of something real. Language performs many functions. It ostensifies (points). It names. It describes. It distinguishes. It connotes (family resemblance), etc. Language is the quintessential thing is understand based upon what it is doing. And so if we take this idea and say "words are names," meaning only that they are not pictures of reality, we have only given a "paper draft" of the problem. A real accounting would be one that was not so preliminary and incomplete. It would understand that meaning is use.

Regards.

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
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SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
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[Wittrs] Re: [C] [Wittrs Wittgenstein on Nominalism [message #2228 is a reply to message #2225] Mon, 09 November 2009 22:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
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On Nov 9, 2009, at 6:29 PM, Sean Wilson wrote:

> (reply to Anna)
>
> ... I took the matter as saying this.
>
> It does no good to say that words are "names," because this form of
> talking would end up saying that (real) names are "name-names." Just
> as it does no good to say that words are pictures of something real.
> Language performs many functions. It ostensifies (points). It names.
> It describes. It distinguishes. It connotes (family resemblance),
> etc. Language is the quintessential thing is understand based upon
> what it is doing. And so if we take this idea and say "words are
> names," meaning only that they are not pictures of reality, we have
> only given a "paper draft" of the problem. A real accounting would
> be one that was not so preliminary and incomplete. It would
> understand that meaning is use.

Here's a Wittgenstein quote from PI (sorry I do not have the page
reference) that i have used myself in my own work in attempting to
straighten out psychology and dealing with getting at least a
tentative grasp of other key notions pursued with futility by the
discipline of psychology and psychologists, who don't pause and
reflect (a) what it is that they are talking about or (b) what the
psychologists whose studies they read are talking about or (c) what
the instructions of the studies lead the patients in those studies to
believe that the psychologists conducting the studies are talking
about or (d) what the subjects in those studies are talking about when
they are asked by the psychologists conducting the studies what they
"experienced".

Surely it makes your point rather well.


"One ought to ask not what images are or what happens when one
imagines something, but how the word 'imagination' is used. But that
does not mean that I want to talk only about words. For the question
as to the nature of the imagination is as much about the word
'imagination' as my question is. And I am only saying that this
question is not to be decided, neither for the person who does the
imagining nor for anyone else, by pointing; nor yet by a description
of any process. The first question also asks for a word to be
explained; but it makes us expect a wrong kind of answer."

PS: By the way, Sean is there an online version of the Investigations
available where we could go and more easily track down pertinent
paragraphs.


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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: [Wittrs Wittgenstein on Nominalism [message #2235 is a reply to message #2228] Tue, 10 November 2009 09:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anna Boncompagni is currently offline  Anna Boncompagni
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Thank you both, now it is much clearer to me. What you quoted, CJ, is par.
370. In the original german text the words are Vorstellung and sich
vorstellen, which in my italian translation become rappresentazione and
rappresentare, i.e. representation and to represent: this seems to me more
coherent with his critique of the earlier picture theory of language. Also,
the word "Wesen" is translated with "essence" and not with "nature". I
wonder, Sean, if the new translation of the P.I. still translates them with
"imagination" and "nature" as E. Anscombe does.
Anna


> Here's a Wittgenstein quote from PI (sorry I do not have the page
> reference)
>
> "One ought to ask not what images are or what happens when one imagines
> something, but how the word 'imagination' is used. But that does not mean
> that I want to talk only about words. *For the question as to the nature
> of the imagination is as much about the word 'imagination' as my question
> is.* And I am only saying that this question is not to be decided, neither
> for the person who does the imagining nor for anyone else, by pointing; nor
> yet by a description of any process. The first question also asks for a word
> to be explained; but it makes us expect a wrong kind of answer."
>
>

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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Re: Wittgenstein on Nominalism [message #2238 is a reply to message #2224] Tue, 10 November 2009 21:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
nobul savage is currently offline  nobul savage
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[reply to Anna]

All language is idealism, it's mind dependent. "paper draft" would not exist without the human mind on this planet. depends what type of Nominalism your talking about, ostrich nominalism doesnt look at the problem

Brendan


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[C] [Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein on Nominalism [message #2245 is a reply to message #2235] Wed, 11 November 2009 01:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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Anna:

Here's what I have in the new translation.

370. One ought to ask, not what images are or what goes on when one imagines something, but how the word "imagination" is used. But that does not mean that I want to talk only about words. For the question of what imagination essentially is, is as much about the word "imagination" as my question. And I am only saying that this question is not to be clarified -- neither for the person who does the imagining, nor for anyone else -- by pointing; nor yet by a description of some process. The first question also asks for the clarification of a word; but it makes us expect a wrong kind of answer.

371. ESSENCE is expressed in grammar. (p. 123) [allcaps used for italics; asterisk next to entry to denote a translator's endnote --sw] 

---------ENDNOTES ------

370. "Frage nach dem Wesen der Vorstellung': Anscombe translated this, perfectly correctly, as 'the question as to the nature of the imagination' (for Wittgenstein is not claiming that 'the imagination' is defined by a set of necessary and sufficient conditions). But the price was to lose contact with the next remark (371): 'Das Wesen is in der Grammatik ausgesprochen', which she translated as 'Essence is expressed by grammar'. To keep continuity between 370 and 371, we have translated 'Frage nach dem Wesen der Vorstellung' in 370 as 'question of what imagination essentially is'.

371. We have retained 'Essence' for Wesen, since one could hardly say 'Nature is expressed by grammar'. But it must be borne in mind that Wesen does service for both 'essence' and 'nature' -- thus leaving the question of whether the concept of the imagination is a family-resemblance concept wide open (see note to 92 above). (p.255-256) 
--------------------

Regards.

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Assistant Professor
Wright State University
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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Wittgenstein on Nominalism [message #2247 is a reply to message #2245] Wed, 11 November 2009 04:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anna Boncompagni is currently offline  Anna Boncompagni
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Thank you Sean, regarding Wesen there has been indeed a change and I think
the new translation is better, since it keeps some continuity between 370
and 371; though maybe (my opinion) the same word should be translated with
exactly the same word, no matter what one thinks that W. was claiming or
not.
Thank you again, Anna


> ---------ENDNOTES ------
>
> 370. "Frage nach dem Wesen der Vorstellung': Anscombe translated this,
> perfectly correctly, as 'the question as to the nature of the imagination'
> (for Wittgenstein is not claiming that 'the imagination' is defined by a set
> of necessary and sufficient conditions). But the price was to lose contact
> with the next remark (371): 'Das Wesen is in der Grammatik ausgesprochen',
> which she translated as 'Essence is expressed by grammar'. To keep
> continuity between 370 and 371, we have translated 'Frage nach dem Wesen der
> Vorstellung' in 370 as 'question of what imagination essentially is'.
>
> 371. We have retained 'Essence' for Wesen, since one could hardly say
> 'Nature is expressed by grammar'. But it must be borne in mind that Wesen
> does service for both 'essence' and 'nature' -- thus leaving the question of
> whether the concept of the imagination is a family-resemblance concept
> wide open (see note to 92 above). (p.255-256)
>

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[Wittrs] Translation and Understanding (Was Re: Wittgenstein on Nominalism) [message #2264 is a reply to message #2245] Thu, 12 November 2009 16:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:
>
> Anna:
>
> Here's what I have in the new translation.
>
> 370. One ought to ask, not what images are or what goes on when one imagines something, but how the word "imagination" is used. But that does not mean that I want to talk only about words. For the question of what imagination essentially is, is as much about the word "imagination" as my question. And I am only saying that this question is not to be clarified -- neither for the person who does the imagining, nor for anyone else -- by pointing; nor yet by a description of some process. The first question also asks for the clarification of a word; but it makes us expect a wrong kind of answer.
>

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'd like to ask how important the differences in the words selected by the translators are in cases like this and what, if anything, can this tell us about translation itself?

After all, we are always translating what others say, even if it's in the same language as we speak. In such cases, we are translating the words understood by the speaker into our own understanding but it is still a kind of translation, of turning "gavagai" into "rabbit".

So often we see that understandings diverge, even within the same language, and we find ourselves quibbling over words and sometimes clearly taking different meanings from the same words. How can we deal with this or is it just a matter of trial and error and ongoing effort?

Below are the actual differences from the two translations (the earlier Anscombe version shown in square brackets immediately following the newly translated text when there is a difference; my comment, if I have one, follows in squiggly brackets):

370. One ought to ask, not what images are or what goes on when one imagines something, but how the word "imagination" is used. But that does not mean that I want to talk only about words. For the question of what imagination essentially is, is


[For the question as to the nature of the imagination is]

{My comment: Is the issue here to restore "essentially" and, if so, what is really gained by this? Is it better to speak of "what imagination essentially is" than to speak of "the nature of imagination"? Is anything made any clearer or is some confusion driven away?}


as much about the word "imagination" as my question. [is.] And I am only saying that this question is not to be clarified

[decided]

{My comment: Is it an improvement to speak of the question as "to be clarified" than to speak of it as to be "decided"? The original German is "nich durch ein Zeigen". Does anyone here know enough German to say if the clearer meaning of this is "not to be clarified" rather than "not to be decided"?}


-- neither for the person who does the imagining, nor for anyone else -- by pointing; nor yet by a description of some [any] process. The first question also asks for the clarification of a word;

[for a word to be explained;]

{My comment: The German appears to be: "Nach einer Wroterklarung fragt auch die erste Frage;" -- anyone have any comments on the relative differences of these two translations?}

but it makes us expect a wrong kind of answer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Without saying anything about other presumed variations between the two texts, I am wondering if there is anything materially different in the above between the older and newer versions? (Not being a German speaker, I cannot determine this myself but would be grateful for anyone's input here to help clarify.)

Then, of course, there is a larger question which we may or may not be able to answer, based on a better grasp of the meanings in the original German, and that is do we gain new information from the second translation? Or greater clarity as to what Wittgenstein may have had in mind? Or some added insight? Or a different take on his originally understood meaning?

If there is indeterminacy of translation a la Quine and this includes the ongoing problem we encounter everyday on lists like these that shows how much we tend to miss one another's points, even when ostensibly speaking the same language, then how much greater is the problem when we are speaking a different language than the one in which the original point was made?

To what extent can we conclude that either the inter-linguistic translation process, or the intra-linguistic one, has adversely affected our ability to get what anyone actually means?

To what extent, beyond the obvious, do translations matter and is there a significant benefit to translating at the margins of meaning, to refining nuance in terms of translation?

In truth, looking at the two variant translations above, I am not immediately struck that a great gap in insight divides them.

SWM

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[Wittrs] Re: Translation and Understanding [message #2272 is a reply to message #2264] Fri, 13 November 2009 12:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(reply to Stuart)

... I don't see any difference between them. Nature and essence can mean the same thing depending upon the sense of the expression. They could also differ across sense. I guess what the new translation is trying to do is to avoid people getting the wrong sense or becoming confused. The fact that you don't see a real difference is probably an indication that you get the point. It would be like erecting a sign next to all stoplights that said, "yellow means green is about to turn red." If people understood this without the sign, they would not find the matter to provide greater clarity. But if one is confused by what yellow is doing in the communication, the sign presumably helps.

There is one tiny little concern, however. I think Anna raised it. One has to ask to what extent translations of the sort that we are talking (in the 4th edition) about are not "translations." but "interpretations." To the extent the latter service is trying to be provided, one could imagine cases where this might be controversial.

But in the end, having a 1st, 2nd and 3rd edition in the mix along with the 4th -- not to mention a nachlass -- is the best of all worlds. The more Wittgenstein information you have, the better. 
 
 
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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Translation and Understanding [message #2273 is a reply to message #2272] Fri, 13 November 2009 15:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anna Boncompagni is currently offline  Anna Boncompagni
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(reply to Stuart and Sean)

I don't see big differences either, except for the fact that, using
"essence" instead of nature in 370, lets us see the connection with 371, and
I suppose this is quite important (the importance of seeing connections).

Also, I was struck by the use of the word "imagination", but this is
probably due to my italian version which doesn't contain this word - and I'm
not able to say which one is better on this point. (Maybe this is ony a
misleading sensation, but reading "imagination" here made me undertand the
importance that some English speaking authors gave to this aspect in
Wittgenstein- I read something by Cora Diamond recently- an aspect which I
hadn't seen by myself).

Generally speaking I think translatins are significant, for more than one
reason. Two of them:

1) They make the reader feel the "tone" of the book - for example in my
language there was a very plain, simple, literal translation of the
Tractatus in the '50s, while now you can find only a more sophisticaded one
that, in my opinion but not only in my opinion, looses the semplicity of
Wittgenstein writing and privileges "high" expressions that are not in the
text.

2) sometimes a traslator must choose between a literal translation which
sounds "strange" in his language and an interpretation (as Sean says) that
he thinks points exactly to the meaning that the author had in his mind (let
me say "had in his mind" though W. wouldn't like it). This hides a whole
philosophy. Is meaning someting fixed that we can point to? The same for all
languages? If we adhere to a wittgensteinian point of view, we should say
no, since meaning depends on our using of the words. So, which is the best
way to let the reader get the meaning? this is most evident in poetry. An
example with German and Italian: in German the word for "moon" is masculine,
the word for "sun" is feminine, in Italian it is the opposite. The "Cantico
dei cantici" written by San Francesco calls the moon "sister" and the sun
"brother". How should this be translated in German?

Generally I think that new and different translations always help, the more
you have the best it is, and a deep kwowledge of the culture and the
author from which the text comes is the best way to appreciate and to get
nearer to the original meaning (supposing it exists).

(Hoping that my translation mistakes between Italian and English were not
too much to let you know what I meant...)

Anna




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[Wittrs] [C] Re: Translation and Understanding [message #2275 is a reply to message #2273] Fri, 13 November 2009 17:32 Go to previous messageGo to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
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> (reply to Stuart and Sean and Anna)


Folks,

I appreciate your delving ever so deeply into the itty bitty, nitty
gritty aspects of the translation of W's statement on "imagination.
To me, as someone who, years ago, worked on psychological research in
graduate school, I brought the quote up to our attention because W was
100% on target, and his statements, while they can be taken as idle or
even 'therapeutic" work for the masses, are much more than that when
considered from the research perspective of those involved in the
purported "science of psychology".

In research on "imagery" and "imagination", I found that those doing
the research, when writing about ther studies as if they had indeed
"observed" some process akin to imagining going on , when giving their
instructions to "subject" participating in the studies about what
"process or activity they wished them to engage in'", and when
obtaining the "subjects INTROSPECTIVE reports telling them about what
the subjects had presumable done while engaging in the presumed
"imagining" generally spoke as if they were "clarifying" the "essence
OR the nature" of something which they were not at all doing, since W
points out to us that they were all asking the wrong question or,
directing their attention to phantom vicissitudes in the midst of
phantom "processes" instead of seeking to understand what all the
talk was actually serving to achieve.

For those of you who are interested in the least bit as to how this
concern with the phantom process or activity of 'imagining" which is
posited as some independent and ongoing "process" of its own merely
because we speak about it or ask someone to comply with instructions
by "imagining", the same problem was evident in my research with
regard to the supposed "process of suggestion" where the deviation
into unproductive ways of speaking is even more conspicuous since even
the ordinary person suspects that 'suggestion" is a myth, a fallacy,
or an archaic , unsupportable concept, while many ordinary laymen
really believe that there might be some process of 'imagination" and
don't sense the damage that is done during the course of research
inquiry into it, and how many millions of research dollars have been
squandered.

Indeed, much of my research experience involved hypnosis, even beyond
"imagination" and if you think about it is hardly possible to conjure
up a more language intensive "game" than hypnosis, where simply by
means of talk back and forth, the person's biochemistry, neurology and
other aspects of physiology seem to be radically altered. As a
result, the "myth" of suggestion arose and hypnosis research was
obstructed for almost a century, while investigators sought to pin
down the phantom "process' or "activity" of 'suggestion' or wasted
their time arguing against it, instead of seeing to what use the words
of the hypnotic induction ritual and ceremony and the words describing
that ceremony by the researchers and writers were being put.
Ludicrously one of the major issues in that research for half a
century at least was whether the process of 'suggestion" was the same
or different than the process of 'imagination", with ostensibly
serious researchers arguing furiously over one side of the other of
the illusory controversy.


W's Investigations is probably the single most important book that
anyone claiming to be interested in "scientific' research into matters
psychological could ever read. It is essentially a manual in proper
methodology and analysis of psychological experimentation, which all
hinges on very interesting and peculiar language use in the midst of a
special language game, 'the psychology experiment". Regrettably
psychologists are outrageously unfamiliar with its lessons.


>

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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Re: Translation and Understanding [message #2276 is a reply to message #2206] Fri, 13 November 2009 18:00 Go to previous messageGo to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
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On Nov 11, 2009, at 1:08 AM, Sean Wilson wrote:


By the way, the difference between "what imagination essentially is"
and "the nature of imagination' is, to me, all the differece in the
world and to not understand it is to not understand what Wittgenstein
was trying to say. When we say "the nature of " we are saying
something bland, generic, and being very lazy and speaking very loosely.

When we wrongly and inadequately deal with the question of imagination
as one of "what imagation essentially Is"...(and, indeed, W confronts
it and points the inadequacy of this "essentialist" notion, and points
to needing a different kind of clarification) he is warning us that
we are inadvertently harkening back to Platonic/Aristotelian
metaphysics of the sort which still haunts our lanuage use.

And so when W is understood as targeting ordinary unthinking use as
seeking to "ask (and presumably and with futility, seeking to answer)
the question of "what imagination essentially is"...he is showing us
the way, and showing us that we must ditch the implications of
Platonic/Aristotelian metaphysics bured deeply within the framework of
everyday casual unthinking use of language. When he then links
"essence and grammar" the idea of 'Form" of which he speaks is now
substituted explicitly for the simplistic Platonic/Aristotelian notion
of 'form" which misguided language use hinges on.

It's all the difference in the world.

> 370. One ought to ask, not what images are or what goes on when one
> imagines something, but how the word "imagination" is used. But that
> does not mean that I want to talk only about words. For the question
> of what imagination essentially is, is as much about the word
> "imagination" as my question. And I am only saying that this
> question is not to be clarified -- neither for the person who does
> the imagining, nor for anyone else -- by pointing; nor yet by a
> description of some process. The first question also asks for the
> clarification of a word; but it makes us expect a wrong kind of
> answer.
>
> 371. ESSENCE is expressed in grammar. (p. 123) [allcaps used for
> italics; asterisk next to entry to denote a translator's endnote --sw]

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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Re: Translation and Understanding [message #2278 is a reply to message #2276] Fri, 13 November 2009 18:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(reply to cj)

.. yes, but I think the sense of the passage is understood no matter that "nature" is used.  These are family resemblance ideas (nature, essence). As such, there are cousins in each family that could dawn the label of the other. And because the brain is efficient at navigating sense and context, a person well read in Wittgenstein or having sharp reading comprehension will get the idea nonetheless. In fact, to assert otherwise would be to encourage someone to read words legalistically (out of context). All that the change might do, therefore, is provide assistance to those otherwise challenged in this respect.

Remember, Wittgenstein had somewhat peculiar speaking conventions. It would not surprise me one bit to have heard an English lecture where he might have used the expression "nature of" when meaning "essence of." In fact, in ordinary expression, I bet people do that quite a bit. (Which is why the translation is controversial -- the language culture could support either). I think the question reduces to whether the terms are deployed as philosophic jargon. That's like gears in a car; you've got to drop it into gear to use it (jargon). Otherwise, it just comes out in the regular machinery.  

Here is what I am trying to say: I think the translation is better nomenclature, but I don't know that anything new is learned.

Regards.    
 
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Translation and Understanding [message #2279 is a reply to message #2278] Fri, 13 November 2009 19:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
Messages: 33
Registered: September 2009
Member
reply to Sean

Of course, we might say that " if someone is going to understand
something they are going to understand it regardless of the
translation", and we may say that "if a person is going to
misunderstand something they are going to misunderstand it regardless
of the translation. We may say so, but. really, we shouldn't.

To say so, would brings us down to a rather nihilistic view of the
value and purpose of'translation" and smacks too much of the everyday
"thoughtlessness" which characterizes our world and is tolerated by
its companion everyday 'political correctness".

And like the frog that when it slowly becomes boiled does not notice
it until it is too late.....it leaves the room for a deeper negligence
and disregard of what Wittgenstein has said.

To get down and scholastic on this issue, the motivation behind the
updating in translation is likely because of a fundamental difference
between the origins of the words "essence " and 'nature", and given
the Augustinian backdrop against which Wittgenstein presented his
argument for the popular misunderstanding of language.
It is clear from their scholastic roots that"Essence" and "Nature" are
not the same. The two words express the same reality envisaged from
the two distinct points of view , that "as being" or and one "as acting"

As the essence is that whereby any given thing is that which it is,
the ground of its characteristics and the principle of its being, so
its nature is that whereby it acts as it does, the essence considered
as the foundation and principle of its operation. From St. Thomas:
"Nature is seen to signify the essence of a thing according as it has
relation to its proper operation" (De ente et essentia, cap. i).
Furthermore, I believe that it is fair to say that "essence" rather
than "nature" is also and more pointedly in a manner synonymous with
form, since it is chiefly by their formal principle that beings are
segregated into one or other of the species.

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[C] [Wittrs] Re: Re: Translation and Understanding [message #2282 is a reply to message #2279] Fri, 13 November 2009 21:15 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

(to CJ)

... my position isn't that translations don't matter.  The position is that "nature" and "essence" are often exchanged in ordinary speech without harm to the larger context, because brains are good at navigating family resemblance. People sometimes mean the one for the other. Or they sometimes mean only the general idea of something "core," regardless of it being constitutive or behavioral, organic or mechanistic, or liking Plato more than Darwin. You are the one who quoted the old  370 and understood it just fine. In fact, my guess is that the old 370 was re-written ("translated") based upon the same contextual material that allowed you to understand "nature" in the context it was offered. In fact, I think the intro to the 4th says as much (that they used linguistic context to make certain judgments).  

There are two empirical propositions here. #1. If you took a group of people and had them read the new versus the old version, what differences would exist? My guess is that among the Wittgenstein learned (the ones who have read all the other passages in context or otherwise have been taught Wittgensteinian ideas), there would be little that has changed. And perhaps the only ones to change would be newbie’s who are reading the thing out of context anyway. Maybe that's all the new translation really does in this context: lessen teaching labor.

#2. What does Ludwig's own English tell us? (Does he use "nature" in a way that doesn't juxtapose itself against essence in certain contexts?) There are all sorts of examples other than "nature" where Wittgenstein spoke in a unique manner.  Being a good student of Wittgenstein requires that one catch his forms of expression. I'm not against, of course, those who have caught such things re-writing them as "translations." The only cost I could see of this is that it might diminish the capacity of some to see into his personality (into his quirks). If you are a student of Wittgenstein-through-biography, that potentially could be a concern. The whole argument reminds me of the efforts to clean up old novels like Huck Finn (or what have you) for reasons of niceties.

As an example, I am now wondering whether Wittgenstein himself used the English expression "queer," or whether all of that came from Anscombe. If it came from the translator, I have less of a problem. (And I don't really have much of a problem here anyway). But if Ludwig himself is using that word around his English students, I'm not so sure I would offer modernity as a "translation." I would rather keep it for what it is and let the educators do their job.    

Regards.
 
SW



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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Translation and Understanding [message #2286 is a reply to message #2282] Sat, 14 November 2009 13:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
Messages: 33
Registered: September 2009
Member

Sean wrote: Here is what I am trying to say: I think the translation
is better nomenclature, but I don't know that anything new is learned.

CJ••••Nothing new is learned by "special" readers or (non-readers of
Wittgenstein) so is this some sort of effort to build up "self-esteem"

Sean wrote: I guess what the new translation is trying to do is to
avoid people getting the wrong sense or becoming confused.

CJ••••yes, indeed, I think that's why translator's are in business.

Sean wrote: The fact that you don't see a real difference is probably
an indication that you get the point.

CJ••••Or more likely that that you don't get the point of writing or
translating philosophy....and, so instead of being as "clear" as we
can in presenting the text, how believe that we can conclude from
political correctness that the person telling us that they don't grasp
the difference between two terms must actually have achieved a higher
level of understanding.

Sean wrote: Yes, but I think the sense of the passage is understood no
matter that "nature" is used.

CJ•••• And now do you know, Sean, except via political correctness I
can only imagine the mortification of all the philosophers and
translators in the world to discover that their profession is truly
not necessary

Sean wrote: There are two empirical propositions here. #1. If you
took a group of people and had them read the new versus the old
version, what differences would exist?

CJ••••So, here's the punch line. Now we're going to do "Philosophy by
focus group".
We conduct a vote among the least informed and most ignorant instead
of taking the responsibility upon ourselves to realize what the most
informed say.

Where could we be going with this stuff, Sean. Some sort of policital
mayhem?

Why don't we ask the most ignorant, illiterate, perhaps even non
English speaking voters whether there was any difference between
McCain and Obama, rather than those who actually read their words,
their books and studied their action.

And when the ill-informed masses tell us that they did not realize
there was any difference then why don't we then enact an Obama like
edict and claim that translation in accord with actual texts is no
longer required.


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[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Translation and Understanding [message #2287 is a reply to message #2286] Sat, 14 November 2009 14:41 Go to previous message
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... CJ, this is my last reply here. I'm repeating, so that's a sure sign that no further effort is helpful. 

1. At times, you seem to think that I did not know of the difference between the idea of "nature" when juxtaposed against "essence." This is neither true nor relevant. It's never been the issue. The issue has always been that nature has SENSES. And that one can mean essence and speak "nature" or mean a very general idea that would encompass elements of both. And that when people speak this way, the sense may not get lost if other words in the context show the point.

2. The issue for translation seems to be whether what Wittgenstein "said" is given to us versus what he meant. Translation is one thing; interpretation another. And what he said is the term, "Wesen," that translates in the (German) language culture to either essence or nature.  Hacker and Schulte believe the term "nature" was correctly transcribed by Anscombe. They merely changed it to correspond with 371.  As to why 371 uses "essence," the authors have an interesting remark:

"We have retained 'Essence' for Wesen, since one could hardly say 'nature is expressed by grammar.' But it must be borne in mind that Wesen does service for both 'essence' and 'nature' - thus leaving the question of whether the concept of the imagination is a family resemblance concept wide open (see note to s 92 above)."

So I think the point should be clear here. Nature isn't exactly out of the picture, because some of its senses could still be useful.

3. As to your claim about political correctness and the dumb masses, I must say I'm not finding anything helpful. One of the premises was straight forward: whether brains educated in Wittgenstein could pick out the sense of the passage without the word change. Surely this tendency, whatever it is, tells us something. And I remain convinced that the new 370 only helps those who would be reading out of context anyway, the fault most likely being the failure to read enough or perhaps to understood the larger ideas.  To that end, I am not against the translation, but I see its virtue more like I would a Cliffsnote sort of thing.

Regards.

SW



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