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

Home » Concerning Wittgenstein's Ideas » On Wittgensteinian Ideas » [Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories
[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2715] Thu, 17 December 2009 14:16 Go to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
Messages: 793
Registered: August 2009
Location: Form of Life
Senior Member

... I just had a thought.

I've always been troubled by how certain remarks of Wittgenstein are understood. In particular, the ones about theorizing. Wittgenstein quite clearly told his students that he was never presenting a theoretical account of anything and that to do so was inherently problematic. Examples:

1. During the Christmas break in 1930 in discussions he said with Schlick and Waismann, he said,

(a). "For me, a theory is without value. A theory gives me nothing." (Monk, 304).

(b). And in another context: "If I were told anything that was a theory, I would say, No, no! That does not interest me -- it would not be the exact thing I was looking for." (305) 

(c) And again, in another context: "You cannot gain a fundamental understanding of mathematics by waiting for a theory." (307)   

2. When lecturing in 1938, Wittgenstein had used as an example the deterioration of the German musical tradition. Rush Rhees, one of his students, then asked Wittgenstein about his theory of deterioration --  to which Wittgenstein reacted, horrified, "Do you think I have a theory? Do you think I'm saying what deterioration is? What I do is describe different things called 'deterioration.'" (405)

3. "It was important to Wittgenstein's conception of his philosophical method that there could be no disagreements of opinion between himself and Turing. In his philosophy he was not advancing any theses, so how could there possibly be anything to disagree with? When Turing once used the phrase, 'I see your point,' Wittgenstein reacted forcefully: 'I have no point.'  If Turing was inclined to object to what Wittgenstein was saying ...  it could only be a question of giving meaning to words. Or, rather, it could only be a question of Turing's not understanding Wittgenstein's use of certain words." (419)

I had always maintained this strand of Wittgenstein's thought was misunderstood by many people. Some people read it as saying that conceptualism or abstract sort of thinking is disallowed. This is clearly not the case. My old way of saying it was this: Wittgenstein is against "formalism, not conceptualism." I would say: he's against making certain subjects (language, art, etc) into a mathematics or a logic. In what are incredibly radical lectures, he was also against making mathematics itself into a kind of "mathematics" or logic in the sense that I am now speaking.

But I think I have found a better way to say this. It came upon me when ordering coffee today. Here is the way to say it. Wittgenstein is against LAWS, not "theories." That is, he has a particular use of "theories" that is formalistic and pristine. When he says "theory," he means a proposition that is a candidate to become a law. Theories as law-candidates. I don't mean law in a legal sense (though it be a cousin in the family); I mean "law" like "natural law" or the the "iron law of oligarchy," or "the law of physics," etc. Unified theory. The one true proposition.

The idea is this. Whenever someone formally places a theory into play, what they are doing is offering the candidacy of a proposition. If the proposition survives its candidacy (in the academy), it becomes a sort of law for the thing in question.

So Wittgenstein is against these rituals. He's against this whole activity. And the best way to say it TODAY is to simply re-read the passages above, substituting the word LAW for theory. Wittgenstein is against the offering of laws for understanding. Understanding does not consist in the ritual of  trying to propound laws. Wittgenstein is NOT against conceptual accounts of things that actually occur (e.g., games). He's not against thinking and pondering. He's not against "picturing" (because it can't be avoided), but he does want you to understand what "picturing" is. What he is fundamentally against is an approach to understanding wherein a person will try to produce a law for the activity -- at least for language, ethics, aesthetics, mathematics and many others. (One assumes he is not against something like this in science. But maybe even here, it could have issues).

Regards.
 
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html



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


Re: [Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2716 is a reply to message #2715] Fri, 18 December 2009 07:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
robdev is currently offline  robdev
Messages: 13
Registered: September 2009
Location: UK
Junior Member
Sean,

Yes, Wittgennstein's "a-theoretical" cum "purely descriptive"
conception of philosophy has caused great consternation, even
distress or fury, to many.

Your characterisation of the issue in terms of "laws" is, I
think, more or less OK... but I would be inclined to describe
the situation as Wittgenstein rejecting the notion that
philosophy is theory construction or hypothtico-deductive-
explanatory undertaking... which might boil down to the same
thing as being "against LAWS". But I think something is going
a bit awry when you say "Wittgenstein is against LAWS, not
"theories", since the plain fact of the matter is that he most
plainly and categorically rejects the notion that philosophy
is a theoretical or theory-constructing enterprise at all.

The quotes you give from various sources are indeed pertinent,
but it surprises me that you do not mention and quote PI $109,
which seems to me Wittgenstein's fundamental, central and core
statement on this matter. I do not have PI on me right now, so
cannot accurately reproduce it. At any rate this and several
preceding and subsequent remarks in PI are to my mind pretty
clear on this, and definitive.

Discussing the roots of philosophical confusion in the Blue
Book
, Wittgenstein writes in a way that certainly ties in
with your recourse to the notion of "laws", but which goes
considerably further in the direction I have tried to
intimate:

"Our craving for generality has another main source; our
preoccupation with the method of science. I mean the method
of reducing the explanation of natural phenomena to the
smallest possible number of primitive natural laws; and,
in mathematics, of unifying the treatment of different
topics by using a generalization. Philosophers constantly
see the method of science before their eyes, and are
irresistibly tempted to ask and answer in the way science
does. This tendency is the real source of metaphysics, and
leads the philosopher into complete darkness. I want to say
here that it can never be our job to reduce anything to
anything, or to explain anything. Philosophy really is '
purely descriptive'. (Think of such questions as "Are there
sense data?" and ask: What method is there of determining
this? Introspection?)"

Of course you are perfectly correct to say "One assumes he
is not against something like this in science" ... since
"something like this" might well be, in large measure,
definitive of what science is anyway. To say that philosophy
should not try to imitate science does not entail that science
is in some way doing things wrong - let alone that it should
imitate his philosophising! All it entails is that philosophy
is an undertaking that is in toto different from science, its
tasks, problems and issues are of a quite different nature or
type. This of course goes completely against the grain of
venerable traditions dating way back but more recently
manifested in the line of descent: Russell &c, -> Logical
Positivism -> Quinean "Post-Positivism", -> Davidson, Dummett,
and many others who all, to some degree or other, conceive
of philosophy as a "theory constructing", explanatory enterprise
thoroughly contiguous and continuous with the sciences, albeit at
a perhaps "higer" or "more general" or "more fundamental" level.
Hence there has, in many philosophical quarters been either virtual
dismissal or polite ignoring of Wittgenstein or else much wailing
and gnashing of teeth. But of course, Wittgenstein's a-theoretical
conception of philosophy is one of the very things that makes him
so revolutionary and unsettling ...

Peter Hacker (sometimes along with Gordon Baker) has written
extensively, and I reckon pretty definitively, on Wittgenstein's
a-theoretical, purely descriptive conception of philosophy, not
least in the Analytical Commentary itself but many places else-
where too (although even Hacker and Baker winded up with
fundamental disagreements on Wittgenstein's method!!!)
Hacker might not be the last word on Wittgenstein but he is
certainly one of the most sound and scholarly we have, on most
of the basics. I could provide a string of specific biblio-
graphical references should anyone want, but for now I will
just point you in the direction of some of Hacker's essays,
in particular 'Philosophy: a contribution, not to human
knowledge, but to human understanding'
available at
http://info.sjc.ox.ac.uk/scr/hacker/RecentPapers.html.

Regards,

Rob.


Rob
[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2717 is a reply to message #2715] Fri, 18 December 2009 13:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
Messages: 60
Registered: December 2009
Member
Sean,

The issue of "theories" (and "theses") is one to which I too have given a lot of thought. Thank you for raising the topic. There is much to what you have to say. In what follows, I'll first respond by way of outlining my own approach to these matters and perhaps we can compare and contrast.

An issue that isn't often discussed but that is important in thinking about this and other issues is the role of the teacher-student relationship in many of Wittgenstein's dialectics. In reading his lectures, we should remember that Wittgenstein was there to teach his method and those attending presumably attended because they wanted to learn this method.

What might be called "guiding suspicions", "heuristic principles", "rules of thumb", or "methodological rules" are not, in this context, contentious. You accept them to the extent that you want to learn the method. Thus they are not "theses" in the sense of contentious claims. But in another context they might be. (The boundary between methodological statements and statements within a method is not a sharp one.)

Relevance? If we fail to see this, it will look as if Wittgenstein is making blatantly self-refuting claims, e.g. asserting the thesis that one ought to not assert theses. Or offering a theory about why theories have no place in philosophy.

This is more complicated when dealing with Wittgenstein's writings intended for publication to a general audience.

He is offering a method. But why should we adopt this method? Any attempt to justify the method would turn the statements of the method into "theses" or a "theory". One may persuaded to adopt the method, perhaps by considering the lack of "progress" in the history of philosophy, by considering the problems with other approaches, by finding particular confusions of one's own alleviated through the use of the method, and so on, but this is not the same as finding grounds for statements of the method.

(And the difficulties here show up in discussions between Wittgensteinian and other philosophers.)

Let's consider some possible interpretations of the word "theory" and why, in each case, Wittgenstein might have rejected methods of doing philosophy that pursue such things.

1.  "Theory" as it is used in various of the natural sciences to refer to, e.g. The Theory of Relativity or the Theory of Evolution.

This is a non-starter for me, because he would be "preaching to the choir".  Since the time of Kant (and at least until Quine), there was widespread agreement across different philosophical schools that philosophy was not one of the natural sciences, that it was not empirical.  Following Frege's attack on psychologism (and the conversion of Husserl to that cause), the last vestiges of tendencies to (explicitly) treat philosophical problems as empirical were being cleared away.

But if we suppose he was making that point even if it would not have distinguished him in any way from the Vienna Circle, we can at least easily see the problems with philosophers being producers of such theories.
Philosophers, qua philosophers, do not have access to the laboratories and other equipment needed for modern scientific experimentation.  Philosophers, qua philosophers, are not trained in the existing theories and methods prerequisite for modern scientific research.  There are names for people who do such research and since the 19th century, "philosopher" isn't one of them.

2.  "Theory" as something hypothetical, something awaiting further data, though not necessarily scientific data

Recall the problem of treating the nature of Tractarian objects as something that further analysis would reveal.  Since such objects were meant to secure the possibility of sense (the possibility of sense was supposed to depend on them!) the idea that we might have no idea what they might be is... problematic.  Issues like the color exclusion problem forced that problem into the light, where once the oddness might have been dismissed.

If the goal is to remove confusions caused by misunderstanding, then an hypothesis, something awaiting further data, merely puts off dealing with the misunderstanding.  But if it is a misunderstanding - rather than a factual question - then we shouldn't need further data.

(The idea that philosophical puzzles arise from misunderstandings and that theories have no place are complementary.  In the _Tractatus_, Wittgenstein was less clear about that connection.)

Furthermore, what sort of data are we to await?  If empirical, then we are dealing with a scientific question and the points about science and philosophy apply.

The Tractarian view of analysis did provide an idea of how analysis might yield "data" in the future...

3.  "Theory" as something describing an underlying hidden structure or essence, though not necessarily the essence or structure of something that can be revealed by empirical investigation

Note that saying, "there is no deep structure" or "there is no essence" would also be theories in this sense, albeit negative ones. Consider the advice, "don't think, but look", in the discussion of the word "game" and the introduction of the "family resemblance" simile. We may be persuaded to cease the pursuit of some element common to all and only activities called "games", but that is not the same as proof that there could be no such thing.

Searching for the essence of thought, the nature of the proposition, the most basic constituents of reality, the real foundations of mathematics, and so on. The negative part of the dialectic is a patient examination of various proposals, showing how the break down. The positive part is reminding us to consider our real need and leading us to question whether any such theory could satisfy it.

4. "Theory" as generalization

"All generalizations are false" is of course self-refuting. And not all generalizations should be called "theories". But the methods of "covering laws", "finite axiomatization", and would be.

The problem here is that such approaches tend to lead us away from careful examination of particular cases and tend to lead us into further confusion when our principles come into conflict, and may do nothing to address whatever confusions started us down that path.

And there are particular problems with particular generalizations, which must be dealt with case by case (though similar cases may call for similar approaches).

Some additional replies to specific remarks...

> I've always been troubled by how certain remarks of
> Wittgenstein are understood. In particular, the ones about
> theorizing. Wittgenstein quite clearly told his students
> that he was never presenting a theoretical account of
> anything and that to do so was inherently problematic.

I would be interested in what specifically troubled you about this.  I am not suggesting that you were wrong to be troubled, but I am supposing that different people may be troubled for different reasons here.  And since the tendency to approach philosophy as a theorizing activity is seen as a source of confusion in Wittgensteinian philosophy, making explicit why the call to abandon the approach would be troubling might shed some light on the issue.  Even help us with those less inclined to even consider not taking that approach, since presumably they'd find it troubling too, perhaps for similar reasons.


> I had always maintained this strand of Wittgenstein's
> thought was misunderstood by many people. Some people read
> it as saying that conceptualism or abstract sort of
> thinking is disallowed.

I'm not quite sure what you mean here.  Examples of the sorts of thing they would (wrongly) think impermissible? 

Also, I'd actually take issue with "disallowed".  If you go this way rather than that, you are merely doing philosophy in a manner different from Wittgenstein's.  He may hope to persuade you to proceed differently or think that the way you're going will get you nowhere, but he isn't actually forbidding anything.

This is important, not just quibbling, because obviously, since we are not all Wittgensteinians, he'd be saying something contentious.

This is clearly not the case. My
> old way of saying it was this: Wittgenstein is
> against "formalism, not conceptualism." I would say: he's
> against making certain subjects (language, art, etc) into a
> mathematics or a logic. In what are incredibly radical
> lectures, he was also against making mathematics itself into
> a kind of "mathematics" or logic in the sense that I am now
> speaking.

I think there is definitely a misunderstanding in this as well.  There's a lot to disentangle here, but that would take us far afield.

For now, I'll just say that he was not "against" formalization.  But he wanted to disabuse us of certain confusions that often surround such activities. There are a number he discusses, but in none of them is there an objection to formalization, per se.

What he is
> fundamentally against is an approach to understanding
> wherein a person will try to produce a law for the activity
> -- at least for language, ethics, aesthetics, mathematics
> and many others. (One assumes he is not against something
> like this in science. But maybe even here, it could have
> issues).

There's some unclarity here.  If he is opposed to proposing laws as a means to philosophical understanding (and my initial remarks above show where I would agree with such an interpretation) then he is just as much opposed to proposing laws as a means to further our philosophical understanding of science as in any other area whose misunderstanding might lead to philosophical confusion. 

The fact that science clearly does propose laws has nothing to do with whether the philosophy of science should proceed in the same way.

But if he is taken as being opposed to proposing laws, per se (with an exception being granted for science) - rather than only being opposed to the proposing of laws for philosophical purposes - that would have him setting up philosophy as some sort of authority on how other activities ought to proceed.  And that strikes me as a very un-Wittgensteinian idea.

Would he be opposed to laws in linguistics?  Not as such.  The philosophy of language is another matter.  Similarly, contrasting mathematics and the philosophy of mathematics.

With ethics and aesthetics, the contrast between the practice of philosophy and how such matters are discussed in other contexts is less straightforward. 

Rather than "ethics" and "the philosophy of ethics", some speak of "meta-ethics".  Likewise, some distinguish between "aethetics" and "philosophical aesthetics" (which is not quite the same as a "philosophy of aesthetics" might be, if we follow the precedent of the Oxonion distinction between "philosophical psychology" and "philosophy of psychology" or between "philosophical logic" and "philosophy of logic".) 

Some would be inclined to call any discussion of norms and values "philosophical".  That's fine, but if we do that, we should not then suppose that Wittgenstein's recommendations and methods are applicable to everything we might call "philosophy".

Clearly, Wittgenstein was interested in examining the variety of ways that people proceed in their ethics talk, aesthetics talk, and so on.  In being clearer about the role such talk - and related activity - plays in our complicated form of life.  Because philosophers get confused when they think about such matters.  But not everyone discussing ethics or aesthetics is a candidate for Wittgensteinian therapy, just as not every religious believer is a candidate, despite the superficial resemblances between some religious beliefs and some metaphysical talk.

JPDeMouy







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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2718 is a reply to message #2716] Fri, 18 December 2009 13:45 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

Hi Rob.

Good to hear from you. I wish you participated more here. Thanks for your excellent remarks. But let me perhaps clarify where we might not be exactly "square."

Consider the senses of "theory" today. In ordinary senses, one might offer this word to mean something as broad as "ideas" or concepts. Let us imagine a philosopher who came to the earth and said the following: logic is not the center of language, grammar is. Or who said, language is a behavior. Or who basically said: the model of language is games. In an ordinary parlance, one might take all of these to be "theories" about the way something works, where that word means only "a big account" or "a bird's eye view." It might even stand for "a picture that works the best." 

And so, if one has this sort of idea about "theories," and then reads the idea that theories are no longer of use to contemplative ventures, the net result is that thining degenerates into a kind of dinner conversation. The idea is to bastardize the conceptual. I see this point of view in postmodern thought -- particularly in law and in some circles of social science. One of my professors in graduate school who had this sort of dinner-conversation approach to his ideology of philosophy once told me to stop categorizing thought in my papers. It remains a very peculiar piece of "advice."

Anyway, my point was simply that reading Wittgenstein requires that one come to learn how he uses certain words. This gets even more hazardous as speaking conventions change. And that his use of the word "theory" means "law-candidate," and refers to the ritual that philosophers of his age were engaged in -- postulating candidates for laws for contemplative phenomenon. The idea would be that ethics would be subject to the great laws, so too aesthetics, language, logic, mathematics, etc. And it was the duty of philosophers to unearth theories ('law-candidates") of these matters that could be defended in "proofs," an idea that really began in the moral sciences period of intellectual history in the mid-to-late 1800s and hardened into a positivistic amalgamation of it in the early 1900s (logical positivism).

I had always called this style of reasoning as "formalism" (after my legal training).  Formalism is not the same as conceptualism. To be formalistic is to let the forms of reason be more important than the ends. Everything must reduce to something formulaic. 

And so the point is that Wittgenstein isn't against conceptual pontification or even abstractions, so long as one does not reify those things (become confused into thinking that they are anything other than their use). Indeed, Wittgenstein posited theories of an ordinary sort all of the time. What he never never did after late 1930, however, was postulate a theory in the style of a formalism. He never announced a "law-candidate" accompanied by its proof. But his way of speaking might have one think he is saying that he has no "points" (see Turing paragraph in my last mail); that he has no ideas (see Rhees paragraph); and that he doesn't want a bird's eye view (see Schlick and Waismann remarks). 

Indeed, one might say it this way: Wittgenstein's bird's eye view is no longer to climb the ladder, so to speak, but to dig beneath the ground. Meaning is now more excavational and anthropological. But he is not against the use of ideas and concepts that that serve this activity. It's the activity that is the focal point more than the fact that the mind is pontificaticous. The question is not whether you are pontificating; it is what the objects of thought are directed toward the right behavior (and never themselves thought to be autonomous). 

Regards.

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html



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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2719 is a reply to message #2716] Fri, 18 December 2009 13:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Rob de Villiers <wittrsamr@...> wrote:

> Sean,
>
> Yes, Wittgennstein's "a-theoretical" cum "purely descriptive"
> conception of philosophy has caused great consternation, even
> distress or fury, to many.


Hello Rob. How do you think that applies to questions about consciousness, i.e., what it is, what it results from, etc.?

Some here seem to think such questions are really irrelevant to philosophy in a Wittgensteinian sense and that asking what consciousness is just boils down to how we use the words we apply to such things, e.g., whether and how we might say of a fully functional human-like android (say the Data of Star Trek fame) that it is conscious or not. That is, such a decision would really be driven by adapted uses of the term to fit any relevant new criteria presented by the Data entity, etc.

More generally this position seems to be that there isn't a lot philosophy could bring to the table here.

While agreeing that the job of determining what causes (makes, produces, results in) consciousness is, finally, a scientific question, I tend to disagree with the notion that such questions are, finally, just about words, that is, how we are using existing terms and how we adapt them to new uses (or coin adequate substitutions).

My view is that the question of what a thing like consciousness is is a real one, even if we don't solve the problem of what causes it philosophically (via armchair speculation).

Thus it seems perfectly useful to me to ask what we mean by the term "consciousness" and want to know by that, NOT just when we use the term and in what circumstances, but also what these whens and whats say about the idea of consciousness itself, i.e., about the idea we are representing by, and alluding to, in the use of the term.

This looks like a rather fine point but I think it's important for getting a handle on what Wittgenstein was really on about. After all, many of his critics (Popper for instance) accuse him of just playing with words. My view is that that is a superficial understanding of what the linguistic turn in analytic philosophy is all about. Yet linguistic philosophy (whether done in the guise of a Wittgensteinian approach or, more generally, as an instance of so-called ordinary language philosophy) can very easily slide into this sort of attitude, making it ripe for critics like Popper.

In the end, asking what consciousness is, in a philosophical (not a scientific way), is NOT to ask for a theory about consciousness per se but only to ask what theories might make sense, which ways we should proceed in trying to develop such theories on a scientific level. That is, it's to ask what we have in mind when we use the term in various situations. That, of course, will inform and constrain the development of any actual theories developed in the course of scientific inquiry.

I'm inclined to think we sometimes go to far in sloughing off theories in line with Wittgenstein's comments on the matter. I don't think he wanted to shut the door on theories but only to note that that isn't the job of philosophy which has, as it's main goal, getting clear, enhancing undersanding.

SWM

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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2720 is a reply to message #2716] Fri, 18 December 2009 13:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
Messages: 60
Registered: December 2009
Member
Rob,

Very worthwhile remarks.

It appears to me that you and I are largely in agreement, but I am replying for a couple of reasons.

>
> The quotes you give from various sources are indeed
> pertinent,
> but it surprises me that you do not mention and quote PI
> $109,
> which seems to me Wittgenstein's fundamental, central and
> core
> statement on this matter. I do not have PI on me right now,
> so
> cannot accurately reproduce it. At any rate this and
> several
> preceding and subsequent remarks in PI are to my mind
> pretty
> clear on this, and definitive.

Since I have an ebook of the second edition, I thought I might help here.


109. It was true to say that our considerations could not be scientific ones. It was not of any possible interest
to us to find out empirically 'that, contrary to our preconceived ideas, it is possible to think such-and-such'--whatever
that may mean. (The conception of thought as a gaseous medium.) And we may not advance any kind of theory.
There must not be anything hypothetical in our considerations. We must do away with all explanation, and
description alone must take its place. And this description gets its light, that is to say its purpose, from the
philosophical problems. These are, of course, not empirical problems; they are solved, rather, by looking into the
workings of our language, and that in such a way as to make us recognize those workings: in despite of an urge to
misunderstand them. The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have
always known. Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.


> Peter Hacker (sometimes along with Gordon Baker) has
> written
> extensively, and I reckon pretty definitively, on
> Wittgenstein's
> a-theoretical, purely descriptive conception of philosophy,
> not
> least in the Analytical Commentary itself but many places
> else-
> where too (although even Hacker and Baker winded up with
> fundamental disagreements on Wittgenstein's method!!!)
> Hacker might not be the last word on Wittgenstein but he is
>
> certainly one of the most sound and scholarly we have, on
> most
> of the basics.

Interestingly, one of Gordon's disagreements with Hacker was on the very matter of "theory". How much would Hacker's elaboration of rules of grammar, in the name of "perspicuous presentation", count as theorizing in an objectionable sense? I find this a very tricky subject and I can see why even two superb Wittgenstein scholars might disagree on this point.

JPDeMouy




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

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


[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2721 is a reply to message #2720] Fri, 18 December 2009 15:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
kirby urner is currently offline  kirby urner
Messages: 349
Registered: August 2009
Location: Portland, Oregon
Senior Member
Greetings Sean and others --

I am tracking this thread and do appreciate reading #109 again just now.
Those kick off quotes were great too. Much to learn from this list.

What comes to me are all his remarks about what he thought "theorizing"
might amount to (i.e. the philosophy of the bad old days): language idling,
language going on vacation.

If we wanna get more colorful, he thought a lot of philosophical
expostulating amounted to mouthing off and/or goofing off in a
non-productive manner.

The stronger theorists would be right no matter what, because of the private
language aspect of being internally consistent (more some other time), but
then this wouldn't matter, simply because "being right" isn't necessarily
advancing philosophy in a productive direction.

We're not all converging to the "one right thing" i.e. it's not a
gladiatorial sport where we're all waiting for the last great theory to
triumph and forever carry the day. Maybe some of us are. Be that as it
may, here's Wittgenstein showing how to escape that vista altogether (the
battlefield of warring theories) and go with something more expressive of
healing (of resolving -- less about casting out new "isms", less "king of
the hill").

So in looking to shut the door on theorizing ("we'd all agree to the theses"
-- a show stopper in a way), he's putting pressure on philosophy to prove
itself useful in a different way, in the delicate manner he describes in
#109, a fight against getting tripped up in our own grammatical
circumlocutions. It's a liberation philosophy in tone (freeing the fly from
the fly bottle), a promise of more cures to come.

This turning on theorizing as a principal activity earns Wittgenstein a
deserved reputation for striking off in a new direction. Having the
Tractatus to his name already, the praises of Russell and others, made this
second pass all the more striking. He had a lot of inertia behind him. He
made a big splash.

Some philosophers dislike how his contribution rocks their boats. He brings
an engineer's sensibility to the equations that values good work. He
appreciates ordinary language so much because it's getting stuff done,
getting slabs moved around. There's an implied ethic, a walk behind his
talk, which many of us here admire quite a lot.

Kirby

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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2722 is a reply to message #2717] Fri, 18 December 2009 19:49 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

(J)

... a couple of thoughts.

1. Regarding what I was troubled over, I said it in the last message that came contemporaneously with yours. It was post-modern scholars who claim to descend from Wittgenstein and who try to bastardize conceptualism or rigor in contemplation. Sometimes Wittgenstein is named as an heir here, something I think would cause him to roll over in his grave.

2. One way out of the apparent conundrum is by appealing to family resemblance (as you did when you considered senses of theories). As such, a "thesis not to present theses" may not be a contradiction if it is really only thesis-like, and if thesis-like statements are themselves ok in the craft defined by the statement. Precisely foreclosed is the idea of defining thesis from thesis-like, and defending the proposition. For that would be BEHAVING wrongly. It would, in short, be the presentation of a thesis.

Rather, the only proper way to BEHAVE is to show examples and illustrations of uses belonging to one activity versus another. So what is revealed by something thesis-like is a different sort of method of validation (showing), which, because it does validate, retains family resemblance with the other sort of behavior.

3. Let's say you present yourself solely for the purposes of showing a new craft. Each student comes before you with a false set of problems. Each with the wrong activity. Each with an entanglement of language. And what you do is show, through therapy, the confusions. And so what you are doing, in effect, is untying knots. And this is what "philosophy" comes then to be: a craft master who both shows the student that the knot exists and who talks the student through the practice of untying it. And as the student leaves, he or she now has the experience of searching for other knots or for knowing ways of preventing them in the first place (false problems).  

Liberated as it were, it is then written for all to see: "never form thesis, for they cause knots."  Only one who has knots would then say, "that's a contradiction." It would be like a bumper sticker that said, "stop using bumper stickers." One could say of the such a sticker, "you idiot!" But, you know, if it ended up getting the message out ... what's a girl to do??!!

Regards.

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html



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


[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2723 is a reply to message #2721] Fri, 18 December 2009 20:01 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

(Kirby)

... one of the things that strikes me is that Wittgenstein is a lot like Jesus (or Socrates) in this sense. What is needed is a group of disciples or followers to learn what was said and to wonder about what it meant. The key being that (a) it is greater than you; and (b) it requires a sorting out that involves coming to terms with what it was (experiencing it). It is never simply "news" (information) and it is not susceptible to being merely "an argument." It is foremost an experience. It's a different plane of regard. 

Regards.   
 
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html



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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2726 is a reply to message #2722] Sat, 19 December 2009 11:50 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

... imagine a possible language that used the word "thesis" exactly as ours does, with one exception. There is a special kind of thesis called an end-thesis. End-theses are those put forth to end the use of theses. Whenever someone proposed a thesis, they would indicate whether it was of such a kind to indicate that no other thesis could then be advanced by anyone else, ever. If it was not such a thing, it was simply a "thesis." The End-Thesis is thought to be "the final solution." Then one day a philosopher comes along and says: "I have found the End-Thesis:  the business of presenting theses is wrong ...[because]." It would not be a contradiction in such a language game.

The same is true of prophets. Imagine a set of prophets who come throughout the ages to state the law of God. Then, imagine the last prophet coming to end the activity. He is called in such language the end-prophet, because his charge is to end the business of using prophets to state the law. Let's imagine he did this because God no longer needed this vehicle as humanity reached a new epoch, sort of in the way that children receive different behaviors from their parents as they mature. And so the End-Prophet gave the word, "don't listen to prophets," and the matter was understood not as a contradiction. In fact, if one had objected to the End-Prophet and said, "but you are a prophet, so by the terms of your own premise I must not listen to you." The answer in this imaginary language would simply be: "No, I am not a prophet; I am the End-Prophet."      

In neither of these cases is the matter regarded as a "contradiction." In fact, one would have to say this about such a word. The word "contradiction" is local to systems of logic and should never be cited outside of those systems. Instead, the word "confusion" should be used. Something that is not a confusion could never be a "contradiction" -- or if it was, it wouldn't be material (in which case it would be a completely different sense of "contradiction").  
 
Regards.

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html




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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2727 is a reply to message #2726] Sat, 19 December 2009 12:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
Messages: 60
Registered: December 2009
Member
Sean,

We could imagine such a language, yes. But in our language, Wittgenstein's use of "thesis" escapes self-refutation because it is not contentious in the context of the teacher-student relationship. It is instruction in a method and one who wants to learn and practice the method must accept it.

But it is self-refuting to use it in a dispute with a non-Wittgensteinian philosopher. And note that when discussing matters, say with members of the Vienna Circle, he merely expresses his own preference, that a thesis or theory is of no use to him.

In discussions with other philosophers, one examines the theses they advance, rather than foolishly attempting to silence them by saying that theses have no place in philosophy. In that context, it would be contentious. It would be a thesis. And a self-refuting one.

In discussions such as those on this board (where there is some reason to expect a broadly Wittgensteinian approach), one might point out, if someone professes to be doing Wittgensteinian philosophy, that they are advancing theses and that this is inconsistent with Wittgenstein's methods. If this is contentious, it is a point of exegetical - not philosophical - dispute.

But if they say, "I'm not that kind of Wittgensteinian," well then the alternative is to interrogate the thesis, as Wittgenstein does with various theses throughout the PI and elsewhere. If "philosophy cannot advance theses" is rejected, then it should be withdrawn. It is only a legitimate move in Wittgensteinian philosophy if one is instructing someone who wishes to learn the method.

And this is not just a matter of consistency. It is a practical aspect of the method. If someone wishes to advance all sorts of philosophically confused theses, telling them not to advance theses is unlikely to help them. Dissolving a philosophical misunderstanding is not so simple. Obviously.

JPDeMouy






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

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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2731 is a reply to message #2715] Sat, 19 December 2009 16:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
Messages: 159
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:
> So Wittgenstein is against these rituals. He's against this whole activity. And the best way to say it TODAY is to simply re-read the passages above, substituting the word LAW for theory. Wittgenstein is against the offering of laws for understanding.

That leads to one big question:

What does he do instead?

--

And subsequent questions:

Is it not a theory, that theory is to be avoided?

CAN theory be avoided?

MUST theory be avoided if it is simply a convenience, if it can be intertranslated to - whatever it is we are supposed to do instead?

--

I think you read Wittgenstein correctly.

And that most of my questions here, especially the first, can be answered.

But on consideration I'm not sure that Wittgenstein's position here was fully developed or coherent. That is, maybe he didn't really need to reject theory quite so thoroughly, maybe it doesn't work to do so, maybe he engages at points in theorizing and it is not harmful, and maybe that's because theoretical statements can be intertranslated to something he would (or should) find methodologically acceptable.

Josh




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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2732 is a reply to message #2731] Sat, 19 December 2009 16:48 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

(josh)

... read the subsequent mails (messages). The last two or three by me and J's response. Really, the matter is not committed to orthodoxy -- as virtually nothing ever is -- it belongs to understanding what he means.  

SW



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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2752 is a reply to message #2732] Sun, 20 December 2009 15:14 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
Messages: 159
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:
>
> (josh)
>
> ... read the subsequent mails (messages). The last two or three by me and J's response. Really, the matter is not committed to orthodoxy -- as virtually nothing ever is -- it belongs to understanding what he means.  

I see you doing and recommending therapy as a cure for theory, dissolving the word and the question.

You gave some quotes and comments about theory. Wittgenstein also talked about rules, laws, proofs, surveyability, and normativity. In some of these areas, dissolving the question was not an appropriate answer, and yet, perhaps there is a common approach, a Wittgensteinian grammar, to be seen. When the subject is science or mathematics, I know that you allow for different answers - but as I've said, for myself, I cannot see where you divide out questions of science from other questions.

The question at the top of this thread was yours
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wittrs/message/3483
and I thought it coming close to the real issues, but it was phrased almost entirely in negative terms:
"So Wittgenstein is against these rituals."

I still invite people to find the positive terms, rather than simply practicing the ritual of therapy. That's because I find much that is positive in Wittgenstein, and a steady practice of therapy merely numbing.

Josh


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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2753 is a reply to message #2752] Sun, 20 December 2009 16:06 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
Messages: 60
Registered: December 2009
Member
JRS,

This wasn't addressed to me, though I was mentioned. I thought I'd chime in to respond, though I am increasingly thinking my answer might be quite different from Sean's on certain points.

> I see you doing and recommending therapy as a cure for
> theory, dissolving the word and the question.

You may have noticed that my take on the rejection of "theory" and "theses" is somewhat different. In many cases, our respective takes on how to avoid reading Wittgenstein as self-refuting would not make a difference in practice, but in one respect there is a big difference: telling someone who is not a Wittgensteinian (and doesn't want to be) that theorizing or theses have no place in philosophy is not a legitimate move by my lights. Particular theses and theories must be confronted and the impulse to theorize perhaps eventually dissipated.

Rules against theorizing are relevant only to those committed to doing Wittgensteinian philosophy (according to a particular account of what that means).


> You gave some quotes and comments about theory.
> Wittgenstein also talked about rules, laws, proofs,
> surveyability, and normativity. In some of these
> areas, dissolving the question was not an appropriate
> answer, and yet, perhaps there is a common approach, a
> Wittgensteinian grammar, to be seen.

The idea of "assembling reminders" and of a "perspicuous presentation" might suggest something like a "theory", though the reminders assembled may be nothing more than truisms which individually would certainly not deserve to be called "theses" or "theories". The important thing is not something that can be summarized in a theory but consists in "seeing connections" so we no longer feel that "(we) do not not (our) way about".

How far can we go in this? Does Hacker's approach, with the idea of "logical geography" go too far toward "theory" to still be Wittgensteinian? Reasonable interpreters could disagree, though I think it should be clear that a Kripke or Dummett could only be called "Wittgenstein-influenced" and certainly do engage in objectionable (by Wittgensteinian lights) theorizing.

> I still invite people to find the positive terms, rather
> than simply practicing the ritual of therapy. That's
> because I find much that is positive in Wittgenstein, and a
> steady practice of therapy merely numbing.

"Therapy" is one simile. "Surveyability" and its connections with finding our way about is another. Any simile can create only a partial picture and we have to be guided by Wittgenstein's practice if we are to understand him. And, dare I say it, by the "spirit" of his approach. To the extent that we may suppose that we have grasped such a thing.

JPDeMouy


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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2754 is a reply to message #2753] Sun, 20 December 2009 16:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
Messages: 159
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "J" <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
>
> You may have noticed that my take on the rejection of "theory" and "theses" is somewhat different. In many cases, our respective takes on how to avoid reading Wittgenstein as self-refuting would not make a difference in practice, but in one respect there is a big difference: telling someone who is not a Wittgensteinian (and doesn't want to be) that theorizing or theses have no place in philosophy is not a legitimate move by my lights. Particular theses and theories must be confronted and the impulse to theorize perhaps eventually dissipated.

Agree entirely.

And I now realize that my previous comments can be made more concise, by asking what is it that makes therapy non-theoretical?


> Rules against theorizing are relevant only to those committed to doing Wittgensteinian philosophy (according to a particular account of what that means).

Agreed.


> How far can we go in this? Does Hacker's approach, with the idea of "logical geography" go too far toward "theory" to still be Wittgensteinian?

Hacker does a marvelous job of presenting Wittgenstein, but when Hacker tries to "do" Wittgenstein - I find it much less marvelous.

> > I still invite people to find the positive terms, rather
> > than simply practicing the ritual of therapy. That's
> > because I find much that is positive in Wittgenstein, and a
> > steady practice of therapy merely numbing.
>
> "Therapy" is one simile. "Surveyability" and its connections with finding our way about is another. Any simile can create only a partial picture and we have to be guided by Wittgenstein's practice if we are to understand him. And, dare I say it, by the "spirit" of his approach. To the extent that we may suppose that we have grasped such a thing.

And, if one can find in Wittgenstein (only) a single spirit!

I see you joined as a member only recently, if you didn't read a lot of the earlier posts you may not know of my own hobbyhorse, my own concerns with Wittgenstein focusing on that matters in which he, historically and conceptually, intersects the work of Turing in particular and computation in general - the issues of computation having continued well after both W & T had passed on.

I find several spirits in Wittgenstein, multiple themes in the TLP period, and a different multiple in the PI period (which actually begins circa 1929). Many themes I see continued and developed by Turing, until they certainly chose different paths by the time of LFM in 1939. The "therapeutic" spirit probably became stronger over time, but I find it of little use to the topics of computation. Turing's 1950 CMAI paper and "the Turing Test" are actually an application of this therapeutic spirit, I believe, Turing states in that paper NOT that the test "shows the computer is intelligent" but that the observation dissolves the question of intelligence. That is well and good - as far as it goes. That aspect of the Turing Test, that it does NOT produce a constructive answer to what comprises intelligence, has proved very frustrating over the subsequent years! Dissolving the question did not make it go away.

Josh


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


Re: [Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2758 is a reply to message #2715] Sun, 20 December 2009 19:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
bumblecone is currently offline  bumblecone
Messages: 4
Registered: November 2009
Junior Member
can we understand something which is meaningless, is meaningless "meaningless?

"a theory has no value" is a theory"

interesting "against laws?" it seems in the poker that Wittgenstein was trying to prove laws.

is the "end theory" a theory? it is only a theory which W disapproves of. Consider "the absoulute theory" no example can be given so no theory given but we have an "absolute theory" that impiles the property of an "end theory". isnt this more faithful to Wittgenstein and his thought
[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2761 is a reply to message #2715] Sun, 20 December 2009 20:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Rajasekhar is currently offline  Rajasekhar
Messages: 52
Registered: August 2009
Member


--- In WittrsAMR@yahoogroups.com, "seanwilsonorg" <whoooo26505@...> wrote:
>
> ... yes: "knowledge is true, justified belief. It has these three properties. If, therefore, one element is missing, you don't have knowledge."nk you
>
> (Notice that this is exactly what lawyers do).
>


This is what SANKARA says.World created by knowledge is a myth.Truth is neither factual nor real.

thank you
sekhar

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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2776 is a reply to message #2754] Mon, 21 December 2009 16:43 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

Josh wrote: "And I now realize that my previous comments can be made more concise, by asking what is it that makes therapy non-theoretical?"

... the meaning of the terms, and the behavior required of each. Here's a better idea: if you said that certain of Wittgenstein's ideas -- e.g., meaning is use -- amounted to "theories," but you admit that their administration required something different (behaviorally), all you would have done is caused a traffic accident in the language game.  However, if you alternatively said that these matters were "result-oriented theories" or that they amounted to "theories of how to merge anthropology with philosophy" -- or, as I said, were a sort of end-theory -- none of these statements would be incorrect; they would simply be a different way of talking about it. 

One could state the matter this way. Learning to catch grammar and "seeing" conditions of assertability is the only true occupation home to philosophy. All others have homes elsewhere (logic, mathematics, "debate," science, etc.). One might charge that linguistics is home to what I say, but I think it is not. Linguists don't do this at all. It is the only home philosophy has left in the wake of Wittgenstein.

To the extent that philosophy is commonly taught as being started by Socrates (knowing, of course, that there were pre-socratics), it was effectively ended by Wittgenstein. That is, Wittgenstein showed what the answers consisted of, and what techniques were required to silence the problems. The only reason philosophy-the-social-club doesn't understand this is twofold. (A) It doesn't have a Wittgenstein anymore (no one else can do it). And (B), it isn't good for business.

Regards.    
 

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html




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


[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2777 is a reply to message #2776] Mon, 21 December 2009 17:14 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anna Boncompagni is currently offline  Anna Boncompagni
Messages: 18
Registered: August 2009
Junior Member
Sean,

>>> To the extent that philosophy is commonly taught as being started by
Socrates (knowing, of course, that there were pre-socratics), it was
effectively ended by Wittgenstein. That is, Wittgenstein showed what the
answers consisted of, and what techniques were required to silence the
problems. The only reason philosophy-the-social-club doesn't understand this
is twofold. (A) It doesn't have a Wittgenstein anymore (no one else can do
it). And (B), it isn't good for business.

It isn't good for business, that's clear, it makes all philosophers
unemployed!

Thank you all for this interesting discussion. I'd like to add a question,
if it may enrich the topic.

In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein does build theories, thesis and definitions -
what is the general form of proposition, what are meaning and
sense according to the picture theory of language, what is the relation
between language and reality and so on. Nevertheless he goes beyond them and
declares them to be nonsense in the famous closing propositions of the book.

In the Investigations, he avoids the theoretical approach, by using
perspicuos representation and family resemblances, which are means to the
end of not theorizing but only show how we play in our linguistic games.
Thus to analyse the meaning of a word is to see how it is used in the
different contexts of the ordinary life.

I think there are analogies and differences between Tractatus and
Investigations on this point. It seems to me that

1. Both aim to show something instead of saying it;

2. Both perspectives risk to be self-contraddictory;

3. Investigations, using the new tools of perspicuos representation and
family resemblancies, and inviting us to "look, not think", is better armed
against contraddiction;

4. In Tractatus, the end is to see the world rightly; in the Investigations,
what we get is, again, a vision, but this vision is intended to let us go
back to our original and spontaneous life, in a pragmatic perspective that
we can't find in the Tractatus.

I'd like to know your opinions, if you like.
Thank you
Anna

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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2778 is a reply to message #2776] Mon, 21 December 2009 20:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
Messages: 159
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:
>
> Josh wrote: "And I now realize that my previous comments can be made more concise, by asking what is it that makes therapy non-theoretical?"
[snip]
> One could state the matter this way. Learning to catch grammar and "seeing" conditions of assertability is the only true occupation home to philosophy.

That is close to the point that I think answers my question.

Josh


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


[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2780 is a reply to message #2777] Mon, 21 December 2009 23:13 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

Hi Anna.

I agree with 1. I'm not exactly sure of 2, but I think I see your point. And I agree with 3.

But I think this also is true: the role that "contradiction" has as a vehicle to critique Wittgenstein is much more of a concern for early Wittgenstein than later. Post 1930, Wittgenstein would give "confusion" a greater priority than contradiction. In fact, I don't know that he would recognize "contradiction" as  even being the right sort of inquiry (for the same reason he rejected people saying he had theories and points). One would have to adopt a theory and logic grammar to be concerned with "contradiction" as a supreme evil. So long as Wittgenstein is not CONFUSED -- so long as no party to a dispute is  confused -- there can be no contradiction in any meaningful sense. This gets us to the point I made about a person putting a bumper sticker on a car that said "Don't use bumper stickers any longer." A logic-oriented person would say this is a contradiction. But someone else would need more information before he or she dismissed it.
One can imagine all sorts of situations where the sticker is efficacious and the message not confused.

So, my point is simple: confusion is the new "god."

I do also agree with 4. But hopefully, Investigations also allows one to go back to life in a way that avoids pointless quarrels and encourages keen insight into the troubles that one another run into when they make more of language than what it is.

But I essentially agree with your account.

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html




I



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


[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2781 is a reply to message #2780] Mon, 21 December 2009 23:15 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

... probably should have said the new "devil"
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ --
So, my point is simple: confusion is the new "god."

SW



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

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


[Wittrs] Re: [C] Re: Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2787 is a reply to message #2781] Tue, 22 December 2009 07:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Rajasekhar is currently offline  Rajasekhar
Messages: 52
Registered: August 2009
Member


--- In WittrsAMR@yahoogroups.com, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:
>
> ... probably should have said the new "devil"
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ --
> So, my point is simple: confusion is the new "god."
>
> SW
> Knowledge as confusion,knowledge as ignorance,knowledge as intelligence.

The definition of knowledge is a matter of on-going debate among philosophers in the field of epistemology. The classical definition, described but not ultimately endorsed by Plato[1], has it that in order for there to be knowledge at least three criteria must be fulfilled; that in order to count as knowledge, a statement must be justified, true, and believed. Some claim that these conditions are not sufficient, as Gettier case examples allegedly demonstrate. There are a number of alternatives proposed, including Robert Nozick's arguments for a requirement that knowledge 'tracks the truth' and Simon Blackburn's additional requirement that we do not want to say that those who meet any of these conditions 'through a defect, flaw, or failure' have knowledge. Richard Kirkham suggests that our definition of knowledge requires that the belief is self-evident to the believer.[2]
In contrast to this approach, Wittgenstein observed, following Moore's paradox, that one can say "He believes it, but it isn't so", but not "He knows it, but it isn't so". [3] He goes on to argue that these do not correspond to distinct mental states, but rather to distinct ways of talking about conviction. What is different here is not the mental state of the speaker, but the activity in which they are engaged. For example, on this account, to know that the kettle is boiling is not to be in a particular state of mind, but to perform a particular task with the statement that the kettle is boiling. Wittgenstein sought to bypass the difficulty of definition by looking to the way "knowledge" is used in natural languages. He saw knowledge as a case of a family resemblance. Following this idea, "knowledge" has been reconstructed as a cluster concept that points out relevant features but that is not adequately captured by any definition.[4]
>
> Wkipedia

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


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


[Wittrs] [C] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2791 is a reply to message #2777] Tue, 22 December 2009 18:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
Messages: 60
Registered: December 2009
Member
AB,

There is much in what you say with which I'd agree. Just a few comments...


> It isn't good for business, that's clear, it
> makes all philosophers unemployed!

I actually believe that your vaccination metaphor shows a role for philosophers that is both a contribution to human welfare and human understanding and is consistent with Wittgenstein's insights.

Politics being what they are though, many philosophers would rather identify themselves with stupidities like so-called "cognitive science", doing "important" work.


> 1. Both aim to show something instead of saying
> it;

Could you elaborate on where you find something like a saying/showing distinction in the later work?

The closest analogy that comes to my mind is "that understanding which consists in 'seeing connexions'." (PI 122), ut this doesn't seem to entail any suggestion that such connections are ineffable.

>
> 2. Both perspectives risk to be
> self-contraddictory;

Any text can be taken to be self-contradictory but as Sean and I have discussed, there are specific ways that the later work could easily be taken to be self-refuting. He and I have somewhat different accounts of why this is not the case. In any case, this is not the sort of clear paradox we find in the _Tractatus_.

Perhaps you have something else in mind? Or a different take on the rejection of theses and theories?

> 4. In Tractatus, the end is to see the world rightly;
> in the Investigations, what we get is, again, a vision, but
> this vision is intended to let us go back to our original
> and spontaneous life, in a pragmatic perspective that we
> can't find in the Tractatus.

I think I know what you mean here. Something like a return to the ordinary, a "healthy understanding". I hesitate at "pragmatic" because of the philosophical baggage that word carries (likely more so in the US!), but if you simply mean something like "attuned to our practices", then that's right.

JPDeMouy


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


[Wittrs] Cognitive science [message #2796 is a reply to message #2791] Tue, 22 December 2009 23:01 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

J wrote: "Politics being what they are though, many philosophers would rather identify themselves with stupidities like so-called "cognitive science", doing "important" work."

... could you give us a little more here? What makes cognitive science objectionable in your view? (Just wanting a little more info. I'm not sure what these issues are).
 
Regards and thanks.

SW




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


[Wittrs] Re: Cognitive science [message #2799 is a reply to message #2796] Wed, 23 December 2009 01:12 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
Messages: 60
Registered: December 2009
Member
Sean,

I probably ought not to have tossed in a jab like that and perhaps should simply withdraw it, first, because it's not a topic I much care to discuss but having made the remark, I ought to be willing to defend it; second, because it's liable very quickly to get entangled existing threads I wish to avoid; third, because a wide range of activities and research are described as "cognitive science" and to simply dismiss it all as "stupid" would be asshattery on my part, but what I said is too easily read that way; and fourth, because to the extent that there are real philosophical confusions at work in "cognitive science", a simple dismissal is wholly inappropriate.

At the same time, you've politely asked for some elaboration and I think it right that I provide that.

My issue with "cognitive science" in general, apart from any particular philosophical misunderstandings that may go under that name, is the self-image of philosophy that it represents. It presents itself as an interdisciplinary field, embracing cognitive psychology, linguistics, computer science, and so on, along with philosophy.

Now, to the extent that the role of philosophy here is something like the philosophy of science, i.e. an inquiry into the methods and concepts of the natural and social sciences, that's fine. A Mach, a Hertz, or an Einstein considered such questions alongside questions specific to physics and there's no reason not to think that philosophers and scientists in collaboration might not benefit in an analogous way.

But the role of philosophy in such an enterprise is not like this. Rather the philosopher-cum-"cognitive scientist" fancies himself as a collaborator in constructing theories regarding the nature of mind, thought, and so on, presents himself as contributing not just to human understanding but to human knowledge.

To the extent that he does so, he is a, e.g. a psychologist, by my lights, but the self-image of philosophy as "cognitive science" rests on the sophistical arguments of Quine, which purport to demonstrate a seamlessness between empirical and conceptual investigations and call for a "naturalistic turn" in philosophy.

Of course, if I may speculate, circumstances beyond the acceptance of Quinean arguments about analyticity or undetermination may motivate such a turn. By linking philosophy with research into AI and such, philosophers can claim for their work potential significance to military and commercial interests. No, we aren't just wasting the kids' time having them reading dusty old books, examining pointless questions posed by ancients, or worrying about nuances of meaning, we are forging ahead to the future, we're about progress, discovery... and all that good shite!

It is more this sort of attitude to which I was alluding in my ill-advised remark. I hope that is adequate explanation.

JPDeMouy

PS As my exchanges with Kirby may indicate to someone who cares enough to notice, I am not opposed to interdisciplinary discussion and not opposed to philosophy having relevance to science education or technological progress. I want to be clear about that. If philosophy has value in unexpected ways, that's all well and good. It is this need to justify philosophy in those terms and the attendant muddles about what philosophy is and can do to which I object.


> J wrote: "Politics being what they
> are though, many philosophers would rather identify
> themselves with stupidities like so-called "cognitive
> science", doing "important" work."
>
> ... could you give us a little more here? What
> makes cognitive science objectionable in your view? (Just
> wanting a little more info. I'm not sure what these issues
> are).



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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2804 is a reply to message #2715] Wed, 23 December 2009 05:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Rajasekhar is currently offline  Rajasekhar
Messages: 52
Registered: August 2009
Member

>
> The idea is this. Whenever someone formally places a theory into play, what they are doing is offering the candidacy of a proposition. If the proposition survives its candidacy (in the academy), it becomes a sort of law for the thing in question.
>

> Regards.
>  
> Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
> Assistant Professor
> Wright State University
> Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
> SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
> Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html
>
> Sekhar likes to quote a relative theory from Charles pierce

He calls it a state of fixation of belief
The irritation of doubt causes a struggle to attain a state of belief. I shall term this struggle inquiry, though it must be admitted that this is sometimes not a very apt designation.
1. Some philosophers have imagined that to start an inquiry it was only necessary to utter a question whether orally or by setting it down upon paper, and have even recommended us to begin our studies with questioning everything! But the mere putting of a proposition into the interrogative form does not stimulate the mind to any struggle after belief. There must be a real and living doubt, and without this all discussion is idle.
2. It is a very common idea that a demonstration must rest on some ultimate and absolutely indubitable propositions. These, according to one school, are first principles of a general nature; according to another, are first sensations. But, in point of fact, an inquiry, to have that completely satisfactory result called demonstration, has only to start with propositions perfectly free from all actual doubt. If the premisses are not in fact doubted at all, they cannot be more satisfactory than they are.
3. Some people seem to love to argue a point after all the world is fully convinced of it. But no further advance can be made. When doubt ceases, mental action on the subject comes to an end; and, if it did go on, it would be without a purpose.

Thus, both doubt and belief have positive effects upon us, though very different ones. Belief does not make us act at once, but puts us into such a condition that we shall behave in some certain way, when the occasion arises. Doubt has not the least such active effect, but stimulates us to inquiry until it is destroyed. This reminds us of the irritation of a nerve and the reflex action produced thereby; while for the analogue of belief, in the nervous system, we must look to what are called nervous associations -- for example, to that habit of the nerves in consequence of which the smell of a peach will make the mouth water.

thank you
sekhar

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


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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2831 is a reply to message #2715] Fri, 25 December 2009 23:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
Messages: 60
Registered: December 2009
Member
JRS,

First, I should preface what follows with the caveat that, having read some of what Floyd and Putnam have written on the topic of Wittgenstein and Godel, I still cannot speak confidently of understanding the issues involved. It's also been awhile and I don't have those texts handy.

My understanding is that Wittgenstein's concerns turn on two points. First would be the issue of "provable in a system" vs. "true in a system" and second would be the relationship between the formalism and prose and whether we could simply reject an interpretation of the Godel numbers according to which a contradiction is derived. But I can't emphasize enough the previous caveats regarding my reading.

If you might elaborate on the connection you see between these issues and the _Blue_Book_ quotation, perhaps that would help my understanding.

Regarding that quotation, I read it slightly differently. Admittedly, there is some ambiguity, but when I read, "it isn't", I don't take that to say, "it isn't interesting". Rather, "it isn't MORE interesting." Which is not to say that it might not be EQUALLY interesting or ALMOST as interesting.

The quest for elegance treats the emphasis on differences as much LESS interesting, the identification of common features as much MORE interesting. In rejecting such an aim (for his purposes), he needn't deny that common features might be QUITE interesting, only reject the idea that attention to differences and to partial definitions cannot be quite interesting as well.

JPDeMouy

(Elegance is not what we are trying
> for.) For why
> > should what finite and transfinite numbers have in
> common be
> > more interesting to us than what distinguishes them?
> Or rather, I
> > should not have said "why should it be more
> > interesting to us?"--it isn't; and this characterizes
> our way of
> > thinking.
>

> - and the above says
> why Wittgenstein would just not find incompleteness
> results
> interesting, at least not necessarily so, without further
> argumentation - that is perhaps not utterly unknown, but
> seldom
> really elaborated.
>
> (Others argue for the "elegance" of a concise and
> universal
> principle, but that's exactly what Wittgenstein dismisses
> here)




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


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's references to law and jurisprudence (for Sean) [message #2885 is a reply to message #2715] Wed, 30 December 2009 00:47 Go to previous message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
Messages: 793
Registered: August 2009
Location: Form of Life
Senior Member

... thanks for those, J!
 
SW




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


Previous Topic: [Wittrs] Wittgenstein on Nominalism
Next Topic: [Wittrs] On Time
Goto Forum:
  


Current Time: Sun Jan 21 17:30:44 EST 2018

Total time taken to generate the page: 0.01988 seconds