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[Wittrs] On Time [message #2922] Thu, 31 December 2009 15:07 Go to next message
Cayuse is currently offline  Cayuse
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Registered: August 2009
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The following text has been copied from "Lectures on Philosophy" (LW 1932-33):
http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/at/wittgens.htm

12 [...] In general the sentences we are tempted to utter occur in practical situations. But then there is a different way we are tempted to utter sentences. This is when we look at language, consciously direct our attention on it. And then we make up sentences of which we say that they also ought to make sense. A sentence of this sort might not have any particular use, but because it sounds English we consider it sensible. Thus, for example, we talk of the flow of time and consider it sensible to talk of its flow, after the analogy of rivers.

13 If we look at a river in which numbered logs are floating, we can describe events on land with reference to these, e.g., "When the 105th log passed, I ate dinner". Suppose the log makes a bang on passing me. We can say these bangs are separated by equal, or unequal, intervals. We could also say one set of bangs was twice as fast as another set. But the equality or inequality of intervals so measured is entirely different from that measured by a clock. The phrase "length of interval" has its sense in virtue of the way we determine it, and differs according to the method of measurement. Hence the criteria for equality of intervals between passing logs and for equality of intervals measured by a clock are different. We cannot say that two bangs two seconds apart differ only in degree from those an hour apart, for we have no feeling of rhythm if the interval is an hour long. And to say that one rhythm of bangs is faster than another is different from saying that the interval between these two bangs passed much more slowly than the interval between another pair.

Suppose that the passing logs seem to be equal distances apart. We have an experience of what might be called the velocity of these (though not what is measured by a clock). Let us say the river moves uniformly in this sense. But if we say time passed more quickly between logs 1 and 100 than between logs 100 and 200, this is only an analogy; really nothing has passed more quickly. To say time passes more quickly, or that time flows, is to imagine something flowing. We then extend the simile and talk about the direction of time. When people talk of the direction of time, precisely the analogy of a river is before them. Of course a river can change its direction of flow, but one has a feeling of giddiness when one talks of time being reversed. The reason is that the notion of flowing, of something, and of the direction of the flow is embodied in our language.

Suppose that at certain intervals situations repeated themselves, and that someone said time was circular. Would this be right or wrong? Neither. It would only be another way of expression, and we could just as well talk of a circular time. However, the picture of time as flowing, as having a direction, is one that suggests itself very vigorously.

Suppose someone said that the river on which the logs float had a beginning and will have an end, that there will be 100 more logs and that will be the end. It might be said that there is an experience which would verify these statements. Compare this with saying that time ceases. What is the criterion for its ceasing or for its going on? You might say that time ceases when "Time River" ceases. Suppose we had no substantive "time", that we talked only of the passing of logs. Then we could have a measurement of time without any substantive "time". Or we could talk of time coming to an end, meaning that the logs came to an end. We could in this sense talk of time coming to an end.

Can time go on apart from events? What is the criterion for time involved in "Events began 100 years ago and time began 200 years ago"? Has time been created, or was the world created in time? These questions are asked after the analogy of "Has this chair been made?", and are like asking whether order has been created (a "before" and "after"). "Time" as a substantive is terribly misleading. We have got to make the rules of the game before we play it. Discussion of "the flow of time" shows how philosophical problems arise. Philosophical troubles are caused by not using language practically but by extending it on looking at it. We form sentences and then wonder what they can mean. Once conscious of "time" as a substantive, we ask then about the creation of time.
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[Wittrs] Re: On Time [message #2930 is a reply to message #2922] Thu, 31 December 2009 17:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
Messages: 60
Registered: December 2009
Member
Cayuse,

Was this offered in response to my mentioning not having the Ambroise text handy? If so, I thank you.

JPDeMouy

--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "Cayuse" <z.z7@...> wrote:
>
> The following text has been copied from "Lectures on Philosophy" (LW 1932-33):
> http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/at/wittgens.htm


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[Wittrs] Re: On Time [message #2931 is a reply to message #2930] Thu, 31 December 2009 19:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Cayuse is currently offline  Cayuse
Messages: 27
Registered: August 2009
Junior Member
J wrote:
> Cayuse,
>
> Was this offered in response to my mentioning not having the Ambroise
> text handy? If so, I thank you.

J,
I'm not familiar with Alice Ambrose's book --
if there's a connection with my post then it's incidental.
I was just giving an example of how "Philosophy is a battle against the
bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language" (PI 109).
And while I'm at it, may I take this opportunity to thank you for
injecting a little sanity into some of the ongoing discussions here.

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[Wittrs] Re: On Time [message #2933 is a reply to message #2931] Thu, 31 December 2009 20:24 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
Messages: 60
Registered: December 2009
Member
Cayuse,

Sean had mentioned receiving the Alice Ambrose book for Christmas and I expressed my interest in his thoughts on the text but warned him that I didn't have the text handy. Your sharing of that excerpt was therefore well-timed.

(My personal library is in storage on the other side of the country right now so except for my many ebooks, I am without Wittgenstein. Fortunately, I have quite a few ebooks/html vesions: NB, TLP, PR, PG, BB, RFM, LFM, LC, CV, PI, Z, RPPI&II, LWPPI&II, RC, OC... And where I recall a remark and roughly where it occurs in a text, Google Books can help, as when I recently quoted a remark recorded by Bouwsma.)

> And while I'm at it, may I take this opportunity to thank
> you for injecting a little sanity into some of the ongoing
> discussions here.

"Very little" I fear.

Being appreciated is always appreciated. Unfortunately, some of my most recent participation has been ill-considered, petulant, and foolhardy. That's not to say they might not still have been helpful in some way or another but I'm not sure how much sanity they show.

Thanks again.

JPDeMouy

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[Wittrs] Re: On Time [message #2938 is a reply to message #2933] Fri, 01 January 2010 01:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Cayuse is currently offline  Cayuse
Messages: 27
Registered: August 2009
Junior Member
J wrote:
> Unfortunately, some of my most recent participation has been
> ill-considered, petulant, and foolhardy. That's not to say they
> might not still have been helpful in some way or another but
> I'm not sure how much sanity they show.

Seeing through all of that, you lead in a direction that seems to
me to be eminently sensible. I hope you continue to make your
interjections, however foolhardy you may consider them.

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[Wittrs] Re: [C] On Time [message #2946 is a reply to message #2922] Fri, 01 January 2010 18:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anna Boncompagni is currently offline  Anna Boncompagni
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Registered: August 2009
Junior Member
Time is not a “something”, we cannot speak of time as we speak of something.
More correctly: we do often speak of time as we speak of something, in our
ordinary language, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But if we are talking
consciously directing our attention on language, then, if we speak of time
as it were a something, we fail to catch it, because we don’t realize that
we are using a metaphor.

We don’t experience time. Our experience depends on time. Time is not part
of the world. Since language speaks about facts and time is not a fact, but
more like a condition for facts, language can’t speak about it. So, we can
talk of logs coming to an end, not of time coming to an end.

Do you think that this characterization of time is somehow kantian? I feel
strong analogies with Kant in here. But analogies end when W. explains to us
how problems arise – e.i. when we use language looking at it, when we first
make a sentence and then look at it and see time as an object. I can find no
awareness of the mistakes of philosophical language, in Kant.

Thank you
Anna B.

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[Wittrs] Re: [C] On Time [message #2949 is a reply to message #2946] Sat, 02 January 2010 06:47 Go to previous message
Cayuse is currently offline  Cayuse
Messages: 27
Registered: August 2009
Junior Member
----- Original Message -----
From: Anna Boncompagni
To: wittrsamr@freelists.org
Sent: Friday, January 01, 2010 11:17 PM
Subject: [Wittrs] Re: [C] On Time


> Time is not a “something”, we cannot speak of time as we speak of something. More correctly:
> we do often speak of time as we speak of something, in our ordinary language, and there’s nothing wrong with it.
> But if we are talking consciously directing our attention on language, then, if we speak of time as it were a something,
> we fail to catch it, because we don’t realize that we are using a metaphor.

Yes!

> We don’t experience time. Our experience depends on time. Time is not part of the world.

The experienced world is in continual flux -- we say that it "changes",
but then we stand in danger of falling into a similar trap and reifying "change".
We contrast movement and rest, as though they were different "things".
Physics abstracts invariants because they usefully permit prediction,
and it seems to me that it plays a similar game with the concept of time,
treating it as though it were the static medium within which events have their being.
But how can we abstract an invariant from the fact of the continual flux of the experienced world?
To do so is to fossilize the world -- to render it dead -- however useful physics might find that picture.
(I think this is what Bergson was getting at.)
The mathematical models of physics end up with a "block universe" in which all change has been eradicated,
and we are then left with the pseudo-question of how change is experienced within such a "block universe".

Now then, I mention this because I think a similar thing happens with our concept of "experience" or "consciousness".
Our objective models give us a picture of the universe in which all conscious experience has been eradicated, and we are then left
with the pseudo-question of how consciousness might arise within a universe that was (according to the model) initially devoid of it.
The fact is that the experienced world was never "initially devoid of consciousness" because that world appears ONLY as the data of
consciousness (or to put it another way, the word "consciousness" is being used to allude to the fact of the very existence of that data).
Our objective models are just more of the data of consciousness, and in taking them to be ontologically more fundamental
than the world of experience in which they appear, we put the cart before the horse.

Perhaps it would be well to put it in the same terms that you speak of time...

Consciousness is not a “something”, we cannot speak of consciousness as we speak of something. More correctly:
we do often speak of consciousness as we speak of something, in our ordinary language, and there’s nothing wrong with it.
But if we are talking [consciously?] directing our attention on language, then, if we speak of consciousness as it were a something,
we fail to catch it, because we don’t realize that we are using a metaphor.

> Do you think that this characterization of time is somehow kantian? I feel strong analogies with Kant in here.
> But analogies end when W. explains to us how problems arise – e.i. when we use language looking at it,
> when we first make a sentence and then look at it and see time as an object.
> I can find no awareness of the mistakes of philosophical language, in Kant.

Kant remains an enigma to me.
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[Wittrs] Re: [C] On Time [message #2950 is a reply to message #2946] Sat, 02 January 2010 01:36 Go to previous message
J is currently offline  J
Messages: 60
Registered: December 2009
Member

AB,

Wonderful to see you again!

I find we "speak the same language", which is ironic, considering...


> Time is not a "something", we cannot speak of time as we speak of something.

Can't we?

Don't we?

Well, "time" occurs as a substantive in many of our sentences. But is that the same thing?

We might say: where we say things like, "Time passes when you're having fun," surely we really mean, "Events seem to transpire more quickly..."

But does the latter really capture the former?

> More correctly: we do often speak of time as we speak of something, in our
> ordinary language, and there's nothing wrong with it.

Quite so.

But if we are talking
> consciously directing our attention on language, then, if we speak of time
> as it were a something, we fail to catch it,

Do you mean that we fail to catch time or that we fail to catch ourselves speaking in that way? Or both?


because we don't realize that
> we are using a metaphor.
>

Or better: a picture. A metaphor says that this is (like) that, with the "like" suppressed. A picture may guide our usage without involving any comparison.

(That's not quite right either. Our usage may rest so heavily on the picture that without it, there isn't anything with which we could make a comparison.)

> We don't experience time.

Don't we?

Watching, waiting impatiently for the phone to ring?

Performing a piece of music. Listening to it. Recognizing the regularity of the musical pulse, being aware of the time between each pulse, am I experiencing only the pulses and the silences? And not the durations of the silences?

Our experience depends on time. Time is not part
> of the world.

hmmm...

Since language speaks about facts and time is not a fact, but
> more like a condition for facts,

My laptop is not a fact. That I am using it to type this response is.

But I don't think you mean anything like that.


language can't speak about it.

Can't it?

Doesn't it?

Or rather, don't we, using language?


So, we can
> talk of logs coming to an end, not of time coming to an end.
>
> Do you think that this characterization of time is somehow kantian?

Indeed, my nose tells me it is. A more thorough unpacking of what you're saying compared with some specific Kantian theses might be interesting. But off hand I'd say: yes, there's definitely a family resemblance.

I feel
> strong analogies with Kant in here. But analogies end when W. explains to us
> how problems arise – e.i. when we use language looking at it, when we first
> make a sentence and then look at it and see time as an object.


I'd say we sometimes look at the surface grammar of the sentence, but sometimes we see time as an object because of the picture we may have been using all along, but we try to apply the picture to a queer question like, "What is time?" when that wasn't how we were using the picture previously.


I can find no
> awareness of the mistakes of philosophical language, in Kant.

I wouldn't go that far. Obviously, if Kant had had all of the insights Wittgenstein had, we wouldn't have needed Wittgenstein. But what about the Kantian doctrine of "transcendental illusion"? Certainly, here there is at least a gesture toward the direction that Wittgenstein's thought would later take.

Thank you,

JPDeMouy

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-metaphysics/#TheReaTraIll

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