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[Wittrs] Wittgenstein, Epistemology & Definitions [message #2736] Sat, 19 December 2009 18:32 Go to next message
blroadies is currently offline  blroadies
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:

> Wittgenstein is against the offering of laws for understanding.
Understanding does not consist in the ritual of trying to propound
laws.

Could you offer an example of a "law" in philosophy which W would find
inappropriate and why he would?

Thanks,

bruce


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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2746 is a reply to message #2736] Sun, 20 December 2009 11:24 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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... yes: "knowledge is true, justified belief. It has these three properties. If, therefore, one element is missing, you don't have knowledge."

(Notice that this is exactly what lawyers do).

And when a conundrum can be invented, you search for a better law to account for the matter and defend it with the ritual of proof. In a Wittgensteinian universe, this is not only a language fallacy, but it's not philosophy properly conceived. It's premised upon a confusion.

Wittgenstein, therefore, would not offer a theory of knowledge as such, he would offer what I had called an end-theory, or what might be called "an account," because the behavior involved in doing the latter is not the same as the behavior involved in doing the former.

The key is not the word that you use. You may call either a "theory." The key is that you understand that in one method there is behavior-ritual X and in another there is behavioral-intervention Y. The things that are king in Y have family resemblance to X, because the grammar of "theory" is about kingship. (Or perhaps we should say "answership"). But that doesn't make X's candidates for Kingship (answers) the same as Y's. It only makes them cousins.

I like the new language game I invented: the "end-theory." That's really what it is.

--- In WittrsAMR@yahoogroups.com, "BruceD" <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
>
>
> Could you offer an example of a "law" in philosophy which W would find
> inappropriate and why he would?
>

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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2749 is a reply to message #2746] Sun, 20 December 2009 13:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
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Sean,

I really wonder about this example of a theory.

> ... yes: "knowledge is true,
> justified belief. It has these three properties. If,
> therefore, one element is missing, you don't have
> knowledge."

That's not a theory. It's a definition. Definitions are a formal way of presenting certain kinds of grammatical remarks, albeit not the only way and often not the most helpful way. They can be misleading and they can obscure the variety of ways in which a word may be used.

The way the definition is phrased may suggest reification - that we are, in presenting the definition, discovering "properties" of this "thing" called knowledge. But that misleading way of speaking is fine so long as we recognize it as such and it doesn't lead us into muddles.

> (Notice that this is exactly what lawyers do).
>

...and do you suppose that Wittgenstein would have thought that legal practice needed to be corrected by philosophy?

> And when a conundrum can be invented, you search for a
> better law to account for the matter and defend it with the
> ritual of proof.

If a definition can be shown not to account for existing usage, you revise the definition. That's a perfectly reasonable procedure and it is only philosophically problematic if one supposes one is "discovering" some "deep" fact about the term under discussion. (Or if one supposes that a certain kind of definition must be available, if only we're clever enough. Or that such a definition is the only way to understand the use of a word.)

In a Wittgensteinian universe, this is not
> only a language fallacy,

A fallacy? What fallacy is that?

but it's not philosophy properly
> conceived. It's premised upon a confusion.

What confusion?


Note also: Wittgenstein clearly accepts something like "justified true belief" when he contrasts "knowledge" with "certainty".
JPDeMouy



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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2774 is a reply to message #2749] Mon, 21 December 2009 14:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(J)

I'm at a loss on this last contribution of yours. I'm working on something so I'm going to type fast (read: "warning"). Maybe I'll catch a better reply later ...

TJB is not a "definition" of knowledge; it's a formalism. A definition would be something like this. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/knowledge. In a Wittgensteinian universe, all that "knowledge" is, is an idea that conveys doubt-removing grammar.  Of course, confusions may arise where one deploys it outside of that framework (see Moore).  There isn't any philosophical issue as to what knowledge is; there is only understanding what it does in a sentence or context. 

As such, one would need to be a lexicographer of the idea rather than a philosopher. All that the philosophy-properly-understood could do with the idea is make sure that people are not confused into thinking that they must verify a three-point-test before they can play the language game. In fact, Wittgenstein's approach in OC is a good example of what philosophy is supposed to do: show that one is using doubt-removing grammar where it is pointless to do so.

Here is the point: theory of knowledge is what produces TJB. Wittgenstein says: don't use theories. He means exactly that you should not pontificate about what knowledge is with the intention of producing something like TJB. Instead, he says "look and see." And when you do, what you end up with is an acute sort of linguistic radar. And it catches various senses and plays. And the end result, therefore, is that "knowledge" is seen as being in the service of doubt-removal. And that the conditions of assertability being as such, the idea plays as it does in certain venues (e.g., "local knowledge"), the point only ever being the servicing of that venue.

There are no mysteries here. There is only the confusion that philosophy-the-social-club causes in language.        
 
Regards and thanks.

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



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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2792 is a reply to message #2774] Tue, 22 December 2009 18:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
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Sean,

"Dictionary definitions" are but one kind of definition. And there were definitions long before there were dictionaries. There are definitions by divisio and by partitio, definitions by genus and differentia, definitions by necessary and sufficient conditions, and so on. Denying that some of these are definitions, calling them "formalisms" instead flies in the face of established usage.

That a particular ideal to which we may aspire in seeking and offering definitions may be chimerical, i.e. that we may not find a set of necessary and sufficient conditions that capture our use of a word, is an important point. That a definition may not be at all what we need to remove philosophical puzzlement is also important. But whether a definition is part of a theory (in any objectionable sense) depends on the context, the assumptions behind the deployment of the definition, the debates surrounding it. A definition (formal or otherwise) may simply be a grammatical remark.

Formal definitions are not Wittgenstein's preferred way of presenting grammatical remarks - and for good reasons - but that does not mean that he would reject them simply for being formal definitions, stigmatizing them as "theories" on that basis.

As far as stigmatizing "justified true belief" on the basis of its being part of the Theory of Knowledge, that argument is fallacious, because "the theory of knowledge" is not the name of any particular theory but rather the name of a field of investigation within philosophy, just as "literary theory" is not the name of any particular theory. (In recent decades, "theory" has been used synonymously with "deconstruction", showing some ignorance of the range of approaches "literary theory" includes.) Likewise, some of Wittgenstein's insights on formal logic are discussed under the rubric of "logical theory" (where Oxonians divide "philosophy of logic", "philosophical logic", and "logical theory", assigning different topics and problems to each) without thereby implying that Wittgenstein subscribed to some theory called "Logical Theory".)

"Justified true belief" can be treated as a theory, or approached with a theorizing attitude, or it may be simply a grammatical remark. As the latter, it misfires in certain respects but that can happen with any grammatical remark. There's also a good deal that is correct about it. And Wittgenstein accepted much of what such a definition says...



Quoting from _On_Certainty_ with my own remarks in parentheses:

12. --For "I know" seems to describe a state of affairs which guarantees what is known, guarantees it as a fact. One
always forgets the expression "I thought I knew".

(Ask yourself, why would "I know" even "seem" to guarantee what is known to be a fact? And why does the expression, "I thought I knew" cast doubt on that guarantee?)

13. For it is not as though the proposition "It is so" could be inferred from someone else's utterance: "I know it is
so".

(A says that A knows that p does not imply p.)

Nor from the utterance together with its not being a lie.

(A honestly says that A knows that p does not imply p. A's honesty in the matter is not what is it issue.)

--But can't I infer "It is so" from my own utterance "I
know etc."? Yes;

(I can infer p from my own knowing that p. It would be a contradiction to say both that I know p and that not-p. Why? Because the truth of p is part of what we mean by saying "I know that p". If it is not the case that p, then it is also not the case that I know that p. Hence the expression, "I thought I knew".)

and also "There is a hand there" follows from the proposition "He knows that there's a hand there".

(Note well the contrast between the proposition "He knows that p" and his claim to know that p, considered just previously.)

But from his
utterance "I know..." it does not follow that he does know it.

(I've seen people get confused by this passage because of the distinction between the utterance of "I know..." and the proposition "he knows..." The proposition does imply the truth of p, though the proposition could be false. The fact that he utters it, even sincerely, implies no such thing.)

14. That he does know remains to be shewn.

18. "I know" often means: I have the proper grounds for my statement.

(In other words, my statement is justified. But note, he does say "often", not "always".)

So if the other person is acquainted with the
language-game, he would admit that I know. The other, if he is acquainted with the language-game, must be able to
imagine how one may know something of the kind.

42. One can say "He believes it, but it isn't so", but not "He knows it, but it isn't so".

(Further emphasizing the "truth" condition of knowledge.)

Does this stem from the
difference between the mental states of belief and of knowledge? No.--One may for example call "mental state" what
is expressed by tone of voice in speaking, by gestures etc. It would thus be possible to speak of a mental state of
conviction, and that may be the same whether it is knowledge or false belief.

(Note, in contrast with "justified true belief", Wittgenstein emphasizes a contrast we often draw between "knowledge" and "belief" rather than treating knowledge as a species of belief. But he also speaks of a "mental state of conviction" that may be expressed by both.)


To think that different states must
correspond to the words "believe" and "know" would be as if one believed that different people had to correspond to
the word "I" and the name "Ludwig", because the concepts are different.



23. If I don't know whether someone has two hands (say, whether they have been amputated or not) I shall believe
his assurance that he has two hands, if he is trustworthy. And if he says he knows it, that can only signify to me that
he has been able to make sure, and hence that his arms are e.g. not still concealed by coverings and bandages, etc.
etc.

(Again, justification.)

91. If Moore says he knows the earth existed etc., most of us will grant him that it has existed all that time, and also
believe him when he says he is convinced of it. But has he also got the right ground for his conviction? For if not,
then after all he doesn't know (Russell).

(He doesn't know if he doesn't have grounds, even if we do grant the truth of what he says.)

407. For when Moore says "I know that that's..." I want to reply "you don't know anything!"--and yet I would not
say that to anyone who was speaking without philosophical intention. That is, I feel (rightly?) that these two mean to
say something different.

(Here he seems to be at least tentatively granting the possible use of "I know" outside of philosophy that is more akin to what he would have philosophers replace with "I am certain". People do sometimes use "I know" when they cannot give grounds - when giving grounds is not possible - but philosophers ought to be more careful. So, he's granting a use that does not not involve being justified but he would object to that usage in philosophical discussion.)

438. It would not be enough to assure someone that I know what is going on at a certain place--without giving him
grounds that satisfy him that I am in a position to know.

441. In a court of law the mere assurance "I know..." on the part of a witness would convince no one. It must be
shown that he was in a position to know.
Even the assurance "I know that that's a hand", said while someone looked at his own hand, would not be
credible unless we knew the circumstances in which it was said. And if we do know them, it seems to be an
assurance that the person speaking is normal in this respect.

563. One says "I know that he is in pain" although one can produce no convincing grounds for this.--Is this the same
as "I am sure that he..."?--No. "I am sure" tells you my subjective certainty. "I know" means that I who know it, and
the person who doesn't are separated by a difference in understanding. (Perhaps based on a difference in degree of
experience.)
If I say "I know" in mathematics, then the justification for this is a proof.
If in these two cases instead of "I know", one says "you can rely on it" then the substantiation is of a
different kind in each case.
And substantiation comes to an end.



JPDeMouy




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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2795 is a reply to message #2792] Tue, 22 December 2009 22:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(J)

...  I would never dispute that "definition" is a family. Nor, "theory." And I did not claim (or mean to!) that epistemology had described itself accurately. I also no more feel that I have shown prejudice for TJB than you have shown allegiance for it.  What I thought I was saying was straight forward:

Theory-of-knowledge courses generally proceed from the misguided question of "what is knowledge?"  This leads students into thinking that this question is a puzzle in need of a conjured answer. The standard answer is TJB. And the way TJB is vetted is by example and counter-example. And by the time Gettier is pulled out, students are led to believe there is some crisis that philosophers need to solve.  

The answer to the puzzle is never to propound the initial question. Rather, it is to show students that the question causes the problems. And that "knowledge" merely is what it does in anthropology (the language culture), and that the only thing one can ever do here is become especially keen with regard to its conditions of assertability across its various senses. And if students are trained like this, they would be more concerned with Moore claiming to know he has a hand than with Gettier. Why?  Because, then, they could see that doubt-removing grammar is being taken out of its ordinary and useful context under warrant of language confusion. Gettier does not need an answer; it needs "therapy."  

Now, what I think you are doing is defending TJB by saying its just a safe witticism of some sort. It doesn't count as a "theory" (or law, or property-list). It doesn't have its mojo. I have no objection to that. But I was originally asked what would be an example of a theory Wittgenstein opposed, and I said TJB, which, in your vernacular, probably could have been said "TJB with glory." 

Let's try it this way. What would be a true theory of knowledge that was not scientific? Can you think of one? Consider this question in the light of the following Wittgensteinian ideas: a scientific theory is one that requires information. Philosophy only re-arranges what is already known. It doesn't produce new information. If we were truly to present theories of knowledge, no one would object to them (because they would either be confirmed or not in science). In other words, there would be no PHILOSOPHICAL reason to object to a theory of knowledge, because philosophy has no business in it.

One last point. On whether W agreed with TJB would really be a function of what would be taken to disagree with it in your eyes (and what signficance either has). If asked whether knowledge was "TJB" by a student, I can imagine Wittgenstein offering any of the following replies: (a) depends upon what that means; (b) not if that is a theory; (c) "knowledge" expresses doubt-removing grammar; (d) look and see; (e) only in a sense; (f) it sounds like a false problem; (g) what's the dictionary say?; (h) are you not an English speaker?; and (g) it doesn't matter what it means so long as conditions of assertability are understood and free from knots. He would NEVER have said, "no, because Gettier refuted it. We're still trying to solve that one."  So I'm unclear as to what W is claiming to support here. If its just the TV Guide, I guess I'm in agreement.         

Regards and thanks.

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



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[Wittrs] [C] Re: Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2797 is a reply to message #2736] Wed, 23 December 2009 00:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
iro3isdx is currently offline  iro3isdx
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "void" <wittrsamr@...> wrote:


> 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.

There's an implicit assumption there, that knowledge consists of
statements. Why is that assumption made? To me, it surely seems
wrong.

Regards,
Neil

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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2800 is a reply to message #2795] Wed, 23 December 2009 03:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
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Sean,

Apparently, I misunderstood you on several points. I appreciate the clarifications.

> Theory-of-knowledge courses generally proceed from the
> misguided question of "what is knowledge?" This leads
> students into thinking that this question is a puzzle in
> need of a conjured answer.

Is the question misguided? It is potentially misleading, but are those who ask or attempt to answer it necessarily misled?

Consider whether a paraphrase such as "What do we count as 'knowledge'?" or "How is the word 'knowledge' used?" would be acknowledged as such or whether they would object with, e.g. "No, I'm not concerned with playing games with words. I want to get to the essence of what knowledge truly is"?

And how will they respond to examples of knowledge? Are they dismissed as not even a suitable starting point, as with Socrates?

(Note: dismissing the value of examples as a starting point and dismissing partial definitions like "justified true belief" are both problematic:

BBB pp. 18-19 Instead of "craving for generality" I could also have said "the contemptuous attitude towards the particular
case". If, e.g., someone tries to explain the concept of number and tells us that such and such a definition will not do
or is clumsy because it only applies to, say, finite cardinals I should answer that the mere fact that he could have
given such a limited definition makes this definition extremely important to us. (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.

The standard
> answer is TJB. And the way TJB is vetted is by example
> and counter-example. And by the time Gettier is pulled
> out, students are led to believe there is some crisis that
> philosophers need to solve.

Whether it is a crisis is a matter of the seriousness with which we view our confusion. That is a distinct matter from how we would characterize the nature of the problem and the possibilities for its solution. Taking our puzzlement seriously, experiencing "deep disquietudes", and supposing that the answer is a theory are different matters.

PI 111. The problems arising through a misinterpretation of our forms of language have the character of depth.
They are deep disquietudes; their roots are as deep in us as the forms of our language and their significance is as
great as the importance of our language.--Let us ask ourselves: why do we feel a grammatical joke to be deep? (And
that is what the depth of philosophy is.)


Consider some biographical data you've recently shared. Knowing that people dying from bombs dropping all around called continuing with philosophical work into question. Knowing that he was dying from cancer did not. This places the value for Wittgenstein of grappling with philosophical puzzlement into some perspective. And note: unlike the period after the _Tractatus_, Wittgenstein did not stop doing philosophy once he had had the insights of PI 1-188.

>
> The answer to the puzzle is never to propound the initial
> question.

NO!

Or rather: that is only an answer for some people and for some problems.

I'm reminded of the old Vaudeville joke:

"Doctor, it hurts when I do this."

"Well, then don't do that."

Sometimes, that answer is perfectly sound medical advice. Not always.

And consider Anna Boncampagni's metaphor of philosophy as vaccine.

Z 460 In a certain sense one cannot take too much care in handling philosophical mistakes, they contain so much truth.


Rather, it is to show students that the
> question causes the problems. And that "knowledge" merely
> is what it does in anthropology (the language culture),

Obviously, you don't mean that the legitimate uses of "knowledge" are limited to the use of that word in the practice of anthropology. Should I suppose that you mean that the question of "knowledge" is an anthropological question and the answer anthropological?

This is wrong, though it is a common mistake, because Wittgenstein does make comparisons between his methods and anthropology. But philosophy is not anthropology. To equate them is to make the same mistakes Frege criticizes in his attacks on psychologism. (And Wittgenstein recognized the importance of these points.) The anthropological perspective is one perspective from which to consider a philosophical problem.

RPM III.65 Are the propositions of mathematics anthropological propositions saying how we men infer and
calculate?--Is a statute book a work of anthropology telling how the people of this nation deal with a thief
etc.?--Could it be said: "The judge looks up a book about anthropology and thereupon sentences the thief to a term
of imprisonment"? Well, the judge does not USE the statute book as a manual of anthropology.

RPM III.72 (partial) It is clear that we can make use of a mathematical work for a study in anthropology. But then one thing is not
clear:--whether we ought to say: "This writing shews us how operating with signs was done among these people", or: "This writing
shews us what parts of mathematics these people had mastered".

and
> that the only thing one can ever do here is become
> especially keen with regard to its conditions of
> assertability across its various senses.

And why couldn't sating that knowledge is justified true belief be simply a misfiring - or merely incomplete - attempt at stating "conditions of assertibility"? Why must it be stigmatized as a "theory". (Someone may offer it as such, but that has more to do with the context than with the form of the statement itself.)

And if students are
> trained like this, they would be more concerned with Moore
> claiming to know he has a hand than with Gettier.

Would he? Gettier-style problems are interesting in their own right.

Why?
> Because, then, they could see that doubt-removing grammar
> is being taken out of its ordinary and useful context under
> warrant of language confusion. Gettier does not need an
> answer; it needs "therapy."

Both need 'therapy". I am not seeing the contrast here.

(snipping where we are largely in agreement.)

If asked
> whether knowledge was "TJB" by a student...
He would NEVER have said, "no,
> because Gettier refuted it. We're still trying to solve
> that one."

No. But he might well have said something along the lines of (PI 68):

It need not be so. For I can give the concept 'number' rigid
limits in this way, that is, use the word "number" for a rigidly limited concept, but I can also use it so that the extension of
the concept is not closed by a frontier


Or something not unlike the remark in BB p. 57

It is as if someone were to say "a game consists in moving objects about on a surface according to certain
rules..." and we replied: You must be thinking of board games, and your description is indeed applicable to them.
But they are not the only games. So you can make your definitions correct by expressly restricting it to those games.



And he might well have used Gettier-style examples as showing cases for which such a definition is inadequate.

(You do know, by the way, that Edmund Gettier was a student of Max Black and Norman Malcolm and was strongly influenced by Wittgenstein? Not that that proves Wittgenstein would have condoned his work, but it is at least interesting in light of this discussion.)

Examining the failures or inadequacies of definitions in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions is part of the process of coming to appreciate insights such as thinking in terms of symptoms and criteria, family resemblances, and the flexibility and openness of boundaries. Just saying not to define terms in that way or not to ask questions that would seek such definitions is an evasion of the problems that give value to these hard won insights.

JPDeMouy






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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2807 is a reply to message #2800] Wed, 23 December 2009 19:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jrstern is currently offline  jrstern
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "J" <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
>
> BBB pp. 18-19 Instead of "craving for generality" I could
> also have said "the contemptuous attitude towards the particular
> case". If, e.g., someone tries to explain the concept of number and
> tells us that such and such a definition will not do
> or is clumsy because it only applies to, say, finite cardinals
> I should answer that the mere fact that he could have
> given such a limited definition makes this definition extremely
> important to us. (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.

Outstanding, I was not familiar with this quote, seems to relate
to some of the problems he had with Godel, much less Turing.

And overall, on this point, I am more on Wittgenstein's side.

Not that Turing was *actually* on the other side here, but I think
that Wittgenstein saw the resemblance of Turing's halting problem
solution and Godel's incompleteness results and took them as one
- 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)

Josh





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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2808 is a reply to message #2800] Wed, 23 December 2009 23:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(J)

I'm traveling for the holidays. Might not be online tomorrow (don't know). So here is a much-too long reply. I'll start with agreements, then move to the only real point that I see a problem with.

1. First, very much appreciated the RPM quote dealing with statute books. If you know of any other references that mention law or legal practice, I would appreciate it if you sent them along. That was great.

2. Don't have any quarrel with the idea that philosophical entanglement (properly conceived) is rich, and that untying knots is laborious. Or that there is genuine work of this sort needed all over the place. 

PEDAGOGY
3. The issue as I understand it now is whether traditional approaches in epistemology could be undertaken if the approaches are not taken too seriously. If TJB, for example, is itself administered as a loose matter (or as a discussion starter). Or, perhaps, if  TJB and Gettier could themselves be put to Wittgensteinian ends (therapy). 

Although not what I originally addressed, let me offer my thoughts here. I would think that it would be good for philosophy as an academic discipline to adopt an apologetic approach to these things in a post-Wittgensteinian world. One of the reasons why is practical: Wittgenstein isn't around any longer. And if philosophy therefore were to adopt as its central mission "getting the thinking noggin going" -- not, as it were, solving problems -- then even energies spent upon spinning wheels would surely serve legitimate pedagogical ends. In fact, I can categorically state from my own experience in philosophy classrooms that going through and participating (in trying to solve) Gettier problems and the like were very important to me eventually becoming Wittgensteinian. And I do not say this as criticism. I had the most wonderful epistemology instructor in the world. And it took me a long while to shed those outlooks, but I still greatly respect him
today.

And for what it is worth, I do believe that philosophy as traditionally conceived -- even with its false problems -- is very important to the academy. Teaching kids to think conceptually and deeply is something that other fields desperately need. I know in political science, where philosophy is shunned, the insight can be staggeringly shallow and the ideas only surface-level.

So there is nothing that I have said that would strip pedagogical value from being exposed to a diverse philosophical program. Ultimately, though, to take a discussion about the value of an avuncular TJB beyond the aims of diverse pedagogy, one really needs an example.    

4. Regarding TJB as conveying merely a sense of knowledge, I think this remark regarding wishing is better: "And after all, there is not one definite class of features which characterize all cases of wishing (at least not as the word is commonly used). If on the other hand you wish to give a definition of wishing, i.e., to draw a sharp boundary, then you are free to draw it as you like; and this boundary will never entirely coincide with the actual usage, as this usage has no sharp boundary." (BB,19).  

ANTHROPOLOGY
4.  I'm in great disagreement over the anthropology problem, but I think the sense of my point here is not understood. (It rarely is). Philosophy is surely not "anthropology," just as it it not (strictly speaking) "art." But the relationship of both anthropology and art to philosophy-properly-conceived must be greater than science or mathematics. The point here is that what "knowledge" ultimately is, is a function of its uses in the language culture and its cognition within the form of life. These are the "inputs" of philosophy-properly-understood. (I know that this won't be understood. I'd like to link to something on the discussion board, but the server is down).

Here is where I am ultimately going. (I've got to go home). Knowledge is a family resemblance. It's in the service of a particular kind of grammar. The only thing that philosophy-proper can do ON THE MERITS -- putting aside pedagogy -- is show people the resemblance and how to navigate it. To show them what the grammar entails and to help them escape pitfalls. In this sense, philosophy is like coaching. Only if we do it on the basis of the individual (rather than the class), it looks more like "therapy." But the end result is never "what knowledge is," it is what the language game of knowledge entails -- and, more generally, how to navigate a lexicon and doctor other people's grammar.   

I'm tired J. I don't now what else to say. Happy holidays.   


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




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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2830 is a reply to message #2808] Fri, 25 December 2009 23:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
J is currently offline  J
Messages: 60
Registered: December 2009
Member
SW,

I want to bring this back around to the earlier question of my disputing "knowledge is justified, true belief" as an example of a theory, because it seems the connection to later remarks of mine has been lost.

What I wish to emphasize is that "justified, true belief" in itself is not a good example because it depends upon how the statement is used, what surrounds it, what arguments are made in relation to it. It may be a grammatical remark, albeit poorly expressed and perhaps poorly thought. But it may also be a theory. What I want to question is the idea that the form of the statement in itself makes it in some way objectionable, that it should be stigmatized as "theory" on the basis of form alone.


The issue as I understand it now is whether traditional
> approaches in epistemology could be undertaken if the
> approaches are not taken too seriously.

There's a lot to unpack here. Which "tradition"? And what constitutes one approach rather than another?

If we take a remark of the same form and approach it differently, is that not a different approach?

And if we approach it differently, must that be any less "serious"?

If Gettier's observations and examples are used as the basis for a research program to find the "correct" definition of "knowledge" (as has happened), then is the "therapy" needed one of saying that the initial remarks and the attempts to answer them are misguided or one of examining the assumptions the motivate this dialectic?

And note: one can readily read Gettier himself (who wrote a very short article and has had little to say on the subject beyond that, especially compared to the ink others have spilled) as actually challenging the whole idea that a set of necessary and sufficient conditions defining "knowledge" is a reasonable goal. Given his studies under Norman Malcolm, I don't find such a reading at all implausible.

The challenge to the "justified, true belief" account does not itself offer a further definition. I don't think Wittgenstein would find fault with that at all! Recall a remark recorded by Bouwsma, "Now, when it comes to those early dialogues, one on courage for instance, one might read and say, 'See, see, we know nothing!' This would, I take it, be wholesome." (Wittgenstein: conversations, 1949-1951)

Now, a "wholesome" response may not be the goal of "therapy" (though it may be a useful step in the process). Such skepticism may also be very confused and lead to other confusions. It depends on the individual.

My take away from Gettier: sometimes the warrant for saying, "I only thought I knew," need not be a matter of what one believed having been false. It may be warranted by one's seeing that one's grounds, though perfectly reasonable, were in some way defective, though what they seemed to support was nevertheless true.

And that is a valuable insight into the grammar of "I know" and "I thought I knew".

And if
> philosophy therefore were to adopt as its central mission
> "getting the thinking noggin going" -- not, as it were,
> solving problems -- then even energies spent upon spinning
> wheels would surely serve legitimate pedagogical ends.

Indeed. Boncampagni's "vaccination" is one way of putting it that I find appropriate.

I know in political science, where
> philosophy is shunned, the insight can be staggeringly
> shallow and the ideas only surface-level.

I am reminded of the closing remarks of the PI regarding the state of psychology as a science. And as well, from CV, "Man has to awaken to wonder — and so perhaps do peoples. Science is a way of sending him to sleep again." And from _Zettel_, "Some philosophers (or whatever you like to call them) suffer from what may be called `loss of problems'. Then everything seems quite simple to them, no deep problems seem to exist any more, the world becomes broad and flat and loses all depth, and what they write becomes immeasurably shallow and trivial. Russell and H. G. Wells suffer from this."


> 4. Regarding TJB as conveying merely a sense of
> knowledge, I think this remark regarding wishing
> is better: "And after all, there is not one definite class
> of features which characterize all cases of wishing (at
> least not as the word is commonly used). If on the other
> hand you wish to give a definition of wishing, i.e., to draw
> a sharp boundary, then you are free to draw it as you like;
> and this boundary will never entirely coincide with the
> actual usage, as this usage has no sharp
> boundary." (BB,19).
>

That too would be appropriate, though I wouldn't say "better". That would depend on the circumstances of the remark.

The fact is that he did consider partial definitions, definitions that do not cover all cases but cover many, to have value in some circumstances.

(An aside: note that he inadvertently put forth a thesis here. Compare the remark here about "wishing" with the discussion of "game" in which we are led to such a conclusion and told not to think but look, but we are not simply, "there is not one definite class of features which characterize all (proceedings we call 'games')")

> 4. I'm in great disagreement over the anthropology
> problem, but I think the sense of my point here is not
> understood. (It rarely is). Philosophy is surely not
> "anthropology," just as it it not (strictly speaking) "art."

The practice of philosophy (as Wittgenstein would have it) is "an art" in the same (perfectly legitimate) sense that psychotherapy is an art or that oratory is an art. Philosophical writing is (usually) not poetry however, and not just because it typically lacks meter. Our relationship to these things is different. From LWPP II

653. Proverbs are sometimes hung on the wall. But not theorems of geometry. Our relation to these two things.
[PI II, xi, p. 205c]

and PI II, including the cross-referenced remark:

For when should I call it a mere case of knowing, not seeing?--Perhaps when someone treats the picture as a
working drawing, reads it like a blueprint. (Fine shades of behaviour.--Why are they important? They have
important consequences.)

You need to think of the role which pictures such as paintings (as opposed to working drawings) have in our
lives. This role is by no means a uniform one.
Page 205
A comparison: texts are sometimes hung on the wall. But not theorems of mechanics. (Our relation to these
two things.)


> But the relationship of both anthropology and art to
> philosophy-properly-conceived must be greater than science
> or mathematics.

Why? How is that to be measured? And is not anthropology also a science?

Philosophy is not an empirical discipline. Anthropology (as much as physics) is.

Logic is the business of philosophy but part of logic (a very small part, according to Wittgenstein's usage) is now a part of mathematics.

The point here is that what "knowledge"
> ultimately is, is a function of its uses in the language
> culture and its cognition within the form of life. These
> are the "inputs" of philosophy-properly-understood. (I know
> that this won't be understood. I'd like to link to something
> on the discussion board, but the server is down).

Hmmm. Okay.

I do not at all disagree that the actual use of the word "knowledge" in our language games is the relevant thing. But how we use that familiarity, the role it plays is philosophical discourse, makes all the difference in the world. Logic is not an empirical discipline. It is neither anthropology nor psychology. "Anthropological" data do not explain nor yet do they provide the ground for philosophical understanding, partly because (on a Wittgensteinian view) philosophy is not in the business of offering explanations nor in the business of stating theses that are to be given grounds and partly because, as Frege and Husserl both demonstrated (with psychologism, though it applies as much to "anthropologism"), attempts to explain or ground logic in that way lead to contradictions, vicious circles, and nonsense.

I don't disagree with your other remarks. Again, I am emphasizing that the role of a statement like "knowledge is justified true belief" is not, on the basis of its form alone, to be stigmatized as "theoretical". Though even if it is not used to express a theory (which it may be), it may be problematic on other grounds.

What such a statement says may be something with which Wittgenstein would largely agree (and I earlier presented textual evidence to support that claim), though he would surely have considered such a statement to be quite limited if its role is to serve as a definition.

I want to distinguish between what may be a poorly expressed and poorly thought grammatical remark and the expression of a theory. The form of the statement alone does not allow us to make that distinction.

A better example of a "theory" and an illustration of where these go wrong by Wittgenstein's lights would be Russell's Theory of Types.

(The reason it is a better example, aside from being a likely candidate historically for something Wittgenstein might have had in mind, is that we know that Russell called it a theory as well as quite a lot about the context of it. And I want to say" context is key here.)

Suppose that Russell had said:

"Here I've created a calculus. In it certain transformations can be shown to be analogous to certain transformations we perform with the system of natural numbers. Now in this system, we speak of classes. But the calculus has certain rules for the introduction of classes in order to avoid paradoxes like this..."

I want to say: whether or not he saw much point to such an activity (and whether or not he saw the creation of such calculi as relevant to philosophy), Wittgenstein would not have objected to this!

But instead, what Russell (and Whitehead, who disavowed the Theory of Types) wrote in the Preface to _Principia_Mathematica_:

"We have examined a great number of HYPOTHESES for dealing with these contradictions; many such HYPOTHESES have been advanced by others, and about as many have been invented by ourselves.
...the form of the doctrine which we advocate appears to us the most PROBABLE, and because it was necessary to give at least one perfectly definite theory which avoids the
contradictions." (emphasis mine)"

Now, there are a number of other observations that Wittgenstein has made regarding the system of PM, the Theory of Types, and related issues, but these remarks from Russell by themselves seem to clearly show a way of talking about logic that is deeply misleading if not profoundly confused.

Verificationism is often regarded as a theory. It is certainly a thesis. We find this in some members of the Vienna Circle under Wittgenstein's influence and in Wittgenstein himself during his transition.

It is also one of the "theses" explicitly identified as such by Waissman in _Thesen_, a work originally begun in collaboration with Wittgenstein. This book, I would suggest, is a good clue to white Wittgenstein specifically has in mind when he eschews theses in philosophy.

WWK p. 244, from _Thesen_

"To say that a statement has sense means that it can be verified."
"The sense of a proposition is the way it is verified."

PR pp. 199&200

How a proposition is verified is what it says. Compare the generality of genuine propositions with generality
in arithmetic. It is differently verified and so is of a different kind.

The verification is not one token of the truth, it is the sense of the proposition. (Einstein: How a magnitude is
measured is what it is.)


But apropos of salvaging the grammatical insight in a statement that might have been presented as a thesis or theory, we have in the PI

353. Asking whether and how a proposition can be verified is only a particular way of asking "How d'you
mean?" The answer is a contribution to the grammar of the proposition.

JPDeMouy





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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2884 is a reply to message #2830] Wed, 30 December 2009 00:45 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 J.

Sorry I've been away. My daughter and I are still away for the holidays. I won't be more active here until the 4th. Some brief remarks on your mail:

1. Whether TJB is a "theory" is a function of the sense of the term "theory," and the behavior of the language participants. I think we're on board on this. I've never said anything contrary. But where we may or may not differ is in this respect:

When it is not a theory as such, I might also question its usefulness as a definition. If I were asked to give a definition of knowledge -- in the sense of it being neither a formula, "law-candidate," a formalism, etc., -- I would use Webster's before TJB. And in fact, if someone asked me what "knowledge" was, I would prefer to say this: it has to do with the coronation of doubt-removal.

Actually, when I teach in class, I get this sort of thing all of the time. Periodically, I have minds in the class that cannot think well. They always say things like, "I'll give you the answer professor if you give me the definition." I always say back to them: definition? Are you not an English speaker? Have you never used the word? Definitions are only for people who have a "foreign language problem." Once you are plugged into the grammar, they are of no further use.

One more point here. To the extent I am known at all in my "field," it is as a disciplinary critic. I see myself doing things in political science that Wittgenstein did in philosophy. For example, I teach what the field calls "American government," but I do it without reference to any political scientist whatsoever. I don't mention them. My class is called philosophy and development of American government. There is no class that I teach that resembles anything anyone else in the field does. Why am I telling you this? Because if I were asked to teach epistemology in a philosophy department, I would do something Wittgenstein would be quite happy with. I would take a third of course and discuss intellectual history -- what cultures have thought to be "knowledge" through time. I would teach the sociology and anthropology of knowledge. And then, with the rest of the class, I would teach uses and sense of "knowledge," its grammar, and how current
philosophy on the subject isn't helpful (because it asks the wrong questions). The class would be 1/3 TJB & Gettier stuff; 1/3 Wittgenstein; & 1/3 historical/anthropological/sociological.

As to the value of propounding questions like "what is knowledge," I would say it has the same sort of utility as setting bowling pins. If you think about it, the question is really quite fitting for 3rd graders. As Wittgenstein noted, one could make a philosophy (by playing games with sense) out of anything -- what is wishing, intention, law, winning, fatherhood, courtesy, etc. etc. Knowledge is not special here (at least not to asking what it is).

2. I do concede your biographical claims about Gettier. I've never read anything about him. Thought that was good stuff.

3. On the value of partial definitions, I'm not sure I completely agree. The passages you and I exchanged in the BB really only say one thing. They say that definitions are good not if they are partial or full -- but ONLY if they convey sense. That's the reason W is not opposed to a partial definition in the passage you cite. Because it did the job in conveying what was important to know -- which was not IT (the definition). Same with the wishing remark. He says if you give us a sharp-boundary for a family resemblance term and it does the trick, that's ok too. The key is to avoid traffic accidents in the language game. Not to give accounts of words outside of this end.

There are all sorts of anti-definition stuff in Wittgenstein's lectures. Particularly in philosophy of mathematics, in exchanges with Turing. But elsewhere too. I don't have time to gather them. Later in the week, I'll do a "Wittgenstein and definitions" mail, and maybe we can talk more about it.

4. I don't think we are seeing eye to eye on anthropology and "logic." I think the best way to get through that is to get to the level of example. Because saying philosophy is or is not logic, or is more cousin to anthropology than science, is not going to help until we actually see "philosophy" in action.

5. You mentioned the Bouwsma book. Just got it and about 7 other books for Christmas! Great stuff in there about seeing Wittgenstein as a prophet-like figure. (I'm going to write about that soon, too). Bouwsma seems like a really great person.          
 
Regards and thanks

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




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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein and Theories [message #2976 is a reply to message #2736] Sun, 03 January 2010 22:32 Go to previous message
J is currently offline  J
Messages: 60
Registered: December 2009
Member
SW,

No rush!

Enjoy your holidays and time with your daughter.

I share your reservations about the value of "justified true belief" as a definition and about the value of such definitions generally.

My only concern was to question the idea that it should necessarily be stigmatized as a theory. That it can be faulted on other grounds when used in other contexts is another matter.


What is true in such a definition might better be captured by pointing out the queerness of saying, e.g. "I know it, though I have no grounds," "I know it but I don't believe it," or "I know it, even though it isn't true."

One might be able to imagine (very unusual) circumstances in which such statements might make sense. Certainly, we could agree that "know" would be being used in an odd way in these cases.

"I don't believe it: I know it!" This makes perfect sense, though another might say, "I don't just believe it..." Or is it more accurate to indicate inverted commas with the first, i.e. "I don't 'believe' it...", which then amounts to, "'Believe' is not the right right way to characterize matters."

Wittgenstein acknowledges that someone might use "know" to characterize a certainty but objects to philosophers doing this, so "I know it, though I have no grounds," may make sense in certain cases.

(This relates to a recent interest of mine: to what extent is Wittgenstein interested in reforming ordinary language, not as some general program, but only for purposes of philosophers wishing to avoid particular muddles? The use of "proposition" and the principle of bipolarity is arguably a case of this.)

> Definitions are only for people who have a "foreign language
> problem." Once you are plugged into the grammar, they are of
> no further use.

Oh, I certainly wouldn't go that far! But I would say that often debating definitions is quite pointless and "formalistic" (or "legalistic") in a decidedly bad way.

As Wittgenstein
> noted, one could make a philosophy (by playing games with
> sense) out of anything

Do you have a specific quotation in mind? Or do you mean that he demonstrated such?

-- what is wishing, intention, law,
> winning, fatherhood, courtesy, etc. etc. Knowledge is not
> special here (at least not to asking what it is).

I would note that discussions of "knowledge", "wishing", "intending", and "law", but not "winning", "fatherhood", or "courtesy", have relevance to examinations of logical questions in Frege and especially Russell, as well as in the Austrian tradition I had previously been emphasizing. While these topics may seem like tangents or like simple examples of how to apply his methods, they are actually quite central. And "winning" becomes central in light of his own leitmotif of games. So they are "special" in a certain sense. They relate to particular puzzles that vexed those concerned with logical problems similar to those with which he struggled.

(Many Wittgenstein students don't read Russell or Frege nearly enough.)

I'm glad you appreciated the information on Gettier. When I was younger, noticing how this man who seemed to be known for nothing else had inspired such a vast literature on the basis of a single short paper had really piqued my curiosity.


> 3. On the value of partial definitions, I'm not sure I
> completely agree. ... The
> key is to avoid traffic accidents in the language game. Not
> to give accounts of words outside of this end.

The idea that a grammatical investigation solely exists to avert a particular misunderstanding is a familiar one and not without merit. Certainly, there are reasons to read Wittgenstein that way. (It is one of the disagreements between Hacker/Baker and later Baker.) But there are also reasons not to. This would make a good subject for a separate thread.


Later in the week, I'll do a
> "Wittgenstein and definitions" mail, and maybe we can talk
> more about it.

I shall look forward to that. If the remarks are from _Lectures_on_the_Foundations_of_Mathematics_, you could point me to the page numbers and I could then post them, as I have the ebook.

>
> 4. I don't think we are seeing eye to eye on
> anthropology and "logic." I think the best way to get
> through that is to get to the level of example. Because
> saying philosophy is or is not logic, or is more cousin to
> anthropology than science, is not going to help until we
> actually see "philosophy" in action.

Again, is anthropology not a science?
>
> 5. You mentioned the Bouwsma book. Just got it and about 7
> other books for Christmas! Great stuff in there
> about seeing Wittgenstein as a prophet-like figure. (I'm
> going to write about that soon, too).

I'll look forward to that as well!

Bouwsma seems like
> a really great person.

He seems to have quite impressed Wittgenstein, a man not easily impressed. More for his honesty and character than logical acumen, I suspect, though at a certain point, getting what Wittgenstein has to say might be more a matter of character. (That's not quite right.)

Take care,
JPDeMouy




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