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[Wittrs] Wittgenstein and Theories [message #661] Tue, 01 September 2009 17:57
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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... I've never felt this issue properly understood. I know there are all sorts of people who say Wittgenstein was against theorizing later in life. But I think this needs an historical explanation and, once again, a better understanding of what he was really saying. Wittgenstein began his philosophical life when intellectual history was morphing from its "moral science period" into its hard-core analytical phase (where factual science was king, but where philosophers had wedded that with logical analysis). This period led one to want to find "laws." And so philosophers would go about trying create "proofs." This and only this is what Wittgenstein truly rebelled against.  

As I like to say it, Ludwig was against formalism, not conceptualism. (One might extend this idea and say he was against stale or rigid conceptualism) 

Hence, I do not like the claim that Wittgenstein was against theorizing where that means he was anti-conceptual or against getting to the bottom of something. Indeed, the man was locked in a state of perpetual contemplat ion. His whole life was spent trying to sort out what "belonged"  and what didn't. So a better way to say it is that Wittgenstein was against the model of philosophy that tried to generate LAWS through LOGIC. He appropriately came to view both logic and mathematics as a kind of brain function -- as a kind of discreet task. In this sense, mathematics and logic are in the service of other brain traits, not held hostage by it. Another way of saying it is that math and logic are in the service of culture and anthropology. This doesn't mean, of course, that 1+1 = 2  is culturally determined. Quite to the contrary,  it means that brains deploy commensuration as a closed and autonomous task, which other parts of the brain then go
about putting to good use. Another way of saying it: math is a brain toy (instrument) .  

Here is what a brain does: (a) find the sense; (b) do the calculating; (c) gather the info. There is nothing else to solve. The only thing philosophy is exclusively licensed to do is (a).
 
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