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

Home » Concerning Wittgenstein's Ideas » Wittgenstein, Mind and Behaviorism » [Wittrs] Wittgenstein, Language, Thought and Mind
[Wittrs] Wittgenstein, Language, Thought and Mind [message #1377] Mon, 28 September 2009 23:59 Go to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
Messages: 793
Registered: August 2009
Location: Form of Life
Senior Member

(Reply to Nasha):

Regarding the issue of "thoughts," I think the following discussion was helpful:  http://seanwilson.org/forum/index.php?t=msg&th=348& ;start=0&S=ea23ad7d48ebff75fa851131c581a764

The thing to remember is that Wittgenstein is really against a contrived inner/outer distinction. He doesn't want you to talk with too much inner as much as he does not want too much outer. Nothing is hidden from you. But this does not mean that thoughts are "words" any more than it means words are "thoughts." Really, it means that both are sentential -- that we think by the same process that we language. That these are the same sort of thing. In fact, when Wittgenstein says that we could not understand anything without "language," he does not mean to say that an infant who cannot speak an English-language-word, but whose eyes become huge at the sight of a bright-colored object, is not "languaging" yet. Indeed, that would be a function of what cognitive processes are going on, and whether they are language-like. All that Wittgenstein was every doing was trying to destroy folk psychology (a little man in the head) without also becoming a brute
behaviorist.

Some may say he's walking a tightrope; I would say he has shown us another false problem (albeit a difficult one for some to grasp).  

This is the same debate that people have over how much Kant is in Wittgenstein. Although Wittgenstein did go through an explicitly Kantian period in between the Tractatus and right before the arrival of his new philosophy, the question of how much remained in true latter-day philosophy is always debated. The answer, of course, is "enough." I have posted these quotes before, but I'll throw them in again. They support this basic proposition:

We imagine one falsehood (a little man in the head, an ethereal substance, an occultish sort of thing) in order to avoid another falsehood (that there is nothing but a mechanical lifelessness to the form of life). That is the point of all of these passages:    

---------------------------
"It seems that there are CERTAIN DEFINITE mental processes bound up with the working of language, processes through which alone language can function. I mean that processes of understanding and meaning. The signs of our language seem dead without these mental processes: and it might seem that the only function of the signs is to induce such processes, and that these are the things we ought really to be interested in. [BB, p. 3] (See also, PI, sect. 358). [note: allcaps used in place of italics –sw]"
... 
"Frege ridiculed the formalist conception of mathematics by saying that the formalists confused the unimportant thing, the sign, with the important, the meaning. Surely, one wishes to say, mathematics does not treat of dashes on a bit of paper. Frege's idea could be expressed thus: the propositions of mathematics, if they were just complexes of dashes, would be dead and utterly uninteresting, whereas they obviously have a kind of life. And the same, of course, could be said of any proposition: Without a sense, or without the thought, a proposition would be an utterly dead and trivial thing. And further it seems clear that no addition of inorganic signs can make the proposition live. And the conclusion which one draws from this is that what must be added to the dead signs in order to make a live proposition is something immaterial, with properties different from all mere signs."[BB, p. 4].
... 
 "And this too could be said: Someone who THINKS as he works will intersperse his work with AUXILIARY ACTIVITIES.  The word ‘thinking’ does not now mean these auxiliary activities, just as thinking is not talking either. Although the concept ‘thinking’ is formed on the model of a kind of imaginary auxiliary activity.  ... 
 
These auxiliary activities are not the thinking; but one imagines thinking as the stream which must be flowing under the surface of these expedients, if they are not after all to be mere mechanical procedures. Zettel (100-30), from Kenny’s W-reader, 131 [allcaps used for italics -- sw].
 
Regards and thanks.
 
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Redesigned Website: http://seanwilson.org/
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Twitter: http://twitter.com/seanwilsonorg
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/seanwilsonorg
New Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html




WEB VIEW: http://tinyurl.com/ku7ga4
TODAY: http://alturl.com/whcf
3 DAYS: http://alturl.com/d9vz
1 WEEK: http://alturl.com/yeza
GOOGLE: http://groups.google.com/group/Wittrs
YAHOO: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wittrs/
FREELIST: http://www.freelists.org/archive/wittrs/09-2009


[Wittrs] Wittgenstein, Language, Thought and Mind [message #1393 is a reply to message #1377] Tue, 29 September 2009 13:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
Messages: 33
Registered: September 2009
Member
Reply to Sean

I cannot bring myself to go along with your account of Wittgenstein
here, when you say that the thing to remember is that Wittgenstein is
against a contrived inner/outer distinction and that W doesn't want
you to talk with too much inner as much as he does not you to talk
with too much
outer.

To me Wittgenstein is much more than being about proscriptions, even
thought he does say many such things, he is about showing us via his
mode of operation what the prescription is for our entrenchment in
outrageously in adequate tacit presuppositions.

To be truly against an "inner/outer " distinction, it is not enough to
simply lobby for more or less of one or the other. To be against
such a nonsensical distinction, one must realize the nonsense for what
it is...to take some action.....and that is to learn to speak in a way
that surpasses it and its obstacles. To limit W to admonitions about
"too much" or "too little" does not do him justice, I'm afraid.
Happily rattling around inside a cage is not enough to make us free
even though we are free to rattle around.

What does Wittgenstein want from us? To truly reject the "inner/
outer". To truly reject the nonsense ingredient in the notions of
"experience", which I am astonished to still hear being bandied about
as if the word refers to anything. I thought we were done with that
seventeenth century mythology. Of course, experience is what gets
into our"inner" from the "outer" isn't it. or it's how the "outer" is
presented to the "inner" and blah, blah, blah. How sad. How
pathetically sad to embark so much earnest and valiant discussion
based on such utter balderdash. Where can such a journey take us but
to endless sputtering.

I believe that to learn the lesson of Wittgenstein we must learn to
speak freely, free of the chains of nonsense which he has helped to
show us and by doing so ourselves continue to purge our speaking of
further nonsense such as that of the notion of "experience"or
'thought" or 'behavior" to name just a few forms of such nonsense.
When we haven't got a frakking clue as to what we are talking about
when we employ those terms as foundation for our blah, blah as we
debate different sides of the blah, blah with each other through
eternity perhaps , anymore than folks haven't had a clue for the past
few hundreds years.

How can we do justice to Wittgenstein. Perhaps it's the aphorism
about he Zen Master who comes up behind his disciple and tells him not
to turn around and informs that he is holding an egg over his
disciple's head. And that if he agrees that he is holding the egg
over his head, the Master will smash the egg on top of the disciple's
head. And that if he denies that he is holding the egg over his
head, the Master will smash the egg on top of the disciple's head.
And that if he says nothing, the Master will smash the egg on top of
the student's head.

Those of you who have heard the end of this story will know what we
must do in order to do what Master Wittgenstein wants to do to profit
and learn from his work. And you know that either while the passivity
of "doing nothing" is not enough, either "accepting or denying" is
merely passivity of another kind and also not nearly enough.

And for those of you who don't know the end of the story, sorry, but I
can't resist withholding the disciple's optimal response for now. .

WEB VIEW: http://tinyurl.com/ku7ga4
TODAY: http://alturl.com/whcf
3 DAYS: http://alturl.com/d9vz
1 WEEK: http://alturl.com/yeza
GOOGLE: http://groups.google.com/group/Wittrs
YAHOO: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wittrs/
FREELIST: http://www.freelists.org/archive/wittrs/09-2009


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein, Language, Thought and Mind [message #1397 is a reply to message #1393] Tue, 29 September 2009 14:22 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

(reply to CJ)

... I did not mean so much to say that Wittgenstein was asking for a compromise between inner/outer. Surely that is not what I had meant to say. (Upon reading it again, I could see where one could think that). That would be like someone being liberal in politics and another conservative, and someone asking for some sort of middle position. We can all agree that Wittgenstein's intellectualism has nothing to do with sort "position-taking."

But as to the rest of your views, I don't believe we shall have agreement. I would never take the view that Wittgenstein wants us to avoid inner and outer talking -- or talking of "experience." He would rather have us conjugate those expressions, which is what his style of therapy is for. And once we did this, we would NOT find that inner/outer and "experience" lacked legitimate uses in ordinary grammar, we would rather find two things. First, that one could not make philosophical problems out of these subjects unless one started playing games with that grammar -- the manipulation of which created the false problem. And secondly, that there is a shared process, X, that constitutes inner and outer, such that speaking of these ideas as "outside of X" or as a dualism or as "inside X" is what creates all the problems.

And this is why he spends so much time laboring to destroy the talk of folk psychology while also declaring himself against brute behaviorism.

Let me say it this way. I think there are a branch of rather loud Wittgensteinians who are what I would call "reification-branch Wittgensteinians." This branch seems to say that if something isn't actually present in the external world (put the phrase in quotes if don't like it), that it can't be spoken of. This reminds me more of Wittgenstein I than II. Wittgenstein surely would not be of the position that the word "experience" or "mind" or "behavior" couldn't be productively deployed in language. Indeed, he would find these to be family resemblance terms. In this sense, the terms do not "point" to anything other than a family of things. 

Regards and thanks.
 

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Redesigned Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Twitter: http://twitter.com/seanwilsonorg
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/seanwilsonorg
New Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html




WEB VIEW: http://tinyurl.com/ku7ga4
TODAY: http://alturl.com/whcf
3 DAYS: http://alturl.com/d9vz
1 WEEK: http://alturl.com/yeza
GOOGLE: http://groups.google.com/group/Wittrs
YAHOO: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wittrs/
FREELIST: http://www.freelists.org/archive/wittrs/09-2009


Re: [Wittrs] Wittgenstein, Language, Thought and Mind [message #1399 is a reply to message #1393] Tue, 29 September 2009 14:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Nasha Waights Hickman is currently offline  Nasha Waights Hickman
Messages: 4
Registered: September 2009
Junior Member
I too have much to say to Sean's reply , but must go and cook dinner!!!

But I don't think your comments are fair to his arguments, I don't think they betray tacit endorsement of dualism, but only some real questions: how is this kind of language working? Sure, when we say our feelings are private we don't mean what the dualist thinks, but what is the right way to think about the concept of privacy here? etc

For now I just want to say quickly:

While I agree that Wittgenstein expects us to reject the dualistic picture tout court , he in no way wishes us to revise and improve our ways of speaking, at least not outside philosophy. Metaphors have their place, poetry has its place, and talk of 'innermost feelings' and 'my own private world' has it's place too.

Trouble comes in milking these expressions for (so-called) metaphysical facts about the nature of the mind, that is all.

Wittgenstein, as I see it at least, is attempting to clarify our use of words, not defend it , reject it, or improve it. We will always be vulnerable to bewitchment by our own language -- the philosopher's job is to remove the spell, not remove the form of words from currency.
[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein, Language, Thought and Mind [message #1400 is a reply to message #1399] Tue, 29 September 2009 14:52 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 Natalia:

FWIW, I see more agreement in your posts than I rarely find with other Wittgensteinians. There's been two or three messages of yours where I have said to myself, "there is an extremely bright student!"  I am very much of the opinion that expressions of an inner nature are indeed fair plays in a language game. All that they need is conjugated. But if the person is "knotted up" in the grammar of the assertion, it requires untangling. So when I wrote my introductory paragraph, I should have probably said "talked with a knotted grammar of." 

But I do not mean to imply that metaphor or family resemblance is to be shunned in favor of better ways of talking. That would take us back to the days when Moore and other analytics thought that surface-level language was the result of confusions, and that humans should develop a clearer form of language. Even Wittgenstein I thought those notions absurd. My current book project is very much against the idea. Language is as language does. In this sense, no "surface level expression" is every nonsense by virtue of the words used. It only becomes nonsense if the grammar it deploys doesn't "add up."

Wittgenstein I is about rules for talking. Wittgenstein II is about achieving insight.  Another way of saying it: meaning is more important than logic.

Regards.

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Redesigned Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Twitter: http://twitter.com/seanwilsonorg
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/seanwilsonorg
New Discussion Group: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html




WEB VIEW: http://tinyurl.com/ku7ga4
TODAY: http://alturl.com/whcf
3 DAYS: http://alturl.com/d9vz
1 WEEK: http://alturl.com/yeza
GOOGLE: http://groups.google.com/group/Wittrs
YAHOO: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wittrs/
FREELIST: http://www.freelists.org/archive/wittrs/09-2009


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein, Language, Thought and Mind [message #1406 is a reply to message #1397] Tue, 29 September 2009 15:06 Go to previous messageGo to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
Messages: 33
Registered: September 2009
Member

On Sep 29, 2009, at 2:22 PM, Sean Wilson wrote:

What Wittgenstein wants us to do....or not?

You know I think we all have to be in agreement that Wittgenstein does
not want to interfere with the way the proverbial man in the street
speaks to his fellow citizens. Of course, there are those in our
society nowadays who, in the name of political correctness wish to
change everything we say and how it is used and hence what it means.
But that may be a question for another time.

Wittgenstein's aim, we are surely also agree, is not to show the
ordinary person the way out the fly bottle but to show the philosopher
the way out of that bottle. And my assertions all have to do solely
with those who, in the name of some philosophical passion or other,
invoke the vocabulary of inner and outer and yes, of the root of all
evil (in my jaded view ) the notion of 'experience" which goes
unexamined as the tacit suppositiional support of most inner/outer
nonsense. Long live the man in the street and may he be free to say
what he feels in whatever terms he feels appropriate and may he or she
dream accordingly, as well.

There is a problem, however. Unfortunately, there is a third class of
" ways of speakiing"..not the ordinary man using ordinary language and
not the confused high-brow intellectual philosophe, but that of the
scientist. What we have, since the twentieth century is a burgeoning
industry of so-called "scientists" in the social science area. I
happen to be familiar with the psychologists. In many cases,the areas
of animal behavior and ethology and even evolution theory are also
science areas where we lose track of precisely who or what the source
of the 'way of speaking' is presumed to be: ordinary language or
scientist.

What happens is that there is a loose and undisciplined use of these
various ways of speaking until they become accepted as scientifically
current or fashionable and then they settle down, usually decades
later, sometimes as much as 50 years, into the population at large
which, unthinkingly and unknowingly and woefully behind the scientific
literature, innocently incorporates and swallows whole these empty and
nonsensical cliches of science (often bad science which has since been
superceded) into their ordinary language and finds itself wandering
off down a path of woeful speaking where the very future of
civilization is jeopardized.

So, if we wish to pretend we're on a street corner chatting amiably
about other things and happen to use the inner/outer dichotomy, or
wallow in the toxic dump of the nonsense of the 'experience/behavior"
in our idle ordinary chat, then that is fine by me. But when we
insert that way of speaking into discussion which smacks of or "sounds
of" scientific discussion then we are paving the way not to a freeing
of the ordinary man and his ordinary language but to foolish and
dangerous bad science which, in the end, threatens that freedom and
that very ordinary language which we ought to defend when it is truly
being used in an "ordinary sense".

Thanks for your comments, Sean.

There is more in your comments that I'd like to address, Sean, but
this 'political" matter of the "usurpation of actual ordinary language
by way of the infiltration of the license of ordinary speaking into
bad science which then works its way down to derail and dehumanize
ordinary language" seemed like a good place to start.


WEB VIEW: http://tinyurl.com/ku7ga4
TODAY: http://alturl.com/whcf
3 DAYS: http://alturl.com/d9vz
1 WEEK: http://alturl.com/yeza
GOOGLE: http://groups.google.com/group/Wittrs
YAHOO: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wittrs/
FREELIST: http://www.freelists.org/archive/wittrs/09-2009


[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein, Language, Thought and Mind [message #1408 is a reply to message #1399] Tue, 29 September 2009 16:31 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
Messages: 188
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
This is very well, and very concisely, put! I find myself in strong agreement, a rarity on lists like this. -- SWM

--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Nasha Waights Hickman <wittrs@...> wrote:
>

[Updated on: Tue, 29 September 2009 19:47] by Moderator

Report message to a moderator

[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein, Language, Thought and Mind [message #1417 is a reply to message #1377] Tue, 29 September 2009 18:24 Go to previous message
kirby urner is currently offline  kirby urner
Messages: 349
Registered: August 2009
Location: Portland, Oregon
Senior Member
On Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 8:59 PM, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@yahoo.com> wrote:
> (Reply to Nasha):
>
> Regarding the issue of "thoughts," I think the following discussion
> was helpful:
>  http://seanwilson.org/forum/index.php?t=msg&th=348& ;start=0&S=ea23ad7d48ebff75fa851131c581a764
>
> The thing to remember is that Wittgenstein is really against a contrived
> inner/outer distinction. He doesn't want you to talk with too much inner as
> much as he does not want too much outer. Nothing is hidden from you. But
> this does not mean that thoughts are "words" any more than it means words
> are "thoughts." Really, it means that both are sentential -- that we think
> by the same process that we language. That these are the same sort of thing.
> In fact, when Wittgenstein says that we could not understand anything
> without "language," he does not mean to say that an infant who cannot speak
> an English-language-word, but whose eyes become huge at the sight of a
> bright-colored object, is not "languaging" yet. Indeed, that would be a
> function of what cognitive processes are going on, and whether they are
> language-like. All that Wittgenstein was every doing was trying to destroy
> folk psychology (a little man in the head) without also becoming a brute
> behaviorist.

I'd append here that I don't think "languaging" is really distinct
from other processes and indeed, if we try too hard to build a wall
between languaging and not-languaging, it'll just crumble.

We think thinking or language is something unique, this proves to be a
superstition, not a mistake.

What he means there, I think, is it's fine to think this way, just if
you find yourself *believing* it, like some kind of trapped fly, then
maybe study some more and get free of such notions.

Kirby

WEB VIEW: http://tinyurl.com/ku7ga4
TODAY: http://alturl.com/whcf
3 DAYS: http://alturl.com/d9vz
1 WEEK: http://alturl.com/yeza
GOOGLE: http://groups.google.com/group/Wittrs
YAHOO: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wittrs/
FREELIST: http://www.freelists.org/archive/wittrs/09-2009


Previous Topic: Analyzing Wittgenstein's 'Mental Processing' Quotes
Next Topic: Wittgenstein and "Brain Scripts"
Goto Forum:
  


Current Time: Sun Feb 25 20:43:47 EST 2018

Total time taken to generate the page: 0.01539 seconds