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[Wittrs] Wittgenstein As Therapy, Not Science [message #1436] Tue, 29 September 2009 20:46 Go to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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Bruce:

With regard to when use is "illegitimate" in a meaning-is-use universe, the answer depends upon what you are really asking. If you are asking whether there are sentences or expressions that by their very FORM can never be expressed, the literal answer is "no." Even gibberish is "meaning."  But if what you are asking is when ideas go "south," the answer is that "when grammar is knotted." That's the key. Wittgenstein II allows you to speak and then will assess whether what you have said is pointless upon your own terms (expressions). What I want to say here is, "stupid is as stupid does." There is no longer a  logical form for proper expressions. The way I like to say it is this: under the new regime, you can bake whatever you like -- but you are going to have to live with the ramifications of your own cooking.

Consider Wittgenstein's objection to Moore in On Certainty. "I know I have a hand" is facile because it plays doubt-removing grammar in situations where the activity of doubt cannot be meaningfully deployed. In short, it doubts a stipulation. So Moore is allowed to say "I know I have a hand," but when he does (and when he means it in the way he does),  it is a misplay in the language game. Or it is a poor play. (His grammar is all knotted up).

Imagine someone being a poor player at cards or whatever. These same poor plays are what constitute "senselessness" and "pointlessness" and so forth. No longer is it the form of the proposition that matters; it is whether the matter is sophisticated.    

Regards.

SW 





[Updated on: Sat, 21 November 2009 14:15] by Moderator

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[Wittrs] Wittgenstein As Therapy, Not Science [message #1473 is a reply to message #1436] Wed, 30 September 2009 21:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
blroadies is currently offline  blroadies
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:

>What I want to say here is, "stupid is as stupid does.

Cutting to the chase, is it stupid to say that "words express meaning"
(as some have implied)? and if so (or not so) why, on what sort of
grounds?

> ... "I know I have a hand" is facile because it plays doubt-removing
grammar
> in situations where the activity of doubt cannot be meaningfully
deployed.

Can't we conceive of a situation in which we may doubt that the hand we
see, feel, is actually our own? And if we cannot, is that evidence that
the grammar is in a knot? Of course, I'm asking the same question as
above. What sort of claim are we making when we say "your grammar is
knotted" amd what sort of arguments could we then appeal to?

> Imagine someone being a poor player at cards or whatever.

But in the above cases we have explicit criteria for failure. What
"poor" or "just so so", may be vague. Still winning is explicitly
defined. What are the criteria for knotted grammar?

bruce



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[Updated on: Mon, 05 October 2009 14:18] by Moderator

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[Wittrs] How to Verify Wittgenstein [message #1474 is a reply to message #1473] Wed, 30 September 2009 21:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
blroadies is currently offline  blroadies
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, CJ <wittrs@...> wrote:
>
> From Wittgenstein
>
> When I think in language, there aren't 'meanings' going through my
> mind in addition to the verbal expressions: the language is itself the
> vehicle of thought.

Is this an empirical discovery? Is it a claim to knowledge? Can it be
true or false? Perhaps it is true for some folks and not others, some
cultures....or is this statement of our esssence?

It is the status of these remarks that concern me.

bruce



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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's meaning is use. [message #1475 is a reply to message #1474] Wed, 30 September 2009 22:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "BruceD" <blroadies@...> wrote:
>
>
> --- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, CJ <wittrs@> wrote:
> >
> > From Wittgenstein
> >
> > When I think in language, there aren't 'meanings' going through my
> > mind in addition to the verbal expressions: the language is itself the
> > vehicle of thought.
>
> Is this an empirical discovery? Is it a claim to knowledge? Can it be
> true or false? Perhaps it is true for some folks and not others, some
> cultures....or is this statement of our esssence?
>
> It is the status of these remarks that concern me.
>
> bruce
>


On Moore's "Proof" of an External World

I want to comment briefly on your nearby post, as well, Bruce, the one in which you reply to Sean vis a vis Wittgenstein's perspective on Moore's proof of an external world, i.e., when he said I know there is an external world because 'here is a hand' and 'here is another.'

In that case I think we have to look at the context of what Moore was claiming. He wasn't merely talking about knowing when we have, or don't have, parts of our body. Rather, he was making a claim about certainty and solipsism and what the possibility of the latter does to the former.

Moore was not addressing whether he has a hand but whether having a hand is evidence for the existence of an external world.

You are certainly right that there are situations in which it is meaningful to doubt whether one has a hand (think of phantom limbs). But THAT isn't the issue for Moore OR for Wittgenstein. It is not about doubting the presence of one's hand but about doubting the reality of what the hand represents.

In On Certainty Wittgenstein makes the point that there are some things which it makes sense to doubt and some where doubt has no role. It is not whether there is a hand that is in doubt but whether the evidence that there is a hand stands against a claim that the external world is illusory. And it is precisely here that Wittgenstein, it seems to me, wants to say that the game of doubting comes to a halt. If we doubt such evidences (in context, of course, because there ARE times when we may legitimately doubt whether we have that hand), then nothing is left because everything else, our entire belief system stands on just such commitments.

If we say we are certain there is an external world, given evidence for it (such as Moore's hand), this is not because we could be uncertain but only because to do otherwise, to speak of doubting such a thing would be to express ourselves incorrectly. What having an external world means is all the things we normally ascribe to it so, with all those things present, there is no doubt possible. And if there is no doubt possible, what is the sense of saying we are therefore certain?

That is the linguistic error we may fall into, i.e., supposing that doubt is even possible in such a case. But it's not that we cannot have circumstances where real doubt is possible, as we have seen, because we can. Rather it's that, in circumstances where it isn't, what is the sense of thinking that it is?


On Nonsense

We have seen people talk a lot about "nonsense" on this list recently and it seems that in his Tractarian period Wittgenstein meant one thing by "nonsense" whereas in his later phase, nonsense seems to be something else. For the Tractarian Wittgenstein it was those things we had to pass over in silence because they could not be logically expressed (either in terms of truth or falsity or in terms of the relations of logic). This became, for the logical positivists, expressive claims which were mainly emotive in content or for which the grammar was so garbled as to yield nothing intelligible.

The later Wittgenstein, I suggest, thought of "nonsense" in still another way: As the kinds of statements which seemed superficially to say something but which, when closely examined, were seen to fall out of the game or to be deployed in a game in which they had no part. Here we see Wittgenstein dealing with the problem of solipsism and doubt in this way. To speak of doubting the external world when all the evidence was in its favor and nothing against it (which is what philosophical doubt ultimately is about) is to misuse the notion of doubt AND the corresponding notion of certainty. Neither has a place in THAT game.

But note, it is theoretically possible that evidence could be adduced that, like Neo in that silly movie The Matrix, we are all just hooked up to a virtual world and everything we take to be real isn't. BUT FOR THAT TO BE AN INTELLIGIBLE CLAIM WE WOULD NEED THE EVIDENCE OF THE WORLD WE LIVE IN TO CHANGE IN THE WAY IT DOES FOR NEO, i.e., we would have to have the additional experiences Neo has after taking the red pill. THEN IT WOULD MAKE SENSE TO DOUBT, OF COURSE. But then it is a different game, i.e., one with some new rules because of new facts encountered. So Neo, like Moore with a phantom limb, would have some conditions under which doubting makes sense. But absent such conditions, doubting makes no sense and that, I think, is the latter Wittgenstein's notion of nonsense, i.e., when unintelligibility kicks in.

SWM

[Updated on: Sat, 21 November 2009 14:20] by Moderator

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[Wittrs] How to Verify Wittgenstein [message #1476 is a reply to message #1474] Wed, 30 September 2009 22:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(reply to Bruce)

... one would first have to know what an empirical discovery of such a thing or its opposite would have to look like. It seems to lead to one of two directions. It might go into "possible-world talk," which itself seems far more speculative. Or it will take the form, "the MRI looks like this, and I have a theory about what this means." I'm not sure why this latter claim wouldn't be subject to the same sort of objection.

Here is what I want to say: what needs to be seen?

What he is saying is that thought is sentential. That's his point. That the flow or structure of thought is language-like. You don't need an empirical account of anything here, because it is given to you as a therapy, not as journalism. If you would dispute the premise (idea), the goal would be to see what you meant -- to see whether your grammar might be knotted up. This is exactly what Philosophical Investigations is doing. It's Wittgenstein showing you how to philosophize.  

Imagine someone saying, "when I think in language, there is more than the meaning of words in my mind. There is extra meaning." One would not say: where is the empiricism for that? Where's your proof? One would want to know two simple things: (1) is there a clinical problem (in which case real therapy might be needed); or (2) is there confusion in the grammar of the expression. You might say, "give an example." And an exchange would ensue that allowed you to completely investigate how this "extra mind meaning" played in the person's lexicon (grammar). After you figured out exactly the assertability conditions, you would then "conjugate" the matter by relating it to the same sort of thing that you express for that. "Oh you mean 'anticipation.' Well, even that is sentential too, -- no?"

Of course, if your form of life was different, you could not relate to it. (How do I know what a Lion says ...). If it were, you would be able to acquire some sense of it (assuming at least equal degree of sophistication). Given the way minds are, the sense that you would acquire would either be poor or sophisticated. You know that immediately. And if you were especially sophisticated -- if you could see deeply into ideas and into thoughts -- you probably would find many of the expressions of others to be either ordinary or confused. You would rarely find something contemplative from another's utterances where you had received the therapeutic benefit.  

Regards and thanks  

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[Wittrs] Re: How to Verify Wittgenstein [message #1477 is a reply to message #1476] Wed, 30 September 2009 22:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(correcting my prior message)

... should be, "If it were the same form of life, ...." right after the Lion remark. 

------------------------------------- 
Of course, if your form of life was different, you could not relate to it. (How do I know what a Lion says ...). If it were [insert here], you would be able to acquire some sense of it (assuming at least equal degree of sophistication). 




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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's meaning is use. [message #1478 is a reply to message #1474] Wed, 30 September 2009 23:14 Go to previous messageGo to next message
kirby urner is currently offline  kirby urner
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On Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 6:49 PM, BruceD <blroadies@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> --- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, CJ <wittrs@...> wrote:
>>
>>  From Wittgenstein
>>
>> When I think in language, there aren't 'meanings' going through my
>> mind in addition to the verbal expressions: the language is itself the
>> vehicle of thought.
>
> Is this an empirical discovery? Is it a claim to knowledge? Can it be
> true or false? Perhaps it is true for some folks and not others, some
> cultures....or is this statement of our esssence?
>

I think the effectiveness of the investigative process Wittgenstein
showcases depends on our finding our feet with the examples given, of
ordinary use cases in the field. If the examples are all alien and
disorienting, then we're not able to make the case that this or that
usage pattern is common to our form of life.

In the case of meanings not going through my head as a simultaneous
process, paralleling whatever I'm verbalizing, we look to common use
cases. Sometimes the full meaning or significance of one's remarks
only strikes one later i.e. I didn't know what he meant at the time,
but after thinking about it. I may also realize other interpretations
of my own verbalizations, not thought of by me at the time.

These very commonplace observations are not of behavior nor are they
claims to biological knowledge first and foremost. They are retreats
to times in our lives when we've talked about "meaning", used that
concept in practice. We've learned we can decouple meaning and
expression to some extent, such that a meaning "sinks in"
asynchronously. This point alone should help dislodge the notion of a
parallel meaning track, shadowing one's verbalizations.

That being said, there are times when one might need to communicate in
code and so one emphasizes certain words and phrases, ostensibly
saying one thing while at the same time communicating some other
thing.

The person enciphering in this way might sense both messages in some
sense, would claim later what a peculiar thing it is to mean one thing
while saying something different.

We can think of less exotic circumstances where a subvocalized thought
is simultaneous with some spoken expression.

So it's not a matter of dismissing these use cases and only cherry
picking those other ones. Rather it's a matter of dislodging any
rigorous adherence to a "doctrine" of a parallel meaning track (as if
we could freeze these many expressions into some crystalline logic,
capture psychology in some neat little recipe book).

> It is the status of these remarks that concern me.
>

It's not pretension to knowledge of brain processes. It's a reliance
on use cases drawn from everyday life where ordinary language is used.
It's a matter of recalling and polishing i.e. mining one's experience
and then taking off the rough edges to we have useful specimens,
apropos exhibits. You could call these "thought experiments" and not
be far wrong. But it's less physics and more anthropology that we're
looking at.

Kirby

> bruce
>
>
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>

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[Wittrs] Re: How to Verify Wittgenstein [message #1479 is a reply to message #1473] Wed, 30 September 2009 23:51 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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Bruce:

1. As to how one verifies "poor grammar," this cannot be given as an empiricism, a logic (a rule), or a 3-point bulletin. Because it would then become a theory, a 'law," a proof, a formalism, etc.. Wittgenstein never offered us a new theory or law. He's offered only a technique. To the extent that intelligent people are captured by him, one assumes he was quite good at the craft. (You will note that ordinary language philosophy eventually became disfavored because the social-club couldn't do it after Wittgenstein was gone).  

What you are really asking is how to do the craft or how you know if it "works." (Or, if it does "work," was the therapy really the reason?). The same questions could be asked of ordinary therapy. If you walk away from a counselor without improvement, are you to blame or is the craft? I imagine this resolves itself circumstantially. I also imagine that it assumes certain minimal things of its participants (good faith, no real clinical disorders, etc., certain level of cognition, etc.).

Here is what I want to say: the validity of the method could only be shown through the method itself. The nature of Wittgenstein's philosophy is such that one could only ever consume and apply its craft to show flaws in the craft. This is because it does not come to use as a set of propositions.

2. With respect to your On Certainty questions: if we could come to see that using doubting-grammar works for hands, we could then deploy it sensibly. As Wittgenstein suggests, however, it seems to require a change in the form of life or perhaps some sort of clinical situation. And short of that, what it really requires is not understanding that doubting-grammar is really being used in the first place (hence the confusion).

As to when two people agree or disagree about the "knotting," I think the answer is "no" (it doesn't resolve the matter). Regrettably, I think it is only something that is answered by masters of the craft. This isn't anywhere explicit in Wittgenstein, but if you just think about it, I think it is inevitable. If we accept the premise that certain "ideational" or "synthetic" abilities of brains are like the abilities of memory or mathematics -- not the same in humans --  we might find that Wittgensteinian "Zen masters" (properly conceived) are actually people on the high-end of a discreet sort of cognition (or trait). This theory of mine is reinforced everyday I teach. Brains are not equal in what they do with ideas. (This also leads to the practical problem that perhaps some people can't even receive the therapy).        

3. On the card-game comparison: I don't think assertability conditions are any more amorphous in language games than card games. The only difference is getting people to see that the parameters are there. I mean, just by virtue of making the assertion one reveals the "rules." That's the difference. It's not that the rules are less defined, It's that they arrive on delivery.

Regards and thanks.
  
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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's meaning is use [message #1480 is a reply to message #1478] Wed, 30 September 2009 23:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
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> n Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 6:49 PM, BruceD <blroadies@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> > --- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, CJ <wittrs@...> wrote:
> >>
> >> From Wittgenstein
> >>
> >> When I think in language, there aren't 'meanings' going through my
> >> mind in addition to the verbal expressions: the language is
> itself the
> >> vehicle of thought.
> >
> > Is this an empirical discovery? Is it a claim to knowledge? Can it
> be
> > true or false? Perhaps it is true for some folks and not others,
> some
> > cultures....or is this statement of our esssence?
> >
>


Bruce has raised a series of questions, and although several writers
have sought to "answer" his questions, I myself would like to look at
the "questions" that his asking of these questions raises, and perhaps
my answer will be consistent with some of those answers already
presented.

Surely, we must start with the fact that the Investigations is written/
put together quite unlike any other printed matter to which any of us
have ever been exposed. Not only the "concepts" but the form of it,
which mirrors to some extent how I imaged Wittgenstein's legendary
Cambridge seminars went...in a dialogue between W and himself and
sometimes including a third or fourth person as well as the two W's.
There was a purpose to all this...and it is not just dismissible as an
eccentricity of Wittgenstein's. And, importantly, the lessons of
these seminar dialogues were not over after one such seminar of such
"therapy"

I raise these points because I am curious, when Brian or others of us
have read the Investigations how much time did it take us to read it.
Did we go through it like a sci-fi paperback. How long did it take.
In my opinion, if it took less than a year, we didn't really READ it,
or certainty we did not do what it takes to learn its lessons. Why do
I say this? Not simply because it's so deep that it takes reading
over and over to get it.

Wittgenstein's "technique" as it evolved over the first half of the
20th century, paralleled in timing and in style the development of
psychoanalytic theory during those years. If W is doing anything with
us in the Investigations it is conducting "therapy" ...and many of us
have noted that and quoted that.....but the therapy that is being
conducted is very much like psychoanalysis, where people come in deal
with specific episodes and occurrences, only Wittgensteins gives us
plenty of such episodes and occurrences to get us started, and then
the analysand goes home, lives life and finds episodes and experiences
in their daily lives which mirror and echo the episodes which are
opened up and elucidated in the course of the analysis. In the
Investigations W does a lot of the work for us by bringing up
universal experiences that we all can work through with him....but not
for us to "read", or speed read, but for us to 'work through" and
ponder as he gives them,and to consider between readings as other
similar or resonant experiences arise in our lives, and then to come
back to the Investigations.

And various of his statements (such as the one quoted in Brendan's
email are akin to the occasional "interpretations" that the analyst
will make after the elucidation of experiences or to punctuate their
presentation and these statements are not meant to be scientific
(empirical )assertions or pronouncements of some ideology but
"interpretations" which rephrase and adumbrate the experiences the
various forms of life or language games which W and the reader have
just gone through.

And then the "therapy" goes on, further highlighting of episodes we
all know in our lives..and THEN the reader taking home the work of
those pages and doing their own work in their daily lives, when
similar or related episodes are now recognized by the reader as
arising and the regularity and frequency of such episodes is noted.
And then back to the book for more dialogue and occasional
"interpretation".

This is why that quote and other quotes from Wittgenstein have their
"standing" and their "merit". To look at them in isolation and to take
them as empirical or ideological or otherwise "provable" outside the
life and the form of life to which they refer is to miss the point, to
miss everything.

The question is how do we have to "read" and take in the
Investigations in order to say that we have "read it" and how we have
to do the 'work", the interpretative ongoing work of dialogue with W
and then dialogue with ourselves as it occurs in our lives, between
readings a few pages here and there. If we do that, we cannot and
will not ask those questions. And as W says elsewhere (very roughly
and, sorry, I cannot give you the page numbers), "the response to
those questions will not be an "answer" but the going away of the
questions."

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[Wittrs] just one more thing: as to verification [message #1481 is a reply to message #1474] Wed, 30 September 2009 23:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
CJ is currently offline  CJ
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In terms of "interpretation" as it plays its role in psychoanalysis,
the "verification " of the interpretation is in the manner in which it
is taken up and incorporated into the life of the analysand. He or
she need not (and in fact that would be counterproductive) nibble and
chew and pick over its morsels. The validity of the verification of
the interpretation in psychoanalysis, oddly enough, is (again the same
words) its usefulness and how the life of the analysand is changed for
the better by it. Period.

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[Wittrs] How to Read Wittgenstein [message #1482 is a reply to message #1480] Thu, 01 October 2009 00:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(replying to a point by CJ below)

... yes, I wholeheartedly agree. I once likened the reading of Wittgenstein to the reading of a kind of scripture. One sits with each sentence, pretending almost to be in the company of the chain of thought that produced them, chasing the thought through each example and remark. In fact, I would say this: anyone who properly read Wittgenstein would quickly have a tired mind. People should read short segments and think intensively through the segment. The thinking is never "find what the sentences say," -- as if one were reading a newspaper -- but more like trying contemplate what Wittgenstein is thinking as you read it. This is why biography is so central. And I also think it is true that if one reads latter-day Wittgenstein later in life, the understanding of it is much different than as a younger individual. My theory here is that one has to have a lot of experience derived from the form of life just to be able to relate to what the larger
picture is.

Regards and thanks     
 
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
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Wright State University
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________________________________
From: CJ <castalia@optonline.net>
To: wittrs@freelists.org
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 11:52:11 PM
Subject: [Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's meaning is use


I raise these points because I am curious, when Brian or others of us have read the Investigations how much time did it take us to read it.  Did we go through it like a sci-fi paperback.  How long did it take.  In my opinion, if it took less than a year, we didn't really READ it, or certainty we did not do what it takes to learn its lessons.  Why do I say this?  Not simply because it's so deep that it takes reading over and over to get it.

Wittgenstein's "technique" as it evolved over the first half of the 20th century, paralleled in timing and in style the development of psychoanalytic theory during those years.  If W is doing anything with us in the Investigations it is conducting "therapy" ...and many of us have noted that and quoted that.....but the therapy that is being conducted is very much like psychoanalysis, where people come in deal with specific episodes and occurrences, only Wittgensteins gives us plenty of such episodes and occurrences to get us started, and then the analysand goes home, lives life and finds episodes and experiences in their daily lives which mirror and echo the episodes which are opened up and elucidated in the course of the analysis.  In the Investigations W does a lot of the work for us by bringing up universal experiences that we all can work through with him....but not for us to "read", or speed read, but for us to 'work through" and ponder as he gives
them,and to consider between readings as other similar or resonant experiences arise in our lives, and then to come back to the Investigations.  




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Wittgenstein's Notion of Therapy [message #1483 is a reply to message #1473] Thu, 01 October 2009 04:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
nobul savage is currently offline  nobul savage
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Does Wittgensteins idea of therapy presuppose the idea that we are in need of therapy?
[Wittrs] Re: How to Verify Wittgenstein [message #1486 is a reply to message #1483] Thu, 01 October 2009 12:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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(reply to Brandon)

This is hard to say. The question would be the same as asking: do we presume that there is more to know? Or, do we presume that more can be understood?
 
Imagine two unsophisticated people in dispute over an assertion. One might say, "they would take the long way home." And even when they arrived home they would not realize that the way was "long." On one hand, one wants to say, "let them traverse as they like," but on another, "could they navigate the short cut, if shown?"   

Probably there are two ideas here. One is simply avoiding a traffic accident in language. That should be the easier task. If traffic accidents are avoided, one would not presume any need for "therapy." But then again, it depends upon what you are conversing about. There are some ideas which are especially complicated. And when people speak about them, the inability to navigate a family resemblance or conjugate a lexicon can become problematic. This is because these traits are skills. And so in that respect, one might always presume the need for some sort of assistance with grammar. Sort of in the way it is common to have assistants around when complicated tasks are undertaken. 

SW

----- Original Message ----
From: brendan downs <downs_brendan@hotmail.com>

Does Wittgensteins idea of therapy presuppose the idea that we are in need of therapy?





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[Wittrs] Re: the social construction of language and myth [message #1489 is a reply to message #1483] Thu, 01 October 2009 16:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
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Frankly, Brendan, I think way too much is made of this therapy paradigm. I don't see it as key to his thinking though it is certainly a part of his method (which is driven by his thinking, i.e., his way of understanding things). But everything doesn't reduce to a claim that people need therapy or that applying some therapeutic method will address any and all philosophical issues. Personally, I think he was being more polemical than substantive in his invocation of the therapy model. But I'm probably in the minority on this list re: this view. -- SWM

[Updated on: Sat, 21 November 2009 14:22] by Moderator

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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's meaning is use. [message #1490 is a reply to message #1474] Thu, 01 October 2009 17:32 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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--- On Wed, 9/30/09, BruceD <blroadies@yahoo.com> wrote:

> From: BruceD <blroadies@yahoo.com>
> Subject: [Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's meaning is use.
> To: wittrs@freelists.org
> Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2009, 9:49 PM
>
> --- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com,
> CJ <wittrs@...> wrote:
> >
> >  From Wittgenstein
> >
> > When I think in language, there aren't 'meanings'
> going through my
> > mind in addition to the verbal expressions: the
> language is itself the
> > vehicle of thought.
>
> Is this an empirical discovery?

Of course not.

>Is it a claim to knowledge?

What does THIS mean?

> Can it be
> true or false?

I'm not sure that this is a meaningful question. If it is nonsense to say that "utterances express meanings" - and if one looks at how "meaning" is used, it becomes obvious that it is - then why would it not be nonsense when the utterances are observable only to the speaker and listener who, in this case, are the same person?

>Perhaps it is true for some folks and not
> others, some
> cultures....or is this statement of our esssence?

It is a question concerning the meaning of "meaning."

>
> It is the status of these remarks that concern me.

And now you know.


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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's meaning is use. [message #1499 is a reply to message #1475] Thu, 01 October 2009 22:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
blroadies is currently offline  blroadies
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <SWMirsky@...> wrote:

> Moore was not addressing whether he has a hand but whether having
> a hand is evidence for the existence of an external world.

I agree. On Certainty raises issues, as you point out, that, I feel,
makes it more difficult to explore what I want to explore, namely, the
use of grammar as a tool for philosophical speculation.

Sorry I don't have time to do justice to the remainder of your Post. You
raise quite a number of interesting issues.

bruce



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[Wittrs] Re: How to Verify Wittgenstein [message #1500 is a reply to message #1476] Thu, 01 October 2009 22:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
blroadies is currently offline  blroadies
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:

> Here is what I want to say: what needs to be seen?
>
> What he is saying is that thought is sentential. That's his point.
> That the flow or structure of thought is language-like.
> You don't need an empirical account of anything here,

You don't need evidence that in fact thought is sentence-like?

> because it is given to you as a therapy,

but a therapy based on a false theory of how we think couldn't be
helpful.

> if you would dispute the premise (idea), the goal would be to see what
you meant --
> to see whether your grammar might be knotted up.

I don't dispute the premise that language is sentence like but want a
specific theory that is testable before I accept it as a fact. Is that
inappropriate?

> This is exactly what Philosophical Investigations is doing.
> It's Wittgenstein showing you how to philosophize.
>
> Imagine someone saying, "when I think in language,
> there is more than the meaning of words in my mind.
> There is extra meaning." One would not say: where is the empiricism
for that?

Why not ? That is just the question asked in some research yielding
interesting answers about bodily feels, etc. The term "extra meaning"
would puzzle me, of course.

> Given the way minds are...

Are you suggesting that we already know "how minds are" and no further
study needed.

I'm not trying to be difficult. I don't have the answer. Just sharing
what puzzles me.

bruce


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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's meaning is use. [message #1501 is a reply to message #1490] Thu, 01 October 2009 22:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
blroadies is currently offline  blroadies
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--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, Glen Sizemore <gmsizemore2@...> wrote:

"If it is nonsense to say that "utterances express meanings" - and if
one looks at how "meaning" is used, it becomes obvious that it is - then
why would it not be nonsense when the utterances are observable only to
the speaker and listener who, in this case, are the same person?"

Bruce responds:

If it is nonsense to say X, then it follows it is nonsense to say that X
is observed by anyone.

But how did you get to the conclusion that it is nonsense to say phrase
X? Is the exact phrase, those particular words that are nonsense or is
it the meaning of the uterance expressed in the words nonsense?

bruce



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[Wittrs] Re: How to Verify Wittgenstein [message #1504 is a reply to message #1500] Thu, 01 October 2009 23:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
Messages: 793
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(reply to Bruce)

"You don't need evidence that in fact thought is sentence-like?"

Not anymore than someone who says "you are suppressing anger" and I find it to be true. Let's assume scientists find one day that thought isn't sentence like. What is it, Bruce, that would actually be found? And would it change the form of life? As I talk to you right now, would anything be different?

Here is what I want to say: one who asks for evidence of the matter hasn't understood it. It isn't a theory. There is nothing science could find that could even affect the matter.
    
"But a therapy based on a false theory of how we think couldn't be helpful."

According to what, Bruce's law? Does your science say that? Is that a priori? Seems like an ideology of therapy to me.

Here's the point: you are trying to use science as therapy. But the problem is that, because it is only a counter-therapy, it, too, doesn't have to be "true."  What do you do if the matter is a growth science? Do you have any idea how often science is wrong or changes course? Imagine a study finding, "science says thoughts are sentence-like." If that came over your television, Bruce, what in God's name would you do with it? The next time someone said "I have a little man in my head," you would then show them the newspaper? This maneuver would be dinner conversation, it wouldn't be insight. In fact, anyone who based upon such a study said, "Wittgenstein was right," would really only be saying "I didn't understand then, and I don't now."  

"I don't dispute the premise that language is sentence like but want a specific theory that is testable before I accept it as a fact. Is that inappropriate?"

Indeed. It is irrelevant. And it is peculiar that you believe a matter that concerns the way you exist. but still seek journalism on the matter. It would be like one saying "study proves there is an external world," in which case you claimed to rest at ease.   

"Are you suggesting that we already know "how minds are" and no further study needed."

No, I'm saying that the matter is a lot like this. Two children see a ball. One knows how to throw it, another doesn't. One day, one throws it to another. And after several tries, it comes to the point where the other throws it back. One would never ask in this situation, "but don't I need science to prove the throwing?'

You apparently already know that you are throwing. You don't dispute the idea. If you really wanted to confirm or dispute it, you would go about Wittgensteinian method (therapy), not seek out a journalist.




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[Wittrs] Re: the social construction of language and myth [message #1505 is a reply to message #1483] Fri, 02 October 2009 00:06 Go to previous messageGo to next message
kirby urner is currently offline  kirby urner
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On Thu, Oct 1, 2009 at 1:50 AM, brendan downs <downs_brendan@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>
> Does Wittgensteins idea of therapy presuppose the idea that we are in need of therapy?
>

I think he was addressing some real confusions that beguiled a kind of
older philosophy that has since gone out of fashion in some of the
more exclusive circles.

Put another way some self-respecting schools of thought have already
made a break from some of the older dialogs and disagreements.

I've argued that Fuller's operationalism is especially apropos in
fields where creating new meanings, designing mindsets, developing
memes, are of core concern. These fields would include diplomacy and
advertising, both featuring the arts of persuasion.

The kind of anthropological mindset Wittgenstein's encourages has
opened up a lot of new vistas. Now that language includes television,
creating meaning by designing usage patterns is a kind of "boom
industry" though it goes by different names.

I recommend training in Wittgenstein if wanting to better grasp the
idea of namespaces, not just in computer science, but in the realms of
religion, science, music, literature. The language game idea was
critical in this respect.

We were lucky to start where Wittgenstein left off. Those who wish to
rehash the older debates are not prevented from doing so. Many of
these people haunt academic lists and think of themselves as
"analytic" in some way. Thanks to Wittgenstein, we're free to ignore
them at least a lot of the time.

Kirby
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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's meaning is use. (The Varieties of Nonsense) [message #1513 is a reply to message #1499] Fri, 02 October 2009 10:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
SWMirsky is currently offline  SWMirsky
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Thanks Bruce. I actually think we could all benefit if we discuss further some of these notions, in particular the idea of nonsense.

It looks to me like there are a number of types of statements that would qualify as "nonsense" for various reasons and, further, that Wittgenstein, in his use of the term shifted his meaning somewhat from his earlier days to his later period.

Here are some of the examples I can see at this point (though perhaps they are not exhaustive):

1) Garbled sentences: "Plain rain the is on." (A garbling of The rain is on the plain." In this case the grammar is all screwed up and so the words don't do their job of conveying information to us. This is pretty obvious -- who would argue that this doesn't qualify? But, depending on how serious the grammatical awkardness is, we might still make some sense of it by guessing at the proper grammatical structure.)

2) Sentences constructed of referentless words, words lacking grammar, as it were: "T'was brillig on the slithy tove." (Lewis Carroll's kind of poetic nonsense which takes some kind of sense from the sounds of the words and similarities with known words, thus enabling poetic application. Here the grammar of the word deployment looks okay but the words themselves don't seem to have an application.)

3) Non-factual or non-analytic sentences: "Killing is evil." (The logical positivists considered any sentences not undergirded by some meaning that could be verified, either factually of by logical form, to be nonsense and, on this basis, they excluded all manner of ethical, aesthetic, religious and emotional claims as being merely emotive in their nature and so unworthy of attention.)

4) Non-factual or non-analytic sentences which are excluded from saying or showing something about the world but which still have some value: "Killing is evil." (Note that this is the same example as the one given for the logical positivists, except that it assigns such sentences a different role, thus suggesting a more positive understanding of so-called nonsense than the logical positivists evinced -- this seems to be the Tractarian Wittgenstein's perspective on this kind of "nonsense", i.e., all the things the Tractatus was about which it was obliged to pass over in silence. This, I think, points up the sharp difference between Wittgenstein and the logical positivists of the Vienna Circle who so admired him.)

5) Words or sentences deployed outside their rightful venue: "I am sure there is an external world because I see it." (This variant of Moore's "proof" of an external world is a classic example of this kind of mistake which the later Wittgenstein spent so much time examining and calling to our attention. If you cannot imagine doubting something how can you imagine being sure of it? Thus the word "sure" or "certain", etc., become nonsense since they are being deployed in the wrong context, the wrong language game. Another example of this kind of "nonsense" would be to speak of something as "the all" because it really is a denotative or descriptive term that has no referent -- note the abnormal juxtaposition of "the" and "all", we would never in ordinary language qualify "all" by "the" so this is a dead giveway as to a problem with the usage.)

6) Something that is obviously wrong and which only a fool would claim: "The world is flat." (This seems to be what we often mean by "nonsense" when we impute it to others, i.e., a claim with which we not only disagree but which we think so obviously wrong -- and worthy of disagreement -- that merely to state it suggests the ignorance, incompetence, stupidity, etc., of the stater.)

I'm guessing there are other possibilities, other examples of what we may mean by "nonsense". Too often, though, a term like "nonsense" is used loosely or in a way that loads the dice. Thus invoking "nonsense" in relation to some usage may be misleading if it's not properly connected to one of these six possibilities (or to some other as yet unexplicated one).

From what I can see, Wittgenstein moved from one notion of nonsense to a different one in his two periods though it isn't clear that there is no relation between them at all. Nevertheless, I don't think he would have said "Killing is wrong" is nonsense in his later period as he would have in his earlier one. In the Tractatus he wanted to say that ethics, which was what was really important, could just not be addressed by the kind of conceptually substantive language that renders something meaningful on a strictly logical paradigm.

Nevertheless he did not, as the logical postivists did, simply cordon off the area as being merely emotivist, without basis or value to our ability to talk and reason about the world. In his later phase, he is very much focused on the wide range of activities or games that language consists of and how the meaning of terms are to be found in the context of particular uses to which they are put within the various activities we participate in. Nonsense in his later period is about pulling words from their natural homes, sending them on holiday.

SWM




--- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "BruceD" <blroadies@...> wrote:
>
>
> --- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <SWMirsky@> wrote:
>
> > Moore was not addressing whether he has a hand but whether having
> > a hand is evidence for the existence of an external world.
>
> I agree. On Certainty raises issues, as you point out, that, I feel,
> makes it more difficult to explore what I want to explore, namely, the
> use of grammar as a tool for philosophical speculation.
>
> Sorry I don't have time to do justice to the remainder of your Post. You
> raise quite a number of interesting issues.
>
> bruce
>


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[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's meaning is use. [message #1528 is a reply to message #1501] Sat, 03 October 2009 07:53 Go to previous message
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--- On Thu, 10/1/09, BruceD <blroadies@yahoo.com> wrote:

> From: BruceD <blroadies@yahoo.com>
> Subject: [Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's meaning is use.
> To: wittrs@freelists.org
> Date: Thursday, October 1, 2009, 10:39 PM
>
> --- In Wittrs@yahoogroups.com,
> Glen Sizemore <gmsizemore2@...> wrote:
>
> "If it is nonsense to say that "utterances express
> meanings" - and if
> one looks at how "meaning" is used, it becomes obvious that
> it is - then
> why would it not be nonsense when the utterances are
> observable only to
> the speaker and listener who, in this case, are the same
> person?"
>
> Bruce responds:
>
> If it is nonsense to say X, then it follows it is nonsense
> to say that X
> is observed by anyone.

It sounds like you mean this to be a paraphrase of what I said. It isn't.


>
> But how did you get to the conclusion that it is nonsense
> to say phrase
> X? Is the exact phrase, those particular words that are
> nonsense or is
> it the meaning of the uterance expressed in the words
> nonsense?

Look, meanings are to be found in the determiners of utterances, but the determiners of utterances are not possesions found in the alleged mind or the real, but conceptually ill-conceived, brain. What you have written above, by the way, presupposes that utterances express meanings. What I was saying was rather simple - if it is nonsense to say that "out-loud" utterances "express meanings," it is no less nonsense to say that covert utterances "express meanings." There is no fundamental difference between overt and covert utterances. As to whether or not the exact phrase is what is nonsense, I would say "no." What is nonsense are all locutions that have HAD a particular effect on listeners. This does not mean that there exists "a meaning" that is the common cause of a class of utternces. It means that some of the causes of utterances (which are to be found in the intersection of genetic, cultural, and personal histories) are common to utterances that have
different forms. The utterances, "Waiter, Water!", "Would you bring me a glass of water please?" and "I need some water." all have different forms (they have in common, of course, the mand "water"), but they "mean" the same thing in the sense that SOME of the variables controlling the utterances (and this includes the histories responsible for that control) are the same.



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