[Wittrs] Wittgenstein and Empiricism (Uschanov)
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- Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2011 11:25:59 -0700 (PDT)
[... from Tommi Uschanov] link: http://languagegoesonholiday.blogspot.com/2011/07/attention-to-particulars.html?showComment=1311793263674#c8311092568171658515 blog: http://languagegoesonholiday.blogspot.com/ Posted: 27 Jul 2011 12:01 PM PDT The above considerations, incidentally, are why I have long been acutely discomforted by the casual way in which many Wittgensteinians - Peter Winch is the example who always comes to the forefront in my mind - emphasise the entirely non-empirical nature of philosophy. Of course I agree completely that philosophy has nothing empirical to discover. But I don't think this means that it has to swear off using the discoveries of natural and social science to bolster the Wittgensteinian diagnoses of conceptual confusion it makes. If the confused concept is the concept of something empirical, then looking at what this something is, is relevant to judging the justice or injustice of the diagnosis of confusion. And for most empirical things there is a science, the whole task of which is to look at the empirical thing. For instance, one of the things I suggest in my second book is that certain traditions of political philosophy (e.g. post-Rawlsian liberalism) are conceptually confused, not because they ignore Frege's "warning against apparent proper names having no reference", but because they speak and think as if some empirical facts about the social world were other than they actually demonstrably are (e.g. quantitative, empirical studies in social psychology and political science constantly show the political thinking of most adults in contemporary Western democracies to be significantly more ignorant, illogical and irrational than post-Rawlsian liberalism tacitly assumes it to be, with the quantitative difference to the Rawlsians' optimistic picture being so huge that it might as well be a qualitative one). I cannot help feeling that there is a curious lack of fit between the enthusiasm with which Winch and other Swansea Wittgensteinians endorse the use of novels, movies, etc., as a source for the "reminders to be assembled for a particular purpose", and the lack of enthusiasm for using the empirical results of the various sciences similarly. If we can use a novel as a reminder that love can come to this or religious belief can come to this, why cannot we use an opinion poll as a reminder that democracy can come to this? In your review of Berel Lerner's book on Winch, you respond to the accusation that Winch "ignor[es] the policy importance ofsocial science" by saying: "Winch might be wrong about the value of social sciences, but not because he ignores pressing political matters. He just does not think that social science could help with these [...]." I think it can, and thus your review did not make the accusation go away. It's been nagging me constantly ever since I read Lerner's book, and by now I have given up hope of ever being able to look at The Idea of a Social Science quite the same way again. (This final comment is something I abortively drafted in my head last year, to send to you for comments; it was triggered by revisiting the Lerner book while writing my own. If you respond, it might well end up influencing what I say about these matters in my next book, which I'm starting to write right now for publication next year.) -------------------------- Wittrs mailing list Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx http://undergroundwiki.org/mailman/listinfo/wittrs_undergroundwiki.org ** Note: This message was forwarded to Wittrs by the Editorial Board, so that members might enjoy or comment upon it. This is a common practice. If the message came from another list or rss feed, the link(s) should appear above. In such a situation, the original author may not see your reply. Members of Wittrs are encouraged to visit the link(s)that are fed here.
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