[lit-ideas] Re: Philosophical Investigations online

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2012 15:20:46 +0000 (GMT)

JLS' way with the issues is way too easy, and also seems confused, as explained 

 From: "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx>

>It's full Russellian irony at play there. In a better format.

Wittgenstein thinks that x cannot be said.
But Wittgenstein said x.
Therefore, Wittgenstein is wrong.>

But R stops short of any such conclusion. Instead he reserves judgment on 
whether the TLP offers a tenable solution by way of its doctrine of 'what can 
be shown not said'. R points to a possible meta-linguistic solution as an 
alternative to W's, whereby what cannot be said in one language might 
nevertheless be said in some higher-order language. R acknowledges "very 
powerful arguments" in support of W's solution, without irony; and R does not 
claim, as JLS's glib "better format" does, that W's position is clearly 
self-refuting. I suggest R's "intellectual discomfort" means what it says, 
without irony, and is not meant ironically to reflect the view that R actually 
thinks W's solution is obviously self-refuting.

But even if it was self-refuting, this still would not show it was not W's POV 
or that W thought it was self-refuting. And R is clear he thinks he is 
discussing W's POV.

Equally, to feel some "intellectual discomfort" at the 'exegesis' that the PI 
also is based on a view of 'what cannot be said but only shown' (and even to 
feel that such a view is self-refuting) would not show that the 'exegesis' is 
wrong i.e. it would not show that this is not W's POV.

But below I explain why such a view is not obviously self-refuting at all: what 
is perhaps self-refuting is W's view in the TLP that only is what is said has 
sense (so what is shown is nonsense), but this view is only W's view in the TLP 
and it is not W's view in PI.

To show that my 'exegesis' does not represent W's POV something less glib and 
confused than what JLS offers is required. For example, a counter-example might 
be if JLS could adduce an example of a 'rule' that, for W in PI, can be 
captured in language in a way that shows its sense can be stated without 
anything further than what is stated needing to be shown in order for it to 
have that sense. But on my view, a central point of the so-called 
'rule-following considerations' ['RFC'] is to show that there is no such 'rule' 
that can be captured in language in a way that shows its sense can be stated 
without anything further than what is stated needing to be shown in order for 
it to have that sense.   

Other of JLS' remarks simply show no proper understanding of this doctrine of 
'what can be shown not said' and confuse it with a 'doctrine of sense and 

For example:

>I agree with  Russell that Witters said "a good deal" about stuff. >

So what? Agreeing with R would not mean that what R thought here represented 
what W thought.

> I'm less sure than McEvoy  is that "PI" concerns the methodology of 
> 'philosophy' (philosophy and 
logic as  'meaningless', as Russell has it) as TLP does. >

This crowbarring in of some so-called 'methodology of philosophy' is not based 
on anything in my posts. Of course, we might say any philosophical work must, 
in a trite sense, have its own 'methodology of philosophy'. But in this sense, 
a 'methodology of philosophy' does not tell us anything useful about whether or 
not PI rests on a view what cannot be said but only shown (as to, for example, 
the dividing lines between sense and nonsense). So what it is doing here 
baffles me.

Nor have I claimed that in the PI what can shown is considered as senseless (as 
JLS seems to imply).

On the contrary, this is one of the key differences between W's view in PI and 
the TLP. 

In the TLP what can only be shown (for example, the propositions of the TLP 
itself) is strictly senseless, according to the theory of sense W there 
adopts:- indeed, it is arguably this that makes TLP's position self-refuting, 
for it would appear those propositions must have sense for us to understand 
what they show [this btw is one of Popper's criticisms, and Popper argues that 
W's position in this regard is not merely 'paradoxical' but is self-refuting:- 
but, importantly, P does not criticise as self-refuting the idea that behind 
the sense of what is said is always something that cannot be said but only 

But in PI there is no view akin to the view in the TLP that only propositions 
of "natural science" have sense: and so it is wrong to ascribe to W in the PI 
the view that what can only be shown is therefore senseless. For the view that 
'what can be shown is senseless' is only true of the TLP and it is only true 
because in TLP W restricts his theory of 'sense' to the propositions of 
"natural science": in other words, to say 'what can be shown is senseless' only 
follows from a specific doctrine of 'sense and nonsense', such as the one in 
the TLP, andit does not follow from any broader doctrine that the sense of what 
is said always depends on what can only be shown.

JLS' thinking strikes me as confused in these several regards. It almost goes 
without saying that it offers nothing telling against the 'exegesis' I am 

Near the top of the hill

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