[lit-ideas] Re: Show and tell

  • From: palma <palmaadriano@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 8 May 2014 16:20:57 +0200

this also presume that wittgenstein was not only confused (granted
plus/minus the usual caveats) but a complete idiiot. consider the following

give me any X such that X is not presentable in language, step 2 at any
proposed X, the challenge is NOT met simply because X was expressed, in
German, in English, in English plus a diagram, in German plus on equation
hence you have not given me such an X, so there is one or more than one X
that is not expressible in language, this entails that since X exists by
prior stipulation, X is showable and unsayable.
for those who like stupid jokes Piero Sraffa tried to disabuse wittgenstein
from this imbecillic view by making a pure gesture (whose reading even to
the natives is vague and complicated, N. Malcolm describes it as brushing
one's fingertips at one's chin, which indicates somethign around disgust
and 'I don;'t care'  -- [can't be that sentence, for the reasons afore

wittgenstein, reacted by thinking deeply and moving to his 2nd, 2,5nd or
3rd phase which finally clarified (I have no idea of what was clarified,
other than what Kreisel told me, namely nothing was clarified by screaming
insults at Turing, perhaps it is not well know that Turing did listen to
many of wittgenstein's seminar in England

On Thu, May 8, 2014 at 4:11 PM, Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>  Well, it seems to me that the Wittgenstein-McEvoy argument goes as
> follows:
>  1. There are things, mysterious and unspecified, that cannot be said in
> language.
>  2. These mysterious and unspecified things can be, in some equally
> mysterious and unspecified way, 'shown'.
>  3. We are now challenged to disprove the thesis by saying things in
> language which we are told in advance are unsayable, even though we have no
> idea what such things might be.
>  4. In such form, the challenge obviously cannot be met, so 1. and 2. are
> taken as proven.
>  O.K.
> On Thu, May 8, 2014 at 3:57 PM, Redacted sender Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx for
> DMARC <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>> My last post today!
>> In a message dated 5/8/2014 8:29:05 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
>> donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
>> "The ‘say/show’ distinction is admittedly  problematic – even highly
>> problematic. But that does not mean it is wrong (it  does not mean it is
>> right
>> either of course)."
>>  Well, if you are, like Grice, a bivalentist, then if p is not right, it
>> is
>> wrong, and unlike 'double negation', two wrongs don't make it right.
>> "This post," McEvoy goes on,
>> "is to say a few things by way of defence of [Witters]’s fundamental POV –
>>  and that it is a POV to be taken seriously and not dismissed as silly."
>>  Or 'blessed', as I prefer. ""Silly", etymologically, is blessed." ("She
>> is
>> silly is, etymologically, she is blessed" -- cfr. the Oxford Dictionary on
>> the  Silly Virgin Mary).
>> McEvoy:
>> "It wants to stress that some of the opposition to this POV arises from
>> not taking seriously enough the idea that there are “limits of language”.
>> Unless  we take very seriously the idea that there are “limits of
>> language”,
>> it is  almost inevitable that we shall not take an idea like a ‘say/show’
>> distinction  very seriously."
>>  But cfr. is a cosmologist were to argue:
>> "The problem with you, Newton, is that you don't seriously recognise  that
>> the Universe is FINITE". "There are LIMITS OF THE UNIVERSE".
>> ----
>> Since one of the teachings of Chomsky is that language is open-ended,
>> generating every day brilliancies like the poetic line from a quatrain,
>> Colourless green ideas sleep furiously.
>> it is HARDER to argue that language HAS limits -- or rather the onus
>> probandi lies with the 'finitist'.
>> McEvoy:
>> "It seems to me that [Witters] is on the right lines in thinking most of
>> us
>>  are largely blind to the “limits of language” as he is concerned with
>> them. We  (unconsciously or otherwise) tend to the view that language can
>> do
>> whatever we  want or need it to do: after all, we might think, specify
>> something that  language cannot do?"
>>  Well, good ole Witters once infamously, perhaps he had a cold that day,
>> invited one of his many friends, to 'try and describe the aroma of
>>  coffee'.
>> --- I think he was sceptical about one's KNOWING other minds, too ("I know
>> you have a headache, so I won't ask").
>> McEvoy:
>> "But this challenge would be naïve (naïve like Turing’s challenge): for,
>> in
>>  being able to specify, we would have to be able to put into language the
>> challenge language must meet – and it is not surprising that language can
>> meet  (most or all of) the challenges that can be put into language."
>>  I think there are undecidability issues that may be counter-examples to
>> that.
>> There are two distinct senses of the word "undecidable" in contemporary
>> use. The first of these is the sense used in relation to Gödel's theorems,
>> that  of a statement being neither provable nor refutable in a specified
>> deductive  system. The second sense is used in relation to computability
>> theory
>> and applies  not to statements but to decision problems, which are
>> countably
>> infinite sets of  questions each requiring a yes or no answer.
>> McEvoy goes on:
>> "To understand [Witters]’s very different POV we need to understand that,
>> for [Witters], language is very limited in fundamental ways: the “limits
>> of
>> language” are extremely severe, but they are often inconspicuous to us,
>> particularly because those limits are not themselves expressed in
>> language –
>> so  we use language blind to its limits. They are also invisible to us"
>>  metaphorically
>> "because language by and large does what we ordinarily try to do with it:
>> so we ordinarily do not experience or run up against its limits. Here is
>> an
>> analogy with a machine-builder. The machine-builder has a whole range of
>> items  with which to build machines – nuts and bolts, springs and coils,
>> levers and  buttons, cylinders and pumps etc. The machine-builder may not
>> experience any  “limits to machines”: he may even challenge anyone to
>> specify any
>> kind of  machine, claiming that he can always make a machine to that
>> specification. But  this challenge would be naïve (as per Turing’s
>> ‘machine
>> argument’) to show there  are not “limits to machines”: for, in being
>> able to
>> specify, we would have to be  able to put the specification in terms so
>> that
>> the challenge could be met by a  machine-builder. If we did not, the
>> machine-builder might object that what we  were specifying was not a
>> machine [say we
>> specified that he build us a novel]:  and the specification of something
>> that is not a machine, he might insist,  cannot be used as an argument as
>> to
>> there being “limits to machines”. Is the  machine-builder right in his
>> attitude and response? One view is this: there may  be an infinity of
>> combinations
>> of machine-parts so as to build different  machines and in this sense
>> there
>> may be no limit to machines – there may be an  infinite number of unique
>> machines that may be built (though we may find their  uniqueness is often
>> negligible compared to their similarity as types); yet each  of the
>> various
>> parts of machines – each component – may be seen to have limited
>>  properties,
>> and also limited properties in terms of how it can be combined with  other
>> components so as to make a machine. These limits may be understood as  “
>> logical limits” to the building of machines. Not every combination of
>>  components
>> can make a machine: we do not make a machine by tipping components  into a
>> barrel – for such a barrel of components lacks the (logically) necessary
>> relationships to constitute a working machine or a machine at all.
>> Language
>> with “sense” also consists of various components aligned in various
>> combinations: these components have limited properties, and they are also
>>  limited
>> in the combinations they can have so that they make sense. Not every
>> combination of components makes language with “sense”: we do not make
>> language
>> with “sense” merely by randomly throwing together various components.
>> There
>> are  “limits” to how we can combine components of language and even to how
>> we can use  individual components (insofar as these may have “sense” in a
>> way that stands  alone: though we may see that, for Wittgenstein, no
>> component of language – not  even a name – has its “sense” in a truly
>> stand-alone
>> way)."
>>  Well, we need a "Treatise on Machines", which is not a machine.
>> And we need a "Treatise of the Logico-Philosophical kind", about what
>> Language is, which, alas, IS Language.
>> ----
>> So THAT's one feature where a machine is not like a language.
>> Russell of course saw this in the "Preface" to TLP when he mentions the
>> language hierarchy that Witters denied. For he felt he could be BETTER
>> than
>> Russell, and that Russell "was not going to teach him not one thing".
>> McEvoy:
>> "These “limits” may be understood as “logical limits”. These “logical
>> limits” may be understood as setting the “limits of language”, just as
>> the  “
>> logical limits” of machine-components and their combinations may be
>> understood  as setting the “limits of machines” (we cannot build a
>> machine that is
>> a novel:  that is a “logical limit” on what we can do with machines)."
>>  The machine builder is working with an implicit definition of 'machine'.
>> For example, Descartes allegedly misused the word 'machine' when he said
>> that
>>  animals (like my aunt) are machines.
>> The language speaker is also working with an implicit definition of what
>> 'language' is. If I go to Mars and they display signs to me, I have to
>> start
>> by  ASSUMING that they are 'saying' things. That is, I need my own
>> 'implicit'  definition of what a language is, and assume that the
>> interlocutionary
>> Martian  also has one, which HAS to overlap, in aspects, with mine.
>> Similarly, if I say, "Aren't you hungry today?" to my cat (or dog) I have
>> to assume that I share an implicit definition of language with cats and
>> dogs.
>> (It's different with _plants_, as Prince Charles showed).
>> McEvoy:
>> "Now can we build a machine that maps these “logical limits” of
>> machine-building? Most of us would intuitively sense that we cannot: we
>> could  not
>> use the limited components and their limited combinations to map out what
>> a
>> machine cannot be built to do – a machine cannot be built to show what a
>> machine  cannot be built to do. We can use the limited components and
>> their
>> combinations  to map out (from the ‘inside’ as it were) what machines can
>> do –
>> every machine  is an example of what it is logically possible for a
>> machine
>> to do. But we  cannot make a machine that maps out what machines cannot
>> logically do: and we  cannot make a machine that maps out the line
>> between what
>>  machines can do and  what they cannot do. By analogy, this is [Witters]’s
>> view in relation to the  “limits of language”. We can use examples of
>> language with “sense” to map out  what language has “sense” – every
>> example of
>> language with sense is an example  of what it is logically possible for
>> language to do with sense. But we cannot  use language to map out what
>> language
>> cannot logically do: and we cannot use  language to map out the line
>> between
>> what language can do and what language  cannot do."
>>  Again, this seem a bit of a stretch, in that, say, Descartes says that my
>> aunt is a machine. Therefore, he is relying, albeit implicitly, on a
>> "Tractatus  machinisticus", let's call it (pompously).
>> Witters says that 'what we cannot say, we better stay silent about' -- and
>> that the limits of the language are the limits of my world -- in a
>> "Tractatus  logico-philosophicus" which IS a set of English sentences (as
>> first
>> translated  by Ogden).
>> McEvoy: "The “limits of language” are therefore inexpressible in language.
>>  But Wittgenstein does not think we must stop there – otherwise he would
>> himself  have “passed over in silence” on the many issues raised by the “
>>  limits of  language”: [Witters], both early and later, thinks these
>> limits make
>> themselves  “manifest” and that they may be shown.  To further understand
>> how  Wittgenstein thinks we can grapple with what is beyond the “limits of
>> language”,  we need to turn to his work."
>>  I fail to see the distinction. I am a functionalist. Suppose you say to
>> Aristotle: "We cannot know the essence of 'plant'; we must direct our
>> attention  to how plants work."
>> Some items are 'functional' in this sense: what they are is what they do.
>> Or, to use what Grice called 'ontological Marxism':
>> "If they work, they are".
>> "I work; therefore, I am."
>> -----
>> (* For Marx, work was important in the creation of what he called 'the
>> capital' -- neuter in German, "Das Kapital").
>> ----
>> Grice:
>> "I am not greatly enamoured of some of the motivations which prompt the
>> advocacy of psychophysical identifications; I have in mind a concern to
>> exclude  such ‘queer’ or ‘mysterious’ entities as souls, purely mental
>> events,
>> purely  mental properties and so forth."
>> Add: Language.
>> "My taste is for keeping open house for all sorts of conditions of
>> entities, just so long as when they come in they help with the housework."
>> "Provided that I can see them WORK [emphasis Speranza's], and provided
>> that
>>  they are not detected in illicit logical behaviour (within which I do not
>> include a certain degree of indeterminacy, not even of numerical
>> indeterminacy),  I do not find them queer or mysterious at all…. To
>> fangle a new
>> ontological  Marxism, they WORK [emphasis Speranza's] therefore they
>> exist, even
>> though only some, perhaps those who come on the recommendation of some
>> form
>> of  transcendental argument, may qualify for the specially favoured status
>> of entia  realissima. To exclude honest WORKING [emphasis Speranza's]
>> entities  seems to me like metaphysical snobbery, a reluctance to be seen
>> in the
>> company  of any but the best objects."
>> McEvoy goes on:
>> "But I want to suggest that this POV is far from  outrageously silly"
>>  or blessed.
>> Old English gesælig "happy, fortuitous, prosperous" (related to sæl
>> "happiness"), from Proto-Germanic *sæligas (cognates: Old Norse sæll
>> "happy,"  Old
>> Saxon salig, Middle Dutch salich, Old High German salig, German selig
>> "blessed, happy, blissful," Gothic sels "good, kindhearted"), from PIE
>> *sele-
>> "of good mood; to favor," from root *sel- (2) "happy, of good mood; to
>> favor"
>>  (cognates: Latin solari "to comfort," Greek hilaros "cheerful, gay,
>> merry,
>>  joyous"). The word's considerable sense development moved from "happy" to
>> "blessed" to "pious," to "innocent" (c.1200), to "harmless," to "pitiable"
>> (late  13c.), "weak" (c.1300), to "feeble in mind, lacking in reason,
>> foolish" (1570s).  Further tendency toward "stunned, dazed as by a blow"
>> (1886) in
>> knocked silly,  etc. Silly season in journalism slang is from 1861 (August
>> and September, when  newspapers compensate for a lack of hard news by
>> filling up with trivial  stories). Silly Putty trademark claims use from
>> July 1949.
>> ----
>> McEvoy:
>> "In particular, the idea that there are “limits of language” that cannot
>> be  drawn in language should no more be dismissed as outrageously silly
>> than
>> the  idea that there are “limits of machine-building” that cannot be
>> illustrated by  building a machine."
>>  Well, if the machine BUILDER **FAILS** (blatantly) in showing the 'limits
>> of machine-building' BY BUILDING A MACHINE, he did succeed, after all.
>> By the same token, a stone, who doesn't speak, illustrates the 'limits of
>> language' -- by showing them. (But one wonder about Ali Baba, who did
>> speak
>> to  stones).
>> McEvoy:
>> "Another point that ‘silly-ists’ should be bear in mind:  Wittgenstein
>> gives many examples to show his POV – for example, he begins
>>  Investigations by
>> showing how the naming-relation is shown: his fundamental  point being
>> that
>> it is shown rather than said (and it is beyond the “limits of  language”
>> to explain this naming-relation so that language itself expresses or  says
>> the explanation: that is, we can (obviously) use language to name objects,
>> but we cannot use language to capture how names name objects – this is
>> something  that can only ever be shown)."
>>  For some reason, the point was nicely communicated to Gilbert Ryle, who
>> dubbed Witters's theory, the "Fido"-Fido theory of naming, and Urmson, the
>> 'picture theory' of meaning.
>> So it seems that for Ryle and Urmson, Witters successfully communicated,
>> in
>>  words, the naming relation.
>> ---
>> McEvoy concludes his post:
>> "What would be impressive would be for “silly-ists” to explain the
>> naming-relation in a way that rebuts Wittgenstein’s POV – I think they
>> may find
>> it much harder than they might think."
>>  "Fido"-Fido
>> was a Rylean geniality.
>> It failed, slightly, to emphasise that dogs are not ARBITRARILY named
>> 'Fido'. They are after all, loyal.
>> As I read elsewhere,
>> ""Fido" deriva dall'aggettivo latino fidus, "fidato"... "
>> "Fido" derives from the Latin adjective, 'fidus'.
>> In Romance Latin (Italian), Classical Latin 'Fidus' becomes Romance
>>  "Fido".
>> "di cui mantiene il significato anche nell'italiano moderno. Dalla forma
>> base Fido si sono originate molte varianti attraverso processi diversi:
>> Fidalma  e Fidalba possono essere un incrocio con i nomi Alma ed Alba."
>> ----
>> It may be argued that when I call my dog "Fido" I am using "Fido" as a
>> 'noun', rather than as an adjective.
>> fido adj. (fedele, leale) loyal, faithful, trusty
>> fido -- masculine noun --  (limite di un credito  bancario) overdraft n
>> credit limit  n
>> But I would not be surprised if a banker called his dog "Fido" to refer to
>> an overdraft. ("Sit, overdraft").
>> Cheers,
>> Speranza
>> From Wikipedia:
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descriptivist_theory_of_names
>> "A type of simple descriptivism was originally formulated by Frege in
>> reaction to problems that confronted the predominant theory of names of
>> the 19th
>>  century due to John Stuart Mill. Mill's theory is often referred to as
>> the
>>  "Fido"-Fido theory because it suggests that the meaning of a proper name
>> is  simply its bearer in the external world (its direct referent, as we
>> would
>> say  now)."
>> "There are several significant problems with this proposal, however."
>> "First, it does not explain how and why names without bearers can still be
>> meaningful even though they have no reference."
>> "Take the following two sentences."
>> (A) There is no Santa Claus.
>> (B) Santa Claus does not exist.
>> "According to Mill's theory, these sentences must be  meaningless."
>> "Another problem for Millianism is Frege’s famous puzzles concerning the
>> identity of co-referring terms. For example:
>> (V) ”Hesperus is Phosphorus.”
>> "In this case, both terms (“Hesperus” and “Phosphorus”) refer to the
>> same entity: Venus. The Millian theory would predict that this sentence is
>> trivial, since meaning is just reference and “Venus is Venus” is not very
>> informative."
>> "Other problems for Millianism are those of negative existentials (e.g.,
>>  “
>> Batman does not exist”) and statements such as “Fred believes that Cicero,
>> but  not Tully, was Roman.”"
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