[lit-ideas] Re: Witters & Sons
- From: Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx>
- To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 18 Feb 2017 15:42:30 +0000
Verso le 19 provo a chiamare dalla finestra dui skype
From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
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Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2017 5:41 PM
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Witters & Sons
[mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of palma
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Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Witters & Sons
fava or string?
that is the question, not to be confused with 'wittgenstein or ryle' since it
is well known that exclusively cretins are behaviorist, while the choice
between fava and string is hard to make, either can fill the funnel, but with
On Sat, Feb 18, 2017 at 2:00 PM, Donal McEvoy
Witters is, like Ryle, a behaviourist,>
No W is not. And neither is Ryle a behaviourist in several important senses,
though Ryle once admitted his position might be stigmatised as behaviourism
As to Ryle, he is an anti-Cartesian in that he opposes the Cartesian version of
the split of mind and body. It is less clear what Ryle offers as a replacement.
What Ryle offers does put forward the importance of outward, observable
behaviour as a measure of inner states, but does it amount to radical
behaviourism of the sort that denies there are inner states of a sort that are
not constituted by behaviour? Almost certainly not: Ryle is alert to the
existence of all kinds of mental events and does not posit that these are
constituted by accompanying behaviours. Does Ryle even claim that the
accompanying behaviours provide the only logical criterion for the existence of
the inner states - would Ryle deny that I could feel a sudden pain in my chest
and yet outwardly behave (because I am on television) as I would if I had felt
no such pain? My guess is not: what Ryle might do is fudge the issues while
providing a framework with a thrust that emphasises the role of outward,
observable behaviour in judging inner states (rather than constituting inner
Among the valuable points made by Popper in TSAIB: Ryle's anti-Cartesianism is
understandable given the untenable character of the Cartesian account of the
mind-body split but, on close examination, it fudges the issue of whether there
is nevertheless a mind-body split and if so what is its character.
Regarding W, W is in my view even less of a behaviourist than Ryle (depending
what we mean by behaviourist). There is a massive difference between (1)
emphasising the role of outward behaviours in giving us measures of inner
states and (2) claiming inner states are reducible to outward behaviours etc.
There is also a massive difference between (1) trying to show that we could
never say 'what constitutes an inner state' independent of any measures of such
states in behaviourial terms and (2) claiming that the inner state is
constituted by its behaviourial expression.
The later W is not offering any theory of the relation of mind and body, indeed
W makes clear there are no theses in his philosophy: the later W is offering a
therapeutic approach to disentangling conceptual confusions that may arise from
the commingling of language concerning 'mental entities' and 'physical
entities', but without offering a metaphysical thesis as to the distinction
between such entities. This, I suggest, is because W views this distinction as
something that cannot be said (in general terms) but only shown (on a case by
Perhaps we should address this further. My suggestion is that Popper is right
in TSAIB to argue on the basis that, despite what many philosophers may have
suggested, the mind-body problem remains unsolved - and undissolved by
In my view, W can be interpreted in a way that is consistent with this: W does
not claim to dissolve the metaphysical mind-body problem but to offer a therapy
to avoid philosophical confusions thrown up by this problem. W leaves actual
metaphysical problems untouched because, in W's view, it is beyond our limited
language to solve them: the metaphysical realm creates a background against
which we are provoked philosophically to try to say things by way of solution
to metaphysical problems but what we do is end up talking nonsense - what W
wants to do is fight against this nonsense but he does not claim (1) this fight
amounts to providing solutions to actual metaphysical problems (2) that the
metaphysical realm is a fiction. As to (2), W does not think the metaphysical
realm is a fiction (i.e. non-existent, a la Logical Positivism) - it is simply
that it is realm about which we cannot express the truth given the limits of
Despite these limits of language (which render positive "theses" senseless, so
that "There are no theses in philosophy"), later W does think we can show the
truth or that the truth is shown through the sense of our language.
To understand all this better we have to understand that we still in a period
of hangover from Hume and Kant, and that W's approach is very attractive to
those who want a position that embodies a measure of anti-metaphysical
positivism (as to what can philosophy can achieve, or 'say with sense') as well
as Kantian sense of the depths of the metaphysical realm. A large part of W's
story is, however, how his philosophy has been repeatedly hijacked by academic
philosophers inclined to anti-metaphysical positivism - a story that began with
the Logical Positivist misreading the TLP and continues with the 'behaviourist'
misreading of the later W and even to the so-called "New Wittgensteinians".*
*The problem is that many of the "Old Wittgensteinians" aren't much better, and
much of what they put forward is elaborate fudge.
"e.g. "It is not the case that Donal has two heads" and "It is false that Donal
has two heads". So where does the gap come in?"
Between both heads? Just teasing.
i. The world is all that is the case.
may be rendered as having the form:
x. The S is P.
And we are considering here something like
xi. 0(The S is P)
-- where "0" stands for "it is false that..." (Logicians use '1' for truth and
'0' for falsity -- versus variants with "~". (I actually prefer an inverted "T"
for 'falsity") -- and
xii. ~(The world is all that is the case).
So let's go back to the original fragment in McEvoy's "Wittgenstein sends us
"The TLP begins "The world iis all that is the case" - which seems simple and
straighforward at one level, but what would it mean to deny it? What picture is
given by saying "It is false
that the world is all that is the case". What else could be the case?"
McEvoy's phrasing, "what picture is given by..." may possibly be generalised to
ANY proposition of the form "It is false that..."
Note that in fact, when McEvoy asks, "What else could be the case?", he is not
proffering (if that's the expression) a 'rhetorical question':
In possible-world semantics, surely 'possible states of affairs' may be deemed
part of the world.
(I'm sure Popper, being a bit of a Meinongian, would consider a possible state
of affairs part of what Popper calls his 'third world'. So one has to be
Grice is not too explicit as to the differing implicatures for 'it is false
that...' and 'it is not the case that...'.
But I'm sure that in a Russellian expansion of his favourite "The king of
France is not bald", the different implicatures become clearer.
There are syntactical approaches to "not" (Hilbert's formalism) that need not
deal with the concept of 'falsity'. It is only a 'semantic' conception of 'not'
(alla Tarski) that ascribes a 'truth-table' to this unary operator. And the
differing implicatures between 'it is false that...' and 'it is the not the
case that...' are, of course, pragmatic, rather than semantic, in nature. So
one has to be careful, however 'interchangeable' these two idioms may seem like.
McEvoy quotes Witters as arguing that '[philosophical explanation has] to stop
This McEvoy retrieves from PI, rather than TLP, but as we see, even with the
very first proposal in TLP ("The world is all that is the case") we find that
counter-explanations to the effect that it may NOT be the case, to all
philosophers (Kripke, Leibniz), that the world is all that is the case.
These counter-explanations need, in turn, to be addressed by further
counter-counter-explanations (Imagine a succession of "Why"? questions). If the
series stops somewhere, Witters does not say where. Perhaps he implicates it.
Witters's point about the 'five' seems simpler. Witters is, like Ryle, a
behaviourist, and he thinks the explanation he gives making reference to the
way the shopkeeper ACTS (or 'behaves') is where the philosophical explanation
xiii. meaning =df use
for Witters, but never for Grice! In "Prolegomena" to "Logic and Conversation"
Grice actually makes a strong anti-Wittgensteinian point about this. If in
Wittgenstein's time, 'meaning is use' was considered sort of a truism, by the
time Grice is delivering his lectures, the opposite slogan ("meaning is not
use") seems to have become more fashionable. What Grice is having in mind may
well be Quine, who plays with 'meaning' and 'use' as applied to "if" in
"Methods of Logic" (and which Strawson discusses in his Introduction to
"Philosophical Logic" -- Oxford readings in philosophy).
And so on.
palma, etheKwini, KZN
cell phone is 0762362391
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