Thanks to McEvoy for his further commentary.
We are considering a passage in "PI" -- No, that's not the life of an infamous
number, but short for "Philosophische Untersuchungen". In German, "I" becomes
"U," and vice versa.
The passage from "PI" we are considering is, to wit (or to Witters, if you
"[T]hink of the following use of language: I send someone shopping. I give him
a slip marked 'five red apples'. He takes the slip to the shopkeeper, who opens
the drawer marked 'apples', then he looks up the word 'red' in a table and
finds a colour sample opposite it; then he says the series of cardinal
numbers—I assume that he knows them by heart—up to the word 'five' and for each
number he takes an apple of the same colour as the sample out of the drawer.—It
is in this and similar ways that one operates with words—"But how does he know
where and how he is to look up the word 'red' and what he is to do with the
word 'five'?" Well, I assume that he acts as I have described. Explanations
come to an end somewhere.—But what is the meaning of the word 'five'? No such
thing was in question here, only how the word 'five' is used."
"W[itters] is taking the michael but for a serious point: of course, how would
the shopkeeper know how 'red' in the message slip correlates with a colour
I think Witters should be straight with Anscombe and accept:
i. He doesn't know.
(This has come to be known as Kripkenstein's answer -- 'the sceptical' one).
"The answer [to what I take to be Anscombe's question, "How does the
apple-seller know that 'red' in the slip co-relates with the sample in the
Periodical Table of Colours the apple-seller keeps in his shop?"] might seem:
because 'red' is in the [slip] and 'red' is in the table, and they are the same
'red' with the same meaning. But how does the shopkeeper know all this? And how
does the shopkeeper know how the 'red' in the note correlates with the colour
sample (and not the shape in which the colour is depicted)?"
Well, that would have Anscombe asking Witters if he thinks square apples are a
logical possibility. I assume the shape in which the different (primary, I
hope) colours are depicted in the Apple-Seller's Periodical Table of Elements
"And how does this colour sample correlate with the apple produced - within
what range or shade of 'red' does there have to be a correspondence so the
shopkeeper knows he has a 'red' apple within that range? Etc. The questions can
Though perhaps not ad infinitum. The apple-seller actually is defined by his
ability to sell apples, red and green.
A more important point is whether the apple-seller still has _five_ apples. I
can imagine that if Wittgenstein's servant (let's call her Lizzie) arrives just
one minute before the apple-seller is selling the shop, he might just as well
go (in the appropriate Cambridgeshire accent):
ii. Sorry, ma'am. Have just _fo:_ ["four"] apples, not five. But I do have one
green apple. Would you accept it? Or rather, would your intransigent master
"[A]nd the so-called procedure does not answer them: the procedure could only
work if these answers are presupposed. But it is really these answers, and
nothing in the procedure, that explains how the meaning is arrived at."
Well, I wouldn't substantivise 'meaning' like that. "Meaning" is a verb. When
we say, as Witters said, "meaning is use" he was being confused. Part of the
confusion is saved by Ryle in his contribution to a symposium with Findlay,
repr. in Parkinson ("Theories of meaning," Oxford readings in philosophy").
Ryle distinguishes between 'use' and 'usage' and thinks Witters should have
said that 'meaning is using', since meaning being usage sounds puerile.
So we don't have "Meaning", but we have the apple-seller trying to understand
iii. "Five red apples."
and apparently NOT failing.
"The whole example is absurd"
I'm surprised it came from a full professor of philosophy at Cambridge but
perhaps I'm not. It was said of Oxford in the days of H. P. Grice that it
(Oxford) had no competition (Cambridge was deemed far too minor in comparison).
"and reflects a procedure that would never happen because the correlations and
understandings necessary (to 'translate' from the [slip] using the colour
table) would presuppose a level of other knowledge"
to use Anscombe's favourite noun
"which would render any colour table superfluous - as indeed in real life."
Well, if the apple-seller is Daltonic, I don't think a colour table would be
superfluous. I suppose that if Servant Lizzie KNEW that the apple-seller is
Daltonic, she would have cleverly changed
iii. "Five red apples"
iv. Five green apples.
Grice considers this. He is teaching French to a little girl. He notices that
the little girl does not know MUCH French. Grice notices that this little girl
thinks that a phrase which in French means "Strasbourg is smoggy in the winter"
means "Help yourself with a piece of cake". Knowing this, Grice utters the
French for "Strasbourg is smoggy in the winter" thereby meaning that the little
girl is to help herself with a piece of cake. So, 'red' and 'green' (as applied
to apples) have different 'usages' when used by Daltonic and other.
"In other words, the colour table could not realistically supply the meaning of
'red' because, without adequate other knowledge of the meaning of 'red,' it
would not be possible to use the table."
On top, it is obtuse to assume that 'red' has meaning. It's utterers when
uttering things like
v. Snow is red.
who MEAN things. From utterer's meaning we arrive at a meaning of an utterance,
such as "Snow is red". And from the utterance meaning we arrive at the meaning
of an utterance part -- such as "red". This is the antithesis of the
Compositionality Principle that Davidson worshipped but which Grice found
Strictly, 'red,' qua utterance-part, acquires meaning in terms of something
like Grice's "Causal Theory of Perception" -- vide Peacocke, "Concept and
Percept". We need to correlate the utterance-part, 'red', with a qualia, such
as red is. In the Daltonic utterer, the implicatures diverge, and the sad thing
is that they are mock implicatures in that the Daltonic utterer may NOT even
_know_ he is providing a "misusage" of the utterance-part, 'red'.
"There is much dry wit of a certain kind in PI, and the above example is just
Not in vain he was often called "dry Witters". Whereas Grice would have a gin
and it anyday.
"Yet many readings of PI read W as if he is flatly stating what he thinks and
this can be read off his flat statements. The result makes nonsense of W's
actual point of view."
One wonders what _intention_ Witters had in proffering the "PI" then. I know
teachers at Cambridge are supposed to _entertain_ tutees (they have SOMETHING
like the Oxonian tutorial system, only different). And Cambridge is drier than
Another wonder is what made Anscombe think that "PI" would sell with Blackwell.
Oddly, the most famous review that "PI" got when Blackwell published it was by
P. F. Strawson -- review which was repr. by Oscar P. Wood, of Christ Church, in
a volume NOT published by Blackwell.
Derek Jarman makes a passing reference to "PI" in his film "Wittgenstein".
vi. Wittgenstein's lover: That's a nice book!
Wittgenstein: This? It's not even a book! It's a draft.
Wittgenstein's lover: And should it become a book, how would you call it?
Wittgenstein: The Blue Book.
The joke is that the spectator can see that the book is not blue and that
Witters is deceiving his lover: he means "Philosophical Investigations."
For the record, Philosophical Investigations was published posthumously, as
Or, as Carrie Fisher would say, posthumorously.
"Philosophische Untersuchungen," as the thing was titled by Witters, was edited
by Lizzie Anscombe and a Welsh philosopher Rush Rhees.
But it was translated by Anscombe, since Rhees confessed, "My Austrian is poor."
"Philosophische Untersuchungen" comprised two parts.
Part I, consisting of 693 numbered paragraphs, and it was allegedly ready for
However, this Part I was rescinded from the publisher by Witters himself, in
the form of a telegraph:
vii. Please don't publish it!
Part II was added on by the editors, trustees of his Nachlass.
When Lizzie Anscombe's version became dated (Austrian slang evolves), a new
edited translation, by a don at Grice's college, St. John's, Peter Michael
Stefan Hacker and Joachim Schulte (a native German speaker, unlike Hacker), was
published to great effect.
Part II of the earlier Anscombe translation was labeled in the Hacker-Schulte
translation "Philosophy of Psychology - A Fragment," and humously referred to
be Cambridge students as PPF.
Wittgenstein's handwriting left a lot to be desired -- by Lizzie Anscombe, that
is. Her typing was very much welcomed by Mr. Blackwell -- who, although a very
_Oxford_ man -- decided to go on with the publication even if it was by a
_Cambridge_ philosopher, even if translated by an _Oxford_ philosopher as
Lizzie Anscombe by then was.
The book contains illustrations and is now available in paperback.