[lit-ideas] Re: Wittgenstein and Remarks on Color 91-93

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 15 May 2015 08:09:36 +0000 (UTC)

From Remarks on Color: 91. If there were a harmony theory of colors, it would 
probably begin with a division of the colors into different groups and would
forbid certain mixtures or combinations, would allow others; and it would,
like harmony theory, not justify its rules. 92. Can that not shed us some
light on the nature [Art] of those differences between the colors? 93. [We do
not say A knows something, B knows the opposite. But if one replaces "knows"
by "believes," then it is a proposition.] >
Richard then comments:
 >In other words, there is no way to justify jarring and non-jarring
differences between colors and sounds: in the end, such theory [Lehre] remains
arbitrary, dogmatic teaching of unjustifiable rules.>
(1) This comment is not justified by what is quoted. (Which is typical, I find,
of much commentary on Wittgenstein).

 (2) It is not correct to assert that whether a combination of sounds is
[experienced as] "jarring" or "non-jarring" results from some "arbitrary,
dogmatic teaching of unjustifiable rules": e.g. many people, without any
musical training or much musical sense nevermind any "theory", can wince when
they experience sounds that are "jarring". A child can wince at jarring sounds
when it is the first time they have experienced any such sounds - and obviously
without having been instructed in any "arbitrary, dogmatic teaching of
unjustifiable rules" about what constitutes "jarring" sounds.

It is not correct to describe such responses to sounds (experienced as
"jarring") as "arbitrary".

(3) Wittgenstein, I suggest, would accept all that is set out at (2).
(4) Given (3), Richard's comments cannot be an accurate commentary.
(5) One of the things Wittgenstein is getting at in his quoted comments is one
of the running-themes of his later philosophy - that "justifications" run out
[we sooner or later "hit bedrock" and our "spade is turned", as he elsewhere
puts it].

That means, a theory-based account may run dry very quickly because the
"justifications" on which it is based may run dry very quickly. It is against
this background that Wittgenstein can contend that "a harmony theory of
colors.....would, like [a] harmony theory [of sounds], not justify its rules".
But absence of such "justification" would not render such "rules" arbitrary or
dogmatic - or should I say merely arbitrary or merely dogmatic - and it is
wrong to suggest they would or to suggest Wittgenstein is saying they would.
Nor would it mean Wittgenstein is suggesting our responses are governed by
taught "rules" (anymore than a child wincing at "jarring" sounds does so
because they are so "taught") - for this does not follow from contending that
whatever "rules" are taught on "harmony" they will soon run dry of
"justification" in a theoretical way.
It seems somewhat presumptuous to refer to others, as Richard does, as flies
needing to be shown by him how to get out from the fly-bottle. But if we are
use to this Wittgensteinian image we may observe how it applies most aptly to
many Wittgensteinians themselves.

DnlHope John isn't too bored by thisBzzzz
Ldn








On Friday, 15 May 2015, 4:44, Richard Henninge
<RichardHenninge@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:


From Remarks on Color: 91. If there were a harmony theory of colors, it would 
probably begin with a division of the colors into different groups and would
forbid certain mixtures or combinations, would allow others; and it would, like
harmony theory, not justify its rules. 92. Can that not shed us some light on
the nature [Art] of those differences between the colors? 93. [We do not say A
knows something, B knows the opposite. But if one replaces "knows" by
"believes," then it is a proposition.]  In other words, there is no way to
justify jarring and non-jarring differences between colors and sounds: in the
end, such theory [Lehre] remains arbitrary, dogmatic teaching of unjustifiable
rules. A and B could have perfectly opposite theories of the harmony or clash
of colors or sounds and could naturally not justify their own theories--such
could not be the case that a state of affairs and its opposite could be
justified. Such cannot be known; it can only be believed. Now you've got a
proposition. Propositions employing "to know" only look more certain, like we
are making progress toward understanding. Its reduction to belief is a healthy
reminder that there is an enormous amount of holiday-making going on with the
language, like spring break 24/7. Just helping flies out of fly-bottles, just
saying. Richard HenningeUniversity of Mainz Translations of Wittgenstein
essentially my own.
 


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