[lit-ideas] Wittgenstein's Toothache

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:41:32 -0500

In a message dated 1/23/2015 11:52:34 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes in "Re: Facing the Music": Take a dog with  
toothache. The dog has no access to W3 in Popper's conception. The dog may  
experience pain as if the pain is emanating from the tooth with caries. We  
may know this is an illusion: the pain is not located in the tooth at all  
rather the pain is in the brain or is a product of the brain, and the brain 
then  'locates' the pain as if it is in the body where the tooth is. The dog
's  experience of toothache involves a complex interaction of W1 states 
(including  links between the W1 action of caries and the W1 of the central 
nervous system)  and W2 states (including the conscious state which 'locates' 
pain as if is  emanating from the tooth). A human can experience toothache 
in a way that  involves just W1 and W2 in a way similar to the dog. But the 
dog will have no  conscious understanding that its brain is 'locating' the 
pain in the tooth (when  the pain is actually located in the brain rather 
than in the tooth), and the dog  will have no grasp of the issue of caries or 
its effect on its central nervous  system (for "caries" and "CNS" here 
involve W3 theoretical knowledge), nor will  the dog grasp in W3 terms that 
is a potential solution to its plight in  the form of a veterinary dentist:- 
conversely, the human understanding of  toothache, where it encompasses all 
these things that a dog cannot grasp, may be  a W3-dependent understanding. 
So there is a merely W1/W2 sense in which a human  might experience and 
know that they are having a toothache, but there is also a  W3-dependent sense 
of experiencing and knowing that they are having a toothache  which goes 
beyond this. We may also speculate as to the downward causation of  
W3-dependent experience on experience in its W1/W2 form: for example, a 
experience of a toothache may be altered by their W3-dependent knowledge, for  
example that the pain is simply a figment of the CSN/brain or that dental  
treatment is available to cure it - so we may for example speculate (and even  
subject to psychological tests) that the experience of having a toothache 
may  differ if we are in the position to get immediate treatment from how we  
experience it when there is no possibility of getting any treatment. 
This  kind of speculation and testing abandons the idea that 'experience' 
is always  one simple level of entity for the idea that experience is a 
complex product of  many interacting layers, including different layers that 
belong or derive from  W1, W2 or W3. 

I don't know if it was Moore who instilled in Witters a  fascination with 

He (Witters) used to say, to echo Aune, that  

i. I have a toothache.

is incorrigible, and H. P. G. makes a few  interesting points about

a. incorrigibility


b.  privileged access 

(borrowing from Witters and Anscombe) in "From the  banal to the bizarre" 
(one of his publications: his presidential address to the  American 
Philosophical Association, Pacific Division).

It may different,  it seems, with POPPER having a toothache.

Since McEvoy mentions dogs, it  may do to mention Witters on lions, and 

Androcles, however,  apparently did understand the lion's ache -- and was 
nicely rewarded for it  (from being eaten by the animal).

For Witters says,

"If a lion  could talk, we could not understand him."

This is  elucidatory:


It  is this emphasis on becoming attentive to the social backdrop against 
which  language is rendered intelligible that explains Wittgenstein's 
elliptical  comment that "If a lion could talk, we could not understand  him."

Witters' claim is _general_ (while he denied it, he craved for  them). An 
instance would be of a lion saying:

i. I have a  toothache.


ii. I have an ache in my right anterior foot,  Androcles.

(Androcles: Mmm. Let me see. No wonder. You have a big thorn  on the pad 
there. Let me remove it, force pus from the wound, and bandage  it.)
Mutatis mutandis, McEvoy's dog:
"Take a dog with toothache. The dog has no access to W3 in Popper's  
conception. The dog may experience pain as if the pain is emanating from the  
tooth with caries."
In summary, while
iii. I have an ache in my tooth.
may be _literally_ false.
ii. I have a toothache.
may IMPLICATE that
iii. It seems to me AS IF I have an ache in my tooth.
-- for dogs, lions, and humans alike. (Cfr. H. P. G., "Can I have a pain in 
 my tail?").
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