[lit-ideas] Re: lw

  • From: "Walter C. Okshevsky" <wokshevs@xxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 9 May 2014 11:23:36 -0230

Don't you just hate it when somebody explains your joke.

Walter O
MUN

P.S. Zeno walks halfway into a bar ...


Quoting Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>:

> 
> >I have 2 children. In both cases, whenever I tried to teach them the meaning
> of
> a word by pointing, they would look from my finger up my arm to my shoulder.>
> 
> In all my psychiatric experience, Walter's children have a very odd, almost
> unnatural, response to 'pointing'. Rudy has had things pointed out to him
> many times and Rudy also uses 'pointing' as part of his way of conveying his
> meaning (to a point that is now sometimes embarrassing in public, and so he
> is now being taught 'Don't point'). 
> 
> 
> When Wittgenstein uses similar language to Walter, about how when someone
> points another could take the direction to be up to their shoulder,
> Wittgenstein is creating a striking image to show that what 'pointing' seeks
> to convey cannot be determined by the mere act of 'pointing' (if we think
> otherwise it is only because we are so accustomed to the sense of 'pointing'
> that its sense seems to be contained in the 'pointing': an illusion that
> parallels the illusion where we are so accustomed to the sense of words that
> the sense seems to be contained in the words). It is part of Wittgenstein's
> position that 'pointing' could not function as a means of picking out
> "things" from the external world if the only reaction humans had to
> 'pointing' was like Walter's children, and humans merely looked from the
> finger up the arm to the shoulder. 
> 
> 
> So 'pointing' raises questions that parallel other fundamental questions
> about language. Is the sense of words contained in the words? Do words say
> their own sense? Gary Lineker is an ex-soccer player, now soccer pundit and
> presenter for the BBC: last night the BBC homepage had a headline "Lineker
> backs Stones for England World Cup Team." The instant reaction is surely that
> the Stones are too old now for the team. A more considered reaction is that
> this is an example where clearly the sense of "Lineker backs Stones for
> England World Cup Team" is not contained in or said by the words "Lineker
> backs Stones for England World Cup Team".
> 
> Donal
> London
> 
> 
> 
> 
> On Thursday, 8 May 2014, 23:38, Walter C. Okshevsky <wokshevs@xxxxxx> wrote:
>  
> I have 2 children. In both cases, whenever I tried to teach them the meaning
> of
> a word by pointing, they would look from my finger up my arm to my shoulder.
> Today, one is a successful veterinarian, the other, a lion tamer with Cirque
> de
> Soleil.
> 
> Cheers, Walter
> 
> 
> Quoting Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>:
> 
> > Okay, I acknowledge that the Investigations does not say that language is
> > never ever learned or taught by pointing at stuff, only that it is a
> > simplistic and incomplete account. This wasn't exactly the main point of
> > contention, I mentioned it because it seems to be the account of language
> > learning and use largely assumed in The Tractatus, and later at last
> > partially rejected in the PI.
> > 
> > Now, I don't have kids, so I would ask those of yous who are parents and
> > grandparents whether you often used pointing at things to teach your kids /
> > grand-kids the first language.
> > 
> > O.K.
> > 
> > 
> > On Thu, May 8, 2014 at 11:53 PM, Donal McEvoy
> > <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>wrote:
> > 
> > >
> > > >The theory that language is learned by pointing at things is attacked in
> > > the Investigations. (The poor Augustine is made the culprit for it.)>
> > >
> > > What theory? Investigations may (rightly) reject any idea that the mere
> > > act of pointing itself conveys the necessary sense (for what the pointing
> > > seeks to convey cannot be determined by the mere act of pointing) - and
> so
> > > "pointing at things" cannot be sufficient to teach the requisite sense
> > > (e.g. that "table" is a name). But where does Investigations suggest that
> > > "pointing at things" plays no role in our learning language (i.e. that we
> > > never learn a noun, like "table", via any "pointing at things")? Nowhere.
> > > On the contrary "pointing at things" is one of many tools used in
> teaching
> > > and learning language.
> > >
> > > A great deal of interpretative voodoo has been written about
> > > Investigations and then passed off as if this secondhand account is
> > > Wittgenstein's account.
> > >
> > > It is true that Investigations is against the idea that language is
> > > learnt merely by pointing at things (a "merely" not stated in Omar's
> > > contention), but equally it is false to say Investigations attacks the
> > > idea that "pointing at things" may be involved (indeed importantly
> > > involved) in learning a language.
> > >
> > > Wittgenstein's fundamental point about the Augustinian picture of
> learning
> > > names is not that it is false but that we should not be mislead that this
> > > "picture" captures in language the naming-relation. The "picture" makes
> > > sense as a picture of how we learn names because we already understand
> > > the naming-relation and interpret the "picture" in that light (and
> > > because we have been shown names in ways that appear to correspond to the
> > > "picture"): but a creature with no understanding of a naming-relation
> > would
> > > not necessarily have the naming-relation conveyed to them by the
> > > Augustinian picture, and a creature that only learnt a very different
> > sense
> > > of a word via "pointing at things" might interpret the "pointing at
> > things"
> > > in Augustine's "picture" as showing that very different sense (and not as
> > > conveying the sense of words as names) - i.e. the "picture" does not say
> > > the sense of the naming-relation, although it may show that
> > > naming-relation to a user of language who understands how the
> > > naming-relation may be shown as Augustine pictures.
> > >
> > > Donal
> > >   On Thursday, 8 May 2014, 20:02, Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
> > > wrote:
> > >  That was to be:  (the aforementioned) "were saying intelligible though
> > > not necessarily true things about language in language." (I didn't mean
> to
> > > suggest that they the things they were saying were tautologies.)
> > >
> > > O.K.
> > >
> > >
> > > On Thu, May 8, 2014 at 8:57 PM, Omar Kusturica
> <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>wrote:
> > >
> > > As I understand, it is being argued that such terms as 'meaning' or
> > > 'reference' cannot be explained in language since they are about
> language,
> > > and language cannot be used self-referentially. What do we 'show', then,
> > to
> > > explain to someone the meaning of 'meaning' ? Honestly I have no idea. If
> > I
> > > needed to teach someone whose first language is other than English the
> > > meaning of 'the word 'meaning', I am pretty sure that the last thing I
> > > would try would be to draw something on the board. If I cannot translate
> > it
> > > into his native language, I would have to use explanations, examples etc.
> > > drawn from (English) language.
> > >
> > > The theory that language is learned by pointing at things is attacked in
> > > the Investigations. (The poor Augustine is made the culprit for it.)
> > >
> > > The notion that language cannot be used self-referentially strikes me as
> > > clearly false. Consider the following:
> > >
> > > This sentence is short.
> > >
> > > I would think that this is a perfectly intelligible (and true)
> > > self-referential statement. In fact, we do use language to talk about
> > > language very often, and at least some of the time intelligibly. People
> > > like Russell, Putnam, Kripke and others have all said intelligible
> (though
> > > necessarily true) things about language in language.
> > >
> > > O.K.
> > >
> > >
> > > On Thu, May 8, 2014 at 6:31 PM, Donal McEvoy
> > <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > > >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.>
> > >
> > > At to 4, no: if W is right, his POV can only be shown - it cannot be
> > > proved, still less expressed (though we may use expressions to show it).
> > >
> > > As to 3, no: the challenge is to give an account that explains how names
> > > name - it is left open whether this can be done, even though W's position
> > > is that it cannot. No question is begged: and it is assumed that, if such
> > > an account can be given, it will not be "saying" the "unsayable" but
> > rather
> > > showing that what W thinks is unsayable can in fact be said.
> > >
> > > JLS' post might allude to the view that 'Fido' names the dog Fido if it
> is
> > > used as a name of Fido: but this does not *explain* *how *'Fido' names
> > > Fido (it no more does this than saying "'The snow is white' is true iff
> > the
> > > snow is white" *explains how* the linguistic statement can refer to a
> > > non-linguistic reality). To give examples where names name is not to give
> > > an explanation of the naming-relation but merely to illustrate it: what
> > the
> > > challenge asks is to provide an explanation so that the relation is
> > > captured in language, perhaps by way of some "theory" or "criterion" by
> > > which we can determine that a word is being used as a name and not
> > > otherwise.*
> > >
> > >
> > > Dnl
> > > Ldn
> > > *Consider the difference between a dog owner uttering 'Fido' when (a)
> > > asked the name of his dog (b) shouting at Fido - (b) is not a use of
> > 'Fido'
> > > to *name* Fido in the same sense as (a), or perhaps at all (and even in
> > > (a) 'Fido' may *report *Fido's name rather than 'name' Fido in some other
> > > sense, as when (c) the Queen *names* a ship 'Fido').
> > >    On Thursday, 8 May 2014, 13:05, palma <palmaadriano@xxxxxxxxx>
> wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >  ​wittgenstein was confused in a rather benign way.
> > >  in his view a statement of the form "king Leonidas is brave" is not
> > > 'saying' anything since it fails to be a representation/proposition of a
> > > fact (the traditional cretinism of thinking that the abstract is not
> > > representable coupled with crappy early behaviorism is the key to
> > > understand the view, hence "KL died defending the Thermooilis" is a
> > > representation of the fact that KL's heart stopped beating at xx time of
> > > the yy etc.​) In flurry of rhet
> > > ​h​
> > > orics the statements shows either something about what the speaker th
> > > ​ought of ​
> > > the king, or what hearer is supposed to "grasp" etc. it does not say
> > > anything because the limits of what is said/effable are within the same
> > > limit of the logical sace, minus contradictions and the negation of
> > > contradictions.
> > > ​ought ​
> 
> > >
> > >  The twist that LW introduced is to add that something like "317 is
> > > prime" is equally not 'saying anything', for the somewhat more
> > > sophisticated reason that the quoted claim is tautological, if you
> believe
> > > his theory of numbers, & being tautological it fails to 'exclude' any
> > state
> > > of affairs actual or possible.
> > >  it "shows" that 317 is prime, it cannot say it for the reason above.
> > >  how far one wishes to push such discussion is completely up to the
> dogma
> > > that what Wittgenstein said is Talmudically understood, hence it is
> 'true'
> > > in some sense or other, the rest is interpretation.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On Wed, May 7, 2014 at 11:34 PM, Omar Kusturica
> > <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>wrote:
> > >
> > >  I don't see what there is about the say-distinction that cannot be said
> > > but only shown. "Statements say and pictures show" is a statement, not a
> > > picture. It is not something unsayable in our language either, instead it
> > > is a platitude. Now, is true that pictures can also 'say' in a way, and
> > > statements can also 'show', in a way. But I cannot see statements that
> > > 'show but do not say', any more than I can understand pictures that 'say
> > > but do not show.' I conclude that Wittgenstein had a few too much to
> drink
> > > when he wrote that, and Donal had a few much too much when he paraphras29
> > > rue d'Ulm
> > >
> > > f-75005 paris france
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > --
> > > palma,  e TheKwini, KZN
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >  palma
> > >
> > > cell phone is 0762362391
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >  *only when in Europe*:
> > > inst. J. Nicod
> > > 29 rue d'Ulm
> > > f-75005 paris france
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > 
> 
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