[lit-ideas] Re: lw

  • From: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 9 May 2014 00:21:57 +0200

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
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>  palma
>
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>
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