[lit-ideas] to M. McEvoy

  • From: palma <palma@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: newsletter@xxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2009 06:33:04 -0400 (EDT)

yI found your posting (on archives, I think kept by Andreas)

the main line of your response, while interesting, seems to me to be a killer... if -- as you said, given any substantive question, Wittgenstein (or Wittgensteinian since the man from Wien is dead)
"not much"
I wonder why should one find much to study in uno studio anodino...
in a diaphanous qubbling about naively understood questions
(one woudl really wonder, and I have no idea of what the answer is) on what Wittgenstein woudl think of minimalims, is that for him a theory of langauge? a language game? or what?0

Thank you for your reply though

it is here reproduced

[lit-ideas] Re: For the later Wittgenstein, are philosophical issues not "real" but merely "linguistic puzzles"?

    * From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
    * To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
    * Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2009 10:01:59 +0000 (GMT)

--- On Sun, 23/8/09, palma <palma@xxxxxxxx> wrote:

I must confess that I find the
issue (if any) perplexing.

The issue is important not least because it bears on possible Wittgensteinian
claims that it is possible to do full-bloodied philosophy(and not merely
philosophy crippled by a narrow self-definition) without deploying any
substantive metaphysics. (That this cannot be done was at the root of Popper's
paper in the MSC).

Consider a case at hand.
One person (a colleague of mine here now) thinks that there
is an
overwhelming reason to take equality as a more fundamental
principle in
politics and hence in income re-distrbution.

Surely this is a question of values or value-judgments, or a mixed question of value-and-fact (and not a question of fact alone)? Whatever its character as philosophy, and it is certainly not a purely scientific question since it goes
beyond issues testable by observation, it does not obviously raise 'deep'
metaphysical issues such as the relations of brains to minds, the extent to which events are determined, the relation of mental states to external objects etc. At a practical level it raises a question of policy on which our views might be altered by 'factual' evidence (say as to the unwanted consequences of the pursuit of certain forms of 'equality') or by philosophical argument (say as to how there are different and incompatible forms of 'equality', which we
must decide between in making our value-judgments), but which contains an
irreducible element of value-judgment.

So when you ask:-
what contribution does make this [to]
business of
"language games?
the answer may be 'not much' insofar as examination of LGs might be
philosophically important, albeit philosophical analysis of different forms of
'equality' might be important to ensure clarity in thinking through such

W's notion of "language game" ['LG'] has been the subject of much analysis of course and the diversity of these shows they can hardly all reflect accurately
W's intent.

However, amongst these views it has been suggested:- The LG is a not a
construct at the heart of an over-arching theory of language but rather the
opposite - a conceptual tool for looking at the actual specifics of
language-use and with which to resist the "craving for generality" that leads us to oversimplify and distort. These specifics might include many fairly trite truths that nevertheless philosophers are liable to overlook: starting with
"meaning" for example, we might observe that "not all meaningful uses of
language are meaningful in the _same_ way" ["How To Read Wittgenstein", Monk,

The question arises - 'Is that all there is?' Is the philosopher limited to correcting a "craving for generality" by pointing to the specifics of various LGs [as might be taken to be W's view], or can substantive metaphysical claims
be discussed rationally in a way that does not fundamentally depend on the
specifics of LGs but on _the weighing of arguments_ [as P thought - hence P stated he did not disagree with anything in "Philosophical Investigation", his problem was that it bored him to tears]. And can using analysis of LGs as a corrective be undertaken without, at least implicitly, treading in the area of
substantive metaphysics?

An example of this divide is P's "The Open Universe" which treats the problems of "determinism", so differently tackled by W. P openly disavows the language analysis approach which has led into a "morass" ['What is "free will"?' etc.]
and, after skewering the idea that 'all events having a cause entails
determinism' [it doesn't, because 'event' and 'cause' are too unquantified
here], prefers to take Laplace's Demon as a starting-point. This Demon, who has access to the smallest specifics of every law that governs the universe and of every anterior state of the universe, is supposedly in a position to deduce its
every future state. P then seeks to show this cannot ever be the case
scientifically [by way of a proof that might be called the 'Tell/Told'
argument] and that there are strong reasons to reject it as a true metaphysical picture - chief among the latter is that we should replace a purely law-based
view of causal explanation with a wider and
indeterministic view that the universe consists of "changing propensities to
change". This is then an exercise in rational argument in the sphere of
metaphysics that goes far beyond what might be said by analysis of LGs.

But then we don't know what W made or would have made of this, and might start
by tackling the subject question.


On Mon, 24 Aug 2009, newsletter@xxxxxxxxxx wrote:

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?e ??, ?????e?? ?a?eda?µ?????? ? ? ? ?t? t?de
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