[Wittrs] Re: some helpful guidelines for reading Wittgenstein's philo...

  • From: kirby urner <kirby.urner@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 11:34:09 -0700

Wittgenstein for ~Dummies (not dummies)... work in progress....

1.  no spatio-temporal phenomenon or experience, public or private, is
the meaning of any word


The word 'cat' has ramified uses. Having a cat in the room is going to
reveal more of the rules, yield greater understanding, but the meaning
of 'cat' will never be present as a time-bound experience

2.  behavior matters when it comes to investigating the meaning of any word


You'll need to see how others use it, what exceptions they raise and
in what form, when you go against a rule.  Important point:  many
rules are never stated or even imagined until they've been broken, at
which point making a rule is a kind of "patch" aimed at keeping anyone
else from breaking that law  ("the law" as mostly retroactive patches)

3.  understanding a meaning well enough to obey all the rules may
require seeing in new ways, altering one's perceptions


this is obvious in the case of reading the printed word.  Once they
"leap out at you" as recognizable, in a language you know, you'll have
a very hard time going back to where you see them as "meaningless
squiggles" i.e. your perceptions have changed and this was a
prerequisite for being able to read.  By analogy, this kind of barrier
to "getting it" (not seeing, not tuning in) is part of every day life
no matter which way you turn.  The world is malleable in this sense.

4.  perception altering "aha!" or "euraka!" experiences are not "what
it means" to understand a rule


Whether you understand or not is for others to judge, not just
yourself, so any experience of enlightenment you may have cannot in
itself constitute the meaning of "what it means to understand".
You'll demonstrate your understanding, to the point where others might
sign off, over time, and your behavior matters to their judging.


[ more to follow, a work in progress ]


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