[Wittrs] Re: [C] Does The Tractatus Invalidate Itself?

  • From: "College Dropout John O'Connor" <sixminuteabs@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 3 Mar 2010 14:13:24 -0500

Sean Wilson wrote on Tue, 02 March 2010 13:51
> John:
> 1. Regarding the best way to understand Wittgenstein, I would recommend 
> biography. The three books that I think are the most important to 
> understanding him would be: Ray Monk's, Duty of Genius; Norman Malcolm's, 
> Ludwig Wittgenstein, A Memoir; and Ray Monk's, How To Read Wittgenstein. 
> Actually that last one has a lot of Tractarian ideas in it.

Numbers!  Brilliant!
I read most of the Duty of Genius.  It helped me understand the TLP (see my 
signature), but once that was accomplished I bought up everything W and have 
been training to be a "Philosopher" in the W sense.  I got the Memoir for $35, 
but it sits next to my Duty of Genius.  My dad helped me to read when I was 
young.  :p

> 2. I don't see 1 or 2 Wittgenstein's; I see only what happened in history and 
> what his views were at given times. Once his life is meticulously understood, 
> all the arguments seem to vanish. As I said to you before, the meaning-is-use 
> Wittgenstein would not take the position that something must be either said 
> or shown (in the senses he meant), because the former idea was what replaced 
> the latter. The Ambrose lectures are all about the showing of the new ideas.

I like how you highlighted W being able to understand others' thoughts better 
than themselves; and how he was not a proponent of theories; I just don't think 
that coagulates with an 'early' or a 'latter' or a 'third' or an 'intermediary' 
or even a 'meaning-is-use' W.  I say, He lived a wonderful life, and He was 
called Wittgenstein.  It is the case that he is a deep dude, and splitting up 
his teachings is poor form and a misunderstanding of W.  A chronologically 
published W is as clear as a blue sky.

> 3. I wasn't clear on the passage you cited about nonsense. The point that you 
> are having issues with is an extremely sophisticated point. In Tractarian 
> Wittgenstein, nonsense is delineated by a formula. One can see two or three 
> categorical forms emerge. (J and I had previously discussed this). In 
> Ambrose's Wittgenstein, "nonsense" is now an idea that has sense-and-family, 
> and is governed by meaning-is-use, rather than something relegated to by the 
> logical form of the proposition. What he is saying there (assuming the actual 
> words are correct -- big if) is the following:

Could you link me to that discussion you and J had?

> (a). All the things called "nonsense" are of the same type of thing if one 
> takes what we might call a "bird's eye view." One might say, they have family 
> resemblance. What is common among them is a language maneuver that excludes 
> something from being viable. This is the thing the expression does. It 
> excludes from viability. In this sense AND ONLY THIS SENSE, all forms of 
> nonsense are the same.

You keep saying same type of thing.  I don't know what you mean.  They are 
limits of language.

> (b) Within the family resemblance, there are different kinds of nonsense 
> (different family members). There are those things that become "nonsense" 
> because they fall over their own feet, so to speak (violate their own 
> conditions of assertability); and there are those that amount to 
> gibberish. Skepticism is of the former type (see Tractatus).

I think you have the point backwards.  They are not different kinds of sense, 
but their senselessness is determined by a variety of ways.  Just as an eye or 
a nose is determined to be beautiful by different characteristics this does not 
mean we have different kinds of beauty.  Again, that C&V quote is ample and you 
have yet to respond to it.  Cut&Paste&Google it and you hsould get the page 
number and full remark.

> (c) Nonsense is a construction. This is clearly anti-Tractarian. Please read 
> this from the same page you cite:
> "We exclude such sentences as 'it is both green and yellow' because we do not 
> want to use them. Of course we could give these sentences sense. I said 
> earlier that what is possible or impossible is an arbitrary matter. We could 
> make it a rule, for example, that 'green and yellow can be in the same place 
> at the same time' is to make sense." (Ambrose, 64)
> Care must be taken not to understand this. All that it says is that the ends 
> of language are arbitrary. If people in the language game began speaking of 
> something being both green and yellow -- and if this took on a certain kind 
> of meaning -- then the expression would have life. Point: meaning is use.

I don't think I have disputed this.  See my signature.

> 4. Please take care in reading Ambrose. If I recall, she reconstructed the 
> content years later. Don't get me wrong: I'm a fan of the work. I love the 
> book. But I would just make sure that it is read in light of the other things 
> out there. She says in the preface it is only Wittgenstein as she understood 
> it (and as she reconstructed it).

Well, here ya go-- from Lectures on Philosophy remark 22:

"By examining Russell's hypothesis that the world was created five minutes ago 
I shall try to explain what I mean in saying it is meaningless.  Russell's 
hypothesis was so arranged that nothing could bear it out or refute it."

And this is the description of a tautological remark.  I think he remarks 
elsewhere, Surely you can see?

Genesis basically begins with a similar remark as the one made by Russell.  The 
rest of the remark continues:

"It is a simple matter to make up a statement which will agree with experience 
because it is such that no proposition can refute it, e.g., "There is a white 
rabbit between two chairs whenever no observations or verifications are being 
carried out."  Some poeple would say this statement says more than "there is no 
white rabbit between the chairs", just as some would say it means something to 
say the world was created five minutes ago.  When such statements are made they 
are somehow connected with a picture, say, a picture of creation.  Hence it is 
that such sentences seem to mean something.  But they are otiose, like wheels 
in a watch which have no function although they do not look to be useless."

> 5. Would you care to tell the group why you don't view the Tractatus as 
> positivist? I'd like to hear the views. Why not share it with us under a 
> separate thread?  (I'm not saying it is, of course. I just think it would be 
> a good exercise).

Case in point:  The positivist didn't understand what W was saying.  They even 
refuted the latter portions of the book.  I guess they refuted tautologies.

I hope you are having fun,
College Dropout John O'Connor
He lived a wonderful life.

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