[Wittrs] Re: Wittgenstein's Aesthetics Has Broad Application

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2010 21:06:39 -0000

Sean, I'm reminded of a professor of mine who gave a paper on the ineffable, on 
whether there are things we can know and even talk about without being able to 
give a reason or an argument for it. In part perhaps this suggests the showing 
not saying dichotomy.

But I have often experienced, in discussions on lists like this one, just how 
hard it is to demonstrate anything to anyone with logic and even rhetoric. 
People have their views and it seems that we do not have much impact on what 
others think, most of the time. And that seems to say we can't really 
communicate, can't make our case even when we're straining to do so.

And yet people often change their minds (I have, many times). Wittgenstein 
apparently changed his over the course of his career about many things. Do we 
ever convince anyone else of anything or is all such mind changing largely a 
function of internal decision making by each individual or, perhaps, of an 
accretion of many small, perhaps unnoticeable changes in the course of many 

One of the things I've seen is that even when a logical argument in syllogistic 
form is presented, it is very hard to convince anyone of what is shown if they 
don't already believe the conclusion OR have no commitment one way or the 
other! Even when adducing a step by step argument in logical terms, in the end 
it's about seeing the point, isn't it? The implicatory relationships between 
the premises and the conclusions have to be seen by each individual considering 
the argument. There is no real objective standard and, indeed, even if we took 
a poll and 99% of the people considering the argument accepted the conclusion, 
there would still be nothing to prevent a sudden realization that the 99% were 

Of course, in fact, that doesn't seem to be quite how things work. We normally 
do give a lot of weight to consensus judgments and yet everything we know about 
logic tells us consensus is irrelevant to truth. So how do we apply 
Wittgenstein's insights to questions like this, issues of discourse and how we 
resolve issues that are in dispute?

Any thoughts?


--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:

> ... It just occurred to me that Wittgenstein on Aesthetics is not really 
> about "aesthetics" per se. It's actually Wittgenstein on "judgment." And it 
> seems to me that it is closely related to Wittgenstein's "seeing as" and 
> "imponderable evidence" (e.g., knowing the intuitions and feelings of 
> others). In other words, what I am trying to say is that anyone who reads his 
> lectures on Aesthetics as being about art is misunderstanding them. The 
> lectures are more broadly about a kind of COGNITION that routinely goes on in 
> our lives for certain subjects and context. We might call it the learning of 
> a "refined judgment," or the development of "exquisite taste" -- but it is 
> related to all sorts of judgments we make in life, such as understanding our 
> children (imponderable evidence).

> One wants to say, Aesthetics is about a particular kind of brain task present 
> in the appreciation of art, but not at all limited to that domain.

> In fact, those who see the remarks on aesthetics as being on a desert island 
> of some sort are really missing the boat. 

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