[Wittrs] [quickphilosophy] A Contradiction Regarding What Cannot be Said?

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2010 22:55:51 -0000

W. says that the  "internal properties" by some object can't
really be expressed in a  proposition:

4.124 The holding of an internal property of a possible state  of things
will not be expressed through a proposition, but rather it expresses 
itself in the proposition that presents the state of things, through an
internal  property of this proposition.  It would be equally senseless
to ascribe a formal  property to a proposition as to deny it.

4.1241 One cannot distinguish forms from each other by saying  that the
one has this but the other has that property; because this presupposes 
that it makes sense to assert either property of either form.

4.125 The existence of an internal relation between possible  states of
things expresses itself linguistically through an internal relation 
between the propositions that present them.

But note this  slightly earlier prop.:

4.123 A property is internal if it is unthinkable that its  object
should not possess it.  (This blue color and that stand in the internal 
relation of lighter and darker eo ipso.  It is unthinkable that  this
pair of objects not stand in this relation.)

(Here the shifting use of the word "object" corresponds to  the
shifting use of the words "property" and "relation.")

Mcginn writes about  this, "In the later philosophy, it is clear
that W thinks that the colour-wheel  is itself a part of the symbolism,
in the sense that the ordered colour samples  of the colour-wheel
constitute an instrument of our language, by means of which  the logical
order of our colour concepts is presented.  However, it is not clear 
that he held this view at the time of writing the Tractatus, where he
sems to  suggest that the logical order of colour-space will be revealed
through the  logical analysis of colour terms."

What I wonder is how we can SAY (as W does above) that "This blue
color and that stand in the  internal relation of lighter and
darker."  For isn't that just the sort of thing that  he immediately
thereafter tells us we CAN'T say?

Furthermore, it is  important to note that unless we construe particular
instantiations of colors as  objects, it will not be the case that it is
unthinkable that THIS (which is  darker than THAT) NOT be darker than
THAT.  That is, though this thing is a  darker color than that thing,
nobody would claim that it MUST be so, unless this  thing is essentially
of that color. Note, though, that if we hold that some  instantiation of
a particular color is itself an object, we will then be debarred from 
saying that that "thing" is (in the sense of
"exemplifies") red.  Because, of course, the thing would then 
instead be, identical to some particular shade of red.  If those are the
sorts  of things that W wants to take as "atomic objects" the
range of predicates that  can apply to them will thus be quite

I intend to go back to what objects are in my next post, concentrating
on Griffin's commentary.


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