[Wittrs] [quickphilosophy] An Anscombe Error Regarding Negation?

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 05 Aug 2010 20:43:20 -0000

On page 69-70 of her book Anscombe writes,

It is clear that [in negation] one must convey what situation one is
saying does not  exist, and this will be conveyed precisely by the
picture depicting that situation.  No other picture could be involved:
you could not for example make a picture of the situation's not
existing.  We must be careful not to confuse what is not the case with
what is the case instead of it; if you tried to make a picture of a
situation's not existing you would only make a picture of what did exist
instead of it.  The only exception to this is when we have the
convention that not shewing something shews that the thing does not
exist: as when a map shews that no large river passes through Birmingham
by not shewing a river passing through Birmingham.

Today at least one convention for a pictorial "not" is very commonplace:
a circle with a diagonal line through it placed over the original
picture.  Of course, this may be (and often is) taken to mean "Do not
____", but there's nothing sacrosanct about this indicator being used as
a command rather than descriptively.

It seems to me that both W and Anscombe go through a lot of convolutions
to avoid relying on anything like Frege's assertion sign.  Pictures are
different from props in that they depict only--and don't also say that
what is depicted is the case the way asserting a prop does. But it
doesn't seem problematic to have a convention according to which adding
a mark to any picture would mean that it is intended to be
"non-fiction."  I get the sense that W may here be overly fond of
avoiding reliance on "saying" in favor of some sort of intrinsic
property/element that can "show" what would otherwise have to be said.


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