Re: [quickphilosophy] Re: 1.12; 1.13; 1.2 & 1.21

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 9 Sep 2010 17:41:42 -0700 (PDT)

Hi Martin:
Oh, I agree with you on rationalism vs. empiricism (epistemology) and realism 
vs. idealism (ontology). I think that Wittgenstein in the Tractatus is not 
idealist, but realist, and more rationalist than empiricist. Russell's logical 
atomism, by way of contrast, is much more empiricist, although one could argue 
that any form of logical atomism is rationalist in spirit.
I agree with your classifications of Berkeley and Hume, and I'll just accept 
your expert judgment on where Kant fits into the epistemology-ontology picture. 
Not sure about Hegel as an empiricist, though. Of course, he was a keen student 
of the Enlightenment, and took pains to explain why its Napoleonic realization 
was so far off the mark, but his explanation relied heavily on a logic of being 
that could only be characterized as rationalist. So, I'd be tempted to paint 
Hegel as a rationalist.
The empiricists within the Hegelian tradition would be Marx, Engels, and Lenin, 
and perhaps some later thinkers in the European Marxist tradition, such as 
Timpanaro. High culture Social Democracy rejected Hegel's dialectical logic, by 
and large, so his tradition does not continue within that intellectual 
milieu. I'm thinking that most 20th century Hegelians aren't 
realist-empiricists, i.e. materialists, but idealists instead. I guess Walter's 
gonna take us on a tour of McTaggart, so we'll see what's in there.  
Findlay's remark is intriguing. It does seem--for lack of examples and the 
consequence that they don't seem to have phenomenological properties (colors, 
for example)--that the simple objects in W's ontology really are Kantian 
OK, I guess we agree to disagree on TLP nonsense. But Anscombe did know the 
guy. You agree, then, with the austere reading (Conant/Diamond)?

--- On Thu, 9/9/10, Martin N Brampton <martin.lists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

From: Martin N Brampton <martin.lists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: [quickphilosophy] Re: 1.12; 1.13; 1.2 & 1.21
To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Thursday, September 9, 2010, 1:16 PM


Maybe we're at cross purposes here, Ron. I'd normally think of 
rationalism as opposed to empiricism - Leibniz versus Locke, to suggest 
some possible names. They strike me as terms relating to how we come to 
know things.

Whereas I'd think of idealism and realism (which often need to be 
qualified as being in respect to something in particular) as being about 
the nature of what is.

So far as I know, they can be paired off somewhat arbitrarily - for 
example with Berkeley being an empiricist idealist, but Hume an 
empiricist realist.

It doesn't quite stay so simple, and my knowledge is limited. While 
Hegel is undoubtedly an idealist, I'm less clear where to place him with 
regard to empiricism and rationalism - although I'd imagine him 
somewhere nearer the empiricist camp. And Hegel's predecessor Kant is 
both an empirical realist and a transcendental idealist, opposed to both 
Berkeley and Hume (who are both seen as transcendental realists by Kant).

Regarding W as saying rather similar things to Kant (and therefore 
taking a transcendental idealist line) is not uncommon, although it 
could not be claimed to be a standard interpration of W (could 
anything?). For example J.N. Findlay:

“The views that Wittgenstein is here putting forward are in many 
respects profoundly analogous to those of Kant, in that he locates a 
whole realm of unknowable, simple unities beneath the complex objects 
which appear before us empirically, and takes it that their relations 
are in some unknowable manner translated into the relations of empirical 
things.” Kant and the Transcendental Object, p. 371.

With regards to "nonsense" I don't have a strong view on this, but do 
not find Anscombe's remarks convincing. I wouldn't accept the idea that 
reading W's work was the only possible way to reach a state of "seeing 
the world rightly". Even on Anscombe's own translation, the reliance on 
W's work seems to be a sufficient but not a necessary condition. The 
follow up remarks therefore appear to me a quibble - whatever route 
someone might have followed to "seeing the world rightly" the result 
appears to be to "reject them as nonsensical". This doesn't seem a 
"technical" meaning, it seems a perfectly ordinary use of an ordinary word.

On 08/09/2010 18:48, Ron Allen wrote:
> Hello again Martin:
> Let me address some of the points you raise about interpreting the
> Tractatus.
> OK, I misrepresented your stance: You're not calling him an idealist,
> and maybe you're not calling him anything except, perhaps, obscure (I
> might do so myself, in fact). But, in any case, there is a distinction
> between an idealist philosophy and a rationalist philosophy, and /I am
> calling Wittgenstein in the TLP a rationalist/. And, again, I don't see
> any clear reason to suggest that he's putting out an idealist line of
> thought here. Someone might make the argument that idealism is the only
> way to make sense of the TLP, but no one seems to have ever made great
> strides in such an exegesis. But, I'm listening.
> I don't see W. as being insincere. Looking at the guy's life, I don't
> see anything but integrity and determination within his personality.
> (You want insincere? Derrida's your man.) I think there is a certain
> irony that is reached at the end of the work. I disagree with the
> interpretation Diamond wants to give, and I think that Anscombe
> spotlights the irony fairly well:
> "And now I come to the matter of the penultimate proposition of the
> /Tractatus/. I think it has not been translated well. I give you what I
> think is a more accurate translation thus: 'My sentences are
> illuminating in the following way: one who understands me rejects them
> as nonsensical if, using them as stepping stones, he has climbed out
> over them. He must as it were throw away the ladder after he has climbed
> it. Then he sees the world rightly.'
> "Notice that this does not say that someone who rejects the sentences of
> the /Tractatus/ as strictly nonsensical [rla: e.g. Diamond and Conant]
> understands /Wittgenstein/. There is a condition: the rejection /as/
> nonsense depends on the process of using the propositions of the
> /Tractatus/, i.e. climbing on them as on the rungs of a ladder; /if/ the
> climber /so/ climbs out over them and /so/ comes to recognize them as
> nonsensical then they have been enlightening to him." [Anscombe, 'The
> simplicity of the Tractatus,' in /Critica: Revista Hispanoamerican de
> Filosofia/, vol. 21, no. 63, pp. 3-16, December 1989.]
> So, 'nonsense' has a technical meaning inside the TLP. One can't just
> read the word like a guy off the street does. Well, one just might not
> like neither Wittgenstein nor the TLP, and in that case, nonsense is as
> good a label as any!
> Thanks!
> --Ron

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