[Wittrs] [quickphilosophy] Re: Wittgenstein's 1929 Paper and His Metamorphosis in Thought

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2010 10:57:38 -0000

--- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Sean Wilson <whoooo26505@...> wrote:
> (replying to Stuart who replied to Walter. Changed the subject heading, 
> accordingly)
> Stuart. 
> Regarding what the junked-1929 paper has to do with the evolution 
> Wittgenstein's 
> thought, and about his abandonment of the picture-theory of language, Monk 
> has 
> the following to say.
> " 'Some Remarks on Logical Form' is nonetheless interesting as a record of a 
> transitory phase in the development of Wittgenstein's philosophy --  a phase 
> in 
> which the logical edifice of the Tractatus, though crumbling, had not yet 
> been 
> demolished altogether. The paper can be seen as an attempt to answer the 
> criticisms made by Frank Ramsey of Wittgenstein's discussion of 
> colour-exclusion 
> in the Tractatus. Ramsey's objections were first raised in his review of the 
> Tractatus; no doubt they had been explored further in the discussions between 
> the two in the first two terms of 1929.
> In proposition 6.375 of the Tractatus Wittgenstein had insisted: "Just as the 
> only necessity that exists is logical necessity, so too the only 
> impossibility 
> that exists in logical impossibility,' and had gone in on in the following 
> proposition to apply this to the impossibility of something's being, say, 
> both 
> red and blue:
> '... the simultaneous presence of two colours at the same place in the visual 
> field is impossible, in fact, logically impossible, since it is ruled out by 
> the 
> logical structure of colour.'
> The problem here is that, if this is so, then the statement 'This is red' 
> cannot 
> be an atomic proposition. In the Tractatus it is claimed that atomic 
> propositions are logically independent of one another, with 'This is red' 
> quite 
> clearly NOT being independent of 'This is blue:' the truth of one implies the 
> falsehood of the other. Thus, ascriptions of colour have to be 
> complex, susceptible to further analysis. In the Tractatus Wittgenstein had 
> appealed to the analysis of colour in terms of the velocities of particles as 
> a 
> way out of this difficulty. Thus, the impossibility of something's being both 
> red and blue appears as the following contradiction: 'a particle cannot have 
> two 
> velocities at the same time; that is to say, it cannot be in two places at 
> the 
> same time.' But, as Ramsey insisted, even at this level of analysis the 
> problem 
> reappears:
> '... even supposing that the physicist thus provides an analysis of what we 
> mean 
> by 'red,' Mr. Wittgenstein is only reducing the difficulty to that of the 
> necessary properties of space, time, and matter or the ether. He explicitly 
> makes it depend on the IMPOSSIBILITY of a particle being in two places at the 
> same time.'
> And it is still hard to see, says Ramsey, how this can be a matter of logic 
> rather than of physics.
> Ramsey's remarks thus presented Wittgenstein with a challenge: he must either 
> show how the properties of space, time and matter can appear as 
> logical necessities, or provide an alternative account of colour-expression. 
> In 
> 'Some Remarks on Logical Form,' Wittgenstein chose the latter.
> He now abandons the claim that atomic propositions are independent; the truth 
> of 
> one can indeed imply the falsity of another, and 'This is both red and blue' 
> is, 
> therefore, 'ruled out.' 

Is it actually clear from "Remarks on Logical Form" that W actually took that 
route, and not that of simply denying that "This is red" is an example of an 
atomic prop?  I mean, I agree that the main purpose of that paper is to see 
what to do about the apparent contradiction of "X is all red at t and X is all 
green at t" but there are two ways out here if we decide they're actually 
contradictory.  We can say, as Monk suggests, that atomic props are not really 
independent or we can just deny that those are good examples of atomic props.  
It seems like there's quite a bit in the NBs and TLP that suggests that W was 
unwilling to give any examples of atomic props and of denying that it's 
necessary to do so.

But if this is so, then there is something seriously 
> amiss with the analysis of the rules of logical form that was offered in the 
> Tractatus. For, by the Tractatus rules, such constructions are ruled out only 
> if 
> they can be analysed in to forms such as 'p and not-p', which can be shown to 
> be 
> contradictory by the Truth-Table Method. The paper therefore ends on a 
> problematic note:
> 'It is, of course, a deficiency of our notation that it does not prevent the 
> formation of such nonsensical constructions, and a perfect notation will have 
> to 
> exclude such structures by definite rules of syntax... Such rules, however, 
> cannot be laid down until we have actually reached the ultimate analysis of 
> the 
> phenomena in question. This, we all know, has not yet been achieved.'

That again suggests that W's position at the time was not that atomic props are 
not independent but that 'this is red' is not atomic.

> In the work written during the following year Wittgenstein made some attempt 
> to 
> provide 'the ultimate analysis of the phenomena in question,' and for this 
> short 
> period his work became, as he described it, a kind of phenomenology. Prompted 
> by 
> his discussions with Sraffa, however, he soon gave up the attempt to repair 
> the 
> structure of the Tractatus, and abandoned altogether the idea that there HAD 
> to 
> be a commonality of structure between the world and language. Indeed, the 
> point 
> he abandoned it is perhaps the point at which he decided he could not read 
> this 
> paper before the conference. For the paper does not present the solution to 
> the problem raised by Ramsey so much as an admission that, within the terms 
> of 
> the Tractatus, Wittgenstein had no solution. 
> PAGES 273-274.
> Regards and thanks.
> Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.

Thanks a lot for reproducing that.  Great stuff.


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