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Wittgenstein Duel! Watch

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    Not a clue if this thread actually belongs here but hey-ho, Im sure a mod will come along and move it if it doesn't. Cos I'm not at all convinced it does, but if not here, then where?:confused:

    Anywhoooo,

    Can anybody simply summarise Wittgenstein's philosophy of language into a couple of paragraphs? IVe read a few things and I think Iv got my head around it but Im not 100%, so i thought id see what you guys think and compare it against my ideas. I wont put them here so as not to lead people off in a particular direction or influence debate.You generally seem to know what your talking about, whereas I just procrastinated wildly, so think of it as a competition, Wittgenstein in under 500 words!
    I challenge you!
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    Okay OP, this is going to be hard seeing as
    a) nobody's too sure what he's on about
    b) he dramatically changed his views on the whole subject throughout his lifetime
    c) I'm not too sure I quite understand his philosophy either.
    But hey, a challenge is a challenge!

    Wittgenstein
    Wittgenstein starts from the basis that language and the world have a similar logical order. Language is meant to portray reality - mirroring it. So a meaningul sentence is one that says something about reality. The meaning of a word is its strict and literal truth conditions. If there is something unexpressable in our language, then we should not bother trying to gain meaning from it, and 'pass over it in silence'. The problems of philosophy are cases of language being misused - if we condense language in to a perfectly logical form then we will solve the problems. If we can't then there's no use. So all problems solved. Don't do philosophy any more, kids.
    Wait one moment. The problems haven't gone yet. Wittgenstein starts revising this view. Is all language propositional? Does the world come first, then language, or is it the other way round? Doesn't context influence the meaning of a word. The meaning of a word becomes its use, determined by the context (the language game that it is used in). Philosophical problems arise when the meaning is taken away from the context, when we cross from one language game to another but don't change the meaning.

    What do you think? Partially BS or 100% BS?
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    :cookie:



    "How can you tell the dancer from the dance?"
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    Overall it sounds good to me, especially the stuff post-tractatus.*
    However, in the Tractatusy bit, I read it as that:

    Facts are useless, they are just facts. Only statements that tell us something new have value. But language is inappropriate to the task, as the words we use never express anything other than facts and that which matters, that which is important, ie aesthetics, ethics etc rely on suppositions, unknowns, not-facts. Therefore don't do philosophy because you don't have the language to do so. Language is incapable of describing philosophy, it's impossible to do philosophy because you cannot communicate your ideas using language.
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    Wittgenstein's Tractatus is devilishly difficult to understand (or at least it was for me). Far too much technical jargon for me!

    His Philosophical Investigations, on the other hand, is a joy to read, written in ordinary language. The only problem is that it isn't structured in a particularly rigorous manner.

    I thoroughly recommend his PI - which represents some of his later views on a vast array of philosophical issues. It's not had as impressive an impact as the earlier Tractatus did, but it really is worth reading!

    Now I haven't looked at good old L.W. for about six months, so I apologise if the following is imprecise, but here is an example of his views on language in the PI:

    Wittgenstein essentially argues that you cannot make non-vacuous remarks on the general nature of language as a whole. (That is, whether you are dealing with several languages, or several language-games/forms within a language, you cannot make generalisations about the nature of language.)

    He does this by comparing languages/language-games to games. Could you give the nature of what it is to be a game? More specifically, could you give (any) necessary and sufficient conditions for game-hood? Wittgenstein argues that you cannot. The members that belong to the set 'games' differ so vastly in their characteristics that you will not find anything substantive which they all share.

    Similarly for language, says Wittgenstein. At one point, he describes 'our language' as comparable to an ancient city, full of twisting and turning streets etc. (which represents, I guess, our everyday way of speaking to one another), with a mordern, thoroughly regimented suburbia (which represents newer language forms, like scientific language). His point is that they are just too different to draw any general conclusions about our language as a whole.

    But that's not to say that there are no similarities whatsoever between one language-game and another one. Of course there are similarities. It's just that there a no similarities that are shared by all language forms.

    What I'm aiming at is L.W.'s concept of Family Resemblance. The idea is this: take all the faces of a particular family. You'll notice instantly that they all are members of the same family through their likeness to one another. You also notice that they are all different. It may even be the case that, similar though they are, there is not one feature that the all have in common. As such, you could not give necessary and sufficient conditions for what it is to have a, say, 'Jones family face'. But that doesn't mean that two members of this set of people don't have some features in common - it's just that they don't all have one feature in common.

    The same goes for language, according to Wittgenstein. [NOTE: As far as I'm aware, he never specifically proves this for our language.]

    Essentially, L.W. is attacking his own Tractarian view that it is possible to discern the nature of language. In the PI, one of the things he argues (which I've tried to outline above) is that there is no 'the' - language has no fixed nature.


    I hope this helps! And sorry if I've been inaccurate. Finally, this is just one area of the many issues L.W. explores in PI - I urge you to read it, it's so reader friendly and very interesting!
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    *bookmarks*
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    (Original post by *mMmMm*)
    *bookmarks*
    Sorry, I'm new to this site - is that some sort of TSR jargon or have I persuaded you to get a copy of PI?
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    There is a great section on Wittgenstein in this book http://www.waterstones.com/waterston...igion/4636184/

    It right at the end (the last section of the last chapter). The book is probably the best on the market for the Philosophy of Religion (for A-Level). Plus, it's written by a chief examiner!
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    (Original post by 7he5haman)
    Sorry, I'm new to this site - is that some sort of TSR jargon or have I persuaded you to get a copy of PI?
    Nope, it is my jargon :cool:

    Just wanted to look into this thread and read into it, when I get the time as I find it interesting... without really saying anything
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    (Original post by *mMmMm*)
    Nope, it is my jargon :cool:

    Just wanted to look into this thread and read into it, when I get the time as I find it interesting... without really saying anything
    Okays!

    The Wittgenstein course was the most interesting course I did at uni - if you (/anyone) get the chance have a look at his On Certainty (see http://budni.by.ru/oncertainty.html for the whole book online) - it's a collection of some of the thoughts Wittgenstein had on Scepticism and the Moorean responses to it. It comes after PI and in my opinion is an example of Wittgenstein applying some of the conclusions he made in PI

    I should warn you that it is really difficult to understand precisely what he is getting at, as the book was compiled after his death and those who compiled it just left the thoughts in the order in which they found them. To that end, McGinn's Sense and Certainty (chs 1, 3, 4 & 7 I think) is a godsend.
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    (Original post by Oxmatt)
    Okay OP, this is going to be hard seeing as
    a) nobody's too sure what he's on about
    b) he dramatically changed his views on the whole subject throughout his lifetime
    c) I'm not too sure I quite understand his philosophy either.
    But hey, a challenge is a challenge!

    Wittgenstein
    Wittgenstein starts from the basis that language and the world have a similar logical order. Language is meant to portray reality - mirroring it. So a meaningul sentence is one that says something about reality. The meaning of a word is its strict and literal truth conditions. If there is something unexpressable in our language, then we should not bother trying to gain meaning from it, and 'pass over it in silence'. The problems of philosophy are cases of language being misused - if we condense language in to a perfectly logical form then we will solve the problems. If we can't then there's no use. So all problems solved. Don't do philosophy any more, kids.
    Wait one moment. The problems haven't gone yet. Wittgenstein starts revising this view. Is all language propositional? Does the world come first, then language, or is it the other way round? Doesn't context influence the meaning of a word. The meaning of a word becomes its use, determined by the context (the language game that it is used in). Philosophical problems arise when the meaning is taken away from the context, when we cross from one language game to another but don't change the meaning.

    What do you think? Partially BS or 100% BS?
    I'm not particularly knowledgeable about Wittgenstein, but I would just like to point out that words do not have truth conditions. Words cannot be true or false; they don't express propositions. To the extent that you portray it, Wittgenstein's view on word meaning appears to be similar to that of Frege, who saw it as the connection between the word as a symbol and its denotation, or reference.
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    (Original post by TurboCretin)
    I'm not particularly knowledgeable about Wittgenstein, but I would just like to point out that words do not have truth conditions. Words cannot be true or false; they don't express propositions. To the extent that you portray it, Wittgenstein's view on word meaning appears to be similar to that of Frege, who saw it as the connection between the word as a symbol and its denotation, or reference.
    Good point ... I haven't got anything to add, so I'll just bow to your superior knowledge and understanding
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    (Original post by Oxmatt)
    Good point ... I haven't got anything to add, so I'll just bow to your superior knowledge and understanding
    Haha, too kind. I try to offer what I can, such as it is.

    OP, if you want a relatively accessible intro to Wittgenstein's language philosophy, there are a few interesting videos on YouTube.

    Here's one I've been watching this evening:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LNTs...eature=related

    Watch from around 10:30, where the guy starts talking about W's lectures at Cambridge. Before that is ten minutes on his earlier life and perspectives on architecture, which you may find interesting but is nevertheless totally irrelevant. It seems as if my likening Wittgenstein's view of word meaning to that of Frege was not inaccurate, at least as far as I took it. Frege saw words as symbols, or objects, which had meaning insofar as they had a connection to things in the real world. The reference of a word is not its meaning. Its meaning, or 'sense', is the very connection itself between the word and its reference. This seems to resonate with the presenter's analogy of words as chess pieces in Wittgenstein's philosophy; their meanings are the principles which underlie their uses, not the uses themselves. Thus, language is a game which we play according to the principles underlying the use of words, in much the same way that chess is a game which we play according to the principles underlying the use of the pieces. Within those bounds we may do as we wish, and we may easily decide whether a piece has been used appropriately or not. But beyond these boundaries lies nonsense; stray beyond them and the game dissolves.

    That is as much as I took from the final couple of minutes of the video anyway. I'd be interested to discuss this further, the more I learn about Wittgenstein's ideas the more they fascinate me.
 
 
 
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