back to the beginning: the limitations of language

This is the main board for discussing philosophy - formal, informal and in between.

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Sun Mar 07, 2021 7:15 pm

The Private Language Argument
Richard Floyd explains a notorious example of Wittgenstein’s public thought.

What Does Wittgenstein Say?

First, let’s look at Wittgenstein’s direct discussion of the concept of a private language. Having been introduced at §243, private language does not appear again until §256, where Wittgenstein questions what it means to associate a word/sign with a sensation. How does this association take place? How does the association of a name with a sensation lead to that name actually meaning the sensation?


First, of course, we have to agree on the meaning of "sensations":

"Sensations are often ascribed particular properties: of being conscious and inner, of being more immediate than perception, and of being atomic. In epistemology sensations have been taken as infallible foundations of knowledge, in psychology as elementary constituents of perceptual experience." Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Got that?

Then, assuming that we can all agree on the appropriate definition, there's the part where we connect that to any particular sensation that we experience in regard to a particular word that we either hear or use given a particular set of circumstances.

That part of course is nowhere to be seen in this article. Let alone how a distinction might be made between the language that we share begetting sensations that can be communicated back and forth intelligibly and a "private language" begetting private sensations that cannot.

This addresses an issue which has been simmering since Wittgenstein first defined a private language by saying “the individual words of this language are to refer to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations.” Does this mean that the entire vocabulary of the language must consist of words referring to the speaker’s private sensations? How then could such a language have any grammatical structure? There are other problems too. In §257 Wittgenstein claims that the private definition of words lacks the “stage-setting” necessary for language to be meaningful:

“When one says 'He gave a name to his sensation' one forgets that a great deal of stage-setting in the language is presupposed if the mere act of naming is to make sense. And when we speak of someone’s having given a name to pain, what is presupposed is the existence of the grammar of the word pain; it shews the post where the new word is stationed.”


On the other hand, I may well be misunderstanding the point he is making here. Still, aside from the purely personal reasons that someone might feel motivates them to create and then to sustain a "private language", this choice either will or will not spill over into their interactions with others. And that either will or will not cause conflicts.

And it is focusing in on social, political and economic conflicts in the is/ought world that is the main interest of me. What then of a "private language"?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:19 pm

The Private Language Argument
Richard Floyd explains a notorious example of Wittgenstein’s public thought.

Why does Wittgenstein put forward the concept of a private language and attempt to destroy it immediately? What service would I have done to biology if I were to propose a theory known as ‘Gigantic Toad Theory’, suggesting that some enormous toad existed at some point in prehistory – only to respond myself that there is absolutely no evidence for such an idea and that the entire theory appears to be unfounded nonsense?


Yep. That's basically my own reaction to a private definition and a private meaning for words used in a private language. Sure, if, for whatever personal reason, you choose to do this, either keep it to yourself or attempt to communicate it to others who accept your own subjective codes.

Only if and when this communication has practical implications for those not able to decode the exchange would it become more problematic.

My point instead is that in regard to communication that revolves around conflicting goods, a kind of "private language" can lead to all manner of dire consequences. Your definition and your meaning of freedom and justice revolve around women being able to abort their unborn babies/clumps of cells, while for others they revolve around the unborn being brought into this world.

There are many possible interpretations of Wittgenstein’s motives, and I should be clear about the fact that my interpretation is not the correct one, just one of many possibilities.

One possibility is that he wished to either defend or attack behaviourism.


This behaviorism?

"...the theory that human and animal behavior can be explained in terms of conditioning, without appeal to thoughts or feelings, and that psychological disorders are best treated by altering behavior patterns..."

Of course here language would seem to revolve around an amoral approach to human interactions. Being in a position of power to mold and manipulate -- condition -- human behaviors to serve your own wants and needs. Or the wants and the needs of "society". In that sense what you defend or attack can be seen as largely beside the point.

And language becomes "private" more in terms of "one of us" vs. "one of them".
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Sat Mar 27, 2021 7:20 pm

Question of the Month
How Does Language Work?
The following answers to the question of linguistic meaning each win a random book.

The human vocal tract can make a wide range of sounds, which allows us to move beyond the grunts and shrieks of our primate cousins, at least some of the time. As many as fifty regions in the human brain are involved in language, controlling the complex movements needed to produce speech, translating vibrations in the air into neural activity in the brain to hear, and manipulating the symbols that make up the thoughts and ideas of our minds to reason. These adaptations of the individual are all necessary for full language use, but language isn’t much use to a solitary individual, and would never have arisen were we not a social species.


Clearly then the starting point in regard to any discussions of human language are the biological imperatives necessary to create the sounds we call words. It's like trying to imagine the "human condition" had there not been the mutations that led to opposable thumbs. Some things are [on a fundamental level] our genes all the way down. At least to begin with.

So, sans any particular birth defects, we all come into the world with the capacity to make those sounds that become words that are able to communicate the sort of information and knowledge that accounts for the existence of human history.

What's left then, after accepting this, is focusing in on all the reasons why, if this is the case, there are in the historical record so many instances of our "failure to communicate". Precipitating any number of conflicts up to and including world wars.

Sounds alone, of course, are not enough to create meaning, since a non-English speaker won’t understand the word ‘cat’ although they hear the sound. Language works by attaching a symbol e.g. ‘cat’ to the idea of a cat, which itself is produced by the reality to which it refers (i.e., a cat). When language doesn’t work, we can sometimes revert to pointing – say, at a cat. But this also requires shared intentionality, ie, a common recognition that the pointing is about something. This perhaps tells us something about the origins of language, and how language works at a very basic level. The small bands of hunter-gatherers who first developed language would have first pointed to animals and objects in their environment. But given that making physical movements in the line of sight of a predator is dangerous, it’s far better to represent that action with a sound that can be whispered, like “Lion!”

Jon Wainwright


Again, if you keep all of this philosophical "analysis" anchored to the either/or world -- cats and lions -- you can manage to communicate with a minimal amount of dysfunction. After all, these points will certainly seem reasonable to most of us. But if the discussion shifts to contexts that members of, say, Peta are more inclined to pursue -- how ought human beings treat other animals? -- you can whisper or shout your points all day long and the communication can continue to break down.

Why?

That's my own interest in language here.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Mon Apr 05, 2021 5:18 pm

Question of the Month
How Does Language Work?
The following answers to the question of linguistic meaning each win a random book.

Ivan Trengrove, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Fish swim, birds fly, and people talk.


Talking however is only really useful to a species that has many different things to talk about. A species that thinks on a level far, far beyond fish and birds. Or even chimpanzees. While most species of animals are able to communicate with sounds, they don't invent philosophies to to talk about on the internet.

How do we display this talent for language? As Noam Chomsky argued, for language to work, there must be an innate biological linguistic capacity. We are born with a ‘universal grammar’ in our brains, which is the initial condition through which the grammars of specific languages arise, and which allows us to learn particular languages.


No doubt about it. Biological imperatives are the starting blocks. We only communicate as we do here because whatever is behind the biological evolution of life itself, has culminated in the human species here on planet Earth. But, again, biology is behind all species of animals. With our own however the communication becomes considerably more...problematic?

For example:

This is the prime mover for all language. There are many other essential components in how language works: phonetics, morphology, etymology, pragmatics, graphology, lexicography and semiotics, to name but a few.


But a few indeed. And that's because it's not only the technical aspect of language communication that explodes in complexity among our own species...but the actual subjects that we can talk about as well. The part where social, political and economic memes come into play. Anthropology, ethnography, sociology, psychology, political science, philosophy, ethics and on and on.

In other words, the part where communication begins to break down and distinctions can be made between objective truths and subjective opinions.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:39 pm

Question of the Month
How Does Language Work?
The following answers to the question of linguistic meaning each win a random book.
Philosophy Now Magazine

Madeleine Maggs, Basingstoke, Hampshire

We could take the word ‘fork’, for example, and learn to say it and spell it in a variety of foreign languages. We could even make up our own word. However, regardless of the variety of identifying signs we could use, our understanding of the word remains. We quickly realise that simply ‘identifying and naming’ is not how language works. How then, when learning a language, is it that we understand what the words mean?


Or we could take the word "freedom". Or "justice".

My point of course is that we can discuss them as we do "fork". But a fork is an actual thing. Something invented for a specific purpose. Whereas "freedom" and "justice" are less objective things than attempts to encompass our subjective reaction to particular sets of circumstances which trigger behaviors which trigger consequences that some will embrace and others will not. Some will insist that their freedom to own guns outweighs the wishes of those who wish to be free to live in a community where guns are not allowed to be owned.

What constitutes justice here?

There is a big difference between saying that legally the Indianapolis gunman was free to purchase a gun and that morally he ought to have been free to purchase a gun.

Wittgenstein advocated the idea that an account of the meaning of a word cannot be given without looking at the part the word plays in our lives and speech behaviour.


And then in differentiating those parts that we all share in common such that particular words have the same meaning "for all practical purposes" and the parts that are rooted more in the arguments that I make about the subjective/subjunctive "I".

Thus the part where "my language" is able to be or not to be effectively intertwined in "your language" given a situation that we both share.

I just go considerably further out on the limb when I speak of my own moral and political value judgments as being "fractured and fragmented".
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Sun Apr 25, 2021 6:34 pm

Question of the Month
How Does Language Work?
The following answers to the question of linguistic meaning each win a random book.
Philosophy Now Magazine

J.I. Hans Bakker, semioticsigns.com, Canada

The basic answer is that language works if the people engaged are members of the same interpretive community or network. But it is useful to ask: When does language not work?


It seems rather simple for some. Two or more people are trying to communicate something, anything...given their interactions out in this or that world. Interactions that in particular revolve around the "for all practical purposes" necessity to subsist.

So, language works if they are successful in communicating their wants and needs. Language does not work if they are not successful. Then back to the distinction that I make in regard to communication in the is/ought world.

Thus, philosophically...

Two people using the same language can misunderstand one another. Indeed, Person A and Person B may not even grasp the fact they do not fully understand one another. But if it becomes obvious to them, then A may think that B is using words (such as ‘God’) incorrectly. A may say that B is making a ‘semantic’ mistake. A neo-pragmatist linguist influenced by C.S. Peirce might correct A, and say that B is making a ‘pragmatic’ mistake. The linguist will argue that every sign requires both an interpretive community (the interpretant) and an operational definition of the meaning and applicability of that sign (the representant). Hence, there is a triadic (three-way) relationship between a sign, its semantics (its commonly understood meaning) and its pragmatics (the ways in which people use the sign). This triad can then constitute a dialectical progression, where what was once the interpretant may become the representant, and so forth.


These intellectual contraptions can become nothing short of, well, unintelligible. All of the technical aspects derived from logic and epistemology that allow us to explore human communication in ways that may or may not be relevant to actual human interactions. And I don't pretend to be able to make the proper distinction. All I can do is to ask those who think that they can to bring their conclusions to the arguments I make in my signature threads in regard to "morality here and now".
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Fri May 14, 2021 7:17 pm

Question of the Month
How Does Language Work?
The following answers to the question of linguistic meaning each win a random book.
Philosophy Now Magazine

Colin Brookes, Woodhouse Eaves, Leicestershire

Language works by virtue of the relationships between it, us, our minds, and the world.


I would merely come back to the distinction here between the language that we use in our existential, intersubjective interactions that involve conflicting moral and political value judgments, and the language that we use that seems to convey essential, objective truths in the either/or world.

The philosophies of the later Wittgenstein and of John Searle underpin this idea. We invest language with meaning by using the various representational functions of words strung together through the application of grammar, punctuation and syntax. As for the meaning of ‘representation’, it is helpful to borrow from the vocabulary of semiotics, the science of signs. Ferdinand de Saussure, a founder of semiotics, points out that a signifier, say the word ‘horse’, when used, brings to mind the concept ‘horse’ – the signified. The horse itself, the thing that can kick you, is the referent.


Unfortunately, this distinction does not appear to be the primary concern here. Instead, it seems to treat language as though, technically, philosophers -- postmodern or otherwise -- first need to grasp it within the confines of logic and epistemology. And I certainly don't dispute the importance of this. I merely ask those who come to particular conclusions here to take those conclusions out into the world that we live in from day to day and note how those conclusions are applicable to the distinction that I make.

The separation of signifier, signified and referent may be misleading. This is brought out where referents are absent. Take abstract words such as, ‘contrary’ and ‘mitigation’. There is nothing to point to – but more importantly, we cannot grasp their meaning without the word.


How about this: In using the word "contrary" and "mitigation" you include a context in which it becomes far, far clearer why those words were used. John believes sport hunting is a good thing. On the contrary, says Jim, it is a bad thing. Then an in depth discussion regarding their reasons why.

John has been convicted of a crime. At the penalty phase witnesses are called to present mitigating circumstances to lessen his sentence. But others are called to present aggravating circumstances in order to lengthen it instead. How hard here is it to distinguish signifiers, signifieds and referents?

Try thinking of the meaning of ‘contested’ without bringing the word itself to mind. With such abstractions, meanings and the words standing for them fuse. So in an important sense, language use is virtually inseparable from what we intend to convey – signifiers co-exist with their signifieds and their referents. This is apparent when we try to learn a word: we use the word fluently when meaning and word appear no longer separate, but rather to coalesce.


You tell me what the philosophical significance of this is given a particular contested context. Either the meaning and word are communicated together effectively or they are not.

Or, sure, I'm missing the point altogether such that unless I grasp the technical meaning here, I may well completely misconstrue important aspects of human interaction.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Mon May 24, 2021 6:10 pm

Question of the Month
How Does Language Work?
The following answers to the question of linguistic meaning each win a random book.
Philosophy Now Magazine

Frank S. Robinson, Albany, NY

In addressing the question, I want to extend it to How does language work in the human mind? Outside that context, language is fairly straightforward: it’s portraying information via symbols called words, and combining them in structures via grammatical rules. Any system doing these things is a language. A computer does this, producing linguistic output: but it cannot understand it the way a human mind does (thus the Turing test for distinguishing between the two). That difference is the key to this difficult question.


In fact, the difference may well be so vast there really is no answer that any language on Earth will ever be able to encompass. And even then only presuming that both the question and the answer are not embedded ineffably in a wholly determined universe.

The difficulty is elucidated by our wondering what it might be like to think without language, and sometimes struggling to put thoughts into words. What, exactly, is the thing (thought, perception, idea, feeling) that precedes its own linguistic expression?


Well, without language every communication would seem to revolve around "show me". If you wished to convey to a neighbor that a storm had blown down a tree in your backyard and you didn't want to have to take him down the block to your yard to show him, we would need to invent something like hand gestures or finger movements or facial expressions that would then become the abstract shortcuts that words convey for us now.

A computer represents information by encoding it using a binary system of ones and zeroes. Our brains must do something roughly analogous using neurons, although we haven’t yet cracked the code. And there are important differences between brains and computers. Neurons don’t only function like a computer’s simple one/zero logic gates: many respond only to specific stimuli or sensory inputs. But the biggest difference (and why computers fail the Turing test) is that computers lack a self – which could be called a meta-program to make sense of linguistic output.


Unless of course human brains [and the language we use here to discuss them] are just nature's own equivalent of ones and zeros. But what always interest me about this "self" [and whatever language any particular one of them chooses to use] is the part where unlike computers that, correctly programmed, are in sync with what is objectively true in the either/or world, there does not appear to be a way to program our own brains so as to be correct in regard to the words used in arguments revolving around, say, this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem

Especially once the language used is not part of a thought experiment but involves an actual situation in which the lives of flesh and blood human beings are at stake. Or think Kant and that knock on the door. Tell the truth or not?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby Meno_ » Mon May 24, 2021 8:25 pm

very simply, objective criteria follow a calculus of spatial varience that concurrently changes the supposed lowest platformal foundation.

The language changes very imperceptively, as the idea of reception and projection allow, namely on the persistent dialectical ground.

The resulting image template like a lens, adjusts for a reasonable circle of light through the expanding and contracting pupil., that translates automatic mechanical varience to axiomatically adjusted meaning.


That does not differentiate between the functional and the thougought experiment as testing it'self.

Every linguistic usage then, is based on very delicate micro experiments. They contain calculated functional, yet imperceptible tests for missing elemental foundations.

That is why calculation always rests on continuous retests between various minima-maximal; and seemingly static , primitive, overgeneralized concepts with the degrees relating to the mist complex variences.
Last edited by Meno_ on Tue May 25, 2021 12:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
Meno_
breathless
 
Posts: 9701
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:39 am
Location: Mysterium Tremendum

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Mon May 24, 2021 8:33 pm

Meno_ wrote:very simply, objective criteria follow a calculus of spatial varience that concurrently changes the supposed lowest platformal foundation.

The language changes very imperceptively, as the idea of reception and projection allow, namely on the persistent dialectical ground.

The resulting image template like a lens, adjusts for a reasonable circle of light through the expanding and contracting pupil., that translates automatic mechanical varience to axiomatically adjusted meaning.


That does not differentiate between the functional and the though as testing it'self.

Every linguistic usage then, is based on very delicate micro experiments. They contain calculated functional, yet imperceptible tests for missing elemental foundations.

That is why calculation always rests on continuous retests between various minima-maximal; and seemingly static , primitive, overgeneralized concepts with the degrees relating to the mist complex variences.


Exactly!!! :lol:
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby Meno_ » Tue May 25, 2021 12:31 am

iambiguous wrote:
Meno_ wrote:very simply, objective criteria follow a calculus of spatial varience that concurrently changes the supposed lowest platformal foundation.

The language changes very imperceptively, as the idea of reception and projection allow, namely on the persistent dialectical ground.

The resulting image template like a lens, adjusts for a reasonable circle of light through the expanding and contracting pupil., that translates automatic mechanical varience to axiomatically adjusted meaning.


That does not differentiate between the functional and the though as testing it'self.

Every linguistic usage then, is based on very delicate micro experiments. They contain calculated functional, yet imperceptible tests for missing elemental foundations.

That is why calculation always rests on continuous retests between various minima-maximal; and seemingly static , primitive, overgeneralized concepts with the degrees relating to the mist complex variences.


Exactly!!! :lol:




meno_ says:


"That does not differentiate between the functional and the though as testing it'self."


Error: it should read: "that dies nit differentiate between the functional and the thought experiment as testing it's self"



I understand Iambigious the problem with this hinges between a sense of what I mean and the sense of down to earth philosophy, to me down to earth is at varience with what the cumulative sense of it's meaning may be, and that is , i believe the primary difference.

Objectively speaking the common sense of 'bringing it down to reality' may be fractured into the nihilism You espouse.
Meno_
breathless
 
Posts: 9701
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:39 am
Location: Mysterium Tremendum

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Tue May 25, 2021 3:23 am

Meno_ wrote:
"That does not differentiate between the functional and the though as testing it'self."


Error: it should read: "that dies nit differentiate between the functional and the thought experiment as testing it's self"


I understand Iambigious the problem with this hinges between a sense of what I mean and the sense of down to earth philosophy, to me down to earth is at varience with what the cumulative sense of it's meaning may be, and that is , i believe the primary difference.

Objectively speaking the common sense of 'bringing it down to reality' may be fractured into the nihilism You espouse.


Perhaps someday in language that I can actually understand -- and I'm not the only one here who would note this -- you will finally come clean as to what motivates you to post the sort of things that you did above. It's mostly just gibberish to me but, sure, maybe not.

You won't bring what I deem to be your obtuse assessments "down to earth" given particular sets of circumstances. And there is always the possibility it's just a Alan Sokal character that you are playing here. Exposing the "intellectual contraptions" of those like Satyr, Magnus, Parodites and others here. Or, sure, maybe a "condition".

And I suspect that English is not the language that you grew up with...so there's always the part that this might play.

But if it is none of the above and you actually are convinced that your points are intelligible, what I wouldn't give to borrow that machine Maia and I talk about...the one where we are both hooked up to it and I am actually able to understand what motivates you to post what you do here on the philosophy board.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby Dan~ » Tue May 25, 2021 4:29 am

Language works by virtue of the relationships between it, us, our minds, and the world.

I would merely come back to the distinction here between the language that we use in our existential, intersubjective interactions that involve conflicting moral and political value judgments, and the language that we use that seems to convey essential, objective truths in the either/or world.

Why are you always talking about conflicting goods?
Just because something is conflicting doesn't make it some universal paradox,
that you need to constantly worry about.
I like http://www.accuradio.com , internet radio.
https://dannerz.itch.io/ -- a new and minimal webside now hosting my free game projects.
ImageImage
Truth is based in sensing, in vision. And we can only see when we are alive.
User avatar
Dan~
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 10822
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2005 8:14 am
Location: Canada Alberta

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Tue May 25, 2021 5:23 am

Dan~ wrote:
Language works by virtue of the relationships between it, us, our minds, and the world.

I would merely come back to the distinction here between the language that we use in our existential, intersubjective interactions that involve conflicting moral and political value judgments, and the language that we use that seems to convey essential, objective truths in the either/or world.

Why are you always talking about conflicting goods?
Just because something is conflicting doesn't make it some universal paradox,
that you need to constantly worry about.


Okay, let's explore this in regard to a moral conflagration that we are all likely to be familiar. One side embraces one set of behaviors while the other side embraces another, conflicting set of behaviors .

Now, of course, if we could come up with the language [philosophical or otherwise] that did indeed encompass a universal moral truth here than all rational and virtuous people would be obligated to embody it. Or, if they chose not to, it could at least be established that they were wrong not to.

The Humanist equivalent of God and Judgment Day?

Don't you read the heated exchanges here between, among others, the liberals and the conservatives, the capitalists and the socialists on the Society, Government, and Economics board.

Don't the moral objectivists -- the fulminating fanatics -- at both ends of the political spectrum often become infuriated when "the other side" refuses to "see the light".

And what is this light if not their conviction that their own value judgments do in fact reflect their own rendition of a universal moral agenda.

You pick the conflagration.

Straight out of the headlines for example.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby Dan~ » Tue May 25, 2021 5:31 am

So what if people disagree on things?
That was bound to happen.
A world without disagreement is not possible / real.
Both random and non random shapes the mind and beliefs.
Not all ideas are compatible.
That is obvious.
Toddlers know this stuff.

"The sky is blue.", uh oh, im a big bad objectivist.
I like http://www.accuradio.com , internet radio.
https://dannerz.itch.io/ -- a new and minimal webside now hosting my free game projects.
ImageImage
Truth is based in sensing, in vision. And we can only see when we are alive.
User avatar
Dan~
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 10822
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2005 8:14 am
Location: Canada Alberta

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Tue May 25, 2021 4:46 pm

Dan~ wrote:So what if people disagree on things?
That was bound to happen.
A world without disagreement is not possible / real.
Both random and non random shapes the mind and beliefs.
Not all ideas are compatible.
That is obvious.
Toddlers know this stuff.

"The sky is blue.", uh oh, im a big bad objectivist.


I'm sorry, but we'll still need an actual context in which to explore yet another of your "general description intellectual contraptions".

I may as well be having this discussion with Satyr. :wink:
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Wed Jun 02, 2021 5:13 pm

Question of the Month
How Does Language Work?
The following answers to the question of linguistic meaning each win a random book.
Philosophy Now Magazine

James Malcolm, West Molesey, Surrey

The words of which language is composed have ‘dictionary’ or definitional meanings. For a computer these meanings are irritatingly precise, and a computer will respond exactly as commanded. But most words incorporate nuances of meaning and so may be understood by a human audience in a number of ways according to the experience of the user and the context.


Now you're talking: That distinction.

I come across it all the time here. I'm challenged to define a particular word. That way -- technically -- we can all be on the same page. The part where subjective nuances come in however is the part where we actually use the words in our interactions with others from day to day.

But even here I am clear about another distinction: defining words used in the either/or world and words used in the is/ought world. Words used to describe objective facts and words used to encompass personal opinions.

The part the objectivist among us fuse into "my way or the highway".

The key to language lies in the agencies using language. Try thinking of yourself and others as musical instruments. Language is the tool by which the instruments are tuned to each other. The particular language code is immaterial; language works through its effect on the attuned audience. Language works best when a speaker is able to find the tunes the audience can recognize, including for communication with other species.


Of course there are the musical instruments that Neil Young used here: https://youtu.be/m5FCcDEA6mY

And the instruments used by Lynyrd Skynyrd here: https://youtu.be/ye5BuYf8q4o

The same instruments by and large. And the language spoken is the same: English.

But then the part where those on both sides insist the other side is out of tune in regard to any number of things. What about the limitations of language then?

Or, philosophically...

Each linguistic exchange generates thought in the listener, which most likely will not be identical with the thought of the speaker. The listener will assemble her understanding still using words, and often with new insight. The response will show how well the audience understood, and further modify the thinking of the speaker. Successive exchanges may be needed to achieve perfect understanding between the parties. Over a lifetime, each one of us becomes attuned to the general intention of a steadily increasing vocabulary, and will modify our own. So language works by successively re-tuning understanding between participants. Sadly, it works only in part.


On the other hand, there's still the distinction here that I keep coming back to. The part where language works because it can work and the part where it may not ever be able to work.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Sat Jun 12, 2021 6:35 pm

Question of the Month
How Does Language Work?
Philosophy Now Magazine

Jim Farrer, Kirriemuir, Scotland

Schopenhauer divided our mental representations into the intuitive – the whole of sensual experience – and the abstract – concepts facilitated by reason.


And we've been squabbling over where to draw the line ever since. In fact, one suspects, ever since the first philosopher centuries ago insisted that others are obligated to draw it in the same place that he does. And that's before the subjunctive "I" starts in on collecting, assessing and then ranking all of the hopelessly conflicting religious, ideological and deontological assumptions.

Reason has speech as its “first product and necessary instrument” and its most important achievements are attained through language, which is only indirectly related to perception, via concepts.


Here too however the rest is history. In other words, what on earth does language of this sort convey to me that it does not convey to you or to others? I keep coming back to "we'll need a context, of course", but, okay, you tell be a better alternative. The tools are there for all of us: language, perceptions, concepts. So why throughout history have we only been able to embrace reason as it pertains to the either/or world. Why not the other one?

Instead...

Concepts reside in what neuroscientist Endel Tulving calls ‘semantic memory’ which connects ideas to objects. E.O. Wilson sees concepts as units of human culture, describing a concept as a “node of semantic memory and its correlates in brain activity” (Consilience, p.148, 1998). He reminds us that even if our lexical communication were removed, we’d still have “a rich paralanguage that communicates… basic needs: blushing… facial expressions… postures… our primate heritage.” Wilson also reminds us that language conveying information constructs culture, and that some think that this culture has acquired “emergent properties no longer connected to the genetic and psychological processes that initiated it.” Individual minds could then be seen as building blocks which can generate regularities in a functioning language environment. Configurations of these units then become meaning generators at a higher scale of organization, that is, on a cultural level.


Everything you need to know about lanaguage...except its profound limitations when it comes to what, in my view, is the most important philosophical question of them all: How ought one to live?

What about "these units then become meaning generators at a higher scale of organization, that is, on a cultural level" in the world of conflicting goods?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Tue Jun 22, 2021 4:52 pm

Question of the Month
How Does Language Work?
Philosophy Now Magazine

Maurice John Fryatt, Scarborough, Ontario

Sentences produce different kinds of speech acts: consisting for example in assertions and promises, respectively expressing the states of belief and intention. And all speech acts have conditions of satisfaction. For example, the expression of a valid belief is satisfied by its being true, and the making of a valid promise is satisfied by its fulfillment. Speakers may also learn metacognitive skills, distinguishing, for instance, between meanings of the same sentence across differing contexts. The meaning of ‘indexical’ words such as ‘I’ is not retained across contexts, for instance.


Speech acts. How to pin down the definition and the meaning of that "technically".

Right?

And then to take this out into the world of human interactions that revolve around the question, "how ought one to live?"

For me, I'll accept whatever others think a "speech act" is epistemologically as long as they are willing to take that out into the is/ought world and discuss it given the main components of my own speech acts: identity, value judgments and political economy.

One thing seems certain: in the act of speaking the words that come out of our mouths go into the ears of others [who are not deaf] and then any number of actual behaviors producing any number of actual consequences are possible. The human condition as it were.

But sure the technical stuff:

It has been argued that proper names are used to pick out a specific individual and lack any descriptive aspect. Conventions also apply to syntax: we have selected the sentence as the basic unit of communication, and use the order of its words to convey its meaning while allowing individual words to retain theirs – as demonstrated by the distinction between ‘The dog chased the fox’ and ‘The fox chased the dog’. Apart from understanding a sentence’s references, a listener must also understand a speaker’s purpose in using that sentence – assertive, promissory, or otherwise – which is usually revealed by its syntax.


Yes, and there is not likely to be much disagreement among us about it. There are rules that have been established over hundreds [sometimes thousands] of years within communities that share the same language. But if instead of foxes chasing dogs or dogs chasing foxes we have people shooting foxes or eating dogs -- South Koreans eat over 2 million dogs a year -- it's not the syntax that is likely to mar our communication.

Finally, whether they know it or not, speakers are committed to the condition of satisfaction of their utterances. For instance, those expressing beliefs are committed to their truth, and those making promises to their fulfillment. If we make a promise it is not to be easily discounted, because in making it we are simultaneously obliging ourselves to ensure that it is kept.


Actually, the finality revolves more around establishing satisfaction between those who utter words and those who hear them. But that's where my own frame of mind here comes into play.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Fri Jul 02, 2021 6:01 pm

Question of the Month
How Does Language Work?
Philosophy Now Magazine
Ray Pearce, Didsbury, Manchester

Linguistic meaning operates through a framework erected by the synthesis of grammatically-well-formed elements. A basic aspect is a common lexicon, in which the verbal symbols or tokens which we bestow upon objects and ideas are recorded. Meaning is often successfully aided by higher semantic devices, including irony, the implying of the opposite of what is meant in order to emphasise the true; another device is metaphor, when phrases are used to refer to other ideas of which they are images. And where would the world of literature be without the simile?


Again, these are elements of language communication that are basically technical components of any language...whether spoken, encompassed in signs or in facial expressions. And ultimately what counts is 1] how successful we are using these elements in order to communicate to others what we think we mean and 2] the extent to which what is being communicated is able to be demonstrated as in fact in accordance with as close as we can come to understanding an objective reality.

Then the shift to language that is conveyed in more problematic contexts. In the world of art for example.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s description in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner of a becalmed ship as “like a painted ship upon a painted ocean” leaves no doubt as to the intended meaning.


On the other hand...

The art world use other languages. An outstanding example of this is music, where tonality, harmony, melody and rhythm contrive to be meaningful to a receptive ear. Some attempts are made to account for such meanings verbally, but sometimes it is more appropriate to bear in mind the closing line of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus: “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.” (“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”)


With music, back again to Emil Cioran:

"If everything is a lie, is illusory, then music itself is a lie, but the superb lie.....As long as you listen to it, you have the feeling that it is the whole universe, that everything ceases to exist, there is only music. But then when you stop listening, you fall back into time and wonder, 'well, what is it? What state was I in?' You had felt it was everything, and then it all disappeared."

In fact, given my own experience in listening to music, what is being communicated "as long as I am listening to it" is this sense of reality that seems "in the moment" to be beyond doubting. What I am listening to simply conveys what I know to be true. But only in the moment. Why? Because as soon as I do stop listening to it the ambiguities and uncertainties and confusions I confront when dealing with verbal communication comes surging back. I am, once again, fractured and fragmented.

Still, just because we can't speak of some things in a fully coherent manner, if we choose to interact with others out in a particular world, what is the alternative but, to the best of our ability, try?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:14 pm

Question of the Month
How Does Language Work?
Philosophy Now Magazine
Adrian Fitzgerald, Adelaide

Language is existence manifest. It is the expression of an entity both inwardly and outwardly. For instance, when we see an object in our environment, our awareness of the object results from our brain converting sensory data into electrical impulses which our mind recognises as an image. This image, or subsequent thoughts provoked by the image (which is internal language) can be communicated to others, with more or less distortion, by using the language of the senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.


Again the brain doing its thing to sustain the part where biological imperatives more or less rule the roost. Which is why the language skills of most animals revolve almost entirely around instincts and drives and libidos. The primordial brain that nature had millions of years in which to introduce mutations through. And imagine the mutations it took to produce an animal species like us. For human beings, language communications is of an order that goes off the chart with respect to all the rest of nature.

But that's all the more reason to explore it as far as we might be able to go. Well, once we take that leap of faith to autonomous communication.

I merely focus in here on what we may well be unable to communicate fully or objectively...however sophisticated our language skills might be.

Where there is consciousness, there is language. As far as animals use language, they are also conscious. Despite our differences, both humans and animals read and respond to the messages created in their brains in a language appropriate to their desires and capacities. The degree of consciousness, and therefore the complexity of internal language, varies, as does the ability to project this externally.


I'm sorry but there is really no comparison between the use of language in human communication and the vocal sounds that lions and leopards and lobsters are able to manage. Other than in a wholly determined world. With us come at times ferocious conflicts over the sounds that come out of our mouths. We are even able to invent Gods said to be the final arbiters when it comes around to judging the most worthy sounds.


Rocks are another matter. Rocks are commonly held to be beyond consciousness and language. Caution, however, is warranted. For instance, a rock is perceived to be green when it reflects that colour back to the observer. In doing this, the rock communicates without being alive. Language then operates on both sides of the life-death divide.


See how far tbis can be stretched? Now, pick up that rock and bash someone along aside the head with it. Until he's dead. Why? Well, using language, you can try to explain it to a judge and a jury.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:07 pm

The Tractatus…is it so intractable?
Carlos Muñoz-Suárez guides us on a trip down the linguistic rabbit hole.

“Most of the propositions and questions of philosophers arise from our failure to understand the logic of our language.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 4.03


Here, my own conjectures revolve more around the extent to which we grapple with the limitations of language.

Think of it as the recently departed Donald Rumsfeld might have:

There are known knowns about language. These are things we know that we know about it. There are known unknowns about language. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know about it. But there are also unknown unknowns about language. There are things we don't know we don't know about it.

Now all we need is a context.

On 13th March 1919, Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote a letter telling Bertrand Russell that he had completed a book entitled Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung. The English version was later given the Latin title Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. At that time, and for almost a decade afterwards, Wittgenstein thought that the Tractatus contained a definitive solution to all the fundamental problems of philosophy!


The rest, as they, being history: https://sophoslogos.wordpress.com/2014/ ... tgenstein/

Undoubtedly the Tractatus is a genuine challenge to philosophy, and a result of deep philosophical efforts. Its aim is to (dis)solve philosophical problems through the logical analysis of language. As well as introducing a pioneering view regarding the complex relationships between thought, language and reality, a book purporting to achieve that lofty goal might also be supposed to be very clear, detailed and exhaustive.


On the other hand, however complex the relationship might be between thought, language and reality, look around you at a world bursting with technologies, structures and human interactions in which the words used to describe them or to explain them are basically now just taken for granted. The either/or world is awash with phenomena in which language can be used by all of us to communicate accurate information. You can come from any nation, adhere to any religious or political belief, be of any race, gender or sexual persuasion and the words encompass the same thing. We go about our day to day lives exchanging words with each other that almost never cause confusion or misunderstanding.

The same with philosophers who embrace all of the different schools of thought. The either/or world and the language used to convey it, is as much intelligible to them as to all the rest of us. Not much in the way of intractable communication here. Unless, of course, it involves understanding really complex information that only experts in any particular field grasp.

Instead, we know where the "failures to communicate" are most likely to be found. Which takes us closer to the conclusions reached by the "later Wittgenstein"

It has been widely accepted that the Tractatus was innovative in generating a general theory about such relationships. Nonetheless, it is written in a laconic style expressed through numbered aphorisms, sometimes insightful, sometimes enigmatic. It is a style apparently incompatible with explicit explanatory clarity, detail or exhaustiveness. Unsurprisingly, it has given rise to competing interpretations and analytical responses, by for instance Bertrand Russell, Frank Ramsey, Rudolf Carnap, Karl Popper, Max Black, P.M.S. Hacker, Jaakko Hintikka, Elizabeth Anscombe, Stanley Cavell, Cora Diamond, James Conant, and a long list of other philosophical luminaries. As this might indicate, it is pretty difficult to introduce, even to paraphrase, the core lessons deriving from the Tractatus without provoking controversy among the experts.


Well, let them squabble over the "technical" components of his laconic style. What interests me are the didactic conclusions they reach that can then be anchored more to that which interest me about human interactions: rewards and punishments meted out for behaviors deemed to be right or wrong.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Sun Aug 01, 2021 5:19 pm

The Tractatus…is it so intractable?
Carlos Muñoz-Suárez guides us on a trip down the linguistic rabbit hole.

The Logical Structure at the Core of the Tractatus

Or we could say the Tractatus is a building with three floors – reality, thought, and language – and a unified, solid core supporting the whole structure – logic. Neither reality, nor language, nor thought, can be articulated without making reference to logic, since, according to Wittgenstein, their complex connections must have a logical structure; and they could not be beyond logic, since they would then lack structure. Logic is therefore essential to what we think and say, as well as to the reality we think and talk about. However, the logical structure is neither imposed nor regulated by what we think or say.


Okay, given the assumption that we all experience a reality that we think about and communicate to others through language, my own first reaction in regard to logic -- "a unified, solid core supporting the whole structure" -- is this: are there limitations imposed on it when describing interactions that precipitate behaviors that come into conflict?

After all, any newscast will introduce us to hundreds, thousands, millions who are seemingly capable of being logical and yet can't seem to get along in any number of given contexts. For example, to get or not to get vaccinated for the covid-19 virus.

When noting things like...

"Logic is therefore essential to what we think and say, as well as to the reality we think and talk about. However, the logical structure is neither imposed nor regulated by what we think or say."

...what on earth are we to make of that given these endless conflicts?

Before becoming a linguistic philosopher, Wittgenstein trained as an engineer, and then, under Bertrand Russell’s sharp eye, studied the foundations of mathematics. Perhaps this explains why the Tractatus looks like the work of a sort of conceptual engineer.


Back again to the limitations of logic. For engineers and mathematicians, logic and knowledge is in sync with what either is or is not in fact true given the laws of nature in the physical world around us. Which explains why there are not often heated confrontations on, say, physics forums. At least until the discussion shifts to what either is or is not true "in reality" out at the very end of the more speculative limbs in regard to "The Big Questions". Lots and lots of things that those like Wittgenstein and Russell can agree on as is entirely rational.

Thus...

In it, Wittgenstein describes reality as an immense device whose pieces perform together, giving rise at different levels to different configurations and abstractions, among them language and thought. Like cogs in a machine, all the aphorisms in the Tractatus serve an overall aim. In his Preface, Wittgenstein describes that aim as follows:

“the aim of the book is to draw a limit to thought, or rather – not to thought, but to the expression of thoughts: for in order to be able to draw a limit to thought, we should have to find both sides of the limit thinkable (i.e. we should have to be able to think what cannot be thought). It will therefore only be in language that the limit can be drawn, and what lies on the other side of the limit will simply be nonsense.”

Wittgenstein declared his goal in the Tractatus to be eliminating from philosophy the nonsense deriving from distorted uses of language. This search pressed him to reflect on the limits of thought and language, and, in particular, about the limits of sense, that is, of meaning.


Logic and language and limits. Okay, what are they?

Now all we need is a context.




Note to Faust:

Pick one.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby Parodites » Wed Aug 11, 2021 5:35 pm

iambiguous wrote:From Bryan Magee's Confessions of a Philosopher:

[b]...all that language can do is to indicate with the utmost generality and in the broadest and crudest of terms what it is that I see. Even something as simple and everyday as the sight of a towel dropped on the bathroom floor is inaccessable to language----and inaccessable to it from many points of view at the same time: no words to describe the shape it has fallen into, no words to describe the degrees of shading in its coliurs, no words to describe the differentials of shadow in its folds....I see all these things at once with great precision...with clarity and certainty, and in all of their complexity. I possess them all wholey and surely in direct experience, and yet I would be totally unable...to put that experience in words. It is emphatically not the case, then, that 'the world is the world as we describe it', or that I 'experience it through linguistic catagories that help to shape the experiences themselves' or that my 'main way of dividing things up is in language' or that my 'concept of reality is a matter of our linguistic categories'.

Imagine, for example, abortion is made unconstitutional. It is now a capital crime to either perform or obtain one. Mary and Joe are having a conversation about it. Lots and lots of words go back and forth. Mary is pregnant and wants an abortion. Joe impregnated her and thinks abortion is unethical. Joe, of course, is biologically exempt from ever having to endure the horrific ordeal of being forced to give birth. But he goes on and on and on stringing words together in what he believes to be a logically impeccable manner. He cites Kant and the categorical imperative and deontology and ethical obligations that are "universally applicable". But he just can't seem to understand, given the rational manner in which he encompases the situation, why Mary doesn't seem to "get it".



First of all, the first paragraph is simply wrong, on just about every level. 1) We do in fact have words to describe nearly any shape a towel or anything else could fall into, (in higher mathematics, we have 10,000 words to describe even higher-dimensional objects and the infinite topological manipulations of objects in higher dimensions) it's just that it would be both laborious and unprofitable to describe such a thing in such detail. That's why most people don't have such words in their vocabulary- they have no use for them. There wasn't any blue shit in ancient Greece so they didn't bother linguistically specifying shades of blue. 2) Second of all: you don't even possess all of that rich multiplicity in your immediate direct experience anyway, which Magee claims we do. You just think you possess it, when in reality, this 'multiplicity' is just a bunch of representational gaps. Your experience of a totality in this multiplicity is just a mental illusion. Close your eyes and imagine a flock of birds, then open them. How many birds were in that flock? You know it couldn't be like 10,000, but it also can't be fewer than 5 or 6. You know it wasn't just one or two birds. But there is not actually any number of birds in the flock. (Borges' Argumentum Ornithologia.) You just imagined a flock of birds without any specific number of birds. How's that possible? Did you access the Platonic form of a flock of birds that exists without any phenomenal or specific number? No. It's possible because your impression of there being a totality or 'completeness' to your immediate experience is just a mental illusion supported by empty placeholders that don't actually correspond to anything real. That same thought experiment with the birds and the flock applies to your continuous daily, waking experience of the world: most of it is just an illusory sense of totality, of there not being any 'gaps' in your immediate experience. (When you walk in a room and glance at a pile of dishes, this is supported by the same mental illusion as the flock of birds.) But there are such gaps. Most of it is just gaps, and language exists to close and to fill those gaps in our immediate experience.

As to the later bit of text, are you suggesting that our immediate emotional and physical affective state trumps rationality in delimiting ethical boundaries? Because if you are, it seems a bit self-defeating. You're using language and reason to argue that language and reason are not sufficient in such a delimitation of the ethical. And by criminalizing late term abortion, nobody is 'forcing' a woman to give birth anymore than we all forced her to have sex in the first place and become impregnated.
Qui non intelligit, aut taceat, aut discat.

BTHYS TOU ANAHAT KHYA-PANDEMAI.
-- Hermaedion, in: the Liber Endumiaskia.

ΑΝΤΗΡΟΠΑΡΙΟΝ,
in formis perisseia mutilata in omnia perisarkos mutilatum;
omniformis protosseia immutilatum in protosarkos immutilata.

Measure the breaking of the Flesh in the flesh that is broken.
[ The Ecstasies of Zosimos, Tablet
the First.]
User avatar
Parodites
Thinker
 
Posts: 841
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2020 12:03 pm

Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Thu Aug 12, 2021 3:34 pm

The Tractatus…is it so intractable?
Carlos Muñoz-Suárez guides us on a trip down the linguistic rabbit hole.

Wittgenstein’s exploration led him to the view that anything that can be thinkable or expressed by language has sense. As he writes, “everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly. Everything that can be put into words can be put clearly”. But, if anything that is thinkable or expressable by language has sense, how can we talk about nonsense? According to Wittgenstein, we can neither think nor talk about nonsense, since by definition nonsense cannot be talked about meaningfully, that is, logically. Nonsense can merely be shown; and showing nonsense is showing that there is something lacking logical structure. To Wittgenstein, philosophical activity consists of showing nonsense without transgressing the limits of logical space, whose limits are the limits of sense.


For the life of me, I can't think of a more appropriate reaction to this then, "we'll need a context of course". Think something. Express it here at ILP. Then ask us, "does this make sense?".

Now, sometimes, admittedly, making sense of something can only revolve around the extent to which you have a grasp of what is being expressed. For example, read the OP from this thread: https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 4&t=197244

Does what he thought up and expressed here make sense to you? Is his thinking clear? Is it expressed clearly?

You tell me.

Without a background or education in QM and Many Worlds thinking...or a sophisticated understanding of mathematics and the laws of nature involved in thinking his conclusions through...it may as well be gibberish to some.

So, given any other context, what exactly is Wittgenstein proposing in Tractatus in regard to putting things clearly in the words you use to describe and to encompass what you thought up? Who gets to say when something is nonsense when the discussion shifts from the either/or to the is/ought world?

Wittgenstein’s touchstone, then, is the logical analysis of language. But before dealing with this, he first describes the target of any thought or linguistic expression: reality.


My own touchstone then being the limitations of "logical analysis" in regard to many aspects of what is said to constitute the "human condition".

His description isn’t the kind of description that, for instance, a physicist would offer on the basis of scientific theories and laws. According to Wittgenstein, the logical structure and constitution of reality can be discovered by means of logical analysis rather than by empirical or scientific scrutiny. In a nutshell, Wittgenstein’s description of reality is aimed at capturing its formal or logical structure – like describing the core structure of a building rather than its finishing or furniture.


Revolving one would then imagine around this: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

On the other hand, in regard to those many aspects of the human condition in which logical analysis comes up short, we can no more stop speaking something thereof than we can interact without rules of behaviors. But what role does logic then play in devising them?

Or: Is it logical that one might be "fractured and fragmented" in regard to his or her moral and political value judgments? Is there a way using the rules of language to construct the most rational or epistemologically sound assessment of such rules.

Okay, choose a context and let's have a go at it.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
User avatar
iambiguous
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 43167
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:03 pm
Location: hanging out with godot

PreviousNext

Return to Philosophy



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot]