back to the beginning: the limitations of language

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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Sat Nov 07, 2020 9:25 pm

Rules, Language & Reality
George Wrisley considers how some of Wittgenstein’s later ideas on language relate to reality.

In Section 373 of the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein writes, “Grammar tells what kind of object anything is.” However, it is unclear how strong we should understand the arbitrariness of grammar to be in this context, and how much it is we and not the world who determine what objects there are.


I honestly wish someone could explain to me what he means by grammar here. And, as well, the rules of grammar. Grammar it would seem is comprised of words put in a specific order in order to convey to others some particular aspect of some particular object. There are things that the words, even if "botched" in the manner in which I understand the rules of grammar, can communicate to others such that the words convey facts about the object that all reasonable men and women would be obligated to concur regarding. Where is grammar arbitrary here? We can determine what a hammer is because we invented it...and the words used to communicate things about it that "for all practical purposes" becomes a part of the world around us that involves hammers.

Does it somehow mean that what exists is dependent on our language so that without language and thus without us there would be no shape to the world? This seems unlikely.


Unlikely? It seems ridiculous. Unless of course one tries to imagine the "shape of the world" in a world where there is no language because there are no creatures around able to invent it. If the human species is the only language using creatures in the entire universe and tomorrow the Really Big One strikes the planet wiping out all human life what of the "shape of the world" then? But what role does Wittgenstein's grammar play in that?

Instead, the assessment stays up in the clouds:

It runs into the problem that grammar itself seems constrained by the world; by certain basic facts of our physiology, needs, and environment. If all those things were to require our grammar to construct them, then they wouldn’t be able to constrain grammar. Does this mean, then, that there is a world independent of language, independent of us, but in some sense malleable and accepting of different ways of carving it up into things? It isn’t clear what it might mean to say that the world is ‘malleable’ in this way. If the world exists at all prior to our use of language, then it seems it must have some kind of independently determinate nature. What would it mean for that determinate nature to be malleable?


Is there anyone here willing to examine this as it pertains to their "social, political and economic interactions" with others given the life they live from day to day?

It seems to suggest the possibility of solipsism to me. Carving up what things in what situation given what understanding of the world? After all, if we are are just at the end of biological evolution here on planet earth then we know that creatures have existed "prior to the use of language". Language is merely a component of the human species allowing us to interact in ways that no other creature on earth is able even to fathom. On our computers using the internet 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

tiny nietzsche: what's something that isn't nothing, but still feels like nothing?
iambiguous: a post from Pedro?
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Re: back to the beginning: the limitations of language

Postby iambiguous » Wed Nov 18, 2020 8:56 pm

Rules, Language & Reality
George Wrisley considers how some of Wittgenstein’s later ideas on language relate to reality.

Conclusion

As we try to understand what Wittgenstein was up to with his talk of the arbitrariness of grammar and the importance of grammar for meaning, I think we will go astray if we try to pin him down on the issue of in what sense reality itself is relative to our language.


Can you believe this? Unless of course the whole point is the suggest the futility of such an endeavor. Still, in regard to language and all that might be understood to be grammar in regard to it, the words we invented to communicate things and relationships in the either/or world seem to be a reality that the "arbitrariness of grammar" hasn't stopped us from creating, say, personal computers, smart phone and zillion other technologies and "consumer goods" that most of us now just take for granted. Oftentimes without the least bit understanding of how or why they work.

Again, unless, in regard even to that, I am not able to grasp Wittgenstein's point at all. And if that is the case, by all means, let someone here who does understand it explain its importance in regard to our "for all practical purposes" either/or world communication.

As for communication in the is/ought world...that's another frame of mind altogether. With or with grammar being arbitrary.

That is indeed an important question, but Wittgenstein, at least in some moments, doesn’t want to solve such philosophical problems. He would prefer to show that they rest on misunderstandings engendered by language.


Me too. Only I still make what I construe to be that important distinction between grammar embedded in language used to convey meaning in the either/or world and grammar used to convey meaning in the is/ought world. Same with inflection and syntax. Words are able to pin down what things are [objectively] in the either/or world because they were invented precisely in order to name what they are. As Ayn Rand would put it. But what can we name as true objectively when the words are used to convey value judgments?

From Wittgenstein’s perspective there are more important lessons to be learned from the arbitrariness of grammar. For example, language is not meaningful because it mirrors reality; meaning is not the result of the objects and things to which language refers; language is meaningful because of how and where we use it, in accordance with the rules of grammar and in the various everyday situations in which we find ourselves.


But, for me, language does mirror reality objectively in regard to such words as, "John copulated sexually with Jane and Jane is now pregnant."

How, in a Wittgensteinian sense, is this language not "mirroring reality"? And how does language mirror or not mirror reality when the words become, "Jane had an abortion, this is immoral and she deserves to be punished".
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

tiny nietzsche: what's something that isn't nothing, but still feels like nothing?
iambiguous: a post from Pedro?
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iambiguous
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Posts: 38466
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