Ludwig Wittgenstein

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DemonHybrid
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Ludwig Wittgenstein

Postby DemonHybrid » Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:04 am UTC

To those who know this guy...is there anyway we can discuss what his point is about language relative to actions and objects? I have a philosophy essay that's due in a couple of days...and I sort of understand it...but I'd really like to dig deep in it and master it (I botched my last essay on Albert Camus and got a B @_@) and also, the whole thing sort of interests me. I'm really into the philosophy scene.

I have to read his Meaning As Use article and his writing style is EVERYWHERE.

Edit: and while we're on the topic of him, feel free to express your views on the Langage of Thought (or the lack thereof). I think it's sort of an interesting topic.

Double Edit: I'm being paranoid, but to let you know, it's not a "do my homework" sorta thing. It's something like "I'd like to know more about this guy...the essay's just a side product of it", so don't think I'm tricking you into writing my stupid essay...discussion or not, it has to get done.
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trickster721
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Re: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Postby trickster721 » Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:59 am UTC

He seems to see language as growing from the seeds of absolute truth which make up reality. By analyzing the structure of language we can deduce these essential truths in a very rational and objective way. The reality is the roots buried under the surface, but we're only seeing the plant, language.

This would be reactionary to other contemporary ideas like psychoanalysis, which emphasised relative personal experience and looked for meaning in the individual mind. He seems to be rejecting the popular notions of symbology and secret meaning.

But I've never heard of the guy, and just spent thirty seconds looking at his Wikipedia entry. You should probably read his book.

Is your avatar leading an all-cat gospel choir, or what?

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Re: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Postby DemonHybrid » Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:13 am UTC

trickster721 wrote:He seems to see language as growing from the seeds of absolute truth which make up reality. By analyzing the structure of language we can deduce these essential truths in a very rational and objective way. The reality is the roots buried under the surface, but we're only seeing the plant, language.

This would be reactionary to other contemporary ideas like psychoanalysis, which emphasised relative personal experience and looked for meaning in the individual mind. He seems to be rejecting the popular notions of symbology and secret meaning.

But I've never heard of the guy, and just spent thirty seconds looking at his Wikipedia entry. You should probably read his book.

Is your avatar leading an all-cat gospel choir, or what?


Yeah, I went to the library this afternoon and picked up about 10 or so books on him (Didn't have time to read much). That's what I got, but from reading his article, it didn't seem any different than...say, what Steve Pinker would say (my teacher assigns texts that are unlike the ones we do in class) about how language is sorted through a mind language before it's converted to english/spanish/whatever, so I was a bit confused. But this helps clear some of the smoke. Steve (the language-of-thought guy) didn't mention much about symbology and the actual "meaning" of words...he's more focused on "how", but now I see Wittgenstein's point. Thanks.

By the way...the cat avatar...I just found it. So I have no clue XD
"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."
-Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

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Re: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Postby trickster721 » Mon Dec 03, 2007 8:26 am UTC

I think the difference is that Wittgenstein saw the individual mind as "The Blank Slate", full of muddled reflections, while language served as a sort of collective (and much more accurate) interpretation of reality. Pinker has the advantage of being a real modern scientist, rather than a philosopher, and has a better understanding of how the brain works. He sees room for some of Wittgenstein's impressions of reality to come from the inherited structure of the brain, rather than just through shared language. It's sort of what Wittgenstein was trying to get away from, but if he had access to modern biology he would probably have felt the same way. It's a process of debunking the "mind-ether" of collective unconscious, with Wittgenstein speculating about language as the true medium, and Pinker using biology to take it a step further.

Never heard of Pinker, either. This is all really interesting, maybe I'll actually read these books at some point and get an idea of what I'm talking about. :P Is Wittgenstein as anti-individualist and depressing as his ideas suggest?

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Re: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Postby Waterhouse » Mon Dec 03, 2007 12:47 pm UTC

One thing to know about Wittgenstein is that his work varied drastically during his life. He wrote a major work, his 'Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus' when he was, I think, in his twenties, which basically offered this terribly bleak and anti-individualist point-of-view, but then ended up looking at language as a practical tool, similar, I think, to the way more modern linguists regard it.

His major thesis, early on, was that all true statements are tautologies, and that any statement which cannot be reduced to a set of verifiable axioms is nonsense - that the business of philosophy is to reform the use of language so as to avoid nonsense statements, which can't be proven true of false. Not only, he said, should we not say illogical, ill-constructed sentences, but we cannot even say that there are such things, since, by definition, to say that they exist is to talk about them. In his ideal use of language, we couldn't ever even say "There are no square circles," since that sentence would be ill-constructed. We can't even say that those kinds of statements are bad, but should simply "Pass over them in silence."

He tried to deal with the question of "Well, how can you tell us not to talk about such things if you're not supposed to mention them at all?" His idea was basically that, although one can't say "illogical sentences are not sentences," one can sort-of discuss ideas approaching that boundary and describe a kind of circle around them, effectively pointing the way, or offering a "ladder," after which we are to climb, we must then discard.

He later ended up saying, basically, "Oh, well, people will always use language in this way that bothers me. Let's just study how they, in fact, use language, rather than how I think they ought to."

Anyway, this business of all true statements being provable was disproved rather eloquently and convincingly by Goedel.

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Re: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Postby trickster721 » Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:27 pm UTC

What a whiney emo punk that Wittgenstein was.

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Re: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Postby DemonHybrid » Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:08 am UTC

trickster721 wrote:What a whiney emo punk that Wittgenstein was.


Apparently he was messed up in the head. Sharing a class with Hitler didn't really help matters either.
"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."
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Re: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Postby Philomid » Fri Dec 14, 2007 12:59 am UTC

If you read Tractacus Logico Philosophicus that should basically clear up any issues, but I can understand the confusion. Put in simple terms, it was talking about how language and philosophy could describe the limits of logic, but could not reach it. That probably did not answer your question at all. :(
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Re: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:31 am UTC

Philomid wrote:If you read Tractacus Logico Philosophicus that should basically clear up any issues, but I can understand the confusion. Put in simple terms, it was talking about how language and philosophy could describe the limits of logic, but could not reach it. That probably did not answer your question at all. :(

Reading only the Tractatus, actually, doesn't give you a very clear impression of anything. It's the really condensed version of Wittgenstein's philosophy, and as such really can't be understood fully if you don't also know what else he was concurrently writing about.
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Re: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Postby Philomid » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:39 am UTC

I agree, but didn't he also change his views years later?
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Re: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:26 am UTC

Philomid wrote:I agree, but didn't he also change his views years later?

He was kind of changing his views constantly. Which is why I said you should read other letters and stuff he wrote right before and during the writing of the Tractatus. Since that was kind of the condensed version of the conclusions he'd reached up through that point in his life.
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Re: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Postby Philomid » Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:08 pm UTC

But he wrote Tractacus relatively early in his life (after B. Russel convinced him to develop a logical philosophy), and he wrote during active duty in the Great War. Does he have enough letters and other assorted material before Tractacus to get a greater feel for his work? And although I agree that Tractacus is a condensed version of all his views, I found it informative, and I felt it had a greater impact than his other work (which I have read little of; Tractacus is his only book length piece of work).
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