Sunday, May 10, 2009

78a Ludwig Wittgenstein

In December 1919 Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein met eachother in the vegetarian Hotel-Restaurant "Pomona", Molenstraat 53 in The Hague, the Netherlands. They stayed there for two weeks and discussed the manuscript of the Tractatus thoroughly.

After a first publication in the German magazine "Annalen der Naturphilosophie" in 1921 it was translated into English and published under the name "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus" in 1922. The only book by Wittgenstein published during his lifetime, a book with an immense influence.

The Logical Atomism, formulated by Russell played a main role in the discussions between him and Wittgenstein. For Russell the development of an ideal language was a crucial issue.

For Wittgenstein this division between ideal language and natural language isnt that important. The question he asks is more this: what do we have to assume about language and reality, to make it understandable, that we can use a language to speak about reality.

He investigates the conditions that have to be fulfilled regarding reality as well as language, which make it possible to explain that there is a contact between language and reality.

To get to such an explanation Wittgenstein chooses the same atomistic approach regarding language and reality as Russell did. The Tractatus contains 7 main theses and here we can quote the first one and a few sub-theses:

[1. ] The world is all that is the case.

[1.1] The world is the totality of facts, not of things.

[1.11] The world is determined by the facts, and by their being all the

[1.12] For the totality of facts determines what is the case, and also
whatever is not the case.

[1.13] The facts in logical space are the world.

[1.2] The world divides into facts.

[1.21] Each item can be the case or not the case while everything else
remains the same.

In the first place this may give you an impression of how the Tractatus looks like, how it is written. And what you read in these theses is that ontologically Wittgenstein chooses for a pluralism: the world is a multitude of what is the case, and these items are independent of eachother.

It is interesting to note that this idea that reality is a collection of atoms ontologically is not new. About 400 B.C. Democrites already came up with such an idea. In 1695 Leibniz introduced his monads, but these two philosophers thought in terms of substances.

The real new element is the epistemological and logical approach by Russell and Wittgenstein, focusing on language and the relation between language and reality.

Wittgenstein is not so specific about how to interpret these atoms of reality. Norman Malcolm has asked Wittgenstein at a given moment, if he never had thought of examples of the singular objects which occur in atomic states of affairs.

The answer was, that he saw himself as a logician when writing the Tractatus and that it was not the task of a logician to decide whether something is a singular of combined item, for that is only an empirical matters.

What makes it possible for a combination of words to represent a fact in the world? How is it that by producing a sentence we can say something....can tell someone that so-and-so is the case?

Wittgenstein's explanation consists in the striking idea that a sentence is a picture. Like he says in this thesis from the Tractatus: [4.01] A proposition is a picture of reality. A proposition is a model of reality as we imagine it.

The atomic, most basic propositions are combinations of names, of which the meaning is only understood by what the names denote. Like in Russell's theory the meaning is contributed to the name by direct awareness of the atomic fact in reality.

How can a proposition be a picture of a state of affairs in an extra-lingual reality? The proposition has the same structure as the state of affairs in reality. You could think of it as the resemblance in structure of a roadmap and the real landscape or of the music we hear and the score.

However by its own lights the Tractatus' use of words like "object," "reality" and "world" is illegitimate. These concepts are purely formal or a priori. A statement such as "There are objects in the world" does not picture a state of affairs. Rather it is, as it were, presupposed by the notion of a state of affairs.

The "picture theory" therefore denies sense to just the kind of statements of which the Tractatus is composed, to the framework supporting the picture theory itself. In this way the Tractatus pulls the rug out from under its own feet.

"[5.] A proposition is a truth-function of elementary propositions. (An
elementary proposition is a truth-function of itself.)" This is thesis number 5 from the Tractatus. This means that the truth of a compound proposition is established by the truth-value of the individual atomic propositions, which form the compound proposition.

So the endstations of a logical analysis of a compound proposition are the atomic propositions, which cant be analyzed any further and thus denote reality.

After publication of the Tractatus in 1922 Wittgenstein was finished with philosophy and became an elementary schoolteacher in Austria. In 1929 he returned to Cambridge and resumed his philosophical work. I'll talk about that period in the next lecture.

The Discussion

[13:24] Herman Bergson: So far on Wittgenstein I...:-)
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: ah
[13:24] Laila Schuman: are actions like nurture or murder... or emotions... considered in this
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: he is tough
[13:24] itsme Frederix: oke Wittgenstein 1
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: words and reality
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: hmm
[13:25] Herman Bergson: yes.....You need to look at statements in which words are used, Laila
[13:25] arabella Ella: hiya sorry i am late probs with SL tonite
[13:25] Herman Bergson: You cant analyse individual words
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: oh arabella everyone is
[13:25] Zen Arado: what did he mean by 'facts' at the beginning?
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:26] Alarice Beaumont: hi arabella
[13:26] Zen Arado: Hi Arabella
[13:26] arabella Ella accepted your inventory offer.
[13:27] Ze Novikov: hi
[13:27] Herman Bergson: Maybe you noticed but there is a serious problem with the Tractatus....words like fact, or object seem to be apriori concepts more or less
[13:27] Ze Novikov: yessss
[13:27] Herman Bergson: And Wittgenstein meant to show that everything is empirical and expressed in language
[13:28] Zen Arado: words only point to reality they arent reality?
[13:28] itsme Frederix: I do not get the empirical Herman!
[13:28] Herman Bergson: No words arent reality...
[13:28] Herman Bergson: language only has the same structure as extra lingual reality
[13:28] itsme Frederix: You said: A proposition is a model of reality. So we only deal with propositions while thinking/talking - always a model!
[13:29] itsme Frederix: How does that fit to empirical?
[13:29] Mickorod Renard: do you think Russel comissioned Wittgenstein to do the Tractatus?
[13:29] Herman Bergson: That is in the same way as Russell meant it...
[13:29] Herman Bergson: at the end we have a word and a direct awareness, experience of what it denotes
[13:30] itsme Frederix: How does that deal with solipsism
[13:30] Laila Schuman: artists deal with subjects that are not necessarily emperical... and often/usually use a "language" that is difficult for people to understand who have not studied that "language"
[13:30] Herman Bergson: That is a continuing problem Itsme..
[13:31] Herman Bergson: It is always close...
[13:31] itsme Frederix: Well Wittgenstein had its solo's
[13:31] Laila Schuman: does W just throw out all the things artists talk about?
[13:31] Zen Arado: language can mislead us
[13:31] Herman Bergson: That was the reason for Russell to device an ideal language Zen...
[13:31] Zen Arado: oh
[13:31] Herman Bergson: But the more I think about it....
[13:32] Herman Bergson: the more unsatisfactory the Tractaus becomes..
[13:32] Zen Arado: why?
[13:32] itsme Frederix: Laila doesn't artist make propositions in (their own) language!
[13:32] Herman Bergson: Well...Wittgenstein wanted to explain how language can describe an external reality...
[13:33] arabella Ella: I too find the Tractatus unsatisfactory Herman but I admire Wittgenstein's admission on the limitations of language
[13:33] Herman Bergson: But it leaves us still with fundamental philosphical questions....
[13:33] Laila Schuman: yes and no... they have a common vocabulary "in a way"
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: language seems to be more and more important to the philosophers of today
[13:33] Laila Schuman: kandinsky talks about it
[13:33] itsme Frederix: Herman maybe you should keep silent about those things you can not say?!
[13:33] Zen Arado: language is artificial?
[13:33] Herman Bergson: Itsme already pointed at solipsism...which can you draw conclusions that ontologically go outside your mind
[13:34] arabella Ella: interesting
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: oh lol yes
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: again
[[13:34] Herman Bergson: ok...
[13:35] Herman Bergson: All we have is our mental awareness......we are imprisoned in our mind so to speak...
[13:35] Alarice Beaumont: ,-)
[13:35] Herman Bergson: not you all really exist but only my sensory experience of your presence
[13:35] Zen Arado: but we communicate
[13:36] Herman Bergson: yet I draw the conclusion that independent of the content of my mind you exist...
[13:36] arabella Ella: but herman if i remember correctly didn't wittgenstein start the Tractatus with a quote from Augustine's confessions on learning by ostention, ie pointing, eg. This is a cat on a mat, and i think it is these simple statements which he meant mirror reality
[13:36] itsme Frederix: Herman a "mindisch" conclusion?
[13:36] Herman Bergson: yes,,,,and yes Zen....we communicate....
[13:36] Zen Arado: but hey divide reality into subject/object
[13:36] Zen Arado: mkae things into a duality?
[13:37] Herman Bergson: which allows me to conclude on the existence of other minds
[13:37] arabella Ella: yes Zen but we 'show' what we communicate by for example pointing and using demonstratives such as 'this cat'
[13:37] Herman Bergson: But a logic proof of this is almost impossible
[13:37] Zen Arado: I read about 'misleading substantives'too
[13:37] itsme Frederix: Herman almost or ..?
[13:37] arabella Ella: and it is in such cases that Witt says language mirrors reality
[13:38] arabella Ella: a conclusion which admits to a number of limitations of course
[13:38] Herman Bergson: Wel seems impossible
[13:38] itsme Frederix: Oke, mark that the almost is very suggestive!
[13:38] Herman Bergson: at least what I have read about it
[13:38] Herman Bergson: I keep Wittgenstein did regarding a number of logical problems he faced himsef
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: during the summer i am going to review all these terms
[13:39] Mickorod Renard: do we not use a mix of methods to draw conclusions,,perhaps synthetic and anylitical?
[13:39] Herman Bergson: Solipsism is a good one, Gemma
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: ys lolol
[13:40] Mickorod Renard: scuse spellin
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: I Know!!
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: the successful construction of an image in anothers mind is dependent upon the speaker's degreee of articualtion
[13:40] Herman Bergson: It is not the conclusions that concern use here Mickorod, but the content of the conclusion
[13:41] Herman Bergson: How words relate to an external world
[13:41] Mickorod Renard: yes..i see
[13:41] arabella Ella: but i think for witt there is an element of nominality or basicness in the propositions he refers to
[13:41] itsme Frederix: Aristotle now you mismatch the speakers vision on the listeners picture!
[13:41] Zen Arado: do we see the world through language?a language of thought?
[13:41] Laila Schuman: and the listener's ability to understand the language
[13:41] Zen Arado: does language condition our perceprtins?
[13:41] Herman Bergson: No we describe the world by language
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: the speakers and the listner must be tuned to the same language for success
[13:42] Laila Schuman: right ari
[13:42] Herman Bergson: That is the big question Zen...
[13:42] Mickorod Renard: is it nessesary to articulate it to ones self,,to be able to understand it?
[13:42] arabella Ella: language is the only means we have to use for comprehending what we know ... of the world or anything else for that matter
[13:42] Zen Arado: but a word is a very shallow version of a real thing
[13:42] Zen Arado: a cat is a very complex thing
[13:43] itsme Frederix: Ari I agree, but the pictuere is first the picture of the receiver - its is his/het picture (let the speaker not judge that, that judgements in basis the picture he gots from the picture the pistener has)
[13:43] anibrm Jung is Offline
[13:43] Herman Bergson: the word 'cat' is not the cat is a symbol to represent the real cat
[13:43] Laila Schuman: Mickford... my experience in teaching says... yes you need to understand it before you can sucessfully pass it on
[13:43] arabella Ella: yes Zen but you can point to a cat and say 'this cat' and in such a case Witt would say acc to the Tractatus thsat lang mirrors reality
[13:43] Zen Arado: maybe the word prevents us seeing the real thing
[13:44] Mickorod Renard: ok ta laila
[13:44] Zen Arado: or clouds it
[13:44] Herman Bergson: Now you take the wrong turn Zen
[13:44] Zen Arado: it isnt a true reflection is what im trying to say
[13:44] arabella Ella: Zen we will never really know as Kant had pointed out ... Herman on epistemology too!
[13:45] Zen Arado: how?
[13:45] Laila Schuman: Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question. .......Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think. --Niels Bohr
[13:45] Herman Bergson: All that matters here is how we can talk about an external world and how do we make sense in that
[13:46] Zen Arado: how do we know we make sense?
[13:46] arabella Ella: and whether there is a connection between our language and the world external to our thought too
[13:46] Zen Arado: i dont anyway :)
[13:46] itsme Frederix: Herman it might be that external world is a basic proposition about an object in reallity
[13:46] Herman Bergson: Ok Zen.....there will be an explanation that tells you how you make sense
[13:47] Laila Schuman: You are not thinking. You are merely being logical. --Niels Bohr
[13:47] Zen Arado: good Laila :)
[13:47] Herman Bergson: Wittgenstein will associate behavior to his theory of menaing
[13:47] Herman Bergson: We'll get to that later
[13:48] itsme Frederix: Laila: answers are every where, the thing is to find the right question that fits to them (also Bohr I guess)
[13:48] Laila Schuman: absolutely!
[13:48] Herman Bergson: become Bohring with all those quotes..(^_^)
[13:48] Zen Arado: there are always more questions :)
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: lolololol
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: who loves a bohr
[13:49] Zen Arado: lol
[13:49] itsme Frederix: Nope Zen , sorry Herman
[13:49] Laila Schuman: that is why you need to know as much as possible... so you can figure out the questions
[13:49] Mickorod Renard: looking outside language,,do animals articulate things between each other and if so how?
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: ROFL.
[13:49] Herman Bergson: yes...animals communicate...that is obvious
[13:50] Zen Arado: dolphins
[13:50] Mickorod Renard: dolphins have a language
[13:50] Zen Arado: might be cleverer than us
[13:50] Herman Bergson: This is the wrong discussion...
[13:50] Mickorod Renard: sorry
[13:51] itsme Frederix: I agree Herman
[13:51] Herman Bergson: Because in a minute we have an enourmous debate on what 'clever' means.
[13:51] Zen Arado: :)
[13:51] Herman Bergson: I suggest we stick to theTractatus
[13:52] Laila Schuman: how "exact" are the statements and analyses...
[13:52] Zen Arado: did he talk about misleading substantives in the Tractatus?
[13:52] itsme Frederix: Herman did you read it all (Tractatus). I admit I skipped after a dozen of pages to the end, the most famous statement
[13:52] Herman Bergson: and I now conclude that it contains creative thinking and interesting thoughts, but in fact fails to solve the philosophicla problem it intends to solve
[13:52] Laila Schuman: can they be translated properly from one language to another
[13:53] Herman Bergson: I did read it a long long time ago...
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: language not only is our verbal representation of life but becomes an artform in its delivery
[13:53] Herman Bergson: Now I just looked at the most approrpiate theses
[13:53] arabella Ella: herman perhaps that is why witt then moved on to the philosophical investigations which offer a totally different philosophy from that in the Tractatus
[13:53] Morriganne Tatsu is Online
[13:53] Zen Arado: ah
[13:53] Herman Bergson: yes Arabella...that was the case
[13:53] itsme Frederix: Ari, there are rumours language can exist without us (memes)
[13:54] Herman Bergson: one remark.....the Tractatus is available as eBook
[13:54] itsme Frederix: At least a book like Tractatus seems to prove that (My interpretation)
[13:54] Mickorod Renard: how do u mean Itsme?
[13:54] Herman Bergson:
[13:55] Ze Novikov: ty
[13:55] Herman Bergson: a lot of Russell there too
[13:55] Zen Arado: language need a medium?
[13:56] Zen Arado: dont see how it can exist on its own
[13:56] itsme Frederix: Mick as I said it. Maybe Zen, the medium is p.e. us
[13:56] Herman Bergson: I think you should not confuse the tools and the content when you talk about language
[13:57] Zen Arado: need both?
[13:57] Herman Bergson: In the philosophical sense language is a system of meaningful statements
[13:57] Herman Bergson: whether you use a voice or written words or signs or codes
[13:57] itsme Frederix: Meaningfull to .... Or maybe a closed system without paradoxes
[13:57] Zen Arado: a communication system?
[13:58] Herman Bergson: as we have is a means that enables us to talk about the external world
[13:58] Zen Arado: to others
[13:59] Herman Bergson: yes....
[13:59] itsme Frederix: Herman strong proposition!
[13:59] Herman Bergson: we all accept that for granted and as natural
[13:59] Zen Arado: or to make sense of it ourselves
[13:59] itsme Frederix: a means, enables external world ???
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: then all art is language
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: timee to go !! see you all thursday i hope
[14:00] Zen Arado: bye
[14:00] Alarice Beaumont: bye Gem :-)
[14:00] Herman Bergson: No Itsme...that problem is not yet far believing in an external world is still a postulate
[14:00] Mickorod Renard: bye Gemma
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Gem
[14:01] Herman Bergson: I think I gonna review pragmatism...:-)
[14:01] itsme Frederix: Herman oke still a postulate .. how can you say ... a means that enables us to talk about ... your postulate
[14:01] Herman Bergson: To some extend Wittgenstein arrived at that point too
[14:01] Nick Cassavetes is Offline
[14:01] Herman Bergson: symbols are the means I meant Itsme
[14:02] itsme Frederix: That implies that it is a meaningfull postulate (the cicle is round)
[14:02] Herman Bergson: Well...(^_^)
[14:02] Herman Bergson: then I thank you all for your participation today..:-)
[14:02] Ze Novikov: Thank you Herman...... must go now ......bye everyone
[14:02] Herman Bergson: Bye Ze
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: Thank you, Professor
[14:02] Zen Arado: thanks Herman
[14:03] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Ze
[14:03] Alarice Beaumont: Thx for the lecture herman
[14:03] Ludwig John: thank you
[14:03] itsme Frederix: Nice lecture Herman.
[14:03] Herman Bergson: my pleasure..:-)
[14:03] arabella Ella: thanks herman
[14:03] Alarice Beaumont: bye Ze
[14:03] arabella Ella: hope to c u again thursday
[14:03] Mickorod Renard: thankyou Herman
[14:03] arabella Ella: bye all must go now
[14:03] Herman Bergson: Bye Arabellla
[14:03] Zen Arado: bye Arabella
[14:03] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Arabella
[14:03] itsme Frederix: afk
[14:04] Laila Schuman: baiee all
[14:04] Herman Bergson: Yet I am a little disappointed in the Tractatus
[14:04] Mickorod Renard: I think before I am gonna learn any philo I will have to learn English first
[14:04] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Laila
[14:04] Zen Arado: bye Laila
[14:04] Mickorod Renard: bye laila
[14:04] Herman Bergson: what is your native language Mickorod?
[14:04] Alarice Beaumont: i'll leave too. I don't know if i will make it on Thrsady.. I will definitely not be on on sunday and the following tuesday, Herman
[14:04] Zen Arado: is philosophical investigations beter?
[14:04] Mickorod Renard: english
[14:04] Herman Bergson: Sunday will be the last class Alarice
[14:04] Mickorod Renard: not much hope for me
[14:05] Alarice Beaumont: oh
[14:05] herman Bergson smiles
[14:05] Zen Arado: last?
[14:05] Alarice Beaumont: yes.. the break Ari wrote about!
[14:05] Herman Bergson: I'll resume the class per September 1
[14:05] Zen Arado: oh

Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-06-26 05:44:23

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