Updating again soon, possibly with some Cavell. | Main | #114

May 4, 2005

#226

"226. Suppose someone gets the series of numbers 1, 3, 5, 7,... by working out the series 2x + 1. And now he asks himself: 'But am I always doing the same thing, or something different every time?'

If from one day to the next you promise: 'To-morrow I will come and see you'--are you saying the same thing every day, or every day something different?"

--from Philosophical Investigations


It sounds as though Wittgenstein wants to treat the first question as the second, so to answer the first we should see what answers we come up with for the second.

"...are you saying the same thing every day, or every day something different?" There is an obvious sense in which I am saying the same thing every day, in the latter example: I make the same utterance each time. If I asked my friend whether the day before I had said the same thing, she would (in usual circumstances) say, "Yes, exactly the same thing." So it seems that I am saying the same thing each time.

But there is another sense in which I seem to be saying something different with each utterance: the referent of the word 'tomorrow' changes each day, that is, each day I speak the words, I am referring to just the next day after that day, not any other. And again, were I to point this out to my friend, she might rethink her position and agree that I had not in fact been saying the same thing after all.

There is something important about the point that my friend's first inclination--prior, we might say, to any philosophical training--would be to say that my statements had been the same each day. The two answers ("yes, you said the same thing" and "no, you referred to different things each time") come from different language games. The first language game is our ordinary ordinary one, in which the meaning of the words is related primarily to their effectiveness in a certain use. That is, my friend understood that I had the same intentions each time I said "tomorrow I'll come see you", despite it being a different "tomorrow" each time.


Kripke interpreted this as the beginnings of a philosophical problem, but I don't think Wittgenstein saw it as such. It is just a question, the answer to which is easy enough to discover once you decide on a language game.

Posted by tiet0024 at May 4, 2005 12:07 AM | Investigations

Comments

this is not related particularly to this passage, but to them all. it is from minima moralia...

#141 La Nuance / encor'. -- The demand that thinking and information dispense with nuances cannot be summarily dismissed as bowing to the prevalent obtuseness. Were linguistic nuance no longer perceptible, it would be itself implicated, not merely reception. Language is by its own objective substance social expression, even where it has abruptly severed itself from society as individual. Changes that it undergoes in communication involve the writer's uncommunicate material. Words and phrases spoilt by use do not reach the secluded workshop intact. And the historical damage cannot be repaired there. History does not merely touch on language, but takes place in it.

Posted by: villain at May 4, 2005 7:39 PM

Hey, I happened upon this blog through Lisa's (passer_hedera's) friends page. I am the livejournal user zarathustrasape. At one point -in the now diseaced "Intellect Elite" we had a short exchange about Wittgenstein in the comments on one of the community threads. I am also a big fan of Wittgenstein. I wanted to know how I can become a distant member of the Youth Brigade.

Thanks

Posted by: Shane at May 7, 2005 1:38 AM

I remember the discussion, I think...it was a debate about technical language, yes?

Like language, the Wittgenstein Youth Brigade is comprised of purely functional elements--anyone can join, provided they add some commentary to the ongoing project of the Brigade.

What is your favorite passage, and why?

Posted by: tiet0024 at May 7, 2005 4:52 PM

Yeah, that was the conversation, and it was that lj user Daiv that was make a big stink about the community whilst writing with no grammar whatsoever...

Can't think of a favorite passage at the moment, although I do like the one where he is talking about the painting with the man outside of the house in which he asks about the house being the man's house.

I love the line "The world is all that is the case" from the Tractucus.

I have not actually fully read the Investigations, only bits and pieces. I am reading the Blue and Brown Books now though. It's been awhile since I first read the Tractucus.

Mostly my reading has been of commentaries. ("Wittgenstein and the Philosophical Investigations" by Marie Mcginn, "Wittgenstein's City" by Robert John Ackerman, and "The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein") I have delved into Michael Dummett a little in my studies of the realism/anti-realism debate and that was where my interest was first peaked in Wittgenstein. I am also reading Chomsky for a little bit of a contrast to Wittgenstein.

I actually do have a commentary written up in my lj (zarathustrasape). It's on the passage from the Brown Book where he is talking about the arrows, ----> <----, and about whether they can be said to be "pointing the same way." The passage where he compares it to looking at oneself in a mirror. I plan on writing some more reactions up later this week as well during my off days from work, one of which is a preliminary concept of knowledge I thought up while reading the Brown Book (although as I am fleshing it out it suspiciously looks just a little too much like the commonly used concept of knowledge and belief as a disposition to answer questions in a certain way -which I think Dummett actually takes up amongst others).

Posted by: Shane at May 8, 2005 10:47 PM

part of the last comment got cut...

I actually do have a commentary written up in my lj (zarathustrasape). It's on the passage from the Brown Book where he is talking about the arrows, ----> <---- and he asks if they can be said to be "pointing the same way." I also have some other reactions I am going to write up later this week. One includes a concept of knowledge, which I hope is somewhat original, although it looks suspiciously like the dispositional theories of belief and the ability-to-answer- questions about one's beliefs theories.

Posted by: Shane at May 8, 2005 10:54 PM

Cut again, meh.

Just go to my LJ (zarathustrasape) and see the entry for May 6th. I will friend you so that you will be able to access it.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 8, 2005 10:56 PM

Cut again, meh.

Just go to my LJ (zarathustrasape) and see the entry for May 6th. I will friend you so that you will be able to access it.

Posted by: Shane at May 8, 2005 10:57 PM

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