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The Philosophical Investigations of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

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Aphorism 60-64 from
Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations
with commentary on the right by
Lois Shawver
 
 
 
Wittgenstein:
(Emphasis in bold is inserted by Shawver to enhance commentary.) 
Shawver commentary:
60.    When I say: "My broom is in the corner",-is this really a statement about the broomstick and the brush?  What else could a statement like this be?  Remember that in 51 LW introduced the notion that we can introduce the account into the remarks so that this account defines the terms to be used, sets up the language game rules.
                   Well, it could at any rate be replaced by a statement giving the position of the stick and the position of the brush. And this statement is surely a further analysed form of the first one.  This is the voice of tradition noticing that the word "broom" could be replaced with something like "brush plus stick"?  This phrase "brush plus stick," it says, is an analyzed form of "broom."
-But why do I call it "further analysed"?  The voice of aporia asks why this is so.
--Well, if the broom is there, that surely means that the stick and brush must be there, and in a particular relation to one another; and this was as it were hidden in the sense of the first sentence, and is expressed in the analysed sentence.  The voice of tradition answers and gives its reasons.  This T voice says in effect, "Broom" and "brush plus stick" are the same thing except "brush plus stick" gives a more detailed listing of what we actually have.
Then does someone who says that the broom is in the corner really mean: the broomstick is there, and so is the brush, and the broomstick is fixed in the brush? Perhaps this will remind you of an earlier discussion of whether "Slab!" in languge game 2 really means "Bring me the slab!" (cf 19)  It is in ways like this that Wittgenstein teaches us, going over these points in one context and then in another, using a different versions of a basic model to familarize us with the problem in a variety of cases.
-If we were to ask anyone if he meant this he would probably say that he had not thought specially of the broomstick or specially of the brush at all. And that would be the right answer, for he meant to speak neither of the stick nor of the brush in particular.  Suppose that, instead of saying "Bring me the broom", you said "Bring me the broomstick and the brush which is fitted on to it."!-Isn't the answer: "Do you want the broom? Why do you put it so oddly?" Is he going to understand the further analysed sentence better? The point is that the speaker who had asked for the broom was asking for the gestalt whole, not the parts even if they were attached to each other.  You don't see a person's face by noticing the constellation of features.  The whole is more than the sum of its individual parts.
 Is he going to understand the further analysed sentence better?-This sentence, one might 
say, achieves  the same as the ordinary one, but in a more roundabout way.
Actually, it might be harder to understand.  Imagine it:  "Would you had me the brush attached to the broomstick?"
-Imagine a language-game in which someone is ordered to bring certain objects which are composed of several parts, to move them about, or something else of the kind. And two ways of playing it:     in one (a) the composite objects (brooms, chairs, tables, etc.) have names, as in (15); in the other (b) only the parts are given names and the wholes are described by means of them.-In what sense is an order in the second game an analysed form of an order in the first? Does the former lie concealed in the latter, and is it now brought out by analysis.'- 

    True, the broom is taken to pieces when one separates broomstick and brush; but does it follow 
that the order to bring the broom also consists of corresponding parts? 
 

Poof!  There goes our great distinction between names and descriptions.  If we call the object a broom, then it is a description to say it is a brush with a broomstick attached because the composite object has a name (i.e., "broom").  But if only the parts have names then the whole must be described by the means of the parts and each of the parts become names. 

So, what looked like a comment about the unanalyzability of the broom (or the brush) is really a comment about whether I can further analyze the language.  If invent ways to name more infintesimal aspects of the object, then the object can be analyzed further.  The squares can be divided into triangles and then each square is a composite of triangles.

61.    "But all the same you will not deny that a particular order in (a) means the same as one in (b); and what would you call the second one, if not an analysed form of the first?"  The Augustinian voice again.  Can you see where he's coming from?  Practically speaking it seems that asking for the 'brush' and the 'broomstick' means the same thing as asking for the broom.  If the instructions were followed in each case, the same object would be fetched.
-Certainly I too 
should say that an order in (a) had the same meaning as one in (b); or, as I expressed it earlier: they achieve the same. And this means that if I were shewn an order in (a) and asked: "Which 
order in (b) means the same as this?" or again "Which order in (b) does this contradict?" I should give such-and-such an answer. But that is not to say that we have come to a general agreement 
about the use of the expression "to have the same meaning" or "to achieve the same". For it can be asked in what cases we say: "These are merely two forms of the same game."
I have corrected the electronic version of our text which has the word "strewn" when it should have had "shewn," when in American is "shown." 

But the question is, just because they have the same practical effect of resulting in the broom being fetched doesn't mean that they are the same game.  I can get you to turn around by saying "turn around" perhaps, but I can likely achieve the same effect by saying your name.

62.    Suppose for instance that the person who is given the orders in (a) and (b) has to look up a 
table co-ordinating names and pictures before bringing what is required. 
Let this remind you of the table discussion for the color of the grid in 53-56
Does he do the same when he carries out an order in (a) and the corresponding one in (b)?-Yes and no. You may say: "The point of the two orders is the same". I should say so too.-But it is not everywhere clear what should be called the 'point' of an order. (Similarly one may say of certain objects that they have this or that purpose. The essential thing is that this is a lamp, that it serves to give light;-that it is an ornament to the room, fills an empty space, etc., is not essential. But there is not always a sharp distinction between essential and inessential.)  Why are we tempted to say, however, that the point of a lamp is that it gives light?  Don't you think we are?  Yet in a given case, in a particular situation, the point may be entirely different.  We are inclined to think of a paradigm case (as if the situation has been set up for us) and ignore alternative possibilities.  We recognize that they are there, but we let them slip under the rug to keep things simple (or for some reason). 

Why do we do this?

63.    To say, however, that a sentence in (b) is an 'analysed' form of one in (a) readily seduces us 
into thinking that the former is the more fundamental form; that it alone shews what is meant by the other, and so on.
Ah, here it is again.  The account in the language set us up.  It is the same point he made in 51
 For example, we think: If you have only the unanalysed form you miss the analysis; but if you know the analysed form that gives you everything.  The Augustinian voice says that the more minute the analysis the more accurate things are.
-But can I not say that an aspect of the matter is lost on you in the latter case as well as the former? But, the level of description is just different.  Something may be gained, but something is also lost.  We lose the forest for the trees.
  This relates to the point in 19 in which we compared the language game that said that in (2) "Slab!" was not an abbreviated form of "Bring me a slab!" anymore that "Bring me a slab!" was a lengthened form of "slab!"  Nevertheless we are somehow seduced into thinking that "Slab!" is abbreviated.
But in each case we have a different language game, a different "form of life."
64.  Let us imagine language game (48) altered so that names signify not monochrome squares but rectangles each consisting of two such squares. Let such a rectangle, which is half red half green, be called "U"; a half green half white one, "V"; and so on. Could we not imagine people who had names for such combinations of colour, but not for the individual colours? Think of the cases where we say: "This arrangement of colours (say the French tricolor) has a quite special character." 
 
 
 
 
1
2
3
4

Imagine it.  a sentence like U, V, V, U would result in the grid being colored in thusly: 
 

 
.
 
.
. .
 
.

Couldn't we imagine a culture having such names?  Think of the French flag, or any flag and imagine these rectangles looking like flags, one flag on top of another. 

    In what sense do the symbols of this language-game stand in need of analysis? How far is it even possible to replace this language-game by (48)?-It is just another language-game; even 
though it is related to (48)
 
 

 

Ah, but you say it would be so inconvenient!  yes, in English it would be.  But what if nothing really mattered but the flags.  Women wore green/white (or U flags) and men wore green/red, or some other division between classes of people were designated like this.  Aside from these flags, there was no concern with color. 

Yes, it would be a different form of life, and the person who thought that these different statements were translatable to statements that coded these flags not as units (U or V but as squares Green, White, and Red) would be missing the forest for the trees.


Next Page





Table of Contents
Shawver Commentary


Aphorisms
Index Page
1-10
11-20
21-30
31-38
39-50
51-59
60-64
65-69
70-75
76-80
81-88
89-100
Reference
Extended Look at 43


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