Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My response to Bobby's post

5.6 The limits of my language are the limits of my world.

Pinker refers to a Mexican man born deaf. Desperately poor, he never learned a language, not even a sign language. As an adult he finally became lingual. He is reported to have stated that he was able to clearly without words, suggesting that language is more a tool than a defining framework of reality.

Extreme deconstructionists have carried Wittgenstein's concept to the level in insisting that technologically primitive people could not even see things which were beyond their language limits. Thus, I suppose, the conquistadors were first seen as floating in the air, since the concept of a rideable draft animal was unknown to the locals. Said locals actually referred to the horses as god dogs. Horses may have been outside their language, but they adapted what they knew to a new concept. Large sailing ships were referred to as floating islands or clouds [due to the billowing sails]. I expect things like guns and steel swords were also invisible...

5.61 Logic fills the world: the limits of the world are also its limits

Only for those dedicated to logic. Most people find logic uncomfortable and alien to their thought processes.

What we cannot think, that we cannot think: we cannot therefore say what we cannot think.

So, since such things have not existed since, or even before, the evolution of humanity, there can be no internet, computers, cars, space stations, sculpture, etc.


Actually, I think you just said what you said you could not say.

5.621 The world and life are one.

Not sure what he means by this. In the light of the solipsism remark, I assume he means that to each of us the world exists only as long as we live to perceive it. Fair enough, but unless we are all horribly insane and impose suffering upon ourselves, the world nevertheless imposes a reality upon us which is independent of our perceptions. We may not be aware of it until it enters out perception, but it is there.

5.63 I am my world. (the microcosm).”

Maybe, but you don’t control your world. The world which apparently doesn’t exist except in your perception of it imposes perceptions upon all of us, you included.

6.4312 The temporal immortality of the soul of man...

Clearly outside of the area of scientific inquiry. Therefore not amenable to proof. One believes or does not. I am convinced that we believe based upon emotional reactions and then rationalize that belief after it is confirmed and established in our thoughts.

6.432 How the world is, is completely indifferent for what is higher. God does not reveal himself in the world.

“If you do things right, no one is sure you have done anything at all.” God’s ending soliloquy to the audience in a Futurama episode in which Bender is God, well a god, for a while.

6.4321 The facts all belong only to the task and not to its performance.

I have no idea of what this means. I can guess, I suppose, that this is related to Kant’s thing in itself (German: Ding an sich). That is, the facts are real and are what they are regardless of our perception or interpretation. But is that what he means by “performance”? You're the one who started all this, explain it to me, please.

6.44 Not how the world is, is the mystical, but that it is.

Fair enough. The very fact that something exists has puzzled the human race for at least millennia. Before the invention of writing who knows if it bothered our ancestors? It seems likely, but how could we know?

6.45 The contemplation of the world sub specie aeterni is its contemplation as a limited whole. The feeling of the world as a limited whole is the mystical feeling.

Had to look up “limited whole” and found too much info to absorb in time for this response. Still, it seems that Wittgenstein’s point is that since we are a part of the limited whole, we cannot logically explore those limits. Only thorough the mystical can we perceive, even conceive of our reality as a complete reality. From my point of view, this fits within my acceptance of an understanding of a reality which is not directly subject to logical or experimental testing.

6.5 For an answer which cannot be expressed the too cannot be expressed. The riddle does not exist. If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered

Reminds me of my take on so called paradoxes. Actual paradoxes do not exist. There are only false paradoxes which are created by poor use of language and postulations of impossible events. For example, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” A silly question. If you believe in special creation then you believe, Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.Genesis/2-19. Clearly the chicken came first.

If you believe in evolution and science, then eggs predate chickens by many millions of years.

Either way, the question, this great paradox, is silly and nothing more than a poorly worded statement of mental confusion. It is so with all paradoxes, great and small.

6.51 Skepticism is not irrefutable...

I am not so certain that every question has an answer. This smack to my ear of the special pleading used by St. Anselm. Since God is perfect, He must exist, since not existing would not be perfect. Again, like the paradox, this is more about careless thinking and mistaking language for the reality which it is attempting to describe.

6.52 We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all.

Again, this is comfortable to me, with my insistence that there are two epistemological realities. One dealing with the real as studied and known by science and the other open to the spiritual and the mystic. I am not cetain what he means by the final phrase, Of course there is then no question left, and just this is the answer. The “just” seems out of place. Take it away and I am again comfortable with the statement.

6.521 The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of the problem

Yes. Again, there is a path to another reality, one which is not testable or measurable, but which is, nonetheless, knowable and accessible via meditation and transcendence.

6.522 There is indeed the inexpressible. This shows itself; it is the mystical.

In the words of my youth, “Right on!”

6.53 The right method of philosophy would be this.

This seems in direct contradiction to what has already been said. It is deliberately self contradictory even with in the statements, so I assume this is deliberate, but I fail to see the point. Demystify, please.

6.54 My propositions are elucidatory in this way:

If we must throw away the ladder and rise above the limits of what was taught, why teach it in the first place? Is Wittgenstein saying that this is the
only route to transcendence? That we must tread the path of plodding realism to reach a point from which we can then metamorphose into a higher and better perception of reality?

7 Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

So what is that of which Wittgenstein cannot speak? Does he see it as real or more profound than real [realer than real?] Is there value in attempting to speak about things which are beyond words? I cannot give anyone the feeling I have of oneness and completion and love that I feel at the best of my meditations, but I can refer to the numinous and give others a sense of what I fell. Is there not value in that?

Last time we spoke of Wittgenstein, I was sitting at the desk in my youngest daughter’s home and my grandson was tugging impatiently at me as I was not paying attention to him. There is irony in that as I am now not allowed to see him or his siblings until and unless I disown my other children and grandchildren. How strange life is.

I have never had the patience to deal with Wittgenstein. His ideas are interesting, but I find his writing of inferior quality. He does not explain what he means effectively. It is good that you bring these things up, because it exposes me to that which I would otherwise ignore.

That last time I wrote to you about W, I quoted Monty Python, “Wittgenstein was a terrible swine.” I must correct myself, the actual quote is, “Wittgenstein was a drunken swine.” Wouldn't now about that, but he was a lousy writer.

Almost 5 am. Feeling very nauseated and confused. Time to post and sleep. I miss you, Bobby.

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