2.26.2002

The trick to overcoming the thought precedes language idea is to eliminate the inner/outer conception of the individual offered by Descartes. What we are is an external unity of language, world of others and things, and yourself. With Wittgenstein, there is always that precarious line between externalization and behaviorism. But behaviorism is reductive and it does retain the inner/outer duality in the sense that thought is a predisposition to behavior. The thought is known through the behavior. (David Lodge tells a good joke: Two behaviorists have sex. When they are finished, one turns to the other and says, "That was great for you, how was it for me?") For Wittgenstein, thought is behavior or action, entwined inseparably with others and things that are the context for the thinking behavior or action.

There is a whole menu of indexical (form of life-dependent) expressions like "stone red." These add to the difficulties of the anthropologist that we noted earlier in our discussion. You know you are learning a language and culture when you begin to get the jokes. To understand a joke requires an enormous amount of background understanding. Wittgenstein had thought of writing a book on jokes at some point. His own sense of humor was pretty narrow and base. What occurs to me as I reflect on your image of language-games as mosaic is a solution to the problem of boundaries. Where are lines drawn around and between language-games? What distinguishes the games that compose my daily life? One indicator, I suppose, would be jokes. What is funny in one language-game may be insulting or in poor taste in another. We are standing around a bar and I tell an Irish drinking joke. We (hopefully) laugh. I tell it around a philosophy seminar table, and we analyze why it might be funny or why it isn't tragic. I tell it around a table at an AA meeting and people respond angrily at my callous disregard for their pain. We do not ordinarily reflect on the language-games we traverse in our daily lives. When we do engage in such reflection it is usually because we have committed a faux pas . I'm afraid I have a gift for this kind of inappropriateness and bad timing. Laughing at funerals is becoming a habit. On a more serious note, I know I do not want to live in a form of life where jokes about the sexual abuse of children are considered funny.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home