In eliminating the space between language & the world, Wittgenstein could almost be seen as returning us to a prelapsarian linguistic state. Umberto Eco has an essay in The Role of the Reader (1979) called "Aesthetic Messages in an Edenic Language" that is relevant here. Eco sets up a little world with Adam, Eve, God, Serpent, Apple, & a "language" consisting of simple terms & semiotic chains:

red = edible = good = beautiful
blue = inedible = bad = ugly

But then God sets a condition the the red object known as an apple is bad. According to Eco, it is from this contradictory state of affairs that language as we know it emerges, particularly metaphor, irony, narrative: poetry. I've drastically over-simplified Eco, one of my favorite writers--the essay is both analytically powerful & funny. Did I ever tell you about the time I watched Stanley Fish attempt to humiliate Umberto Eco at a public lecture? Okay, another time.

In 22 I am really grabbed by this: "It is only a mistake if one thinks that the assertion consists of two actions, entertaining and asserting . . . " What should we name this pervasive fallacy? And your comment regarding W's introduction of an ethical componant to his view of language has had my brain buzzing all day. You wrote, "Wittgenstein says is that distance gives the illusion of objectification -- others are treated as objects. The illusion is that we can somehow step out of language. The dehumanizing result is real enough." This is something I have often felt & it ties back in, for me, to the fallacy that there is a difference between "entertaining and asserting." We have no place to stand outside of language, but centuries of philosophical & political damage have been done by pretending that such a stance exists somewhere, somehow. John Dewey is relevant here as well: his theraputic move in Experience & Nature is related to W's in PI. Dewey points out [in one example] that because human beings are weak & faced with daily struggle, we become acutely aware of the fininte nature of our existence; out of this we construct the Infinite & set it up as an absolute. The absolute then becomes the measure of our finite existence. The Infinite, in this case, has become a stance outside of language, outside of human reality. Perhaps I am conflating fallacies here. Where, in Wittgenstein, do you find the source for your comment about the ethical failure of Positivist views of language? (I ask, not becuase I don't believe you, but because I want to go more deeply into this.)


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