3.18.2002

What Wittgenstein eliminates is space between language and world. Nietzsche considered this space a zone of duplicity -- language can never get reality quite right. For Positivists, as you said, language is a reflection of reality -- a mirror image that is distorted by vocabulary that does not conform to word/object symmetry found in nouns. There is no "myth of the given" in Wittgenstein. Our reality is linguistic and this linguistic reality is varied. Wittgenstein takes the criticism of Positivism one step further: posing a separation of language and world is unethical. Positing an achievable distance from the world by reducing language to nouns or fashioning an synthetic ideal language is to eschew our responsibility toward others. Within this idea is the idea that Kant put forward that it is unethical to treat others as means to an end. What 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.

I'm not sure about the philosophy of language supporting Strong AI. Where Dennett and Searle concur is on a view of Strong AI as possible given the complexity of neural nets (as opposed to the von Neumann computer design) coupled with natural language or semantic-based programming. Before this view, Dennett and Searle opposed one another on the issue of whether a syntactic-based or algorithmic program can produce consciousness (Dennett) or only a simulation of consciousness (Searle). Strong AI has been refashioned because of neural net or connectionist innovations and the promise held out by quantum computation. Indeed, Strong AI might better be dropped for AL (Artificial Life). AL emerges where connectionism, quantum computation, robotics, and virtual reality come together. Not surprisingly, there is growing interest in the implications of Wittgenstein's view of language for this new technology.

Solitaire is an interesting game to think about in regard to private language. I'm afraid I don't know enough about the game. Aren't you playing against an imagined house? There are rules to the game, and so it is a product of pre-constituted social practices. We can talk about strategy. I remember my father teaching me the game. We can cheat at it. None of this is changed because we play on a computer. If anything, computers offer new ways of cheating and imagining an audience or opponent.

I want to take remarks 22 and 23 together. In response to Frege, Wittgenstein is extending his idea that the sentence is a unit of meaning. I'll try to return to this later today.

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