10.01.2002

Giving the philosophy of mind over to cognitive science is not really corrosive to philosophy (unless you are a philosopher of mind). Rather, it frees philosophy to describe the world without recourse to occult sources of justification. Your description of color, weather, and the way one makes a living affects one perception of the world stands as a tribute to this freedom. I just wish many of the philosophers I have to read in order to keep up with the field were as gifted as you in the art of written expression.

I have been busy on two other projects that prevented me from devoting time to this blog site. One is in the can now. the other should be finished as soon as I can block off more time. This is the way I have been working on Wittgenstein for years. I think this gives us some insight into the remark form. Wittgenstein, of course, was a philosopher obsessed with his brand of philosophizing. He was looking for a form of philosophical life that would occasionally give him a break from philosophy. Apparently, he never found it. I like this description offered by William James Earle: "All large-scale cultures include people, by definition relatively few people, whose personal systems of interest and aversion are statistically unusual or in mismatch with their neighbors. Wittgenstein, compared at least to standardly trained academic philosophers, is one such. This is description, not praise or blame. Wittgenstein is intensely interested in, actually obsessed by, a very small set of philosophical topoi and disgusted by (Wittgenstein's version of being indifferent to) all the rest."

Wittgenstein gives me opportunities to rest between philosophical problems, but there is no turning away from philosophy as a way of life. I follow a certain path within the text. The strand comes to an end. It resonates. But in the space between strands there is room to move. Indeed, there is room to move away. When you can see the text from this kind of interior perspective, then you partake in Wittgenstein's stylistic and substantive success: He has altered the way you look at the text in order to read. The reader does not hover above, but resides within. To find rest, the reader does not merely close the book; instead, the reader has to climb out. The experience of the climb remains and helps restore the reader to the interior at the next encounter.

We do not read Wittgenstein; we walk through his writings. The reader experiences the lived-life of the philosopher.

In 63, Wittgenstein looks again at the indeterminacy of orders and, by implication, ostensive definitions. Our tendency, Wittgenstein says, is to search for an underlying logical form that unites all orders. This is a case (to paraphrase Richard Hofstadter) of too much unum and not enough pluribus. Of course I am giving in to what Wittgenstein wants me to resist when I say something general like "language is a constellation of differences." What he wants us to see in 63 is that even in an analyzed, philosophical form (even in the analytic philosopher's language-game) a command involves some ambiguity. Breaking the command down into its parts does not provide a higher degree of assurance about what is expected of us when we are issued a command or order.

Reduction is not a matter of infinite regress, Wittgenstein continues in 64. He returns to the language-game of remark 48. We take two squares at time and think of cases where we give names to combinations of color. One such example is the "special character" of the French tricolor. What do we get when we break the flag down to its component colors? Does bringing the flag into the language-game of philosophical analysis, or scientific method, amount to replacing the ambiguous language-game of looking at the French tricolor as a flag with something more precise? What we must see is that remarking on the significance of the flag is "just another language-game; even though it is related to (48) [the analysis of color game]." There is no underlying feature uniting language-games; there is no one behind the many.

In 65, Wittgenstein imagines the response to the irreducible uniqueness of language-games. He is accused of nominalism by an imagined interlocutor. "You talk about all sorts of language-games, but have nowhere said what the essence of a language-game and hence of language, is...." Wittgenstein responds very directly to this charge. His response is that language hangs together because language-games are or can be related to one another. They do not rest together atop some platform of logical form.
The character of the relations between language-games is presented in 66. These relations are contingent and open to re-organization in a way that "language" cannot be defined or representable. "And the result of this examination is: we see a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing: sometimes overall similarities, sometimes similarities of detail." What a mess!

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