7.12.2003

[88,89,90] In 88, Wittgenstein continues his examination of "explanation." How much latitude is permitted in an explanation? Eventually we run into the problem of "usability." Inexactitude is built into all explanations. In a mathematical language-game, perhaps there is a high degree of exactness required to be usable in the game. In an aesthetic language-game, the standard of exactness in explanation is less rigid. The idea of exactness in explanation emerges from a contrast between these two language-games.
This image of contrasting standards of exactness between two language-games raises an interesting problem regarding the boundary separating them. Is it a line? Wittgenstein says no. A line has "width." It is a space, therefore, that must share features of the abutting language-games. Instead of a line, Wittgenstein asks us to see it as the contrast between colors. The aesthetics game is yellow, and the mathematical game is blue. There is no shade of green created by imbrication.
Of course we could imagine language-games that do indeed share features of exactitude in explanation.
One feature all language-games seem to share is a preference for exactitude over inexactitude. Each language-game shares a goal of becoming more exact. Still, "No single ideal of exactness has been laid down ... [and] you will find it difficult to hit upon such a convention..."
[89] Wittgenstein turns next to the line between logic and aesthetics. Differing degrees of exactness demanded within these enterprises leads to a question of commonality: "In what sense is logic something sublime?" Wittgenstein suggests that aesthetics is something close to what he is doing (as opposed to logic). Logic arises "from an urge to understand the basis, or essence, of everything empirical." Conversely, what philosophers following Wittgenstein "want to understand [is] something that is already in plain view. For this is what we seem in some sense not to understand." Like Augustine's reflection on the concept of time, what is in plain view is something we know but cannot say.
[90] The contrast is with logic, but also with phenomenology. Our investigation leads to phenomena in plain view, but does not penetrate them. "Our investigation is therefore a grammatical one. Such an investigation sheds light on our problem by clearing misunderstandings away." I think here of Own Barfield's expression: "Saving the Appearances."

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