Sign in. Verified email at geneseo. Articles Cited by. Research on professional responsibility and ethics in accounting, , Communication Research Reports 33 3 , , Language and cognitive processes 18 , , Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements 77, , Articles 1—20 Show more. Help Privacy Terms. There is a way we actually do talk about the minds of others.
There is the actual evidence that we do use to support our actual conclusions about the contents of others minds. And its wise advice that we start out by looking at such things. But we should also be prepared to look eslewhwere -- at, for example, the deliverances of cognitive science -- and constrain our imaginations by those deliverances as well. And we should also be prepared to find that our everyday practices are sometimes infected with all sorts of illusory material, founded on all sorts of historical mistakes and misdiagnosis that achieve through the mechanisms of cultural transmission the status of received wisdom.
That is, we should be prepared to find that common sense and ordinary usage may themselves stand in need of thoroughgoing reformation. But once we see that we can constrain our imaginations in lots of different ways, from lots of different sources, in its walk through a space of possibilities, why believe that we are prevented from even beginning the walk? Why despair that we will only end in confusion and chaos and intractable fruitless debate? Maybe we will, but we are not bound to. Of course, another worry is that if we make more and more progress on the how actually questions, the how possibly questions will eventually cease to grip us.
And at least that part of philosophy will come to an end. But we are often gripped by how possibly questions when we cannot even begin to get a grip on how the thing actually works. I don't know what mechanisms are actually in there, but let's see what mechanism might be in there. And once we consider which ones might be there, let's see if we can eliminate some of the possible ones and hone in on the actual ones.
Is the elimination of possibilites a scientific or a merely philosophical undertaking? I think the answer must be really both and. And as long as there are domains ripe for conceptual reconfiguration, there will always be room for philosophy. Philosophy will end only when conceptual puzzlement itself comes to an end. Karl Popper Oct 08, Karl Popper is a landmark figure in the philosophy of science. His notion of "falsifiability" endures to this day and even appears in arguments about creation versus evolution. Language in Action Aug 22, How do we communicate ideas with language?
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If that is the origin of Wittgenstein's influence, it would explain why his star has fallen so far; mere competence in logic no longer impresses people the way it used to. This is partly because it is more widespread, but also, sadly I think, partly because people have become complacent.
Still, while I think the familiarity which has made it harder for modern philosophers to see some of the more dramatic philosophical consequences of post-Fregean logic has produced some retrograde philosophy, I tend to think that to the extent it has undermined Wittgenstein's mystique, that's been a good thing. Saturday, March 3, -- PM.
Not being a Wittengenstein is this just based on the philosopher at the bottom, but at the same time rising toward the middle of the totem pole? To much or too little thinking? One book or books? What makes the great Philosopher stand out in the crowd? What make not being a Wittengenstein a Wittengenstein, a Plato, or even a Socrates? You be the judge. There are many living who profess philosophy. Not one is a philosopher. The last living philosopher died in August His mind had been dead since January Like Wittgenstein his native language was German.
Who in the 20th or 21st century is fit to untie Nietzsche's bootlaces? Certainly not the misshapen growths suffering from hypertrophy of empirico-logico-linguisticism transplanted into Anglophone seedbeds from decaying and destroyed empires. Only a Kafka could spin such an absurdist libretto, with bloated score by Mahler. LW is "queer. LW required acolytes.
He was oracular. He needs hermeneutics. Surely, Kenneth, there are a few gaps in Wittgenstein's method. But it is useful, anyway. And I would like to comment on some of your ideas using it. You say that philosophy, in contrast to science and anything else , is engaged in questions "how is it possible? Let us look when such questions arise.
You see a trick say, David Copperfield's Laser Illusion and ask "how is it possible to do that? I guess, it is not. We need a trick, anyway. But I think we need something else, as well, to make questions about tricks the philosophical questions: they should be answered by clarification of our concepts only. I believe, you would agree with that. But are there any tricks which could be solved as a result of clarification of our concepts? I don't know, but if they exist, I doubt we wouldn't able to describe such clarification in terms of Wittgenstein's vocabulary.
Indeed, how is it possible: to clarify our concepts? By looking at the use of the terms attached to them, first of all. If it turns out that our concepts are imprecise, why not invent new concepts, new language games? I see no contradictions here with what Wittgenstein had proposed. Monday, March 5, -- PM. It seems like the deflationary view of Wittgenstein's influence, chalking up Wittgenstein's influence just to proficiency with logic, gets things wrong. The people he influenced early on included Bertrand Russell, Frank Ramsey, and the Vienna circle, which had Carnap and Reichenbach in its ranks.
These people were all top notch logicians who wouldn't give someone that much of their time just on the basis of being able to handle logic. Since then Wittgenstein has impressed people like Michael Dummett and Saul Kripke, again great philosophers. I think they saw more in Wittgenstein's thoughts than proficiency with logic.
If Wittgenstein's influence is waning, there are probably other sociological or philosophical reasons for it. It seems like cognitive science is not at odds with being a Wittgensteinian by itself. Other commitments might make one think that Wittgenstein was wrong, but the idea of cognitive science by itself seems compatible. Part of the reason for thinking this is the list of the most influential books in cognitive science published by a group of cognitive scientists from Minnesota.
There are authors on there that are certainly hostile to Wittgenstein, but not all. Hi Shawn: Hope you're enjoying Pitt. A hotbed of at least neo-Wittgensteiniansm I suppose if there ever was one. About Wittgenstein and cognitive science. My point wasn't that cognitive science refutes Wittgenstein. I used cognitive science only to show that "theorizing" about the mind in a way that goes beyond the deliverances of common sense is a perfectly legitimate enterprise. We do it all the time. And we think we're getting at something deep about the mind when we do.
Wittgenstein must think that somehow philosophy isn't entitled to theorize in this way, that when it tries to it's bound to fall into error and confusion. But why think that? Why think that is any more true of philosophy than of cognitive science? If one thought that philosophy's methods weren't broadly empirical or weren't broadly continuous with empirical methods, you might think something like that.
Of course, philosophy isn't exactly science. That was what I meant when I said that philosophy is more likely to be concerned with how possibly questions than science is. But that's not to say philosophy is only concerned with how possibly questions. But the point of comparison was to say that philosophy has at least as many sources of evidence and sources of constraint on its theory construction as science does. It can, after all, take the entirety of science on board as a source of evidence and constraint.
Wednesday, March 7, -- PM. Saturday, March 10, -- PM. Wow, Ken, I found this an incredibly insightful post. It is both generous to Wittgenstein and also probing in its disagreement. A couple of small points. What you describe--an imagination that is not entirely free, but constrained by science, etc. Also, I think there are two kinds of philosophical "how-possibly" questions. I talk about this distinction in a recent paper of mine, "Molinism", which I can give anyone who is interested.
I'll spare you the details here, out of mercy. One kind of question is answered by the contents of a "how-to manual", whereas a deeper as it were kind is answered in a way that may include this sort of content but also engages the most powerful worries of the skeptic about the phenomenon in question. So, consider time travel. One kind of how-possibly question gets answered in terms of the skeptical worries about the coherence of time travel, the fixity of the past, the direction of causation, the paradox of the power to kill one's grandparents, etc.
But another gets answered in terms of a "how-to manual"--first you build the time-machine, etc. Or consider the recent Denzel Washington film, "Deja Vu" for further ruminations on the mechanism of time-travel! I think sometimes even philosophers mix up the two kinds of "how-possibly" questions, settling for an answer suitable to a "how-to manual", where an engagement with skeptical challenges is in order. Again, let me just say how helpful and insightful I found your post. Monday, April 2, -- PM. I am a bit of a Wittgensteinian, although rather out of practice, having left grad school a few years ago.
I would like to offer an answer to the question raised above: why might LW object to philosophical theorizing about the mind, but not to cognitive science? It may be because LW understands philosphy as attempting to deal with necessity and, in his last work, certainty. The philosopher's arguments and theories would concern how things must be, while the scientist's arguments and theories would concern how things in fact happen to be. Certainly if one looks at the Tractatus, this sort of division between science and philosophy is quite prominent, while in On Certainty it reappears as the distinction between what we know and what is certain for us.
Sunday, April 15, -- PM. If Wittgenstein's goal is not yoursif you are correct that his goal is some kind of release from the conundrums of philosophy-- then why should you follow his path? Still, it is useful to see how he did try to get out from under the sway of philosophical conundrums. But ultimately, if we evaluate his writings from the point of view of his writings--if we apply his own perspective to his own writings--we can see that his problem--that philosophy deals with pseudo- problemsseems itself to be a pseudo-problem.
Because certainly ordinary language has no opinion, either way about whether philosophy deals with pseudo-problems or does not. Ordinary language does not seem to agree that his problem is a problem. And certainly Wittgenstein doesn't give us any arguments that ordinary language as a whole has some built-in resistance to being used by philosophers in the way that they do. If one doesn't share what seems to be his annoyance at being somehow "trapped" by conundrums of a philosophical sort--then I don't see any compelling reason to think his problem any less pseudo than the unnatural philosophical constraints he insists ordinary language is subjected to by others.
Surely, he could not deny that he bends ordinary language to his own very philosophical uses within a very philosophical context. He is not exactly down at the corner store exchanging gossip as he buys tomatoes--right? Tuesday, January 19, -- PM. Ken wrote: "Wittgenstein is for those who can find a resonance in his vision before reading his work" This is a very insightful comment!
The architecture of meaning: Wittgenstein's Tractatus and formal semantics
Saturday, November 24, -- PM. I'm a bit frustrated maybe ignorantly with the entry, perhaps five years too late. I think the first objection ludwig would have is that you are using the phrase "mind" like its a word like "apple. We use "mind" to mean something, and removing it from that context reduces it to nonsense. You sublimated the word to a frictionless plane where it's useless or confused. Sure, cognitive scientists can investigate the physical brain and its processes, but that is not an exploration of the "mind," it's an exploration of the brain's physical processes. The superficial resemblance between the two is clear, but its only a superficial similarity.
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In the following chapter, ''Too ridiculous for words': Wittgenstein on scientific aesthetics', Severin Schroeder tackles aesthetics and in particular the idea, outrageous to Wittgenstein's ears, that aesthetics could be considered a form of science. He notices that for a venerable philosophical tradition, counting Hume and Kant among its members, the objective of aesthetics was to set up a standard of taste; indeed, the possibility that empirical psychology could offer a scientific account of it still sounds plausible to many.
Wittgenstein's insight is instead to focus on the cultural and historical anchorage of taste and aesthetics, which gives substance to our judgments. Rupert Read's 'How to think about the climate crisis via precautionary reasoning' is perhaps the clearest application. Read defends a precautionary approach to serious environmental threats by an appeal to anti-scientism.
Since in the public sphere the lack of scientific evidence is often a motive for inaction, he claims that we should acknowledge from the outset that science is neither the only nor the best mode of inquiry. In the face of the environmental crisis, instead of waiting for scientific knowledge, we should just act on the basis of a precautionary principle, which in this context he sees as an alternative to scientism. The third group of chapters connects scientism with the overall interpretation of Wittgenstein's thought, or some aspects of it.
In her view, one of the problems with scientism is that it encourages people to think that scientific explanation is the only explanation there is, and therefore that a philosopher not involved in explanations is not proposing anything positive. Against the 'myth' of the quietist Wittgenstein, she further claims that in Wittgenstein's approach there is space not only for conceptual elucidation, but also for 'thin' theoretical positions and non-scientistic explanations.
This view, she claims, not only fails to see that Wittgenstein's point is precisely that there is no such gap; it also wrongly suggests that if we refuse Platonism on meaning, we must embrace a form of reductive naturalism. McDowell In 'Wittgenstein, science, and the evolution of concepts', James C.
Klagge proposes a reflection on how concepts evolve, claiming that Wittgenstein's position on this changes through time. In Wittgenstein affirmed roughly that the rules of use for a concept fix its meaning in such a way that a change in the rules entails a new concept , and not a conceptual change: this is substantially an endorsement of Frege's 'conceptual essentialism' pp. Yet Wittgenstein later came to think that real conceptual changes are possible, and can also be fostered by scientific discoveries.
In this sense, Klagge concludes, the grammatical and the empirical -- the provinces of philosophy and science respectively -- are not so separate. Here a kind of naturalism coexists with an anti-scientistic outlook. One of the leitmotifs that underlies most discussions regarding scientism and anti-scientism in Wittgenstein, is the relationship between logic or grammar on the one side, and experience on the other.
This relationship assumes various forms and reappears in other distinctions, not completely overlapping with one another, such as those between grammatical and empirical propositions, normativity and factuality, and philosophy and science. A crude way of characterizing Wittgenstein's position in this respect is to say that in his view philosophy deals with logic or grammar, science deals with experience, scientism is the result of science's invasion of the terrain of philosophy, and anti-scientism is the legitimate defense of this terrain.
With the caveat already highlighted -- that is, keeping in mind that scientism is actually not a fault of science or scientists, but rather a misleading picture embodied in a widespread idea of science -- this characterization, crude as it may be, does capture Wittgenstein's position in its general terms. However, it does not capture its most interesting facets, nor does it help to understand why Wittgenstein insisted so much on the difficulty of drawing these distinctions.
In order to see the significance of this issue in Wittgenstein's philosophy, we need to look at his many attempts early and late to account for what happens at the very edge between the two domains of grammar and experience. One of the merits of this collection is that it helps to focus on this aspect, which emerges in its most challenging chapters. Chapter 1, for instance, draws attention to those very special propositions that are in a sense at the boundary between logic and experience, namely, the principles of science. Like logic, the principles of science are a-priori see proposition 6.
Interestingly, Tejedor links their a-priori status with their being essentially know-how: we know a-priori the principles of science in that we are able to construct scientific propositions, using them as bricks, to borrow Wittgenstein's metaphor Tractatus , 6. This active aspect, embodied in our ability to do things, immediately calls to mind On Certainty 's so-called hinge propositions, and it is no coincidence that in the latter work Wittgenstein observes: 'Am I not getting closer and closer to saying that in the end logic cannot be described?
This seems to confirm Klagge's view, according to which, as we saw, the later Wittgenstein admits that, at least sometimes, empirical knowledge can determine changes in our concepts.