- Oct 4, 2018
- Reaction score
- Bellevue, WA
- Political Leaning
So are lots of concepts, but there is an important difference between uncertainty and ambiguity.If your paradigm of language-driven thought is correct, then uncertainty and ineffability are related, no?
Well, maybe you take the stance of a logical positivist, although I wouldn't have guessed it from your other posts. You do know that the Tractatus inspired that school of philosophy, don't you? I actually admire his later work more, because he took a more sophisticated stance on the nature of language and had a more profound impact on my field of linguistics.As for the Wittgenstein line quoted in the OP, it seems clear to me, even without identifying the source, that the line is about the limits of language, not the limits of thought. The terms are speaking and silence after all. And given the source -- since we both appear to have an appreciation of Wittgenstein -- you are no doubt familiar with the even more famous line of his in which he asserts that the limits of his language are the limits of his world, yes?
In short, I don't see my take on the OP quote as "off the tracks," but I welcome elaboration from you on this score.
What was really going on there was that early linguistic philosophers had come to the conclusion that many philosophical conundrums were caused by language--e.g. Russell's paradoxes. In Wittgenstein's early phase, Russell had a big impact on him. Russell was one of the originators of the so-called "Ideal Language" school, which sought to invent a formal "ideal" language that would not permit one to express paradoxes. I suspect that this was more of what was on in Wittgenstein's mind when he wrote the Tractatus.
However, Wittgenstein was also notoriously prickly about people discussing philosophical concepts that he felt they had no real understanding of. Silence is better than gobbledygook.
In his later phase, Wittgenstein departed completely from Russell's view that natural language itself was flawed. The school of "Ordinary Language Philosophy" took the position that language itself was not the problem, just the way people misused it. They weren't adhering to the rules of the game properly. That different direction led to some very important insights into discourse theory in the latter half of the 20th century.
I'm glad you cleared that up, and I'm equally not really "anti-theist" in the sense you meant it, although you jumped to that hasty conclusion. I admire Dawkins and am in complete disagreement with your assessment of him and his contributions, although I don't pretend to admire every aspect of his personality or behavior. It was unfair of you to start treating me as if I were some kind of disciple of his. Of the so-called "four horsemen", I actually prefer Dennett more, but I don't see any reason to demonize any of them, unless it's just an exercise in poisoning the well.For the record, I am not anti-atheist. I have the greatest respect for the great atheist thinkers of the past, such as Sartre and Camus. I am anti-anti-theist, which is today's pop atheism, a strident ill-informed brand of atheism that is really anti-religion and based on fear and ignorance, a brand of atheism generated some fifteen years ago by Dawkins and company, a form of religious bigotry that has done a great deal of harm in its influence on non-critical minds. Your debut post and its follow-up were chapter and verse out of the New Atheism, and so the association on my part was not silly as it addressed quite specifically the content of your posts.
I understand, but I don't really think you were starting an intellectual discussion on the merits of the Tractatus, of which that line was basically the final conclusion. For the purposes of this discussion, it really can be treated as an adage. Basically, it could just mean essentially "If you don't know what you are talking about, keep your mouth shut."I'm completely in accord with your anti-muzzling agreement. I'm first and last in favor of the free and open marketplace of ideas.
The intention of the OP was that knowledge of Wittgenstein or his work is unnecessary to forming an opinion on the quoted line, but it is identified as a line from a philosophical word and your characterization of it as an "adage" and "a wise piece of sophistry" that launched on this one-upmanship trophy hunt. We can move on.
Wittgenstein actually put that principle to practice in an interesting way. He was something of a theist, although a very nuanced one. When asked whether he believed in an afterlife, he avoided answering with the explanation that he didn't really understand what it meant to say that he could not "cease to exist".