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Wittgenstein and Private Language

 
 
Reply Sun 30 Jan, 2011 04:50 am
I was just reading this of wikipedia:

Quote:
Although Wittgenstein certainly argues that the notion of private language is incoherent, because of the way in which the text is presented the exact nature of the argument is disputed. First, he argues that a private language is not really a language at all. This point is intimately connected with a variety of other themes in his later works, especially his investigations of "meaning". For Wittgenstein, there is no single, coherent "sample" or "object" that we can call "meaning". Rather, the supposition that there are such things is the source of many philosophical confusions. Meaning is a complicated phenomenon that is woven into the fabric of our lives. A good first approximation of Wittgenstein's point is that meaning is a social event; meaning happens between language users. As a consequence, it makes no sense to talk about a private language, with words that mean something in the absence of other users of the language.


I don't know how good a reduction of his thought this even is, but if we just take it as it is, do you think there could be any way in which we could argue against it on the grounds that what goes on in one's own mental narrative is not a singular 'voice' but a dialogue between lots of 'little voices', making it, actually a 'social event' even when it is inside one person's head?

I am probably very wrong.
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Jan, 2011 12:27 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
Nice point. However if we see those various "selves" as epiphenonena of a socially acquired language (Dennett) we still find that "private language" escapes us. This is perhaps why those who would advocate levels of higher consciousness which transcend "selves" are inevitably drawn to use the word "ineffable".
G H
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Jan, 2011 03:20 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
Language evolved/developed for communication between individuals; it is fundamentally social, not rooted in privacy. For instance, solipsism -- from the standpoint of the PLA -- becomes contradictory when expressed in language: "Who are you talking to? There is no community for you to convey this doctrine to. Could solipsism even be conceived without language, which is by definition public?" Since explicit knowledge is approved and/or formulated by a group effort (peer review, collective research, etc) and usually involves description, society by default must then reject any theory/argument which asserts society is not real. The individual may have such public nihilism open to him/her as a remote possibility ("Other people are my dream"), but the community does not.
fresco
 
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Reply Sun 30 Jan, 2011 04:49 pm
@G H,
Point of Information.

PQ is referring to "the committee model of self" familiar to Sufi inspired philosophies.
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Jan, 2011 09:21 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Nice point. However if we see those various "selves" as epiphenonena of a socially acquired language (Dennett) we still find that "private language" escapes us. This is perhaps why those who would advocate levels of higher consciousness which transcend "selves" are inevitably drawn to use the word "ineffable".


But is all the language we own socially acquired, or only the capacity? Surely, when we have acquired language, we hold the ability to use it as a model, and therefore the ability to use it privately? What such language would really 'achieve', I don't know. I am basically questioning whether context can exist internally, through what you term the 'committee meeting' model (I like that term).

(Btw in posting this, I am not really defending the notion of private language, just trying to understand it).
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Jan, 2011 01:26 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
You should perhaps ask whether the "wanderings" of an individual blood would be "meaningful" without the macro-concept of bodily function. i.e. If the function and origin of language is defined macroscopically, Wittgenstein has a case. Individual creativity affects language of course (try Shakespeare !) but that effect is measured by social impact.
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Jan, 2011 12:18 pm
@fresco,
Quote:
PQ is referring to "the committee model of self" familiar to Sufi inspired philosophies.

Yes, but the broad topic title itself is "Wittgenstein and Private Language", not the committe model of self . I mentioned one of the practical uses of Witt's PLA, the demolition of the problem of other minds, which is echoed by more than just me:

Stephen P. Thornton: Those philosophers who accept the Cartesian premises that make solipsism apparently plausible, if not inescapable, have also invariably assumed that language-usage is itself essentially private. The cluster of arguments – generally referred to as “the private language argument” – that we find in the Investigations against this assumption effectively administers the coup de grâce to both Cartesian dualism and solipsism. (I. § 202; 242-315). Language is an irreducibly public form of life that is encountered in specifically social contexts. [...] The proposition “I am the only mind that exists” makes sense only to the extent that it is expressed in a public language, and the existence of such language itself implies the existence of a social context. Such a context exists for the hypothetical last survivor of a nuclear holocaust, but not for the solipsist. A non-linguistic solipsism is unthinkable and a thinkable solipsism is necessarily linguistic. Solipsism therefore presupposes the very thing that it seeks to deny. That solipsistic thoughts are thinkable in the first instance implies the existence of the public, shared, intersubjective world that they purport to call into question. --Solipsism and the Problem of Other Minds
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Jan, 2011 12:56 pm
@G H,
I read and agree with most but we still can play devil´s advocate only for the joy of it and say in favour of Solipsism, that it may be the case that, we all, are one ENTITY, given as Functions in it, we relate to it all directly or indirectly...
So to say, that I am a part in the Whole which relates with the Whole, might be possibly understood as a vectorial expression of the Whole itself in me, or that I am the Whole itself speaking through me...

The "Public" is it "in", or is it "out" ? does that thing of in or out even makes sense, or is just more concepts ?

...counter that !
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Jan, 2011 01:41 pm
PQ That should have read....individual blood cell....
Note that for W, language was not a representational model. His adage was "meaning is usage".

GH. Perhaps we should let PQ be the judge of the relevance of answers.
In the interim, it has always seemed self-evident to me that Wittgenstein's general deconstruction of "philosophical problems" via the concept of "a language game" defeats the "solipsism problem" en passant. Paradigms in general, Cartesian or otherwise, are language games by another name.


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dogdog
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Feb, 2011 02:47 pm
This begs the question:

Am I the only one in my mind when I use language to dialog within myself?

Of course, then one must define "I" or "self."
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Feb, 2011 09:08 am
In the "Jeremiah Johnson" movie, the character, actor Robert Redford, travels for a long time with a mute boy and an American Indian woman, with whom he cannot communicate with. The group runs into some White preachers and they begin to speak to him. He pauses a really long time, then asks for forgiveness for not responding, since he hasn't had anyone speak sh to him, much less in English, in such a long time that he had almost forgotten what it was like.

There is no connection between internal thought and communciation with others. Not the same dialogue or thought process at all.



Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Feb, 2011 09:40 am
@PUNKEY,
Quote:
There is no connection between internal thought and communication with others. Not the same dialogue at all.


Although perfectly knowing what you meant it seams reasonable to make some corrections...you see, even if what one think´s is understood by someone else standards, still there is a functional link between them as they actually interact...and such that there must exist a common set of shareable patterns right above the noise ratio...one rather must think then what communication is really about, instead of what one supposes of it as an ideal, since the actual communication going on seams to be useful independently on how we may look at it...In that regard is then clear, that whatever is said must be more or less understood. Otherwise interaction would n´t produce "work" but entropy...to my understanding the difference in the streams of patterns between emitters and receptor´s brings about the novelty that actually allows each of us to evolve not only by what was originally meant but by what we can get out of it, thus inhibiting a full rejection of the conceptual system brought to us in case of divergent evolution between the two agents, and consequently allowing a partial retrieval of their standing point conceptual advantages...it is just like having a child, meanings are a bit from the emitter and a bit more from the receptor, they have both "DNA´s"... how about that uh ? That actually went out of my mind just now, I amaze myself sometimes... Wink
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Feb, 2011 10:40 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
There again, not in what was originally intended to be expressed, but on what was actually understood, the notion of FUNCTION popping up in the rearrangement of fusing conceptual systems...
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  2  
Reply Wed 2 Feb, 2011 05:59 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Quote:
I read and agree with most but we still can play devil´s advocate only for the joy of it and say in favour of Solipsism, that it may be the case that, we all, are one ENTITY, given as Functions in it, we relate to it all directly or indirectly... So to say, that I am a part in the Whole which relates with the Whole, might be possibly understood as a vectorial expression of the Whole itself in me, or that I am the Whole itself speaking through me...


Yeah, but that would still seem more along the line of a conventional macrocosmic-scale universe that existed even when not observed, than the superficial microcosm of the solipsist -- where only the lawful regularities of the solipsist's "dream" lead to the inference of a huge realm existing beyond the immediate boundaries of the experience (and an incorrect inference if solipsism was indeed the case). That is, the former and grander "world-mind", "nomological system", or "integrated single entity" seems to surpass any categorization of "solipsism", especially if it has multiple agents generating varied personal POVs and simulations within it (or just carrying-out individual agendas if they're either p-zombie agents or purely mechanistic processes devoid of internal manifestations).

Quote:
The "Public" is it "in", or is it "out" ? does that thing of in or out even makes sense, or is just more concepts ?


Indeed the fuel of solipsism: The external part of experience is just that -- as much a part of a particular brain's experience as its personal thoughts, no matter how much advocates of direct or commonsense perception might wail about mediating processes needing to be eliminated not only in the body but apparently those mediators between the observed and observer in the environment, (light waves, acoustic waves, wafting molecules [odor], etc.)

But if it's to be explained how schizoid Jane's hallucination of "reptilian aliens surrounding her" lacks the same appearance when the corresponding neural or electrochemical patterns in her head are scanned, then an internal or private dimension might have to posited for the externalized appearance, or for the physical properties constituting those patterns of activity. Either that or dodge explanation with eliminativism, phenomenal nihilism, etc.

In a vein similar to the broader definition of neutral monism (post-empiricist brands), I'd speculate that both public/private appearances (matter/mental) are actually the product of a more fundamental order. But such idle speculations often remain untestable. Wink
0 Replies
 
JPhil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 07:13 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
Well think of it musically. The scales and typical chord progression we use in our music today, you and I are used to because society has given it to us and from there we can experiment with what kind of music like or dislike. And every country has their own scales and chord progressions as well, of which their people learn and recognize. And then you have composers. So I think society gives us a language and we use it build up our world and be creative, by using and breaking the rules of our language.
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