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Logic in 3D

Logic in 3D

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Published by Kelly Jolley

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Published by: Kelly Jolley on Jul 14, 2012
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Logicin3D:OperatingwithWordsin
PhilosophicalInvestigations
1
KellyDeanJolley
A...
_'_.>_"
Inthisbriefessay,Iexplainthepeculiaractionsoftheshopkeeperdescribedin
Philos,opilicalInvestigations
I(theshopkeeperhasbeengivenanorderandhasgoneontoIalsoshedlightonwhyandhowWittgensteinwantsustonoticethepeculiarityofWittgensteinwantsustowatchtheshopkeepersoastodisplacethegeneralthemeaningofawordinourphilosophicalreflections.Watchingtheactionsiswatchinghimunderstandtheorderhehasbeengiven.Weseethe
hm~~p,pn,'r
doinglogic,segmentingtheorder,thereintheshop,in3D.NothingneedhappeninanyCartesiannon-spaceorRealmofFormsorThirdRealm.
Wittgensteincomplainsofafog,ahaze,in
PI
5.
1
Thefogisby'thegeneralnotionofthemeaningofaword'.Wittgensteinusthathisshopkeeperexamplein
PI
1issupposedtodispersetheUnfortunately,thatexampleitselfstrikesreadersasfoggy.Iftheof
PI
2seemprehistoric,likecavemen,theshopkeeperseemslikeanautomaton.Hefulfillstheorderforfiveredapplesseemsto.Itisunclearwhatsuchapeculiar,automatousperformancehastoteachusaboutthegeneralofthemeaningofaword.WhatIwilldointhisbriefessayisexplainwhyWittgenstein'sshopkeeperactspeculiarly,andwhyandhowWittgensteinwantsustonoticethepeculiarity.Wittgensteinknowsthatwewillbetemptedtomisconstruethepeculiaritybecauseofthepride-of-placethegeneralnotionofthemeaningofawordhasinourphilosophicalreflections.Becauseheknowsthis,Wittgensteinwillinsistontheshopkeeper'sactingasdescribed,andwillinsistthatwewatch
1Allquotationsfrom
PhilosophicalInvestigations
willbefromG.E.M.Anscombe'stranslation:
PhilosophicalInvestigations
(NewYork:TheMacMillanCompany,1958).
 
194
Kell),DeanJolle),
thoseactionssteadilywhilewethinkabouttheshopkeeperandtheorderhefills.Theshopkeeper'sactionsshowushimunderstandingtheorder.Hisunderstandingis,asitwere,
there,
intheshop,visibletousinthreedimensions.Itinvolvesnothinginsomeunfamiliarextradimension;itinvolvesnothingdimensionless.(Itinvolvesnothinginsome,say,Cartesiannon-space,orinaRealmofFormsorThirdRealm).Itinvolvesnophilosophicalconceptionofthemeaningofaword.Gettingclearofthefogofsuchaconceptionaccomplishestwothings.Itallowsusbettertoseehow
PI
1framestherestof
PI
anditallowsusbettertounderstandlimitationsofphilosophicaltheoriesofmeanmgs.
2.
Commenting
111
PI
5ontheexampleoftheshopkeeperm
PI1,
ttgensteinwrites:Ifwelookattheexamplein1,wemayperhapsgetaninklinghowmuchthisgeneralnotionofthemeaningofawordsurroundstheworkingoflanguagewithahazewhichmakesclearvisionimpossible.Itdispersesthefogtostudythephenomenaoflanguageinprimitivekindsofapplicationinwhichonecancommandaclearviewoftheaimandfunctioningofwords.thendoestheexampleoftheshopkeeperdispersethefogthattheconceptionofmeaninggenerates?Toanswerthisuestion,Ineedfirsttolookcloselyattheexampleoftheshopkeeper.Itendthatthereisacrucialfeatureoftheexamplethatisoften.Whenwedonotoverlookit,Wittgenstein'sattackonthe
IJll11U~IJlJllll_dl
conceptionofmeaningbecomesclearandconvincing.Here'stheexample:Nowthinkofthefollowinguseoflanguage:Isendsomeoneshopping.Igivehimaslipmarked'fiveredapples'.Hetakesthesliptotheshopkeeper,whoopensadrawermarked'apples';thenhelooksuptheword'red'inatableandfindsacoloursampleoppositeit;thenhesaystheseriesofcardinalnumbers-Iassumethatheknowsthembyheart-uptotheword'five'andforeachnumberhetakesanappleofthesamecolourasthesampleoutofthedrawer.-Itisinthisandsimilarwaysthatoneoperateswithwords.crucialfeatureIwanttofastenonisthefeaturethatmakestheseemsoabnormal:thedescriptionsofthewaytheshopkeeperwitheachword.Noticethattheshopkeeperdoesverydifferentwitheachword.Heopensadrawerwhileoperatingwith'apples';usesacolorsamplewhileoperatingwith'red';herepeatsthecardinalanapplefromthedrawerforeach-upto'five'.The
'H,nwnl-p,
amongthewaysheoperateswiththesewordsiscrucial.ToconsiderthewayWittgensteinexplainsthephilosophicalofmeaning(earlierin
PI
1):[Augustine's]words,itseemstome,giveusaparticularpictureoftheessenceofhumanlanguage.Itisthis:theindividualwordsinlanguagenameobjects-sentencesarecombinationsofsuchnames.-Inthispictur~oflanguagewefindtherootsofthefollowingidea:Everywordhasameamng.Thismeaningiscorrelatedwiththeword.Itistheobjectforwhichthewordstands.Augustinedoesnotspeakoftherebeinganydifferencebetweenkindsofwords[i.e.,partsofspeech].IfAugustine'spictureoflanguage-thephilosophicalconceptionoftneaning-werecorrect,theshopkeeper'soperationswiththewords'fiveapples'wouldbeverycurious.Ifeachoftheindividualwordsintheorderwereaname-asthephilosophicalconceptionofmeaningwouldhaveit-thentheshopkeeperoughttoopenthreedrawers:onelabeled'apples',onelabeled'red',onelabeled'five'.Thedifferencesamongthe,vaysheoperateswiththewordsshow-quiteopenly;nothingishidden=-howhe
logicallysegments
theorderheisgiven;thedifferencesinthe,vay•heoperateswiththewordsshowthattherearedifferencesamongthekindsofwordsthattheordercontains.Bygivingusacarefullydescribedexample,Wittgensteinallowsustowatchtheshopkeeper
makesense
oftheorder.
3.
Theshopkeeperexampleallowsusinonecasetocommandaclearviewoftheaimandfunctioningofwords.Whenwecommandsuchaclearview,questionsaboutthemeaningofthewordsoftheorderbecome
 
196
superfluous.Thereisnothinginvolvedintheshopkeeper'soperationwiththewordsthatwedonotsee.
As
Wittgensteinsays,inanswertotheinterlocutor's'Butwhatisthemeaningoftheword"five"?','Nosuchthingwasinquestionhere,onlyhowtheword"five"isused.'Themeaningofthewordhasnoroletoplay-atleast,norolebeyondtheroleplayedbyknowingthisuseofthisword.IfIknowthisuseofthisword,thequestionoftheword'smeaninghasalreadybeenanswered.Theinterlocutor'sinsistentquestionisitselfanartifactofthephilosophicalconceptionofmeaning:becauseofthewayshethinksofmeaning(asanobjectthewordnames),shebelievesthattheremustbesomerolethatthemeaningsoftheindividualwordsintheorderplay.Wittgenstein'sresponserebukesherinsistence.Wittgensteinisrighttorebuketheinterlocutor.Toseethatheis,considerperhapsthemostinfamous(partofa)lineinallof
PI(PI
43):,...themeaningofawordisitsuseinthelanguage'.Muchinkhasbeenspilled(inmorethanthreeways)inresponsetothisline.Thereasonforthisislargelythatfewwhohavewrittenonithavebeenwillingtosetthelineagainstspecificcases-inparticular,tosetitagainstexamplesliketheshopkeeperexample.IfWittgenstein'srebukeisright,thenitisbecausehethinksthatthequestiontheinterlocutoraskshasalready(really)beenanswered.Andithas:ifapersonunderstandstheuseofawordinthelanguage-i.e.,ifthepersonknowshowtouseawordasitisbeingusedinaparticularcase,thenthereisnothingmoreaboutthewordthatthepersonneedstounderstandorknow.TheinterlocutorandIandtheshopkeeper,competentEnglishspeakersall,understandthisuseof'five'.Whenweseewhatusetheshopkeepermakesofit,thenweunderstandallthatweneedtounderstand.TosayinthiscasethatIdonotknowwhatthewordmeans,orthattheshopkeeperdoesn't,isjustagaintotrytofindaroleforthemeaningoftheword(theobjectthewordnames)toplaythatthephilosophicalconceptiondemandsitplay.SowhenWittgensteinsaysthatthemeaningofawordisnotanobjectthewordnamesorforwhichitstands,butisratheritsuseintheheisremindingusthatthephilosophicalconceptionofisnotonlynotcompulsory-itisaconceptionofawheelthatnothinginthemechanism.WhatWittgensteinsayssoundsradicalonlytosomeonecommittedtotheunderstandthelinefrom
PI
43,weneedtokeepinmindthatthecontrast-termto'used'is,forWittgenstein,not'misused'butor'idle'or'onholiday'.ToknowthemeaningofawordinacaseistoknowhowtousethatwordasitisbeingusedinthatIfawordisunusedoridleoronholiday,nouseisbeingmadeofit.suchapredicament,thewordhasno
meaning."
Whenweencounterainsuchapredicament,wehavenotencounteredamisusedword-that,asitwere,meansthewrong
thing."
Wehaveencounteredan
can,ofcourse,'lookupthemeaning'ofthewordintheOED,say.Buthowshouldweitsmeaningsasanoun,averboranadjective,etc.?CompareAustin'sfrom'TIleMeaningofaWord'(in
PhilosophicalPapers
(Oxford:OxfordPress,1961),pg.
24.:'...
[W]ecanspeakquiteproperlyof,forexample,'looking
Llt:llIlCdULL')
ofaword'inadictionary.Nevertheless,itappearsthatthesenseinwhichphrase'hasameaning'isderivativefromthesenseinwhichasentence'hasatosayawordorphrase'hasameaning'istosaythattherearesentencesinitoccurswhich'havemeanings':andtoknowthemeaningwhichthewordorphrasetoknowthemeaningsofthesentencesinwhichitoccurs.Allthedictionarycando'lookupthemeaningofaword'istosuggestaidstotheunderstandingofthe
<PI1tpnrf'<
inwhichitoccurs'.Puttingthisinthetermsofthe
Tractatus,
wemightsaythedictionarvisfullof
propositionalvariables.
tobethepointofDennisO'Brien'swonderfulresponseto'Don'taskfortheaskfortheuse!':'Anddon'taskfortheuseeither!'(See
'TheUnityofwittgenstein'srnuosonn»
ed.K.T.Fann(NewYork:DeltaBooks,1967),pp.
380-404.
Wittgensteindoes
'V"L<UHCU
'use-theoryofmeaning'.Thewayawordinaparticularcaseisused-
cih'PI·~tpd
witn-c-trxes
itsmeaning,notsomeobjectcalled
'theuse
oftheword'(whateverthatThinkingthatthereissomeobjectcalledtheuseoftheworditselfisaspeciationoftheconceptionofmeaningtheremarkismeanttoattack.Knowingthemeaningofawordisnotamatterofknowingwhatobjectitstandsfororwhatobjectiscorrelatedwithit;knowingthemeaningofawordisknowinghowtouseit.FormoreonWittgensteinand'use-theory',Cf.AliceCrary,'Wittgenstein'sPhilosophy
in
RelationtoPoliticalThought',in
TheNew
Wittgenstein,
eds.
A.
Craryand
R.
Read(London:Routledge,
2000),
pp.
118-145.

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