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History and Philosophy of Logic

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The Concept 'Horse' Paradox and Wittgensteinian Conceptual Investigations: A Prolegomenon to Philosophical Investigations

Online publication date: 27 April 2010

To cite this Article (2010) 'The Concept 'Horse' Paradox and Wittgensteinian Conceptual Investigations: A Prolegomenon

to Philosophical Investigations', History and Philosophy of Logic, 31: 2, 185 — 187 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/01445340903450378 URL:

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Book Reviews
K. D. JOLLEY, The Concept ‘Horse’ Paradox and Wittgensteinian Conceptual Investigations: A Prolegomenon to Philosophical Investigations. Ashgate Wittgenstein Studies. Aldershot, UK/Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2007. xii þ 109 pp. £50.00. ISBN-13:978-0-7546-6045-3. Reviewed by JULIET FLOYD, Department of Philosophy, Boston University, 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA ª 2010 Juliet Floyd
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This is a concise, thoughtful and unusually well-written book of significant philosophical and literary power. The author argues that the Frege–Kerry exchange over the absoluteness of Frege’s fundamental distinction between concepts and objects – a primary place where emerge the themes of saying versus showing, the ultimate role of a Begriffsschrift, and the temptation to ground distinctions of logic in something other than logic – crucially shaped Wittgenstein’s idea of philosophical method, not only in the Tractatus but also in his later Philosophical Investigations. As Jolley sees it, consideration of Kerry’s attack on the absoluteness of the concept/object distinction and the history of responses to it provide us with a ‘skeleton key’ or primary ‘object of comparison’ for unlocking a major theme in Philosophical Investigations, namely, the distinction between conceptual as opposed to objectual investigations (pp. 80ff), even if the later Wittgenstein departs from Frege in taking the distinction between concepts and objects to be operative only within the context of a language-game. Historians of logic will find this work primarily and purely philosophical: its interest is in an exploration of the idea that, in a certain sense, there are no paradoxes attending the most fundamental logical notions and distinctions. Yet the so-called ‘paradoxes’ are hardly trivial, and they are also not uniquely reconstructible or resolvable mathematically. Instead, philosophical ‘prestidigitation’ is needed to make the appearance of paradox appear and disappear (p. 43). Neither Kerry, nor Frege, nor Jolley, nor Wittgenstein-as-Jolley-reads-him think Kerry unearthed a real paradox deserving of straightforward theoretical or semantical solution (pp. 50, 64, 71): paradoxes are not real in and of themselves, but relative to our own demands and representations. The fundamentality of the attempt to draw a distinction between concept and object emerges only dialectically, through a kind of tenacious faith in the use of apparent paradox. Jolley connects this view with Frege and with Kierkegaard, aiming to provide a compelling train of thought designed to show how strong is the impulse to describe, tame, and rationalize what lies behind the appearance of ‘paradox’ in terms of a categorical theory, and how even in quite sophisticated responses to Kerry there is an underlying temptation to convert the concept/object distinction into a substantial ontological divide between terms and/or entities, when this cannot be stably done. Elucidation, in something like Frege’s sense, is the only route to grappling with fundamental notions. As Jolley sees it, the making to
History and Philosophy of Logic ISSN 0144-5340 print/ISSN 1464-5149 online


Book Reviews

appear and then to vanish of ‘paradoxes’ is of great use in showing philosophy how to appreciate its own nature, character, uses, and limits. Taken in pure form, this yields the idea that with regard to any distinction drawn between concept and object there can be no true textbooks or didactic presentations of philosophical theory: instead, philosophy must emerge only dialectically, through the consideration of particular conceptual entanglements about fundamental or ‘indefinable’ notions and our responses to them. Although the subtitle of the book suggests a place for a postprolegomena work on Philosophical Investigations, there is no tracing of influences, principles, definitions, analyses or presuppositions that will place that work’s significance in a nutshell, according to Jolley. There is, as he sees it, no commentary of a straightforward sort possible on Philosophical Investigations: instead of a describable method or a metalevel or an appeal to grammatical rules or categories, Wittgenstein offers us in his later philosophy only exemplification, the activity of reflection on how certain distinctions, when conceived of as absolute, collapse, are chimerical relative to the demand for a presentation of them as fundamental. Jolley makes a significant and critical intervention in the current discussion of Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophical method, drawing together, lucidly presenting, and putting to use ideas at work in recent ‘New Wittgenstein’ or ‘resolute’ literature on the Tractatus by projecting them forward to shed light on Wittgenstein’s later conception of philosophical method in Philosophical Investigations.1 He resists an ineffabilist or mystical view of Tractarian showing, demonstrating the importance and power of Wittgenstein’s philosophical approach by amassing a vivid catalog of reminders, i.e. by reviewing both Wittgenstein’s response to Russell’s idea of a theory of types in the Tractatus and a series of more recent responses to ‘the Kerry paradox’ by Anscombe, Valberg, Sellars, and others. This connection to recent literature is original, accessible, and instructive: the book will not only be extremely useful as an introductory survey for those entering the subject of recent Wittgenstein literature, but will also challenge future readers of the earlier and the later Wittgenstein. Those inclined to emphasize Wittgenstein’s differences with Frege and his early debts to Russell – Russell’s struggles with a philosophy or theory of symbolism, his move away from postulating propositions and classes, and Wittgenstein’s own Tractatus remark that it is to Russell that we owe the insight that the surface grammar of a sentence may not reflect its real grammar – will be disappointed and will have to look toward other literature.2 Here Frege is foregrounded and Russell treated more cursorily, portrayed as a direct object of attack. The history is perhaps more subtle: Russell’s theory of types is not a theory based in some way on the continuity of ordinary language and formalism, so that we must distinguish the idea that types are not really a theory of entities or ontological structures (Russell’s Principia view) from the idea, emphasized by Jolley, that there can be no substantial theory of types. That is: that types are not a theory is one thing, but that there can be no theory of types to reconstruct or represent mathematics is another, more debatable point. There is thus more to be said

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The literature here is increasingly vast, but may be traced back to the anthology: Crary, A. and Read, R. eds. 2000, The New Wittgenstein, London, New York: Routledge. ‘Resolute’ readers aim to resist construing that-which-is-shown-butcannot-be-said-by-logic substantively or mystically, in terms of a real yet ineffable realm of objects, laws, or categorical framework truths. See Ricketts, T. 1996, ‘Pictures, logic, and the limits of sense in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus’, in Sluga, H. and Stern, D. eds., The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein, New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 59–99; Potter, M. 2002, Reason’s Nearest Kin: Philosophies of Arithmetic from Kant to Carnap, New York: Oxford University Press; and Landini, G. 2007, Wittgenstein’s Apprenticeship with Russell, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Book Reviews


about Wittgenstein’s debts to Russell’s machinations over symbolism. This is not, however, to undermine the interest of what Jolley says about Wittgenstein. For he emphasizes that it is Kerry’s and Russell’s ways of arguing against the fundamentality of the distinction between concept and object that are to be rejected. Kerry’s insistence that the distinction is indefensible because inarticulable is used by Wittgenstein, on Jolley’s resolute reading, to highlight the importance and interdependence of the three basic principles with which Frege begins his Foundations of Arithmetic, for Kerry may be seen inevitably to founder against one or more of them. It is useful, Jolley argues, to see Wittgenstein subscribing to these principles throughout his life, and this is surely true: in the later philosophy, of course, they are relativized to the notions of ‘judgment’ and ‘language game’, a relativization which brings Wittgenstein to enlarge the sphere of expression past the constative, as Jolley emphasizes.
DOI: 10.1080/01445340903450378

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D. PATTERSON (ed.), New Essays on Tarski and Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. viiþ434 pp. £60/ $120. ISBN 978-0-19-929630-9. Reviewed by N. BERBER, Department of Philosophy, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel ª 2010 N. Berber The contributions of 15 authors have been assembled in this collection to reevaluate the significance of one of the outstanding logicians in the history of the subject. Considered together with the recent biography, Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic, by A. B. Feferman and S. Feferman, this book offers a comprehensive outlook and illuminating commentary on Tarski’s most important achievements. I will describe in detail the articles that are most relevant to logic and only indicate in passing the articles that are more matters of philosophy of language. ´ In the first contribution, J. Wolenski and R. Murawski show how some of the philosophical views held by the members of the Lvov-Warsaw School anticipate Tarski’s work on truth. Perhaps most notable among these are the acceptance of the classical Aristotelian definition of truth, the concept of weak correspondence, the notion of satisfaction and the T-scheme, the distinction between relative and absolute truths, rejection of the deflationary account of truth, and the consideration of sentences as bearers of truth. Further, Tarski’s conception of formal language is elucidated by reference to Les´ niewski. An analysis of the differences between Les´ niewski and Tarski is offered by A. Betti, in which she shows that albeit Tarski is more involved in Les´ niewski’s logical systems, several of his research interests were alien to Les´ niewski from the very beginning. Emphasis is placed on each of their philosophies of logic, especially within what Betti calls ‘the Classical Ideal of Science’. Finally, it is argued that the origin of Tarski’s semantical work is found in Ajdukiewicz rather than in Les´ niewski. W. Hodges’ contribution examines Tarski’s theory of definitions. Hodges elucidates Tarski’s conception of deductive theory and sets the background with ´ allusions to Kotarbinski, Łukasiewicz and, most importantly, to Les´ niewski’s influence. After reviewing Tarski’s analysis of definitions in deductive theories,