Criticism of "language"

My whine here is that Philosophers adopt the wrong approach to examining Wittgenstein’s ideas on language. The right approach ought to be Witt’s approach - transcendental idealism, rather than the transcendentally real approach that underpins standard science and logic. That is, we shouldn’t describe language in terms of the signs that falls under the concept of language; we should describe language as the framework in which signs get their meaning. As an example here is an extract taken from Koethe’s “The continuity of Wittgenstein’s thought”:

“only by acquiring a familiarity with and mastery of language do we come to understand it”

We do not become “familiar” with “language”. Familiarity is language. The author commits us to the curious idea that language really is, in itself, language (“do we come to understand it”) so that it can be “acquired” and “understood” by our being familiar with “language”. This idea is a consequence of transcendental realism where, for example, a piano really is, in itself, a piano, and that a piano is also our impressions that mirror that fact.

Let me put it another way. We might say that we become familiar with language by mastering its phrases, but none of these phrases can be taken to be language. Wittgenstein’s idea of language was that language is a framework that cannot be described in terms of its phrases, elements or propositions. But Koethe places the phrases, etc, as themselves descriptive of language.

This is what the author should have said:
“Familiarity of ways of life and skill in the use of signs constitute language.”

I think Wittgenstein repudiates TI (and TR) fairly explicitly in On Certainty.

Also (I think this is the right article, a quick check seems to say so) … l_Idealist
May be relevant.

I agree with your criticism of the initial quote and correction, though.

Hello JohnJones, are you discussing Wittgenstein from the period of his Tractatus, or from the period of his Philosophical Investigations? And where do you get it that he had a transcendental idealistic approach? I think he was a typical logical positivist in the period of the Tractatus, but I have not heard him being called a transcendental idealist. Is that in the period of the Philosophical Investigations?

That’s a long article I can’t read. But straight off, I saw that his introductory aguments or positions, 1) and 2), were flawed or misprepresented. Wittgenstein will always be misrepresented.
Surely, and I know, Wittgenstein was a transcendental idealist, an instictualist (as an -ist), and not a transcendental realist who practices animism.

I don’t think that anyone thinks that Witt was a logical positivist. And the transcendental idealism was there right from the off, when he was born.

Then you’ll have no problem explaining why, given his repudiation in On Certainty.

Hi JohnJones, I am just curious, because he was a member of the Wiener Kreis, right? I asked the wikipedia as well and found the following:


I am having trouble seeing the Tractatus as transcendental idealistic because it concerns the idea that what we do not know cannot be discussed, as if it doesn’t exist to us because of this. That is the opposite of the transcendental idealistic thought if I understand correctly. Will you explain your ideas on the matter?

The Tractatus says that what is not the case can’t be discussed, really - that meaningful statements can only be made about the way things are in the world, not about spiritual or ethical states-of-being which must be shown or felt. But I’d agree that that’s not very TI, at least on first account, and I’m also curious as to the alternative reading.

Well, if one Googles it there are references to be found concerning the intent of Witt (I &II). This in the sense that our cognition limits the world we perceive, not the world. That is a transcendental idealistic thought.

One reference to it:

An interesting piece, although I never thought of Witt as one, save for his epistemology. The layers in there suggest a clear grasp of the paradox the objectification of observations causes. Anyway, a good point of JohnJones I think, although I am not sure Witt would agree.

You must say what that repudiation is, for from here it doen’t look feasible.

As a transcedental realist he is saying that the framework of langugage cannot be discussed - it can only be shown.

Wittgenstein argued that what is “not” the case is simply another espression for what is the case. Logical constants “do not stand in for anything” (Witt .,Tr.)

You should still have no problem explaining why.

My mistake, sorry - it wasn’t in On Certainty, it was in Zettel.

… und so weiter.

It’s not a repudiation of idealism, but of the entire dichotomy as being meaningless.

Why do you think he wrote this part, OH?

Presumably to explain his thought processes on the matter at hand. Possibly to assist in dissolving another philosophical puzzle, as he saw it. The wider context of the clipping is learning/employing doubt.

In that case it is an argument in favor of JJ’s point, I think. Doubting the reality of something is the defining act of transcendental idealism, is it not?

So… anyone who doubts anything or mentions doubt is a transcendental idealist? Of course not.

See paragraph 414 - the doubt of idealism is superficial, inconsequential, as is the certainty of realism. Do you think Kant would have held that TI is just realism with a different battle-cry?

I meant that the doubt concerning if that thing-in-itself really exists is TI. In that sense it is an argument in favor of JJ’s point.

Concerning the battle cry:
I meant that there are parts that TI and representative realism do have many things in common. I also agree with you that the doubting is the defining act in TI, and that Kant would never agree to this. But I appreciate the viewpoint JJ is taking, don’t you?

As far as I’m aware TI is the answwer to doubt. For Kant there is no doubt about the existence of things, as there also is no doubt for Wittgenstein.

Whether its taken and interpreted from Zettel or not, the idea that Witt was against TI isn’t feasible. The whole idea of language games for instance is that is a a TI framework for language.