Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

What does it mean for Wittgenstein's philosophy to be true in light of his analysis of philosophy, since truth is one of those heavily scratched philosophical itches?



Wittgenstein has noticed a common pattern among sentient beings such that knowledge of that pattern leads to accomplishing goals that otherwise could not be accomplished.

I'll give you that for "truth". We could poke further; we would just get a bigger bowl of word salad.

The value is in the application. At the risk of sounding like Yoda, this is like walking into a large hall with other people and noticing that really good dance music is playing. People are moving around the dance floor. So you say to your partner "This is great!" and being dancing.

What's great about it? "There is a pattern of activity that I find pleasing that I can join in and feel as if I am accomplishing something of value"

Except in Wittgenstein's case, all the people were dancing, but they were all dancing to different songs and in their own invented way of dancing. Now there's nothing wrong with inventing your own songs and dance moves, mind you, but Wittgenstein was the guy that pointed out that this was what was happening.

And now we being discussing "Can we all listen to the same music", and "Who likes Jazz?", and so forth. We've opened up a new class of exploration that didn't exist before.

My guess is that Wittgenstein thought that either you'd play the music loudly enough and one dance would win (unlikely), or that it was impossible for such a large group to agree to much of anything, from the genre of music to the types of moves that looked cool. (more likely) But then you get into even more interesting issues, like how large of a group can agree on anything, what does it mean to agree on language, and so forth. We've joined the social to the philosophical in a way that had never been done before. I could go on at length, and probably would. I'd love to drag Kuhn and Popper into this. I apologize for being so wordy.


> What does it mean for Wittgenstein's philosophy to be true in light of his analysis of philosophy...

I think you have to pull your question apart in to two implications of "truth". There is a "ground truth" question (from plato's shadows on through today) which is not addressed in this essay.

But there's an epistemological enquiry that is at least as important, which is into the validity of our internal states and reasoning/justifications. Search down to the discussion starting with "We are, when philosophizing about experience and its objects, mesmerized by the analogy between having a chattel and having an experience." The author is referring to the deep analogies we quickly use to reason about things and how they can immediately lead us astray, often irrecoverably.

This problem is made worse by the internal private languages we each develop: I generate my utterances in the desire to induce some mental state within you; you respond similarly. What model and process do I use to convince myself that I have adequately induced that state in you? That's also an important sense of "truth"




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: