LINGUIST List 17.1513|
Tue May 16 2006
Review: Philosophy of Lang: Wittgenstein (2005)
Editor for this issue: Lindsay Butler
This LINGUIST List issue is a review of a book published by one of our supporting publishers, commissioned by our book review editorial staff. We welcome discussion of this book review on the list, and particularly invite the author(s) or editor(s) of this book to join in. To start a discussion of this book, you can use the Discussion form on the LINGUIST List website. For the subject of the discussion, specify "Book Review" and the issue number of this review. If you are interested in reviewing a book for LINGUIST, look for the most recent posting with the subject "Reviews: AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW", and follow the instructions at the top of the message. You can also contact the book review staff directly.
The Big Typescript: TS 213: German-English Scholars' Edition
Message 1: The Big Typescript: TS 213: German-English Scholars' Edition
From: Chaoqun Xie <cqxie163.com>
Subject: The Big Typescript: TS 213: German-English Scholars' Edition
Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/16/16-2444.html
AUTHOR: Wittgenstein, Ludwig
TRANSLATORS: Luckhardt, C. Grant; Aue, Maximilian A. E.
TITLE: The Big Typescript: TS 213
SUBTITLE: German-English Scholars' Edition
PUBLISHER: Blackwell Publishing
Chaoqun Xie, Center for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics,
Guangdong University of Foreign Studies; Foreign Languages
Institute, Fujian Normal University
The editors and translators, C. Grant Luckhardt and Maximilian A. E.
Aue, deserve credit for presenting a high-quality German-English
edition informing the reader about various important themes that are
to be recurring in Wittgenstein's later thoughts. As noted in the
Introduction, Wittgenstein began what it is to be called ''The Big
Typescript'' at the time of his return to philosophy in 1929 to study for
a PhD as an ''Advanced Student'' (vi-e). In addition to providing some
background information about the text, the Introduction talks about
how the text is edited and translated to ensure scholarliness and
readability. Indeed, they made it. As I see it, anyone interested in
Ludwig Wittgenstein should not miss The Big Typescript written
between the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations. In what
follows, I will present a summary before making some critical
Topically speaking, this typescript can be roughly divided into 19
parts. Part 1 is about understanding. For Wittgenstein, the
word ''understanding'' is not metalogical, and understanding, which
consists in having a particular experience, doesn't begin until there is
a proposition; understanding is a correlate of explanation. Of course,
it might be helpful to be reminded of the fact that understanding is
closely related to interpreting.
Part 2 concerns meaning. According to Wittgenstein, the concept of
meaning originates in a primitive philosophical conception of
language, and meaning is ''the location of a word in grammar'' (26e);
since the meaning of a word is what the explanation of its meaning
explains, what we should ask is not about the definition of meaning
but the definition of explanation of meaning (cf. Wittgenstein 1953).
Wittgenstein furthers argues that meaning is not an experience but a
stipulation (35e). In the second part, Wittgenstein also discusses
meaning as feeling, primary and secondary signs, etc.
Part 3 is related to the issue of proposition. Wittgenstein believes that
a proposition is everything with which one means something, that
meaning is laid down in grammar, that ''proposition'' is equivalent to
the words ''language'' and ''grammar'' and that what is to count as a
proposition is determined in grammar. In this part, the similarity of
proposition and picture, the relationship between proposition and
reality, the nature of hypothesis and the problem of the ''Heap of
Sand'', among other things, are also illustrated.
Part 4 is entitled ''Immediate understanding and the application of a
word in time''. The questions Wittgenstein attempts to answer include:
How does understanding a sentence accompany uttering or hearing
it? Is the meaning of a word shown in time? Is the meaning of a word
only revealed in the course of time as its use develops? Does
knowledge of grammatical rules accompany the expression of a
sentence when we understand it -- its words? Is meaning, when we
understand it, grasp ''all at once'', and unfolded, as it were, in the
rules of grammar?
Part 5 is devoted to the nature of language, where Wittgenstein asks,
among other things, Can we use explanation to construct language to
get it to work? What effect does a single explanation of language
have, what effect understanding? Can one use the word ''red'' to
search for something red? Does one need an image, a memory-
image, for this? For Wittgenstein, language is not defined as an
instrument for a particular purpose, the connection between language
and reality is made through explanations of words, which explanations
belong in turn to grammar, and language functions as language only
by virtue of the rules we follow in using it, just as a game is a game
only by virtue of its rules. Wittgenstein is against talking
about ''meaning something'' as an indefinite process but about the
actual use of the word, and ''meaning something'' should be talked
about ''only when it is part of the language-calculus'', but ''then we
really don't need the words 'meaning something', for that always
suggests that we are dealing with processes that don't belong to
language but stand apart from it, processes whose nature is
essentially different from that of language'' (157e).
Part 6 discusses thought and thinking, where Wittgenstein places
much emphasis on the mechanism of thinking, the location of thinking,
the purpose of thinking and the reason for thinking, and how one
explains the essence of thought by its purpose, its function. As far as
the reason for thinking is concerned, Wittgenstein's point is that ''It is
not possible to give a rational basis for why we should think'' (180e).
Part 7 is devoted to the discussion of grammar, where Wittgenstein
argues, among other things, for the unaccountability of grammar to
any reality and the arbitrariness of grammatical rules. At one point,
Wittgenstein reminds us that ''Our investigation shouldn't endeavour to
discover the exact meaning of words; but ¡give exact meanings to
words'' (199e) and that ''Our task is not to improve our language, to
make it more exact, or possibly even to try to replace it with an 'ideally
exact' one'' (200e). For Wittgenstein, language and grammar should
be viewed as a calculus, ''as a process that follows fixed rules'' (203e).
Part 8 is focused on intention and depiction, where Wittgenstein
elaborates upon the following questions: If in copying I am guided by a
model and thus know that I am now moving my pencil in such a way
because the model goes that way, is a causality involved here of
which I am immediately aware? If we ''depict in accordance with a
particular rule'', is this rule contained in the process of copying
(depicting), and can it therefore be read out of it unambiguously?
Does the process of depicting embody this rule, as it were? How does
one use a general rule of representation to justify the result of
representation? How are out thoughts connected with the objects we
think about? How do these objects enter out thoughts? In this part,
Wittgenstein criticizes the confusion related to the
words ''psychological process'' and ''mental process'', arguing that the
process of copying on purpose, of copying with the intention to copy,
is not essentially a psychological, inner process.
While Part 9 concerns logical inference, Part 10 deals with generality.
In Part 10, Wittgenstein argues that the proposition ''The circle is in
the square'' is not a disjunction of cases, and has nothing to do with a
particular position. Wittgenstein criticizes the inadequacy of Frege's
and Russell's notation for generality and his earlier understanding of
generality. Part 11 discusses expectation, wish, belief, reason, motive,
intention and other related topics.
Part 12 dwells upon philosophy, where Wittgenstein points out that the
difficulty of philosophy is not the intellectual difficulty of the sciences,
but the difficulty of a change of attitude. In discussing the view that our
grammatical investigations are fundamental, Wittgenstein emphasizes
that ''The importance of grammar is the importance of language''
(305e), that ''All that philosophy can do is to destroy idol'' (305e) and
that ''Philosophy is not laid down in propositions, but in a language''
(313e). This part touches upon various important issues related to the
study of philosophy that are to be further expounded in the
Philosophical Investigations (Wittgenstein 1953).
Part 13 concerns phenomenology, dealing with visual space in
contrast to Euclidean space and its relationship with the seeing
subject. Minima Visibilia and colors and the mixing of colors are also
discussed in this part. Part 14 talks about the representation of what is
immediately perceived, idealism, ''having pain'', memory-time, ''here''
and ''now'' and, color and experience as formal concepts. The last 5
parts concern the philosophy of mathematics. Part 15 focuses on the
foundations of mathematics, Part 16 on cardinal numbers, Part 17 on
mathematical proof, Part 18 on inductive proofs and periodicity and
Part 19 on the infinite in mathematics and the extensional viewpoint.
Ludwig Wittgenstein is a legend both in terms of life and work. Anyone
with a nodding acquaintance with him might not deny that he, as one
of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, has been
and is still surprisingly exerting so much impact upon so many lines of
inquiry, from religion to linguistics, from psychoanalysis to the arts,
and from ethics to an increasing number of fields outside philosophy.
The Big Typescript provides an ideal and essential access to
understanding how Wittgenstein developed his philosophical ideas
and thoughts after the Tractatus and before the Philosophical
Investigations. For me, those sections on understanding, meaning,
proposition, the nature of language, thought and thinking, grammar,
intention, and philosophizing are particularly inspiring and thought-
provoking; as a matter of fact, it can be said that Wittgenstein's work
on these and other related topics have made visible contributions to
the development of the philosophy of language and pragmatics. To be
more specific, I think Wittgenstein has made direct or indirect
contributions to the formation and development of speech act theory
proposed by Austin (1962), even the controversially influential
relevance theory (Sperber and Wilson 1986/1995) has drawn upon
much from Wittgenstein's ideas. Interestingly if not unfortunately,
Wittgenstein largely goes unmentioned in these works. What I mean
by this is not that all Wittgenstein wrote down is correct and flawless; it
is self-evident that no man is perfect and that no man can be perfect.
And Wittgenstein is no exception. One may not and need not agree
with all Wittgenstein has said, but it would be oversight to ignore him,
especially for those interested in language use, language
understanding and language interpreting. Reading Wittgenstein, one
may be greatly impressed not only by his presentation of extraordinary
ideas in ordinary language, but also by his uniquely compelling mode
of presentation and illuminating rhetoric, which is quite different from
much of present-day scholarship.
In sum, Luckhardt and Aue have done a good job of providing an
accessible edition of Wittgenstein's Big Typescript that is essential to
understanding and interpreting the evolution of Wittgenstein's
thoughts after the Tractatus. Anyone interested in Wittgenstein should
consider possessing a copy of it.
Austin, J. L.1962. How to Do Things with Words. Oxford: Oxford
Sperber, D. and D. Wilson. 1986/1995. Relevance: Communication
and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wittgenstein, L. 1953. Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Blackwell.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Dr. Chaoqun Xie is an associate professor at the Foreign Languages
Institute, Fujian Normal University. Currently, he is also a post-doctoral
research fellow (supervisor: Prof. Ziran He) at the Center for
Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Guangdong University of Foreign
Studies, China. His research interests include pragmatics and
philosophy of language.
Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue
Please report any bad links or misclassified data
LINGUIST Homepage | Read
LINGUIST | Contact us
While the LINGUIST List makes every effort to ensure the linguistic relevance of sites listed
on its pages, it cannot vouch for their contents.