Friday, March 3, 2017
Grice: Show and Tell
Let us consider the concepts of 'saying' and 'showing' and their connection with the alleged continuity of Witters's and Grice's thoughts.
Grice would say, "Some like Witters, but Moore's MY man."
The implicature seems to be that, on issues of alleged 'certainty', Grice would take G. E. Moore's
i. I know this is a hand.
as a perfectly true thing to say, if otiose by conversational maxims.
So let's begin with Witters. And why he thought G. E. Moore was so wrong -- but he obviously wasn't.
Witters's rejection of the idea that philosophy results in philosophical doctrine is a central or key element in his thought from the very out-set.
Thus,i n the "Preface" to the "Tractatus," Witters stresses that the work -- the "Tractatus," that is -- is "NOT a text-book" (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, p.3).
This does not mean that it can be USED as a text-book!
Witters describes the aim of the "Tractatus" as one of
"drawing a limit to thought" or "to the expression of thoughts" (ZP, p.3).
In "Tractatus" (4.112), Witters remarks that "a philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations" and that it "does not result in 'philosophical propositions'" -- whatever they thought they were. Russell called him an "Austrian engineer," never a philosopher!
But one philosophical proposition Witters might have in mind could be of of Grice's favourite ones -- in "Aspects of Reason":
ii. The soul is immortal.
(because when you decapitate a chicken its body keeps walking).
And in the penultimate remark of the "Tractatus", after characterising his own propositions as "elucidations," Witters glosses what he means by, 'elucidations', this as follows:
"Anyone who understands me eventually recognises them as NONSENSICAL, when he has used them-as steps-to climb up beyond them."
"He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it." (TLP 6.54).
It may seem clear from this that, however we understand the philosophical activity of "elucidation," nothing substantial -- nothing that could be viewed as a philosophical answer to a philosophical question -- should survive at the end of it.
What remains unclear is exactly what the activity of elucidation amounts to or what exactly its purpose is.
Grice would say that the activity is 'conceptual analysis' and that the 'outcome' is a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for the concept (e.g. "mean").
The word "illumination" suggests, for starters, that something is illuminated or clarified.
But are we to understand this process of clarification as leading to a form of philosophical understanding or insight?
Such is P. M. S. Hacker in "Illusion and Insight," but then Hacker is perhaps too much of a Griceian! (After all he succeeded him as philosophy tutor at St. John's!)
If so, does that mean that there is a kind of philosophical understanding that can NOT be expressed in the form of a philosophical doctrine about what is the case?
The idea may strike some immediately as somewhat problematic.
It seems to threaten to turn philosophy into something mystical or irrational -- anti-Socratic almost!
James Conant and Cora Diamond have argued that any attempt to preserve the idea that Witters intends the philosophical activity in which he is engaged to lead to a distinctive sort of "insight" or understanding -- one whose "UNSAYABILITY precludes its being said, but which we can nevertheless grasp"' -- fails to do justice to the radical nature of his thought.
If we take seriously Witters's claim that he eschews philosophical doctrine, the only end of the philosophical activity in which he is engaged must, Conant and Diamond argue, be the realisation that there are no philosophical insights -- expressible or otherwise -- to be had.
The aim is to undo our attraction to various grammatically well-formed strings of words that resonate with the aura of SENSE.
Cfr. Grice, "Do not multiply senses beyond necessity."
-- where Grice has "Fregean sense" in mind.
The silence Witters wishes to leave us in at the end is one in which nothing has been said and there is nothing to say -- of the sort we had imagined there to be.
The silence we are left with is not a pregnant silence that comes with Conant's and Diamond's "austere conception" of Witters's philosophical aims certainly provides a way of reading the "Tractatus" that succeeds in making the image of the ladder in 6.54 a persuasive and plausible description of the "Tractatus"'s intended achievement.
On this reading by Conant and Diamond, nothing is left standing at the end of the work.
All philosophy, including the very remarks that make up the "Tractatus," have been revealed, not as Grice and Russell prefer, items in a meta-language dealing with the object-language of logic, but as utterly nonsensical.
As Conant puts it, Wittgenstein is using "one piece of nonsense to show that another less self-evidently nonsensical piece of nonsense is nonsense."
The idea that 6.54 must somehow serve as the key to the "Tractatus" is rather persuasive, if not for the Griceian.
Conant and Diamond seem to be correct in arguing that we must find a way of reading the "Tractatus" on which it is free of metaphysical or theoretical assertion, or as Grice prefers, object-language assertion (vide Grice on what he calls the Bootstrap principle, that guides the philosopher on what type of meta-language to use to describe first-order predicate logic: his favourite object-language.
However, some do not find Conant's and Diamond's particular way of achieving this aim entirely satisfactory.
It seems that something is going on in the "Tractatus" other than the exposure of philosophical utterances (including those that make up the work) as nonsense.
It is not only that this idea strikes one as inherently paradoxical, but it seems that there is a positive aspect to Witters's philosophical achievement in the "Tractatus" that is in danger of being lost in Conant's and Diamond's preoccupation with the distinction between sense and nonsense.
What we, as Griceians, may want to do is to defend a LESS "austere" interpretation of Witters's early and later work, which follows Conant's and Diamond's avoidance of committing him to philosophical doctrines (including ineffable ones), but which sees him as doing more than showing that philosophical utterances fail to express determinate thoughts.
A Griceian interpretation should however also preserve Conant's and Diamond's claim that there is a profound CONTINUITY between Witters's early and his later philosophy.
It is reasonable to connect Witters's interpretation of his remarks as "elucidations" with his view of the problems that his "Tractatus" deals with, namely, and _simpliciter_, the problems of philosophy.
Witters expresses his view of these problems in the "Preface" to the "Tractatus" as follows:
"The "Tractatus" deals with the problems of philosophy and shows that the reason why these problems are posed is that the logic of our language is misunderstood" (TLP, p.3).
By "our language" he means Austrian.
Witters makes the same point at "Tractatus" 4.003, when he says that "most of the propositions and questions of philosophers arise from our failure to understand the logic of our language," i.e. of Austrian.
This conviction remains, of course, and alas, central to Witters's later philosophy.
It is for this reason that the questions of philosophy do not call for discoveries or for the construction of philosophical _theories_ or as Grice would prefer, "analyses."
Rather the questions of philosophy call for a kind of investigation, or activity, the result of which is not that these problems are answered but that they are seen to disappear (or 'dissolve') completely.
However, the idea that the questions or problems of philosophy are not real questions or problems (but pseudo-problems to be 'dissolved') and are based on some kind of misunderstanding might itself give rise to a question.
Why, if Witters is so convinced that philosophical problems or questions are illusory, does Witters (or his publisher) concern himself with them?
This is an important question.
It cannot be because Witters is going to be offered a job at Cambridge! (He presented the "Tractatus" as his philosophical dissertation).
And it is clear from Witters's remarks that his view that philosophical problems or questions are nonsensical or unanswerable -- that is, are incapable of receiving an answer -- is not to be equated with the claim that they are trivial or uninteresting or plain silly.
It is clear right from the beginning that Witters sees the problems of philosophy as touching on something "deep."
This is more along Kripkeian lines -- "the seas of language" --; Grice preferred its shallow berths!
Thus Witters writes:
"And it is not surprising that the deepest problems or questions are in fact not problems or questions at all" ("Tractatus", 4.003).
Witters expresses the same thought at least once in the "Philosophical Investigations" as follows:
"The problems arising through a misinterpretation of our forms of language seem to have the character of depth."
"They are deep disquietudes."
"Their roots are as deep in us as the forms of our language and their significance is as great as the importance of language itself."
(PI 1 1 1 ).
If the interpretation of Witters's remarks is to fit with what he himself says in the "Tractatus" about the nature of philosophy and about the nature of philosophical problems and questions, it must reveal not only an absence of doctrine or theory or analysis, and the unintelligibility of philosophical questions, but also the way in which they touch on something "deep."
What we want is an understanding that allows Witters's remarks to achieve something positive, or affirmative, something that is connected to the depth of the problems or questions with which the work deals and yet that stops short of treating these remarks as putting forward a substantial philosophical theory or analysis.
This might be taken to characterise the central interpretative issue for the whole of Witters's "philosophy."
The "austere interpretation" of the "Tractatus" places the emphasis on Witters's self-conscious use of the concept of "nonsense" to expose what he calls "illusions" of thought.
The philosopher is just deluded.
The clarification or elucidation that Witters achieves is to be understood entirely in terms of the exposure of the philosopher's failure to mean anything at all by the words he utters.
Anscombe or Grice would NOT agree!
By contrast, we may want to focus on the distinctions that form the background for Witters's critique of, shall we say, traditional philosophy -- e.g. the dispute between a realist like G. E. Moore and the idealists and sceptics like Bradley and company.
This allows for a more positive, more affirmative, less paradoxical, interpretation of the "Tractatus", which preserves Conant's and Diamond's sense of a fundamental connection between the early and the later work of Witters -- if not Grice.
The central purpose of the "Tractatus" is aptly characterized by a remark that Witters uses to describe the philosophical aims of the "Philosophical Investigations":
"We want to establish an order
in our knowledge of the USE of
language: an order
with a particular end in view;
one out of many possible orders;
not THE order" (PI 132).
Witter's relativism galore!
This "use of language" Grice will call 'pragmatics' (vide "Retrospective Epilogue" for his elucidation of 'pragmatic inferences').
This explicit description of Witters's philosophical purpose brings out the way in which his "elucidations" are directed, not only at exposing failures of sense, but at bringing a certain order to something -- "our KNOWLEDGE of the use of language" -- of which we as readers of the work are, hopefully, already in possession -- if not in terms of its implicatures, conventional or other.
Grice always complained that one weakness of Witter's thought is that he avoided the performative, "I imply", like the rats.
The suggestion of this more positive or affirmative characterisation of Witters's philosophical aim is that he is engaged in a form of reflection that is intended to clarify our view of something of which we, as masters of language, already have a practical grasp, we hope.
And he is bold enough to call that mere grasp as "knowledge" (Ryle's 'know-how').
If, as Witters believes, the problems or questions of philosophy arise from a misunderstanding of the workings of our language, all that we need to expose them as pseudo-problems is already in our possession, in the form of a practical mastery of the use of the sentences of our language.
Call that 'mastery' 'knowledge', and phone Gettier!
Recognising these problems or questions for what they are -- unintelligible -- does not require us, ironically, to discover anything.
Rather, it depends upon our seeing, in a new light, what is involved in our mastery of language, that is, on our being brought to see "an order in our knowledge of the use of language" (PI 132).
Uncovering this grand "order" is not a matter of our coming to KNOW something we did not know before, of which Wittgenstein must inform us, but of our grasping in reflection distinctions or differences that we already grasp in practice, in our "language games," to use his jargon.
The value of the grand "order" that Witters brings to our reflections on our practical mastery of language is not, however, to be understood in terms of its corresponding with "the facts," but in terms of its freeing us from the confusions that lie at the root of philosophical puzzlement.
The peace that Witters's elucidations are intended to bring does not depend upon the discovery of doctrines; nor is it merely a matter of our discovering that we have been prone to illusions of thought.
Rather, it is connected with a recognition of a certain grand "order" in our KNOWLEDGE of the use of language, by which we see that the philosophical problem or question does not arise.
On the other hand, it is precisely their connection with this grand "order" that gives the philosophical problems or questions their misleading "character of depth."
Let us turn to 'show' and 'say'.
Indeed, if the distinction between "say" and "show" is to do any work in our understanding of this big "order" that Witters brings to our KNOWLEDGE of the use of language, there must be an alternative way to understand what the distinction between 'say' and 'show' amounts to.
Very roughly, we may connect the idea of "what is shown" but "what is not said" with what is essential to language -- that is, with what limits or conditions its sense -- and therefore is prior to thoughts that have sense and that are either true or false.
What can only be SHOWN and NOT SAID has nothing to do with thoughts (that is, with truths) that cannot be expressed without violations of logic.
Rather, what can be SHOWN concerns the conditions or limits of sense that are revealed only in our actual use of language, in the application that we make of it, that is, in our use of sentences with sense.
It is this essential connection between what is SHOWN and what reveals itself only in the use or application of language that makes it impossible to SAY what SHOWS ITSELF, and not that the thought that we are trying to express is somehow at odds with logic.
The idea of the "say"/"show" distinction is NOT that there are unsayable thoughts that lie beyond the limits of language, but that the limit of language -- that is, everything that is essential to our using our language with sense -- is something on which we have an essentially practical grasp, something that SHOWS ITSELF only in our actual use of words with sense, and something that is therefore itself unsayable -- at least in the object-language (as any grammarian would hasten to tell you).
Thus, from the opening of the "Tractatus," Witters's fundamental
elucidatory purpose is to bring a certain grand "order" to our KNOWLEDGE of the use of language.
This grand "order" is intended to get us to see the distinction between the accidental or merely possible (what we describe in language) and the analytic, essential or a priori (the opposite of which can NOT be conceived) in a new light, a light that connects this distinction to the distinction between "say" and "show."
We should not, on this understanding of Witters's whole work, see the opening remarks as a series of metaphysical assertions about the nature of a language-independent reality -- or even as a series of metaphysical assertions whose sense is later to be put in doubt -- but as a material picture of our language, which Witters uses purely as a means of clarification or elucidation.
Witters's jargon of facts, states of affairs, and objects are serving merely as material co-relates of linguistic distinctions between propositions, elementary propositions, and names.
It is Witters's aim in these remarks is not to say something about the constitution of the world conceived independently of language, but to use the material co-relates of linguistic distinctions to help us to see something more clearly.
If we approach the distinction between the accidental (contingent, a posteriori) and the essential (analytic, necessary, a priori), between propositions and elementary propositions, or between propositions and names, directly through language, we are inclined to miss a few important distinctions.
The superficial similarity between ordinary, contingent propositions and analytic propositions, between propositions containing logical constants and those not containing them, between propositions and sub-propositional expressions, and so on, prevents us from perceiving the difference of which it is Witters's ultimate aim to remind us.
What we can see much more clearly in the concrete "myth" of, to use his jargon, facts, states of affairs, and objects is that:
-- facts (propositions) are essentially complex
-- objects (names) are their simple constituents
-- the latter exist in any possible state of affairs (elementary proposition),
-- we grasp an object (name) only insofar as we grasp its possibilities for occurring in states of affairs (elementary propositions).
Witters uses the material image of language to lead us to look at language as an indissoluble whole.
We can make distinctions within this whole, but none of these distinctions can be grasped independently of the others or of the totality within which they are discerned.
From the very beginning, Witters is working in a way that is intended to acknowledge that our reflections are carried out from a position in the midst of language.
We can reflect on our knowledge of the use of language and draw distinctions "for a particular purpose."
But we cannot approach it piece-meal, from a position outside it -- from a meta-language, as Grice's Bootstrap Principle allows us to do.
We cannot construct a route into it, but we must reflect on it as something already complete.
What we are doing is, from the beginning, quite distinct from a philosophical "explanation," analysis, or theory.
It is from within this general approach that Witters works to change our view of the distinction between the accidental (what is the case) and the essential and analytic (the opposite of which cannot be described).
What we can see clearly in the concrete "myth" of the world as the totality of facts is:
-- first of all, that we need a distinction between the accidental and the analytic and essential, and
-- second, that the essential is not just another fact about the world but that it represents the limit of possibility.
The essential, the necessary, the a priori, and the analytic, which comes in with the idea of the possible, is not something alongside the possible or something that could exist independently of the possible.
The essential is connected to the possible, not in the sense of being part of it, but in the sense of being the limit of it.
It is not something that can be discerned in the world, but it is something that the world makes manifest in the limit of what is possible, that is, in the limit of what can be described.
Witters characterizes the distinctions in terms of the contrast between:
structure (the arrangement of objects in states of affairs), and
form (the limit of the possible arrangement of objects in states of affairs).
Witters then goes on to use these distinctions in remarks that serve to "elucidate," or provide a way of seeing, the manner in which A PICTURE represents or models or pictures what it PICTURES.
In particular, Witters applies these distinctions to A PICTURE in a way that allows him to see the contrast between what is accidental (i.e. not analytic) in A PICTURE -- what could be otherwise while it remains a PICTURE of a state of affairs -- and what is essential or analytic to it -- what could not be otherwise without its ceasing to be A PICTURE.
We are brought to see that A PICTURE must have something in common -- an implicit horizon of possibilities for combining its elements in intelligible structures -- with what the picture pictures.
Witters calls what A PICTURE has in common with what it pictures simply its "pictorial form."
Is this circular?
Defining what is common to a picture and something else in terms of 'pictorial', an obvious derivative of 'picture'?
It is vital that we do not understand this idea of what is common to a PICTURE and what it PICTURES as a non-analytic, contingent or external relation between two independent realities.
The idea that the PICTURE and what it pictures have something in common is essentially the idea of an internal "relation" between the picture and what-is-pictured.
The internal "relation" expresses itself in the fact that what is the case *IF* the picture is correct is precisely what the picture pictures.
The correctness of the picture is not something to which we can point independently of the picture.
Our grip on what is possible (i.e. not analytic) is not independent of our grip on what can be pictured.
Witters now goes on to draw our attention to the way in which this aspect of a picture -- that is, its "pictorial form" -- can NOT be a subject of a picture.
A picture pictures a particular state of affairs in virtue of the way its pictorial "elements" are combined in a determinate structure.
We can see plainly that the picture's picturing of a possible state of affairs is completely independent of whether the state of affairs exists or not -- that's why Witters qualifies as 'possible.'
Thus, we see that a picture pictures what it pictures correctly or incorrectly depending on whether or not things are arranged in the way the picture pictures it.
Pictorial form, however, is what a picture has in common with what it pictures.
It is that in virtue of which the articulation of the picture's elements into a determinate structure constitutes a representation of a possible state of affairs.
This is not an explanation of a picture's ability to represent but merely a reflection on the boundary between pictures and nonsense, that is, between pictures and those things that MAY LOOK LIKE pictures, which actually picture nothing (or everything).
We can now see clearly that these aspects of a picture -- what it pictures correctly or incorrectly and what is essential or analytic to it *qua* picture of a possible state of affairs -- are inimical to each other.
If we could picture what is essential to a picture, what it has in common with what it pictures, what we picture would have to be something that the picture pictured either correctly or incorrectly, and that the picture and what it pictures could therefore lack.
Thus, "a picture cannot place itself outside its representational form" (TLP2.174), for whatever a picture pictures from a position outside is something that can or can not be the case, which the picture can therefore represent as being otherwise.
This is not to be seen as a theory of representation -- that is, as an account that explains of what a picture's ability to represent consists -- but as a process of making explicit distinctions or differences that, in some sense, we already grasp.
The importance of the above points begins to emerge fully when we begin to see an analogy between pictures and propositions.
Witters uses our sense of an analogy here as a means to make something clear about propositions.
Propositions are complex. (What Grice calls a 'propositional complex').
A proposition describes a possible states of affairs.
Whatever is pictured by a proposition is possible.
A proposition agrees or fails to agree with reality.
A proposition represents in virtue of its form (the form of a proposition is its "logical form").
We cannot tell from a proposition alone whether it is true or false.
There are no propositions that are true a priori. They are at most analytic.
The upshot of the comparison between pictures and propositions is that we come to see the "logical form" -- the form in virtue of which a proposition describes a possible state of affairs -- as the limit of possible depiction, that is, the limit of depiction of states of affairs.
Again, no explanation of language's ability to picture states of affairs is being put forward.
Rather, by reflecting on our use of language to picture states of affairs, we come to recognize the way in which "logical form" constitutes the limit of what can be expressed in language and thus the impossibility of describing "logical form" in the object-language, if not the meta-language (The distinction is Russell's).
The distinction between what can be described in the object-language and what the limits of the object-language show is further developed in Witters's observations on the role of variables and on the status of analytic propositions.
Witters introduces the idea of a variable via the distinction between a sign and a symbol.
A "sign" is, simply, the physical aspect of a symbol, the inscription or mark or sound.
What J. L. Austin would call a 'phatic act.'
It is "what can be perceived of a symbol" (TLP 3.32).
The symbol, on the other hand, is "the sign taken together with its logico-syntactical employment" (TLP 3.327).
Thus, "in order to recognize a symbol by its sign we must observe how it is USED with a sense" (TLP 3.326).
The distinction between a sign and a symbol focuses attention on the connection between the sense of a sign and its mere USE.
It is in USE that the sense of a sign (the essence of a symbol) is revealed, shown, or determined.
Thus, it is USE that represents everything that is essential to a sign.
What Witters is gradually getting us to see is that "logical form" -- everything essential to the sense of a sign can not be described in the object-language.
Rather, "logical form" makes itself manifest (shows itself) in the way that an expressions is used with a sense.
In the same way, we grasp what is essential to the sense of a sign, not theoretically in the form of a piece of propositional knowledge but practically in our mastery of how to use a sign with a sense.
Formal concepts -- the concept of a name, an object, a function, a proposition, and so on -- are expressions that purport to describe the logico-syntactic category of an expression, that is, to describe what is essential to the sense of a sign.
These formal concepts are not genuine concepts since the propositions containing them are not genuine non-analytic pictures, that is to say, they do not describe a state of affairs that may either exist or fail to exist.
A proposition of the form,
"A is an object." (or G. E. Moore, "This is a hand.")
is either a tautology or what it expresses is unimaginable (that is, a contradiction).
But this, Witters wants us to see, is equivalent to recognizing that these words express no thought at all.
They lack a sense against which a state of affairs can be measured.
However, as he remarks of such propositions in the "Philosophical Investigations", there is an important ASYMMETRY:
"We say "I can not imagine the opposite"."
"Why not: "I can not imagine the thing itself."?"
What we now see is that what we try to say by means of propositions containing formal concepts "instead is shown in the very sign" (TLP 4.126) or more accurately in its use with a sense.
The proper description of the use of a sign is not, Witters now goes on, by means of a pseudo-concept, but by means of a variable whose values are all the expressions that belong to a particular logico-syntactic category in the object-language.
"So the expression for a formal concept is a propositional variable in which this distinctive feature [viz. the use] alone is constant" (TLP 4.126).
What Witters now draws our attention to is that a variable is only introduced via the signs that are its values, never independently:
"A formal concept is given immediately any object falling under it is given."
"It is not possible, therefore, to introduce as primitive ideas objects belonging to a formal concept and the formal concept itself."
The variable gets its significance via the symbols it replaces.
It has no independent meaning.
Thus, a proposition in which all the signs have been replaced by variables says nothing but merely puts a particular form ON SHOW.
The form itself -- what is SHOWN by a specific variable to a formal concept -- cannot be grasped via the variable alone but only by a practical mastery of the logico-syntactical use of the symbols that the variable replaces.
We see exactly the same points emerge in connection with analytic propositions.
Witters shows in just the same way that analytic propositions are not strictly speaking propositions at all.
They do not picture states of affairs.
They lack a sense that could be either true or false.
In this case, Witters uses the formal device of truth-functions to display the tautologous nature of analytic propositions.
However, the important point here is not an identification of analytic propositions by means of the purely formal feature of truth-tables but a recognition that what these propositions put ON SHOW -- namely, the logical relations among genuine propositions -- is something that is properly SHOWN only in the actual use of the object-language.
The signs in a proposition of logic do not function as symbols but as propositional variables:
"It is raining or it is not raining."
really says no more and no less than
"p v ~p."
As in the case of variables, we cannot grasp the significance of an analytic proposition directly, but only via a practical mastery of the logical relations among genuine propositions, which analytic propositions put ON SHOW.
Analytic propositions tell us nothing.
Our ability to recognize them as analytic propositions depends entirely upon our prior, practical mastery of what these propositions articulate.
Thus, analytic propositions do not constitute a system of a priori truths, and they cannot provide an independent route to mastery of what is a priori in language.
The a priori is everything that the use of language SHOWS, and it is necessarily mastered purely practically.
Thus, the idea that analytic propositions say nothing (or everything) -- are tautologies -- is connected with the idea that they simply articulate or put ON SHOW the logical or inferential connections among the genuine propositions of our language, which are manifest in its use, and a practical grasp of which is essential to linguistic mastery.
In understanding language we necessarily already grasp all that analytic propositions articulate.
But this grasp is practical, not theoretical.
Insofar as logic is everything that is essential to the sense of the sentences of our language, it must be grasped in a practical way before the question of the truth or falsity of any proposition with a sense can arise.
The order that Witters brings to our knowledge of the use of language is thus one that turns on the distinction between "what is SHOWN" by the actual use of expressions and "what is SAID" in language, between what is grasped practically and what is known theoretically to be true.
It is in seeing this grand "order" that we come to see that the philosopher's attempt to state what kinds of things exist, to treat logic as a system of truths in need of justification, to explain how language connects with the world, and so on is based on a misunderstanding.
Philosophical questions are the "deepest questions" precisely insofar as, in their nature, they relate to what SHOWS ITSELF in the use of language.
This is both what differentiates them from scientific questions and what renders them unintelligible or unanswerable.
(Vide Rush Rhees, "Unanswerable questions").
Thus, insofar as the question of justifying logic is concerned, we now see that logic does not consist of a system of truths for which the question of justification might arise.
Rather, the whole of logic is co-eval with the phenomenon of language, and the logician is merely postulating a notation in which inferential relations among propositions, of which everyone who understands language already has a practical grasp, are put perspicuously on display.
In the case of logical laws, their application is essentially prior to their formulation in the form of a law.
Once we have language in use, we already have the whole of logic.
We can see now that it makes no sense to ask whether the laws of logic are true or whether the world will conspire to make them usable.
To think of the world is already to think according to the laws of logic.
This is not to ground logic in something absolute that is outside language -- it is not in any sense to just in logic but it is rather to recognize the status that logic has for language.
There is no conceiving of the world as something to undermine the logic of our language might or might not apply.
The idea that "logic pervades the world: the limits of the world are also its limits" (TLP 5.61) is not, therefore, a metaphysical claim about the necessary correlation of two systems -- the world on one side and language on the other -- but it is a claim about the part of the order that we now perceive in our knowledge of the use of language.
There is no proof that language necessarily fits the world, conceived independently of language.
The world is mirrored in language.
Logical form is the form of reality.
What the reader of the "Tractatus" is brought to see is that the use of language to state truths about the world rests on, or presupposes, a practical mastery of the use of expressions with sense, that is, of everything that is essential to the sense of a sign, which in the "Tractatus" is equivalent to its logical form.
Nothing can be made the basis of my practical grasp of logical form.
The practical grasp of what is essential to the sense of a sign is necessarily prior to the use of variables to describe it.
What I come to see is that I cannot get outside logic and give it any foundation.
I essentially already inhabit -- that is, use -- logic.
My life with language entails that I am already in the midst of logic.
All this is an expression of a particular way of looking at the distinction between the essential (a priori and analytic) and the accidental (a posteriori).
What is a priori is what shows itself in the use of language, and what shows itself has to do not with something that we KNOW (that is, not with something that is true) but with something that we DO.
What is SHOWN is something that is grasped and lived rather than known.
It follows from this that what is SHOWN cannot be given any foundation.
All explanation, description, justification, and so on take place within the limits of what shows itself in the application of language.
Ultimately all we can say is: this is what we DO.
The distinction between 'say' and 'show' that Witters introduces in the "Tractatus" remains central to his latter thought.
It is clearly at work throughout his later philosophy.
Thus, in "On Certainty," the distinction between the a priori, or what is SHOWN in the use of language, and the a posteriori, or what is said in language, is fundamental to his diagnosis of philosophical scepticism and its dogmatic alternative.
Witters's critique of Grice's man, G. E. Moore,and his commonsense rejection of sceptical doubt is to be seen as an attempt to show that Moore -- like the philosopher who sets out to justify logic -- treats a question that concerns the sense (use) of our words as if it were a question concerning a matter of fact.
Witters tries to get us to see that we cannot understand G. E. Moore's claim to know,
"This is a hand."
as an empirical claim with true/false poles.
G. E. Moore's words are shown rather to have the status of what Wittgenstein calls a "grammatical remark."
They are in themselves empty (they say nothing about the world), but, like the analytic propositions in the "Tractatus," they bear a distinctive relation to our practice of using language.
These so-called propositions have a peculiar role insofar as they are an attempt to articulate something that is presupposed in our ordinary use of language, something that manifests or shows itself in that use, that is essential to the sense of our words, and that, as masters of language, we already grasp practically.
The shift that takes place in Witters's critique of G. E. Moore is one that mirrors the shift in our understanding of the status of the analytic propositions in the "Tractatus."
The shift is from a question of truth, to use Grice's favourite concept (vide his "The taming of the true.")
"Does Moore know that this is a hand?"
to a question of sense:
"Does it make sense to doubt that this is Moore's hand?"
What we are brought to see is that it is not a question about whether G. E. Moore knows something for CERTAIN but about how certainty in the use of expressions belongs to the essence of the language game.
This question does not, therefore, simply address the matter of G. E. Moore's (or our) being under an illusion that his words succeed in expressing a determinate thought, but it addresses the way in which the precise nature of G. E. Moore's failure to mean anything by his words shows us that the illusory dispute between G. E. Moore and the sceptic touches on something "deep."
The sort of certainty that G. E. Moore tries, but necessarily fails, to express with the claim,
"I *know* that this is a hand."
is not a kind of certainty for which we can imagine an opposite.
Rather, it represents a limit on our use of words.
The role of this certainty in our language game means that we can NOT place it against a background of other attitudes.
It is essential to our mastery of our language and therefore prior to our assertion of anything as true or false.
When we see it in this light, we recognize that the certainty G. E. Moore tries to articulate in words cannot be expressed in propositions with true/false poles.
What we have here is something that serves as a foundation of our thought in a quite different way from something that I assume to be the case but that might turn out to be false and that I might replace with a different assumption.
In the "Tractatus," Witters tries to get us to recognize that, insofar as the so-called analytic propositions touch on what is essential to the sense of our words, our mastery of what they articulate is essentially practical and prior to the formulation of the laws of logic in (pseudo-)propositions.
In the same way, Witters tries to get us to see that the certainty that G. E. Moore attempts to express in the form of a claim to know something is essentially a form of PRACTICAL certainty, which we necessarily acquire in grasping what is essential to the sense of expressions, namely their use.
The certainty that Moore has that
"This is a hand."
is a practical certainty regarding the use (that is, the sense) of words.
It is quite distinct from the EPISTEMIC certainty that arises in connection with the acquisition and justification of beliefs about the world.
On this view of Witters's philosophical purpose, nothing that he says provides, or is intended to provide, either a justification of the certainty that belongs to the essence of the language game or a refutation of the scepticism of the idealist.
We are rather brought to see that the realist and the idealist each attempt to answer a question that is unintelligible, a question about whether we are justified in our belief that our language applies to the world.
To speak or think about the world is already to apply or use language, already to inhabit the language game in which language is functioning as a going concern.
Like our practical mastery of logic, our practical certainty in our use of language, which is the essence of our life with language, has a role in our understanding of language that cannot be expressed in language, for it determines the sense of expressions and is not expressible as an employment of them.
Insofar as our certainty belongs to the essence of (is presupposed by) the language game, the idea of justifying it by appeal either to a rule or to what is the case is unintelligible.
This certainty in how our language is used is prior to the formulation of a rule, the use of which has not yet been determined by application.
There can be no question of justifying our certainty by appeal to the facts, for description of the facts already presupposes the certainty that is a condition of the sense of the description.
Only what could conceivably be otherwise can be justified by an appeal to what happens to be the case.
In the current case, however, we cannot imagine the opposite.
By the same stroke, nothing about what is the case follows from our practical certainty about the use of language.
All we can say is: this is what we DO.
We can now see why Witters calls his remarks "elucidations"
and why he thinks of his philosophy as a form of "activity" that does not result in answers to philosophical questions or questions.
Witters's philosophical purpose vis-a-vis traditional philosophical problems depends upon his bringing us to recognize the way that we inhabit language, the way that we are already in the midst of it and cannot get outside of it or give it a foundation in truths.
We do not learn anything new from the philosophical journey on which Witters takes us, but we are brought to a realization -- of what constitutes the essential background of our ability to describe the world (truly or falsely) in language.
It is by bringing us to recognize the distinction between the determination of sense and the employment of sense -- and its connection with the distinction between practical and theoretical knowledge, or between "say" and "show" -- that Witters diagnoses the misunderstanding of the logic of our language, which lies at the root of philosophical problems.
The philosopher's error is to suppose that what determines sense -- everything essential to language -- can be described in a series of true propositions, when in fact what determines sense SHOWS itself in the use of language, in the limits of what can be said.
Witters brings the philosopher in us peace by showing that what the philosopher had wanted to assert, unintelligibly, as a piece of information, is essentially a matter of the grammar of our language, that is, a question of sense rather than truth.
What the philosopher tries to say is something that SHOWS itself only in our ACTUAL use of words.