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The Existential Crisis

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Hereandnow
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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Hereandnow » February 22nd, 2019, 10:19 pm

Gertie
I superficially checked out the themes of Tractatus, pondered where it fits with our convo, and ended up writing a screed for what it's worth... don't feel obliged to reply, it at least helped me organise my thoughts on the big picture.
Not reply? I live for this kind of thing.
For me, what you might call the Big Leap is from Solipsism to accepting there is something/anything beyond 'my' experiential states. There is no bridge of certainty or logic from the experiencing itself, to concluding that the nature of those experiences refer to something real beyond them which they are representing.


Hence there is no bridge of certainty or logic, enabling me to say that experience of seeing a fire engine on the corner represents something real in a real world 'outside' that experience.
Wittgenstein was an idealist, no doubt, though I don't read him saying as much in so many words. you went through the Tactatus, then you know what he thinks about "the world": it is one of facts, and, though among real scholars the proof is in the details and I certainly am not among these, facts are in logical space and it is foolish to try and think beyond this, where logic does not go. This makes terms like outside and inside without meaning in this context, for it sets up boundaries that are not spatial, but logical. So when we ask a question like, if I leave this room, if all cognition and experience making systems are absent, is there are room at all? It is like answering the question, if you cannot speak rationally, can you make a rational response? It is a contradiction to say you can; and even the formulation of the question contains an absurdity, for it is a positing of something negatively implied by the asking itself. It is a performative contradiction to say it yet refer by the saying what cannot be due entirely to what is said, as in, "I am lying".
But the pont I want to make is that regardless of the logical restraints, experiential restraints are only curbed logically, not in content. The world, Sartre said, as the presence before one, could do anything. It is radially contingent, as with his novel Nausea where Roquentin tongue turns into an enormous live centipede. Logic does not stop this. The world, says Kierkegaard, actuality is not logic. So, the fire truck and the "out there" of it: the out there must not be conceived as an enduring thing when the perceptual lights are turned off. Rather, it is what is right before your waking eyes; the "thing itself" is right in front of you, always, already. For me, this is important: expanding understanding of the world, one has to put aside this "representing" notion. This clock before me IS what it is. The beyond of the clock lies before me as well: this is where language ends and the arational presence begins. Heidegger is not like this, Kierkegaard is, and I side with K. The delimitations of solipsism need to be redefined as distance between this clock "presence" which is the transcendental Other before my eyes, and the concept clock, which is familiar and sensible. I take seriously our ability to "do" this, to hold the former as Other and as an existential encounter. Husserl helped me on this with his epoche or phenomenological reduction. Google this and see. So interesting, phenomenology.

Hence there is no bridge of certainty or logic, enabling me to say that experience of seeing a fire engine on the corner represents something real in a real world 'outside' that experience.

The subsequent issue of comparing notes with eg you on whether you see what we agree to call a fire engine on the corner too via language is seconday - because your existence is just as much a Big Leap for me. There is no bridge of certain knowledge or of logic for me to accept your existence any more than the existence of the fire engine we're comparing notes on.


See? The 'absurdity' kicks in as as soon as you try to escape solipsism doesn't it? After that, you can say it's absurdity built upon absurdity or assumption built upon assumption. But the fundamental problem is that only experiential states are 'directly known', certain.


And indeed, the 'sense of self' itself, might only be an experiential state. There doesn't have to be 'an experiencer' (self) having the experience, only the experience of being an experiencer. And there we hit our bottom line of scepticism. From there, it's models all the way up, building upon each other like a house of cards (language being near the top), with no bridge to that first Big Leap to our base layer, which says experiential states 'are about' real things beyond them. (And even then, 'are about' is as much as we can say confidently).
One has to remove representation almost altogether. The mystery of what is lies right there, on this table. And I think you are right say that the fire engine and I mysteries, or "leaps", after all, the notes we are comparing are about what appears in the present, and people, trucks and the rest certainly do. Except in the case of the fire truck, there is no indication as to its nature apart from the appearance. I mean, it's not like we are trucks and when we see one we can, well, empathize, look to ourselves and infer which is why it has no value to wonder about things out there. Utterly alien. But with a person we can extrapolate from ourselves, and the direct presence of another possesses is indicative of an interior similar to our own.Certainty? Cartesian doubt has its place and absolute certainty is not forth coming, is it? But this is a trivial skepticism. Others are there, period. And I know what it's like to be a person in a person's world, and when I talk to them, share understanding I know they are structurally like me as they are vulnerable more or less, rational, possess an egoic center and live in the midst of our common dasein, a Heideggerian term that refers to the world we have carved out by language and history and culture into which we are "thrown".
As to the experiencer, thoughts differ here, but I am a Kierkegaardian, and I believe in a transcendental ego, a soul, if you will, in myself and in others, even animals. There is certainty here, and say this notwithstanding red herrings like skepticism. First, there is the Cartesian egoic center. Heidegger does not talk like this, but I think he's is wrong: there is at the center of all that appears before me, a self, which is my authentic self. I will not argue this here unless you want to. I seem to recall touching on this earlier, perhaps with you. It revolves around the concept of value. Value is first philosophy, for all questions beg that of value? To go into this would take time and interest. I don't know if you are interested. At any rate, All that a ascribe to myself in my existential examination of myself in time, value, thoughts and feeling, carries to Others.
This is our starting position, the Big Leap of Faith out of Solipsism, into the acceptance that an actual world 'out there' exists, and these experiential states are representing something real. Including other critters (eg you) with their own experiential states.


Then we can compare notes about our own experiential states, and construct models which we can agree on. We can note patterns which we can frame as causal or lawful. We can note abstract 'lawful' relational features too, like logic. Eventually we end up with something as incredible as the Standard Model of Physics. All based on sharing notes, only different in its sophistication.


But we can't say the Standard Model of Physics is anything more than a working model, any more than I can you exist as anything more than an aspect of my working model of the world, a feature of my experiential states.


Furthermore, even if I accept you exist and we're comparing notes about real things in the real world, the act of comparing notes brings additional uncertainties. There's the problem of experiential states being inherently 'private'. I don't know if what I see is what you see (eg inverted qualia).
I disagree about the solipsistic leap. Phenomenology precludes this kind of thinking, mostly. Just as there is little content in Kant's thing in itself. But I will add that for Kant, WE are the thing in itself, too. I take this to be a starting place for genuine enlightenment. When Hindus and Buddhists close the doors of memory and the way it fills the present, they open the door of presence itself, the only actuality. Here is where certainty does make an appearance: The self, once it begins to deny memory, recollection, as Kierkegaard calls it, it embarks on a most strange and marvelous adventure into actuality.
Inverted qualia? Not sure why they would be inverted since the qualia of my inferring are no different from that of Others.

Physics is what humans do, and requires an understanding of the doing. That is us. This kind of thing is what separates science from philosophy, and it brings philosophy to a higher level of understanding. Einstein read Kant and he knew that space and time at the level of basic questions, in one way or another, were grounded in the observing subject. He just wasn't a philosopher; he was a physicist, and his job was just to dismiss such issues. Abstract lawful features of what? Who is doing the abstracting? Why, it is an agency, us, applying exactly those lawful features to construct meaningful propositions. Everybody has understood this since Kant. Hegel, Schopenhauer, everyone saw this problem. It is part of Nietzsche's perspectivalism, it is at the heart of post modern thinking. There is no way out to the Truth with a capital "T" because we live in, we ARE a small t world, which is interpretative.
No way out, that is, unless you abide by Kierkegaard, or Levinas, or the Hindus and Buddhists (depending on who you talk to), or Rudolf Otto, or the Christian mystics; and so on. I am sure these latter are on the right path, that Kierkgaard is right.
The private nature of experiential states also means we have to create a method of comparing notes - eg language, or symbols. And indeed we can then come to think using that language, so that the model is integrated into our experiential states, itself reinforcing the apparent reliability of the model. The 'logic' and structure of language (as well as the representational symbols) grew out of the way we experience the world, reflects it, and when we actually think in language using that structure, it reinforces that logic and structure as being true about the world. (And within brains, we can see all our perceptual and cognitive systems aren't separate and 'pure', they interweave and affect each other, and manifest as a unified field of consciousness which is the resultant mishmash of those interactions). This I think is one of your major points - which I agree with. I just don't see it as fundamental, I see it in the context of the bigger picture I'm outling here.

Language brings extra problems too, because it a representational system of (semantic) symbols and structural (syntactic) rules, not direct perceptual experiential states themselves. Hence an extra layer of abstraction, deviation and error is introduced. But it mostly works as a tool for creating useful working models, even as awe inspiring as The Standard Model of Physics.
I have to say that it is the presence of language that makes intelligence at all possible, and since our perceptual states are not vacant but in formed at first sight, already there when the eyes open and the world is in place, the clock there a time piece, my trousers there, for wearing; I mean this perceptual encounter with the world is very much a language event. So language is not at all indirect. This kind of thinking issues from the assumption there is something direct, which is never the case (notwithstanding Kierkegaard and what I said above. That is an affair at issue, if you want to discuss it) and intuited that language sits on top of, as if there is this priimordial foundational experience of things that we sit back and talk about. This concept is typical of what Husserl called the naturalistic attitude, one that fails to see that perception itself is an interpretative act filled with implicit or background language. Of course, understanding this, I think, requires language to be understood as dynamic, as a living part of being here, as a person. Language is inherently pragmatic and a word like dog or cat is a learned word first of all, and the learning of the word engenders meaning in all subsequent encounters with cats and dogs. A scientist comes along and fits her taxonomic features on to this history of a learned word, but what you are doing when you assimilate this new knowledge is not qualitatively different from what you did when you established your foundation. The new words don't add on top so much as provide avenues of openess for understanding. Language gets thick, its references and associations multiply and this leads to a wider breadth for meaning making. This is my take on Heidegger who said language is the house of Being.
Furthermore, our scientific model tells us our own experiential states correlate to brain states, and evolved for utility, not accuracy. As a calory efficient evolved kludge of useful fixes to environmental problems. Not as cameras or mirrors to the 'real world' out there. They are limited and flawed. The very basis upon which we assume we can share notes, is rooted in us having similarly faulty notes. We can be shown how our senses trick us, science can tell us that solid table is mostly empty space, etc. We have no idea what else we're missing or wrong about. This is the flip side of the coin, which places us within the shared model, which we created. Our own model finds us to be flawed, limited model makers!


It's a bit of a mess really, but it seems to me that's just the way it is for us. And if we've got any sense we should take very seriously science's story about why we are the way we are, even as part of our flawed, limited model, because that model is the one we live our daily lives in. From not stepping out in front of a bus, to realising we are flawed, limited critters. Thrown into Absurdity and Solipsistic Isolation, trying to make the best of it. Model making being our only route out of that, making it 'tractable' so to speak.
Utility not accuracy? What does this mean? A camera TO the real world would be mute as a camera. And what kind of flaws are we talking about?

It depends on what the question is, doesn't it? If you are in a body of ideas the pervade normal science, then you have scientific questions grounded in the particular science. But as long as you are committed to questions of this nature, you are not going to address the questions of our existence at the basic level, for these questions must look to the structure of the self, its rationality, its reality and value, its purpose; you must look exactly at those things science does not and cannot look at. If the pragmatists are right about the nature of language, and I think they are, then what good does it to confirm, say, string theory in physics if all of your validating ideas are analyzable in terms of pragmatics? At best, such an affirmation will one day construct a new model and science may have another revolution. But science rests on many such revolutions. Of course, you may think one day science may understand the world "objectively, but you have to go through Wittgenstein for this. Impossible to even think it.
The "Truth" lies within, so to speak.

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Fooloso4 » February 23rd, 2019, 1:12 pm

Hereandnow:
I want to agree with you, and there is that residuum of realism that asserts itself now and then, after all, this pen is "somehow" there regardless of whether I am here or not, and I do suspect there is something to the traditional primary qualities of space and time that do inhere in things themselves, but, as Wittgenstein will tell you, I am talking nonsense to say so.
In the Lecture on Ethics Wittgenstein is referring to propositions about ethics. Propositions about pens and such are, in the words of the Tractatus, representations of facts. They are not nonsense. Facts are dependent on logical relations built up out of simple objects. Propositions are dependent on logical relations built up out of the names of simple objects. Logic is, according to the Tractatus, transcendental. This is, of course, at odds with Kant’s transcendental conditions.
Wittgenstein says it's nonsense to speak about things in themselves, because to do so would require that we leave logic and language altogether, which would remove the "sense" of speaking altogether.
Where does he say this? Propositions with sense, according to the Tractatus, are limited to the propositions of science, that is, propositions about the world, what is the case, facts. Facts are things in themselves in so far as they do not require the whole mental apparatus of Kant’s transcendental conditions. There is in the Tractatus no distinction between things as they are in themselves and things as they are for us. There are the fact and the representation of facts, underlying both is the logical scaffolding of the world. It is this that makes possible propositions, that is to say, pictures or representations of the facts.
… facts are in logical space and it is foolish to try and think beyond this, where logic does not go. This makes terms like outside and inside without meaning in this context, for it sets up boundaries that are not spatial, but logical.
But the Tractatus cannot be understood without the establishment of boundaries and the distinction between outside and inside. Inside the world are the facts, outside the world is the self, the “I”, for whom the world is “my world”, that is, the world as I experience it. Value is not to be found in the world. Value is found in my relationship to the world, the world as it is for me. This is key to Wittgenstein’s understanding of solipsism.

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Fooloso4 » February 23rd, 2019, 2:19 pm

Gertie:
For me, what you might call the Big Leap is from Solipsism to accepting there is something/anything beyond 'my' experiential states. There is no bridge of certainty or logic from the experiencing itself, to concluding that the nature of those experiences refer to something real beyond them which they are representing.
In order to understand what solipsism means for Wittgenstein it is helpful to put aside the problem of skeptical doubt. Solipsism, as Wittgenstein uses it in the Tractatus refers not to the world but to “my world”, the world as it is for me, as I experience it.
5.62
This remark provides the key to the problem, how much truth there is in solipsism.
For what the solipsist means is quite correct; only it cannot be said, but makes itself manifest.
The world is my world: this is manifest in the fact that the limits of language (of that language which alone I understand) mean the limits of my world.

5.63
I am my world. (The microcosm.)


5.64
Here it can be seen that solipsism, when its implications are followed out strictly, coincides with pure realism. The self of solipsism shrinks to a point without extension, and there remains the reality co-ordinated with it.
There is no leap from solipsism to a reality beyond my experience. The reality beyond my experience exists independent of my experience. It is not deduced from it.

2.01
A state of affairs (a state of things) is a combination of objects (things).

2.014
Objects contain the possibility of all states of affairs.

2.06
The existence and non-existence of states of affairs is reality.

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Hereandnow » February 23rd, 2019, 6:26 pm

fooloso4
In the Lecture on Ethics Wittgenstein is referring to propositions about ethics. Propositions about pens and such are, in the words of the Tractatus, representations of facts. They are not nonsense. Facts are dependent on logical relations built up out of simple objects. Propositions are dependent on logical relations built up out of the names of simple objects. Logic is, according to the Tractatus, transcendental. This is, of course, at odds with Kant’s transcendental conditions.
But to talk of things that can't be spoken, one must be silent. Things in themselves is clearly a reference to what cannot be spoken. Hegel bases his criticism on this very point. And to speak of logic being transcendental, as W speaks of ethics as such, is a necessary compromise to "what can be said" just for the sake of liberating us from the fly bottle. Strickly speaking, when we use language like this, our transcendental references are but metaphors without an original object. If I call Sally a tiger, and remove the metaphor, there is still Sally. Using language to refer to something that transcends facts is like using language metaphorically, but there being nothing to which the metaphor was supposed to apply.
Where does he say this? Propositions with sense, according to the Tractatus, are limited to the propositions of science, that is, propositions about the world, what is the case, facts. Facts are things in themselves in so far as they do not require the whole mental apparatus of Kant’s transcendental conditions. There is in the Tractatus no distinction between things as they are in themselves and things as they are for us. There are the fact and the representation of facts, underlying both is the logical scaffolding of the world. It is this that makes possible propositions, that is to say, pictures or representations of the facts.
If that is the way "in itself" is understood, as being factual reference, then of course, it wouldn't be nonsense at all. It would be, I suppose, in either case, a kind of language game, and all terms have their place (the more I read of Heidegger, the more I take him to have the same respect for terms as bearing value for opening up possibilities). But that is not what someone like Kant had in mind. Out there meant apart from intuitions and language. Wittgenstein says, and I borrow from elsewhere, to break through the walls of this cage is "absolutely hopeless", and philosophers must give up trying to state propositions about aesthetics and ethics, God and the riddle of life, because such propositions do not belong to the language of natural science and therefore they are nonsense. They try to put into words what cannot be put into words -- i.e. to say what is not "sayable" but "unsayable".
But the Tractatus cannot be understood without the establishment of boundaries and the distinction between outside and inside. Inside the world are the facts, outside the world is the self, the “I”, for whom the world is “my world”, that is, the world as I experience it. Value is not to be found in the world. Value is found in my relationship to the world, the world as it is for me. This is key to Wittgenstein’s understanding of solipsism
.
Wittgenstein was not, as I read this text, at all saying value is found in this world. Not this impossible and invisible dimension of good and bad, to be distinguished from contingent good and bad as we speak of couches and glasses, which are good and bad relative to their purpose or some visible standard. Ethical value is transcendental, but he demonstrates no support for such a thing. He is mostly trying to tell us how absurd it is to think like this. I, on the other hand, have more than his grudging respect for this ( See his final statement). I think it constitutes a completely defensible and critically important dimension of our existence.

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Fooloso4 » February 24th, 2019, 9:58 am

Hereandnow:
Things in themselves is clearly a reference to what cannot be spoken.
You are lumping together things that are not connected. Wittgenstein says nothing about things in themselves. What cannot be spoken manifests itself, that is, makes itself known. Hegel rejects the idea of things in themselves, not because they cannot be spoken but because things in themselves would be unknowable.
And to speak of logic being transcendental, as W speaks of ethics as such, is a necessary compromise to "what can be said" just for the sake of liberating us from the fly bottle.
There is no compromise and no fly bottle that has been gotten into. Logic and ethics/aesthetics are transcendental conditions.
Strickly speaking, when we use language like this, our transcendental references are but metaphors without an original object.
Transcendental conditions are not metaphors are are related to objects in so far as they make possible the experience of objects.
Using language to refer to something that transcends facts is like using language metaphorically, but there being nothing to which the metaphor was supposed to apply.


Transcendental and transcendence are two different things. Ethical/aesthetic value is not to be found in the facts of the world. They are experiential.
Wittgenstein was not, as I read this text, at all saying value is found in this world.
It is found in seeing the world as a whole, sub specie aeterni.
Ethical value is transcendental, but he demonstrates no support for such a thing.
One must experience them himself.
He is mostly trying to tell us how absurd it is to think like this.
From a letter to von Ficker:
The book’s point is an ethical one. I once meant to include in the preface a sentence which is not in fact there now but which I will write out for you here because it will perhaps be a key to the work for you. What I meant to write, then, was this: My work consists of two parts: the one presented here plus all that I have not written. And it is precisely this second part that is the important one. My book draws limits to the sphere of the ethical from the inside as it were, and I am convinced that this is the ONLY rigorous way of drawing those limits. In short, I believe that where many others today are just gassing, I have managed in my book to put everything firmly into place by being silent about it. And for that reason, unless I am very much mistaken, the book will say a great deal that you yourself want to say. Only perhaps you won’t see that it is said in the book. For now, I would recommend you to read the preface and the conclusion, because they contain the most direct expression of the point of the book.
Wittgenstein connects the mystical and ethical/aesthetic via linked statements about the world, its limits, and what is experienced beyond those limits. The sense of the world and its value is not to be found in the world (6.41) It is because the sense and value of the world cannot be found in the world that there can be no ethical propositions (6.42). The good and bad exercise of the will and the experience of the world as a whole of the happy and unhappy man (6.43) The solution of the riddle of life in space and time lies outside space and time (6.4312). God does not reveal himself in the world (6.432). The facts all contribute only to setting the problem, not to its solution (6.4321) The existence of the world is mystical (6.44). Viewing it sub specie aeterni and feeling it as a limited whole is mystical (6.45)

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Gertie » February 24th, 2019, 2:40 pm

HAN

Didn't mean to imply I'd read Tractatus, only a synopsis of the themes.


Here's the crux of where I think we differ. As I say, I locate Language as occuring once we're well on our way on our model making journey. A journey which begins with Solipsism. And for a baby begins with a language-free confusing cacophany of experiential states - perceptions, sensations, emotions. With no conceptual framework, no pre-existing model to slot this cacophany into. No words for hungry, light or human being or WTF Is This! Thrown into Absurdity and Solipsism.


At some point patterns start to emerge. Some things move, some things don't. Light, dark. If I cry a big moving thing stops the nasty hungry feeling, etc. The Perceptions, sensations, emotions come first, then we start to create a model with certain features and patterns. At some point we're taught to attach word-symbols to all this, the perceptions and the patterns. And we start to learn the the structure of language, from the key basic

Subject (Me) Verb (Change) Object (You/It/Everything but my experiential states)

A language structure which reflects, what it's like to be an experiencing critter situated in an 'out there' real world. (Later language becomes integrated into the very How we think, but never-the-less, it is rooted in what it's like to be a experiencing self). That's the root logic of language.

The 'You' is out there, along with carrots and fire and teddy. Somethings change, others don't seem to. Some things change in patterned ways. Some things respond to me. Later on I'll notice people are like me, and later on still we'll compare notes on their experience of being a Me. (Sometimes it occurs to me that if our philosophical history had been written by mothers the people who had to care for loved ones with dementia, it might look quite different ;) ).

So there is a logic to our model making, but it's flawed and limited because it's the logic of the nature of the experiential states we have (or how we experience the 'world out there'). Language roughly follows that logic, but adds another layer of abstraction. I can only directly know what it's like to be Me, not you, or a rock - the nature of you and rocks has to be based on assumption. I can look at you and note similarities to when I look at me. I can compare notes with you using language describing our experiential states and find common ground. But I can't know what it's like to be you. You are part of my model-making, and so I can only make assumptions about you, same as rocks. It's just the nature of experiential states. If you say you have similar experiential states to me, that's no more certain to me than if you say you see that apple I see - the shared-knowledge basis of science.

So the root of Absurdity isn't in the language, it's the leap out of Solipsism (direct knowledge only of my own experiential states).

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Gertie » February 24th, 2019, 2:57 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
February 23rd, 2019, 2:19 pm
Gertie:
For me, what you might call the Big Leap is from Solipsism to accepting there is something/anything beyond 'my' experiential states. There is no bridge of certainty or logic from the experiencing itself, to concluding that the nature of those experiences refer to something real beyond them which they are representing.
In order to understand what solipsism means for Wittgenstein it is helpful to put aside the problem of skeptical doubt. Solipsism, as Wittgenstein uses it in the Tractatus refers not to the world but to “my world”, the world as it is for me, as I experience it.
5.62
This remark provides the key to the problem, how much truth there is in solipsism.
For what the solipsist means is quite correct; only it cannot be said, but makes itself manifest.
The world is my world: this is manifest in the fact that the limits of language (of that language which alone I understand) mean the limits of my world.

5.63
I am my world. (The microcosm.)


5.64
Here it can be seen that solipsism, when its implications are followed out strictly, coincides with pure realism. The self of solipsism shrinks to a point without extension, and there remains the reality co-ordinated with it.
There is no leap from solipsism to a reality beyond my experience. The reality beyond my experience exists independent of my experience. It is not deduced from it.

2.01
A state of affairs (a state of things) is a combination of objects (things).

2.014
Objects contain the possibility of all states of affairs.

2.06
The existence and non-existence of states of affairs is reality.
I struggle to parse the quotes I'm afraid.

I'd say there either is or isn't a state of affairs beyond 'my' experiential states - I can't be certain which is correct . There is no Bridge of Knowing, and no Bridge of Logic which gives me an answer. It's a leap of faith.

Once I accept there is such a world, that my experiential states are 'about' Something real, then I can start building a model of what that Something is like. Where I disagree is that my model making is fundamentally curtailed and molded by language, constructed by language.

Because I say language plays a role, but that's putting the cart before the horse - language grew out of the nature of experiential states. Both its fact-symbols and its structure. Experiential states certainly preceded language, many experiential states are independant of language - eg if I step on a nail it hurts regardless of language, or even knowing it was what we call ''a nail'' I stepped on. (Some disagree, I think they're plain wrong, hence I don't torture cats for fun).

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Gertie » February 24th, 2019, 3:13 pm

chewybrian wrote:
February 22nd, 2019, 5:37 pm
Gertie wrote:
February 22nd, 2019, 2:46 pm
And indeed, the 'sense of self' itself, might only be an experiential state. There doesn't have to be 'an experiencer' (self) having the experience, only the experience of being an experiencer. And there we hit our bottom line of scepticism.
Descartes probably did not have it all right, but number one is a slam dunk (I think, therefore I am). I can not doubt that I am thinking, because I have to be there, thinking, to do the doubting. I exist, at least as a head in a jar, or some thing which is capable of having a thought, or a doubt. I'm having experiences, or the experience of doubting experience, or the experience of the illusion of doubting experience. or the experience of the illusion of the experience of the illusion of...

If a shooting star goes across the sky, and nobody is looking up to see it, then the experience of the shooting star did not occur. The event of something burning up in the atmosphere still happened, but it is not an experience unless someone experiences it. To say an experience took place means someone experienced it, by definition and by the simplest logic, and I can see no way around this. What can I know with greater certainty than the fact that I have experiences (allowing that I may be all wrong about their true nature)?

How is "the experience of being an experiencer" not still an experience? How can I refer to anything as "the experience of..." without considering it to be an experience?
The Experiencing (verb) is real, certain.

I'm suggesting the existence of the Subject-Experiencer (noun) is an assumption.

The nature of the experiencing is what suggests there is an experiencer, but it's only our resulting habit of thinking in terms of Subjects and Verbs, plus the nature of the experiencing (''I'' am located in a body, discrete and unified, itself located in space and time, moving through a real world and interacting with/experiencing it) which makes us think Experiencing logically requires an Experiencer. Doesn't mean it's wrong, just that it can be doubted.

The sense of being a unified Self, is itself just an aspect of Experiencing when you burrow down deep enough.

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Fooloso4 » February 24th, 2019, 4:24 pm

Gertie:
I'd say there either is or isn't a state of affairs beyond 'my' experiential states - I can't be certain which is correct . There is no Bridge of Knowing, and no Bridge of Logic which gives me an answer. It's a leap of faith.
In “On Certainty” (his views on logic and language had changed a great deal since the Tractatus) Wittgenstein quotes Goethe:
In the beginning was the deed. (402)
We, so to speak, act first ask questions later. From the start we move, we act in response to stimulus. Consider, for example, the rooting reflex. On a solipsistic model where it is questionable whether there is anything beyond one’s experiential states we would not survive.
The squirrel does not infer by induction that it is going to need stores next winter as well. And no more do we need a law of induction to justify our actions or our predictions (OC 287).
There is no bridge, no leap, because there is no gap.

Gertie:
Once I accept there is such a world …
Long before we are capable of raising doubts about the existence of the external world we are already intimately and inextricable involved with it. Doubt that there is such a world is not the starting point. As Wittgenstein points out, there must already be a great deal in place, a great many things we do not doubt, if we are to doubt.
… language grew out of the nature of experiential states.
Wittgenstein held that language is a form of behavior.
Language did not emerge from some kind of ratiocination (OC 475).

A language game is an extension of primitive behavior (Z 545)

Instinct first reason second (RPP 689)

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Hereandnow » February 24th, 2019, 4:31 pm

fooloso4
You are lumping together things that are not connected. Wittgenstein says nothing about things in themselves. What cannot be spoken manifests itself, that is, makes itself known. Hegel rejects the idea of things in themselves, not because they cannot be spoken but because things in themselves would be unknowable.
Unknowable and unspeakable: Now that is a distinction that begs for clarification. If you can make sense of this for me, it would be a revelation.
There is no compromise and no fly bottle that has been gotten into. Logic and ethics/aesthetics are transcendental conditions.
Transcendental? But what is this term if not language, and if it is language, you squarely in the domain of that which cannot be spoken (written). I might ask, is the transcendental condition a fact? Is this factually true? If not, where does this kind of language issue from? This is the paradox of the fly bottle as i have understood it: in order to show how using language is futile in accounting for the full breadth of our existence, we must use terms that carry meanings that engage in exactly this futility. At the end of the Tractatus, famously there is this:

My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them—as steps—to climb beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.)
He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.


My thinking says he has been IN this bottle throughout, and in his lecture on ethics, he says:

That is to say: I see now that these nonsensical expressions were not nonsensical because I had not
yet found the correct expressions, but that their nonsensicality was their very essence. For all I
wanted to do with them was just to go beyond the world and that is to say beyond significant
language. My whole tendency and, I believe, the tendency of all men who ever tried to write or
talk Ethics or Religion was to run against the boundaries of language.


As if one can "speak" of a boundary of language. It is a performative contradiction. I don't say it is without meaning, I am saying given W's own statements on the matter, nonsense begins where ideas cross over. It's not like he's talking about unicorns or woodland elves, which are suitable concepts for discussion because of their describable features, and a word like 'transcendent' works fine if confined to what is being transcended, as when one species transcends another in adaptation, say. But he is using language that has no content whatsoever. He says, "there are things that cannot be put into words; they make themselves manifest," he is also committed, is he not, the very error that is the basis of his complaint? Thing? I read Heidegger's, what was it, The Origin of the Work of Art, and in his discussion of the thingly nature of a thing, he makes a puzzled response regarding what occurs when the "equipment is denuded of its equipmental being" which is that such an idea is "an assault" upon the thing. I note that he stays closer to the principle of that which cannot be mentioned than Wittgenstein, trying very hard to stay in bounds. I think this is why he is so odd in his language use: tryin ghard to be Heraclitean rather than Parmenidean.
Transcendental conditions are not metaphors are are related to objects in so far as they make possible the experience of objects.
But then, the speaking of transcendental conditions is metaphorical, borrowed from real contexts where language and logic work.
Transcendental and transcendence are two different things. Ethical/aesthetic value is not to be found in the facts of the world. They are experiential.
"Experiential," is not a term that makes the difference, by my thinking. Is there some actual content in this experience in which one encounters transcendence, or, what transcends, to warrant words like 'mystical' ? If there is something there (perhaps, as Levinas put it, as something "Other") then what dos this say about the basis for not being able to say it; if it is, that is, there as much there as the color orange is there? Is the mystical a lesser intuition than the color orange? These are questions I would ask W.
It is found in seeing the world as a whole, sub specie aeterni.
Interesting. I agree, and I see W saying this, but I do not understand how he can say it. If you can defensibly say it, it must be there, in experience, a palpable intuition, there is something about it that does not stand outside the logic grid, but, I hazard, it is not in the shared among speakers. The sense of it lies with shared familiarity. If God appeared before my eyes, and it were indeed God, and if it happened to all of a community, would God therefore be speakable? No, but the referencing would.
Wittgenstein connects the mystical and ethical/aesthetic via linked statements about the world, its limits, and what is experienced beyond those limits. The sense of the world and its value is not to be found in the world (6.41) It is because the sense and value of the world cannot be found in the world that there can be no ethical propositions (6.42). The good and bad exercise of the will and the experience of the world as a whole of the happy and unhappy man (6.43) The solution of the riddle of life in space and time lies outside space and time (6.4312). God does not reveal himself in the world (6.432). The facts all contribute only to setting the problem, not to its solution (6.4321) The existence of the world is mystical (6.44). Viewing it sub specie aeterni and feeling it as a limited whole is mystical (6.45)
But do you not take issue with any of this? After all, where does the world of facts end, and the world of what justifies terms like "outside space and time" begin? (I found this very much what Hegel's complaint was about.)But he says explicitly that when he speaks of these things, he is doing so just to clarify the boundary. That makes such terms merely expedient to an end, pragmatic or instrumental at best. And is it true that value is not found in the world of facts? Why, because it simply does not make an appearance, the badness and goodness of pain and happiness. Doesn't it? He argues, as I see it, that the term ethcial goodness is a vacuous concept,unlike a good chair and the like, because there is no intuition, or context of intuitions to fit it in. If ethical goodness were there, the "good" of it, in a community's shared recognition of meaningful terms, W would not take issue, would he? Any more than he would take issue with the color orange.
My thoughts are that the good of ethical goodness IS there, plain for all to "see" and therefore fit to speak of in a manner that is really no different from the color orange. No, language does say "what" it is. Knowing is pragmatic knowing, not existential knowing. The latter cannot be spoken, but is it knowing at all?

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Gertie » February 24th, 2019, 5:44 pm

fooloso
Once I accept there is such a world …
Long before we are capable of raising doubts about the existence of the external world we are already intimately and inextricable involved with it. Doubt that there is such a world is not the starting point. As Wittgenstein points out, there must already be a great deal in place, a great many things we do not doubt, if we are to doubt.
Question begging. Chronologically speaking, long before (and after) we are capable of raising doubts about the existence of the external world, all we (each) have to go on is the nature and content of our (own) experiential states. Which brings us back to Solipsism.

Once you take that leap of faith that there's a real world which these experiential states are 'about', you can start modelling it (and yourself as an experiencing Subject within it, amongst squirrels - and other people who you can compare notes with), again all based on the nature and content of those experiential states.

Now it's possible that the fundamental nature of reality somehow synthesises the Subjective/Private and Objective/Public, the In Here Me-ness and the Out There Otherness, the Experiencing and the Existing. Which is where I think HAN is coming from. But then again, maybe not ... How can we know?

My other two main objections are the primacy put on language (as I've explained). And that once you start accepting there is a real world 'out there' which we can model in a limited, flawed way, you have to justify the basis on which you pick and choose to accept what our shared model tells us about it. Because it strikes me HAN picks and chooses without justification. Even taking language as your starting place, you've already made a huge structure of assumptions. (Which if you accept Solipsism is the real starting place, would be apparent).

That's where I see the weaknesses in this approach, from how I understand it. Now I'm a noob (with an aversion to the ambiguity and difficulty of the language these ideas seem to trade in), but I'd be surprised if similar sorts of objections haven't been made by smarter and better read peeps than me.

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Fooloso4 » February 24th, 2019, 8:23 pm

Hereandnow:
Unknowable and unspeakable: Now that is a distinction that begs for clarification. If you can make sense of this for me, it would be a revelation.
The thing in itself is, according to Kant, unknowable. Since it is unknowable nothing can be said about it, it is thus unspeakable. Ethical/aesthetic values and experience, according to Wittgenstein, are knowable but cannot be expressed in words.
Transcendental? But what is this term if not language, and if it is language, you squarely in the domain of that which cannot be spoken (written).
The term ‘transcendental’ refers to the conditions of possibility. It is what they make possible that cannot be expressed:
4.121
Propositions cannot represent logical form:
it is mirrored in them.
What finds its reflection in language, language cannot represent.
What expresses itself in language, we cannot express by means of language.
Propositions show the logical form of reality.
They display it.


6.13
Logic is not a body of doctrine, but a mirror image of the world.
Logic is transcendental.
H&N:
I might ask, is the transcendental condition a fact?
No.
This is the paradox of the fly bottle as i have understood it: in order to show how using language is futile in accounting for the full breadth of our existence, we must use terms that carry meanings that engage in exactly this futility.
The fly bottle analogy is from the Philosophical Investigations. It refers to various problems that confound the philosopher. The thing about the fly bottle is that the way in is also the way out. Showing how we got into the confusion shows us the way out.
He says, "there are things that cannot be put into words; they make themselves manifest," he is also committed, is he not, the very error that is the basis of his complaint?
I don’t think so. It is only when one does not realize that the words cannot say what one wants to convey that confusion arises. What he is referring to is the same thing that mystics and some religious thinkers have been saying long before Wittgenstein. If one attempts to understand what they they warn they cannot but fail to express by analysis of what they say then this will only lead to confusion and misunderstanding.
Thing?
This is the trap he is warning us to avoid.
Is there some actual content in this experience in which one encounters transcendence, or, what transcends, to warrant words like 'mystical' ?
Actual content? What does this mean? The world of the Tractarian “happy man” is not a matter of some actual content. The experience of absolute value or being safe that he refers to in the lecture on ethics has no content, and, as he says, these words fail to convey what is experienced. Not having had what I would call a mystical experience I cannot comment on it. I note, however, that you talk about mystery.
Interesting. I agree, and I see W saying this, but I do not understand how he can say it. If you can defensibly say it, it must be there, in experience …
Seeing the world sub specie aeterni says nothing more about what is seen from this perspective than seeing the land from the perspective of a mountain top.
But do you not take issue with any of this?
I do, but I am trying to make clear what it is I think he is saying, not defend it. First and foremost, I do not agree with what he calls in the Philosophical Investigations the "subliming of logic". He saw this as the fundamental error of the Tractatus.
After all, where does the world of facts end, and the world of what justifies terms like "outside space and time" begin?
Any justification would have to be propositional. There is no justification for what cannot be justified.
(I found this very much what Hegel's complaint was about.)
Hegel’s complaint was about claims that something exists but cannot be known. How can you know it exists if you cannot know it?
He argues, as I see it, that the term ethcial goodness is a vacuous concept,unlike a good chair and the like, because there is no intuition, or context of intuitions to fit it in.
They are without sense. They do not represent facts.
If ethical goodness were there, the "good" of it, in a community's shared recognition of meaningful terms, W would not take issue, would he?
I don’t know what this means. Wittgenstein used the terms sense and meaning in two ways, the first refers to propositions which represent facts. If good is not a fact then it does not have a sense. It is, however, ethically/aesthetically meaningful. It is important to us, it moves us.
Knowing is pragmatic knowing, not existential knowing. The latter cannot be spoken, but is it knowing at all?
To give a mundane example, the taste of vanilla ice cream is not something that can be known propositionally, it must be tasted if one is to know what the taste of vanilla ice cream.

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Fooloso4 » February 24th, 2019, 8:41 pm

Gertie:
Chronologically speaking, long before (and after) we are capable of raising doubts about the existence of the external world, all we (each) have to go on is the nature and content of our (own) experiential states.
I don’t agree. The world around me, the world I experience, is not reducible to the content of my own experiential states. That is an analysis that does not properly represent one’s experience, which is of things and people and tastes and smells and things one likes and dislikes, that is, of things in the world not things in me.
Once you take that leap of faith that there's a real world which these experiential states are 'about' …
Did you take such a step as a child? I do not recall ever doing such a thing. I sat at the table and ate my food, I played and fought with my brother, I put on my pajamas and slept in my bed.

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Hereandnow » February 24th, 2019, 10:02 pm

Gertie:
Didn't mean to imply I'd read Tractatus, only a synopsis of the themes.
I read it, did my best.

Here's the crux of where I think we differ. As I say, I locate Language as occuring once we're well on our way on our model making journey. A journey which begins with Solipsism. And for a baby begins with a language-free confusing cacophany of experiential states - perceptions, sensations, emotions. With no conceptual framework, no pre-existing model to slot this cacophany into. No words for hungry, light or human being or WTF Is This! Thrown into Absurdity and Solipsism.
But the WTF experience is what you imagine the infant to have. ANd the confusion, too. Freud called this infantile state one of narcissistic omnipotence: Cry and the food comes, the discomfort vanishes, and all there is is you. Sure, solipsistic.

At some point patterns start to emerge. Some things move, some things don't. Light, dark. If I cry a big moving thing stops the nasty hungry feeling, etc. The Perceptions, sensations, emotions come first, then we start to create a model with certain features and patterns. At some point we're taught to attach word-symbols to all this, the perceptions and the patterns. And we start to learn the the structure of language, from the key basic

Subject (Me) Verb (Change) Object (You/It/Everything but my experiential states)


A language structure which reflects, what it's like to be an experiencing critter situated in an 'out there' real world. (Later language becomes integrated into the very How we think, but never-the-less, it is rooted in what it's like to be a experiencing self). That's the root logic of language.

The 'You' is out there, along with carrots and fire and teddy. Somethings change, others don't seem to. Some things change in patterned ways. Some things respond to me. Later on I'll notice people are like me, and later on still we'll compare notes on their experience of being a Me. (Sometimes it occurs to me that if our philosophical history had been written by mothers the people who had to care for loved ones with dementia, it might look quite different ;) ).

So there is a logic to our model making, but it's flawed and limited because it's the logic of the nature of the experiential states we have (or how we experience the 'world out there'). Language roughly follows that logic, but adds another layer of abstraction. I can only directly know what it's like to be Me, not you, or a rock - the nature of you and rocks has to be based on assumption. I can look at you and note similarities to when I look at me. I can compare notes with you using language describing our experiential states and find common ground. But I can't know what it's like to be you. You are part of my model-making, and so I can only make assumptions about you, same as rocks. It's just the nature of experiential states. If you say you have similar experiential states to me, that's no more certain to me than if you say you see that apple I see - the shared-knowledge basis of science.

So the root of Absurdity isn't in the language, it's the leap out of Solipsism (direct knowledge only of my own experiential states).
I don't disagree. Nor do I disagree all the things physicists and biologists and evolutionists tell us. But take the matter out of its psychology context and into a philosophical one. This tabula raza infant, what is this? It is an odd thing to do, I know, but consider: logically prior to any talk about infants, there is the system that gives genesis, if you will, to any kind of meaningful talk at all. We talk about children and their development, but does this not presuppose the very system out of which thinking about such things comes? I could talk about mathematics, but it is a different matter altogether to talk about that which makes doing math possible, why math is so rigorous and impossible to deny, what relation this kind of ability has to other kinds of knowledge which are not as rigorous like physics which is grounded in induction, what it means to think at all, how is time related to thinking given that thinking, on analysis, is an event in time, relies on recollection, projects into the future what is given in the stored resources; and the questions, the more basic ones that underlie normal thinking. What is Being? Is a really interesting question. I mean, for a person to exist at all. If we approach this as a scientist, a physicist, we are not really looking at the object before us, are we? For the question about Being is not that of a chair or a cloud nebula, it's about a person; in fact, I think that physics is really just an abstraction from the content of what a person is. But forget that for now. The reason I think this is because I am convinced that all of Being that lies before us is OUR Being. I am sure some form of idealism is right. That means that when Einstein talked about space and time, he was really talking about us, the structure of our experiences and the way they are constrained by, well, eternity, by what is unsayable and unseen, but throws me into this world of mine and says, essentially, deal with it.

Sorry for that bit of rambling. Im sure I am not done with it. I just wanted to get to this point: the term 'infant' is born out of a stream of thought, and to ignore this is to ignore the very foundation of Being itself. It is not that there is no one out there, but that 'no one'and out there' are conditioned terms, more than just conditioned: they are constituted by the structures of our mind such that i really do not know where you begin and my thinking ends. But my confidence that you are there depends on the kind of thinking I can rightly bring to bear upon the you that is there. This is what Heidegger is teaching me as I read him. He thinks thinking is a kind of craft, and language is the craft we possess in the making of meaning.

So, solipsism and the leap out of this: If you follow Kierkegaard, the leap, and he uses this term a lot, is out of the rationality that makes a claim on what all this we call a world is. Consider that when you call an infant an infant, you are deploying what you learned in language, you are recollecting and gathering this recollection to bring to bear upon what we call an infant. But the calling, the knowledge behind it, is part of our finite attempt to assimilate what is qualitatively different from any and all terms that can be brought in. Calling it an infant is not just wrong, like when you are wrong about a math problem, it is existentially wrong, wrong to try to hold eternity in the, Ill say, perverse, since it's Kierkegaard, encompassment of logic.

In K's religious take on all of this (he thinks God and the soul hang in the balance), one has to realize that in the waking moment and one beholds the world, that world is an assimilated one in which things, particulars are determined and stamped by the my and mine.And we ourselves get subsumed in the process. A person is reduced to a concept and denied her real nature which belongs to God. You might call this a kind of spiritual solipsism. So the infant: let us talk about how language reduces, codifies, subdues, brings to heel this eternal Being first. That is the elementary estrangement; this is our alienation. The absurdity that weighs on my mind is that in this context of knowing that reason creates, value, the suffering and and joy of it all, is reduced to a concept. I am absolutely convinced that there world as it "really is" (whatever that means) has at least as much significance as our most profound experiences possess. And getting burned alive at the stake is pretty serious.

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