Thursday, February 19, 2009

Philosophy 118: 11 February, 2009

These notes were taken from my class with Dr. Reyes for Philosophy 118 last 11 February

.:An Introduction To Wittgenstein:.

Wittgenstein's philosophy is a gradual progression from a philosophy of being to one of language.

Language is made up of elementary propositions. These are statements that do not need to be broken down into various parts the way complex propositions would be. It is composed of a name and a relation to another name. “I (name) put (relation) the chalk (name) on the table.” It follows a certain rule of grammar, for starters. Each name will correspond to a simple object. If the state of affairs is possible, then you can analyze it closely enough to determine whether or not it is true or false.

Complex propositions involve the like of “Philippines is a poor country”. Who is Philippines? Where is the country? What is the sample size that is sufficient? What does it mean to be poor?

Thus, the problem with Philosophy is that many statements are too ambiguous with their propositions. The stand of the Trachtatus is to simply break down complex propositions into elementary ones.


“And yet, there are some statements which seem to be non-sensical, yet admittedly, are useful.”

1.Religious statements: “I believe God exists” may seem non-sensical in that “God” cannot be determined, insofar as the conventional way we determine God to exist. But this is useful in that an affirmation of God is not an affirmation of a fact or an event that comes to pass. It implies that in taking consideration of the totality of the world, somehow, one can believe that God exists. This is not a statement on a possible state of affairs, but a stand in view of the totality of the world, as it were.

2.Aesthetic statements: “It is beautiful” again takes the totality of something into consideration, and it has a certain effect, where one can see beauty.

3.Moral statements: “Killing is immoral” is a bold statement as it cannot be determined without looking at the totality of things in the world whether or not something is immoral.

4.Philosophical statements: Language has been established by Wittgenstein to be the vehicle by which we can represent a possible state of affairs, as well as its veracity. In contrast, philosophical language is a metalanguage. It is not a possible state of affairs but a view into the nature of language itself.

Such statements are simply therapeutic. There are certain ways of using language which does not make sense, but at a certain point, we come to certain problems of language. Once these problems are solved, philosophy is meant to be abandoned. This is why Wittgenstein doesn't want his students to stay as philosophers.

These exceptions explain precisely why Wittgenstein is *not* a logical positivist.

.:Perhaps He Was Wrong?:.

Wittgenstein had doubts about the completeness of his work because of various reasons. For one, he realized that some words do not represent simple objects. A number is not merely a simple object, but an activity. He discovered the existence of performatives.

As such, when you are commanded to do something, it cannot be a “true” or “false” statement. While some language is descriptive, but other language is performative.

.:Quotable Quotes:.

“Philosophy is like a ladder. Once you get to where you need to, you can kick off the ladder. Philosophers instead stay on the ladder, and insist on asking, 'what does it mean to be a ladder?'”

- Dr. Reyes

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