Wittgenstein & His Blue-Brown Book.
The man had opinions, I will give him that.
Wittgenstein at the opera; New York City, NY
The whole concept is this:
And that first sentence negates the second sentence.
What would Wittgenstein say about this proposition?
Answer: He would probably slap me. And this is a perfectly acceptable answer. However, I should probably write a little more about the Brown Book and why this answer is perfectly acceptable and probably correct.
Brief Notes for Orientation:
In this first sentence, Wittgenstein is the man named Ludwig Wittgenstein that exists in the Blue and Brown books, i.e. the Wittgenstein that wrote and provided the content for those two books is the Wittgenstein that I refer to throughout, i.e. the Wittgenstein I refer to would necessarily have written the content as it appears in the Blue and Brown books and not another book as I do not know if his thoughts — and there is an issue with the word “thoughts” but that will be addressed later — changed after the Brown book. I cannot begin to imagine whether this took place. And so remember that phrase, “I cannot begin to imagine whether this took place”. The Wittgenstein I refer to here would have many problems with this phrase. More on that once the concept of a concept is dealt with…
I will not undertake the arduous task of justifying each sentence as a legitimate sentence as each sentence may not be legitimate to Mr. Wittgenstein, i.e. everything I say may be nonsensical to the man Wittgenstein, who has since passed, i.e. died, i.e. no longer exists, i.e. is not a man that you can call for tea and have him arrive around 1300 on Tuesday.
II. FIRST, A LOOK AT MY PROPOSITION
What is a whole concept as opposed to a half concept? To determine this, I must define what a concept is. If a man sails a boat to an island that is not found on his map and on this island he encounters a tribe of men and women that have had no contact with anyone else outside the island before this man arrived, it is possible that the concept of a concept could be known to this tribe. In other words, it is possible that these individuals understand the concept of a concept and COULD convey this understanding if they had the ability to communicate this to the man on the boat. But can they?
Could they, can they… can he, and therein lies the rub. How can we know if something can be done or can happen or can exist if it has not existed before? Can you even imagine? And, if this is not the question, how can “can” exist as a word/symbol/concept/grammar-item…
I can only imagine. And Wittgenstein would balk at this statement as well. I can only imagine? What is it to imagine? Where do you imagine? Where does the act of imagining take place? Can… wait… no… not can? How can… no… I will try another angle. But then the issue of the word “try” is raised… and etc. etc.
And so I agonize over the use of the word “can” and “try” and “imagine” and whether the grammar of the word “can” can… and etc etc and again, there is no way to argue against this if you cannot… and am I using the term “grammar” correctly?
The context of this discussion must be shifted. But then how does context shift? Is it similar to the shift that occurs when someone transfers something from one place, position, person, etc to another? Or, as this word is used in linguistics (the assumption here is that one can trust the dictionary in this instance), “to change in a systematic way, especially phonetically”. So how does a context shift in this statement? Is it similar to the physical shifting of objects?
I have to stop here. At this point, the discussion naturally (?!) turns to what we mean by “similar”. Is it the changing of perspective? Is a change in perspective similar to a change in the position of some object? Say object A shifts because a member of some obscure tribe picks up the object and moves it to another place because the village elder ordered that tribe member to do so…
Okay, so to continue, CONTEXT CAN NEVER BE ADEQUATELY EXPLAINED. Maybe there is something to this? I say, “the context of this discussion must be shifted”… what do I mean by context? Here’s an answer illustrated with an example of context in action (ignoring that context probably will not be “in action” as we understand “in action” from a physics perspective with vectors and forces and such).
Example: LSD changes the context of reality; this means nothing to Wittgenstein or anyone else that has never tried LSD. It may make some sense if you have tried LSD. You cannot explain what it is like to be on LSD. If you cannot explain this, all you can do is illustrate certain things experienced… such as, I have absolutely no fucking clue. Like, there is a point where you say, “words will never be able to describe this experience. It must be experienced and all you can do is be happy that someone else has experienced this thing that you have experienced, whatever it is. The specifics are not important. Yes, the walls breathe, but that does not even scratch the surface of what goes on”. When I say, “context shifts” you cannot possibly know what I mean unless you have done LSD… and if you have, you can say, “I can see what you’re saying” and then say, “beautiful thing, eh?” and usually the response is “yes” and then “why can’t everyone do it” and then… ENOUGH. I think the point is made. Wittgenstein mic drop could have been “just do LSD”.
What is this discussion turning into? A blatant advocation of psychedelics!? That is the subtext… indeed. But did that example explain anything about context? Yes. To me it did.
III. A QUICK ASIDE:
It is apparent that this man Wittgenstein had no problem writing words down on paper to be published and shared so as to communicate with his students/peers/parents/etc his thoughts on our inability to describe thought through words that will most likely lead to multiple interpretations of said words and general confusion. Okay, so he messes up a little bit by writing this book, since we have to assume (or do we?) that he wanted to communicate something, but I would say that he is not really able to communicate anything at all because all I see on the paper are words and the language games I can play with his language games are kind of like, “you make no sense, because my language games destroy your language games and everything you say, by way of my language games, is utter nonsense”.
Like, Wittgenstein’s tidy set of language games are all part of a larger language game and if you extend this out to me playing language games that are all part of a larger language game with his smaller and larger language games and perhaps, maybe, to anyone that reads this and plays language games with his language games (larger or smaller) and may never play the same language games I play and then other people play language games and soon these language games are not even related to the Wittgenstein language games and so we are caught in this never-ending language game cycle that is not really a cycle (or is it?) and so let me do something real quick.
IV. LANGUAGE GAME:
Wittgenstein giving a lecture to his students.
Here is a language game (I get that this entire thing I am writing is a language game, but here is one component of this overarching language game): I have written a sentence here and this sentence will be understood by most people that read the paragraph and understand English. In fact, everything I have written to this point is understood on some level or one would not be reading this and if, say, no one were to read this, that does not make this unreadable as there are many people with the mental capacity to read this and understand this.
There are many objectionable propositions and conjectures laid out in this paragraph that those well-versed in the Wittgenstein of the Blue and Brown Book would raise… the terminology is not used properly, there are nonsensical combinations of symbols (oh! but you misunderstand symbols!), and possibly the hypothesis that “this man does not quite get what Wittgenstein was saying” but then I pose this question: how do you know that I do not know what Wittgenstein was saying? How can you possibly comprehend how I understand Wittgenstein and who are you to state that you understand Wittgenstein as you are not Wittgenstein and if you are Wittgenstein then you are not the Wittgenstein that existed in the blue-brown-book (hyphenated for aesthetic purposes) and so you are not the Wittgenstein that I address here and have no authority to state that I do not understand Wittgenstein even though I clearly do not and neither do you so back off and eat a brick, which is slang for fuck off.
See what I did there?
Of course, you saw nothing except various combination of symbols written in accordance with specific rules that govern the grammar of each symbol cluster. However, it is necessary to see these symbols in order to understand them.
And it continues… what is the meaning of something and how do our gestures and tone used in the act of saying something convey a specific meaning; what is the reason for these movements and vocalizations? Or, perhaps, I should say that there simply IS a reason and the “what is the reason” portion of my proposition is completely unnecessary, because the reason is a reason that I consider a reason and can be recognized as me considering something a reason by you but you will not completely understand this reason I have considered in the “what” sense.
A few random thoughts I had written down before I finished this essay/document/what-have-you and should have edited out but I like numbered lists and I like naive, adorable thoughts that I have because I am either (a) a narcissist or (b) a fan of progress:
1. How can I possibly construct a concise sentence without the specter of Wittgenstein occupying a portion of my conscious thought (the reason for my use of the word “portion” can be thought of as an analogy… I think; at this point, the brain scrambles to find words that are acceptable to this dead man and his writings) (?).
2. Is there a reasonable compromise to be reached in this situation?
3. THOUGHT THAT I CANNOT PROVE AND WILL PROBABLY NOT MAKE ANY SENSE: The Self, as understood by the Upanishads and other Eastern texts, is notably absent from this discussion. The Self is a cryptic, mysterious, uninformative concept on the surface; however, if one begins to practice meditation, this word becomes clear — not as an all-encompassing, incredibly descriptive word, but as a way to represent something that is understood by those that have made a concerted effort to understand the Self. If I understand what the Self is to me, I cannot explain it to anyone else. Yet, if I explain things in terms of the Self, there are some that will understand that I am tuned to some frequency that allows me to understand this word that is merely a word to most people. It is an experience to me. And those that understand it can see when it is understood by another through their words, gestures, actions, etc.
4. And so 3. above is out of place here. Why did I bring this up? I cannot explain the Self and neither can Wittgenstein… there is something missing in his analysis that would account for something that cannot be accounted for and explained.
Again, these words are just words. The existence of the word “can” and “imagine” and all other words that suggest the existence of a Self that is not specifically acknowledged here and cannot be specifically acknowledged as Wittgenstein must avoid this for his discussion to continue.
Perhaps Wittgenstein is being difficult on purpose? And when I say “difficult”, I mean that his intent is to write something that ponders the words we use to communicate and, in pondering these words, issue warnings about the grave danger that resides in the specific word choices an individual may use and how it may reveal some aspects of consciousness through intransitivity (or transitivity? It depends on how you approach the situation) — unfortunately, Wittgenstein is here to report that all words are problematic to an extent. And it is complicated. And music reveals itself and etc etc and I agree. AND IT IS ALL CONTEXTUAL TOO.
I agree with his approach. Kind of.
Yes. Exactly. What a twist.
And here I address Wittgenstein:
Hey man, what’s up?
I still feel like I’m missing something. Or maybe I am reading too much into what you are saying?
Your language games can be used to do all sorts of things that I am completely uninterested in. I have no idea what point you are trying to make because I have no context for what it is you sought to address or write about. Words can be a cluster-fuck. And even with the most well-written sentences that conform to the ideas you lay out throughout the book, a person can fuck around with it. What is the intent? Is there a double meaning? A triple meanings? Clever propositions based on specific statements… how do you know? HOW DO YOU KNOW?
OH YOU BASTARD! OH YOU BASTARD! WAIT, WAIT, WAIT…
You clever, clever, clever bastard Wittgenstein, oh my goodness.
I am glad you are not here to interrupt me, because I know you would have done so and probably more, e.g., ridiculed me, slapped me, laughed at me, etc. but whatever, that’s not the point.
VII. I AM DONE ADDRESSING WITTGENSTEIN:
Hello again everyone.
I get it.
All that has been done throughout the duration of this worthless combination of letters clustered in a specific fashion in specific ways in a specific order and etc etc has been me playing language games with myself. What was my initial question? Does the first sentence (not technically a sentence) negate the second sentence (not technically a sentence)? Did I even begin to try and explain or provide insight into what this actually means? No, and I could never get around to trying either. And that’s the point here. It is a pointless exercise.
To explain: Wittgenstein deals with the color red a lot. How do we know a specific object is red? How do we learn what red is? What is the deal with red? And after approximately 100 pages of language gaming these propositions (I mean, and others too, but he likes the red one a lot. And that’s not to say the other word games are terrible or anything. In fact, they are real exciting language games, such as, “what if an arrow pointing right means ‘go left’ to someone else?” because this is certainly possible) these questions about red are not resolved. And I am still perplexed by this red thing. And I think Wittgenstein is as well. But see, I think he is cool with that.
Why would he be cool with that? Well, if this red thing causes all these problems, what hope do we have of ever answering questions like, “what is consciousness” and “what is happiness” with words? If an arrow pointing right can mean “go left” or “go right”, then what in the hell are we even doing talking about nebulous, vague words like consciousness, happiness, etc etc in an attempt to formulate some clever response (i.e., clever language game) for the sole purpose of earning the adulation of all humanoids that populate the earth? These words are words that represent things that cannot be put into words but can still be understood. Like, I know what red is and if you say “that’s red”, then cool, I get it, you think it’s red and I may think it’s red too and even if I don’t let us not language game this fucker to death.
VIII. FINAL CONFESSION:
This is my confession face…
Quick confession: while I was playing all these language games with myself I was thinking “we can’t communicate then, eh, Wittgenstein? Yet, I can read what you wrote and you are communicating to me, so looks like I win” in an embarrassingly smug fashion. I mean, we obviously CAN communicate some things with words but not nearly the amount of things that we think we can. Please do not judge me harshly because of this, because I am very sensitive.
I WILL CONTINUE BECAUSE I CAN, OR, IF WITTGENSTEIN CAN RAMBLE ON AND ON THEN I CAN TOO BECAUSE IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO:
CONTEXT AND TONE are important aspects of communication (yes, there are other aspects of communication, I readily acknowledge that, but these are aspects I like) and so let us consider these two aspects in this short story:
I get a letter from a guy (or girl, or whatever), and it says, “hope you’re well” and then I think, “are they saying this because they are curious about my health? Do they want me to let them know I am well? Is it just something said to keep the letter going in the appropriate direction? Does this mean she (or he, or whatever) likes me?!” This worrying and language gaming is pointless and unnecessary. I will never find an adequate solution to the issues my word games raise. Therefore, I should just read that phrase and smile and be done with it.
Moral of the story:
Chill the hell out with your words… Wittgenstein is like, “hey, just stop it with ‘what does this sunset make you feel?’ or ‘what does your band sound like?’ or any other pointless question that cannot be answered and etc etc”
Ludwig is sick of your ridiculous nonsense. And he wants you all to know that you do not know a damn thing.
And neither does he.
The author of this piece knows nothing either. Thank you.