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Wittgenstein's Metaphilosophy Paperback – 8 Feb 2013
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[T]here is plenty to learn from Horwich's book, and I much applaud his effort to show Wittgenstein's relevance to contemporary analytic philosophy. (Martin Gustafsson, Mind)
There is much more of interest in Horwich's rich and rewarding book than Iâve been able to touch on here: each of the six chapters is sure to stimulate lively discussion. (Alexander Miller, The Philosophical Quarterly)
About the Author
Paul Horwich (BA Oxford 1986, MA Yale 1969, PhD Cornell 1974) is currently a Professor of Philosophy at New York University. His principal contributions to the subject have been a probabilistic account of scientific methodology, a unified explanation of temporally asymmetric phenomena, a deflationary conception of truth, and a naturalistic use-theory of meaning. He has received fellowship support for his work from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has been on the faculties of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1973-1995), University College London (1995-2000), and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (2000-2005). He has also given courses at UCLA, the CNRS Institut d'Histoire et Philosophie des Sciences et Technique, the University of Sydney, the Ecole Normale Superieure, and the University of Tokyo.
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Horwich was a really important figure to philosophy in the 1990s. Apart from Hartry Field, he was the main proponent of a minimalist conception of truth, a position he dubbed ‘deflationism’. The main point of deflationism (or minimalism) about any concept is to say that there’s not much to say about that concept. Any ambitions at analyzing or even elucidating the deeper structure or hidden meaning of that concept would be beside the point. In the case of truth (see Horwich's Truth), Horwich reduced what can be meaningfully be said about truth (as a concept and predicate) to the fairly straightforward equivalence of a sentence truth’s to things being as it describes them to be. However, instead of giving a metaphysical gloss on ‘things being as [the sentence] describes them to be’ analogous to substantive positions (such as a correspondence to facts theory), the deflationist simply disquotes the sentence: “the cat is on the mat” is true if and only if [enter disquotation:] the cat is on the mat.
At this point, a couple of technical complications enter - in that Field would stick to disquotation (appeal to sentences, later elaborated to ‘sentences as the speaker understands them’, i.e. idiolects), where Horwich preferred to gloss what precedes the “is true if and only if” by propositions (disquoted sentences) – but these are really details to a much larger claim: that truth has no deep metaphysical nature, and that appeal to metaphysical explanations in terms of facts, nature of the universe, and so on, are simply red herrings. Truth is much simpler, and less mysterious, than we think it is, and there’s really not much we can say about it.
This was Horwich’s position in the early 1990s. By the late 90s, Horwich had worked out the ramifications and requirements of his view on truth by submitting a background program on the nature of meaning. He dubbed it a “use theory” of meaning, since the theory did away with substantive claims about reference, such as a name’s relating to a referent in the world, and this requiring substantive explanation. In short, Horwich added a deflationist theory of meaning to his already deflationist program about truth.
In the past twenty years, Horwich has been very prolific, but very little, it seems to me, has been added to make his position more appealing or interesting than when first introduced. It’s actually really hard to look at the critical, anti-deflationist literature from Gupta, Wright, Davidson and others (see Truth (Oxford Readings in Philosophy)), and think that Horwich ever addressed the fact that his program is just that – a program that fails to deliver systematic results, and is riddled with technical errors and challenges it has yet to resolve.
Especially one point stuck, and kept being pointed out until the mid 2000s: that Horwich’s program of meaning (on which his truth deflationism rested, in part) could not deliver systematic analysis of the meaning of natural language constructions and sentences. Instead, the program acquiesced in broad claims, and was not even consistent with the formal properties of the truth predicate, as highlighted by the semantic paradoxes. To his vast credit, Horwich's deflationist comrade in arms, Hartry Field stepped up to the game, and addressed those paradoxes head on - the result published 2008 in Field's impressive Saving Truth From Paradox", a work delivered in marked contrast to Horwich’s attitude of perrential system building without ever bothering to clue us in about the essential details to make the thing fly.
Enter 2013 and Horwich’s newest effort: Wittgenstein’s Metaphilosophy. Despite being a book ostensively about the nature of philosophy itself and the historical Wittgenstein, it's very much a book by Paul Horwich about Paul Horwich. This is not only evident by the fact that the book's author finds it hard to go on for 2 pages (often less) without referencing some important part of his past oeuvre that fills in an important detail he's too busy to clue you in here (the Gilderoy Lockehart character from the Harry Potter series comes to mind). It’s also evident from the book's overarching theme, which is pretty much the same as detailed above - except that Horwich writes as if the prefix “Wittgenstein said that” added authority to Horwich’s own claims. I leave to others to judge the extent to which the book uses the prefix with historical accuracy and is consequently a good place to (begin) learn(ing) about Wittgenstein’s views. The point here is simply that appeal to Wittgenstein does not per se make the deflationist program more interesting, or more valid. It just makes for nicer reading, and will appeal to an audience that’s not terribly in love with dry, technical material (a la Tarski on truth). But in the end it's the same old story: there's not much work for philosophy to do, and instead of illuminating and elucidating various notions fundamental to human thought, we're better off just walking away and not wanting such things explained in the first place, let alone have them explained in a particularly deep metaphysical manner.
This also explains why Horwich's book is so adamant on the need to flag Wittgenstein’s philosophy as “therapeutic”, meaning, that philosophy does not solve philosophical problems – such as, about the nature of truth and meaning – by constructive work, in devising theories whose results or empirical predictions can be tested. Rather, "therapeutic" philospohy succeeds by ‘exorcising’ the need to have these problems solved in the first place, much like psychotherapy helps you to get rid of neuroses by talking them through rather than having them explained. As Wittgenstein puts it in the Tractatus, you recognize a problem has been "solved" when that problem has "gone away".
If you are seasoned in Wittgenstein studies, such an emphasis on therapy in interpreting Wittgenstein is not terribly novel either, but simply a clash of a 30 years dispute between “standard” and (so-called) “new” or "resolute" readings of Wittgenstein’s work. I must confess that having read some of James Conant, Cora Diamond, and others of The New Wittgenstein school, referenced on p.94-95n16 but never fully discussed by Horwich – all of whom defend with great style a staunchly “therapeutic” reading of Wittgenstein – Horwich’s analysis looks rather tame, and not particularly engrossing. Specifically Horwich’s critique of Kripke’s Wittgenstein looks dated by 15 if not 30 years, as if the material was inserted from a semi-prepared undergraduate lecture series back in the day (see specifically the references on p.162-163n15, all dated ca. 1984). Certainly by this point I felt that the target audience of this book can't be very much beyond the second year undergraduate. Grad school readers will gain little, and lay readers are better advised to get a text considerably less mired in the forth-and-back with Horwich's colleagues they don't care for. In either scenario, the book's novelty or interest factor is low, and the book's blurb to sell itself on exactly those terms a dash misleading.
Also, given the above, it should be clear by now that the monicker “therapeutic” is simply the New Sexy for “deflationist”. But even this is old news, and when Notre Dame Phil Reviews reviewed Hartry Field’s 2001 collectionTruth and the Absence of Fact on (inter alia) deflationism, the reviewer went: “Let me make a few polemical remarks about Field’s deflationary account of truth and meaning/content, remarks that may indicate that I am still in the grips of an inflationist illness Field is trying to cure.” The illness-cure metaphor thus was never far from people’s mind when debating deflationism – and this was 15 years ago.
What’s ultimately disappointing, then, is that Horwich keeps pumping out books that do not sufficiently address the underlying (substantive and technical) problems of his positions at the level of detail. Instead, he keeps writing books that sell the old program in new terms. And for people who’ve been along this ride, this is getting tedious. Replacing the 1990s dichotomy of “deflationary vs. substantive” philosophy with that of “therapeutic vs. constructive” is just that.
I’m also getting increasingly bored by reading the same old criticisms of Horwich from the substantive/constructive side of the debate (hardly their fault, since the target of their criticism changes so little). Head over to Youtube, and listen to Tim Williamson critique Horwich’s book (or, if you want to save time, read the written review in the respective specialist journal). It rehearses a point Williamson already made in his mid-2000s "Must Do Better" (originally presented at a conference at which Horwich also presented), and homes in on a critique we’ve heard since the 1990s, that the deflationist program – whether about truth, meaning, or whatever – over-promises and under-delivers, and ultimately rests itself on non-deflationary theses and claims such as an assertion based semantics that it defends rather poorly. Horwich’s 'newest' trick in 'Wittgenstein's Metaphilosophy', that his claims are designed to evade such validation or are simply too "obvious" to require it, does not help. It’s his stock reply from the 1990s that the deflationist does not have to answer to certain explanatory claims, since his position is precisely about eschewing such claims. Fair enough, but this seems a rather thin reward for wading through 200 pages and more of argument and counter argument. Shifting the burden of explanation is a conversation killer, not an illuminating contribution to philosophical exchange.
In the end, I would recommend the book to people starting out on Horwich, especially if they enjoy reading about Wittgenstein. It’s a bit like getting whatever is the latest, in a seemingly endless stream of, self-celebratory books by John Searle or Bob Brandom, philosophers who had a good point once, and spent the rest of their careers with re-branding it (and them). This is not meant to diminish these philosophers – in most cases, the newer efforts really do succeed in selling the initial idea better – but it is also to warn readers that the novelty factor is low, and that the book’s capacity to engage seasoned readers is regrettably limited.
Seasoned readers, or (relative) beginners with more serious intentions, are better advised to begin with the volume on truth in the "Oxford Readings" series linked above, which includes the main part of Horwich's (revised) book on truth and some hard hitting criticism. From there, I'd advise readers to graduate to Field's two books, also linked above. These books will consume a much higher amount of your time, and make greater demands on your concentration. But you'll be in a much more enlightened and rewarded position to directly assess for yourself the relative merits of "therapeutic" vs. substantive philosophy. Field's writing might be infinitely less sexy than Horwich's, but his contributions' staying power are proportionally higher. And if it's style and sexy you want, I am not sure Horwich will help you much.
Here is how the leading Wittgenstein scholar summarized his work: "Wittgenstein resolved many of the deep problems that have dogged our subject for centuries, sometimes indeed for more than two millennia, problems about the nature of linguistic representation, about the relationship between thought and language, about solipsism and idealism, self-knowledge and knowledge of other minds, and about the nature of necessary truth and of mathematical propositions. He ploughed up the soil of European philosophy of logic and language. He gave us a novel and immensely fruitful array of insights into philosophy of psychology. He attempted to overturn centuries of reflection on the nature of mathematics and mathematical truth. He undermined foundationalist epistemology. And he bequeathed us a vision of philosophy as a contribution not to human knowledge, but to human understanding - understanding of the forms of our thought and of the conceptual confusions into which we are liable to fall."--Peter Hacker--'Gordon Baker's late interpretation of Wittgenstein'
I would add that W was the first (by 40 years) to clearly and extensively describe the two systems of thought -- fast automatic prelinguistic S1 and the slow reflective linguistic dispositional S2. He explained how behavior only is possible with a vast inherited background that is the axiomatic basis for judging and cannot be doubted or judged, so will (choice), consciousness, self, time and space are innate true-only axioms. He discussed many times what is now known as Theory of Mind, Framing and cognitive illusions. He frequently explained the necessity of the innate background and demonstrated how it generates behavior. He described the psychology behind what later became the Wason test--a fundamental measure used in EP research decades later. He noted the indeterminate nature of language and the game-like nature of social interaction. He examined in thousands of pages and hundreds of examples how our inner mental experiences are not describable in language, this being possible only for public behavior with a public language (the impossibility of private language). Thus, he can be viewed as the first evolutionary psychologist.
When thinking about Wittgenstein, I often recall the comment attributed to Cambridge Philosophy professor C.D. Broad (who did not understand nor like him). "Not offering the chair of philosophy to Wittgenstein would be like not offering the chair of physics to Einstein!" I think of him as the Einstein of intuitive psychology. Though born ten years later, he was likewise hatching ideas about the nature of reality at nearly the same time and in the same part of the world and like Einstein nearly died in WW1. Now suppose Einstein was a suicidal homosexual recluse with a difficult personality who published only one early version of his ideas that were confused and often mistaken, but became world famous; completely changed his ideas but for the next 30 years published nothing more, and knowledge of his new work, in mostly garbled form, diffused slowly from occasional lectures and students notes; that he died in 1951 leaving behind over 20,000 pages of mostly handwritten scribblings in German, composed of sentences or short paragraphs with, often, no clear relationship to sentences before or after; that he wrote in a Socratic style with 3 distinct persons in the dialog--the narrator, the interlocutor and the commentator (usually W's view) whose comments were blended together by most readers, thus completely vitiating the whole elucidatory and therapeutic thrust, that these were cut and pasted from other notebooks written years earlier with notes in the margins, underlinings and crossed out words, so that many sentences have multiple variants; that his literary executives cut this indigestible mass into pieces, leaving out what they wished and struggling with the monstrous task of capturing the correct meaning of sentences which were conveying utterly novel views of how the universe works and that they then published this material with agonizing slowness (not finished after half a century) with prefaces that contained no real explanation of what it was about; that he became as much notorious as famous due to many statements that all previous physics was a mistake and even nonsense, and that virtually nobody understood his work, in spite of hundreds of books and tens of thousands of papers discussing it; that many physicists knew only his early work in which he had made a definitive summation of Newtonian physics stated in such extremely abstract and condensed form that it was difficult to decide what was being said; that he was then virtually forgotten and that most books and articles on the nature of the world and the diverse topics of modern physics had only passing and usually erroneous references to him, and that many omitted him entirely; that to this day, over half a century after his death, there were only a handful of people who really grasped the monumental consequences of what he had done. This, I claim, is precisely the situation with Wittgenstein.
Before remarking on Horwich, I will first offer some comments on philosophy and its relationship to contemporary psychological research as exemplified in the works of Searle (S),Wittgenstein (W), Hacker (H) et al. It will help to see my reviews of PNC (Philosophy in a New Century), TLP, PI, OC, Making the Social World (MSW) and other books by and about these geniuses, who provide a clear description of higher order behavior not found in psychology books, that I will refer to as the WS framework. A major theme in all discussion of human behavior is the need to separate the genetically programmed automatisms from the effects of culture. All study of higher order behavior is an effort to tease apart not only fast S1 and slow S2 thinking --e.g., perceptions and other automatisms vs. dispositions, but the extensions of S2 into culture (S3). Searle's work as a whole provides a stunning description of higher order S2/S3 social behavior, while the later W shows how it is based on true-only unconscious axioms of S1 which evolved into conscious dispositional propositional thinking of S2.
S1 is the simple automated functions of our involuntary, System 1, fast thinking, mirror neuron, true-only, non-propositional, prelinguistic mental states- our perceptions and memories and reflexive acts including System 1 Truths and UA1 --Understanding of Agency 1-- and Emotions1- such as joy, love, anger) which can be described causally, while the evolutionarily later linguistic functions are expressions or descriptions of voluntary, System 2, slow thinking, mentalizing neurons. That is, of testable true or false, propositional, Truth2 and UA2 and Emotions2 (joyfulness, loving, hating)-- the dispositional (and often counterfactual) imagining, supposing, intending, thinking, knowing, believing, etc. which can only be described in terms of reasons (i.e., it's just a fact that attempts to describe System 2 in terms of neurochemistry, atomic physics, mathematics, make no sense--see W, S, Hacker etc.).
Disposition words have at least two basic uses. One is a peculiar philosophical use (but graduating into everyday uses) which refers to the true-only sentences resulting from direct perceptions and memory, i.e., our innate axiomatic S1 psychology (`I know these are my hands')--i.e., they are Causally Self Referential (CSR)-called reflexive or intransitive in BBB), and the S2 use, which is their normal use as dispositions, which can be acted out, and which can become true or false (`I know my way home')--i.e., they have Conditions of Satisfaction (COS) and are not CSR(called transitive in BBB).
It follows both from W's 3rd period work and from contemporary psychology, that `will', `self' and `consciousness' are axiomatic true-only elements of S1 composed of perceptions and reflexes., and there is no possibility (intelligibility) of demonstrating (of giving sense to) their falsehood. As W made so wonderfully clear numerous times, they are the basis for judgment and so cannot be judged. The true-only axioms of our psychology are not evidential.
Evolution by inclusive fitness has programmed the unconscious rapid reflexive causal actions of S1 which often give rise to the conscious slow thinking of S2 (often modified into the cultural extensions of S3), which produces reasons for action that often result in activation of body and/or speech muscles by S1 causing actions. The general mechanism is via both neurotransmission and by changes in neuromodulators in targeted areas of the brain. The overall cognitive illusion (called by S `The Phenomenological Illusion', by Pinker `The Blank Slate' and by Tooby and Cosmides `The Standard Social Science Model') is that S2/S3 has generated the action consciously for reasons of which we are fully aware and in control of, but anyone familiar with modern biology and psychology can see that this view is not credible.
A sentence expresses a thought (has a meaning), when it has clear COS, i.e., public truth conditions. Hence the comment from W: " When I think in language, there aren't `meanings' going through my mind in addition to the verbal expressions: the language is itself the vehicle of thought." And, if I think with or without words, the thought is whatever I (honestly) say it is as there is no other possible criterion (COS). Thus W's lovely aphorisms (p132 Budd) "It is in language that wish and fulfillment meet" and "Like everything metaphysical, the harmony between thought and reality is to be found in the grammar of the language." And one might note here that `grammar' in W can usually be translated as EP and that in spite of his frequent warnings against theorizing and generalizing, this is about as broad a characterization of higher order descriptive psychology (philosophy) as one can find.
Though W is correct that there is no mental state that constitutes meaning, S notes that there is a general way to characterize the act of meaning-- "Speaker meaning... is the imposition of conditions of satisfaction on conditions of satisfaction" which means to speak or write a well formed sentence expressing COS in a context that can be true or false and this is an act and not a mental state.
Hence the famous quote from W: "If God had looked into our minds he would not have been able to see there whom we were speaking of (PI p217)" and his comments that the whole problem of representation is contained in "that's Him" and "...what gives the image its interpretation is the path on which it lies," or as S says its COS. Hence W's summation (p140 Budd) that "What it always comes to in the end is that without any further meaning, he calls what happened the wish that that should happen"..." the question whether I know what I wish before my wish is fulfilled cannot arise at all. And the fact that some event stops my wishing does not mean that it fulfills it. Perhaps I should not have been satisfied if my wish had been satisfied"...Suppose it were asked `Do I know what I long for before I get it? If I have learned to talk, then I do know."
Wittgenstein (W) is for me easily the most brilliant thinker on human behavior. He shows that behavior is an extension of innate true-only axioms (see "On Certainty" for his final extended treatment of this idea) and that our conscious ratiocination emerges from unconscious machinations. His corpus can be seen as the foundation for all description of animal behavior, revealing how the mind works and indeed must work. The "must" is entailed by the fact that all brains share a common ancestry and common genes and so there is only one basic way they work, that this necessarily has an axiomatic structure, that all higher animals share the same evolved psychology based on inclusive fitness, and that in humans this is extended into a personality based on throat muscle contractions (language) that evolved to manipulate others. I suggest it will prove of the greatest value to consider W's work and most of his examples as an effort to tease apart not only fast and slow thinking (e.g., perceptions vs dispositions--see below), but nature and nurture.
W can also be regarded as a pioneer in evolutionary cognitive linguistics--the Top Down analysis of the mind and its evolution via the careful analysis of examples of language use in context, exposing the many varieties of language games and the relationships between the primary games of true-only unconscious, axiomatic fast thinking of perception, memory and reflexive emotions and acts (often described as the subcortical and primitive cortical reptilian brain first-self functions), and the later evolved higher cortical dispositional conscious abilities of believing, knowing, thinking etc. that constitute the true or false propositional secondary language games of slow thinking that include the network of cognitive illusions that constitute the basis of our second-self personality. He dissects hundreds of language games showing how the true-only perceptions, memories and reflexive actions of system one (S1) grade into the thinking, remembering, and understanding of system two (S2) dispositions, and many of his examples also address the nature/nurture issue explicitly. With this evolutionary perspective, his later works are a breathtaking revelation of human nature that is entirely current and has never been equaled. Many perspectives have heuristic value, but I find that this evolutionary two systems view is the best. To paraphrase Dobzhansky's famous comment: "Nothing in philosophy makes sense except in the light of evolutionary psychology."
The common ideas (e.g., the subtitle of one of Pinker's books "The Stuff of Thought: language as a window into human nature") that language is a window on or some sort of translation of our thinking or even (Fodor) that there must be some other "Language of Thought" of which it is a translation, were rejected by W, who tried to show, with hundreds of continually reanalyzed perspicacious examples of language in action, that language is not just the best picture we can ever get of thinking, the mind and human nature, but speech is the mind, and his whole corpus can be regarded as the development of this idea. He rejected the idea that the Bottom Up approaches of physiology, experimental psychology and computation ( Computational Theory of Mind, Strong AI, Dynamic Systems Theory, functionalism, etc.) could reveal what his analyses of Language Games (LG's) did. The difficulties he noted are to understand what is always in front of our eyes and to capture vagueness ("The greatest difficulty in these investigations is to find a way of representing vagueness" LWPP1, 347).
He recognized that `Nothing is Hidden'--i.e., our whole psychology and all the answers to all philosophical questions are here in our language (our life) and that the difficulty is not to find the answers but to recognize them as always here in front of us--we just have to stop trying to look deeper and to abandon the myth of introspective access to our "inner life" (e.g., "The greatest danger here is wanting to observe oneself." LWPP1, 459). Incidentally, the equation of logic or grammar and our axiomatic psychology is essential to understanding W and human nature (as DMS, but afaik nobody else, points out).
Our shared public experience becomes a true-only extension of our axiomatic EP and cannot be found mistaken without threatening our sanity. That is, the consequences of an S1 `mistake' are quite different from an S2 mistake. A corollary, nicely explained by DMS and elucidated in his own unique manner by Searle, is that the skeptical view of the world and other minds (and a mountain of other nonsense including the Blank Slate) cannot really get a foothold, as "reality" is the result of involuntary axioms and not testable true or false propositions.
The investigation of involuntary fast thinking has revolutionized psychology, economics (e.g., Kahneman's Nobel prize) and other disciplines under names like "cognitive illusions", "priming", "framing", "heuristics" and "biases". Of course these too are language games, so there will be more and less useful ways to use these words, and studies and discussions will vary from "pure" System 1 to combinations of 1 and 2 (the norm as W made clear), but presumably not ever of slow System 2 dispositional thinking only, since any System 2 thought or intentional action cannot occur without involving much of the intricate network of "cognitive modules", "inference engines", "intracerebral reflexes", "automatisms", "cognitive axioms", "background" or "bedrock" (as W and later Searle call our EP). One of W's recurring themes was TOM, or as I prefer UA (Understanding of Agency). Ian Apperly, who is carefully analyzing UA1 and UA2 in experiments, has recently become aware of Hutto, who has characterized UA1 as a fantasy (i.e., no `Theory' nor representation involved in UA1--that being reserved for UA2--see my review of his book with Myin). However, like other psychologists, Apperly has no idea W laid the groundwork for this 80 years ago. It is an easily defensible view that the core of the burgeoning literature on cognitive illusions, automatisms and higher order thought is compatible with and straightforwardly deducible from W. In spite of the fact that most of the above has been known to many for decades (and even ¾ of a century in the case of some of W's teachings), I have never seen anything approaching an adequate discussion in behavioral science texts and commonly there is barely a mention.
To serve as a framework I have generated the following table of INTENTIONALITY based on a much simpler one from Searle. The basics were figured out by Wittgenstein from the 1930's to 1951 but with clear foreshadows back to 1911, and with refinements by many, but above all by John Searle beginning in the late 1960's. "The general tree of psychological phenomena. I strive not for exactness but for a view of the whole." RPP Vol 1 P895 cf Z P464. Compare this table with those in Hacker's 3 volumes on Human Nature
..................................................THINKING.(COGNITION)(No gaps)........................WILLING.(VOLITION)(3 gaps)
Cause Originates From...........World.............World..........World.......World.................Mind.......Mind...............Mind
Causes Changes In................None..............Mind...........Mind........Mind...................None.....World..............World
Causally Self Referential***.....No.................Yes...........Yes..........Yes....................No.......Yes.................Yes
True or False (Testable)..........Yes..............T only........T only.......T only................Yes........Yes.................Yes
Describe a Mental State..... ....No.................Yes...........Yes..........Yes....................No.......Yes.................Yes
Information to/from World........No.................From..........From........From...................No........To.................To
Tversky/Kahneman **** ..........2...................1.............1............1.......................2/1..........2..................2
Time and Place *****.............TT.................HN............HN............HN..................TT...........HN................HN
Localized in Body....................No.................No............No............Yes....................No...........Yes..............Yes
Needs a Self.........................Yes................Yes............No............No.....................Yes..........No................No
*Dispositions) (X might become True) : CLASS 1: Believing, Judging, Thinking, Understanding, Choosing, Deciding, Preferring, Interpreting, Knowing (including skills and abilities), Attending (Learning), Experiencing, Meaning, Remembering, Intending, Considering, Desiring , expecting, wishing , wanting, hoping( a special class), Seeing As (Aspects), CLASS 2: DECOUPLED MODE-- Dreaming ,Imagining, Lying, Predicting, Doubting CLASS 3: EMOTIONS: Loving, Hating, Fearing. Sorrow, Joy, Jealousy, Depression . Their function is to modulate Preferences to increase inclusive fitness (expected maximum utility) by facilitating information processing of perceptions and memories for rapid action. Hajek(2003) gives an analysis of dispositions as conditional probabilities which are algorithmatized by R & L(1999), Spohn, Popper etc. **Causally Self Referential--Mental State instantiates--Causes or Fulfills --Itself) Lion is the object, not the cause of fear (W RPP2 148) *** Here and Now or There and Then
Now for some comments on Horwich's "Wittgenstein's Metaphilosophy".
After the above and my many reviews of books by and about W, S, H etc, it should be clear what W is doing and what a contemporary account of behavior should include, so I'll make just a few comments.
First one might note that putting "meta" in front of any word should be suspect. W remarked e.g., that metamathematics is mathematics like any other. The notion that we can step outside philosophy (i.e., the descriptive psychology of higher order thought) is itself a profound confusion. Another irritation here (and throughout academic writing for the last 4 decades) is the constant reverse linguistic sexism of "her" and "hers" and "she" or "he/she" etc., where "they" and "theirs" and "them" would do nicely. The major deficiency is the complete failure (though very common) to employ what I see as the hugely powerful and intuitive two systems view of HOT and Searle's framework which I have outlined above. This is especially poignant in the chapter on meaning p111 et seq.(esp. in footnotes 2-7), where we swim in very muddy water without the framework of automated true only S1, propositional dispositional S2, COS etc. One can also get a better view of the inner and the outer by reading e.g., Johnston or Budd (see my reviews). Horwich however makes many incisive comments. I especially liked his summary of the import of W's antitheoretical stance on p65.
"There must be no attempt to explain our linguistic/conceptual activity (PI 126) as in Frege's reduction of arithmetic to logic; no attempt to give it epistemological foundations (PI 124) as in meaning based accounts of a priori knowledge; no attempt to characterize idealized forms of it (PI 130) as in sense logics; no attempt to reform it (PI 124, 132) as in Mackie's error theory or Dummett's intuitionism; no attempt to streamline it (PI 133) as in Quine's account of existence; no attempt to make it more consistent (PI 132) as in Tarski's response to the liar paradoxes; and no attempt to make it more complete (PI 133) as in the settling of questions of personal identity for bizarre hypothetical `teleportation' scenarios."
For me, the high points of writing on W are nearly always the quotes from the master himself and this is again true here. His quote (p101) from TLP shows W's early grasp of EP which he later termed the `background' or `bedrock'.
"Thought is surrounded by a halo. Its essence, logic, presents an order, in fact the a priori order of the world: that is the order of possibilities, which must be common to both world and thought. But this order, it seems, must be utterly simple. It is prior to all experience, must run through all experience; no empirical cloudiness or uncertainty can be allowed to affect it. It must rather be of the purest crystal. But this crystal does not appear as an abstraction; but as something concrete,
indeed, as the most concrete, as it were, the hardest thing there is. (TLP # 5, 5563, PI 97)."
There are many good points in the chapter on Kripke but some confusions as well. The discussion of W's refutation of private language on p165-6 seems a bit unclear but on p 196-7 he states it clearly--and this notion is not only central to W but to all understanding of HOT. Stern has perhaps the best discussion of it I have seen in his "Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations". Kripke, in spite the all the noise he made, is now generally understood to have totally misconstrued W, merely repeating the classic skeptical metaphysical blunders. Those who want to dig into `Kripkenstein', or philosophy generally, should read "Kripke's Conjuring Trick" by Read and Sharrock--a superb deconstruction of skepticism that is readily available on the net.
I find the chapter on consciousness very good, especially p190 et seq on private language, qualia, inverted spectra and the umpteenth refutation of the idea that W is a behaviorist.
It is worth repeating his final remark. "What sort of progress is this--the fascinating mystery has been removed--yet no depths have been plumbed in consolation; nothing has been explained or discovered or reconceived. How tame and uninspiring one might think. But perhaps, as Wittgenstein suggests, the virtues of clarity, demystification and truth should be found satisfying enough."
Horwich is first rate and his work well worth the effort. One hopes that he (and everyone) will study Searle and some modern psychology as well as Hutto, Read, Hutchinson, Stern, Moyal-Sharrock, Stroll, Hacker and Baker etc. to attain a broad modern view of behavior.
Finally, let me suggest that with the perspective I have encouraged here, W is at the center of contemporary philosophy and psychology and is not obscure, difficult or irrelevant, but scintillating, profound and crystal clear and that to miss him is to miss one of the greatest intellectual adventures possible.