on 24 March 2013
" But I did not get my picture of the world by satisfying myself of its correctness: nor do I have it because I am satisfied of its correctness. No: it is the inherited background against which I distinguish between true and false." Wittgenstein OC 94
"Now if it is not the causal connections which we are concerned with, then the activities of the mind lie open before us." Wittgenstein "The Blue Book" p6 (1933)
"Nonsense, Nonsense, because you are making assumptions instead of simply describing. If your head is haunted by explanations here, you are neglecting to remind yourself of the most important facts." Wittgenstein Z 220
"Philosophy simply puts everything before us and neither explains nor deduces anything...One might give the name `philosophy' to what is possible before all new discoveries and inventions." Wittgenstein PI 126
"What we are supplying are really remarks on the natural history of man, not curiosities; however, but rather observations on facts which no one has doubted and which have only gone unremarked because they are always before our eyes." Wittgenstein RFM I p142
"The aim of philosophy is to erect a wall at the point where language stops anyway." Wittgenstein Philosophical Occasions p187
"The limit of language is shown by its being impossible to describe a fact which corresponds to (is the translation of) a sentence without simply repeating the sentence (this has to do with the Kantian solution to the problem of philosophy)." Wittgenstein CV p10 (1931)
"Can there be reasons for action which are binding on a rational agent just in virtue of the nature of the fact reported in the reason statement, and independently of the agent's desires, values, attitudes and evaluations?...The real paradox of the traditional discussion is that it tries to pose Hume's guillotine, the rigid fact-value distinction, in a vocabulary, the use of which already presupposes the falsity of the distinction." Searle PNC p165-171
"...all status functions and hence all of institutional reality, with the exception of language, are created by speech acts that have the logical form of Declarations...the forms of the status function in question are almost invariably matters of deontic powers...to recognize something as a right, duty, obligation, requirement and so on is to recognize a reason for action...these deontic structures make possible desire-independent reasons for action...The general point is very clear: the creation of the general field of desire-based reasons for action presupposed the acceptance of a system of desire-independent reasons for action." Searle PNC p34-49
"Some of the most important logical features of intentionality are beyond the reach of phenomenology because they have no immediate phenomenological reality... Because the creation of meaningfulness out of meaninglessness is not consciously experienced...it does not exist...This is... the phenomenological illusion." Searle PNC p115-117
"...the basic intentional relation between the mind and the world has to do with conditions of satisfaction. And a proposition is anything at all that can stand in an intentional relation to the world, and since those intentional relations always determine conditions of satisfaction, and a proposition is defined as anything sufficient to determine conditions of satisfaction, it turns out that all intentionality is a matter of propositions." Searle PNC p193
"So status functions are the glue that hold society together. They are created by collective intentionality and they function by carrying deontic powers...With the important exception of language itself, all of institutional reality and therefor in a sense all of human civilization is created by speech acts that have the logical form of Declarations...all of human institutional reality is created and maintained in existence by (representations that have the same logical form as) Status Function Declarations, including the cases that are not speech acts in the explicit form of Declarations." Searle MSW p11-13
"Beliefs, like statements, have the downward or mind (or word)-to-world direction of fit. And desires and intentions, like orders and promises, have the upward or world-to-mind (or word) direction of fit. Beliefs or perceptions, like statements, are supposed to represent how things are in the world, and in that sense they are supposed to fit the world; they have the mind-to-world direction of fit. The conative-volitional states such as desires, prior intentions and intentions-in-action, like orders and promises, have the world-to-mind direction of fit. They are not supposed to represent how things are but how we would like them to be or how we intend to make them be...In addition to these two faculties, there is a third, imagination, in which the propositional content is not supposed to fit reality in the way that the propositional contents of cognition and volition are supposed to fit...the world-relating commitment is abandoned and we have a propositional content without any commitment that it represent with either direction of fit." Searle MSW p15
"Just as in intentional states we can make a distinction between the type of state ...and the content of the state...so in the theory of language we can make a distinction between the type of speech act it is...and the propositional content...we have the same propositional content with different psychological mode in the case of the intentional states, and different illocutionary force or type in the case of the speech acts. Furthermore, just as my beliefs can be true or false and thus have the mind-to-world direction of fit, so my statements can be true or false and thus have the word-to-world direction of fit. And just as my desires or intentions cannot be true or false but can be in various ways satisfied or unsatisfied, so my orders and promises cannot be true or false but can be in various ways satisfied or unsatisfied--we can think of all the intentional states that have a whole propositional content and a direction of fit as representations of their conditions of satisfaction. A belief represents its truth conditions, a desire represents its fulfillment conditions, an intention represents its carrying out conditions...The intentional state represents its conditions of satisfaction...people erroneously suppose that every mental representation must be consciously thought...but the notion of a representation as I am using it is a functional and not an ontological notion. Anything that has conditions of satisfaction, that can succeed or fail in a way that is characteristic of intentionality, is by definition a representation of its conditions of satisfaction...we can analyze the structure of the intentionality of social phenomena by analyzing their conditions of satisfaction." Searle MSW p28-32
"The first four types of speech acts have exact analogues in intentional states: corresponding to Assertives are beliefs, corresponding to Directives are desires, corresponding to Commissives are intentions and corresponding to Expressives is the whole range of emotions and other intentional states where the Presup fit is taken for granted. But there is no prelinguistic analog for the Declarations. Prelinguistic intentional states cannot create facts in the world by representing those facts as already existing. This remarkable feat requires a language" MSW p69
"Speaker meaning... is the imposition of conditions of satisfaction on conditions of satisfaction. The capacity to do this is a crucial element of human cognitive capacities. It requires the ability to think on two levels at once, in a way that is essential for the use of language. At one level, the speaker intentionally produces a physical utterance, but at another level the utterance represents something. And the same duality infects the symbol itself. At one level it is a physical object like any other. At another level it has a meaning: it represents a type of a state of affairs" MSW p74
"...once you have language, it is inevitable that you will have deontology because there is no way you can make explicit speech acts performed according to the conventions of a language without creating commitments. This is true not just for statements but for all speech acts" MSW p82
These quotes are not chosen at random but (along with the others in my reviews) are an outline of behavior from our two greatest descriptive psychologists.
I will first offer some comments on philosophy and its relationship to contemporary psychological research as exemplified in the works of Searle (S) and Wittgenstein (W). It will help to see my reviews of PNC, TLP, PI, OC, and other books by these two geniuses.
Another 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 logical extensions of S2 into culture (S3).
Searle's work as a whole provides a stunning description of higher order S2/S3 social behavior due to the recent evolution of genes for dispositional psychology, 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.
Some of W's frequent topics in his 3rd period were the Inner and the Outer--see e.g., Johnston-`Wittgenstein: Rethinking the Inner' on how confusing the two is a major industry in philosophy and psychology) -- the impossibility of private language. and the axiomatic structure of all behavior. Verbs like `thinking', `seeing' first described S1 functions but as S2 evolved they came to be applied to it as well, leading to the whole mythology of the inner resulting from e.g., trying to refer to imagining as if it were seeing pictures inside the brain. S1 is the simple automated functions of our involuntary, System 1, fast thinking, mirror neuron, true-only, non-propositional, mental states- our perceptions and memories and reflexive acts including System 1 Truths and UOA1 --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, testable true or false, propositional, Truth2 and UOA2 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 for many examples and Searle for good disquisitions on this).
The investigation of involuntary fast thinking of System 1 has revolutionized psychology, economics 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).
Though W warned frequently against theorizing and produced more revealing examples of language in action than anyone, one might say that his aggregate aphorisms illustrated by examples constitute the most comprehensive "theory" of behavior ever penned.
Finally, let me suggest that with this perspective, W is not obscure, difficult or irrelevant but scintillating, profound and crystal clear, that he writes telegraphically because we think and behave that way, and that to miss him is to miss one of the greatest intellectual adventures possible. I have had to cut the background info to a minimum, so those wishing for more please consult my many other reviews on W, S, Hutto, Johnston, etc.
Now for some comments on Searle's MSW. I will make some references to another of his recent works which I have reviewed- Philosophy in a New Century (PNC).
The ideas here are mostly already published. His written work is solid as a rock and groundbreaking throughout. However his failure to take the later W seriously enough leads to some mistakes. He notes that our certainty about basic facts is due to the overwhelming weight of reason supporting our claims, but W showed definitively in `On Certainty' that there is no possibility of doubting the true-only axiomatic structure of our System 1 perceptions, memories and thoughts, since they are the basis for judgment (reason) and cannot be judged. Contra S, Dennett, and most philosophers and cognitive scientists, one has no choice but to deny that any revision of our concepts (language games) of causation, self, mind or will is possible.
The deontic structures or `social glue' are the automatic fast actions of S1 producing the slow dispositions of S2 which are inexorably expanded during personal development into a wide array of automatic universal cultural deontic relationships (S3). Though this is my précis of behavior, I expect it fairly describes S's work.
To put it in my terms, S1 is composed of unconscious, fast, physical, causal, automatic, non-propositional, true only mental states, while slow S2 can only coherently be described in terms of reasons for actions that are more or less conscious dispositions to behavior (potential actions) that are or can become propositional (T or F). It seems quite obvious to me (as it was to W) that the mechanical view of mind exists for the same reason as nearly all behavior--it is the default operation of our EP which seeks explanations in terms of what we can deliberately think through slowly, rather than in the automated S1, of which we mostly remain oblivious--called by S in PNC `The Phenomenological Illusion' (TPI). I find W's description of our axiomatic inherited psychology and its extensions in his OC and other 3rd period works to be deeper than S's (or anyone's).
A critical notion introduced by S many years ago is Conditions of Satisfaction (COS) on our thoughts (propositions of S2) which W called inclinations or dispositions to act--still called by the inappropriate term `propositional attitudes' by many. COS are explained by S in many places such as on p169 of PNC: "Thus saying something and meaning it involves two conditions of satisfaction. First, the condition of satisfaction that the utterance will be produced, and second, that the utterance itself shall have conditions of satisfaction." As S states it in PNC, "A proposition is anything at all that can determine a condition of satisfaction...and a condition of satisfaction... is that such and such is the case." Or, one needs to add, that might be or might have been or might be imagined to be the case, as he makes clear in MSW. Regarding intentions, "In order to be satisfied, the intention itself must function causally in the production of the action."(MSWp34).
One way of regarding this is that the unconscious automatic System 1 activates the higher cortical conscious personality of System 2, bringing about throat muscle contractions which inform others that it sees the world in certain ways, which commit it to potential actions. A huge advance over prelinguistic or protolinguistic interactions in which only gross muscle movements were able to convey very limited information about intentions.
Most will benefit greatly from reading W's "On Certainty" or "RPP1 and 2" or DMS's two books on OC (see my reviews) as they make clear the difference between true-only sentences describing S1 and true or false propositions describing S2. This strikes me as a far superior approach to S's taking S1 perceptions as propositional (at least in some places in his work) since they can only become T or F (aspectual as S calls them here) after one begins thinking about them in S2. However, his point in PNC that propositions permit statements of actual or potential truth and falsity, of past and future and fantasy, and thus provide a huge advance over pre or protolinguistic society, is cogent.
S often describes the critical need to note the various levels of description of one event so for IAA "We have different levels of description where one level is constituted by the behavior at the lower level...in addition to the constitutive by way of relation, we also have the causal by means of relation."(p37).
"The crucial proof that we need a distinction between prior intentions and intentions-in-action is that the conditions of satisfaction in the two cases are strikingly different."(p35). The COS of PI need a whole action while those of IAA only a partial one. He makes clear (e.g., p34) that prior intentions (PI) are mental states (i.e., unconscious S1) while they result in intentions-in-action(IAA) which are conscious acts(i.e., S2) but both are causally self-referential (CSR). The critical argument that both are CSR is that (unlike beliefs and desires) it is essential that they figure in bringing about their COS. These descriptions of cognition and volition are summarized in Table 2.1, which Searle has used for many years and is the basis for an extended one I have created. In my view it helps enormously to relate this to modern psychological research by using my S1, S2, S3 terminology and W's true-only vs propositional (dispositional) description. Thus CSR references S1 true-only perception, memory and intention, while S2 refers to dispositions such as belief and desire.
So, recognizing that S1 is only upwardly causal and contentless (lacking representations or information) while S2 has content and is downwardly causal (e.g., see Hutto and Myin's `Radical Enactivism') I would change the paragraphs from p39 beginning "In sum" and ending on pg 40 with "conditions of satisfaction" as follows.
In sum, perception, memory and reflexive intentions and actions (`will') are caused by the automatic functioning of our S1 true-only axiomatic EP. Via prior intentions and intentions-in-action, we try to match how we desire things to be with how we think they are. We should see that belief, desire (and imagination--desires time shifted and decoupled from intention) and other S2 propositional dispositions of our slow thinking later evolved second self, are totally dependent upon (have their COS in) the CSR rapid automatic primitive true- only reflexive S1. In language and neurophysiology there are intermediate or blended cases such as intending (prior intentions) or remembering, where the causal connection with COS (i.e., with S1) is time shifted, as they represent the past or the future, unlike S1 which is always in the present. The two systems feed into each other and are often orchestrated seamlessly by the learned deontic cultural relations of S3, so that our normal experience is that we consciously control everything that we do. This vast arena of cognitive illusions that dominate our life S has described as `The Phenomenological Illusion.'
He ends this amazing chapter by repeating for maybe the 10th time in his writings, what I regard as a very basic mistake that he shares with nearly everyone--the notion that the experience of `free will' may be `illusory'. It follows in a very straightforward and inexorable fashion, both from W's 3rd period work and from the observations of contemporary psychology, that `will', `self' and `consciousness' are axiomatic true-only elements of System 1 just like seeing, hearing, etc., 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. S understands and uses basically this same argument in other contexts (e.g., skepticism, solipsism) many times, so it is quite surprising he can't see this analogy. He makes this mistake frequently when he says such things as that we have "good evidence" that our dog is a dog etc. The true-only axioms of our psychology are not evidential. Here you have the best descriptive psychologist since W so this is not a stupid mistake.
His summary of deontics on p50 needs translation. Thus "You have to have a prelinguistic form of collective intentionality, on which the linguistic forms are built, and you have to have the collective intentionality of the conversation in order to make the commitment" is much clearer (once you get used to my terminology) as "The prelinguistic axiomatics of S1 underlie the linguistic dispositions of S2 (i.e., our EP) which evolve during our maturation into their cultural manifestations in S3."
Since status function declarations play a central role in deontics it is critical to understand them and so he explains the notion of `function' that is relevant here. "A function is a cause that serves a purpose...In this sense functions are intentionality-relative and therefore mind dependent...status functions... require... collective imposition and recognition of a status"(p59).
Again I suggest the translation of "The intentionality of language is created by the intrinsic, or mind-independent intentionality of human beings" (p66) as "The linguistic, conscious dispositionality of S2 is generated by the unconscious axiomatic reflexive functions of S1" (p68). That is, one must keep in mind that behavior is programmed by biology.
I strongly object to his statements on p66-67 and elsewhere in his writings that S1 (i.e., memories, perceptions, reflex acts) has a propositional (i.e., true-false) structure. As I have noted above, and many times in other reviews, it seems crystal clear that W is correct, and it is basic to understanding behavior, that only S2 is propositional and S1 is axiomatic and true-only. They both have COS and Directions of Fit (DOF) because the genetic, axiomatic intentionality of S1 generates that of S2 but if S1 were propositional in the same sense it would mean that skepticism is intelligible, the chaos that was philosophy before W would return and in fact life would not be possible. As W showed countless times and biology shows so clearly, life must be based on certainty--automated unconscious rapid reactions. Organisms that always have a doubt and pause to reflect will die.
Contrary to his comments (p70) I cannot imagine a language lacking words for material objects any more than I can imagine a visual system that cannot see them, because it is the first and most basic task of vision to segment the world into objects and so that of language to describe them. Likewise I cannot see any problem with objects being salient in the conscious field nor with sentences being segmented into words. How could it be otherwise for beings with our evolutionary history?
On p72 and elsewhere, it will help to remember that expressions are the primitive reflexive Primary Language Games (PLG's) of S1 while representations are the dispositional Secondary Language Games (SLG's) of S2.
Another translation from Philosophese into English is needed for the second paragraph on p79 beginning `So far' and ending `heard before'. "We convey meaning by speaking a public language composed of words in sentences with a syntax."
To his questions 4 and 5 on p105 as to the special nature of language and writing, I would answer: 'They are special because the short wavelength of vibrations of vocal muscles enable much higher bandwidth information transfer than contractions of other muscles and this is on average several orders of magnitude higher for visual information.'
On p106, a general answer to question 2 (How do we get away with it--i.e., why does it work) is EP and S1 and his statement that "My main strategy of exposition in this book is to try to make the familiar seem strange and striking" is of course classic Wittgenstein. His claim on the next page that there is no general answer to why people accept institutions is clearly wrong. They accept them for the same reason they do everything--their EP is the result of inclusive fitness. It facilitated survival and reproduction in the EEA (Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation). Everything about us physically and mentally bottoms out in genetics. All the vague talk here (e.g., p114) about `extra-linguistic conventions' and `extra semantical semantics' is in fact referring to EP and especially to the unconscious automatisms of S1 which are the basis for all behavior. As W said many times, the most familiar is for that reason invisible.
S's suggestion (p115) that language is essential to games is surely mistaken. Totally illiterate deaf-mutes could play cards, soccer and even chess but of course a minimal counting ability would be necessary. I agree (p121) that the ability to pretend and imagine (e.g., the counterfactual or as-if notions involved in time and space shifting) are, in full form, uniquely human abilities and critical to higher order thought. But even here there are many animal precursors (as there must be), such as the posturing of ritual combat and mating dances, the decoration of mating sites by bower birds, the broken wing pretense of mother birds, fake alarm calls of monkeys, `cleaner' fish that take a bite out of their prey and simulation of hawk and dove strategies (cheaters) in many animals.
More translation is needed for his discussion of rationality (p126 et seq). Saying that thinking is propositional and deals with true or false `factitive entities' means that it is a typical S2 disposition which can be tested, as opposed to the true-only automatic cognitive functions of S1.
In `Free Will, Rationality and Institutional Facts' he updates parts of his classic book `Rationality in Action' and creates some new terminology for describing the formal apparatus of practical reasons which I do not find felicitous. "Factitive Entities' do not seem different from dispositions and `motivator' (desire or obligation), `effector' (body muscles), `constitutor' (speech muscles) and `total reason' (all relevant dispositions) do not, at least here seem to add to clarity (p126-132).
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 by 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 knows this view is not credible.
I would translate his summary of practical reason on p127 as follows: "We yield to our desires (need to alter brain chemistry), which typically include Desire -Independent Reasons for Action (DIRA--i.e., desires displaced in space and time, often for reciprocal altruism--RA), which produce dispositions to behavior that commonly result sooner or later in muscle movements that serve our inclusive fitness-IF (increased survival for genes in ourselves and those closely related)."
Contrary to S's comment on p128 I think if suitably defined, DIRA are universal in higher animals and not at all unique to humans (think mother hen defending her brood from a fox) if we include the automated prelinguistic reflexes of S1 (i.e., DIRA1), but certainly the higher order DIRA of S2/3 or DIRA2 that require language are uniquely human. This seems to me an alternative and clearer description of his "explanation" (as W suggested these are much better called `description') on the bottom of p129 of the paradox of how we can voluntarily carry out DIRA2/3 (i.e., the S2 desires and their cultural S3 extensions). That is, "The resolution of the paradox is that the recognition of desire-independent reasons can ground the desire and thus cause the desire, even though it is not logically inevitable that they do and not empirically universal that they do" can be translated as "The resolution of the paradox is that the unconscious DIRA1 serving long term inclusive fitness generate the conscious DIRA2 which often override the short term personal immediate desires." Likewise for his discussion of this issue on p130-31--it is EP, RA, IF, S1 which ground the dispositions and ensuing actions of S2/3.
On p140 he asks why we can't get deontics (e.g. obligations) from biology but of course we must get them from biology and the above description shows how. Contrary to his statement, the strongest inclinations DO always prevail (by definition, otherwise it is not the strongest), but deontics works because the innate programming of RA and IF override immediate personal short term desires. His confusion of nature and nurture, of S1 and S2, extends to conclusions 2 and 3 on p143. Agents do indeed create the proximate reasons of DIRA2/3, but these are very restricted extensions of DIRA1 (the ultimate cause). If he really means to ascribe deontics to our conscious decisions alone then he is prey to TPI. TPI is not a harmless philosophical error but a universal obliviousness to our biology which produces the illusion that we control our life and the consequences are almost certain collapse of civilization during the next 150 years.
He notes correctly that human rationality makes no sense without the `gap' (actually 3 gaps which he has discussed many times). That is, without free will (i.e., choice) in some non-trivial sense it would all be pointless, and he has rightly noted that it is inconceivable that evolution could create a genetically and energetically expensive charade. But, like nearly everyone else, he cannot see his way out and so once again he suggests (p133) that choice may be an illusion. On the contrary, following W, it is quite clear that choice is part of our axiomatic S1 true-only reflexive actions and cannot be questioned without contradiction as S1 is the basis for questioning. You cannot doubt you are reading this page as your awareness of it is the basis for doubting.
Few notice (Budd in his superb book on W is one exception) that W presciently (decades before chaos and complexity science came into being) suggested that some mental phenomena may originate in chaotic processes in the brain-that e.g., there is not anything corresponding to a memory trace. He also suggested several times that the causal chain has an end and this could mean both that it is just not possible (regardless of the state of science) to trace it any further and that the concept of `cause' ceases to be applicable beyond a certain point. Subsequently, many have made similar suggestions.
On p155 one should note that the Background/Network is our EP (S1, S2) and its cultural extensions are S3.
I agree that the UN Declaration of Human Rights is an irresponsible document. The rapid and inexorable collapse of society is due to people having too many rights and too few responsibilities. The only tiny ray of hope for the world is that somehow people can be forced to place the earth first and themselves second. Consuming resources and producing children must be regulated as privileges or the tragedy of the commons will soon end the game.
Overall, MSW is a good summary of the many substantial advances over Wittgenstein resulting from S's half century of work, but in my view, W still is unequaled for basic psychology once you grasp what he is saying. Ideally they should be read together: Searle for the clear coherent prose and generalizations on the operation of S2/S3, illustrated with W's perspicacious examples of the operation of S1/S2, and his brilliant aphorisms. If I were much younger I would write a book doing exactly that.