As part of one of my seminars in ‘Shape of Behaviour’ I have been reading up on certain Philosophers and their theories such as; Alphonso Lingis (1993) ‘Bodies That Touch Us’, Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, Robert Morris, ‘Notes on Sculpture, part 2’ (1966), Rosalind Krauss, ‘Allusion and Illusion in Donald Judd’ (1966) and Robert Smithson, ‘A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic’ (1967) but the one in which I have been most captivatedd by has to be Ludwig Wittgenstein ‘Philosophical Investigations’. The way in which Wittgenstein’s looks at the meanings within life which consequently look at all that has gone before us which gives meaning to ourself and intern our bodies.
– Below are some extracts from Wittgenstein’s ‘Philosophical Investigations’ that I found of particular interest –
258. Let’s imagine the following case. I want to keep a diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation. To this end I associate it with the sign “S” and write this sign in a calendar for every day on which I have the sensation. —– I first want to observe that a definition of the sign cannot be formulated. – But all the same, I can give one to myself as a kind of ostensive definition! – How? Can I point to the sensation? – Not in the ordinary sense. But I speak, or write the sign down, and at the same time I concentrate my attention on the sensation – and so, as it were, point to it inwardly. – But what is this ceremony for? For that is all it seems to be! A definition serves to lay down the meaning of a sign, doesn’t it? – Well, that is done precisely by concentrating my attention; for in this way I commit to memory the connection between the sign and the sensation. – But “I commit it to memory” can only mean: this process brings it about that I remember the connection correctly
in the future. But in the present case, I have no criterion of correctness. One would like to say: whatever is going to seem correct to me is correct. And that only means that here we can’t talk about ‘correct’.
259. Are the rules of the private language impressions of rules? – The balance on which impressions are weighed is not the impression of a balance.
260. “Well, I believe that this is the sensation S again.” – Perhaps you believe that you believe it!
Then did the man who made the entry in the calendar make a note of nothing whatever? – Don’t consider it a matter of course that a person is making a note of something when he makes a mark – say in a calendar. For a note has a function, and this “S” so far has none. (One can talk to oneself. – Is everyone who speaks when no one else is present talking to himself?)
261. What reason have we for calling “S” the sign for a sensation? For “sensation” is a word of our common language, which is not a language intelligible only to me. So the use of this word stands in need of a justification which everybody understands. – And it would not help either to say that it need not be a sensation; that when he writes “S” he has Something b and that is all that can be said. But “has” and “something” also belong to our common language. – So in the end, when one is doing philosophy, one gets to the point where one would like just to emit an inarticulate sound. – But such a sound is an expression only in a particular language-game, which now has to be described.
262. One might say: someone who has given himself a private explanation of a word must inwardly resolve to use the word in suchand- such a way. And how does he resolve that? Should I assume that he invents the technique of applying the word; or that he found it ready-made?
263. “Surely I can (inwardly) resolve to call this ‘pain’ in the future.” – “But is it certain that you have resolved this? Are you sure that it was enough for this purpose to concentrate your attention on your feeling?” – An odd question. a 264. “Once you know what the word signifies, you understand it, you know its whole application.”
265. Let us imagine a table, something like a dictionary, that exists only in our imagination. A dictionary can be used to justify the translation of a word X by a word Y. But are we also to call it a justification if such a table is to be looked up only in the imagination? – “Well, yes; then it is a subjective justification.” – But justification consists in appealing to an independent authority – “But surely I can appeal from one memory to another. For example, I don’t know if I have remembered the time of departure of a train correctly, and to check it I call to mind how a page of the timetable looked. Isn’t this the same sort of case?” No; for this procedure must now actually call forth |94| the correct memory. If the mental image of the timetable could not itself be tested for correctness, how could it confirm the correctness of the first
memory? (As if someone were to buy several copies of today’s morning paper to assure himself that what it said was true.) Looking up a table in the imagination is no more looking up a table than the image of the result of an imagined experiment is the result of an experiment.
266. I can look at a clock to see what time it is. But I can also look at the dial of a clock in order to guess what time it is; or for the same purpose move the hands of a clock till their position strikes me as right. So the look of a clock may serve to determine the time in more than one way. (Looking at a clock in one’s imagination.)
267. Suppose I wanted to justify the choice of dimensions for a bridge which I imagine being built, by first imagining making loading tests on the material of the bridge. This would, of course, be to imagine what is called justifying the choice of dimensions for a bridge. But would we also call it justifying an imagined choice of dimensions?
268. Why can’t my right hand give my left hand money? – My right hand can put it into my left hand. My right hand can write a deed of gift, and my left hand a receipt. – But the further practical consequences would not be those of a gift. When the left hand has taken the money from the right, and so forth, one will ask, “Well, and now what?” And the same could be asked if a person had given himself a private explanation of a word; I mean, if he has said the word to himself and at the same time has directed his attention to a sensation.
269. Let us remember that there are certain criteria in a man’s behaviour for his not understanding a word: that it means nothing to him, that he can do nothing with it. And criteria for his ‘thinking he understands’, attaching some meaning to the word, but not the right one. And lastly, criteria for his understanding the word correctly. In the second case, one might speak of a subjective understanding. And sounds which no one else understands but which I ‘appear to understand’ might be called a “private language”.
270. Let us now imagine a use for the entry of the sign “S” in my diary. I find out the following from experience: whenever I have a particular sensation, a manometer |95| shows that my blood pressure is rising. This puts me in a position to report that my blood pressure is rising without using any apparatus. This is a useful result. And now it seems quite indifferent whether I’ve recognized the sensation correctly or not. Suppose that I regularly make a mistake in identifying it, this does not make any difference at all. And this alone shows that the supposition of this mistake was merely sham. (We, as it were, turned a knob which looked as if it could be used to adjust something in the machine; but it was a mere ornament not connected with the mechanism at all.)
And what reason do we have here for calling “S” the name of a sensation? Perhaps the kind of way this sign is employed in this languagegame. – And why a “particular sensation”: that is, the same one every time? Well, we’re supposing, aren’t we, that we write “S” every time.
271. “Imagine a person who could not remember what the word ‘pain’ meant – so that he constantly called different things by that name – but nevertheless used it in accordance with the usual symptoms and
presuppositions of pain” – in short, he uses it as we all do. Here I’d like to say: a wheel that can be turned though nothing else moves with it is not part of the mechanism.
272. The essential thing about private experience is really not that each person possesses his own specimen, but that nobody knows whether other people also have this or something else. The assumption would thus be possible – though unverifiable – that one section of mankind had one visual impression of red, and another section another.
273. What about the word “red”? – Am I to say that it signifies something ‘confronting us all’, and that everyone should really have another word, besides this one, to signify his own impression of red? Or is it like this: the word “red” signifies something known to us all; and in addition, for each person, it signifies something known only to him? (Or perhaps, rather: it refers to something known only to him.)
274. Of course, saying that the word “red” “refers to” rather than “signifies” something private does not help us in the least to grasp its function; but it is the more psychologically apt expression for a particular experience in doing philosophy. It is as if, when I uttered the word, I cast a sidelong glance at my own colour impression, as it were, in order to say to myself: I know all right what I mean by the word.
275. Look at the blue of the sky and say to yourself, “How blue the sky is!” – When you do it spontaneously – without philosophical purposes – the idea never crosses your mind that this impression of colour belongs only to you. And you have no qualms about exclaiming thus to another. And if you point at anything as you say the words, it is at the sky. I mean: you don’t have the pointing-into-yourself feeling that often accompanies ‘naming sensations’ when one is thinking about the ‘private language’. Nor do you think that really you ought to point at the colour not with your hand, but with your attention. (Consider what “to point at something with one’s attention” means.)
276. “But don’t we at least mean something quite definite when we look at a colour and name our colour impression?” It is virtually as if we detached the colour impression from the object, like a membrane. (This ought to arouse our suspicions.)
277. But how is it even possible for one to be tempted to think that one uses a word to mean at one time the colour known to everyone – and at another time the ‘visual impression’ which I am getting now? How can there be so much as a temptation here? —– I don’t turn the same kind of attention on the colour in the two cases. When I mean the colour impression that (as I should like to say) belongs to me alone, I immerse myself in the colour – rather like when I ‘can’t get my fill of a colour’. That’s why it is easier to produce this experience when one is looking at a bright colour, or at a colour scheme which sticks in our memory.
278. “I know how the colour green looks to me” – surely that makes sense! – Certainly; what use of the sentence are you thinking of?
279. Imagine someone saying, “But I know how tall I am!” and laying his hand on top of his head to indicate it!