Chapter from Cybernetic Revelation.
A FEW OPENING WORDS ON A FEW OPENING WORDS
The “later” work of Ludwig Wittgenstein contrasts with his “earlier” work in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in many directions simultaneously; moving from a more static logical representational systemization of language to a more dynamic, contextualizing, and edifying approach to the way we use it. Although his “methodology” changes, his subject matter remains similar: the concern with language, its structures, and their relation to that which we have a difficult time approaching within the limits of such language, e.g. subjective experience. Here, we will be examining his early work in the later style, The Blue Book, which he edited from notes for his student lectures, and felt comfortable enough to present to his friend Bertrand Russell.
If one is familiar with his earlier work, with its numbered affirmations, one will notice the less ordered nature of the later work, yet one still finds well crafted ideas coming in bursts—a sort of organization of aphorisms persists, although the later work may not aim for the sky as directly as the prior work did. No rungs on a ladder here, but rather a more meandering trail of crumbs on the earth. But, being aphoristic, both works lend themselves to explication and investigation into particular remarks: they lend themselves to close reading. I begin my delving into The Blue Book by examining the text of the first five paragraphs.
Wittgenstein begins with the seven word sentence, “What is the meaning of a word?” This question sets an agenda: the schism between words and their meaning. This question, and the way it is asked may seem typical of some philosophies: we’re looking for a “what” that is the “meaning” of a “word”—and assume, for example, that (a) words have meaning, (b) that that meaning is an unknown “what” and not something like a “who,” (c) and that words are not identical with their meaning. It may seem peculiar to question this typical philosophical question the way I have, yet Wittgenstein will question this question too; and we need wait no longer than his second sentence.
For no sooner has he asked “What is the meaning of a word?” than he shifts his position, and frames this question as suspect with a more specific question, “what is an explanation of the meaning of a word; what does the explanation of word look like?” Wittgenstein calls this second question an “attack” on the first one—it is both an engagement, and the beginning of an argument—and one made with “us” (the writer, L.W., and the readers/listeners), with a community that Wittgenstein is communicating to. Unlike the Tractatus, which begins with the world and things, and barely an “I,” The Blue Book almost immediately brings in the relationship between people. This is important for Wittgenstein’s later approach, where communication is a linguistic activity between people. And Wittgenstein tries to illustrate his new insights with his verbal performance. This second question also develops a more self-consciously critical position with regard to the subject matter, and asks us to “look” at the practice and the course the initial question set us upon: “looking” at the “materiality,” or physicality of what we have set out to do.
Such is refined with the next paragraph, which points at an “analogy” between how we might examine the measurement of length to understand the concept of “length,” and how we might examine the concept of “meaning” in itself: how our general abstract concept is related to a particular concrete practice. The introduction of “analogy” is important, as this will be a theme or motif throughout The Blue Book, both as a way of gaining insight, and as a way that philosophical problems arise. And again, this turning from individual words or phrases, to the material usage of them is important too.
Wittgenstein cites the “mental cramp” one may get when asked— what is “length,” “meaning,” or “the number one?” and consequently “we feel” we ought to point to some thing—a “bewilderment” arises when “a substantive makes us look for a thing that corresponds to it.” The word “corresponds” is important here, as Wittgenstein’s Tractatus was all about the correspondence of representations (e.g. propositions) to things.
Ever critical and commenting on and questioning his comments and questions, in his fifth paragraph, he frames his second question (about procedures) which framed the first (about meaning), by noting that it brings the abstract “down to earth,” and also has the “advantage” (again, the relevance of the word “advantage” to strategic arguing with an engaged opponent, maybe even his own prior position in the Tractatus)—the procedural question has the advantage of “studying the grammar of the expression… [which] will teach you something about the grammar of the word… and will cure you of the temptation to look for some object” as the meaning. N.B.: in the common split between “semantics” or “meaning” and “grammar” or “syntax,” Wittgenstein is suggesting that we look for the meaning in the grammar: how a word is used will tell us how it means rather than what it means.
So much for our little examination of the first half page of The Blue Book. These opening words are ripe with Wittgenstein’s new insights and approach to his subject matter. Throughout the rest of this essay, I will outline various important themes of The Blue Book, where I think Wittgenstein describes a system of language games which have indefinite family resemblances and grammatical/procedural rules that people experience in their “shadowy” expectations, imaginations, motivations, and reasons; and which can lead to the over extension of such analogous resemblances and grammatical usages into philosophical “error;” such as the creation of a “mental” realm typified by the “I” or ego which is supposed to “own” experience.
As mentioned before, Wittgenstein’s new approach contrasts with that of the Tractatus. The new approach is not concerned with logical and pictorial form that corresponds to, or interlocks with, a world: we are no longer so concerned with the word/object (or proposition/situation) connection—such may have been seen as sufficiently addressed and insufficient to explain the phenomena of language. Such presented a fairly stable, possibly “eternal” view of how language mapped to the world via logical and pictorial form: world and words had a logical form which bridged the two. Hence “A Cat in the Hat” would represent a Cat in a Hat due to the thing(s) sharing an “essence” (Wittgenstein prefers the words “logical form”) with the words. Such “logical form” brings notions like Plato’s eternal forms to mind. But here, Wittgenstein is concerned with the unfolding of context within the temporal—with how we use language with a cultural, historical, and possibly personal, context that we bring to bear in a particular situation and circumstance.
The new approach is also differentiated from psychology, and what in modern academics might be called “psycho-linguistics.” Of such, Wittgenstein notes:
“We may find that such a mind-model would have to be very complicated and intricate in order to explain the observed mental activities; and on this ground we might call the mind a queer kind of medium. But this aspect of the mind does not interest us. The problems which it may set are psychological problems, and the method of their solution is that of natural science.”
(The Blue Book, 6)
Although very interested in the question of “how” (finding significance for “length” in how we measure it), Wittgenstein is not concerned with the “how” of science: he’s not searching for mechanical explanations of language and experience, but trying to describe them—the “how” for Wittgenstein is not one of deeper fundamentals that produce surface phenomena: it is the action of such phenomena on the surface as described. This is how we say things, not how the saying works. So the new approach is not one of science and psychology, although Wittgenstein will often limn the edge of scientific disciplines in delineating his own.
Wittgenstein also opposes his philosophy to that of metaphysical puzzle making. Such puzzle making is intertwined with science as well:
“I mean the method of reducing the explanation of natural phenomena to the smallest possible number of primitive natural laws; and, in mathematics, of unifying the treatment of different topics by using a generalization. Philosophers constantly see the method of science before their eyes, and are irresistibly tempted to ask and answer questions in the way science does. This tendency is the real source of metaphysics, and leads the philosopher into complete darkness. I want to say here that it can never be our job to reduce anything to anything, or to explain anything. Philosophy really is ‘purely descriptive’”
(The Blue Book, 18).
Like the tendency to look for things that correspond to abstract terms, the bewildered temptation to make problems where they really don’t exist is something to be cured with a dose of common sense and ordinary language and just plain “looking.”
The new “method” revolves around descriptions via analogies, metaphorically rich examples, and a complex cluster of concepts that help enable insights into the surface of our linguistic practices. The method is one of asking questions, reframing old problems with new insights—and often showing how isolating common sense or ordinary language usages that imply metaphysical problems, metaphysical problems such as thinking that time is like space (since we often talk of time spatially—even Einstein conceived of a space-time continuum that seems more spatial than temporal in one’s imagination)—Wittgenstein shows how such extrapolations of implications found in ordinary language can be dissolved by cross-referencing other common sense and ordinary language usages: showing how such problems do not occur persistently throughout a well rounded and complexly experienced human perspective, but arise when taking a particular contortion of language usage too seriously in isolation. Wittgenstein likes to describe phenomena with a full context, rather than taking a particular twist of language as implying a deeper truth at odds with the rest of the surface of common sense.
Strait out of the gate, Wittgenstein differentiates two ways of defining (i.e. the how of meaning): (1) ostensive pointing, and (2) word to word verbal interpreting. But pointing and translation/interpreting both require a rich context to make any sense. When you “bracket” (to borrow Husserl’s term) or take away the full context of what we already know when looking at phenomena, a pointed finger tells us nothing but that a finger is extended (and such is to already use a fully contextualized language to try to describe what is not verbal). If we just look at things, without linguistic interpretation, then what can they tell us about language? The phenomenal world would be either meaningless, or almost infinitely ambiguous: this pointed finger could mean almost anything—it could be pointing at a myriad of aspects on the other side of the finger that go along with any vocalizations; vocalizations that might have nothing to do with a finger or what is pointed at (and even saying “pointed at” makes some learned assumptions).
The same goes for interpretation or translation when associated with pointing. Hence problems of “indeterminate translation” arise. Could we ever learn an alien language with pointing?—is it even possible to learn a language in the first place from scratch in such a manner? And thence comes solutions to the language acquisition problem, such as Chomsky’s innate abilities, or maybe even Kant’s noting that we learn identities through what remains the same in different circumstances: where a single identity (such as a perspective) is constructed from a multiplicity of different experiences, and noting what remains the same among them (more on this later).
Wittgenstein’s refines his take on the structural bifurcation between situational ostentation and verbose interpretation well in these two remarks:
“if we had to name anything which is the life of the sign, we should have to say it was its use.”
(The Blue Book, 4)
“The sign (the sentence) gets its significance from the system of signs, from the language to which it belongs. Roughly: understanding a sentence means understanding a language”
(The Blue Book, 5).
Here we have an image of a web-like fabric of context feeding through the eye of a needle of the present articulation. This Saussure “parole” and “langue” distinction—the particular usage vs. the system of language— find symbiosis in that one cannot be without the other. Words on a page need an agent to enact them, and an agent needs the tools of language to use in a particular circumstance:
“I know what a word means in certain contexts.”
(The Blue Book, 9).
Describing the system of signs leads Wittgenstein to the notion of language games with family resemblances:
“The study of language games is the study of primitive forms of language or primitive languages. If we want to study the problems of truth and falsehood, of the agreement and disagreement of propositions with reality, of the nature of assertion, assumption, and question, we shall with great advantage look at primitive forms of language in which these forms of thinking appear without the confusing background of highly complicated processes of thought.”
(The Blue Book, 17)
“The tendency to look for something in common to all the entities which we commonly subsume under a general term.—We are inclined to think that there must be something in common to all games, say, and that this common property is the justification for applying the general ‘term’ game to the various games; whereas games form a family the members of which have family likenesses.”
(The Blue Book, 17)
These two concepts, “language games” (ways of doing things with words) and “family resemblances” (language games having common but not essential features) although not entirely new (Plato thought activities like cutting and sewing had forms too; and that forms were inter-related by a dialectic of dividing into particulars and subsuming particulars under generals)—these two concepts are radical breakthroughs in the philosophical description of language. “Language games” are important for their shifting a focus form representational thinking to particular ways of doing; and “family resemblances” for breaking the tradition of hard and fast word-to-word definitions (and note again the division between particular use with language games—“parole,” and a network of word-to-word associations with family resemblances—“langue”).
The notion of a definition that is always 100% accurate doesn’t wash up with experience—looking for necessary and sufficient conditions may help clarify how we use some words (there are elegant definitions in dictionaries—we can define words)—yet these definitions always have exceptions that we can still understand. Wittgenstein notes:
“there is not one definite class of features which characterize all cases of wishing (at least not as the word is commonly used). If on the other hand you wish to give a definition of wishing, i.e. to draw a sharp boundary, then you are free to draw it as you like; and this boundary will never coincide with the actual usage, as this usage has no sharp boundary.”
(The Blue Book, 19)
Generalities, kinds, identity, definitions: such rarely have criteria that are always necessary, but almost always have symptoms that are relevant. Such is not to say that all symptoms are as relevant to a term as others: some might argue that to eliminate sharp boundaries will melt everything together into an indistinguishable blob (of being/nothingness?). Yet, as Wittgenstein failed to point out, but implied with his notion of “fuzzy boundaries,” there may definitely be hubs, with some symptoms having more weighted relevance than others to a specific generality. Fire trucks need not be red, but red is a stronger symptom of a fire-truck than yellow. (On another hand, the notion of a “prototype” is problematic too, as it seems to suggest an aggregate image with which to compare something with in order to recognize it: do we really always need to compare in order to recognize something, or is a prototype just the image we might construct if told, say, to draw a “bird in general?”) And just as we need not have sharp boundaries with our definitions, our activities need not have hard and fast rules:
“For not only do we not think of the rules of usage—of definitions, etc.—while using language, but when we are asked to give such rules, in most cases we aren’t able to do so.”
(The Blue Book, 25)
Such a statement leads to the notion of how mentally conscious or not we are of the linguistic procedures we use, if any “procedures” are used at all.
Wittgenstein’s early task of describing how we mean, and his later task of describing experience itself becomes complicated in-between, in the middle section of The Blue Book, when describing the “shadowy” world of the “mental.” This is the world of thinking, expecting, imagining, hypothesizing, wishing, intending, reasoning, etc. The “mental” realm seems to be able to have its own world separate from the world of facts—yet this all happens in a world of facts. And to complicate matters further, there is the possibility of something unconscious intertwined with the “mental.”
The world of facts, and their relation to language was rigorously studied by Wittgenstein in his Tractatus, where representations, ranging from pictures to propositions, could have either a true or false relation to reality. Wittgenstein keeps this representational view in mind, as he tries to think about “mental” activity, and its relation to the factual world, claiming:
“An obvious , and correct, answer to the question ‘What makes a portrait the portrait of so-and-so?’ is that it is the intention.”
(The Blue Book, 32)
Yet notes soon after, concerning a “processes of projection,” that:
“there is a peculiar difficulty about admitting that any such process is what we call ‘intentional representation’. For describe whatever process (activity) of projection we may, there is a way of reinterpreting this projection. Therefore—one is tempted to say—such a process can never be the intention itself. For we could always have intended the opposite by reinterpreting the process of projection.”
(The Blue Book, 35)
That is to say, any specific activity, be it painting a portrait (in effect portraiture is another form of ambiguous pointing), or giving an order, etc., can be altered—even reversed—in a broader context, such as when using deception or irony; or framed as not really intended, as when performing on a stage, or telling a joke. Some language games can frame others, changing effects of the more basic language games. Ultimately, any linguistic act is completely ambiguous, and must be used in a particular situation, framed by ever widening and diverse contexts (contexts that may include unconscious elements like Freudian desires… I digress).
Yet, there seems to remain, according to Wittgenstein, simples where interpretation stops:
“adopt whatever model or scheme you may, it will have a bottom level, and there will be no such thing as an interpretation of that.”
(The Blue Book, 34)
“What one wishes to say is: ‘Every sign is capable of interpretation; but the meaning mustn’t be capable of interpretation. It is the last interpretation.’ Now I assume that you take the meaning to be a process accompanying the saying, and that it is translatable into, and so far equivalent to, a further sign. You have therefore further to tell me what you take to be the distinguishing mark between a sign and the meaning.”
(The Blue Book, 34)
“If we say to someone ‘I should be delighted to see you’ and mean it, does a conscious process run alongside these words, a process which could itself be translated into spoken words? This will hardly ever be the case”
(The Blue Book, 34)
Wittgenstein is claiming here, while traversing the intersection of particular usage, and the general system of language and contexts, that we do not intend to intend what we say: just as we may compare a red apple to a red patch of color to identify its redness, and yet there is no red patch to compare that red patch to in turn for comparative identification (there is simply the fact of “redness”), likewise, there are simple acts of intending where we do not need to think about what we are saying before we say it... or even further… how can we think what we are going to think before we think it. Such is not to say there is not an unconscious process that occurs, but that is not an intention, and we definitely feel we intend things. There are some pictures we understand:
“immediately, without any further interpretation.”
(The Blue Book, 36)
“We easily overlook the distinction between stating a conscious mental event, and making a hypothesis about what one might call the mechanism of the mind. All the more as such hypotheses or pictures of the working of our mind are embodied in many of the forms of expression of our everyday language.”
(The Blue Book, 40)
Here we can see Wittgenstein bumping up against psychology or cognitive science, which is not part of his philosophy. Yet, although not interested here in the mechanics of mind, he is interested in its materiality: do we need to talk about translating an intention into language, when all that we experience, including the experience of intentions, may be some sort of linguistic activity? Hence:
“the expression of belief, thought, etc., is just a sentence; and the sentence has sense only as a member of a system of language.”
(The Blue Book, 42)
“when the temptation to think that in some sense the whole calculus [read: system of language] must be present at the same time [as speaking or writing acts] vanishes, there is no more point in postulating the existence of a particular kind of mental act alongside our expression. This, of course, doesn’t mean that we have shown that peculiar acts of consciousness do not accompany the expressions of our thoughts! Only we no longer say that they must accompany them.”
(The Blue Book, 42)
Further, Wittgenstein tries to rid
“us of the temptation to look for a peculiar act of thinking, independent of the act of expressing our thoughts, and stowed away in some peculiar medium” where “Our investigation tired to remove this bias, which forces us to think that facts must conform to certain pictures embedded in our language.”
(The Blue Book, 43)
What Wittgenstein is exploring here, is the materiality of language, distinct from our experience of it. He is separating the activity and structure of language from our conscious observation of it—but noting that that thought may be the coincidence of the two: we simply experience the activity of language as thought regardless of whatever may be the hypothesized unconscious mechanics that produce a linguistic thought/articulation. Articulations in the present are simply understood immediately, without going through a process of exchanging words for words or comparing representations.
Now, this investigation of language, heretofore, makes sense when relating facts, facts about what we believe, what we imagine, what we expect, and hypothesize—when we try to state what it is that we feel. But how could this account of language possibly relate to the, possibly poetic, relation of how we feel? That is to say, I can say, “I am in pain,” and this will be a fact that separates the articulation of a fact from the experience of pain. But what about expressing yourself in such a way that people would feel your pain or at least relate to it in a way, other than simply as a fact that “so and so is in pain?” T.S. Eliot talks, problematically, of an objective correlative—a feeling can be put into language and then re-experienced by a hearer or reader of that language. Wittgenstein’s account doesn’t address such poetic realities in The Blue Book, where he reduces almost everything to a passive observation of the activity of language, and mostly ignores the power of expression. Yes, we have imaginations that can build worlds contrary to facts, built up from the fragments of such facts rearranged. We can expect something to happen that might not happen, and that we wish would. We can have intentions to do something, and fail to do it, and wonder why we failed, and ask if we had unconscious motivations for doing so, or at least, can understand the implications of our feelings about something in a fuller manner in retrospect. But such a world is still a world of facts: facts about feelings, yes, but such falls short, in my opinion, of an account of our ability to express our emotions more or less powerfully. (Wittgenstein does not go into the possible “reconstruction of contexts with emotional pull,” for example, which might be a better, externalized, account of T.S. Eliot’s “correlative objective:” the emotion is not encoded in the object, but shared via the vehicle of language and a common “existence”). There is a great difference between knowing the fact that someone may have regrets, and reading T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” How does “So-and-so is sad” compare to the emotion shared when singing the blues? Connecting words to feelings via behavior may be on the right track, but falls short, in my opinion, of explaining how a good poem, beyond using image cues, has tone, mood, etc.
I agree, however, with Wittgenstein’s general observations that there are no sensations in general. Words are general, and parts of language systems, and become particularly meaningful when employed in a particular circumstance. A particular sensation always has a complex context in which it arises: the concrete circumstance of a certain experience. Talking about the experience of “expectation” in general makes some sense; there may common associated features of such—possibly apprehension, hope, boredom, etc. But, when do we feel such outside of a particular circumstance that colors that sense of expectation (ranging from light hearted hope to severe trepidation)? Also, is it possible to separate a sensation from an object?
“Consider this case:– we have a general undirected feeling of fear. Later on, we have an experience which makes us say, ‘Now I know what I was afraid of. I was afraid of so-and-so happening’. Is it correct to describe my first feeling by an intransitive verb, or should I say that my fear had an object although I did not know that it had one?”
(The Blue Book, 22)
Possibly one can have an emotional hallucination, as in a nightmare—with an imagined object. But still there is some “thing,” be it real or imagined, which is associated with the sensation. Although we may have a world of facts that we can agree on, and semi-autonomous imaginations that can be somewhat idiosyncratic, it seems completely possible to communicate a hallucination: two people could have similar hallucinations and know that they are experiencing something similar, even though no particular fact in the world corresponds to their experiences. The experience is common.
How do we know?
“When we learnt the use of the phrase ‘so-and-so has toothache’ we were pointed out certain kinds of behavior of those who are said to have toothache.”
(The Blue Book, 24)
Such would seem to suggest that we can “know” the experience of other minds by some sort of behaviorism. Such an implied isolation of the subjective perspective is heightened also by the example of looking at your brain in the mirror, while you think. There is definitely some distinction here between the objective brain and the subjective experience (The Blue Book, 8). Possibly we have subjective experience that we can only come to believe that other people have: solipsism.
But Wittgenstein reverses this uncertainty (and it may be uncertain which uncertainty, solipsism, or the reverse I’m about to describe, is more believable): Wittgenstein believes we should be uncertain about locating our sensations in any particular “mind.” You may have already noticed that Wittgenstein sees our “mental” activities such as “thinking,” “expecting,” “intending,” etc. as phenomena that we experience: sensation occurs right on the surface, without the necessity of a mind separate from that sensation to feel it:
“We are not concerned with the difference: internal, external”
(The Blue Book, 13)
There is not an ego/”I” that has these experiences (one doesn’t only think of phenomena, thinking itself is a phenomena): “I” and ego are speculations without merit via the facts of experience. Or so Wittgenstein might have us believe:
“We feel then that in the cases in which “I” is used as subject, we don’t use it because we recognize a particular person by his bodily characteristics; and this creates the illusion that we use this word to refer to something bodiless, which, however, has its seat in our body. In fact this seems to be the real ego, the one of which it was said, ‘Cogito, ergo sum’.—‘Is there then no mind but only body?’ Answer: The Word ‘mind’ has meaning, i.e., it has a use in our language; but saying this doesn’t yet say what kind of use we make of it.”
(The Blue Book, 69-70)
“To say ‘I have pain’ is no more a statement about a particular person than moaning is. ‘But surely the word “I” in the mouth of a man refers to the man who says it; it points to himself; and very often a man who says it actually points to himself with his finger’.”
(The Blue Book, 67)
“that of which I said it continued during all the experiences of seeing was not any particular entity ‘I’, but the experience of seeing itself. This may become clearer if we imagine the man who makes our solipsistic statement to point to his eyes while he says ‘I’.”
(The Blue Book, 63)
So, in a linguistic philosophical mistake, the word “I” was taken to mean a particular person’s “mind” separate from their sensation surfaces. Is it not a fact that two people can experience the same pain (such as twins with connected bodies that might have overlapping nervous-systems)? How can you tell which body a pain belongs to, simply by experiencing it? By the behavior of that body, even if it is your own!?! For consider—how do you know that it’s your finger that moves when you will it? Because you see “your” finger move. If you were to will a finger movement, and consistently saw “another’s” finger move, you would most likely consider that finger yours.
“For we could imagine a, so to speak, wireless connection between the two bodies which made one person feel pain in his head when the other had exposed his to the cold air”
(The Blue Book, 54)
Such a notion was probably not originated with Wittgenstein, and James Joyce gets more specific on pages 309-310 of his Finnegans Wake:
“equipped with supershielded umbrella antennas for distance getting and connected by the magnetic links of Bellini-Tosti coupling system with a vitaltone speaker, capable of capturing skybuddies… eclectrically fitted…. (to) pinnatrate inthro an auricular forfickle… tympan… Eustache…conch”
(James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, The Viking Press: 1939, pp. 309-310)
Such suggest an inner ear transceiver that is quite in line with Joyce’s own preoccupation with the inner auditory, etc., stream of consciousness. I have no problem with the implication by Wittgenstein, that sensation is on the surface (not in a head), that one can think of it as being “in” the world, or external (actually neither: just right there on the experiences’ surfaces)—but I don’t think that this means two bodies being hooked up via brain transmitters will be experiencing the same pain, any more than one could record a pain, play it back later, and call it the same pain. Does the recording feel pain? Isn’t the pain only experienced when the recording is played back? Isn’t the pain at least differentiated temporally? (being, no longer simultaneous… and even brain transmitters would have some latency). And some people feel pains when other’s do not, so we are not all one external mind. Wittgenstein seems to imply that sensation is differentiated consciously through various particular bodies, but that subjectively, we cannot differentiate whose body a sensation belongs to (we always observe such indirectly—via behaviors). Feelings arise prior to connecting them to individuals—solipsists have this turned inside-out.
Such “external” consciousness can be combined with Kant’s deduction of subjective apperception taken from noticing how identities are formed via the connecting threads in differentiated experience: such as determining that a single camera was most likely used for a series of frames in a movie that differ in a fluid way that suggests a single moving camera and environment, rather than jump-cuts from one perspective and/or series of objects and environment to another. A key to Kant is the word “implication”: what identities (or faculties of mind) are implied by the very fact of experience, and our ability to make judgments. Such judgments may not necessarily be a priori absolute, but they do have pragmatic consequences relevant to survivability. Implication can tell us more than mere observation of general associations. Wittgenstein’s The Blue Book could have taken a few lessons from Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason —maybe there is some philosophical use for implication and necessity that doesn’t tread on the ground of cognitive science’s hope for mechanistic sufficiency. However, statements by Kant like, “It must be possible for the ‘I think’ to accompany all my representations” (Critique of Pure Reason, B 131) show his limitations in light of Wittgenstein’s The Blue Book. Possibly further philosophical fruit might be farmed by connecting the inverted solipsism that Wittgenstein develops (where again, the uncertainty is with connecting a sensation to a particular body, since the perception is always subjective, and not an objective body) and Kant’s transcendental deduction of apperception, which finds that unity of apperception is deduced from a plurality of experience. These opposed perspectives may be two sides of the same “coin.”
Of course, much of Wittgenstein’s project is to show that particular linguistic biases, such as the implication that “I’m in pain” means there is an “object” “I” or ego-thing that is a subject for predicates, much like a thing has properties, sets up a whole shadow world of mental smoke and mirrors. This extended example in the last parts of The Blue Book is important, but “the mental” is only one of many metaphysical notions that Wittgenstein could have tackled with his new method of examining particular word usages being taken out of context, and contorted into something out of this world. Yet, his highly experiential/factual account of language in The Blue Book, while accounting for the ability for people to learn to share what is indefinable via language, seems to me to fail to fully take into account the power of expression to effectively communicate emotion, rather than simply identify it.