Hauptli’s Lecture Supplement on Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations Part II

     Copyright © 2014 Bruce W. Hauptli

For Spring 2014: In part II students are to read sections: v, ix, and xi. 

1741 (i) "The phenomena of hope are modes of a complicated form of life:"

One can imagine an animal angry, frightened, unhappy, happy, startled.  But hopeful?  And why not?

Can a dog believe his master will come the day after tomorrow?

Why does it sound queer to say "for a second he felt deep grief?"

175 (ii) Saying sentences with the meanings of words exchanged:
‘The rose is red’ vs. ‘the rose = red’

"Hail" (greeting vs. meteorology)

176 ‘Mr. Scott is not a Scott’

-"When I say the sentence with this exchange of meanings I feel that its sense disintegrates.—Well, I feel it, but the person I am saying it to does not.  So what harm is done?—‘But the point is, when one utters the sentence in the usual way something else, quite definite, takes place.’—What takes place is not this ‘parade of the meanings before one’s mind’."
177 (iii) "What makes my image of him into an image of him?"
"Not its looking like him."

-"What makes this utterance into an utterance about him?

-"Nothing in it or simultaneous with it (‘behind it’).  If you want to know whom he meant, ask him."

-Cf., pp. 216-217.

178 (iv) "If the picture of thought in the head can force itself upon us, then why not much more that of thought in the soul?"

179 (v) "What do psychologists study?"

Long passage which discusses observing the movement of a point of light.  "Any of these features of its behavior might be of interest to us."

"Then psychology treats of behavior, not of the mind?
What do psychologists record?—What do they observe?  Isn’t it the behavior of human beings, in particular their utterances?  But these are not about behavior."
-""I noticed that he was out of humor."  Is this a report about his behavior or his state of mind?  (‘The sky looks threatening’; is this about the present or the future?)  Both; not side-by-side, however, but about the one via the other."

-"A doctor asks: "How is he feeling?"  The nurse says: "He is groaning".  A report on his behavior.  But need there be any question for them whether the groaning is really genuine, is really the expression of anything?  Might they not, for example, draw the conclusion "If he groans, we must give him more analgesic"—without suppressing a middle term?  Isn’t the point the service to which they put the description of behavior?"

180 "I describe a psychological experiment: the apparatus, the questions of the experimenter, the actions and replies of the subject—and then I say that it is a scene in a play.—Now everything is different."
-"It is like the relation: physical object—sense-impressions.  Here we have two different language-games and a complicated relation between them.—If you try to reduce their relations to a simple formula you go wrong."
181 (vi) "The meaning of a word is not the experience one has in hearing or saying it, and the sense of a sentence is not a complex of such experiences."
"How should we counter someone who told us that with him understanding was an inner process?--How should we counter him if he said that with him knowing how to play chess was an inner process?—We should say that when we want to know if he can play chess we aren’t interested in anything that goes on inside him.—And if he replies that this is in fact just what we are interested in, that is, we are interested in whether he can play chess—then we shall have to draw his attention to the criteria which would demonstrate his capacity...."
-182-183 Suppose someone says they have an "if-feeling."

-183 "...the atmosphere that is inseparable from its object is not an atmosphere."

184 (vii) "Do dreams occur when we sleep, or are they the memory phenomenon of the awakened?"  A nonsense question?
Brief description of the "language-game" of talking about our dreams.  Do we ever ask whether people are deceived by their memories of their dreams?

"Does this mean that it is nonsense ever to raise the question whether dreams really take place during sleep, or are a memory phenomenon of the awakened?  It will turn on the use of the question."

"The evolution of the higher animals and of man, and the awakening of consciousness at a particular level.  The picture is something like this: Though the ether is filled with vibrations the world is dark.  But one day man opens his seeing eye, and there is light.
  What this language primarily describes is a picture.  What is to be done with the picture, how it is to be used, is still obscure.  Quite clearly, however, it must be explored if we want to understand the sense of what we are saying.  But the picture seems to spare us this work; it already points to a particular use. This is how it takes us in."

185 (viii) We teach the use of sensation words.
""How is one to define a feeling? It is something special and indefinable." But it must be possible to teach the use of the words!
  What I am looking for is the grammatical difference."
187 (ix) "‘Observing’ does not produce what is observed."

"‘Observing’ does not produce what is observed.  (That is a conceptual statement.)
  Again: I do not ‘observe’ what only comes into being through observation.  The object of observation is something else."

"If you observe your own grief, which senses do you use to observe it?"

"When do we say that any one is observing?  Roughly; when he puts himself in a favorable position to receive certain impressions in order (for example) to describe what they tell him."

"I say ‘I am afraid’; someone else asks me: ‘What was that?  A cry of fear; or do you want to tell me how you feel; or is it a reflection on your present state?’—Could I always give him a clear answer?  Could I never give him one?

188 We can imagine all sorts of things here...."

"We ask ‘What does ‘I am frightened’ really mean, what am I referring to when I say it?’  And of course we find no answer, or one that is inadequate.
  The question is: "in what sort of context does it occur?""

"And do I always talk with very definite purpose?  And is what I say meaningless because I don’t?"

189 "But here is the problem: a cry, which cannot be called a description, which is more primitive than any description, for all that serves as a description of the inner life.

A cry is not a description. But there are transitions. And the words "I am afraid" may approximate more, or less, to being a cry. They may come quite close to this and also be far removed from it."

"But if "I am afraid" is not always something like a cry of complaint and yet sometimes is, then why should it always be a description of a state of mind?"

190 (x) "How do we ever come to use such an expression as "I believe..."?"
"Did we at some time become aware of a phenomenon (of belief)?
   Did we observe ourselves and other people and so discover belief?"
-My assertion that "I believe that this is the case" is used like my assertion that "This is the case," but the hypothesis that I believe that this is the case is not used like the hypothesis that this is the case!

-191 "If..."I believe..." throws light on my state, then so does the assertion "It is so."" 

"...one does not infer one’s own conviction from one’s own words, not yet the actions which arise from that conviction."

-191-192 "This is how I think of it: Believing is a state of mind.  It has duration; and that independently of the duration of its expression in a sentence, for example.  So it is a kind of disposition of the believing person.  This is shewn me in the case of someone else by his behavior; and by his words.  And under this head, by the expression ‘I believe...’; as well as by the simple assertion.—What about my own case: how do I myself recognize my own disposition?—Here it will have been necessary for me to take notice of myself as others do, to listen to myself talking, to be able to draw conclusions from what I say!"

-Differences between first and third person uses of ‘believe’.

193 (xi) "Seeing," "Seeing As," and Other "Psychological" Concepts:

"Two uses of the word ‘see’. "The one: "What do you see there?."—"I see this" (and then a description, a drawing, a copy).  The other: "I see a likeness between these two faces"...."

"The importance of this is the difference of category between the ‘objects’ of sight."

The latter might be called "noticing an aspect," and "we are interested in the concept and its place among the concepts of experience."  We are not interested in its causes.

-Illustration of a box and the different ways of seeing it.  "Each time the text supplies the interpretation of the illustration.  But we can also see the illustration now as one thing, now as another.—So we interpret it, and see it as we interpret it."

194 The duck-rabbit drawing:

-195 It would be a mistake to say we are now seeing it as a picture of a rabbit, now as a picture of a duck—if we wish to speak normally.  "One doesn’t ‘take’ what one knows as cutlery at a meal for cutlery; any more than one ordinarily tries to move one’s mouth as one eats, or aims at moving it."

-"The change of aspect.  ‘But surely you would say that the picture is altogether different now!’
  But what is different: my impression? my point of view?—Can I say?  I describe the alteration like a perception; quite as if the object had altered before my eyes...."

-196 ....The expression of a change of aspect is the expression of a new perception and at the same time of the [old] perception’s being unchanged."

"If you put the ‘organization’ of a visual impression on a level with colours and shapes, you are proceeding from the idea of the visual impression as an inner object.  Of course this makes this object into a chimera; a queerly shifting construction.  For the similarity to a picture is now impaired."
-197 "Seeing as....’ is not part of perception. And for that reason it is like seeing and again not like."

-"But since it is the description of a perception, it can also be called the expression of thought.—If you are looking at the object, you need not think of it; but if you are having the visual experience expressed by the exclamation, you are also thinking of what you see.
  Hence the flashing of an aspect on us seems half visual experience, half thought."

--Seeing an unfamiliar shape;

--Seeing someone one hasn’t seen for years;

--Seeing an acquaintance in a crowd.

-198 "What is the criterion of the visual experience?"
--"The representation of ‘what is seen’."
"The concept of a representation of what is seen...is very elastic...."
-"How does one tell that human beings see three-dimensionally?"

-"Reverse" drawings of a figure and of a word—one is "easier to take in" than the other.

199 "There are here hugely many interrelated phenomena and possible concepts.
  Then is the copy of the figure an incomplete description of my visual experience? No.—But the circumstances decide whether, and what, more detailed specifications are necessary.—It may be an incomplete description; if there is still something to ask."

200 "The concept of ‘seeing’ makes a tangled impression.  Well, it is tangled.—I look at the landscape, my gaze ranges over it, I see all sorts of distinct and indistinct movement; this impresses itself shapely on me, that is quite hazy.  After all, how completely ragged what we see can appear!  And now look at all that can be meant by ‘description of what is seen’.—But this just is what is called description of what is seen.  There is not one genuine proper case of such description—the rest being just vague, something which awaits clarification, or which must just be swept aside as rubbish.
  Here we are in enormous danger of wanting to make fine distinctions.—It is the same when one tries to define the concept of a material object in terms of ‘what is really seen’.—What we have rather to do is to accept the everyday language-game, and to note false accounts of the matter as false.  The primitive language-game which children are taught needs no justification; attempts at justification need to be rejected."
Triangle Drawing and Its Aspects:

"But how is it possible to see an object according to an interpretation?—The question represents it as a queer fact; as if something were being forced into a form it did not rally fit.  But no squeezing, no forcing took place here."

-Are the aspects simply what might be pictured?

-201 "How would the following account do: ‘What I can see something as, is what it can be a picture of’?
  What this means is: the aspects in a change of aspects are those ones which the figure might sometimes have permanently in a picture."

-201 "There are...styles of painting which do not convey anything to me...but do to other people.  I think custom and upbringing have a hand in this."

-202 "...it seems queer that with some drawings our impression should be a flat thing, and with some a three-dimensional thing...."

-"What does anyone tell me by saying ‘now I see it as....’? What consequences has this information? What can I do with it?"

-One "context" for "seeing aspects"—aesthetics: "Here it occurs to me that in conversation on aesthetic matters we use the words: "You have to see it like this, this is how it is meant’...."

-203 Another "context" for "seeing aspects"—descriptive geometry: "I know that this line appears again here, but I can’t see it like that."

204 "Do not try to analyse your inner experience."
""Is it a genuine visual experience?"  The question is: in what sense is it one?
  Here it is difficult to see that what is at issue is the fixing of concepts.
  A concept forces itself on one.  (This is what you must not forget.)
  For when should I call it a mere case of knowing, not seeing?—Perhaps when someone treats the picture as a working drawing, reads it like a blueprint.  (Fine shades of behavior. Why are they important? They have important consequences.)"
-205 "You need to think of the role which pictures such as paintings (as opposed to working drawings) have in our lives. This role is by no means a uniform one."

-Indeed, I would note, some engineers or architects might well mount and hang especially important or exquisite working drawings.  Similarly, some small business people hang their first profit—in which case it "becomes something else"—in a sense (or aspect).

206 "(In giving all these examples I am not aiming at some kind of completeness, some classification of psychological concepts.  They are only meant to enable the reader to shift for himself when he encounters conceptual difficulties.)"

"‘Now I see it as a ....’ goes with ‘I am trying to see it as a ....’ or ‘I can’t see it as a ....yet’.  But I cannot try to see a conventional picture of a lion as a lion, any more than an F as that letter.  (Though I may well try to see it as a gallows, for example.)"

"Do not ask yourself "How does it work with me?"—Ask "What do I know about someone else?"

How does one play the game: "It could be this too."?"

-The same tune at different tempos.

-207 The double cross figure (black and white crosses)—Wittgenstein abbreviates the two crosses as "aspect A" in what follows.

-"Always get rid of the idea of the private object in this way: assume that it constantly changes, but that you do not notice the change because your memory constantly deceives you."

"It is possible to take the duck-rabbit simply for the picture of a rabbit, the double cross simply for the picture of a black cross, but not to take the bare triangular figure for the picture of an object that has fallen over.  To see this aspect of the triangle demands imagination."

208 "How does one teach a child (say in arithmetic) "Now take these things together!" or "Now these go together"?  Clearly "taking together" and "going together" must originally have had another meaning for him than that of seeing in this way or that.—And this is a remark about concepts, not about teaching methods."

-"‘Now he’s seeing it like this, now like that’ would only be said of someone capable of making certain applications of the figure quite freely.
  The substratum of this experience is the mastery of a technique.
  But how queer for this to be the logical condition of someone’s having such-and-such an
experience!  After all, you don’t say that one only ‘has toothache’ if one is capable of doing such-and-such.—From this it follows that we cannot be dealing with the same concept of experience here.  It is a different though related concept."

-209 "For how could I see this posture was hesitant before I knew that it was a posture and not the anatomy of the animal?
  But surely that only means that I cannot use this concept to describe the object of sight, just because it has more than purely visual reference?—Might I not for all that have a purely visual concept of a hesitant posture, or of a timid face?"

-"Sad’ applied to lines on paper and to a human being—different (but related) meanings.

-"Think of this too: I can only see, but not hear, red and green,—but sadness I can hear as much as I can see it."

-"What sense do you sense sadness with?"—different "senses" for different senses?

-210 Being "blind" to expressions on faces—is this defective eyesight?

211 "Is being struck looking plus thinking?  No.  Many of our concepts cross here."
212 "It is almost as if ‘seeing the sign in this context’ were an echo of a thought."

"Do I really see something different each time, or do I only interpret what I see in a different way?  I am inclined to say the former.  But why?—To interpret is to think, to do something, seeing is a state."

-213 "Doesn’t it take imagination to hear something as a variation on a particular theme?  And yet one is perceiving something in so hearing it."

"Seeing an aspect and imagining are subject to the will.  There is such an order as "Imagine this", and also: "Now see the figure like this"; but not "Now see this leaf green"."

Could there be someone who is "aspect-blind"?

Unable to see "aspects A," similarities between faces, and will lack a musical ear (p. 214).
217 "Meaning is as little an experience as intending."
"The intention with which one acts does not ‘accompany’ the action any more than the thought ‘accompanies’ speech. Thought and intention are neither ‘articulated’ nor ‘non-articulated’; to be compared neither with a single note which sounds during the acting or speaking, nor with a tune."

218 "Meaning is not a process which accompanies a word. For no process could have the consequences of meaning.
  (Similarly, I think, it could be said: a calculation is not an experiment, for no experiment could have the peculiar consequences of a multiplication.)

-219 "The words ‘It’s on the tip of my tongue’ are no more the expression of an experience than ‘Now I know how to go on!’—We use them in certain situations, and they are surrounded by behavior of a special kind, and also by some characteristic experiences. In particular they are frequently followed by finding the word."

-220 "The close relationship between ‘saying inwardly’ and ‘saying’ is manifested in the possibility of telling out loud what one said inwardly, and of an outward action’s accompanying inward speech."

"Let the use of words teach you their meaning.  (Similarly one can often say in mathematics: let the proof teach you what was being proved.)"

221 ""I know what I want, wish, believe, feel, ......." (and so on through all the psychological verbs) is either philosopher’s nonsense, or at any rate not a judgment a priori.

-"‘I know…’ may mean ‘I do not doubt…" but does not mean that the words ‘I doubt…" are senseless, that doubt is logically excluded.
  One says ‘I know’ where one can also say ‘I believe’ or ‘I suspect’; where one can find out.  (If you bring up against me the case of people’s saying ‘But I must know if I am in pain!’,.  ‘Only you can know what you feel’, and similar things, you should consider the occasion and purpose of these phrases.  ‘War is war’ is not an example of the law of identity, either).
  It is possible to imagine a case in which I could find out that I have two hands.  Normally, however, I cannot do so.  "But all you need is to hold them up before your eyes!"—If I am now in doubt whether I have two hands, I need not believe my eyes either.  (I might as well ask a friend).
  With this is connected the fact that, for instance, the proposition "The Earth has existed for millions of years" makes clearer sense than "The Earth has existed in the last five minutes".  For I should ask anyone who asserted the latter: "What observations does this proposition refer to; and what observations would count against it?"—whereas I know what ideas and observations the former proposition goes with."
--Cf., Wittgenstein’s On Certainty for an in depth treatment of this.2

-221-222 "‘A new-born child has no teeth.’—‘A goose has no teeth.’—‘A rose has no teeth.’—This last at any rate—one would like to say—is obviously true! It is even surer that a goose has none.—And yet it is none so clear.  For where should a rose’s teeth have been?  The goose has none in its jaw.  And neither, of course has it any in its wings; but no one means that when he says it has no teeth.—Why, suppose one where to say: the cow chews its food and then dungs the rose with it, so the rose has teeth in the mouth of a beast.  This would not be absurd, because one has no notion in advance where to look...."

222 "I can know what someone else is thinking, not what I am thinking.  It is correct to say "I know what you are thinking", and wrong to say "I know what I am thinking."
  (A whole cloud of philosophy condensed into a drop of grammar.)"

-The criteria for the truth of the confession that I thought such-and-such are not the criteria for a true description of a process.  And the importance of the true confession does not reside in its being a correct and certain report of a process.  It resides rather in the special consequences which can be drawn from a confession whose truth is guaranteed by the special criteria of truthfulness."

223 ""What is internal is hidden from us."—The future is hidden from us.  But does the astronomer think this when he calculates an eclipse of the sun?

  If I see someone writhing in pain with evident cause I do not think: all the same, his feelings are hidden from me."

We also say of some people that they are transparent to us.  It is, however, important as regards this observation that one human being can be a complete enigma to another.  We learn this when we come into a strange country with entirely strange traditions; and, what is more, even given a mastery of the country's language.  We do not understand the people.  (And not because of not knowing what they are saying to themselves.)  We cannot find our feet with them.

In his “The Availability of Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy,” Stanley Cavell says that a better translation of the last phrase would be: “we cannot find ourselves in them.”3

If a lion could talk, we could not understand him.

224 "We remain unconscious of the prodigious diversity of all the everyday language-games because the clothing of our language makes everything alike."

225 "One judges the length of a rod and can look for and find some method of judging it more exactly or more reliably.  So—you say—what is judged here is independent of the method of judging it.  What length is cannot be defined by the method of determining length.—To think this is to make a mistake....To say ‘The height of Mount Blanc depends on how one climbs it’ would be queer.  And one wants to compare ‘ever more accurate measurement of length’ with the nearer and nearer approach to an object.  But in certain cases it is, and certain cases it is not, clear what ‘approaching nearer to the length of an object’ means.  What ‘determining the length’ means is not learned by learning what length and determining are; the meaning of the word ‘length’ is learnt by learning, among other things, what it is to determine length."

-"Ask, not: ‘What goes on in us when we are certain that....?’—but: How is ‘the certainty that this is the case’ manifested in human action?"
--"There can be a dispute over the correct result of a calculation (say of a rather long addition).  But such disputes are rare and of short duration.  They can be decided, as we say, ‘with certainty’.
  Mathematicians do not in general quarrel over the result of a calculation.  (This is an important fact.)—If it were otherwise, if for instance one mathematician was convinced that a figure has altered unperceived, or that his or someone else’s memory had been deceived, and so-on—then our concept of ‘mathematical certainty’ would not exist."
226 "I have not said why mathematicians do not quarrel, but only that they do not."

"What has to be accepted, the given, is—so one could say—forms of life.

 Does it make sense to say that people generally agree in their judgments of colour?  What would it be like for them not to?—One man would say a flower was red which another called blue, and so on.—But what right should we have to call these people’s words ‘red’ and ‘blue’ our colour words’?
  How would they learn to use these words?  And is the language-game which they learn still such as we call the use of ‘names of colour?  There are evidently differences of degree here."

-But, aren’t mathematical propositions, for example, true or false independently of human beliefs and usages?

--"Twice two is four" and "Human beings believe that twice two is four" are different propositions!

--"The two propositions have entirely different uses."

-227 While there is general agreement in judgments about colors, there is also the phenomenon of color-blindness.  "Is there such a thing as ‘expert judgment’ about the genuineness of expressions of feeling?"
--"Even here, there are those whose judgment is ‘better’ and those whose judgment is ‘worse’.
  Correcter prognoses will generally issue from the judgments of those with a better knowledge of mankind.
  Can one learn this knowledge?  Yes; some can. Not, however, by taking a course in it, but through ‘experience’."
-"What is most difficult here is to put this indefiniteness, correctly and unfalsified, into words."

-229 "A child has much to learn before it can pretend.  (A dog cannot be a hypocrite, but neither can he be sincere)."

230 (xii) We are not interested in causes:
"If the formation of concepts can be explained by facts of nature, should we not be interested, not in grammar, but rather in the nature which is the basis of grammar?....our interest does not fall back upon these possible causes...we are not doing natural science; nor yet natural history—since we can also invent fictitious natural history for our purposes."  
-"For is even our style of painting arbitrary?  Can we choose one at pleasure?  (The Egyptian, for instance.)  Is it a mere question of pleasing and ugly?"
231 (xiii) Remembering:
"Memory-experiences are accompaniments of remembering.
  Remembering has no experiential content."
232 (xiv) The Barrenness of Psychology:
"...in psychology there are experimental methods and conceptual confusion."

"An investigation is possible in connexion with mathematics which is entirely analogous to our investigation of psychology.  It is just as little a mathematical investigation as the other is a psychological one."


Notes: (click on note number to return to the text for the note)

1 Unless references are otherwise indicated, the references refer to Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, trans. G.E.M. Anscome (N.Y.: Macmillan, 1953).  References to Part II are indicated by the appropriate page.  Emphasis is added to various passages without notice.  Note that if you are consulting a different edition of the work (and the text is different), the page references will not be correct.  

2 Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty, eds. G.E.M. Anscome and G.H. von Wright, trans. Denis Paul and G.E.M. Anscome (N.Y.: Harper, 1969).

3 Stanley Cavell, “The Availability of Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy,” The Philosophical Review v. 71 (1962), pp. 67-93.  The essay is reprinted in Wittgenstein: The Philosophical Investigations, ed. George Pitcher (N.Y.: Anchor, 1966), pp. 151-185, and the citation appears on p. 179 of the reprint.  

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Revised on: 04/07/2014