Monday, May 21, 2007


So, a second week of OPC2—last week I found Williams’ paper helpful, clarifying for me some of what Wittgenstein was up to at the beginning of Philosophical Investigations. I know too little to engage with that debate, but it strikes me prima facie that (in the builders’ language-game) builder A’s “Slab!” (spoken to builder B) must have been the expression of a thought that we might adequately describe as “Bring me a slab!” or “Make it so that B brings A a slab.” Certainly A must have wanted a slab, and must have thought that saying “Slab!” to B would help to satisfy that want—otherwise, there could hardly have been a language-game. Cf. two robots, 1 and 2, with 1 beaming a pulse of light (of some sort) towards 2 whenever 1 detects an insufficiency of slabs, and with the detected pulse causing 2 to take a slab to 1. Could such a transmission of photons be a linguistic act? Maybe, in the sense of computer languages, but how about if a billiard-ball collides with another, so that the momentum of the first is transferred to the other—is that a linguistic act? And if so, what is not? So, underlying A’s command “Slab!” there must have been (as a basic linguistic component) a thought that we might adequately describe as A entertaining the epistemic possibility that B could (actually, but in other cases fictionally, or theoretically) bring A a slab (no thoughts, no language, is how I see it—I mean, language is a medium for the communication of our thoughts), which is a relation of intentional objects (?)

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