In other words, if a verificationist cannot provide an empirically verifiable, theoretical account of what it is to 'see', then the entire verificationist project is dead because the means of verification itself will be rendered unverifiable. What could Wittgenstein mean by this assertion? If to 'interpret' is a habit in this sense of the term, then Russell seems to be conceptualizing the word 'interpretation' in a manner which includes unconscious or subconscious processes in the brain as part of its meaning. II. The meaning of the word is stretched so far as to include that which it seems to contradict. And if they were to be deemed meaningless, then how could any form of empirical verification be meaningful when empirical verification in itself is in fact wholly dependent upon statements which declare sensory observations (i.e., "I see where the optic nerve attaches to the brain")? We could say, as I understand Russell in his account of 'seeing' a cat, that these inferences are made out of habit, and therefore occur undetected by conscious thought. The simplicity of the above figure demonstrates quite well that an interpretation seems to require, in my opinion, the use of one's imagination. To view the two pictures at the same time, to use an example of Wittgenstein's regarding 'meaning' (8), would be like trying to use the word "bank" in a manner that meant both of its meanings at the same time (financial bank, river bank). Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology. Directed by Derek Jarman. These essays show that aspect-seeing was not simply one more topic of investigation in Wittgenstein's later writings, but, rather, that it was a pervasive and guiding concept in his efforts to turn philosophy's attention to the actual conditions of our common life in language. So if a verificationist cannot provide an account of 'seeing', what can he give an account of? Modern science, particularly psychology, tries to shed light on the question of how we can be said to see, hear, taste, smell, and feel in terms of theories which explain how sensations become perceptions. Denonn, Lester E. Ed. The scientistic inclination to search for a physical account of mental and psychological notions is an expression of the mental discomfort we feel at the thought of being unable to provide reasons for why we are the way we are and why we do the things we do. His response to this is not the latter, as our traditional philosophical inclinations would have us expect, but rather it is the former, namely that to see the figure one way and then another is to really see something different in each instance. However, as already mentioned in the context of 'permanent aspect seeing', this does not mean that every seeing is to be understood as a seeing as, which Wittgenstein points out in various passages. Wittgenstein does not have any quarrels with legitimate scientific inquiry or its findings. The chief confusions lie in the prevailing and allegedly common-sensical conceptions of the terms 'interpretation' and 'seeing'. Of course, we can offer rather outlandish interpretations which will obviously turn out to be mistaken, such as if we were to interpret the figure to be a pyramid or a jack o' lantern. T The phrase “seeing as” became a staple of philosophical vocabulary, and various uses were made of it. The purpose of this essay is to attempt to elucidate, assess, and defend Wittgenstein's contentions that there are certain damning conceptual confusions in the traditional philosophical account of what it is to 'see' or to have any other sensory experience for that matter. Since Wittgenstein's ideas seem to elude classification so thoroughly, it is difficult to refer to them as anything but 'Wittgensteinian'. A series of sketches depict the unfolding of his life from boyhood, … My doubt, in particular, is that Russell would actually mean such silliness by his use of the word "habit." Our eyes are not simply tools used by the brain which do the 'seeing' for it. How can a brain by itself exhibit consciousness? For example, to interpret the figure as a brick, we might imagine it with an earthen color and a rough texture. The physical, symbolical appearance and phonetic sound of word may be the same, but the meaning remains ambiguous, just as in the duck-rabbit picture, wherein the basic physical structure and shape of the drawing is the same, but the apparent picture is ambiguous. The point is that we consciously and deliberately drum up ideas concerning what this figure may be meant to represent. What we see in the above figure, of course, is dependent upon that with which we are familiar. First, the notion of experience defended by the aforementioned authors is reconstructed. (11). It would seem that a person with perfect pitch experiences a genuine 'hearing' of one pitch or another. The best that the rest of us can do is to try and remember certain pitches and make an inference by attempting to match what we hear with what we remember having heard in the past. A dramatization, in modern theatrical style, of the life and thought of the Viennese-born, Cambridge-educated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), whose principal interest was the nature and limits of language. In my opinion, it is not very fair nor does it demonstrate a grasp of the sheer complexity of Wittgenstein's thought to label him as a proponent of any of the above intellectual camps. Many authors have identified a link between later Wittgenstein and enactivism. 1980. pp. Again, to 'interpret' is to perform the act of making a conjecture, or to express a hypothesis, which may or may not turn out to be correct. DOI link for Wittgenstein’s seeing as. III. The above figure is meant to show, as are the ones soon to be discussed, that there are in fact illusions of the senses and thus to conceptualize seeing (as well as any other sensory experience) simply as a process of absorbing and interpreting 'data' is to terribly confuse the idea of what it actually means to 'see'. In §515-517 of Volume II of the Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, Wittgenstein puts it this way: 515. To see the above image as a duck, and then to see it as a rabbit, is to see two different aspects of the image, just as it is to see the F-figure as an 'F' or a mirror-image of an 'F' (though these can be considered to be two different kinds of aspect perception). Therefore, it seems that in the case of such theoretical reductions of 'seeing', the usage of the term 'interpretation' is terribly confused in that it is characterized by two apparently incompatible elements somehow entangled together into one distorted concept. We could also interpret the figure to be a fallen monolith by imagining it composed of solid bedrock and lying on the ground at some ancient archaeological site, such as the Sphinx Temple on the Giza necropolis in Egypt. The answer is not altogether clear, because, as mentioned above, his work is of the utmost complexity. In this case, it is also safe to say that a hypothesis is consciously made which subsequently turns out to be false. 1958. pp. Russell's similar account above, along with his being the proponent of a closely related program called "logical atomism," shows that he accepts a similar enough analysis. In Russell's account of what it is to 'see' a cat, he claims that through induction, we "infer" that the light patterns before us proceed from a cat. To this regard it is an action that is at least to some degree performed consciously and deliberately. R. Tilghman of affairs whereby they are able to express a sense and represent the world. (3). Something militates against that--But can't I say: they look just the same, namely like this--and now I produce the ambiguous drawing. This claim is especially troubling. Wittgenstein's opening remark is double-barreled: he states thatthe field of aesthetics is both very big and entirely misunderstood. In more specific terms, we become passive observers to the different aspects that the object seems to take on as we view it. I. Wittgenstein and seeing-as --pt. Our eyes do not 'see', we do. It is possible to jump from one such pattern to another and for the two to alternate. From this passage, it is apparent that Russell, in light of this rather simple example, maintains that there must be some constituting or essential object being perceived, and whether it is perceived to be one thing or another is determined solely by the brain's interpretation, be it mistaken or not, of what that object is. The problem, of course, lies in using the word 'interpretation' to denote the unconscious processing of sensory data in the brain. Wittgenstein then goes … Some have made the claim, as mentioned in the introduction to this essay, that Wittgenstein is practicing a kind of philosophical anti-science, in that his arguments regarding mind and psychology are seen as an attack on neuroscience and psychology. Those who are gifted in such a way have the ability to recognize the pitch of a sound as spontaneously and readily as the rest of us can recognize colors (of those of us who are not colorblind, anyway). is connected with 'I'm trying to see it as . Wittgenstein, Ludwig. It might seem logical or common-sensical to someone like Russell that the duck-rabbit figure is one and the same picture, and that we simply interpret it differently, but as it appears, we simply cannot escape the experience of seeing two entirely unique pictures. Should I say: "The picture-rabbit and the picture-duck look just the same"?! When we say that we see something, we are expressing a belief that a specific perception is apparent to us, wherein no alternative perceptions are relevant. Is this not the way that we have come to use and understand the concept of interpretation in our everyday language game, namely that an interpretation is at least to some degree a conscious and deliberate inference which may or may not turn out to be correct? As Wittgenstein puts it, interpreting is an action. His life seems to have been dominated by an obsession with moral and philosophical perfe… He continues in this manner by asking whether we are actually seeing something different in each instance or whether we are seeing the same thing and merely interpreting it one way or the other. New Jersey. Even some prominent thinkers misunderstand Wittgenstein's ideas, as evidenced by the fact that many perceive of him as subscribing to philosophical schools of thought with which he would want no affiliation. 1952. pp. A verificationist is committed to this type of theoretical conceptualization of 'seeing', because conceptualizing it in any other way would render such statements meaningless. I also believe that Wittgenstein would agree, and it seems that he wants to argue that traditional philosophy, in its attempt to theoretically reduce what it means to 'see', has stretched the meaning of interpretation far beyond the boundaries of its customary usage. As Warren Goldfarb puts it, Wittgenstein is "a philosopher whose major concern is to fight against a priorism, to demolish pictures of how things must be, to expose 'preconceived ideas to which reality must correspond'".(1). How did this term come to be used in this seemingly improper manner? This is because the scientific, empirical account of how we see--that is, strictly speaking, how the respective parts of the body work together--is based solely upon observations of the workings of the human body, vis-à-vis, how the eyes, nerves, and brain function in relation to the laws of physics. 1992. pp. Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein, born on April 26th 1889 in Vienna, Austria, was a charismatic enigma. Or is that just the way that science attempts to explain how we walk? 30990675 Howick Place | London | SW1P 1WG © 2020 Informa UK Limited, Wollheim, Wittgenstein, and Pictorial Representation. IV. Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits. In 1908 he began his studies in aeronauticalengineering at Manchester University where his interest in thephilosophy of pure mathematics led him to Frege. To what extent we do this becomes obvious when we make a mistake--for example, when what we thought was an airplane turns out to be a bird. Therefore, when modern psychology or neuroscience provides us with an empirical account of 'seeing', and tells us that the brain somehow 'organizes' visual data into recognizable perceptions, we tend to associate 'organizing' with 'interpreting', and say that it simply happens spontaneously and without conscious thought. Hence, only through clarification of what the legitimate questions are can proper sense be made of the applicability of science. 8. Therefore the brain is thought of as making interpretations on both the conscious and the unconscious level. Wittgenstein then goes on to ask: "what does seeing the figure now this way and now that consist in?" When we normally speak of seeing in our everyday language-game, we are not inclined to say, "I see the picture as a duck," but rather we simply say, "I see a duck.". For to do so might give it that ghostly, metaphysical aspect which positivists are so intent on eradicating. So why call it 'interpreting'? Volume I. Seeing Wittgenstein Anew is a stimulating presentation of a wide-ranging and sophisticated perspective, rigorous and yet generous with argumentative opponents, and making a significant contribution to the literature on the Wittgenstein's later thought as a whole. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. In the Remarks on thePhilosophy of Psychology, Volumes I & II, Wittgenstein provides his readers with a wealth of counterexamples to our traditional philosophical accounts of various psychological phenomenon, all of which are designed to help demonstrate how such accounts seem to be misguided and mired in confusion. V. Imagination and emotion … Wittgenstein's aim is to steer us off of this crooked path of theorizing based on such a priori presuppositions. (9). (The draft of water, the draft of a treaty.) Nor when looking at an F do I say: 'That could be seen as an F'. The chief motive of logical positivism is to purge philosophy of the futile metaphysical quibbles that have kept it from advancing in the way that other disciplines have. We would never then say, or it would at least seem very peculiar of us to say, "I see it as a duck," just as it would seem utterly strange to hear someone who is looking up toward the sky at a distant airplane say, "I see it as an airplane!" 'Seeing-in' is an imaginative act of the kind employed by Leonardo’s pupils when he told them to see what they could - for example, battle scenes - in a wall of cracked plaster. If it is so that Russell wishes to call the brain's unconscious processing of sensory data 'interpretation', then I suppose he may. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, XVII. Any more than I take letters to be this or that when I'm reading a book. When I'm looking at the photograph, I don't tell myself 'That could be seen as a human being'. References to sections in Part I will use a number sign (i.e., #). On the one hand, if we use the word 'interpretation' to mean the brain's unconscious processing of data acquired by the senses, we can account for the fact that many of our perceptions seem to occur spontaneously and without conscious thought. If such were the case, we would all be born into a state of severe skeptical doubt. .' University of Chicago Press. In Russell's defense, we could say that it is a drawing of the same shape, a specific conglomeration of lines and curves, or something to that effect, but this seems trivial and unsatisfying to us--almost as if we were to say that the proper object of sense in this case is a "thing". Book Wollheim, Wittgenstein, and Pictorial Representation. Now, let us say that we are familiar with both ducks and rabbits, and can therefore recognize both aspects of the duck-rabbit image. The basic evil of Russell's logic, as also of mine in the Tractatus, is that what a proposition is is illustrated by a few commonplace examples, and then pre-supposed as understood in full generality. Is 'seeing' something which is empirically verifiable, which can be reduced to a theoretical account? These essays show that aspect-seeing was not simply one more topic of investigation in Wittgenstein's later writings, but, rather, that it was a pervasive and guiding concept in his efforts to turn philosophy's attention to the actual conditions of our common life in … Wittgenstein hints at the difficulties that are involved in such a practice: 76. Remember that Russell, as quoted earlier, maintains that "there are in fact no illusions of the senses, but only mistakes in interpreting sensational data as things other than themselves." Where Socrates says, “Virtue is knowledge,” Dr. Verdi’s Wittgenstein says, “Ethics is aspect-seeing,” an ingrained appreciation of alternate possibilities and the respect that goes with it. University of Chicago Press. . 517. In my opinion the answer is yes. When we look at the duck-rabbit, without any awareness that it can be seen two different ways, we only see either a duck or a rabbit. Even the person Wittgenstein calls 'aspect-blind' would be capable of seeing the similarity between two faces thus understood (see Wittgenstein 2009, Part II, 257), . 1980. pp. upon Ludwig Wittgenstein’s concept of seeing-as (Philosophical Investigations, 1953). Even if it were so that the financial bank happens to be built on a river bank, we would still only be able to mean one designation or the other at one time if we were to say, for example, "I am going to the bank." This is also a very good case of what Wittgenstein meant by the concept of internal relations in the Tractatus. However, there is something about the nature of this picture which tells against the traditional, theoretical account of what it is to 'see', namely that it appears to have the effect of an illusion. The path corresponds to a particular pattern of oscillation of the eyeballs in the act of looking. Our ears do not 'hear', we do, and so on. . Excerpted from Russell's An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth. . Is there really an external world? Most interpretations of this figure, however, are going to be made in terms of what it actually looks like, and suffice it to say, there are a great many things in the world which share the appearance of this figure. For now, however, we are concerned with one simple question. 2020 Internet Infidels Fundraising Drive / $33,018.52 of $40,000.00. etc., then put coins down on the counter, etc. In fact, the question itself does not even seem to be applicable in Wittgenstein's case. ', or 'I can't see it as . Let us put it another way. Wittgenstein's influential discussion of "seeing as." Click here to navigate to parent product. These are the simple brute facts of our existence. Therefore, it can be said that one of the most important things to keep in mind when reading Wittgenstein's work is that he is concerned with freeing us from traditional, a priori philosophical presuppositions and is attempting to push us to look at philosophical issues in new and different ways. Goldfarb, Warren. I want to revisit the topic in the hope of gaining some clarity on the matter. . Usually the experiment succeeds; when it does not, its failure is easily accounted for without modifying the laws of physics. 2. We simply alternate between passively seeing the ambiguous picture as a duck and seeing it as a rabbit. When we see the figure one way instead of the other, we are not actively producing an interpretation of it, but rather our seeing it one way or another is an expression of our visual experience. To organize all of Wittgenstein's arguments and ideas into a neat, coherent philosophical system or program, in my opinion, would seem to do his work a great injustice. 1992. pp. We in turn infer that this pattern of light comes from an area before us which beholds an object that resembles a cat. Seeing the duck-rabbit figure as a duck, or as a rabbit, is therefore much like having perfect pitch, in that there are no active inferences being made. When we interpret, we make a conjecture, we express a hypothesis, which may subsequently turn out false. Every sensation which is of a familiar kind brings with it various associated beliefs and expectations. 176. If, by the word "habit," Russell means that we have come to make these inferences so often and so routinely that such a practice has now become seemingly automatic to us, would he not be implying that at one time in our lives, before we developed such habits, our perceptions actually did not occur to us spontaneously as they do now? Such schools of thought, which Wittgenstein somewhat influenced in his early years, are characterized by an attempt to rid philosophy of speculative metaphysics and align it with the methodological commitments of science. 16e. We do not each exist as a brain in a vat. An interpretation, as we have already established, is a conscious, deliberate act. (It is in this respect that physics is superior to ignorant common sense.) If, on the other hand, pictorial perception involves Induction allows us to infer that this pattern of light, which, we will suppose, looks like a cat, probably proceeds from a region in which the other properties of cats are also present. He tries to compensate for this oddity by declaring that all of this inference-making is done by habit, implying that it therefore goes unnoticed by conscious thought. Or you can dismiss until our next donations drive (typically at the beginning of October). I find it to be much more plausible that by the word "habit," Russell is referring to a natural disposition or inclination of the human brain which works at the unconscious level. One would simply say, "I see an airplane." The idea has come to be a fundamental presupposition of many modern philosophers of mind and psychology. Such illusions, through their ambiguity, show that there are in fact cases where we cansee as without need for interpretation, and thus 'seeing' is an experience which seems to come as a brute fact, neither having nor requiring verification in the form of a physicalistic account. Science and traditional philosophy try to provide a physiological account of these concepts. Copyright © 1995-2021 Internet Infidels®. ). It is not very clear what he means by "habit" in this account, and his use of the word will be discussed in detail later in this essay. Difficulties with Wollheim's borrowing from Wittgenstein --pt. As Wittgenstein puts it, interpreting is an action. Thanks! Therefore, according to Wittgenstein, the way that we actually see the image changes in this particular instance, not the way that we interpret it. So, one might now ask, what exactly is 'Wittgensteinian' thought? What compels certain philosophers to conceptualize 'seeing' in such a manner? or 'Probably that is a . In the case of 'seeing', therefore, Wittgenstein is trying to clarify the concept so as to show where scientific examination would and would not be applicable. Russell, Bertrand. In this paper, I consider one such challenge. What if we say, "He is going to go walking," that is to say, to go on a 'walk'? His sexuality was ambiguous but he was probably gay; how actively so is still a matter of controversy. Second, the main features of what Wittgenstein called “seeing aspects” are briefly presented. Certain patterns of movement are physiologically impossible; hence, for example, I cannot see the schematic cube as two interpenetrating prisms. Ideas such as these can properly be called interpretations. When we tell someone to 'walk' to the store, is this just short for telling them to undergo the above process? Up to a point, we can test this hypothesis by experiment: we can touch the cat, and pick it up by the tail to see if it mews. The complete ambiguity of this figure makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find something constituting about its appearance.

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