Objective backing


................................................................................................................................................................................


This raises the question, whether the word 'ratification' has any clear meaning in the theory of necessary truth which Wittgenstein seems to be offering. But it was always obvious that this would come into question. For the kind of solvent which he applies to necessary truths which are being used as rules of inference in suggested proofs can obviously be applied to all necessary truths, including those which have just been directly ratified. So it seems that, if Wittgenstein's theory were right, all communication would break down.

[...] it is important to remember that he, at least, did not think that he was denying anything that could be given a clear meaning. He was trying to demonstrate not that logic and mathematics do not rest on a Realistic basis, but only that that basis cannot provide any independent support for them.

[...] the sources of the necessities of logic and mathematics lie within those areas of discourse, in actual linguistic practices, and, when those necessities seem to point to some backing outside the practices, the pointing is deceptive, and the idea that the backing is independent is an illusion.

[...] Wittgenstein was not offering a theory designed to show that logic and mathematics, which everyone felt to be safe, in fact the safest things of all, are really in a precarious position. The question is, granted that they are safe, what makes them safe [...]

[Wittgenstein's] point is only that it is a contingent fact that human beings agree in their ratifications, however hopeless the situation would be if they did not agree, and that this agreement is the foundation of logic and mathematics. 

[...] when we judge deviant systems of non-ratification by our standards of correctness, and reach the inevitable verdict that they are mistaken, we must realize that this judgement can be reciprocated, and that it does nothing to show that our system has any independent backing [...] it is only a contingent fact that there is as much agreement in these ratifications as there is, and it is on this fact alone that logic and mathematics depend.

[Wittgenstein] wants to show that there is only one possible theory here, and that is the anthropocentric theory, and that there is no way of formulating Realism as a genuinely different theory about an independent objective backing.

It is Wittgenstein's later doctrine that outside human thought and speech there are no independent, objective points of support, and meaning and necessity are preserved only in the linguistic practices which embody them.

They are safe only because the practices gain a certain stability from rules. But even the rules do not provide a fixed point of reference, because they always allow divergent interpretations.

What really gives the practices their stability is that we agree in our interpretations of the rules.

[David Pears]
Wittgenstein, p. 138-40, 168


................................................................................................................................................................................


1 comment: