G. E. Moore


Notes of Wittgenstein

[This is Moore writing and he admits to not understanding a lot]

He was anxious to insist that the meaning of any word is defined, or determined by the grammatical rules with which it is used in that language, he expressed this by saying that every significant word or symbol must essentially belong to a system, and its meaning is its place in a grammatical system which is the only way he intended to use it, but there is another commonly use of "meaning" which is "as a name for a process accompanying our use of a word and our hearing of a word." Moore says by this he meant the sense in which "to know the meaning" means to "understand"

257 [Huh?]

W. thinks that the expression "the meaning" of a word is bound to lead us wrong, it makes us think that the rules are responsible for something that is not a rule, when they are only repsponsible to rules, but Moore said this is incompatable with what he also said that the idea of meaning is obsolete except in phrases "this has no meaning" or "this means that". W. thinks it is the false idea that in the case of a substantive like "the meaning" one thinks they have to look for something to point to and say "this is the meaning". He thinks Frege and Russell were mislead by this when they thought they were bound to give an answer to the question "What is the number 2?" W. beleived that if a word or sign one uses is to have a meaning, one must commit themselves to its use, meaning if I use "green" in this case I have to use it in others. There is no use in correlating noises to facts unless we commit ourselves to using the noise is a particular way again, so that the correlation has consequences and language can lead us and guide us. Every symbol must essentially belong to a system but for a sign to have significance it should belong to the same system with other signs. W. insisted on three views that are mistakes: 1) that the meaning of a word was some image which it calls up by association (he called it the causal theory of meaning). Sometimes you cannot understand a word unless you call up an image, but he insisted the image is just as much a symbol as the word is.

2) that when we can give an ostensive definition of a word, the object pointed at is the meaning of the word. This is a mistake because the gesture of pointing together with the object pointed at can be used instead of the word, since this has the same meaning as the word. In "this is a book" and "this is the color red" "this" has quite different meanings, and in order to udnerstand the ostensive definition "this is red" the hearer must understand what is meant by color.

3) that a word is related to its meaning in the same way that a proper name is related to the bearer of that name. A bearer of a name can be ill or dead but the meaning of a name is not ill or dead. W. said the bearer of a name can be substituted for the name but the meaning of a word can never be substituted for that word. This mistake comes from thinking that words are representative of their meanings, which they never are, but proper names are representatives of their bearers.


Proof of an External World

He starts off by analyzing Kant's saying that it has been a scandal for philosophy that a satisfactory proof of the "existence of things outside of us". This part in quotes is what he tries to analyze the meaning. "Outside of us" is to odd for him so he suggests "external things" which he sees as roughly equivalent to "things external to us" and "things external to our minds" but these are still too unclear. He points out another citation of Kant that uses two types of things "outside of us" 1) objects in the transcendental sense. 2) outright things which are to be met with in space. For #2 Kant also uses as equivalent "is called external, if it is presented in space" Moore then points out cases of after images, double images, phantom pains all of which are "presented in space". Moore then points out cases of after images, double images, phantom pains all of which are "presented in space" but are not "to be met with in space". And that there are "things to be met with in space" that are not or will never be "presented in space" meaning things which are real but might never be perceived. Further examples of the former are objects in dreams and hallucinations. But is the sky or what I see in a looking glass "external to our minds" being more closely equivalent to "things to be met with in space"? Moore thinks this shows these aren't equivalent.

Moore believes he can have knowledge without being able to prove it. Moore thinks that his arguments for knowledge in particular cases (pg. 32) are just as good as the arguments for doubting knowledge in those same cases. Moore thinks that one can have knowledge if there is no reason to doubt, but my reason why this is bad is because two different people can believe contradictory things and both have no reason to doubt them. People can essentially know anything then if they donít have reason to doubt, like somebody can both know that God exists and know that he doesnít exist because of an intuition. He also believes that it is less doubtful that there is a pencil before him than Russellís assumptions. Moore has a different definition of knowledge, but if he is consistent it will lead him into contradictions. Moore also thinks that in order to say that the experiences we are having right now are indistinguishable from dream experiences of the same kind and this assumes that at some point one would be able to distinguish between dreams and real life.

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