josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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23 Feb '14 01:27:03 AM

'… plainness of speech without respect of persons…'

22 Feb '14 11:57:06 PM

Where do the distinctions drawn by philosophers exist? What sustains them? Less, it seems, than sustains our words, or the diagrams and notations that mathematicians use. It's not, as urged, that they are finer; they are practically insubstantial. —The philosopher's mania is that they not go unthought.

22 Feb '14 07:56:20 PM

The windows that light my room open onto a neighboring backyard and a view of clutter such as one meets in alleys: a fence, garages, ledges, ladders laid aside, bushes and the tops of trees, rooftops, poles, and lines which maybe power my building. Prior days' snow, though visibly melted, still sheaths the lines, and lends them something of the contingency of snow, as if they were not slung permanently there but happened to have fallen—then happened to have held, thanks to a balance in condition and circumstance like that of sunlight and exposure to winter air, a balance I almost feel I see because I view the wires from inside my heated room, where the sun that penetrates my windows warms with no competition from that air. I see further than my skin because the sun pervades the air.

21 Feb '14 08:32:27 PM

Snow lines all the wires.

21 Feb '14 03:12:15 PM

Honest forms.

20 Feb '14 07:49:58 AM

In §81: '… daß wir nämlich in der Philosophie den Gebrauch der Wörter oft mit Spielen, Kalkülen nach festen Regeln, vergleichen, aber nicht sagen können, wer die Sprache gebraucht, müsse ein solches Spiel spielen.'

—Perhaps the qualification there, 'but we can't say…', is meant to bring out what should ring wrong, sound off, about Ramsey's expression characterizing logic, as a 'normative science'. What kind of a science says how things have to be? What kind of a science finds out how things have to be? As usual, Wittgenstein rejects more questions than one even knew were being asked.

19 Feb '14 03:49:36 AM

Too many things have titles.

19 Feb '14 03:42:16 AM

Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Happy World, a photo essay (via wood s lot).

19 Feb '14 03:32:08 AM

I've been hobbled since a hard fall from my bike on December ice did a number on my ankle. On one of the first trips I made, weeks later, to the grocery store by my usual route, walking through uncleared snow and ice on my stupid boots, thwarted by all kinds of uneven surfaces, smooth surfaces, steps up, and worst of all steps down, I made the mistake of trying to cross at a typical spot, middle of a road, a quick hop onto and over the broad median. Broad, but very steep—more than a step down into the road from my side and even more to get up onto and down off of the median. With the snow and my shaky ankle, and a constant fear of misstepping and falling all over again, I just made it on, then realized that I couldn't make it off—not that way. I picked a path up the median through the snow without slipping, up to the next intersection, where the terrain graded down to nothing to meet the pavement and I could cross onto a sidewalk. On the way back, I just looked, not just at my usual way but at other less direct ways, and thought: I can't do that. I can't do that. I went all the way down the main road, and waited until the next main road to turn my way, so that if I were to fall again maybe someone would see and help.

As my ankle got stronger with return trips I started eyeing the little path worn through the grass from the sidewalk up a little incline to the parking lot at my store. I had been avoiding it, up or down (especially down—no question of down), for a while, feeling stupid and just a tiny bit embarrassed every time I edged along that lot by way of the sidewalk around it. It's the kind of shortcut you don't not take. But hard to take on my ankle, still tender enough not to permit any jumping around, sliding: a risk I felt. I did it as I could, some weeks giving it a pass if I felt sore or if the accumulated snow seemed too icy, too slushy.

It's been a while; I'm still not healed but it matters less once we finally make it to a forty-degree day like today. The snow fell very heavily this week, so all of a sudden, my shortcut is truly blocked: plowed over. Again, I can't do that. But no one could, or would think to. So I pass by it without a thought.