Add an extra term to an equation we already understand or tweak its boundary conditions slightly and we may ﬁnd that we must invent entirely new ﬁelds of mathematics, with an expenditure of vast amounts of cleverness and perseverance, to extract any information at all from our slightly altered specimen. This observation—that we must continually devise unexpected stratagems to further our slow linguistic advance upon the world—represents a vital lesson from applied mathematics from which we can all beneﬁt.
L. ) The fact is . . that our ordinary words are much subtler in their uses, and mark many more distinctions, than philosophers have realized; and that the facts of perception, as discovered by psychologists but also as noted by common mortals, are much more diverse and complicated than has been allowed for. 9 This is a beautiful encapsulation of a sentiment I deeply share, but its wisdom seems insufﬁciently appreciated today. For Austin and myself, the very grandeur of a sweeping philosophical thesis provides probable indication that we don’t quite know what we are talking about; that the ‘‘importance’’ of our Grand Contention may derive from the simple fact that we have jumbled different concerns together.
To fulﬁll this function sensibly, our talk of ‘‘concept grasp’’ et al. must display considerable sensitivity to the maturational level of the speakers we attempt to evaluate. ’’ But an adult who fully accommodates this same demand might be reasonably viewed as conceptually incompetent: ‘‘Dewey clearly misunderstands our normal concept of rainbow because he absolutely insists that rainbows can’t 16 Wittgenstein, Investigations, 6,520. 24 Wide Screen represent banks of irradiated raindrops on the grounds that rainbows have to be things that fairies can potentially climb and no one can coherently perform that activity on smallish drops of precipitated water.
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Wandering Significance: An Essay on Conceptual Behaviour4.89 · Rating details · 9 Ratings · 2 Reviews
Mark Wilson presents a highly original and broad-ranging investigation of the way we get to grips with the world conceptually, and the way that philosophical problems commonly arise from this. He combines traditional philosophical concerns about human conceptual thinking with illuminating data derived from a large variety of fields including physics and applied mathematicsMark Wilson presents a highly original and broad-ranging investigation of the way we get to grips with the world conceptually, and the way that philosophical problems commonly arise from this. He combines traditional philosophical concerns about human conceptual thinking with illuminating data derived from a large variety of fields including physics and applied mathematics, cognitive psychology, and linguistics. Wandering Significance offers abundant new insights and perspectives for philosophers of language, mind, and science, and will also reward the interest of psychologists, linguists, and anyone curious about the mysterious ways in which useful language obtains its practical applicability.
Hardcover, 690 pages
Published February 16th 2006 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2006)