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2011-09-12
The common behaviour of mankind
Hi all, 
In the PI Wittgenstein remarks that "The common behaviour of mankind is the system of reference by means of which we interpret an unknown language". My question is, what exactly does W. means by 'the common behaviour of mankind'? I guess it has to do with the human "form of life", but again, if so, what does W. mean by this? 

Cheers, 
Alfredo.     

2011-09-19
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete

When the later Wittgenstein discusses language it is always coupled with human practices and activities – that is the point of referring to language games as objects of comparison, they reveal our shared world.  When you take this focus on human shared activities with the comments against animal language and against describing animals in human terms, what you get is a very clear picture of what Wittgenstein means by “the common behaviour of mankind.”  Consider this also in terms of Aristotle’s defining of human being as  zoon logon echon and Heidegger’s discussion of being-in-the-world.
Cheers,

Max


2011-09-22
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
Hi,

I don't think there's a clear-cut definition of 'the common behaviour of mankind'. But Kripke speaks of "modal intuitions" when talking about possible worlds, so I think there's a shared intuition behind what this expression means (which makes it meaningful). What exactly he had in mind I would also like to know.

2011-09-22
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
Perhaps 'the common behavior of mankind' was meant to refer to nothing more abstruse than what constitutes the field of study of the discipline of anthropology.

2011-09-22
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
"the common behaviour of Mankind" is Anscombe's translation for "die gemeinsame menschliche Handlungswise", which can be translated also as "the common human behaviour". This last translation has been stressed by interpreters who stress the anthropological point of view. They claim that W. did not want to speak of something universal, but of the behaviour common in each linguistic community. In 2009 translation of Philosophical Investigations the passage is translated as "shared human behaviour", to avoid the peculiar interpretation given by Anscombe. As often happens, there are different possible interpretations, and the 2009 English translation leaves open more possibilities than the original translation. My suggestion is that speaking of "system of reference" W. is hinting at Einstein's Relativity theory, but this is a particular interpretation of mine. Apparently there is no agreement on interpretations :) 
N.B. the first to point the possibility of different translation is, as far as I know:

Savigny, von, E., 1991. «Common Behavior of Mankind: ‘Philosophical Investigations’ Section 206», in Wittgenstein’s ‘Philosophical Investigations’: Text and Context, ed.by R.L. Arrington and H.-J. Glock, Routledge, London, pp. 105-19. 



2011-09-22
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
In short he means your 'existential predicament'! A mind in a body, a body in a life world -  and your sedimentation. :D

2011-09-22
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
Thanks, all very helpful. Let me suggest something and see what you think. I agree that sometimes W. did not want to speak of something universal but rather of the behaviour common in each linguistic community. (In the social sciences the Philosophical Investigations are often quoted to that effect.) I guess this is what Ryle had in mind in saying that "it is not only their vocabularies that make foreigners difficult to understand". Even more, in order to understand their vocabularies you need to get a picture of their particular form of life, since the latter is part of "the system of reference by means of which we interpret an unknown language". Still, it seems to me that the remark under consideration ("The common behaviour of mankind is the system of reference by means of which we interpret an unknown language") does involve a rather universal claim. It says something not about this or that linguistic community but about something shared by all human communities. It is this common, shared behaviour that makes it possible for one to understand a foreign form of life -- and by doing so to interpret a foreign language. For instance, we know that in all human communities people do such things as make questions, describe the world, give orders, etc. This gives us a starting point -- a "bedrock" -- for our interpretations. We know that whatever a person is doing by saying what she says, she is playing some language game, i.e. she is either making a question or describing something or giving and order, etc. She is saying something, and if we observe her carefully and in context we may understand what she says (and what she is doing by saying that), even if sometimes we will need to know or interpret something about the particularities of her culture. I guess someone may ask how did W. discover that all human communities share certain forms of life, given that as far as we know he made no empirical research. My tentative answer is that the remark at issue is not an empirical claim. It seems to me that for W. it is part of the 'grammar' of our talk about people that they all play certain language games. That is to say, we would not regard a group of beings as people unless they were ready to do at least some of the things we normally do -- such things as make questions, describe the world, etc. (even if there is no set of things people and they only do).  

2011-09-26
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
I don't think PI 206 implies a universal claim of the kind you suggest. The relevant sentence allows paraphrase as a conditional, roughly: "If we interpret a foreign language, then the shared human way of acting is the system of reference by means of which we do so." (My reading is based on the German.) That is, interpretation/translation assumes a shared way of acting between the interpreter/translator and those whose language is interpreted/translated. (i) This does not entail that such a shared way of acting actually exists - though I assume in successful interpretation/translation it well might acc. to W. (ii) This entails nothing about something being shared by all communities. At most, it entails that where there is successful interpretation/translation, the community of the interpreter and that of those interpreted share a way of acting. The definite article in "the shared human way of acting" may be contextually determined as the one being shared in that situation of interpretation.

2011-09-26
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
The line you are asking about follows several comments in which W puts in question our ability to understand the rules followed by communities whose practices differ drastically from ours. For example, he imagines a people who are moving chess pieces around on a board, but are not following any of our chess rules. Here we would probably be inclined to say that they only appear to be playing chess. But what about a culture in which chess has been translated, or "projected" as one might put it, into a practice which is vastly different in form from a chess game? Let's say, our moving a king is parallel to their reading a book of poetry, castling is having eggs for breakfast, etc., so the entire game might take 30 years to complete. Now do we say they are playing chess, or not? Remember, we can translate each of their "moves" into one of ours. But can we really call it a form of chess? I think the point is simply that it is not clear what to say; that when the practices of a community are very different from ours, there is no clear answer to the question of whether they are playing the same game we are, or a different one.

Now we come to your passage (PI 206). It begins with a question about obeying an order: what if two people with the same training react differently to the same order? Then a related question: by what criteria would you judge whether a foreign culture was giving and reacting to orders in the sense that we do? And again, in 207: suppose they appear to be doing so, but we see no regular connection between their words and actions - what do we say then? W suggests that the lack of regularity prevents this from being a language at all. (Zu dem, , was wir "Sprache" nennen, fehlt die Regelmassigkeit. The translation in both 3rd and 4th editions is "There is not enough regularity for us to call it a language". I think this is not a happy translation but I can't come up with a better one offhand.)

Now, to respond to your comment at last: you say that W's remark "does involve a rather universal claim" about "something shared by all human communities"; but that this "is not an empirical claim" but rather that "it is part of the 'grammar' of our talk about people that they all play certain language games". Now I think you are quite right that there is no empirical claim about the universality of human behavior; but I think there is equally no grammatical claim about it either. W is clearly hypothesizing about communities whose members we would call "human" ("menschliche") (e.g., 207: "Let's imagine that the people in that country carried on usual human activities...") but who behave quite differently from us. He would not engage in such speculation if he thought it was a grammatical error to speak of humans who behave in vastly different ways. His reference to "shared human behavior" being the means by which we "interpret an unknown ("strange" or "foreign" would also be possible translations) language" is not an empirical claim about the availability of other languages, and even less a grammatical rule which so to speak guarantees their availability. It is an empirical claim about the criteria we use to determine their availability. It may also suggest, or presuppose, a grammatical rule about when we can call something a language at all: lacking evidence of a regular connection between the use of words and the actions associated with them, we would not even say it was a language.

In short, "shared human behavior" is something we do in fact use as a tool of interpretation when we get it; and when we don't there is nothing there for us to interpret. ("If a lion could speak we could not understand him.") I hope this is helpful.

2011-09-26
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete

I’m not sure you can dismiss so easily the universal claim I see in Wittgenstein’s remark. I agree with Susanne that interpretation assumes a shared way of acting between the interpreter and those whose language is interpreted, and also that this does not entail that such a shared way of acting actually exists. Still, the fact you must assume it exists in interpreting makes it impossible to deny that it exists if you believe that there is something like successful interpretation. And my view is that this was Wittgenstein’s motivation for putting forward the universal claim. It’s a transcendental argument, isn’t it? There is interpretation; there can be no interpretation unless there’s a shared way of acting; ergo, there must be a shared way of acting (among all potential interpreters and all people potentially interpreted, i.e. among all people).

Now of course W. believed that there may be communities whose practices differ drastically from ours. His point, if I am right, is that they cannot differ to the point that nothing is left that resembles or is common to the human way of life – and that part of that form of life is given by language games. His universal claim leaves plenty of room for weird chess games and other strange stuff, but requests the existence of some game. Does this make sense to you?


2011-09-26
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
From a Darwinist perspective, the existence of common behaviour in every linguistic community is rather trivial. Of course there are universal features shared by human kind, and it's to be biology or anthropology that we should refer when trying to provide explanations. Then why is Wittgenstein's view on this issue so provocative?

2011-10-03
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Carlo Penco
"shared behaviour" seems to be more appropriate than "common behaviour, "  if one wants to get rid of the question "What is the common behaviour of Mankind?" or "What is the common human behaviour?". But can it save us from asking "What exactly are the behaviours, except the ones signifying our ability to use language, that distinguishes us from animals?" If there is none exactly any thing other than the ones signifying so, is not it a circular explanation for meaning or language use?   

2011-10-06
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Carlo Penco
According to linguists Anna Wierzbicka and Cliff Goddard, every language has the same set of so-called semantic primes, a relatively small set of words (<100 words) that specify concepts whose meanings cannot be described in terms of other, simpler, non-semantic-prime words.  Only the sounds of the semantic primes differ, not their undefinable meanings.  See: http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Semantic_primes.

The theory is empirically based.

Every non-semantic prime word in every language can be paraphrased in semantic primes.  According to Wierzbicka and Goddard, we all speak the same language--so to speak.

2011-10-06
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete

Wittgenstein’s remark that "The common behaviour of mankind is the system of reference by means of which we interpret an unknown language" addresses a topic prominent too in the work of Quine and Davidson, namely ‘radical translation’.  Davidson maintained that the notion has to involve some sort of presumption of rationality, of the sort involved in Davidsonian ‘charity’.  But it also trades on some things he says in

 240. Disputes do not break out (among mathematicians, say) over the question whether a rule has been obeyed or not. People don't come to blows over it, for example. That is part of the framework on which the working of our language is based (for example, in giving

descriptions).

241. "So you are saying that human agreement decides what is true and what is false?"—It is what human beings say that is true and false; and they agree in the language they use. That is not agreement in opinions but in form of life.

242. If language is to be a means of communication there must be agreement not only in definitions but also (queer as this may sound) in judgments. This seems to abolish logic, but does not do so.— It is one thing to describe methods of measurement, and another to obtain and state results of measurement. But what we call "measuring" is partly determined by a certain constancy in results of measurement.

To “measuring” we could add ‘cultivation’, ‘hunting’, ‘building’ (note the connection with §§ 19 and 20), and indeed, all activities of production.   All are activities which you might ‘join in’ before you were sure you understood the ‘unknown language’, and in which the criteria of success and failure are intrinsic to the activity before you have learnt to use the words.    Your hunt has failed if you catch nothing, your building has failed if it falls over, etc.  


2011-10-06
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
I did not dismiss your "universal claim" so easily; I dismissed it by examining the text in which the passage you cite is embedded. The text does not support the view that W is making a "transcendental argument" about human behavior. He has no interest in making such an argument, since no part of his philosophy is served by it. The argument he wants to make goes in the opposite direction.

Obviously, if you hold that shared behavior is necessary for language understanding you are committed to the proposition that when there is understanding there must have been shared behavior. But I don't know where you get this "transcendental" argument from: "There is interpretation; there can be no interpretation unless there’s a shared way of acting; ergo, there must be a shared way of acting". The logical components of the argument begin with the point that understanding involves presuppositions beyond linguistic or logical competence - a point that is fundamental to all of W's later work. It then goes to examine what these presuppositions are, by looking at games in which understanding (or "interpretation" if we are talking about a foreign language) might not be possible. These are identified as situations where a game either resembles ours superficially but has no rules that we can discover, or has our rules but differs drastically in form. Here we don't know what to say; we cannot interpret their language because we cannot follow the rules, either in content or in form.

I think you are misconstruing W's argument by taking a point he may be incidentally committed to as a goal of his argument.

2011-10-18
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Carlo Penco

Perhaps a better understanding of W's "die gemeinsame menschliche Handlungsweise" can emerge by considering what is necessary and sufficient to interpret an unknown foreign language, under a given set of circumstances (e.g., linguists living among the peoples of the culture).


2011-11-11
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
I think it would be futile to try and get the exact meaning of the English translation of the German sentence that LW wrote. Partly because it is in the nature of 'meaning' that there can never be an exact meaning, Perhaps one can only 'interpret'...Thus, one may try to interpret the phrase in question. I guess then it is a matter of what 'language game' that one tries to interpret, and so on...For example, one may join an etymological language game, and begin to ponder over the sense of the words, 'common,' 'behaviour' and 'mankind' (in English). Evidently, it is banal, but throws some light on the difficulty of the problem posed. Philosophically, of course, one may want to avoid such a arduous exercise.    

2011-11-11
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
The issue of the pro status being posed by PhilPapers is intriguing, and even disturbing. Philosophy, from its very inception has benefited from the views of those who did not have a doctorate in philosophy. Some of the major thinkers that philosophers refer to and respect in our own times are those who do not possess a doctorate in philosophy (and therefore not pros). And besides, what is the guarantee that pros (and only them) will express views that are relevant to the discussions!

2012-04-01
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete

Comparing Wittgenstein with Davidson

I think Wittgenstein was engaging with a similar question to Davidson, namely: what are the most general conditions for human behaviour to count as linguistic behaviour and how do we interpret it as such?

While Wittgenstein said meaning is use, I’m sure he didn’t mean just any normative rules whatsoever for using symbols (not incantations for instance), but specifically rules of reference and truth.

In this respect his task resembles Davidson’s, who confined his radical interpretation to logical syntax, with his rules of truth provided by Tarskian T-sentences.

Now, as we know, Wittgenstein’s approach was more flexible, but still, I think, concerned with criteria of truth and reference. It is clear he had long been discontented with logical syntax and so the problem he was posing was, given that the logical forms of the Tractatus are unsatisfactory, what are the new limits, ie what are the ultimate limits of a language-game, beyond which it ceases to be a language-game? Viewed thus, we can see that checking these limits for an apparent symbol-user, would be the same project as Davidson’s radical interpretation, -but without insisting on Tarskian truth-conditions. Rather Wittgenstein would be allowing more flexible behaviour to be linguistic, but without saying there are no limits at all; he just wants to change the limits. Although we tend to think of the laws of logic as pretty universal, I think Wittgenstein was speculating about even more flexible conditions on language that are just as universal as we currently conceive logic to be.

This comes very close to asking: what behaviour in general is obeying a linguistic rule?


2012-04-01
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
Thanks, Dave. Could you please be more clear as to what you mean by a linguistic rule? Could you give some examples of pieces of behaviour which would be regulated by linguistic rules?

2012-04-07
The common behaviour of mankind
I agree with you on your opinion about Wittgenstein's main concerns in his later works. I think too that one of his most important questions was "what is it to be a language-game". However, I'd rather doubt that the rules of reference and truth were of such a great importance to him as to Davidson.

First of all, some of the language-games have nothing to with the concept of truth or reference at all. In the case of the language-game of § 2 of Philosophical Investigations, the builder's utterance "Block!" (or more precisely, the sentence the builder uttered) is neither true nor false. One might say that the word "block" - if it is to be regarded as a word at all - maybe refer to something, but I'm not fully convinced about it. It would be more appropriate to think of this sentence not as true or false but rather successful or unsuccessful, like speech acts.

If you take a look at the cases in which people do not obey the common behavior of mankind, then, as far as I can see, it is apparent that what is unintelligible is not ascribing the ability of referring and making true statements to them, but ascribing the ability of ordering, obeying, rebelling and so on (e.g. § 207) to them. These are activities which are apt to be successful rather than true. Maybe truth plays a role here, but I'm sure that this role is not as central or fundamental as in Davidson's work (it is possible, of course, that my understanding of Davidson is not deep enough).

I think it would be more appropriate to approach to the question you're asking, "what are the ultimate limits of a language-game, beyond which it ceases to be a language-game", from an other Davidsonian term, i.e. rationality. If you take a look at, for example the people in § 207, they simply behave irrationally or illogically. In this respect I think logic - insofar as it has a lot to do with rule following and rationality - has quite a central role as well.



2012-04-07
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete

The  common behavior of mankind, take for example,  the corrupt politician who is not intentionally in for personal gain. The  blame is luxury and indolence; being greedy are unable to control the gadfly within, they  court and flatter   evil.
 
If  corrupt politicians get away with injustice or with intemperance  it only makes them worse even though they make tremendous money and power.

If injustice is not detected, tyranny only gets worse; don’t be dazzled by the foolish applause  heaped on riches that do  them infinite harm.  


Come grasp  you will then have no trouble in  knowing  bad politicians believe injustice is more profitable than justice.

How can that be justice is the most complete mastery over  human being. Justice is the excellence of the mind by which happiness is attained and happiness is thus to be inseparable.

Then  a good politician falls on the side of justice. Justice is like art is to happiness, a means to an end; both art and justice can  naturally be described under the image of morals even though wrapped up in a mysterious configuration is equivalent to universal good.

Tyrants in order to gain their end  need followers and flatters but they  as soon discard them when flatters and followers  have no longer any need to the tyrant because friendship is unknown to them. Bad politicians   pleasures are subjected to greediness or mere shadows of pleasure, they are mixed with pain.

The only virtue that remains in a society when all the other virtues  have left, good politicians  extends and runs through all the notes of the scale, and produces back harmony in original form, and does the utmost to maintain intact.

Corrupt politicians  are truly enslaved because they desire the unattainable  makes them miserable  and   makes everybody around them miserable.

Then good politicians must run away from tyrants into the region of law, reason and under guidance of wisdom truth in the highest degree attainable inasmuch as  they follow truth.

Socrates believed that until philosophers have the spirit and power and political greatness in one and tyrants are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils.

A good politician  must from the earliest youth desire truth and knowledge and magnificence of mind. In childhood they learn, should be suited to their tender years: the chief and special care should range at will and engage in no serious labor, as we intend them to live happily here. If they become well educated, and grow into sensible people will easily see their way through all the troubles life disperses out at them,


What makes a good politician virtuous is justice. No doubt justice is here: it will take a little struggle to catch sight of it, because we go about looking for what is justice far off in the distance when justice is in our hands we fail to recognize it.

 Justice is the only virtue that remains in society  then like hunters look devotedly that justice does not escape don’t go looking about in far   distances for justice  is in our own hands and not disproportionate to any one group but of the greatest happiness of the whole society .

A good politician imparts harmony and friendship is the law of human life,  problem is  justice is a path with little light  so perplexing  we fail to recognize it. Justice more precious than many pieces of gold perfection there is nothing else, is wrapped up in a mysterious form even though it has real meaning. Justice concerns the inner self, it sets in order our inner life, our self-mastery and brings peace with self. Socrates compared inner life to the higher, lower, and middle notes of the scale with harmonious condition.

In a society where people are encourage to do their work in the best way most likely find justice and the whole citizens grow up in a fine order, and will receive happiness which nature assigns to them.


The corrupt politician  has not an ounce of shame they think they can purge away justice they fancy they are able to rule over others and even God when they can’t even rule themselves.

Do not fear them they are merely filled with trouble, guilt and fight, which are the cause of their ruin. Injustice clearly creates division, hatred and fighting.

If good politicians could find a society suitable to philosophy for in a society which is suitable to it we will have a larger growth of s champion of society as well as of self.


Philosophy entails thinking about things just for the sake of understanding. This was called speculative thinking, which has power of elevating mind to the highest principles of existence opposition, passes out of mere opinion goes over above hypotheses into the intellectual sphere, pure implicit ideal thought.

Philosophy there is no option philosophers are driven towards it like lilies, willows, fig trees have their own particular bug or insect whose nature is restricted to each plant. With philosophy we grew upward in order, and receive happiness that nature assigns.The noblest of all pursuit is philosophy failing in this are impostors, and have no part or lot in true philosophy.

The true philosopher is always striving after being, that this is our nature, will not rest in appearance but on the dedicated edge not blunted, nor abated only until knowledge of truth has knowledge will philosophy live and grow truly, and then, and not until then, the philosophy will cease from travail.

 

2012-04-07
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete

It seems to me that "The common behaviour of mankind" is not the best translation for "Die gemeinsame menschliche Handlungsweise". There is a semantic difference between "Handlung" (action) and "Verhalten" (behaviour). One can behave without acting; for example a man may let his facial hair grow for religious reasons, which is a behaviour but not an action, or he may shave his face, which is an action.
"Weise" has a connotation of "being habitual", so "Handlungsweise" should be probably translated to "practice".
"Menschlich" is closer to "human" than to "mankind". The german term has a naturalistic connotation rather than a metaphysical one.
There is a semantic difference between the german terms "gemeinsam" und "ueblich". The english "common" seems to have a connotation of both "mutual" (like in "mutual acquaintance") and "usual" while the german "gemeinsam" does not mean "usual".
As others have indicated Wittgenstein seems to say: To understand the rule of "giving a command" in a foreign country the interpreter and the locals must share some practice of giving a command. In PI 206 Wittgenstein's focus is on understanding a rule rather than on translating a language.



2012-04-07
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
206. Following a rule is analogous to obeying an order. One is trained
to do so, and one reacts to an order in a particular way. But what if
one person reacts to the order and training thus, and another otherwise?
Who is right, then?
Suppose you came as an explorer to an unknown country with a language
quite unknown to you. In what circumstances would you say that
the people there gave orders, understood them, obeyed them, rebelled
against them, and so on?
Shared human behaviour is the system of reference by means of which
we interpret an unknown language (PI fourth edition 2009).

*

Hi Alfredo,

W's move from logic and the study of "essences" (what one could call the "universal") toward the particular in his later philosophy, from the solution to all problems of philosophy (the TLP) to dealing with particular problems one at a time, from "infinite vertical strips" to "finite horizontal strips" -- this shift of focus and change of view should provide an answer to your question.

As far as shared human behaviour goes, example would be things like blushing, smiling, eating, turning one's back, laughing out loud, averting one's eyes, hiding one's face, sharing one's food, waving one's hands, singing, dying fabrics, carving wood, decorating objects, pointing, gesturing, crying and expressing pain (PI 243), expressing emotions and sensations, building, hunting, trading, giving gifts, giving examples, playing games, speaking a language, etc. Things that are found again and again with humans. Is this a claim about universals? Is it an empirical judgment? It is certainly not a theory about anything.

The phrase "shared human behaviour is a system of reference" (emphasis added) might lead one to think that there is a finite "universal grammar" of human behaviour that all humans share: a sort of compleat reference dictionary or legend which everyone can refer to and check against reality. Or it can be taken loosely as just what there is.

Regards,

Joseph





2012-04-17
The common behaviour of mankind

Hallo Zsolt 

I appreciated your response, focusing on truth and reference; sorry for the delay.

I do concede your point about many language-games often being prescriptive and requiring particular actions, rather than being descriptive and requiring states of affairs, for their fulfilment. However, couldn’t ‘Block!’ mean ‘Bring it about that a block is placed here’? in which case truth and reference become relevant. But I agree this may not be essential to rules of symbol-use. Nevertheless, there are language-games that are purely descriptive, eg the shopkeeper of #1 making true the sentence ‘Five red apples’. The essential thing about rules is that  they are followed, and here the rule [counting] for ‘five’, like the rule for ‘Block’, ensures the description becomes true. Can we not regard this rule (if not for ‘Block’) as defining the truth-conditions for ‘five’? [Rather than any state of affairs in the world a la Davidson].

Of course, the rule would have to be performed ‘correctly’ and perfect counting would constitute an ideal standard [like his example of the metre-rule in Paris]. But if so, then this standard would present alternative truth-conditions to those of Tarski and employed by Davidson. [Wittgenstein explicitly rejects ‘five’ as an observed property, in favour of a rule that is followed].

In the ‘unintelligible’ cases you mention, it seems to be the rule-following rather than Davidsonian interpretation that is breaking down. ‘Rationality’, it seems to me, begs the whole question, since it is the selfsame ‘Common Behaviour’ that Wittgenstein is attempting to identify, and so it explains nothing. As you imply, ‘rationality’ is responsible both for truth&reference and for rule-following, and hence fails to distinguish them adequately.

Dave


2012-04-17
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
So, is rationality the common/shared behaviour of mankind? Is this what Wittgenstein means? And if so, does someone have a clue on what was 'rational' for W.? 

2012-04-22
The common behaviour of mankind
 Hello, thank you Philpapers,

I believe  what I experienced on the internet between the years  2006 until 2012 may help  as to how far the culture of common  behavior concerns freedom of speech and ethics.

If you would  on the internet  find  "PhilosophyNow Forum," a discussion of all things philosophical, especially articles in the magazine "PhilosophyNow".  There you will find a  forum titled   "A Philosophy of Mind"  in which I   created has over 2500 written posts and  over 91,000  hits. I think here one can find  the complete picture of  the behavior of mankind.

The public  have strong views  about  freedom of expression  that  can be  helpful in effecting policy and regulation that support common behavior and freedom of speech all while encouraging the highest ethical standards.

Barbara

2012-04-22
The common behaviour of mankind

There is a rightness which all  ought to reach, and which all students of philosophy ought  also  attain, and not  fall short of. When all knowledge reaches a point of reason, not till then will the pursuit of their philosophy have any value.

 Philosophers stand firm refuse to be led astray by what people think you should   be and what they think you ought to be,  supposed empty intentions. To distinguish   truth  from error must not be taken as if it were purely an ideal or an act or service. Nor must we think distinguishing any kind of action. Truth is unity of self and links together with divine law; the unconscious spirit comes to actuality, and rises out of the state of unkindness into good and constitutes the element of divine and human rule.

The  world-spirit    appears in every self-consciousness is the first positive character which is the pathway to philosophy


2012-04-24
The common behaviour of mankind
Dear Dave, I think you (and Zsolt) are right in emphasizing the importance of rationality. But there is a point of view from which Wittgensteinian rule following is rational (and no question-begging occurs). True, in 206 (it has been quoted above) Wittgenstein speaks of being "abgerichtet" to follow rules. I don't have the established translation handy -- "drilled" might be the closest English word. Let's just say that this word has very strong connotations of doing something without thinking about it. This may lead us to believe that Wittgensteinian rule-following is a-rational (not irrational).

However, I do believe that people who follow rules in Wittgenstein's sense are behaving rationally. If we accept the notion that speakers invariably have certain goals and that it is rational to act towards these goals, then following rules becomes rational. This is because only through following the rules of a language can a speaker be understood.

An example: In the language games with the five red apples the speaker has the goal of obtaining five red apples. He has learned that the right move at this position of the language game (I don't want to add details about the sceptical argument) is saying "five red apples". This is also rational as it helps achieve the speaker's goal, which is (as I declared) obtaining five red apples. This is very much in accordance with the Later Wittgenstein's general claims that meaning arises from the practical contexts of use. The expression "five red apples" is of practical relevance and therefore meaningful.

I do believe that this is the view that Wittgenstein would have supported as in 307-8 he seems to reject the fictitious accusation of being a "behaviourist in disguise" (my translation for "verkappter Behaviourist" PI 307). If we shun rationality from rule following, I strongly suspect we are left with a behaviorist philosophy of language and Wittgenstein did not seem to perceive himself as a promoter of that view.

Rationality, I would say, is not what Wittgenstein means by "common behaviour". He was too aware of language to make this mistake of calling rationality a kind behaviour. Maybe we have given this passage slightly too much weight. Seen in context, I think it becomes quite clear that it simply means that to see the regularities in the use of language in a language community, we must always look at the linguistic practices which are shared by a number of individuals - that is our "frame of reference". It's a restatement of the Private Language Argument from a different persepective.

2012-04-24
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
If it's of any use to you, Allan Janik has this to say:

http://wab.uib.no/wab_contrib-ja.page

2012-05-01
The common behaviour of mankind

Hi, Ruben

I am not suggesting rules have to be rational –this is manifestly not so [Rules for etiquette, dancing, magic and religion, as well as games].

But I think language-games in particular must be linked to truth and meaning. However, I do not believe this has to reflect any particular goals if that is what rationality is conceived to be, since truth and meaning are compatible with all possible goals. Rather, I was pointing out to Zsolt that the meanings of rules could be provided by states of affairs they bring about, not that rules only have these meanings if they treat these states as goals. Eg, the word ‘five’. Here the rule determining the outcome of ‘five apples’ is independent of whether one’s goal is to generate this outcome. It is rather a decision procedure catering for a variety of outcomes ‘one’, ‘two’, …

So to find criteria [behaviour] for rules of language need not be to find criteria [behaviour] for rationality. What then is the behaviour of linguistic rules? All I’m saying is that, if we find it, this will also be the behaviour of truth and meaning and so, if anything, it should be this rather than rationality, that we should be looking for.

Wittgenstein gives the behaviour determining the truth-conditions of the word ‘five’, and it is quite unlike anything Tarski or Davidson specified. Such behaviour needs to be studied in its most general terms –but this is not the study of rationality, it is the study of meaning.

 

Dave


2012-10-01
The common behaviour of mankind
Reply to Alfredo Gaete
Hi

On the subject of private language I've set out below a short excerpt from my developing blog http://languageandphilosophy.blogetery.com/

We can further posit Wittgenstein’s idea of a private language thus -
If someone were to behave as if they understood a language which no-one
else can make sense of, we might call this an example of a private language.
It is not sufficient here, however, for the language to simply be one
that has not yet been translated. In order to count as a private language
in Wittgenstein’s sense, it must be in principle incapable of translation
into an ordinary language – if for example it were to describe those inner
experiences supposed to be inaccessible to others.The private language
being considered is not simply a language in fact understood by one person,
but a language that in principle can only be understood by one person.




This may throw a little light on the above discussion.