Wittgenstein on Seeing Aspects 3 another, in the sense which Richard Wollheim has given to his notion,4 the change involves moving from seeing one thing in the figure to seeing a different, and incompatible, thing in it-from seeing a duck in the figure to seeing a rabbit in it. When I'm looking at the photograph, I don't tell myself 'That could be seen as a human being'. How did this term come to be used in this seemingly improper manner? His response to this is not the latter, as our traditional philosophical inclinations would have us expect, but rather it is the former, namely that to see the figure one way and then another is to really see something different in each instance. This is also a very good case of what Wittgenstein meant by the concept of internal relations in the Tractatus. --§ 38, Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, Volume I, --§ 525, Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, Volume II. Wittgenstein was born on April 26, 1889 in Vienna, Austria, to awealthy industrial family, well-situated in intellectual and culturalViennese circles. And if they were to be deemed meaningless, then how could any form of empirical verification be meaningful when empirical verification in itself is in fact wholly dependent upon statements which declare sensory observations (i.e., "I see where the optic nerve attaches to the brain")? Wittgenstein then goes â¦ Our brains are not conscious, but rather we are, and we make the 'interpretations' concerning what we see when we find it necessary to do so. Wittgenstein hints at the difficulties that are involved in such a practice: 76. Even some prominent thinkers misunderstand Wittgenstein's ideas, as evidenced by the fact that many perceive of him as subscribing to philosophical schools of thought with which he would want no affiliation. Philosophical Investigations. Most of these are not used to represent anything. His sexuality was ambiguous but he was probably gay; how actively so is still a matter of controversy. The brain is merely another organ in the body, the purpose of which is to facilitate the various things that human bodies do, such as thinking, walking, seeing, desiring, and interpreting. I. Wittgenstein and seeing-as --pt. As a result, for Wittgenstein scientism is just as misguidedly metaphysical as traditional, more transparently a prioristic, approaches. Philosophers have always wrestled with the problems of sense and perception. In other words, we are constantly inferring from what our eyes 'see' without even thinking about it. Science can tell us how the eyes and nerves work, what kind of chemicals are released in the brain, how much electrical activity is occurring in what part of the brain under what stimuli, and so on. In other words, when we are observing a singular object that is quite familiar and seemingly unmistakable to us, we simply see it, without any need for conjecture or inference. 112. This is the kind of similarity that we must look for, in order to justify the use of the word 'see' in that context. V. Imagination and emotion â¦ Philosophers who have allowed these elements in the philosophical tradition to influence them have thus created a sharp divide between what one sees and what one infers from what one sees, namely that what one sees is raw sensory data, and all else is interpretation. Click here to navigate to respective pages. Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology. pt. Let me indulge in a final cavil, then, one which Iâve already intimated. Byâvery bigâ, I believe he means both that the aestheticdimension weaves itself through all of philosophy in the mannersuggested above, and that the reach of the aesthetic in humanaffairs is very much greater than the far more restricted reach of theartistic; the world is densely packed with manifestations ofthe aesthetic sense or aesthetic interest, while the number of works ofart iâ¦ Seeing Wittgenstein Anew is the first collection to examine Ludwig Wittgenstein's remarks on the concept of aspect-seeing. References to sections in Part I will use a number sign (i.e., #). It is not tenable to use the concept to denote unconscious, mechanistic processes in the brain. In 1908 he began his studies in aeronauticalengineering at Manchester University where his interest in thephilosophy of pure mathematics led him to Frege. The fact that there are illusions of the senses, contrary to what Russell claims, somehow revolts against the idea that every object of sense contains root data that the brain merely interprets in different ways. "Wittgenstein on Understanding". 517. (4). Introduction Brendan Harrington Wittgenstein, Seeing-As, and Novelty William Child Gombrich and the Duck-Rabbit Robert Briscoe Gestalt Perception and Seeing-As Komarine Romdenh-Romluc Aspect Perception and the History of Mathematics Akihiro Kanamori Seeing-As and Mathematical Creativity Michael Beaney and Bob Clark Prospective versus Retrospective Points of View in Theory of Inquiry: â¦ He has been referred to as a behaviorist, a skeptic, a verificationist, and is even thought by some to be a practitioner of a sort of a priori anti-science. 93e, 7. Although this passage (like PI 258) is often interpreted as a comment .' The path corresponds to a particular pattern of oscillation of the eyeballs in the act of looking. In this paper, I consider one such challenge. So if a verificationist cannot provide an account of 'seeing', what can he give an account of? However, this seems like a rather untenable position, no matter how one looks at it. University of Chicago Press. When we tell someone to 'walk' to the store, is this just short for telling them to undergo the above process? I t was Ludwig Wittgenstein who sparked philosophical interest in what psychologists call ambiguous figures. In order to help make sense of Wittgenstein's remarks, it becomes imperative to further and more thoroughly explicate the traditional philosophical views to which he seems to be objecting. Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology. The meaning of the concept lies in this experience. The meaning of the word is stretched so far as to include that which it seems to contradict. Installation view, Paul Chan, Drawings for Word Book by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Greene Naftali, New York, 2020 Seen today in the midst of a global health crisis, and â¦ Wittgenstein's opening remark is double-barreled: he states thatthe field of aesthetics is both very big and entirely misunderstood. It is known that he even repudiated the schools of thought which he himself had influenced, such as logical positivism and the "Oxford School" of linguistic philosophy. 30990675 Howick Place | London | SW1P 1WG © 2020 Informa UK Limited, Wollheim, Wittgenstein, and Pictorial Representation. (9). It is possible to jump from one such pattern to another and for the two to alternate. His life seems to have been dominated by an obsession with moral and philosophical perfeâ¦ ('Inference' and 'interpretation' are interchangeable terms as far as such issues are concerned.) Seeing through images does not mean that images are transparent windows onto reality: as Wittgenstein says in another context, one thinks âthat one is retracing nature over and over again, and one is merely tracing round the form through which we see itâ (Wittgenstein 1993, §114, modified trans. In the case of the aforementioned figure 'F', therefore, this traditional analysis has instilled in many modern philosophers the conviction that there must be some common, essential object of perception between the 'F' and the mirror-image of the 'F', which is interpreted differently in each instance. What is the correct way to see it? It does in fact seem wrong to say that the picture-duck and the picture-rabbit look the same, because they are two completely different pictures. Thanks! Volume II. Those who are not acquainted with the shape and form of a rabbit but are with that of a duck will see only a duck--and vice versa. The point is that an interpretation is something which is not immediately seen, but is actively applied to that which is seen. 1980. pp. Wittgensteinâs concept of seeing-as (Philosophical Investigations, 1953). . Wittgenstein, Ludwig. The above figure is meant to show, as are the ones soon to be discussed, that there are in fact illusions of the senses and thus to conceptualize seeing (as well as any other sensory experience) simply as a process of absorbing and interpreting 'data' is to terribly confuse the idea of what it actually means to 'see'. In Russell's account of what it is to 'see' a cat, he claims that through induction, we "infer" that the light patterns before us proceed from a cat. Let's say that we can only see the duck, for we are entirely unfamiliar with rabbits. An interpretation, as we have already established, is a conscious, deliberate act. See §94 and §184, for example, in Ibid. What are we interpreting? In other words, if the truth or falsity of statement cannot be empirically verified, then that statement is devoid of meaning and is thus nonsensical as an utterance. Relative to ourselves, it would seem, the essence of the universe around us is to all effects and purposes mere data: lines, shapes, colors, light emissions, textures, etc. 516. Something militates against that--But can't I say: they look just the same, namely like this--and now I produce the ambiguous drawing. 'Seeing-in' is an imaginative act of the kind employed by Leonardoâs pupils when he told them to see what they could - for example, battle scenes - in a wall of cracked plaster. If to 'interpret' is a habit in this sense of the term, then Russell seems to be conceptualizing the word 'interpretation' in a manner which includes unconscious or subconscious processes in the brain as part of its meaning. One can see it either as an 'F', or as the mirror-image of an 'F'. Where is the interpretation in this case? Hence, only through clarification of what the legitimate questions are can proper sense be made of the applicability of science. In more specific terms, we become passive observers to the different aspects that the object seems to take on as we view it. Volume I. One would simply say, "I see an airplane." ." A series of sketches depict the unfolding of his life from boyhood, â¦ Furthermore, to try to give a theoretical account of what it is to 'see'--to put it in terms, as discussed earlier in this essay, which describe the physical processes undergone by the respective areas in the body--is akin to giving a theoretical account of what it is to walk. We mentally embellish the object in a way which conforms to what we believe the object is or may be meant to represent. Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology. And since the meaning of this statement, according to proponents of this movement in philosophy, is the mode of empirically verifying its truth or falsity, such meaning must be put in terms of the method in which statement's truth or falsity is determined. (10). In my opinion the answer is yes. What do we see when we observe the above figure? The chief confusions lie in the prevailing and allegedly common-sensical conceptions of the terms 'interpretation' and 'seeing'. A scientistic viewpoint ignores this need for clarification. I want to revisit the topic in the hope of gaining some clarity on the matter. Seeing Wittgenstein Anew is a stimulating presentation of a wide-ranging and sophisticated perspective, rigorous and yet generous with argumentative opponents, and making a significant contribution to the literature on the Wittgenstein's later thought as a whole. New York. In the preface, Wittgenstein describes his failure to synthesize his points into a unified work. All references will be to this volume. (5). New York. R. Tilghman of affairs whereby they are able to express a sense and represent the world. Click here to navigate to parent product. In the Remarks on thePhilosophy of Psychology, Volumes I & II, Wittgenstein provides his readers with a wealth of counterexamples to our traditional philosophical accounts of various psychological phenomenon, all of which are designed to help demonstrate how such accounts seem to be misguided and mired in confusion. Registered in England & Wales No. He tries to compensate for this oddity by declaring that all of this inference-making is done by habit, implying that it therefore goes unnoticed by conscious thought. (my italics) (2). According to this traditional picture, my seeing it one way and then another is due solely to whether I interpret it to be one way or the other, since my eyes have apparently done the 'seeing' for me beforehand. What science has discovered about the human body has led traditional philosophy, in its attempt to conform to the findings of science, to accept a number of presuppositions. Excerpted from Russell's An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth. In other words, we each exist as a brain in a vat--and in our case our bodies are the vats. Is there really an external world? Therefore, it can be said that one of the most important things to keep in mind when reading Wittgenstein's work is that he is concerned with freeing us from traditional, a priori philosophical presuppositions and is attempting to push us to look at philosophical issues in new and different ways. New Jersey. Russell's similar account above, along with his being the proponent of a closely related program called "logical atomism," shows that he accepts a similar enough analysis. 1980. pp. But if I now wanted to offer reasons against this way of putting things--what would I have to say? In respect to Russell's claim, vis-à-vis, that there are no illusions of the senses, only mistakes in interpreting sensational data, how would seeing the ambiguous figure one way or other be a mistake? How on earth does one make an interpretation without conscious thought? Wittgenstein pointed to the epistemological significance of puzzle pictures, such as the ambiguous âduck-rabbitâ that can be seen either as a duckâs head facing one way or a rabbitâs head facing another way. By Volker A. Munz. Seeing Wittgenstein Anew is a collection which examines Ludwig Wittgenstein's remarks on the concept of aspect-seeing, showing that it was not simply one more topic of investigation in Wittgenstein's later writings but rather a pervasive and guiding concept in his efforts to turn philosophy's attention to the actual conditions of our common life in language. Broadly speaking, a perceptive experience is a dogmatic belief in what physics and induction show to be probable; it is wrong in its dogmatism, but usually right in its content. Edition 1st Edition. . Moreover, Russell claims, as also earlier quoted, that "spontaneously and without conscious thought we interpret what we see and hear and fill it out with customary adjuncts." The physical, symbolical appearance and phonetic sound of word may be the same, but the meaning remains ambiguous, just as in the duck-rabbit picture, wherein the basic physical structure and shape of the drawing is the same, but the apparent picture is ambiguous. WITTGENSTEIN ON SENSATION AND 'SEEING-AS' 353 Looking up a table in the imagination is no more looking up a table than the image of the result of an imagined experiment is the result of an experiment (PI 265). The case of seeing aspects seems that, at least for particular kinds of drawings, the aspects must somehow already be contained in the picture. Citadel Press. For example, Wittgenstein is well known for his discussion of seeing-as, most famously through his use of Jastrowâs ambiguous duck-rabbit picture. Again, to 'interpret' is to perform the act of making a conjecture, or to express a hypothesis, which may or may not turn out to be correct. Where Socrates says, âVirtue is knowledge,â Dr. Verdiâs Wittgenstein says, âEthics is aspect-seeing,â an ingrained appreciation of alternate possibilities and the respect that goes with it. Wittgenstein's aim is to steer us off of this crooked path of theorizing based on such a priori presuppositions. In fact, Wittgenstein's thought does not fit neatly into any type of established philosophical outlook or movement, but rather it seems to stand alone. Modern science, particularly psychology, tries to shed light on the question of how we can be said to see, hear, taste, smell, and feel in terms of theories which explain how sensations become perceptions. The answer is not altogether clear, because, as mentioned above, his work is of the utmost complexity. Therefore, it seems that in the case of such theoretical reductions of 'seeing', the usage of the term 'interpretation' is terribly confused in that it is characterized by two apparently incompatible elements somehow entangled together into one distorted concept. One of the most interesting of Wittgenstein's challenges can be gleaned from the large number of passages devoted to the discussion of what he believes are the differences between 'seeing' and 'interpreting' that which one sees. Some have made the claim, as mentioned in the introduction to this essay, that Wittgenstein is practicing a kind of philosophical anti-science, in that his arguments regarding mind and psychology are seen as an attack on neuroscience and psychology. . . With such confusions concerning the concept of 'interpretation' hopefully now behind us, we can more readily turn our attention to the discussion of what it is to 'see'. Most interpretations of this figure, however, are going to be made in terms of what it actually looks like, and suffice it to say, there are a great many things in the world which share the appearance of this figure. This collection examines the idea of 'seeing-in' as it appears primarily in the work of Wollheim but also its origins in the work of Wittgenstein. This article argues that the phenomenon of seeing-as cannot be explained by such a conception of perceptual experience. I also believe that Wittgenstein would agree, and it seems that he wants to argue that traditional philosophy, in its attempt to theoretically reduce what it means to 'see', has stretched the meaning of interpretation far beyond the boundaries of its customary usage. Either way we wish to look at it, a verificationist is forced to give some kind of theoretical account like the one above, or else abandon his program altogether. Wittgenstein's influential discussion of "seeing as." I. When we normally speak of seeing in our everyday language-game, we are not inclined to say, "I see the picture as a duck," but rather we simply say, "I see a duck.". The various contexts and examples Wittgenstein introduces, it also becomes obvious that the seeing experience depends upon both the perceiving subject and the object perceived. Remember that Russell, as quoted earlier, maintains that "there are in fact no illusions of the senses, but only mistakes in interpreting sensational data as things other than themselves." The sensory apparati, namely the eyes, nose, ears, tongue, and nerve-endings on the skin, are treated as mere tools which enable us to absorb sensory 'data' from the outside world. He tries to actually look at how things are, rather than think about how things must be according to various a priori philosophical principles. Second, the main features of what Wittgenstein called âseeing aspectsâ are briefly presented. This is the trap into which traditional philosophy has fallen: to maintain that the eyes 'see' and the ears 'hear', and that we, as brains, consciously as well as unconsciously interpret the information that we receive from the sensory apparati that are positioned throughout the bodies in which we reside. An examination of the way in which we conceptualize 'interpretation' will do much to shed light on the way in which we conceptualize 'seeing'. In Russell's defense, we could say that it is a drawing of the same shape, a specific conglomeration of lines and curves, or something to that effect, but this seems trivial and unsatisfying to us--almost as if we were to say that the proper object of sense in this case is a "thing". So, one might now ask, what exactly is 'Wittgensteinian' thought? The idea has come to be a fundamental presupposition of many modern philosophers of mind and psychology. Again, we can rely on Russell to lend his support to this idea: There are in fact no illusions of the senses, but only mistakes in interpreting sensational data as signs of things other than themselves. Now, let us say that we are familiar with both ducks and rabbits, and can therefore recognize both aspects of the duck-rabbit image. The purpose of this paper has been to discuss and defend Wittgenstein's views concerning the conceptual confusions that are rampant in the traditional philosophical picture of what it is to 'see', or to have any other sensory experience for that matter. A verificationist is committed to this type of theoretical conceptualization of 'seeing', because conceptualizing it in any other way would render such statements meaningless. In §1 of the Remarks, for instance, Wittgenstein begins by presenting us with the above figure which can be seen in two different ways. We see it as two entirely different, alternating images, despite the fact that the drawing itself does not at all change. 17e, 11. In the following sections we will examine where Wittgenstein seems to believe that the philosophy of psychology, in regard to the senses, has gone astray. Book Wollheim, Wittgenstein, and Pictorial Representation. We could also interpret the figure to be a fallen monolith by imagining it composed of solid bedrock and lying on the ground at some ancient archaeological site, such as the Sphinx Temple on the Giza necropolis in Egypt. This is because the scientific, empirical account of how we see--that is, strictly speaking, how the respective parts of the body work together--is based solely upon observations of the workings of the human body, vis-à-vis, how the eyes, nerves, and brain function in relation to the laws of physics.
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