Monday, April 26, 2010

Happy Wittgenstein Day!

In honor of his one hundred and eleventieth birthday!

Suppose I say of a friend: "He isn't an automaton." - What information is
conveyed by this, and to whom would it be information? To a human
who meets him in ordinary circumstances? What information could it give him? (At the very most that this man always behaves like
a human being, and not occasionally like a machine.)

[Said after an argument that lasted for six hours and consisted entirely of Wittgenstein accusing Russell of being a robot.]

But, after all, the game is supposed to be defined by the rules! So, if a
game prescribes that the kings are to be used for drawing lots before a game of
chess, then that is an essential part of the game. What objection might
one make to this? That one does not see the point of this
prescription. Perhaps as one wouldn't see the point either of a rule by
which each piece had to be turned round three times before one moved
it. If we found this rule in a board-game we should be surprised and
should speculate about the purpose of the rule. ("Was this prescription
meant to prevent one from moving without de consideration?")

[Me: No, see the bishop can only move this way, diagonally. He can't go side-to-side, or front-to-back.
7th Grader: Oh. (Pauses, then moves bishop straight forward three spaces.)]

How am I filled with pity for this man? How does it come out what
the object of my pity is? (Pity, one might say, is a form of conviction that
someone else is in pain.)

[Me: Why did you just kick that girl?!?
6th Grader: I dunno.]

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