The simplicity of the above figure demonstrates quite well that an interpretation seems to require, in my opinion, the use of one's imagination. However, Russell does not seem to get himself clear about how he is using the term, and tends to slip seamlessly from one usage to the other, incorporating both senses of the term into one conflicted concept. It leads us to ascribe qualities to the brain that are, as I wish to argue, those of a human as a whole, such as inference-making. Therefore, 'seeing', or 'seeing as' is simply an experience which neither has nor needs any kind of theoretical verification. Russell, Bertrand. 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¦ 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. This is something which is done, to at least some degree, consciously and deliberately. In the case of 'seeing', therefore, Wittgenstein is trying to clarify the concept so as to show where scientific examination would and would not be applicable. However, there is something about the nature of this picture which tells against the traditional, theoretical account of what it is to 'see', namely that it appears to have the effect of an illusion. See §94 and §184, for example, in Ibid. In other words, we are constantly inferring from what our eyes 'see' without even thinking about it. If, by the word "habit," Russell means that we have come to make these inferences so often and so routinely that such a practice has now become seemingly automatic to us, would he not be implying that at one time in our lives, before we developed such habits, our perceptions actually did not occur to us spontaneously as they do now? . Excerpted from Russell's An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth. What do we see when we observe the above figure? Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology. Click here to navigate to parent product. This sort of conceptualization of how the brain works unconsciously by way of a leap of association is the result of the personification of the brain as a conscious, sentient entity in itself. What is it to see? He wants to show us that some concepts are in need of clarification before they can be properly examined or determined to be worth examining at all: For Wittgenstein, it is characteristic of the notions that figure in philosophical problems--prominently, mental concepts and linguistic concepts like meaning--that a structure is imposed on them, without grounding in the ordinary use of these notions and without being noticed, when they are taken to be amenable to certain explanatory projects. 93e, 7. Scientific examination is simply not applicable in such a case. 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. What is it to maintain a 'Wittgensteinian' position on an issue? However, even though this use may have fewer ridiculous ramifications, his account still remains problematic. If such were the case, we would all be born into a state of severe skeptical doubt. I. As Wittgenstein puts it, interpreting is an action. "Wittgenstein on Understanding". To interpret it as a wire frame, we imagine that the sides of the figure are not solid, and that the lines are made out of thin metal wire. What are we interpreting? With such a confused conception of 'interpretation', Russell and other philosophers who argue along a traditional line are trying to have it both ways, so to speak. This chapter gives some kind of survey of the various contexts in which Wittgenstein discusses the phenomenon of 'seeing as'. Induction allows us to infer that this pattern of light, which, we will suppose, looks like a cat, probably proceeds from a region in which the other properties of cats are also present. Click here to navigate to respective pages. 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. As Wittgenstein writes in the above sections, he takes 'interpretation' to be an action in which we make a conjecture or an inference, which may end up being false. Every sensation which is of a familiar kind brings with it various associated beliefs and expectations. If we were to play a specific note, for instance, say E flat, on the guitar for such a person, he will immediately recognize it as E flat, in just the same way that we can immediately recognize the color blue when it is presented to us. For example, to interpret the figure as a brick, we might imagine it with an earthen color and a rough texture. Wittgenstein puts it this way: 75. These essays show that aspect-seeing was not simply one more topic of investigation in Wittgenstein's later writings, but, rather, that it was a pervasive and guiding concept in his efforts to turn philosophy's attention to the actual conditions of our common life in language. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. etc.") The meaning of the concept lies in this experience. Logical positivists, for example, maintain that the meaning of a proposition is its mode of verification. For such theoretical reductions regarding psychological concepts, traditional philosophy is indebted at least in part to the influence of the verificationist movement in the early twentieth century, out of which came programs such as logical positivism (or logical empiricism) and Russell's logical atomism. Hence, only through clarification of what the legitimate questions are can proper sense be made of the applicability of science. A dramatization, in modern theatrical style, of the life and thought of the Viennese-born, Cambridge-educated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), whose principal interest was the nature and limits of language. In the case of seeing, however, the statement, "I see a cat," is a meaningful one since its truth or falsity can, according to the proponents of such schools of thought, be empirically verified. He seems to be showing us, contrary to those who mistakenly take him to be a behaviorist, that there are internal, inexplicable things going on within us, that the things we do and experience cannot all be explained or accounted for by pointing to some physical origin or process. A theoretical account of 'hearing' that is along the same lines as the account of 'seeing' would thus not seem appropriate, particularly in light of this phenomenon of perfect pitch. This is the way that we have come to use and understand the concept in our language game. An interpretation or inference is a conscious action which is performed over and above what happens when we 'see' something. If Russell means this by "habit," he is then treating 'seeing' as if it were a conscious process which we have developed to the point of needing to think little or nothing of while doing and have come to take for granted, like walking, riding a bicycle, or driving a five-speed clutch. Edition 1st Edition. In this paper, I consider one such challenge. How on earth does one make an interpretation without conscious thought? Philosophers have always wrestled with the problems of sense and perception. .' Wittgenstein then goes on to ask: "what does seeing the figure now this way and now that consist in?" Certain patterns of movement are physiologically impossible; hence, for example, I cannot see the schematic cube as two interpenetrating prisms. Where is the interpretation in this case? Thus to 'see' is merely a job performed by the eyes: to take in raw visual data, since that is what the eyes apparently do. . What is the correct way to see it? His aim is to prevent us from adopting a 'scientistic' view of things, a view that every linguistic concept we use to describe what we do, such as 'seeing', 'believing', and 'understanding', point to factual, physical things in the world or in ourselves, and can thus be scientifically investigated and expounded. A series of sketches depict the unfolding of his life from boyhood, â¦ 4. One can see it either as an 'F', or as the mirror-image of an 'F'. Second, the main features of what Wittgenstein called âseeing aspectsâ are briefly presented. Wittgenstein's influential discussion of "seeing as." For an account of 'seeing' such as Russell's to hold water, there must be something which we can point to that constitutes both the duck and the rabbit as the proper object of perception. For instance, the statement, "God exists," simply has no meaning since it cannot be empirically verified to be true or false. A survey of various contexts. University of Chicago Press. (7). For to do so might give it that ghostly, metaphysical aspect which positivists are so intent on eradicating. 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. WITTGENSTEIN ON SEEING AND SEEING AS WITTGENSTEIN ON SEEING AND SEEING AS HUNTER, J.F.M. Wittgenstein's opening remark is double-barreled: he states thatthe field of aesthetics is both very big and entirely misunderstood. We thus end up with an application of the word 'interpretation' which seems to go against its customary usage, namely that we take a word which is used to denote a conscious activity and use it to denote an unconscious one. or 'Probably that is a . . In the first part, the remarks are rarely more than a paragraph long and are numbered sequentially by paragraph. This type of analysis is infused in Bertrand Russell's treatment of what we can be said to be doing when we 'see': In our environment it frequently happens that events occur together in bundles--such bundles as distinguish a cat from another kind of object. As mentioned earlier in this essay, in the traditional philosophical picture, there is a tendency to think of the brain itself as the "I", or as the seat of consciousness. For example, Wittgenstein is well known for his discussion of seeing-as, most famously through his use of Jastrowâs ambiguous duck-rabbit picture. What seems disturbing about this account to me, and I'm inclined to think Wittgenstein would agree, is that there are an awful lot of "inferences" or "hypotheses" being made for a process which is described as an entirely "spontaneous" one. 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. The answer is not altogether clear, because, as mentioned above, his work is of the utmost complexity. 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. 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. By Volker A. Munz. We would never then say, or it would at least seem very peculiar of us to say, "I see it as a duck," just as it would seem utterly strange to hear someone who is looking up toward the sky at a distant airplane say, "I see it as an airplane!" We could say, as I understand Russell in his account of 'seeing' a cat, that these inferences are made out of habit, and therefore occur undetected by conscious thought. Upon a careful and painstaking reading of the rather cryptic and difficult passages within Ludwig Wittgenstein's Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, any reasonably intelligent person might still be left wondering what this obscure Austrian thinker might possibly be attempting to convey. 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. --not: "Put your left foot in front of your right foot etc. 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. He continues in this manner by asking whether we are actually seeing something different in each instance or whether we are seeing the same thing and merely interpreting it one way or the other. University of Chicago Press. 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. 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. When we say that we see something, we are expressing a belief that a specific perception is apparent to us, wherein no alternative perceptions are relevant. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 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¦ This claim is especially troubling. I t was Ludwig Wittgenstein who sparked philosophical interest in what psychologists call ambiguous figures. When we interpret, we make a conjecture, we express a hypothesis, which may subsequently turn out false. I. Wittgenstein and seeing-as --pt. However, this seems like a rather untenable position, no matter how one looks at it. '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. Or you can dismiss until our next donations drive (typically at the beginning of October). When we see the figure one way instead of the other, we are not actively producing an interpretation of it, but rather our seeing it one way or another is an expression of our visual experience. 1980. pp. ." One would simply say, "I see an airplane." Within this rough separation, the chapter looks at various types of drawings involved and the various concepts Wittgenstein discusses in those contexts. In our language game, we use intentional or action concepts to describe what we do. 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? The concepts themselves are entirely alien to each other. ('Inference' and 'interpretation' are interchangeable terms as far as such issues are concerned.) However the brain may organize and process information (even the terms 'process' or 'organize' may not be fitting, for we know relatively very little about how the brain functions in this regard) from the sensory apparati, it is not a case of 'interpretation' as the term is customarily used. 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. On the other hand, the customary conceptualization of the word can account for why we might think we see an airplane in the sky and it turns out to be a bird, to use Russell's example--that our conscious inferences based on our perceptions can sometimes be mistaken. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Citadel Press. Instead it is composed of myriad fragments that loosely overlap and intersect. 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. 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. But you cannot try to see the regular F as a regular F. (6). If there is, can its ultimate reality be known if all that we have to rely on is our perceptions of it derived from our senses? It would almost seem that interpretations for the above figure in particular are limited only by the limits of the observer's imagination, since it appears completely solitary with virtually no contextual clues, aside from its shape, which might rule various interpretations out. With Karl Johnson, Michael Gough, Tilda Swinton, John Quentin. The case of seeing aspects seems that, at least for particular kinds of drawings, the aspects must somehow already be contained in the picture. III. We see it as two entirely different, alternating images, despite the fact that the drawing itself does not at all change. Are we 'seeing' one essential object of perception, and merely interpreting it differently, or are we genuinely 'seeing' a duck and then 'seeing' a rabbit? 176. Therefore, when modern psychology or neuroscience provides us with an empirical account of 'seeing', and tells us that the brain somehow 'organizes' visual data into recognizable perceptions, we tend to associate 'organizing' with 'interpreting', and say that it simply happens spontaneously and without conscious thought. In this case, it is also safe to say that a hypothesis is consciously made which subsequently turns out to be false. 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.
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