Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wittgenstein on identity

Tractatus 5.5303 - "Roughly speaking, to say of two things that they are identical is nonsense, and to say of one thing that it is identical with itself is to say nothing at all.

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6 Comments:

Blogger David Brightly said...

Why does he say roughly? And did he recant later?

8:35 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

Well, I say 'roughly speaking' when I am not absolutely certain of what I am saying. So perhaps that's what was going on. Actually, he didn't say that, he said "belaufig gesprochen".

As for his later thought, I didn't really follow it too well.

10:26 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

I just Googled both the German and the English and it turns out "roughly speaking" or "beiläufig gesprochen" was one of Wittgenstein's favourite expressions.

10:30 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Recant? Or modify. Panayot Butcharov begins Chapter One of his Being qua Being (p. 9) by quoting the Wittgensteinian aphorism at hand and then, a few lines later, telling us that:

In the Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein … continued to hold the second half of his Tractarian view but also seems to hold that the concept of identity has another sort of application in which we say of what in some sense are two things that they are identical. He wrote:

215. But isn’t the same at least the same? We seem to have an infallible paradigm of identity in the identity of a thing with itself. I feel like saying” “Here at any rate there can’t be a variety of interpretations. If you are seeing a thing you are seeing identity too.

Then are two things the same when they are what onething is? And how am I to apply what the one thing shows me to the case of two things?

2:42 pm  
Blogger John Belarus said...

If he said 'beiläufig gesprochen', he meant: accidentally. 'Roughly' is a bad translation.

5:09 pm  
Blogger John Belarus said...

PS: 'In passing' or even better: made as a side remark. I don't see beiläufig as 'roughly', not in this expression, to be honest. It's 'Beiläufig' as in 'Beiläufig bemerken wir': incidentally we see that...
Maybe it's me. I studied philosophy in Germany, but am no native speaker.

5:15 pm  

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