Hard to Explain

The limits of my language are the limits of my world

-Wittgenstein

 

If this seems surprising, perhaps it is because we forget that we learn language and learn the world together, that they become elaborated and distorted together, and in the same places.

-Cavell

 

I find that these two quotes complement each other. I have at multiple times tried to explicate to my peers what these quotes are trying to say, but I have found it is really hard. The truth of the statements seems so overwhelmingly obvious to me that I am left dumbfounded when someone tries to refute them. It is like Sidgwick dealing with someone that doesn’t care to be moral. Sidgwick says you drop the conversation right there, since there’s nothing to be done with an ethical theory for someone who doesn’t want to be moral. 

Analogously, I don’t understand how you can study philosophy seriously without understanding the intimate relationship between our words and the world. We understand them together and in the same places. We also become confused about them in the same places. When I talk about my words, I just am talking about the world, because they cannot be separated. 

For someone who doesn’t see this, it becomes almost impossible to convince them. It is a nice piece of philosophical befuddlement when something seems overwhelmingly obvious only to you. It must be what madness feels like.

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~ by Marcus Todd on February 5, 2013.

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