Monday, August 11, 2014

In Defense of Nonsense (if not no sense at all)

IN Defense of NONSENSE if not no-sense-at-all.

“Wittgenstein had an enormous effect on [Bertrand]Russell.
First  Russell  thought Wittgenstein had a new  kind of
sensibility.[Witt]  gave Russell the sense that he really
knew something incommunicable, that there was some
thing he was trying to get at,  that Russell was  not seeing it.

As a result of these interactions,  Russell actually gave up
mathematical logic.  Wittgenstein convinced him that his
old ways of doing things were wrong. Russell said that he
couldn't  quite understand what Wittgenstein was saying,
but he felt  in his bones that he must be right. That's the kind
of effect that  Wittgenstein had on people.”

Rebecca Goldstein.
Goedel and the Nature of Mathematical Truth. 

IN my dreams,  wittgensteinian-like, I urge bertrand Russell
terriers  terrified to ease their grip on mathematical  canny
doggone logically positive cynicism, not that there’s any thing 
wrong with THAT  but that they might  push away from childish
flings as merely  necessary  but insufficient like words are as
inadequate as students  tell me, tattooed so to speak from head
to toes with images  & other signs & symbols of our bawdy languages. 

You can understand Gödel's saying,  as he's quoted
saying to the mathematician Menger  one night when
they were walking home together from one  of the
 meetings of the positivists, something like:  "The more
 I think about language the less  possible it seems to me
that we ever  understand one another."

In computer-programming talk: program-language looks like
gobble de  gook to inhabitants of User-Friendly World, might
as well be glossolalia, squeaking in tongues of angles to user-friendly
Flatlanders as far as program- language-ing is  concerned: babble if
not Babel when a deep program-language way of  talking leaks out,
collapsed,  conflated & spilling across the screen  of my tectonic
platonic  monitor.

“MU!”  I mutter, descriptively. “It’s nonsense to utter Non Sense!
This will never do.”  As if a sphere pancaked into a circle presumed
to serve  as Representative re-presenting the great state of Sphereville
and we allowed it, too, without acknowledging our cognitive dissonance. .  

Of what we cannot speak thereof we must be silent."

It's ambiguous. It could mean that all facts can be said
and they can be said clearly, or it could mean that there
are facts that are out there, but our language is not adequate
for expressing them: that our language is leaving out chunks
of reality. If we try to express the unsayable in language, we'll
violate the rules of language and commit nonsense.

“mystical” & “mystery” & “myopia”:  all 3 from Indo European mu
imitative of  inarticulate sounds: mum, mumbling, muttering
variations on silent, dumb, mute; Gk – muein: to close the lips;
in other words THAT  which is unsayable is  merely unsayable
& mystery. And to try to say what can’t be said articulately is to utter

nonsense, but important nonsense.

53 comments:

  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04cfzxw

    Will Self on "Believing in belief", 10 min, BBC radio, including a point on Wittgenstein.

    "Belief is an idea gone bold."

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  2. Isis is a response to the frustration of modernism and post-modernism, or the lack of "seriousness", or the lack of "belief".

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  3. Doubt ISIS would see themselves in those terms. But there must be some payoff for you to view them that ways. Do you distinguish between "belief" and "faith"? (Between Keats and Yeats?) Instead of posting links, you might just put it in your own words. More interesting.

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  4. The spirit of the times is much like that expressed in Yeats's poem Explanations, blamations, reasons why, cause and effects, because & affects, interpretations, scapegoats galore. Here's a reason, there's a reason. Forces of Good vs Forces of Evil--whatever side you're own: the other side are evil doers.

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  5. You see, and you have seen me do it, I believe in reading primary material. This is where we have a significant difference, or gap, or whatever you like. I read all of Tractatus in the original language and you read Rebecca Goldstein, instead, and then you make Wittgenstein "yours". Auden might call it, as he calls Yeats' work, not intellectual. But then you have said that yourself already.

    I read the Second Coming several times last night and also read it to my husband, and also read H. Bloom's comments on it. Bloom says, it might be a poem to dislike but not to forget. I told my husband and he replied that he had forgotten it already... The "dung" theory is growing on me. Just because some gifted man sucks this sort of thing out of his feather, it does not prophecy make.

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  6. Which is also precisely the problem with Mohammed. Please note that I will not call him prophet and will not recite confession over my dead body, buried alive, beheaded, raped, or head on the stake.

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    1. Good for you--what else can I say
      .

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    2. I forgot to say crucify, as they also do. But we can't talk about that. It would be hysterical and morbid.

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  7. So help me God. Dear St. Peter crumbled under the strain.

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  8. Wittginstein is not mine. Did you read Auden as primary material? What does the word "intellectual" mean to you? I think the "dung" theory suits you well, and it is my impression you've had it all along, that "if if ain't Lutheran" it's dung no matter its standing. Sucking this sort of thing out of his feather? Prophecy? He doesn't represent for you? And Emerson's an Idiot Swedenborg a philanderer. Jung, something or other. I'm impressed if you read Witt in the original language: good for you. Tell me your good sense of his sense of language. Well grind your ax with him.

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    1. I already shared my reading of him with you the other day. I think he would say that Jung is unscientific and talking non-sense, for example, since you brought up Jung.

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    2. Well if that's what he said, that what he feels.

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  9. And if it is Lutheran or Biblical it is dung to you.

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    1. No--Luther and Bible aren't dung. I was raised on the latter and the former is part of the whole tradition of Christianity--which isn't dung. Tell me more about your sense of Wittginstein and his Tractatus--you can unpack it for me. (I read it back in the 70's and need your refreshing.)

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    2. They are not only dung, they are Tabu. We can't quote it, we can't put it into historical context. No-fly-zone. Your home-grown nostalgia only means something to you. Your existentialism is your own beer, as the Germans would say-- you have brewed it on your own cellar, according to your own recipe, for your own consumption.

      I think part of the reason we hardly hear in the media about how many thousand Christians are displaced and camping on the plain of Nineveh is because ideologues don't want to see that there has been continuous Christian community there from incipient times, and that there is a place called Niniveh. When the Pope goes to the Holy Land, they don't like to show the places he goes because it legitimizes the archeology and history of the places. They, whoever they may be, don't like to go there, either. Tabu, as we said. I don't know why.

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    3. Conspiracy theory? As far as your assessment of me (my home-grown nostalgia, beery existentialism): yes. No defense. .Narcisssitic solipsist, ripping off from the whole what suits my agenda, injustice doer no doubt. Wretch like me; brewer in accord with my consumption. (It's the denial and cover up that raises my bozone level.)

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  10. "ISIS is a response to the frustration of modernism and post-modernism, or the lack of "seriousness", or the lack of "belief"." I wish you'd help me understand how ISIS would see themselves as a response to the frustraton of moderism and post-modernism or the lack of seriousness or lack of belief. (Do you distinguish between belief and faith?) We leave too many details with no response. As far as the gap between us, I wouldn't characterize it in terms of ratios of primary to secondary materials that we read/have read. Don't you think it's more fundamental than that?

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    1. Oh, we get to talk about this now?

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    2. Youve been avoiding it, bragging on your primary sources

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  11. Primary and down the road materials issue matters because it matters who is a true prophet or not. Thus I will say that there is poetry which is inspired, even current works; it is not all dung. But there is also dung and we must have a way to distinguish. We must know the voice of the Holy Spirit and be able to distinguish it from other voices. As Jesus said: my sheep know my voice. -- this is quite different from brewing your own beer, because it is a dialectic.

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    1. This allows you to discern between inspiration and dung. Do you ever find sheep who distinguish the voice of the Holy Spirit (Jesus) in ways that contradict. My poor Orthodox Calvinist don't here the same Sheep Talk as Lutherans. He doesn't brew his own beer but bakes his own bread.

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    2. I cannot be responsible for conversations you have elsewhere.

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    3. I am concerned and you may share this concern that in trying to adhere to the principle of scripture alone (as opposed to papal decrees) we have done away with the "living word", an important concept. Luther worked with both concepts in mind.

      Jesus, for example, made wine for a wedding. Do you think he forbade alcohol drinking, dancing and singing except psalms to the Geneva tunes? Hardly. Making those kinds of restrictions are not in tune with the spirit. Mohammed was of the same stripe of legalism. But you see we deal with a kind of literalism that helps us understand the spirit of things. Jesus actually made the wine and celebrated, hence our own celebrations are dignified. There is no cleaving of body and soul.

      When the "letter of the law" is decried, it is this ceremonial legalism, which dies not mean that we do not have traditions, and some of those vary by country, language, place and time, organization and denomination. Thus if the Calvinist only wants to sing Geneva psalms, he may choose to do so. And if we want to argue about the usefulness of the practice, we may also do this.

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    4. Pharisee-ism--a bunch of "religious" men (maybe some women) arguing over what is right and wrong. They may choose to do so and I choose to cast asparagus at righteousness. Love it. Did I ever suggest you are responsible for conversations I have elsewhere?

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  12. Ideas could be said to be like dogma. Belief could be said to be like faith. You stake or life and future on it. The boldness is in believing.

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    1. Well I see faith as going beyond and confouinding belief systems, which is why I like the Abraham storty so much. Belief makes sense. Faith surpasses understanding. (Some brew of my own.)

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    2. The boldness may be the same as your leap, the great big ugly ditch of Lessing's. What causes the leap?-- our need, the words and actions of God which inspire. They come from outside, but the resonate somewhere with us, like a string that has been plucked. Like love. We don't quit know how it suddenly descends upon us. Being loved has something to do with it. We believe because we have been loved. But as Mr. son of Hamaz says, the god of Islam does not love unbelievers, he barely likes Muslims. Why do they follow him? Because they must. It is a leap without inspiration.

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    3. Lessing's ditch? Ugly? Have you experienced the plucked string? The inspiration? Wings of a dove? I hear talk of these things. All over. Many are called (and talk about it). Few are chosen. I've met and known a few.

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    4. Maybe I don't understand Lessing. I only learned about the ugly ditch ( garstiger Graben, oh see, it alliterates) from a survey of the literature on Doctrine 1 class. Do you know about Lessing?

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    5. Lessing's ditch is a term used to describe a view of Gotthold Lessing (1729 - 1781) which argues that there is a 'ditch' between history and eternal truths that cannot be crossed. As a result, revelation in history is not possible, for historical truth cannot be demonstrated. Furthermore, he drew a distinction between the accidental truths of history and the necessary truths of reason. This view "grew out of his conviction that rationalism could be the only universally acceptable mode of understanding the world," and thus he was "convinced that the bible could not be trusted as a source of description of any truth, let alone the truth of God."

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    6. That was soothing from somewhere on the internet. Does it not work here? I think it does.

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    7. "Something" not "soothing".

      That is your ditch, Dr. Samuel Scoville. Jump it.

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    8. I saw it, too. Lots of google articles on Lessing and his ditch. Kierkegaard's "leap of faith" appropriately addresses the ditch. The logical positivists in the 20th c. drew an Occam-like boundary between sense and nonsense and determined themselves only to deal with sense. The distinction and ditch are appropriate--like the distinction between science and religion. Hostile but complementary if the distinction isn't collapsed into the terms and values of one or the other. My opinion--beer brew.

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  13. Corollary is: without believing and staking your life on something, we feel adrift and life does not feel worth living. So we find that young men all over the globe reared on secularism, video games and body building are recruited into a physical army of "God". It is not a good development and yes, our western rootlessness may very well have a lot to do with it. They look at the west and they view it as decadent and worthy of destruction. They may have a point.

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    1. No quarrel here. Of course they have a point--what else would stir the compulsively and obsessively. Religion.

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    2. Leap of faith --does justice to the ditch and the those who acknowldege the gap between the rational and beyond rational, sense and non sense. It's those who don't recognize the gap and confuse the realms that do injustice to both side--in my humble opinion. Leaps and bounds, yesir.

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  14. Lessing calls it "garstig". It is an interesting vocable. Onomatopoeia almost.

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  15. Sparking the gap as opposed to bridging it.

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  16. "Garstig" could be simply "awful" in the various ways we use it, or a very strong revulsion. It could also be an aristocratic type sustain of the common. The image that comes to mind is that of a cat with its back arched and fur raised, refusing something it abhors or disdains. One could also say "mean". That is how he sees the ditch (also not a nice word) . As if it was something into the mud of which you would not want to descend. Disgusting in every way.

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  17. Whatever it is -- leap or don't.

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  18. Except it is so revolting we can't make ourselves do it. And yet we want to and need to.

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  19. Like a child on the 3 meter board trying for her swimming badge.

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  20. It is mediated by the word. All the gifts and tasks are for one just like you. You, too, are called.

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  21. Many are called. Few chosen.

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  22. Can't resolve that with our logic. Nonsensical, in other words. Must keep silent rather than doctinify.

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    1. I agree. It's all beyond sense, yet I need to reduce it and rationalize it to my belief systems--and the temptation to Idolize our rationalization is immense.

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    2. Luther left it alone. To conclude The Bondage of the Will he said that we will only see it in the light of glory, which is not here and now. I can live with that better than what people have otherwise proposed.

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  23. But call. We can call and be called.

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  24. I am trying to decide whether or not to buy a book on math standards for early grades. It costs $70.00. I had ordered it through inter library loan and only Concordia had it. But it never came. I could go down to Concordia library...

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  25. Here is something for you: Arab candid camera.

    https://m.youtube.com/?reload=7&rdm=17nm42m8#/watch?v=13jhKI0gems

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