The Interfacing of Language and World

  • Erkut Sezgiİn
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 90)


Imaging Activity Conceptual Distinction Philosophical Investigation Surrounding World Psychological Image 
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  1. 2.
    Cited by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, Alphonso Lingis (trans.) (Northwestern University Press, 1995), p. 129.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    What this description tries to thematize is not human body as thought of under the biological, anthropological or under any scientific analytically objectifying aspect, but body in its unity with nature, body in living action with the surroundings. (Nature clarified under that aspect called Natura Naturans by Spinoza.) The same applies to our understanding of nature conceived and thematized in analytical and scientific terms. Hence the object of this kind of thematizing nature is to bring to our attention, indeed the age old universal wisdom that is connected with that sense of encounter which seems to be effaced from our horizon of world and which may be said to be the authentic driving movement that starts and keeps philosophical interrogation on the way of elucidating the sense involved that Wittgenstein forlornly points out as “the most striking and most powerful” (Philosophical Investigations, p. 129). In Sufi philosophical language the word “body” is used to convey the sense of “living unity of body”, “Vahdet-ul Vücud”, and languages of Tao and Buddhism are concerned in their own way with elucidating the understanding involved, not in terms of verbal understanding, but in deed by means of awakening the awareness necessary, i.e., by helping the human being to become aware of how one as the actor is involved and habits of thinking are structured in the play with representations, and how one is apt to misunderstand and be misled by them if one is not attentive enough about what is going on in the whole stream of the game, the play of life of nature, the grounds of which are shared by the life and action of living of the actors of the language-game. And I am of the opinion that Wittgenstein’s philosophical contribution in this respect to the clarification of the universal wisdom, to the authentic universal philosophical interrogation, the way of philosophy east and west is yet to be appreciated. (Although such point of view and appraisal have been expressed by philosophers like Alan W. Watts as early as the 1960s, i.e. in his Psychotherapy East and West, Pantheon, 1961.) This point of view expresses, incidentally, my interpretation of the religious point of view of Wittgenstein discussed by Norman Malcolm, and by Peter Winch against Malcolm’s interpretation in Wittgenstein, A Religious Point of View (ed. with a response by Peter Winch, Routledge, 1993). Peter Winch’s approach to the ungrounded grounds view of the game seems to take “language-game” more on pragmatic grounds, “to read” the grounds wholly under this aspect, which in turn seems to cause him to lose sight of the holistic cross-stripping texture of Wittgenstein’s articulations, the horizon of which is the theme of the present paper. (“cross-strip” that is precisely how Wittgenstein characterizes his descriptions: Zettel, p. 447.)Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    The image in question may vary from a visual image to a tactile sensation, or to an image of a sensation of pain, whereby image is wrongly supposed as if it is thought or perceived by the attention of the Cartesian subject. Here we are prey to our memory and thinking habits and misled to confuse a memory image of sensation as if it is adequate to represent the meaning or significance of its expression, or how it operates in the life of language. Wittgenstein’s so-called Private Language Argument (Philosophical Investigations, p. 258) simply makes apparent what remains as hidden confusion in such cases.Google Scholar
  4. 5 I.e. by Renford Bambrough in his paper “Universals and Family Resemblances,” in Wittgenstein, George Pitcher (ed.) (Papermac, 1970), p. 186.Google Scholar
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    Philosophical lnvestigations (Blackwell, 1968), p. 129.Google Scholar
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    In my opinion, the late professor İlham Dilman in his Wittgenstein’s Copernican Revolution (Palgrave, 2002), while he argues against interpreting Wittgenstein as a linguistic idealist, is trying to clarify the shared presuppositions of linguistic idealism and linguistic realism. Hence I take his book as an expression of the clarification about the playground where conceptual distinctions find expression or application in the living conditions of language-game, in which the Cartesian presuppositions of subject object division, or of idealism realism polarity lose their grip over one’s thinking and leave ground, an éspace for a freer and more attentive view for a new horizon in the perspective of which the life of the unity of language and world is expected to gain clarity.Google Scholar
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    For example, our approach, concerned with only certainty objectified, seems to be wedged in taking it only in terms of the degrees between 0 and 1, without much concern and awareness of how certainty, as well as the degrees of it, find expression in human life and language, as the possibility of saying and thinking something, making a move in the language-game. This is the kind of certainty no more and no less certain of the certainty expressed and shared by human actions and reactions the unawareness of which betrays a deep unawareness about the play-ground of the life and language-game whereby also conceptual differences and distinctions find expression and application, as they are being fixed, held fast in accordance with manifold purposes of the game. This is how Wittgenstein deals with the question of certainty which is arising from applying the rules of logic, i.e. to compare the certainty of a set of empirical beliefs with a priori truths of logic, without much questioning the nature of a belief in a priori truth (and for the same reason, the nature of empirical belief ) in logic and in rules of logic. Hence logical thinking without awareness of how logical rules are expressed and find application in the playground where concepts are learned along with the different consequences that follow in the game, falls short of the awareness where such rules are not applicable, that in turn brings its own sceptical questions and puzzles peculiar to this kind of thinking. Wittgenstein clarifies on the other hand that logical rules themselves, having their origin in shared human actions and reactions, have an a posteriori basis and have certainty no more and no less than the certainty they express in the language-game. See On Certainty (Blackwell).Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    David Sylvester is asking Alberto Giacometti: “Mais est-ce que les gens s’extasient en pensant que c’est plus ressemblant, ou pour d’autres motifs?” — “Parce que c’est plus ressemblant. Je crois que le fait de la ressemblance est inconsciemment beaucoup plus profond que ce qu’on croit, n’est-ce pas? Je sais que pour mes choses... J’essaie de faire des bustes d’après nature, et quand tous les gens s’y intéressent ou les achètent, c’est parce qu’ils les croient, eux, inventés de toutes pièces. Moi, je pense que, involontairement et inconsciemment, et sans se rendre compte, ils voient quelque chose dedans, ou ils sentent quelque chose dedans, qui ressemble à la réalité. Même sans s’en rendre compte. Alberto Giacometti, Écrits (Hermann, éditeurs des sciences et des arts, 1992), pp. 294–295. René Magritte on resemblance says: “La ressemblance s’identifie à l’acte essentiel de la pensée: celui de ressembler. La pensée ressemble en devenant ce que le monde lui offre et en restituant ce qui lui est offert au mystère sans lequel il n’y aurait aucune possibilité de monde, ni aucune possibilité de pensée. René Magritte, Écrits complets (Flammarion, 1979), p. 518.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Corresponding term which Wittgenstein uses to characterize his writing in its striving action of inscribing life’s unifying movements to articulate a similar sense of unity in portraying life of language, language-game in unity with its own grounds surrounding, is “crossstrip”, which means the kind of description finite or complete in itself similar to the function of lines and contours or brush-strokes that serves to portray the character of a portrait. Hence such writing is a kind of painting, and faces and shares similar problems of portraying life that’s touching the artist’s sensibility by its deep wave movements. Wittgenstein says: “Each of the sentences I write is trying to say the whole thing, i.e., the same thing over and over again; it is as though they were all simply views of one object seen from different angles.” Culture and Value (Blackwell, 1980), p. 7e.Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    For instance, This is how Giacometti expresses himself in response: “Comment parler de peinture aujourd’hui? — Seule la vie m’intéresse, je regarde et tout me dépasse, le pied d’une chaisse...” “Qu’est-ce! Que est-ce! Tout ce qui m’entoure et m’émerveille, malgré tout ce se passe toujours d’effroyable et que je ne veux jamais oublier, malgré le ciel, malgré les arbres et tout les beautés.” Ibid., p. 86.Google Scholar
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    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, Colin Smith (trans.) (Routledge, 1970), preface p. xx.Google Scholar
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    Krishnamurti, Meeting Life, Arkana, 1991, p. 180.Google Scholar
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    “Often my writing is nothing but stuttering.” Culture and Value, Peter Winch (trans.) (Blackwell, 1980), p. 18e.Google Scholar
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    Philosophical Investigations (Blackwell, 1968), p. 129.Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    Giacometti’s characterization of his labour, see James Lord, A Giacometti Portrait.Google Scholar
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    Heidegger’s description, Being and Time, John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (trans.) (Blackwell, 1980), p. 135.Google Scholar
  17. 20.
    About that René Magritte says: “The feeling we have while viewing a painting is not to be distinguished from the painting, nor ourselves. The feeling, the painting and ourselves are reunited in our mystery.” Cited by Suzi Gablik in Magritte (London: Thames and Hudson, 1970).Google Scholar
  18. 21.
    “People nowadays think that scientists exist to instruct them, poets, musicians, etc. to give them pleasure. The idea that these have something to teach them — that does not occur to them.” Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, Peter Winch (trans.) (Blackwell, 1980), p. 36e.Google Scholar
  19. 22.
  20. 23.
    “I am showing my pupils details of an immense landscape which they cannot possibly know their way around.” Culture and Value, p. 56e.Google Scholar
  21. 24.
    “In art it is hard to say anything as good as saying nothing.” Wittgenstein, Ibid., p. 23e.Google Scholar
  22. 25.
    “I think I summed up my attitude to philosophy when I said: philosophy ought really be written only as a poetic composition.... I was thereby revealing myself as someone who cannot quite do what he would like to be able to do.” Wittgenstein, Ibid., p. 24e.Google Scholar
  23. 26.
    Hubert L. Dreyfus, Being-in-the-world (MIT Press, 1995), p. 172.Google Scholar
  24. 27.
    Perhaps, a consideration on similar lines leads Stanley Cavell to speak of “Heideggerian lavishness” and to say in passing that he “too cannot be used as constituting for Wittgenstein a standard of the seriousness of philosophy.” This New Unapproachable America, Lectures after Emerson and after Wittgenstein (Living Batch Press, 1989), p. 73.Google Scholar
  25. 29.
    Cited by Alan Watts, The Philosophies of Asia (Eden Grove Editions, 1996), p. 106.Google Scholar
  26. 30.
    Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, p. 65e.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erkut Sezgiİn
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.İstanbul Kültür Üniversitesi (İ.K.Ü.)Turkey
  2. 2.İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi (İ.T.Ü.)Turkey

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