Tuesday, August 29, 2006

How to Write Concepts Down (3)

I want to go touching.

Tony Tost

The ability to write concepts down bears on the ability to think as little and as much as the ability to draw hands bears on the ability to touch. Certainly, there is an important relation between noting something down (committing black marks to a piece of paper) and noticing it. This noticing and noting is then related in a variety of ways to the use of the thing noticed.

Wittgenstein said that the uses of philosophical words like "language" and "experience" are as humble as those of "lamp" and "door". We can extend this: their uses are as humble as those of lamps and doors. These objects, too, have their "usage".

We must approach the grammar of concepts (in writing) as one might approach the grammar of hands (in drawing). That is, the usage of marks on bits of paper.


Presskorn said...

You once wrote something like(I believe it was in Likeness): ”We must describe facts for the sake of prescribing them.”, which I remember as being all very well in its context. Anyway, it occured to me that in the case of writing concepts down we should rather say:

Describe only the facts which prescribe themselves – that is, of course, the facts of grammar.

That would be a real "how to"(i.e. instructive) remark, but I haven't thought it through. Or perhaps, to include the crucial concept of writing:

Write down only the facts which prescribe themselves.

...By the way, I'm sorry about my last comment on your blog - It could indeed be misread as Brian supposedly did - It's just that my dissertation is due in 10 days, so your no doubt "spot on"-comments are, in fact, a sort of distraction.

Thomas said...

I think I took it the way you intended. Good luck with your dissertation, Thomas. I'll think about your formulation. I think I would say that, in philosophy, we must construct descriptions and arrange them so that they display their immanent prescriptions, and vice versa for poetry. But you are right, that immanence would be grammar.

Presskorn said...

Well, perhaps you need not think about my formulation. To employ the concept of immanence might just do the trick here(at any rate, it seems slightly more clear than my suggestion “prescribe themselves”). Since I what dislike about “We must describe facts for the sake of prescribing them.” is that it makes the prescription look as something exterior, as if it were, something done “in addition”. Arrangement, for me in any case, is all about avoiding this exterior act of prescription. About not saying: I described such and such, and now I prescribe it. Arrangement must make prescription an immanent dimension of the described, of the descriptum.

PS: Thank you for the 'good luck', I may need it, since it is due at a potentially symbolic date: nine-eleven.