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Thread: wittgenstein against gay marriage ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Desperado View Post
    If it had a worthwhile argument then it obviously would be relevant to our standing on the subject. Because I am a leftist does not mean I am not a freethinker - indeed, the former stems from the latter.
    Well, I am a freethinker, and this stems from me being a leftist, not the other way round.

    Of course, relevant arguments are relevant, even if they come from non-leftists. But the OP was obviously an argumentum ad autoritatem - Wittgenstein said (or rather, Wittgenstein could be interpreted as saying) this, so we should ponder this. And, being an argumentum ad autoritatem, it would only be a reasonable argument if Wittgenstein was an actual authority on the issues of leftism or gay movement, which he, of course, wasn't.

    The fact that they are on the pay of the ruling class does not automatically make them wrong. In many cases it makes it more likely, but we can only infer that after reading them and then placing into context rather than the other way around.
    I don't believe they were on the pay of the ruling class; and yes, reading them and placing them into context would be the correct attitude. That was, if you observe the hidden [sarcasm][/sarcasm] marks, indeed my point: the Wittgensteinians here like to tell us to throw everybody else into Hume's bonfire, and then argue that others are fostering willful ignorance when we point out that Wittgenstein is, by and large, totally irrelevant to the socialist movement. (Which, again, for the half-wit readers, doesn't mean he is irrelevant at all - just that he cannot be spammed into the philosophy section of a revolutionary leftist forum as the end all be all of all philosophy and remedy for all the left shortcomings).

    Luís Henrique

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    You argued as follows Luis:

    the Wittgensteinians here like to tell us to throw everybody else into Hume's bonfire, and then argue that others are fostering willful ignorance when we point out that Wittgenstein is, by and large, totally irrelevant to the socialist movement. (Which, again, for the half-wit readers, doesn't mean he is irrelevant at all - just that he cannot be spammed into the philosophy section of a revolutionary leftist forum as the end all be all of all philosophy and remedy for all the left shortcomings).
    I'd like to see where any of them have said this.

    They might have said this of certain metaphysicians, but few, if any would want to throw Aristotle's works on Hume's bonfire, or even that of Leibniz. I could mention a few others they'd want to keep safe too, but I'll leave that to your imagination.

    Of course, if you can show there is any merit in the work of other ruling-class thinkers, I'd be interested to see what it is. However, like Rosa, I have been reading this material now for well over 25 years, and have yet to find much that is worth keeping, and which isn't non-sensical, or worse.
    Last edited by LJJW; 27th July 2011 at 16:06.

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    Tiny posted this:

    I've always fought for gay marriage but a buddy of mine says by convention, 'marriage' is usually meant as between a man and a woman.
    Following Wittgenstein's "conventionalism" then, anything that deviates from this conventual meaning (ie man and man, or multiple people as Judith Butler has suggested) is not marriage.

    Rather, her says, I ought to fight for a civil union between gay people that has all the same rights bestowed by marriage.

    I know practically nothing about Wittgenstein. Can anyone tell me - is this line of reasoning legit?
    I think you might be confusing conventionalism with being conventional in one's ethics and behaviour.

    Now, a case can be made for arguing that Wittgenstein was a conventionalist, but he was one of a rather unique sort. For classical conventionalists, truths, for example, followed from conventions human beings set up, and these truths are a direct consequence of the meaning of words set by those conventions (and, of course, a comaprison with reality).

    This is not so for Wittgenstein, for whom conventions are based on social practices; how we use words not only shows what conventions we have adopted, it constitutes them. He had good reason to argue this way, but we can go into that in another thread.

    Now, as far as i can tell from his work (published and unpublished) I can't see why he'd have objected to gay marriage -- in fact he was quite unconventional in his own life. But, since this question never arose in his lifetime, to say any more about what he would have done would be to substitute speculation for fact.

    But, who cares what he would have said? As Luis points out, Wittgenstein was no god. To say the least, it's up to us to make our own minds up on this.

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    In another post, Luis, you argued as follows:

    Fact is - or facts are:

    - Wittgenstein was not a Marxist;
    - Wittgenstein was not an anarchist;
    - Wittgenstein was not a socialist;
    - Wittgenstein was not a leftist of any kind;
    - Wittgenstein was not a working class fighter;
    - Wittgenstein was not interested in politics at all;
    - there is absolutely no sign that Wittgenstein even understood what capitalism is, or even noticed its existence, much less that he was in any way interested in fighting it;
    - Wittgenstein was not even a gay rights activist.

    So whatever his opinion was on the subject of "gay marriage" is irrelevant to us or our standing in that subject. He was against strikes, for instance - and we don't take that in account in order to inform our position on strikes.

    Evidently, there is also the fact that the OP grossly misinterpretates his standing on how words work. But even if there wasn't such misinterpretation, the point still stands: we don't care about what Wittgenstein thought - except perhaps on the very limited field of philosophy of language, where his opinion might hold some weight. And even then, philosophy of language is scarcely useful to the end of fighting against the bourgeoisie, toppling capitalism, and building a classless society. Or even to the much more modest end of achieving equal rights, under capitalist domination, for people of all sexual orientations.
    Unfortunately, I can't post any links yet, but it has already been shown here that Wittgenstein came as close to being a Marxist as one could get without actually being one, certainly closer to class politics than any major thinker since Marx himself.

    As soon as I can post links, I'll do so.

    And he was interested in politics; if you read the conversations he had with Norman Malcolm, or Rhush Rhees, for example, you will see he was interested in politics.

    Maybe not as much as we are here, but he certainly wasn't indifferent toward it.

    But, on the basis of what do you say he was "against strikes"?

    He was quite vocal in his support of the 1917 revolution (and the October insurrection), so why he'd balk at strikes is rather mysterious.

    And while you might be formally correct when you say this:

    And even then, philosophy of language is scarcely useful to the end of fighting against the bourgeoisie, toppling capitalism, and building a classless society. Or even to the much more modest end of achieving equal rights, under capitalist domination, for people of all sexual orientations.
    You must know that if we have an incorrect view of language (like you find in Hegel), it can't fail to affect our core theory -- which is just one reason why dialectical materialism is non-sensical.

    And, as Rosa has pointed out here many times, this has helped in it's own small way to make our movement almost synonymous with failure.

    After all, as Marx argued:

    The philosophers have only to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, in order to recognise it, as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life.
    [This is from The German Ideology; bold added.]

    Confused philosophy leads to confused comrades and thus confused parties.

    So, the criticism of language is, or should be, central to Marxist Philosophy.

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  6. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by LJJW View Post
    I'd like to see where any of them have said this.
    Things like:

    Of course not, it's all nonsense.
    "Crap".
    The "thesis, antithesis, synthesis" is the traditional bit of all dialectics (for example Socrates' method), which can't really be argued against. But the Hegelian dialectic goes into far more mumbo-jumbo, with some nonsensical idealism and then meaningless statements about "unity of opposites" and "quantity into quality". The point is you're not meant to understand - like an awful lot of philosophy, it's some therapeutic catchphrases without any real-world basis made by a misuse of language.
    Philosophy at least the way students of philosophy explain it is intentionally complicated and over blown to keep it within their special little club.
    Someone who can't explain themselves in ordinary language is shit at explaining themselves. Philosophy in general uses language which is inaccessible to the normal person, it's an elitist club.
    Interesting to see two members of the ruling-class point out how Hegel influenced them.
    Plato influenced all Western philosophy
    I don't think that's much of a commendation.
    Existentialism is the same as anyother philosophy; it is based on a distortion of ordinary language and, therefore, has no meaning. Existentialists typically (from what I've seen) misused terms such as "meaning," and I'm pretty sure it was Sarte who misused terms like "Being" and "Nothingness". Could be wrong on that one, I'm not expert on existentialism.
    Seem to show that the ideology of "ordinary language" can easily be used as a pretext for willful ignorance. Now, I know that not all those people are actually influenced by Wittgenstein; they have merely found in the interpretation of his works' by Ms Lichtenstein and others a suitable excuse for their antiintellectualism. Those who have been really influenced by Wittgenstein, though, fail to dissociate from such kind of nihilist snobbery.

    Of course, if you can show there is any merit in the work of other ruling-class thinkers, I'd be interested to see what it is. However, like Rosa, I have been reading this material now for well over 25 years, and have yet to find much that is worth keeping, and which isn't non-sensical, or worse.
    Let's see, Aquinas, Augustine, Spinoza, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Plato, Epictetus, Epicurus, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Ockham, Scotus, Montaigne, Morus, Erasmus, Bruno, Galileo, Descartes, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Beccaria, Kant, Fichte, Schoppenhauer, Nietzsche, Croce, Bentham, Smith, Ricardo, Newton, Euclid, Ptolomeus, Vico, Freud, Macchiavelli, Saussure, Levi-Strauss, Weber, Schumpeter, Mommsen, Ranke, Comte...

    Not that we should agree with what those guys said or thought, but that you can't actually reject them without minimally understanding what they said and where they stood from (and, indeed, the penalty for an acritical "rejection" may well be the return of their uncriticised ideas under other forms).

    Luís Henrique

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    Quote Originally Posted by LJJW View Post
    Unfortunately, I can't post any links yet, but it has already been shown here that Wittgenstein came as close to being a Marxist as one could get without actually being one, certainly closer to class politics than any major thinker since Marx himself.
    Here is a list of major thinkers much closer to class politics than Wittgenstein:

    Engels, Labriola, Mariátegui, Marcuse, Sartre, Sraffa, Kalecky, Anderson, Lenin, Hill, Bukharin, Genovese, Luxemburg, Brenner, Sweezy, Baran, Trotsky...

    And he was interested in politics; if you read the conversations he had with Norman Malcolm, or Rhush Rhees, for example, you will see he was interested in politics.
    My aunt was also interested in politics, she would discuss it with her friends and relatives. That doesn't make her a political thinker - and Wittgenstein's ocasional remarks on political issues don't make him a political thinker either.

    Maybe not as much as we are here, but he certainly wasn't indifferent toward it.
    He wasn't interested in it as a thinker.

    But, on the basis of what do you say he was "against strikes"?
    Quote Originally Posted by Wittgenstein
    I believe that bad housekeeping within the state fosters bad housekeeping in families. A workman who is constantly ready to go on strike will not bring up his children to respect order either.
    Luís Henrique

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    Who gives a shit about Wittgenstein
    Anyone who labels themself with someone elses name followed by an "ist" has identity issues anyway
    "Man's inhumanity to man" is not the last word. The truth lies deeper. It is economic slavery, the savage struggle for a crumb, that has converted mankind into wolves and sheep.
    -Alexander Berkman

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aspiring Humanist View Post
    Who gives a shit about Wittgenstein
    Anyone who labels themself with someone elses name followed by an "ist" has identity issues anyway
    I suspect you are here talking about the hordes of "Wittgensteinists"... Quite right, they do have identity issues, in that they do not exist.

    I have a sneaking suspicion you have read 0 pages of anything Wittgenstein has written, much less actually studied anything of him to generate an understanding.

    By the way, your perspective leads one to draw the conclusion that this site is in fact a support group for people with identity issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aspiring Humanist View Post
    Who gives a shit about Wittgenstein
    Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
    Last edited by ZeroNowhere; 28th July 2011 at 19:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
    I suspect you are here talking about the hordes of "Wittgensteinists"... Quite right, they do have identity issues, in that they do not exist.

    I have a sneaking suspicion you have read 0 pages of anything Wittgenstein has written, much less actually studied anything of him to generate an understanding.

    By the way, your perspective leads one to draw the conclusion that this site is in fact a support group for people with identity issues.
    I have a sneaking suspicion you are an elitist asshole who thinks himself holier than thou when it comes to philosophy
    "Man's inhumanity to man" is not the last word. The truth lies deeper. It is economic slavery, the savage struggle for a crumb, that has converted mankind into wolves and sheep.
    -Alexander Berkman

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aspiring Humanist View Post
    I have a sneaking suspicion you are an elitist asshole who thinks himself holier than thou when it comes to philosophy
    It wasn't I who proclaimed that 90% of the users of this site have identity issues.

    I realize now how insensitive and "elitist" it is of me to request that someone educates themselves and reads what they have written before they go around bashing a thinker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aspiring Humanist View Post
    Who gives a shit about Wittgenstein
    Anyone who labels themself with someone elses name followed by an "ist" has identity issues anyway


    You have just lost an excellent opportunity to "pass in silence" over whatever...

    Luís Henrique

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aspiring Humanist View Post
    I have a sneaking suspicion you are an elitist asshole who thinks himself holier than thou when it comes to philosophy
    I have a sneaking suspicion that you have nothing to contribute to this thread, pseudo-psychological trolling aside.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroNowhere View Post
    I have a sneaking suspicion that you have nothing to contribute to this thread, pseudo-psychological trolling aside.
    That's unfair; he contributed by creating an otherwise unthinkable (yes, I am being naughty) unanimity between the Wittgensteinians and anti-Wittgensteinians here...

    Luís Henrique

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luís Henrique View Post
    That's unfair; he contributed by creating an otherwise unthinkable (yes, I am being naughty) unanimity between the Wittgensteinians and anti-Wittgensteinians here...
    Damn you, Lenin!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luís Henrique View Post
    Here is a list of major thinkers much closer to class politics than Wittgenstein:

    Engels, Labriola, Mariátegui, Marcuse, Sartre, Sraffa, Kalecky, Anderson, Lenin, Hill, Bukharin, Genovese, Luxemburg, Brenner, Sweezy, Baran, Trotsky...
    But all those people called themselves Marxists. Wittgenstein did not. Nevertheless, of the list of prominent non-Marxist thinkers of the past century, he arguably did come the closest to Marxism, of the bunch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luís Henrique View Post
    Fact is - or facts are:

    - Wittgenstein was not a Marxist;
    - Wittgenstein was not an anarchist;
    - Wittgenstein was not a socialist;
    - Wittgenstein was not a leftist of any kind;
    - Wittgenstein was not a working class fighter;
    - Wittgenstein was not interested in politics at all;
    - there is absolutely no sign that Wittgenstein even understood what capitalism is, or even noticed its existence, much less that he was in any way interested in fighting it;
    - Wittgenstein was not even a gay rights activist.
    I suspect that Luis might be confusing Wittgenstein's earlier political positions with his later ones. There is reason to believe that his earlier politics was conservative. During the First World War, he joined the Austrian Army as an officer with some degree of enthusiasm. Like the rest of his family, he was a strong supporter of the multinational Habsburg Empire. But that empire would be smashed to pieces as a consequence of that war. We know that by the 1930s he had become a strong supporter of the Soviet Union. He even turned to his good friend John Maynard Keynes (who had lots of contacts with the Soviet Emabassy in London), to help him to emigrate to the Soviet Union. Wittgenstein wished to live in the Soviet Union as a simple manual worker. Barring that, he was willing to retrain as a physician, and pursue a career as a general practitioner in the USSR. The Soviets, however, made it clear that they would only permit him to live there providing that he would accept an academic post as a lecturer in logic or philosophy. However, to Wittgenstein, being a lecturer or a professor was a fate worse than death, so he never did emigrate to the Soviet Union.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JimFar View Post
    But all those people called themselves Marxists. Wittgenstein did not. Nevertheless, of the list of prominent non-Marxist thinkers of the past century, he arguably did come the closest to Marxism, of the bunch.
    Being close to Marxism is one thing, being close to class struggle is another. What relation did he have to class struggle? Did he even ever noticed the existence of social classes? On the other hand, what relation did he have to Marxism? Is there any indication that he ever read anything by Marx or any Marxist writer?

    I am sorry, but what I see is a philosopher completely removed from practical politics or political practice, who seems to seldom have even wondered about society, much less about social inequality, and even less about the causes of social inequality.

    I would say that, even if you restrict the universe to non-Marxist thinkers, there would still be lots of prominent thinkers that were closer to class struggle than Wittgenstein. Russell, obviously, Einstein, Keynes, Veblen, Hannah Arendt, Barthes, Baudrillard, Isaiah Berlin, Simone Weil, for instance.

    Luís Henrique

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    Quote Originally Posted by JimFar View Post
    I suspect that Luis might be confusing Wittgenstein's earlier political positions with his later ones. There is reason to believe that his earlier politics was conservative. During the First World War, he joined the Austrian Army as an officer with some degree of enthusiasm. Like the rest of his family, he was a strong supporter of the multinational Habsburg Empire. But that empire would be smashed to pieces as a consequence of that war. We know that by the 1930s he had become a strong supporter of the Soviet Union. He even turned to his good friend John Maynard Keynes (who had lots of contacts with the Soviet Emabassy in London), to help him to emigrate to the Soviet Union. Wittgenstein wished to live in the Soviet Union as a simple manual worker. Barring that, he was willing to retrain as a physician, and pursue a career as a general practitioner in the USSR. The Soviets, however, made it clear that they would only permit him to live there providing that he would accept an academic post as a lecturer in logic or philosophy. However, to Wittgenstein, being a lecturer or a professor was a fate worse than death, so he never did emigrate to the Soviet Union.
    His attraction to the Soviet Union, however, seems to have had nothing to do with politics. Rather it seems that Wittgenstein had a problem with being an intellectual, and yearned for a simple, unsophisticated existence as a manual labourer (or, perhaps, yearned for symbolic punishment for his perceived faults). Thence his attempts at living a 'useful' life - as a soldier, a teacher, a gardner, a bureaucratic employee at a public pharmacy, etc, culminating with his attempt to become a manual worker in the Soviet Union (probably partially motivated by the common anti-communist fantasy about 'reeducation' of intellectuals through hard labour in the SU). In other words, he seemed to be in pursuit of some kind of hell where he could pay for his sins, and the Soviet Union for a brief time seemed a suitable one. But I see no signs that this translated, in any way, into political support for the Soviet Union, not even in the Sidney/Beatrice Webb fashion of support for the Soviet State without any consideration of working class issues.

    Luís Henrique

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    I think the fact that he visited the Soviet Union at a time that there was an intense boycott of the Soviet Union was a sign of political support. One does not necessarily have to use words to show support.

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