RESPONSE TO JOHN W. COOK

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<ul><li><p>COMMENT </p><p>RESPONSE TO JOHN W. COOK </p><p>HENRY LE ROY FINCH </p><p>The reason why John W. Cook cannot f i n d any "hinge p r o p o s i t i o n s " i n On C e r t a i n t y ( i n h i s "Notes" on t h a t book i n t h e F a l l 1980 i s s u e of t h i s j o u r n a l ) i s because he h a s misunderstood W i t t g e n s t e i n and i s looking i n t h e wrong p lace . H e is looking for t h e s e p r o p o s i t i o n s w i t h i n some kind of normal s e t t i n g , where- as W i t t g e n s t e i n sees them as d i s t i n g u i s h i n g b e t w e e n what i s normal and what is completely abnormal. normal i ty , b u t they do show what w e mean by i t . They do t h i s i n t h e s e n s e t h a t no contex t for t h e i r o p p o s i t e s can be conceived ( a s indeed Cook demonst ra tes ) and i n j u s t the same way and for this p u r p o s e no context can be or needs t o be conceived f o r them e i t h e r . </p><p>We w i l l n o t say t h a t t h e s e "hinge p r o p o s i t i o n s " d e f i n e </p><p>This becomes c l e a r e r i f w e put W i t t g e n s t e i n ' s thoughts i n their r i g h t c o n t e x t , or a t least i n t h e context which w a s probably i n h i s mind for many of them. Consider a remark by W i t t g e n s t e i n which Cook does n o t regard as pro- v i d i n g a "genuine example." </p><p>. . . i f someone, i n q u i t e heterogeneous c i rcumstances , c a l l e d out w i t h t h e most convincing mimicry: "Down w i t h him!", one might say of t h e s e words (and t h e i r tone) t h a t they w e r e a p a t t e r n t h a t does indeed have f a m i l i a r a p p l i c a t i o n s , bu t t h a t i n t h i s case i t w a s n o t even clear what l a n g u a g e t h e man i n q u e s t i o n was speaking. (oc 350) </p><p>Where do we f i n d t h i s kind of behavior? Well r e c a l l t h e fo l lowing f a c t : D r . O ' C Drury (a p r a c t i c i n g p s y c h i a t r i s t ) trlls u s of W i t t g e n s t e i n ' s i n t e r e s t i n mental p a t i e n t s and t h a t a t one time he asked t o be allowed t o observe them, which Drury a r ranged . Anyone who h a s v i s i t e d a mental h o s p i t a l or observed mental p a t i e n t s w i l l r ecognize t h i s type of behavior . I t i s e x a c t l y what we s e e t h e r e . (And v i s i t o r s may a l s o have observed t h e r e people who i n t h e middle of a conversa t ion w i l l suddenly s t o p and say Good morn ing o r people who say I h a v e no a n c e s t o r s o r My name is not Jones; my name is Napoleon o r even My head is full of s a w d u s t . ) </p><p>This s e t t i n g of t h e mental h o s p i t a l (and not t h e "reasonable" conversa t ions of p r o f e s s o r s i n f a c u l t y c l u b s ) i s what w e m u s t bear i n mind i f w e want t o </p><p>7 4 </p><p>S u m m e r 1981 Volume 4 , Number 3 </p><p>P h i l o s o p h i c a l I n v e s t i g a t i o n s Copyright 1981 </p></li><li><p>75 </p><p>RESPONSE TO JOHN W. COOK </p><p>understand what Wittgenstein is up to . volves "hinge proposit ions") is this: What d i s t ingu i shes the so-called normal from the so-called completely abnormal (whether the la t ter be due t o in san i ty , drugs, delusions, i l lumina t ions , or what have you)? </p><p>For h i s question ( the one t h a t in- </p><p>The man who has l e f t normality (or perhaps never w a s i n i t ) says th ings l i k e I have no ances tors o r My name i s Napoleon, th ings which w e cannot under- stand, thEngs which w e cannot even imagine a context for, j u s t as Cook cannot imagine contex ts f o r t h e reverse of t hese proposit ions. The poin t is that w e don't need a context f o r t h e reverse of these propos i t ions e i t h e r , no t i n the case where they are playing their r o l e of d i s t inguish ing between the reason- ab le and the unreasonable, o r t h e normal and the completely abnormal. </p><p>Cook's mistake, as i t seems t o m e , is t h a t he is looking f o r Wi t tgens te in ' s "hinge proposit ions" w i t h i n normal language usage (where contex ts , s e t t i n g s , s t o r i e s , e t c . , are indeed needed), whereas Wittgenstein in tends "hinge propo- s i t i ons" t o be t h e d i v i d i n g l i n e between t h e normal and the out-of-touch abnormal (where contexts, s e t t i n g s , s t o r i e s , e t c . , f a i l and are not needed). After a l l , w e do not understand the insane (or t he drugged, deluded, o r i l l u m i - nated); w e cannot make up "s tor ies" t o f i t them, f o r w e do not know "what chaos looks l ike ," as Cook q u i t e r i g h t l y says. And, when faced wi th that, we are not ca l l ed upon t o make up "s tor ies" on the opposite s i d e e i t h e r , a s Cook wants t o keep on doing. </p><p>Of course , we cannot imagine cases w i t h i n normal usage f o r the hinge use </p><p>And t h i s is Wittgenstein 's point. </p><p>of I was born. Cook cannot imagine it . Wittgenstein could not imagine i t . No one can imagine it . t o d i s t ingu i sh normal usage from the completely abnormal. no context because w e can i n f a c t understand the statement I was born a l l by i t s e l f , j u s t as w e cannot understand the statement I was not born (spoken perhaps by a messiah--but how would w e i den t i fy him?) a l l by i t s e l f . The two statements, without any contexts f o r e i t h e r w i l l be s u f f i c i e n t t o d r a w a l i n e between the normal and the understandable abnormal. </p><p>But t h i s doesn' t mean t h a t this propos i t ion cannot func t ion To do t h i s i t needs </p><p>Cook's search f o r a context f o r I was born i n which it would s t i l l func t ion as a "hinge proposition' ' i s misguided because a "hinge proposition' ' e s t ab l i shes the meaning of normality only when it has no c o n t e x t . noncontextual character , it br ings normality down with i t . (ca tegor ica l ly without any s e t t i n g ) I was not born meaning I had no beginning has re jec ted the framework wi th in which most of us l i v e , and w e do not need "s tor ies" t o understand t h i s . </p><p>I f i t topples i n i t s The man who says </p><p>I f among the mental p a t i e n t s we f ind someone who denies t h a t he has an- ces to r s , we w i l l probably j u s t give up t ry ing t o imagine a "story" t h a t w i l l make sense oGt of that. W e w i l l say tha t he simply i s n ' t playing our game, i s n ' t r a t i o n a l , doesn't understand us, e t c . of Cook's s t o r i e s fo r our game when we say (what a l l good r a t i o n a l reasonable people would say a t l e a s t i n 1980): Everybody has ances tors? </p><p>That being so , why do we need one </p><p>Cook's i n a b i l i t y t o imagine a s a t i s f a c t o r y s e t t i n g for questioning s t a t e - </p></li><li><p>76 </p><p>HENRY LE ROY FINCH </p><p>ments l i k e I was never i n Asia M i n o r o r I was never on t h e Moon i n a way that would preserve t h e i r hinge charac te r seems t o demonstrate Wi t tgens te in ' s point. Indeed h e can ' t imagine i t , and even i f w e ourselves w e r e insane, drugged, o r i l luminated, w e probably wouldn't be a b l e t o imagine it then e i the r . The f a u l t does not l i e wi th Wittgenstein f o r having given us propo- . s i t i o n s which don't e x i s t o r don't make sense with these requirements and s t i p u l a t i o n s , bu t wi th those who th ink that t h e r e is no sense t o "hinge proposit ions" j u s t standing by themselves. </p><p>Cook goes on t o say about t hese proposit ions: </p><p>I have t h e f ee l ing that i f and in so fa r as something were t o be spe l led out i n d e t a i l here, i t would br ing the case back wi th in t h e f ami l i a r , i n which case t h e r e w i l l be no r o l e f o r t h e a l leged hinge proposit ions. (p. 30) </p><p>Wittgenstein would c e r t a i n l y agree wi th t h i s . For (1) "hinge proposit ions" do not func t ion "within the fami l ia r" (they de l imi t o r demarcate t h e f ami l i a r ) , and, i f they d id , they would not be "hinge propositions"; and (2) t ry ing t o g ive them a context does indeed br ing them back "within t h e fami l ia r" and does in- deed des t roy t h e i r hinge-like character s i n c e i t is p rec i se ly t h e i r having sense i n the absence of context which is t h e i r hinge-like charac te r . </p><p>What, a f t e r a l l , is the d i f f e rence between w h a t Moore says and what t he insane man says, i f Moore says "I w a s not on the Moon" and the insane man says "I w a s on the Moon"? W e might say w e don't know what the insane man is doing wi th h i s statement, bu t f o r Moore a t least (o r so Wittgenstein appears t o have thought) he w a s i nd ica t ing w h e r e normality o r ordinary c e r t a i n t y lies and doing t h i s without context. ' w a s doing, bu t that is i r r e l e v a n t here.) </p><p>(This i s not of course what Moore himself thought he </p><p>W e have t o remember that i t is the meanings of sane, reasonable , and normal that a r e i n question i n On C e r t a i n t y , and these cannot be given by formulations which a l ready opera te wi th in sane, reasonable, and normal contexts. W e are not l i k e l y t o ge t a "reasonable" formulation fo r the d i f f e rence between the reason- ab le and t h e unreasonable. Hence i f i t doesn't seem q u i t e r i g h t t o say without fu r the r context I was born o r A l l reasonable people believe they w e r e born some- how, w e have t o remember what these statements a r e supposed t o be doing. In t h e i r hinge use they are not p a r t of our normal language games. </p><p>The whole m a t t e r does not hang s o f a r i n the a i r as might be thought. We can imagine seeing someone on t h e s t r e e t who wa6 saying aOwn w i t h him o r I am Napoleon. Seeing t h i s , we might perhaps not spend very much t i m e f i sh ing around f o r "s tor ies" t o explain i t , but f a i r l y quickly conclude t h a t these w e r e cases where the normal had toppled. And perhaps w e might go on t o wonder: What would i t be l i k e t o be l ieve such things? How f a r would w e ge t with such wondering? </p><p>Wittgenstein, who did not accept causa l "explanations" f o r reasons , think- i n g , b e l i e f , understanding, and many o ther th ings , would c e r t a i n l y not have </p></li><li><p>77 </p><p>RESPONSE TO JOHN W. COOK </p><p>accepted the usual criteria for the differences between normal and abnormal. Drury reports him as saying of one mental patient who (Drury says) was "a certified and chronic inmate of the institution," "I find this man much more intelligent than any of his doctor^."^ tween the normal and the abnormal less of a problem or more of a problem? </p><p>Does this make the distinction be- </p><p>PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT HUNTER COLLEGE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK 695 PARK AVENUE NEW YORK, N. Y. 10021 </p><p>NOTES </p><p>'M. O'C Drury, The Lhinger of Words (New York: Humanities Press, 1973) , p. 136. </p><p>'A detailed discussion of On C e r t a i n t y is to be found in my book W i t t g e n s t e i n : The Later Philosophy (Atlantic Highlands, N. J.: Humanities Press, 1977), chap. 13. </p><p>3Drury, Lhinger of Words. </p></li></ul>