Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wittgenstien and Perception

Ludwig Wittgenstein once asked, “Why do people say that it was natural to think that the sun went round the earth rather than that the earth turned on its axis?” We all reply in unison, “I suppose, because it looked as if the sun went round the earth.” “Well", he asked, "what would it have looked like if it had looked as if the earth turned on its axis?”

Richard Dawkins continues, "Science has taught us, against all intuition, that apparently solid things like crystals and rocks are almost entirely composed of empty space."

Look at all that space!

(A short, shallow take on Wittgenstein after the jump.)

Wittgenstein was a philosopher that concerned himself mostly with language and its relationship to epistemology. He famously believed that language was the root of all philosophical problems. Here, he concerned himself with seeing/looking.

What does it mean to see? There is an inextricable fuzziness within the verb 'to see'. There are two seemingly distinct denotations of the word; to see as in to receive stimuli through one's eye, and to see as in to perceive. The fuzziness comes to be due to the criteria for the concept of seeing being so diverse. In the above quote, for example, it is fuzzy; in asking "what would it have looked like?" what is he really asking?

See how this language could cause a problem?

More on the man.

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