Comment on Rigal's Paper


Comment on Rigal's paper "The Duality of Wittgenstein's Phenomenological Actuality"

Comment on Rigal's Paper

Table of contents

    The following remarks will deal primarily with questions of clarity and translation, and only secondarily with questions of content.

    (1) E. Rigal wants to handle the problem "whether something like a Wittgensteinian phenomenology exists or not." She writes that "there are in fact two paradigms of what is called 'phenomenology'", which are irreducible to one another. Let us call them "phenomenology-1" and "phenomenology-2". I take the "there are" in the sense of "there are in Wittgenstein's writings". Otherwise the question we next have to face, according to E. Rigal, would make no sense as a question we have to face: "how are we to state the consistency of Wittgenstein's thought through his own evolution?". Now, if we accept that Wittgenstein held both phenomenologies at different times, say phenomenology-1 at the beginning and phenomenology-2 at the end of his philosophizing (after 1929), then there arises a question of continuity, but not of consistency. Only if phenomenology-1 and phenomenology-2 are irreducible to one another, and contradictory would there be a question of consistency.

    (2) E. Rigal writes: "In after years, Wittgenstein simply gives up any idea of pre-established harmony between language and the world." To give something up at a special time, one must have accepted it before. To give up any idea of ... presupposes that there are, or could be, more than one. Which idea was accepted by Wittgenstein, before it was given up by him? If the idea was that of a philosophical grammar, expressing the essence of things, then it is not clear how E. Rigal could remark that "the project of a philosophical grammar in form of a synopsis" disappeared in Wittgenstein's later writings in accordance with, for instance, PI § 371: "Essence is expressed by grammar." (See also PI § 373) If the idea of a "pre-established harmony between language and the world" consists of the idea that our use of language is based on conventional rules (is a rule-following behavior) and that these rules would not be how they are if the world were not how it is, then it is also not clear, why this idea is given up by the late Wittgenstein. It seems that there is more a continuity, consisting in further development, elaboration, criticism, etc. of former concepts than a break. Furthermore, what does "pre-established" mean? Pre-established with respect to whom, or what? Here some clarification seems to be necessary in my view.

    (3) E. Rigal writes: "All these metaphysical fictions are now replaced (by Wittgenstein – R.R.) by 'interpretation'. For visual experience is always involved in an interpretation." (Note the quotation-marks in the first sentence, and their absence in the second one.) Then she quotes from Remarks on Colours (III, § 171): "Isn't it similar to the fact that we often see a distant object merely as distant and not as smaller? Thus we cannot say 'I notice that he looks smaller, and I conclude from that that he is farther away; but rather I notice that he is farther away, without being able to say how I notice it." In my eyes this Wittgensteinian remark is just one in favour of our not interpreting while making visual experiences. We do not conclude anything, we simply see something as merely distant. We are not able to say how we notice that he is farther away. Interpretation, at least in some cases of the word's use, is characterised by concluding, being able to say how we come to a special experience, and the like. At least at first sight there is here a contradiction in E. Rigal's remarks that should be clarified.

    (4) E. Rigal quotes Remarks on Colours III, § 73: "There is no such thing as the pure colour concept." She continues: "Such concept doesn't exist because there is no colour without the logical game appearance plays with itself." Wittgenstein's text goes as follows: "There is no such thing as the pure colour concept." The difference is clear, I think. With the last sentence it is compatible that there are more than one pure colour concept. Wittgenstein aside, do there exist one or more pure colour concept(s)? Of course there are or is such (a) concept(s), as we see in the example of the sentence "Red is a pure colour, but grey is not." Wittgenstein's quoted remark is not denying that we are right in using the phrase "pure colour" in sentences like this.

    (5) Finally a remark on translation. E. Rigal writes that one aspect of the difference between Wittgenstein's position in 1930 and in 1950 was the later repudiation of theory-construction. She quotes a sentence from Philosophical Remarks (XXI, § 218) and a passage from Remarks on Colours (I, § 22). Whereas in the German original of the latter quotation Wittgenstein really uses the phrase "Theorie der Farben", in the German original of the first quotation he uses the word "Farbenlehre". Both expressions need not have the same meaning, and indeed have not, otherwise the following German sentence would be a contradiction: "Die Farbenlehre Goethes ist keine Theorie, sie ist vielmehr der Harmonielehre vergleichbar." This sentence is not a contradiction. So Wittgenstein's later remarks on his aim of finding the logic, or grammar, of colours (colour-words) need not stand in contradiction to his earlier remarks on his search for a psychological, or better phenomenological, "Farbenlehre".


    Richard Raatzsch. Date: XML TEI markup by WAB (Alois Pichler) 2011-13. Last change 18.12.2013.
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