and the Conceptual Constitutivity of the Social
(contra Hintikka and Luntley).
Semiotic Subjectivity I

First Lecture by Dr. Gerhard GELBMANN, guest researcher at the WAB,
held at the Department of Philosophy, UiB, 14th May 2002 at noon

My first lecture at the University of Bergen will start with a quotation I took from a well-known paper by Jaakko HINTIKKA on "Language-Games", delivered on occasion of honouring Georg Henrik von WRIGHT in 1976. Even though this paper is in itself worth reading for a variety of reasons, I shall, almost in a WITTGENSTEINian manner, discuss only one passage. I do not want to criticize HINTIKKA at whole, and the same holds for my attacking Michael LUNTLEY, our guest-lecturer from April and my research fellow at the Wittgenstein Archives, a place so homely for both of us.
Generally speaking, I hate giving talks in the so-called academic public, partly because I am not familiar with it, what might change, partly because I don't like this reading or speaking of papers which forces silence upon the auditorium and is far apart from any dialogue. But do not misunderstand me in this point, I far more hate to be interrupted if I am giving a lecture, especially when I am dwelling on some more liberal associative thinking which frees itself from sticking to a well-set and written-down argumentation. I will stick to my notes, since English is a foreign language to me, and you might have a better chance in following me by taking advantage of my handout, which is, by the way, on my web-site, as will be the written version of my talk (yet not by including or anticipating any discussions, just to mention this). If you have questions or remarks, take notes and bring them forth after my lecture.
I have not digested WITTGENSTEIN, and I probably have nothing at all to say about him, but let me comment on others commenting him, and then let's see under what aspect I could get out something of WITTGENSTEIN's various writing, for my project and more so for my current purpose, which is, indeed, a stand I take against a certain idea about Pragmatics and the Social.0

1. Pragmatics not an Empirical Science?

Let me enter the subject of today's noon by questioning rather astonished whether Pragmatics really can be conceived of as not being an Empirical Science. My surprise has a background in my own personal biography, in my doctoral dissertation about a Pragmatic Theory of (Interpersonal) Communication by Gregory BATESON, Don D. JACKSON, Janet H. BEAVIN, Paul WATZLAWICK and others, and my bewilderment was evoked when coming across some lines by HINTIKKA I have taken myself the allowance to present you at full length (see the handout):

    "Since the basic representative relationships between language and reality were left unanalyzed [...] also in logical semantics, Wittgenstein's idea of language-games as establishing those relationships marks an at least potential advance over the customary logical semantics and not only over the picture theory. Unfortunately this relevance of Wittgenstein's later philosophy to contemporary logical and linguistic theorizing has been overlooked virtually completely until recently. One reason has been the unsystematic character of most of Wittgenstein's thought and of the thought of most of his followers. Another reason has been a misunderstanding concerning the kind of use of language exemplified by Wittgenstein's language-games. This misunderstanding is often embodied in definitions of the familiar trichotomy syntax-semantics-pragmatics [...] [1; G.G.]. Syntax is the study of language (and its logic) without reference to its representative function, while this function is studied in semantics. Pragmatics is defined as the study of the use of language. The misunderstanding I am speaking of consists in taking pragmatics, so defined, to be an empirical science, part of the psychology and sociology of the language-users. The fallaciousness of this idea is less surprising than its prevalence. For of course we can study certain aspects of the rules governing the use of a language in abstraction from the idiosyncracies of the people using it. This feat is no more remarkable, I am tempted to say, than studying syntax in isolation from the idiosyncracies of handwriting and typeface. If pragmatics is a part of psychology and sociology of language, syntax ought to be by the same token a part of graphology.
    Yet the idea of pragmatics as an empirical science was for a long time surprisingly prevalent. Applied to Wittgenstein's language-games, it of course had the effect of sweeping them right away into the 'pragmatical wastebasket'. [...] Even though in the last few years serious attempts have been made to develop explicit logical and philosophical pragmatics, little notice has been taken by most of the logicians working in this area of Wittgenstein's ideas." (Jaakko HINTIKKA 1976: 119f.; underlined emphasis by G.G.)

Why was I astonished when I read these lines? Why is it so startling, at least to me, that somebody, who might be far more important in the business of philosophy than I am ... , that HINTIKKA declaredly addresses Pragmatics as a non-empirical science? And what kind or sort of science would it then be?- First of all, let's look at how HINTIKKA himself defines "pragmatics" (his spelling lacks the capital letter): He sees Pragmatics merely as the study of the use of language, he does not see Pragmatics as the study of the triangular relation between signs, meanings, and sign-users, which is the semiotic definition stemming from Ch. W. MORRIS and applied by C. CHERRY (whom HINTIKKA himself quotes!). Many authors took over the definition of Pragmatics as the study of semiotic phenomena in the fully developed semiotic dimension of, firstly, sign-character, secondly, character of reference/denotation/meaning/sense, and, thirdly, of the character of interpretants/sign-users/semiotic subjects.

If Pragmatics studies the use of language, I just ask myself: Who are the users using language? What sort of being or expert must a sign-user be, if not purely seen as a single empirical subject, as a person which can easily fall prey to some empirical social or psychological investigation? Is there anything conceptually specific about the sign-user which could turn the matter of Pragmatics from a pure empirical one into some other sort of problem? Even if language only were a tool, there should be some users or speakers of this language ... not taking into account, for the time being, that language indeed is not only a tool but a social institution, and hence that the use of language is in some degree unavoidably "collectivistic", to use a not very well fitting phrase I learned of LUNTLEY in this context.
When I disagreed with LUNTLEY by saying that "use" (and "practice") itself presuppose already some social sphere, some societal settings, if this term occurs in combination with terms like "symbol", "language", or "communication", then I clearly meant that the use of language cannot conceptually be private, always requires a multitude or collective of users, and that "practice" used as a reference-frame for WITTGENSTEINians "language-games" is tightly knitted to the Social. One cannot have a form of life alone for one own, and if I refer to the practice as the basis of my doing in language, of my language-gaming, then I refer to the practical application of a form of life by making use and by relying on the public or better: social institution of language, by being a social subject.

In my point of view, and I do not intend to exploit this subject further, a solipsist would neither have a language nor the concept of language. The usage of communicational means is a social one per se, and communication, for example in the form of (verbal or written) actual natural language, can only be understood as being enacted by use and practice which has a social character. What I am going to approach in this lecture is a demonstration of the understanding of Pragmatics as a social one, a demonstration of the social character of sign-use and of the practical being of sign-users as conceptual and not only as empirical. But at the same time the practice of our sign-use and our lives as sign-users have to be empirical since sign-use itself could not take place if not realised in some way that depends on experience and on a basis in materia. So for me, contra HINTIKKA, Pragmatics is not only an empirical, but also a conceptual undertaking, and to say that Pragmatics is not an empirical science is just as wrong as to say that Mathematics has nothing to do with Logics.

2. Internal Relations Socio-Semiotically Scrutinized

Let us enter a more WITTGENSTEINian subject which was only at the margin of LUNTLEY's talks, although he mentioned it in his eloquence, and let me attempt to take this term in a semiotic reading which, to my limited knowledge, it until now has never experienced.

If Michel ter HARK in his great study of chiefly WITTGENSTEIN's Philosophy of Psychology, titled "Beyond the Inner and the Outer", deals with the crucial term of "internal relation" we find throughout in WITTGENSTEIN's writings2 in a way I shall soon bring forth, then we have, in my reasoning, to acquit ourselves with a clear rebuff of LUNTLEY's reading, who despite of all referred to this term of "internal relation" but did not give its definitional reconstruction. In his painfully accurate study made a decade before there was a Bergenser Electronic Edition of WITTGENSTEIN's opera omnia, ter HARK extracted the following definition of internal relation:

"(i) It is impossible that both relata do not have this relation to each other. (ii) The relation is not mediated by a third term. (iii) The internal relation exists in a practice, in a language." (ter HARK 1990: 47)

In the light of this definition, I would say that the relation between signs, meaning, and sign-users has to be aware of such internal relations as WITTGENSTEIN sees prevailing and conceptually constituting the relationship between aspect and object, emotion and object, image and object, between inner and outer, between pain and expression, sensations and descriptions.3 Let me first rephrase ter HARK's definition to make my point clear, before I go a bit into detail. For the concept of internal relation it has to hold that: (i) the relata of an internal relation have necessarily this relation to each other; that (ii) there is no indirect, representational, representative or interventional mediation, no medium or means by which this relation is brought about, there is nothing in between or supporting; and that (iii) the embodiment or realisation of this internal relation takes place in practice, in language, i.e.: the internal relation is realised within a social sphere, its realisation is of a social dimension.

This means for me, to make it even more clear, that the relations between certain entities or concepts, as occurring within WITTGENSTEIN's Philosophy of Psychology: are firstly not semantic or representational; are secondly empirical insofar as they are socially performed, embodied, realised, and enacted; are thirdly indispensable and factual insofar as they are constitutive for the "internality" of these concepts. The internal relation between such relata are constituted by their social performance, which can be experienced, and by the indispensable factuality of their existence. If one can knock on something, then one should rely on this (be there now tables or not). The internal relations depict a framing structure for our (social) reality, for being able to refer to anything real towards others or for oneself. Here lies the reason for Pragmatics depicting the full dimension of our social life in sign and signification. As an example let us think about "aspect":

When we remember the theme "aspect" in LUNTLEY's presentations, we have to consider that even the relationship between an image or object and the aspect under which it is seen, is, according to WITTGENSTEIN (and ter HARK), an internal one. We see a change of meaning or interpretation when we see an aspect-change (cf. inf.); and when we see something as something else, we have already an interpretation or a meaning of this new aspect of the image or thing, based on an institutional framework of concepts ready to arrange our accurate ability in meaning.4 This implies, in applying the aforementioned definition, that the relation image-aspect is realised in a social dimension, is unmediated, and impossibly inexistent. But what does it then mean other than this that pragmatical sign-use is constitutive for such internal relations? It are internal relations which let us perceive a sign as a sign! The habits of sign-use, the conventions, the institutional framework, is the manifestation of such internal relations in our socio-semiotic life.

Even the young WITTGENSTEIN has already come upon some thoughts about "internal relations" which I see in close familiarity to the semiotic concept of Pragmatics I employed above. Let me quote from his Notebooks from Oct. 26th 1914:

"So it looks as if the logical identity between sign and things signified were not necessary, but only an internal, logical, relation between the two. (The holding of such a relation incorporates in a certain sense the holding of a kind of fundamental -- internal -- identity.)
The point is only that the logical part of what is signified should be completely determined just by the logical part of the sign and the method of symbolizing: sign and method of symbolizing together must be logically identical with what is signified." (NB p.19; cf. TS 101: 63r f.)

How shall we read this? I would say, that within a language in use, things can work as signs because then the relation between things and sings is socially realised, unmediated, and necessary ("logical", as WITTGENSTEIN calls it, probably in clear contrast to any ontological reading). Can this quotation from the early Ludwig be taken as a definition of Pragmatics by the use of the term "internal relationship"?- I fear, the answer is, that such an internal relation in its realisation depends on signification and codification, on communication via sign-use and on communication of and about sign-use, hence is a matter for Pragmatics, if not even the matter of Pragmatics. If I see the drawing of a hare as a duck, I must already share some sign-practice and language with others in order to be told that there is an other aspect which mutually excludes seeing the drawing under the first aspect, or in order to see this thing signifying something else. We see some things as signs because of a pragmatically installed internal relation (under other cultural and semiotic circumstances a sign-post might not signify or signify in a different way, and what for a German reader could be a handwritten "e" in one of WITTGENSTEIN's manuscript might for an illiterate child be a picture or for a Chinese be a slip of the pen). WITTGENSTEIN once writes:

"Does 'seeing an aspect' mean that one perceives the internal relation? What is there in me which speaks against this?" (LWPP I, §506; cf. MS 137: 127a)

Well, I would say, the expression "perception of the internal relation" is problematic, but that there is an internal relation enacted in seeing something as something definite other, is undeniable, since we have to interpret that what we perceive as that other thing we see, and this interpretation involves meaning and language. If one sees an aspect, one feels that an internal relation takes place, one even might feel homely, because now the usual sign-use or the sign-use of others can be attended to.- Look at the following piece:

"Seeing aspects is built on other [language-]games." (RPP II, §541, i.e. TS 232: 736, MS 137: 34a; brackets signify a difference of ter HARK's translation in HARK 1990: 184 to my translation; G.G.)5

So if I see the rabbit-aspect of a certain drawing, until having only looked at it as a duck, I have engaged in some other game, the game which makes the semiotic manifestation of internal relation more explicit. Now one talks about attributes of a drawing as being aspective, and not only of the drawing representing a duck or rabbit. I deeply believe, so to say, that the possibility of aspectivity is the back-bone of our ability in sign-use and hence of the human culture. That's why we can use things as signs in communication. But this possibility is rooted in the existence of internal relations which always already presuppose a social environment or even culture. Is this now a vicious circle, a mutual conditioning? I think, this circularity, since it is pragmatical, is not vicious, it is not causal in a physical sense, but based on the interaction of the conceptual with the empirical. We might never be able to explain how this complexity developed, but we can, with the means of this complexity, conceptualise and understand how it works.

What do we really perceive, when seeing something as something, when seeing a thing X under the aspect which immediately leads to an interpretation of X? When an aspect change takes place, the internal relation between the percept and that what we see in it, between the image and that as what it is seen, is already performed! The lack of time-delay, one might feel tempted to say, is a sign or better: signal that this situation, although experienced, is conceptually constituted.- Take another striking passage in WITTGENSTEIN's works dwelling on the Philosophy of Psychology, which is obviously one of the central themes of his whole philosophy (and let me remind you that already in the Tractatus logico-philosophicus "aspect-change" was a theme, cf. TLP 5.5423). WITTGENSTEIN explicitly states:

"By noticing the aspect one perceives an internal relation, and yet noticing the aspect is related to forming an image." (LWPP I, §733; MS 138: 5a)

There is a constructive element involved, but it is not totally free in its execution; the forming of an image as related to noticing the aspect change is sustained by already existing conditions, realised in internal relations. The conclusive remark in the light of what I have said, is now this:

"We see, not change of aspect, but change of interpretation." (Z §216; cf. TS 233a: 45)6

The change of interpretation is only possible on pragmatical grounds. We can see things as something different, we can see something as something else, because we can refer to our sign-use and form our sign-use. Thus our socially implemented semiotic subjectivity has an active part to play within the lives of signs; the multiplicity which lies within sign-use makes the perception of aspects and its dynamics possible.

That the expression of pain can be understood immediately, depends on a shared convention, deeply rooted in the institution of our language-use; there is an internal relation between expression and pain. Language-use would not be an institution, if it were not social. Even essence would not be expressible by Grammar (cf. PU I, §116; PU I, §371)! The constitution of a social sphere is the prerequisite for the conceptualisation of language de dicto, but also for the constitution of language itself de reA social sphere is constituted by sign-use in a semiotic practice, in communication between different subjects who are mutually "others" for each other, who are subjected to a semiotic sphere and who are subjects of a semiotic sphere which I like to picture (sticking to LUNTLEY's final metaphor) as a net whose knots are the concepts and signs in our social and linguistic practice, a net which is and can be used by many persons, which is made for being used by many, in order to get the meanings right. What we cannot sieve with this conceptual net which is constituted for social use by social use, just cannot be said or expressed. By forming, distorting, changing this net we sometimes even constitute the social facts of our common conceptualising. There are facts brought about within the social sphere of our conceptualising, and these facts or not less brute than the fact that we can knock on tables.

3. The Constitutive Function of Pragmatics

What is wrong with a sentence like the following, which I have copied from the passage I have quoted from HINTIKKA?

"If pragmatics is a part of psychology and sociology of language, syntax ought to be by the same token a part of graphology." (loc. cit.)

HINTIKKA sees Pragmatics as the study of the (formal, abstract features of the) use of language, features which abstract from empirical, psychological, social attributes and properties. Since Syntax (according to HINTIKKA) is in a certain way the study of the use of graphic tokens as objects studied by graphology, it seems as if Syntax (or, for heaven's sake, Syntactics) were a part of graphology, what is clearly wrong, because syntax studies not sign-tokens but sign-types and the rules of formative and transformative character which concern the construction of well-formed formulas or sentences, of correct conclusions and derivations, of proofs and arguments.

So HINTIKKA compares Pragmatics with Syntactics, and infers from a certain syntactical fact, namely that Syntactics is not an empirical science like graphology (granted that graphology is one), the statement about Pragmatics, viz. that Pragmatics is not an empirical science. Why then, if this parallel really holds, differ at all between Pragmatics and Syntactics? Why not go back to the simple system of two semiotic notions, viz. Syntactics and Semantics, and nothing else? I secretly think that this is HINTIKKA's consequence, if he only would go that far!-7 Well, let me list up some points against HINTIKKA:

  1. CHERRY 1966 (whom HINTIKKA quotes) and the classic MORRIS 1938 do not speak of "syntax" in the rather restricted sense of Formal Logics, but use the semiotic term "Syntactics" covering the semiotic dimension which deals with the interrelations of signs. This is at least a terminological point.

  3. Even if Pragmatics (wrongly and in contrast to CHERRY's approach) is defined as "the study of the use of language", why must it then not be taken as a part of (linguistic) psychology and (linguistic) sociology? If such a study is sufficiently abstract and formal, it could at least be a part of any General Psychology or Sociology in its linguistic branch. In other words, if (linguistic) psychology and (linguistic) sociology study the use of language in an abstract and formal approach which is not only an empirical sampling of data, then they have integrated parts of Semiotics, and Pragmatics has become an essential conceptual part of these sciences (think of the Group of Palo Alto around BATESON, WATZLAWICK et al., op. cit.).

  5. Moreover I have to stress that HINTIKKA seems to think of (linguistic) psychology and (linguistic) sociology in terms of them being (nothing but) empirical sciences. In his understanding of (linguistic) pragmatics these sciences represent no satisfactory frame for the study of the use of language. But are (linguistic) psychology and (linguistic) sociology (necessarily) restricted to empirical scienticity? And would HINTIKKA be satisfied if in his understanding pragmatics were an only theme for linguistics or for logics? This is hardly imaginable, unless one reduces scientific enterprise to formal studies alone.

  7. In my point of view, Pragmatics is not a part of any single science (except Semiotics, in so far this is a science and not much more a interdisciplinary undertaking) but an approach to studying the effects and manipulations of signs. HINTIKKA's understanding of Pragmatics wants to be a "pure conceptual one", which is taken in contrast to an "empirical conception" (and the pragmatical wastebasket, as mentioned by HINTIKKA, would then only contain the "empirical dirt", wouldn't it). I fear, this is a bit shallow and does not really get the "grammatical point" about Pragmatics. When I say that Pragmatics is the study of the effects and manipulation of signs, it a fortiori and obviously is a socio-semiotic study, since sign-users are manipulated by the use of signs, as society and communication depend on sign-use. Furthermore the observation and perception of other persons is always already of a semiotic character,8 so being in the presence of others involves observable behaviour as communication (see the third lecture).

  9. I even go further, and as a Semiotician I feel free to say that the semiotic dimensions, signified by MORRIS and CHERRY, but also CARNAP and others, as Syntactics, Semantics, and Pragmatics are aspects of the study of the semiotic universe and of the various ways of dealing with signs. Why should a psychological or sociological, why should an empirical or logical approach be denied access to this aspectation of one's own sign-use and of one's own approach to Semiotics? Seeing things under a semiotic aspect is not necessarily a non-empirical or a non-conceptual undertaking! (I am now afraid to notice that HINTIKKA has no notion of Semiotics, his notion of "pragmatics" betrays this short-coming.)

  11. I wonder if this artificial contrast between "the empirical" and "the conceptual" is really something, firstly, Ludwig WITTGENSTEIN would have approved of, and secondly if it is the right frame in dealing with Pragmatics, since the pragmatical dimension is in my point of view the link between the empirical aspect in sciences like psychology and sociology and the conceptual aspect in such sciences. There is nothing bad in seeing certain philosophical traits in conceptual and theoretical branches of these sciences. As it is not true that Physics is only an empirical science, it is as well not true that Psychology or Sociology are merely empirical. If Pragmatics shall be conceptual and formal, it is so as a basis for the Social by asking for semiotic experience's intelligibility to be enacted and conceptualised, just as the concept of speech-act asks for social institutions.

The question has not to be by what token Pragmatics could be taken to be an empirical or a conceptual science, but what type of Pragmatics is involved in empirical and in conceptual aspects of the various sciences. Asking whether Pragmatics is not better understood as a non-empirical, i.e. a conceptual science leads to false assumptions about the objects of psychology and sociology, viz. that language, the human soul, and the social are exclusively empirical matters. It is a philosophical or even grammatical point to see that this is not the case. And in this sense I believe that I am applying something like "a method of WITTGENSTEINian philosophy", and I venture to state this even though WITTGENSTEIN might probably have disapproved of it as well as of the term "Pragmatics" itself.

For me Pragmatics has a constitutive function for the Social, just because of its empirical effects and realisation, and the conceptualisation of the Social in terms of Pragmatics can be very elucidating about our human reality. The concept "social" requires a concept of Pragmatics which is realised empirically and practically, via intersubjectivity, conventions, co-operation, communication. A conceptual study of Pragmatics has to take account of its possible and actual embodiment. I would study the content of a waste-basket, if I suspect some valuables or commodities there!

4. Is the Social Only Empirical?

In his four lectures on "Wittgenstein: the conditions for the possibility of judgement", Michael LUNTLEY gave us the impression that for him the Social is exclusively an empirical question, a case for empirical studies. This seems to be a common and rather old position, for in Jaakko HINTIKKA we find only an example for such a position, others have already gone in the same direction much earlier. Perhaps this sort of subtle divisions are a temptation for philosophical professional thinking, and I might myself be not free from it. Curiously enough, both, HINTIKKA and LUNTLEY, seem to expect from WITTGENSTEIN a solution for certain problems, regarding the concept of "judgement" and the concept of "pragmatics". I see this as a very instrumentalist reading of WITTGENSTEIN, a reading which is based on a deep mistake which I could, in WITTGENSTEINian terms, almost call a grammatical confusion about the terms "social" and "empirical".

If we take up again some themes put forth by LUNTLEY we arrive at the WITTGENSTEINian notions like "aspect" and "attitude". One of my critical remarks in the discussion of his lectures was that attitudes are performatives, viz. under the condition that they are displayed in the observing presence of others.9 Performatives refer to a social framing by virtue of their realisation; this lies in their concept. And performatives bring about a "situation" or a "state of affairs" through their enactment or application. Just think about an illustrative example, a man in affair with a woman presenting her withered flowers  -  this might change the state of their affair, mightn't it?

It is important to see that the situation or state of affairs affected by performative actions is essentially of a social character, involving interacting persons as semiotic subjects (and not only "things that can say 'I'", as LUNTLEY seems to conceptualise persons). A performative speech-act makes use of conventions and of conditions of its application which are socially embodied by the institution of a so-called "ordinary language", which is intersubjectively shared with others, at least as a standard for actual language use. If I say "I herewith declare my lecture as finished" or "thanks for your attention" as an effective declaration of my lecture being finished, and if I do so appropriately at the end of my lecture in front of an auditorium, my lecture is finished (please, remain seated). If I take the attitude towards this very situation here as if this matter were closed, I would change the situation and bring the conversation to an abrupt end, probably by simply refusing to enter or to prolong a dialogue. My attitude would be performed together with accompanying gestures and body-behaviour which you, as an auditorium sharing a more or less European culture with me, could easily read as my emotional status and opinion of having brought this to an end.- Well, I do not take this position, and my attitude seemingly is a different one, that is: I will go on a bit.

I really think there are performatives which are not linguistically expressed, although their execution or application has communicational effects via non-verbal signals and other forms of behaviour which are institutionally encoded. If I take a certain attitude to a certain subject, those observing me might infer my opinions and could guess some of my further behaviour before I express anything explicitly just from the appearance of my personality in my behaviour. Attitudes as performatives form a certain gestalt of the current social context and give raise to certain anticipations, constitute a social context which effects the subject's point of view.

For LUNTLEY the Social was scaffolding whereas the Conceptual was constitutive, and, as I dare suppose, the Constitutive was for him conceptual. But the network of concepts which can be used by a speaker can also be used by others, and the possibility that others use the concepts' network conforms to the certainty and reliability we have in expressing meaning and ourselves by using language or other means of communication. In this sense, Pragmatics as the study of the use of signs by sing-users, used in order to express meanings (and emotions), is socially constitutive for the Conceptual. Concepts are neither private nor scaffolding, and the empirical is not only a fact but necessary, even a necessary fact.

Here I would love to interrupt my train of thoughts with a remark of the young WITTGENSTEIN from April 25th 1914:

"Since language stands in internal relations to the world, it and these relations determine the logical possibility of facts." (NB p.42; TS 102: 75r)

Again, if we here take the term "internal relation" as unmediated, persisting in a social dimension, and necessary, then the relation between world and language is already in the pre-tractarian WITTGENSTEIN one which necessitates the social. Facts depend on these internal relations.

For sign-use and for socio-semiotic practice a formal access to empiricity is constitutive; if signs were only mental and private, there would be no communication between empirical subjects like human beings who factually have senses and perception, and who are turned into semiotic subjects for each other just because of the communicational use of signs. That we can share a concept of "the Empirical" is already the result of us con-forming our forms of life. Pragmatics is, even though it has empirical effects, constitutive for conceptions like "language", "conceptual", "science", "psychology", etc., because it regulates the Grammar of our language-games, the possible participation in which embodies our agreement in form of life.

The study of the empirical features of Pragmatics can be performed after a certain form of abstraction has already been processed, viz. the abstraction from the very pragmatic features of this certain study and its social implementation, and also the abstraction from any empirical embodiment of sign-use. What HINTIKKA is up to, is a formal idealisation of Pragmatics; this is justified, but could then not serve any approach of explaining the phenomenality of Pragmatics.

An observer normally does not observe himself as being observable, but others as being observable. A sociologist questioning "the plain man in the street" does not question himself in his questioning the plain man in the street, since such a sociologist is not "plain" any more (obviously it is a definitional requirement for being such a plain man in the street not to question oneself in a sociologist's manner; well, philosophers remain largely unaffected by that). HINTIKKA's use of the rather complex sign "Pragmatics" does obviously not take account of his own pragmatics in doing so, and his preoccupation with an understanding of Pragmatics as essentially non-empirical drives him into overlooking the constitutive function of Pragmatics for the Social. It is clear that HINTIKKA does not want to understand the Social, neither as a conceptual notion nor as empirically constituted by Pragmatics and Communication. He sees Pragmatics only as linguistic Pragmatics; and some formal traits of it, which fit into his syntactic-semantic approach of a pure statement-view, are of philosophical interest to him. This is legitimate, but his attack on psychology and sociology is not, since they can also contribute to a conceptual understanding of formal (linguistic) Pragmatics.

LUNTLEY (and perhaps also HINTIKKA) overlooked the Pragmatics of making differences. A difference, that makes a difference, is informative (to rephrase a well-known saying by Gregory BATESON, cf. e.g. BATESON 1990: 272). If Pragmatics is seen as strictly non-empirical, then I ask myself what else the effect and use of performatives in praxi would be; obviously Pragmatics has to do with the form of social experience via communication, and this is its conceptual and constitutive task. The inter-linking of the Empirical and the Conceptual is essentially constitutive for the Social, and this inter-linking is always of a semiotic (pragmatic) character, since sign-tokens can be taken as realisations of sign-types9 and thus contribute to an institutional communicational level for common reference.

Our empirical social life is much deeper and much more infiltrated by "the Conceptual" as any of us is usually conscious of (normally, as plain men in the street, we need not be aware of this); the conception of sign-use relies on it being able to become empirical. Even the notion of privacy is a product of the socially implemented Grammar of the Conceptual, in other words: the sign "private" has a certain pragmatics which is socially shared.10A non-empirical understanding of Pragmatics and an only-empirical understanding of the Social are a bit too far apart from each other. That's why I tend to read WITTGENSTEIN's term "Grammar" from a point of view which takes apart the constitution of an unbridgeable difference between "the conceptual" and "the empirical" by being itself social out of conceptually constitutive pragmatic reasons.11

5. Conclusion

I do not like HINTIKKA's attitude in approaching the theme "Pragmatics" (in the context of his essay on "Language-Games"), since this attitude construes an understanding of empiricity which fails to see empiricity's constitution in socio-semiotic (communicational and not only linguistic) Pragmatics. What HINTIKKA probably wants to study are the formal-semantic characteristics of General Pragmatics, a kind of model-theoretical Pragmatics, but not in the sense of HERTZ' or STACHOWIAK's understanding of "model" (see my second lecture), and in my point of view also not in the sense of the earlier WITTGENSTEIN who talks about "pictures" under the influence of HERTZ (cf. TLP 4.04). The task to figure out how Pragmatics is fundamental for the Social and how the possibility of (communicable) experience is based upon this conception of Pragmatics is not even addressed by HINTIKKA, but I sense its solution in WITTGENSTEIN's term of Grammar.12

LUNTLEY, probably without intending to do so, arrived at a change of aspects (as I have predicted during the discussions in his lectures) which showed him (and us) that what once was thought of as scaffolding, namely the Social, turns suddenly out to be constitutive. It does so via its semiotic function, its Pragmatics. The Social and the Conceptual seem to have changed their role, if one realises that the network of concepts, and performatives as well, necessarily involve other persons as their users subjected to them in this use. There would be no communication of meaning and no attitude towards something, displayed on or towards others, if the medium of the expression and manifestation of any such semiotic act were not social. The fact that the Social is fundamental is in itself not empirical, although the fact that there are others and that there is something like "the Social" can be and is experienced. The possibility of this experience involves the empirical subject as an semiotic subject, whose subjectivity is constituted by its sign-use within a context of others' sign-use. Sign-use without essentially involving others participating in this semiotic practice would be an empty concept, it would not constitute anything (just as solipsism constitutes nothing).

I do not know what WITTGENSTEIN would have said if confronted with such strong opinions about "Pragmatics" and "the Social". But he would probably have brought (empirical or possibly empirical, fancied) examples which make one doubt the tenability of such positions. Unfortunately I lack this talent of teaching differences, yet I tried to perform some.

Thank you for your attention.


0 I owe many thanks to Alois PICHLER for having provided me with sources and bibliographical material, books and tips in many directions, from his private as well as from the WAB's resources. (back)-

1 HINTIKKA quotes i.a. Colin CHERRY 1966; CHERRY wrote a still valuable compendium about "Human Communication". It takes a much wider and semiotic account of Communication and Pragmatics than HINTIKKA seems to have realised. The famous definition of Pragmatics as the Study of Use of Language is a myth and obviously stems from HINTIKKA's lack of acquaintance with the relevant sources. (back)-

2 The theme of "interne Beziehung" and "interne Relation" can be traced through WITTGENSTEIN's whole life. (back)-

3 It may be hardly noticeable, but this is the gist of my lecture. (back)-

4  Cf. the exclamation: "But how is it possible to see an object according to an interpretation?" in PU II xi, i.e. MS 135: 176 and MS 144: 50. (back)-

5  The German original renders: "Das Sehen der Aspekte ist auf anderen Spielen aufgebaut." (BPP II, §541, identical with the entry in TS 232: 736, most likely from January 1948, and on 10th of March 1948 in MS 137: 34a), which is translated into English as "Seeing aspects is built up on the basis of other games" (BPP II, §541). (back)-

6 In German: "Nicht den Aspektwechsel sieht man, sondern den Deutungswechsel." (back)-

7 There is an author in the field of Semiotics who really wants to base Pragmatics on Semantics, its is Umberto ECO 1976. Both, HINTIKKA and ECO, lack consequence in these attempts or just play with words without noticing it. (back)-

8 Cf. i.a. GELBMANN 2002b (back)-

9 Cf. "Meine Einstellung zu ihm ist eine Einstellung zur Seele. Ich habe nicht die Meinung, daß er eine Seele hat." PU II iv, i.e. MS 137: 110b, MS 144: 10; cf. also "'If exception and rule change place then it just is not the same thing any more!'-- But what does that mean? Maybe that our attitude toward the game will then change abruptly." RPP II, §146, i.e. MS 136: 27a, TS 232: 638. (back)-

10 Cf. also GELBMANN 2002a. (back)-

11 Private property is only possible if the public allows for it. (back)-

12 I think that in this sense a conception of Pragmatics as Grammar goes beyond the KANTian gap between the empirical and the transcendental, intuition and mind. And I do not want to hide a certain sympathy for Karl-Otto APEL's programm of a transcendental-philosophical founation of Philosophy of Language (cf. APEL 1993). (back)-


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last update by G.G. on May 14th 2002 at 11:45

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