Re: authenticity again



On Wed, 21 Jun 1995, A. DOWLER: HTTP://WWW.CUA.EDU/~61DOWLER wrote:

>
> What exactly does it mean to call inauthentic or authentic discourse a
> 'language game'?

It's one AM in the morning and my mind is fuzzy, but maybe I can give my
description of what Wittgenstein means by language game, and then maybe I
can approach your question with that background. If I'm not entirely
coherent, please tell me, and I'll try to do better. I should say,
though, before I start, that your note confused me a bit. You seem to
have an idea about what I said and I'm not clear about what your idea
is. So I'll talk a little about what seems most relevant and maybe you
could see what I'm thinking and use that to explain your thoughts more to me.
Anyway, you said that the concept of a language game had been a stumbling
block for you, so maybe I can give you my understanding of it.

Wittgenstein talked about language games in two related senses. One is a
"primitive language game," which was a kind of thought experiment about
how a very primitive, or very simple language, that Wittgenstein imagined
might work. In the first part of the Philosophical Investigations, for
example, he talks about a language game, as I recall, in which someone
stands and says 'block' and someone goes to a pile of blocks and picks one
up and brings it over. Then the original person says 'rod' and someone
goes to pick a rod up and brings that over, and so on. Wittgenstein uses
examples of primitive language games like this as thought experiments to
talk about the way language works. He notes that there are implicit rules
in the different language games and that words work like tools to make
things happen, like they cause someone to bring the block. This helps to
set the stage, too, for the meaning of the concept of a language game as
he uses it in its second meaning.

Wittgenstein also talks about language games within a well developed
language such as English. The term 'game' here does not imply
playfulness, or playing word games. It means that there are certain rules
as to how language will work in a particular kind of context, much like
there were rules within the primitive language games. People say
certain things and certain rules apply that are specific to the context.
The same words would have different meaning in different contexts.

For example, imagine you go to buy a pair of shoes, and you sit down and
wait for a sales person to show up. When one shows up you imagine saying
to him, "I'd like to see a pair of brown loafers in a size 9B." We would
expect him to understand this as a request for him to show you shoes like
this, or to tell you if he has them. On the other hand, if you were to
say a friend, "I'd like to see my brother get a job," you aren't telling
your friend to show you a job for your brother. The phrase "I'd like to
see" has a little different role in these two language games. Still,
people can confuse language games, at times, and misunderstand what is
being said because they are using their understanding of the term from
another language game. This is often a source of grammatical jokes.

What does this presuppose about inauthenticity and
> authenticity?

This was my application of the Wittgensteinian concept of a language game
to a Heideggerian context. Wittgenstein does not use Heideggerian
language, or talk about concepts with a romantic flavor like
'authenticity.'

Heidegger, on the other hand, introduces the Heideggerian language game,
(not calling it that of course) with talk about discourse vs. prattle,
authentic vs. inauthentic, Dasein vs Das Man. If you use the word
'authentic' here in a Heideggerian list, it will mean something different
than if you use it with an art dealer, because these are different
language games, same term, different langauge game. Every philosopher
introduces his/her own language games, it seems, words that work
differently in discourse about their philosophical concepts than in
other discourses.

What I was noting, and saying was my way of reading Heidegger, was that a
person that a Heideggerian would label as 'authentic' (at a given point
in time, maybe?) would be a person who spoke and thought within certain
language games of meaning, romantic language games that would induce
those who participated in them, or thought with them, to be introspective
and reflect on the meaning of life. On the other hand, there are certain
social language games that we recognize as more superficial, and that,
too, it seems to me would induce a certain mood. What I was saying in my
post is that I, personally, tend to bring that Wittgensteinian kind of
approach to my reading of Heidegger. I take this to be a creative (read
that 'controversial') reading of Heidegger. Still, that's how I read him.

Does this mean anything like authentic or inauthentic
> discourse? Am I wring in thinking that the possiblity of authentic discourse
> is (in BT at least), ambiguous at best?

I'm not sure what you're thinking here. Does my discussion above relate
to it in a useful way to what you were observing, or thinking?

..Lois Shawver


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