Saying a table

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Post by CarlManchester » January 29th, 2007, 4:06 pm

Hi all,

This is a follow up to a previous question where I was looking at a section of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (a solo project) and not getting what was going on.

I now get what is going on (following a message from one of de wittkower's colleagues and about two hours working it out - not that this is a criticism of the explanatory powers of said colleague). However, it now seems like there's no obvious way to actually read the section in question out loud.

The section in question, in Gutenberg, goes like this:
(TTTT) (p, q) Tautology (If p then p, and if q then q.) (p z p . q z q) (FTTT) (p, q) In words : Not both p and q. (P(p . q)) (TFTT) (p, q) " : If q then p. (q z p) (TTFT) (p, q) " : If p then q. (p z q) (TTTF) (p, q) " : p or q. (p C q) (FFTT) (p, q) " : Not g. (Pq) (FTFT) (p, q) " : Not p. (Pp) (FTTF) (p, q) " : p or q, but not both. (p . Pq : C : q . Pp) (TFFT) (p, q) " : If p then p, and if q then p. (p + q) (TFTF) (p, q) " : p (TTFF) (p, q) " : q (FFFT)
(p, q) " : Neither p nor q. (Pp . Pq or p | q) (FFTF) (p, q) " : p and not
q. (p . Pq) (FTFF) (p, q) " : q and not p. (q . Pp) (TFFF) (p,q) " : q and
p. (q . p) (FFFF) (p, q) Contradiction (p and not p, and q and not q.) (p .
Pp . q . Pq)
Here it is better formatted from another source:

The way this is set out seems to be non-standard, and can't really be said out loud in words that are likely to make sense to anyone. In particular, something of the form (TTTT)(q,r) doesn't mean anything, even (I think) to an expert in logic or computer science, when read out loud just as it is.

There would seem to be a few solutions to this, none of which are obviously the best one.

1) Make a decision that the table cannot be rendered in words and leave it out altogether. I definitely would rather not take this option. But then again, Wittgenstein himself says that what we can't talk about we have to pass over in silence...

2) Read the contents of the table just as they are in the extract from the Gutenberg text above. This will be of no benefit to any reader that I can imagine, and will take up quite a bit of pointless audio, so it might be considered as even worse than option (1)

3) Describe the table and then go through its contents. This could be called editorialising slightly. It would be slightly more comprehnsible than option (2), but not by much. It would leave the vast majority of readers clueless as to what is going on.

4) This is my preffered option. Give the contents of the first column in words. For the first row this would be "All combinations of truth-values for variables p and q yield a true result". For the second it would be: "All combinations except where p and q are both true yield a true result". And so on down the list. This could be seen as editiorialising slightly, but I think it is the most direct rendering of what is on the page that is possible (if this is true, then it isn't really editorialising at all). I think this solution would give the listener approximately the same possibility of understanding as someone reading the book would have, which is why I think its the best option.

5) Give a slightly fuller explanation, which is recommended by de's colleague. So row one would be "The truth table for a formula of 2 sentence variables, p and q, in which the formula is true for all circumstances" and row two would be "The truth table for a formula of 2 sentence variables, p and q, in which the formula is true in all case except that in which p is T and q is T --i.e., material implication". I'll be willign to do it in this style if that's preferred, but my instinct is that too much it added to what you can get directly from the text.

I'd be grateful for any feedback I can get - sorry if the issue is hard to understand. Particularly if anyone has really strong objections to solution (4), in the absense of which I will probably just press ahead.

Many thanks,
American Psychology 1922-1947. It's the nearest thing to American Psycho that we are allowed to record.

Cloud Mountain
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Post by Cloud Mountain » January 29th, 2007, 5:12 pm

This might be the friendliest solution:

Directly at the end of the summary text, at the top of the LV catalog page, provide links to each of the tables. Host those tables in a single PDF file at a perpetual locale, or, as you've done, as an individual LV wiki page (or all on ONE page, with index atop. As these links are together with the sound file links, there'll be readily and obviously available.

In the reading, mention the Table (or figure) number and title which are individually available.


PS. Am very happy to see you're doing Tagore. I studied philosophy with Amiya Chakravarty. In my long-term planning, I'm preparing to do a few of Tagore's books, and you having done Sadhana, allows me to happily check that one off my list.
[url=]Alan's LV catalog[/url]

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Post by rootpi » January 30th, 2007, 12:45 am

Hi Carl,

I was following the other thread as well, but didn't have enough specific knowledge to help with the pronunciation of the notation. [I have taken lots of math and some formal logic, but sadly too little philosophy] I tried to get in touch with my father, who studied Wittgenstein many years ago, but no luck in time.

As to this question, I do think it's important to keep the table if it all possible and to cover it as faithfully as possible. Alan's idea of a visual aid could be useful, but many people won't have access to something like that while they're listening.

I like your version 4, but maybe slightly expanded. I hope you're still planning to say something like "TTTT for p,q" before going into the verbal description, since I think the formal notation should be kept also. I don't know if it's worth trying to keep some of the notation on the right-hand side as well, e.g. for row three "If q then p, written: q contains p" and for row 5 "q or p, written: q join p". This way listeners who are familiar with the mathematical notation will be able to picture it (and learn Wittgenstein's system) as you go. At least in theory!

Hope this helps a bit, at least as another opinion.

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