It turned out to be sooner rather than later: A contribution to the ongoing discussion about §122 of Philosophical Investigations.
To begin with, a copy of a copy: Cavell, Existentialism and Analytical Philosophy, duplicating a paragraph from "Aesthetics and Modern Philosophy" (I cite the former because I don't have a copy of the latter handy):
In the Tractatus Wittgenstein says, "The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of the problem," and in the Investigations he says: "... the clarity we are aiming at is indeeed complete clarity. But this simply means that the philosophical problems should completely disappear." Yet he calls these problems solved (Investigations), and he says that when "there are... no questions left... this itself is the answer" (Tractatus). Putting these remarks together, the implication is that the problems of life and the problems of philosophy have the same form -- Wittgenstein would say they have the same "grammar": they are solved only when they disappear; answers are arrived at only when there are no longer questions. In the Investigations, this turns out to be more of an answer than, in this simple form, it seems to be; for here such an answer more explicitly dictates and displays the ways philosophy is to proceed in investigating problems, ways leading to what he calls "perspicuous representation," which means, roughly, that instead of accumulating new facts, or capturing the essence of the world in definitions, or perfecting and completing our language, we need to arrange the facts we already know or can come to realize merely by calling to mind something we know. Philosophical conflict, say as expressed in skepticism, does not arise from one party knowing facts the other party does not know. Wittgenstein also says that perspicuous representations are "the way we look at things," and he then asks "Is this a 'Weltanschauung'?" The answer to that question is, I take it, not No. Not, perhaps, Yes, because it is not a special, or competing, way of looking at things. But not No, because its mark of success is that the world seem --- be -- different.I think Cavell notices something which I took to be clear, but which Baker & Hacker both appears to disagree with Cavell & me on: what a "perspicuous presentation" (ubersichtlichen Darstellung) is. Wittgenstein says that this concept is of "fundamental importance" to us, that it "earmarks" (bezeichnet, names, labels) the form of account we give, the way we look at things. It "produces just that sort of understanding which consists in 'seeing connexions'"; this is said to be the reason "finding and inventing intermediate cases" is important.
The way I take all of this is -- the goal of Wittgenstein's approach to a philosophical problem is to attain a "perspicuous presentation" of the issues which have given rise to the problem -- to get a view of things which does not leave us wanting to ask questions which don't have answers (such as "how do I know that what I call "pain" is like what you call "pain"?"). Being "perspicuous" is just this quality of not being confusing to us (here, now, on this occasion) -- not leading us to ask the bad sort of questions, or make bad, "metaphysical" inferences from our everyday knowledge. And what is "presented" is nothing that was "hidden" in our everyday talk, nor something that we require a systematic treatment of our language-use to notice -- though a systematic treatment might be useful, in some cases! --; what is presented is just our everyday practices, which we were already familiar with. "Philosophy leaves everything as it is."
"A main source of our failure to understand is that we do not command a clear view of the use of our words. Our grammar is lacking in this sort of perspecuity." We fail to understand, to have the right sort of understanding, because we might not immediately notice that certain questions or assertions are nonsense; we can be wrong when we feel that we have a clear view of the words involved. We might need leading to see a piece of "disguised nonsense" for the patent nonsense it is.
Why is finding/inventing "intermediate cases" important? Not, I would argue, because this is somehow a "fundamentally important" "form of account" that Wittgenstein is concerned with presenting. The presentation of "intermediate cases" is important because the sort of understanding Wittgenstein aims at (and aims at cultivating) is one which consists in "seeing connexions" -- in seeing how things hang together. And presenting a confused consciousness with "intermediate cases", with cases where the connexions are more readily drawn, is a means to cultivate this sort of understanding. When one has this sort of view (which need not be a "bird's eye" or "God's eye" view), one doesn't ask questions about "how things hang together" which have no answer (such as "How does thought hook onto the world?"). Nor does one fall in for metaphysical rubbish which purports to explain how things hang together. (Seeing connexions means not imagining what connexions would have to be like.)
Based on n.n.'s post, Baker and Hacker both seem to take "perspicuous representations" as naming means to Wittgenstein's end, rather than Wittgenstein's end itself. (Though Baker seems to come close to my reading when he claims that "a 'perspicuous representation' is not a representation that is perspicuous, but a representation that renders perspicuous what it represents" -- though he seems to then go on to say that "all of the reminders of 'landmarks', the suggestions of 'patterns, analogies, pictures, etc. which enable us to find our way about in the motley of "our language"' will qualify as 'perspicuous representations." Whereas I don't want to call these anything more than -- helpful. They aren't of "fundamental importance" to Wittgenstein's "method", because there is no method in philosophy, and so nothing could be fundamentally important for that method. And neither can there be anything "fundamentally important" to the end Wittgensteinian philosophizing aims at, other than the end itself.)
And now, since n.n. was skeptical that his geography quotations allowed for a non-Hackensteinian reading, I shall attempt to give a non-Hackensteinian reading of the lot:
My aim is to teach you the geography of a labyrinth, so that you know your way about it perfectly. (MS 162b, 6v).
Knowing one's way about a labyrinth "perfectly" would just mean that one didn't go towards a dead-end at any point, or towards a wrong exit. There's no reason to assume that this imagery (which is basically that of the fly and the fly-bottle) is intended to hint at something like "conceptual topography." The geography/knowing-your-way-about talk could just be swapped out with talk of confusion & its avoidance.
The philosopher wants to master the geography of concepts. (MS 137, 63a)
I read this line two ways; I'm not sure quite what the context is, so I'm unable to get a firmer grip on it than that:"The philosopher" wants to do a lot of impossible things; "mastering the geography of concepts" might be no better a goal than "trying the grasp the incomparable essence of language" (PI 97). Alternately, this line may just be saying the same as the previous one: The philosopher wants to not get lost when he wanders in thought. He doesn't want to fall into paralogisms, antinomies, etc.
I am trying to conduct you on tours in a certain country. I will try to show you that the philosophical difficulties which arise in mathematics as elsewhere arise because we find ourselves in a strange town and do not know our way. So we must learn the topography by going from one place in the town to another, and from there to another, and so on. And one must do this so often that one knows one's way, either immediately or pretty soon after looking around a bit, wherever one may be set down.
This is an extremely good simile. In order to be a good guide, one should show people the main streets first.... The difficulty in philosophy is to find one's way about. (LFM, 44)
Suppose one had no guide when one was dropped into a strange city. One would wander around, not knowing where one was headed. And then after one had wandered around for long enough, one would instead be wandering around while knowing where one was headed (if one had been paying the least attention to one's surroundings). One might do this without ever drawing a map -- one simply "gets a feel" for the place.
If one has a guide, then the most helpful thing the guide can do is point out places where it is easy to get turned around, where the topography is unintuitive, and places which are hubs, which lead to many places (the "main streets"). This too might be done without ever drawing a map (even mental one).
In this "extremely good" simile, the main streets are the uses of the confusing bits of language which are not confusing to the one being guided; the guide aims to lead the wanderer to stop heading down blind alleys by pointing out the main streets, and leading the wanderer to learn how the alleys and streets line up -- the philosophical therapist aims to lead the confused thinker to stop trying to "dig below bedrock" by pointing out how things stand on the ground, and how the bedrock lies relative to the surface; how we use certain terms, and how their apparently metaphysical use stands to their everyday use.
One difficulty with philosophy is that we lack a synoptic view. We encounter the kind of difficulty we should have with the geography of a country for which we had no map, or else a map of isolated bits. The country we are talking about is language and the geography its grammar. We can walk about the country quite well, but when forced to make a map, we go wrong. (AWL, 43)
When forced to make a map!
I admit, I'm not sure what to make of this passage. But I will note that it's different than the earlier ones -- here the problem is not one of being lost or not (for "we can walk about the country quite well"), but of the difficulty of making a map. So it appears that these various geography-images don't share a common backing; they're just all places where Wittgenstein uses similar sorts of metaphors to convey some point or other.
I am inclined to connect this passage with the introduction to the Investigations: the "difficulty in philosophy" here is just that which prevented Wittgenstein from writing a "normal" book, with chapter-headings etc. But as he notes in that introduction, this isn't an accidental difficulty; the only way to go about this process is to "travel criss-cross in every direction." (And the only way to draw a map is through wandering around as one notes landmarks.)
Teaching philosophy involves the same immense difficulty as instruction in geography would have if a pupil brought with him a mass of false and falsely simplified ideas about the courses and connections of rivers and mountains. (BT, §90)
This geography-quote could be replaced with "...as instruction in poker... about the values of hands and how to spot a bluff." Any resemblance to "conceptual geography" is entirely superficial.
In order to know your way about an environment, you do not merely need to be acquainted with the right path from one district to another; you need also to know where you'd get to if you took this wrong turning. This shews how similar our considerations are to travelling in a landscape with a view to constructing a map. And it is not impossible that such a map will sometime get constructed for the regions that we are moving in. (RPP, §303)
The only sense in which I would need to know where I'd get to if I took a wrong turn, if what's at issue is whether or not I know my way about, is that I need to know how (if I took a wrong turn) I might get back on the route I wanted to be on. (For if I had to know where all the wrong turns would lead before I could be said to know my way around an environment, then the only way I could know my way around an environment would be to know my way around any environment that environment could lead to, since I could take wrong turn upon wrong turn, which is absurd.) So the sort of map in question here, I want to say, is the sort of map you're given as directions to a party (as opposed to the sort sold at gas stations). (I suspected I might be missing something from lack of context here, but a glance at the surrounding sections in the RPP seem to show that there is no context for this remark -- it's just there, between some remarks about pain and "inner processes".)
After several unsuccessful attempts to weld my results together into such a whole, I realized that I should never succeed. The best that I could write would never be more than philosophical remarks; my thoughts were soon crippled if I tried to force them on in any single direction against their natural inclination.—And this was, of course, connected with the very nature of the investigation. For this compels us to travel over a wide field of thought criss-cross in every direction.—The philosophical remarks in this book are, as it were, a number of sketches of landscapes which were made in the course of these long and involved journeyings.
The same or almost the same points were always being approached afresh from different directions, and new sketches made. Very many of these were badly drawn or uncharacteristic, marked by all the defects of a weak draughtsman. And when they were rejected a number of tolerable ones were left, which now had to be arranged and sometimes cut down, so that if you looked at them you could get a picture of the landscape. (PI, Preface)
Here the metaphor is just that of writing a book as being like painting a landscape. Wittgenstein is apologizing for the painting not being very good, just as he'd hoped that someone might do a better job at writing the Tractatus, in that book's introduction. Landscape painting, not cartography, is what is being gestured at here.
This may be compared to the way a chartered accountant precisely investigates and clarifies the conduct of a business undertaking. The aim is a synoptic comparative account of all the applications, illustrations, conceptions of the calculus. The complete survey of everything that may produce unclarity. And this survey must extend over a wide domain, for the roots of our ideas reach a long way. (Z, §273)
Here I think context is helpful:
273: Hardy: "That 'the finite cannot understand the infinite' should surely be a theological and not a mathematical war-cry." True, the expression is inept. But what people are using it to try and say is: "We mustn't have any juggling! How comes this leap from the finite to the infinite?" Nor is the expression all that nonsensical--only the 'finite' that can't conceive the infinite is not 'man' or 'our understanding', but the calculus. And HOW this conceives the infinite is well worth an investigation. This may be compared to the way a chartered accountant precisely investigates and clarifies the conduct of a business undertaking. The aim is a synoptic comparative account of all the applications, illustrations, conceptions of the calculus. The complete survey of everything that may produce unclarity. And this survey must extend over a wide domain, for the roots of our ideas reach a long way.--"The finite cannot understand the infinite" means here: It cannot work in the way you, with characteristic superficiality, are presenting it.I will admit that Wittgenstein does seem to have something like Hackenstein's approach in mind, here. Hackenstein's approach strikes me as a pretty decent way to handle confusions that arise from the misuse of a calculus. So, I am inclined to just concede this one: a Hackensteinian approach will get it about right. It's a fine tool for working with calculi.
Thought can as it were fly, it doesn't have to walk. You do not understand your own transactions, that is to say you do not have a synoptic view of them, and you as it were project your lack of understanding into the idea of a medium in which the most astounding things are possible.
A philosophical question is similar to one about the constitution of a particular society.
—And it's as if a group of people came together without clearly written rules, but with a need for them; indeed also with an instinct that caused them to observe certain rules at their meetings; but this is made difficult by the fact that nothing has been clearly articulated about this, and no arrangement has been made which brings the rules out clearly. Thus they in fact view one of their own as president, but he doesn't sit at the head of the table and has no distinguishing marks, and that makes negotiations difficult. That is why we come along and create a clear order: we seat the president at a clearly identifiable spot, seat his secretary next to him at a little table of his own, and seat the other full members in two rows on both sides of the table, etc., etc. (BT, §89)
"They in fact view one of their own as president, but he... has no distinguishing marks"strikes me as incoherent. If the president is identifiable as the guy that he is, then anything that allowed that guy to be distinguished would be a "distinguishing mark." And if the president isn't identifiable as the guy that he is, then I don't see how they could view him as their president. This paragraph does not strike me as being Wittgenstein at his best: The people are supposed to have an instinct to follow rules which they are unable to follow? How is that supposed to work? If I do a piss-poor job at something, it would be awfully strange to say I'm doing it instinctively -- instincts are supposed to be capabilities. (I can duck a ball instinctively. I can't try (and generally fail) to duck a ball instinctively. If I usually get hit by a ball when it's thrown at me, but flinch while it's approaching me, then all I'm doing "instinctively" is flinching, not repeatedly trying (and failing) to duck.)
I will note, though, that we are supposed to just be rearranging the seating-order here: We seat the president here, the secretary there, with an aim to making it easier to conduct meetings. We aren't making an organizational chart, and then using the chart to arrange with. The arrangement itself is said to "bring out the rules clearly" -- the rules don't get a further, explicit, formulation.
I also feel compelled to note that some countries have done perfectly well without written constitutions, and some have even argued that written constitutions are detrimental to the cause of the rule of law (since a written constitution can be adhered to in letter only while violated in spirit, but this is not possible when a nation's constitution is just its most central customary laws -- or at least it is much harder to simultaneously present an account of the law of the land which will be recognized as such and bend that law to be something it isn't). There are all sorts of things I don't like about this paragraph.
(I should probably finish Insight and Illusion at some point. I laid it down somewhere in the middle period; I remember finding Hacker's account of the "mystical" in the Tractatus hand-wavey.)