Friday, June 16, 2006

What can be said at all can be said clearly

That's another quote from Wittgenstein--this time, the preface to the Tractatus. (Nowadays I can't go half an hour without thinking or uttering a quote from Wittgenstein. I may need therapy.)

Charles Travis considers himself a Wittgensteinian philosopher, and yet is apparently happy to produce such sentences as:
Properties of being true (false) if, given, of, or only if, thus and so, or thus, or the way things are, are all within this class.
Yes, that sentence was written, and presumably read by an editor or two, and then published.

I kind of like Travis's stuff, but as I read that sentence, over and over again, the language-processing centre of my brain had to recruit neurons from completely different cortices to help out with the parsing. By the time I figured out what it meant, I'd forgotten how to throw a frisbee, how to create a linked list in C++, and whether the Yamanote line is the quickest way to get between Ikebukuro and Ueno.