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Thursday, 2 February 2012

185 and anarcheology

Been in a blitz visit to Granada featuring a participation in Manuel and Neftali's course on rule-following and the politics of the emergence of normativity. They were discussing, at the point of my visit, how acceptable is the reading made by Kripke of sections 185 to 242 of Wittgenstein’s Investigations. A recurrent issue in the conversation over lunch under the beautiful winter sun was whether one could have content without normativity – without genuine rule-following. I insisted that behavior (or natural expression of sensation, to use Wittgenstein's vocabulary later in 257) is geared towards a specific content. In fact, it ought to be so in order for it to fulfill its role in the acquisition of public language that surely could not take off without screaming and groaming being, in a given context, taken to be a natural expression of, say, a toothache. Normativity ought to be embedded in those natural expressions.

Surely, however, that is not enough to ground normativity or rule-following in facts. The example in 185 is enough to show how distant we still are. I somehow regret that only after the class I mentioned that my take on rule following and politics would start with making the pupil in 185 into a political contender. What would happen if the pupil just bites the bullet and insists that 1004 is rather the correct answer. The pupil then is not in the realm of sheer mistake – eventual or systematic – but rather in that of confrontation. The pupil creates a version that challenges the alleged fact. The interesting point for me is that in the very kernel of reason there is a plurality of versions (reason is composed by acts of thinking, contents are never just kept as there is no memory that is faithfully museum-like as I put in Excesses and Exceptions). So, whenever there is anything to be taken in, there is room for more than a version. Then, there is room for anarcheology.

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