Adam's Reviews > Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief

Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Reli... by Ludwig Wittgenstein
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's review
Jan 27, 12

bookshelves: 1900-1969, philosophy
Read in January, 2012

thoughts I had:

Lectures on Aesthetics
I
16: “beauty” is convention? The rules of harmony express how people wanted the chords to follow, the rules of coat measurement come from not those who didn’t care but those who cared a great deal about how it should be. Is a concept of beauty then inevitably just an expression of the will of those eager to say what they think is beautiful is beautiful, who dominate the convention, since the rest are either somewhat apathetic or weak?
23: correctness isn’t all there is- a Gothic Cathedral or a Beethoven Symphony is not ‘correct’ as such, it plays a different role, nay, the entire game is different. W. talks about correct behaviour vs. someone making an great impression on you to illustrate this idea, which I think gets down to the basics of why a lot of somewhat ‘incorrect’ art is more impressive than ‘correct’ art
26: “What belongs to a language game is a whole culture.” This does mostly make sense in relation to the Investigations, but is nevertheless quite a pronouncement
35: “aesthetic words” are used as parts of complicated activities; any talk of aesthetics it seems is dependent on describing ways of living
II
39: psychological experiments that account for aesthetics seem to be deemed to not work because such an analysis transforms the thing in question into something else; Freud’s analysis of a joke transforms “a joke” as such into “an expression of the chain of ideas which led us from one end to another of a joke.” Unclear what W. would think of what neuroscience now has to say about (almost) universal human response to certain stimuli
IV
12: Note on "simplicity" (what seems to me something like reductive aesthetics) indicates that W. dismisses such reductive analyses of art (eg “it’s all about the colours”) as just part of a wishful craving for simplicity. But the reality seems to be that aesthetics deal with perhaps irreducibly complex realities (artistic ones)

Conversations on Freud
W. discusses dream language, seems to recognize the existence of something like a “dream language.” I wonder if this language functions like W. thinks ordinary language does. No, obviously it can’t, but it must have something in common. There is actually something of a sketch of how he thinks dream language might work. It’s fascinating, and even overlaps with the Private Language Argument. Would have loved to read more on this. I wish W. had lived to write about David Lynch. Interesting quotation: “When a dream is interpreted we might say that it is fitted into a context in which it ceases to be puzzling. In a sense the dreamer re-dreams his dream in surroundings such that its aspect changes.” In other words, dream interpretation transports the content somehow into a different language game? Or does it create a language game where there was no language game? Hmm... It seems to be the latter case, for Wittgenstein says that while there are certain similarities with language, it is questionable that dreaming is a kind of language at all, because translation ought to be possible both ways. Does this incommensurability finally confirm that a dream language- as such- is impossible?
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