Back-to-school questions on hold: Are black kids disciplined more harshly in Southern schools than in the rest of the country? Also, what kind of progress has been recorded in the New Orleans schools?
The mainstream press corps hasn’t produced much back-to-school journalism this year. In all honesty, nobody gives a flying fig about these tedious topics, except to the extent that they can be used to advance preferred elite narratives about our ratty public school teachers with their infernal unions.
How strange! NAEP scores by our black and Hispanic kids are way up in the past twenty years! But by dint of immutable Hard Pundit Law, you aren’t allowed to hear that.
That said, we’ll return to those questions about public schools when our full services resume after Labor Day. We’ll also look at the press corps’ reporting of new national SAT scores.
(As of this morning, the College Board hasn’t released its new SAT data.)
For today, we’re off on a mission of no clear import, heading north to visit friends. As we head out, we’re tortured by a recent Slate piece, which we recommend for Labor Day reading.
In the piece which has tortured our sleep, David Auerbach explains, or seems to explain, Wittgenstein’s early and late periods. Go ahead! Just for starters, see if you have any idea what any of this might mean:
AUERBACH (9/1/15): Wittgenstein’s first period, culminating in 1921’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (which Pears had co-translated), drew heavily on Bertrand Russell’s work in philosophical logic…The Tractatus makes an ambitious and ostensibly definitive attempt to chart out the relationship between language and the world. Alongside Russell’s work, it was tremendously influential on logicians, yet Wittgenstein later ended up rejecting one of its central premises: that our linguistic statements depict true or false states of affairs, and that formal logic provided the structure that regulates our construction of these statements. Language and the world share logical form, which is also the form of reality. This attempt to regiment language as formal logic went on to be an article of faith for many computer scientists and cognitive scientists for decades, as well as exerting a foundational influence on Noam Chomsky’s linguistics.We’re not saying that any of that is right or wrong. Our question is more basic than that. Do you have any idea what those highlighted statements might mean?
Questions to guide your beach reading:
Did Wittgenstein really end up rejecting the idea “that our linguistic statements depict true or false states of affairs?” (It isn’t clear that Auerbach is making that claim. But it also isn’t clear that he isn’t.)
On its face, that doesn’t exactly seem to make sense. Surely, some of our statements describe or report true states of affairs. Effortlessly, we can give an example:
“There once was a fellow named Jake.”
What would it mean to reject the idea that our linguistic statements report or describe true or false states of affairs? We don’t have the slightest idea. (Does Auerbach’s somewhat implausible statement turn on the word “depict?”)
Maybe Auerbach wants us to take the full package he offers. In this reading, Wittgenstein ended up rejecting the idea that “formal logic provides the structure that regulates our construction of these statements”—that “language and the world share logical form, which is also the form of reality.”
Tell the truth. Do you have any idea what such statements might mean? Could you paraphrase those statements—put them in your own words?
Next week, we’re going to show you what happened last week when the mainstream press corps tried to report the findings of a new Penn study—a study of suspensions and expulsions of black public school kids in thirteen Southern states.
What happened last week wasn’t pretty. In fact, as you'll see after Labor Day, that’s a big huge large understatement.
Are we the humans currently able to reason at all? To some extent, you could almost say that’s a question Wittgenstein almost was asking.
Today, with most of our gatekeepers gone, the answer to that question often seems discouraging. Have you ever watched the Morning Joe gang try to conduct a discussion?
At any rate, why not take Wittgenstein to the beach? If you do, don’t forget to check the world’s logical form!