(with apologies to Karl Weick)
In his comment to my post on imagination, Thomas Presskorn suggests that I am violating the spirit of Wittgenstein's Tractatus by identifying its "concerns" with my own. Russell locates those concerns as follows:
There are various problems as regards language. First, there is the problem what actually occurs in our minds when we use language with the intention of meaning something by it; this problem belongs to psychology. Secondly, there is the problem as to what is the relation subsisting between thoughts, words, or sentences, and that which they refer to or mean; this problem belongs to epistemology. Thirdly, there is the problem of using sentences so as to convey truth rather that falsehood; this belongs to the special sciences dealing with the subject-matter of the sentences in question. Fourthly, there is the question: what relation must one fact (such as a sentence) have to another in order to be capable of being a symbol for that other? This last is a logical question, and is the one with which Mr. Wittgenstein is concerned.
"Scholarly writing," Thomas says, "concerns everything but [the fourth question, i.e., Wittgenstein's]". This is certainly an important thing for me to get right. So what is the proper concern of a writing coach for scholars?
I generally leave psychology on the side. I have a few ideas about the role of "the unconscious" in writing, and the need to give it a chance to help us write, but "what actually occurs in our minds" doesn't interest me very much, and I am suspicious of anyone who proposes to tell me about it.
Russell rightly leaves the question of "using sentences so as to convey truth rather that falsehood" to the "special sciences". I follow his lead. While I encourage scholars to write down their "justified, true beliefs", I leave all standards of truth and justification to their peers within their discipline, i.e., their own special science.
Epistemology was once a respected, autonomous philosophical discipline and included philosophy of science, which presumed to explain "the scientific method" in generally applicable terms, i.e., terms common to all the "special" sciences. But after the project of developing a unified account of science was abandoned (so that now philosophers of, say, biology have little to talk to philosophers of even, say, physics about) I have decided to leave epistemology also to the disciplines themselves, encouraging authors to engage with the methodological and meta-theoretical debates that define their field, even as they apply particular methods framed by particular theories with some measure of self-assurance.
This leaves us with the question of what makes a sentence "capable" of representing a fact. And the practical answer I propose is this: representing a fact requires the disciplined use of imagination, 6 sentences (min.), 200 words (max.), and 27 minutes at a time. That is how we "make pictures of the facts". It is a scholar's job to make particularly accurate pictures of the facts. And it is the philosopher's job to make scholars more capable of this task. That is why being a writing coach is the most philosophical thing you can be. And isn't that exactly the activity that Wittgenstein proposed at T6.53, Thomas? My only innovation is to put it in writing.