you seem to be assuming that the only context in which “confusion” arises in philosophy is when we are drawn into “going wrong” in the use of expressions when reflecting philosophically. So, using your analogy, my lack of clarity whilst looking at two yonder buildings may be expressed in my judging that the one building is in front of the other when in fact it is the other way about—I have gone wrong. Another situation might be where I am looking at a distant building and somebody asks “what is it like, what kind of roof and windows does it have?”, and I reply “I cannot tell you it is surrounded by fog”. When the fog lifts, I can tell him. Here nothing has “gone wrong”, there has been no error. I call this getting a clear view “in its own right” to distinguish it from the case where there is actual error.
(This image, as Hugh suggests, is in line with Philosophical Investigations § 5, where Wittgenstein speaks about “how much the general concept of the meaning of a word surrounds the working of language with a haze which makes clear vision impossible”.)
For my part, I believe the image of being in a fog is a good starting point for trying to sort out our differences. When a building is covered by a fog there may be certain things we can’t judge about; or we may judge with less certainty than otherwise – or we may, of course, make erroneous judgments, maybe we come to see the building as altogether different than it is (or we judge that there is no building there).
To my mind what these shortcomings have in common is more important than what distinguishes them.
Where does the fog come from? We are here talking about the difficulty of commanding a clear view of the workings of our language, whether more generally or in some specific aspect. But this is not a thing we are prevented from acquiring by some external circumstance. We are thoroughly acquainted with the workings of our language in practice. If we have difficulty getting a clear view of it, it is a difficulty of our own making - unlike a real fog.
I would imagine that Hugh and I are at one thus far. Where we may differ is on the point that, as I see it, the interest now turns to our own ways of thinking: I feel the need to reflect on what keeps us from commanding a clear view. I should like to say: unless we were tempted by misleading analogies, illusory pretensions, a craving for generality, etc. there would be no fog. This makes me unsure about the notion of a clear view “in its own right”.
Philosophical reflection is not in any case something that only goes on within the community of philosophers (i.e. the academics), but pops up in peoples’ lives all over the place. “To imagine a language is to imagine a form of life” so that (reflective) confusions “within the language” are (if they are not merely trivial ones) confusions within our lives…
Yes, of course: “the use of an expression” already embodies a chunk of life, so there’s no getting clear about its use which is not at the same time a getting clear about its role in life. The reflective confusions of philosophers and non-philosophers may or may not spill over into their lives as actually lived.