Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Postmodernism, Pedagogy

By Michael Peters; James Marshall | Go to book overview

1
Terry Eagleton: Wittgenstein as Philosophical Modernist (and Postmodernist)

Philosophy is merely what binds us to the fact that everything is just the way it is. Everything is open to view, nothing is concealed. No ground, no essences, no first principles (p. 18).

"We search for what's hidden," Wittgenstein went on, "dupes that we are of a dream of depth. Anything to avoid the unbearable presence of reality. If we could register that for one moment in our mind we'd be free. Or perhaps we would go mad" (pp. 20-21).

Wittgenstein spoke up suddenly in his high voice, startling Bloom a little. "You speak of languages as though they were garments to be put on and off at will. There are limits to such cosmopolitanism. In the end, we speak as we do because of what we do. Wenn ein Löwe sprechen könnte, würden wir ihn nicht verstehen" [If a lion could speak, we would not be able to understand him] (p. 132).

-- Eagleton, 1987

Why begin a book on Wittgenstein with a chapter discussing Terry Eagleton's interpretation? Eagleton is not exactly a Wittgensteinian scholar; he is more a literary critic than a philosopher and his interests as an academic Marxist hardly qualify him as one who might approach Wittgenstein in sympathetic terms. The answer is bound up with the approach and style of this book; an emphasis on literary, cultural, and (auto)biographical readings of Wittgenstein's works, their intertextuality, the expression of the spirit of European (Viennese) modernism in the Tractatus, and the anticipation of certain postmodern themes in his later works which, on the one hand, cast him in close philosophical proximity to Schopenhauer,

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