Approaches to Wittgenstein: Collected Papers

Approaches to Wittgenstein: Collected Papers

Approaches to Wittgenstein: Collected Papers

Approaches to Wittgenstein: Collected Papers

Excerpt

The present collection requires some explanation if not justification. The papers here printed (alongside various editions and a volume of biography) result from a study, itself almost lifelong, of the life and work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. I did not want to leave them mouldering, as it were, in the obscurity, however undeserved, of the periodicals and languages where they first saw the light, for only a few have made their way into more widely known collections. Something was owed to the lungo studio e il grand'amore, the fascination that this philosopher had so long exercised on me, as on so many others. If the pieces were worth writing at all, they were worth putting together to give a general picture that might explain that fascination and perhaps to some extent justify the spending of so much time on the thought of another.

This last feature is more defensible in the sphere of philosophy than in most of the fields and disciplines into which learning is conventionally distributed, for it is a sphere in which the question why we are asking a certain question is almost as important as the question itself. Hence the evasiveness with which the practitioner is wont to meet the layman or child who asks to be told what philosophy is, a Gretchenfrage such as Faust faced when asked about religion. 'Don't ask' seems the only answer, in the sense that philosophical questions have to force themselves on one. Reflection on other matters or inside established disciplines leads to questions, which familiar methods do not suffice to answer. So it has been since Socrates, by whose time a number of sciences had been established, and so it was certainly viewed by the subject of these studies, who is famous for saying that the place of philosophy was above or below the natural sciences, not alongside them, and that its problems arose from a misunderstanding of the logic of our language. It was only twice that he gave a programmatic address at Cambridge, once on being appointed to his professorship and once to counter the effects of a paper given by Popper. On each occasion a quotation from Heinrich Hertz was central to his implicit definition of a philosophical problem: it would be one that resulted from our having associated too many ideas with a certain notion,

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