Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Postmodernism, Pedagogy

Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Postmodernism, Pedagogy

Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Postmodernism, Pedagogy

Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Postmodernism, Pedagogy


Peters and Marshall examine the parallels between the later Wittgenstein and French poststructuralism and investigate the direct appropriation of Wittgenstein's work by poststructuralists. They discuss the most pressing problems facing philosophy and education in the postmodern condition: ethico-political lines of inquiry after the collapse of the grand narrative, other cultures in the curriculum, and the notion of postmodern science.


Philosophy hasn't made any progress? -- If somebody scratches the spot where he has an itch, do we have to see some progress? Isn't it genuine scratching otherwise, or genuine itching? And can't this reaction to an irritation continue in the same way for a long time before a cure for the itching is discovered?

-- Wittgenstein, 1980, pp. 86-87e

Ludwig Wittgenstein, the youngest of eight children, was born into a very wealthy family of Jewish extraction and he grew up in the rarefied intellectual milieu of fin de siècle Viennese modernism, where artists like Gustav Mahler and Gustav Klimt were regular visitors to the family mansion. In a note he records in 1931 he lists the influences upon his thinking as: Boltzman, Hertz, Schopenhauer, Frege, Russell, Kraus, Loos, Weininger, Spengler, Sraffa (Wittgenstein, 1980, 2:19e). From his Viennese background he inherited a strong skepticism toward traditional philosophy, an attitude of cultural pessimism, the importance of a critique of language and culture, an appreciation of Austrian music and poetry (Bruckner, Grillparzer, Labor, Lenau), his concern for style, a belief in the inexpressible (or mystical), a deep ethical and aesthestic sense, and an ascetic individualism.

The philosophical problems that Wittgenstein was later to pose were engendered in his early years in Vienna. If he initially sought solutions to these problems by studying with Bertrand Russell it would be false to see him as a student or follower of Russell and working on Russell's problems.

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