Essays in the Unknown Wittgenstein

Essays in the Unknown Wittgenstein

Essays in the Unknown Wittgenstein

Essays in the Unknown Wittgenstein

Synopsis

This book is an outstanding contribution to the study of Wittgenstein's work by two distinguished professors of philosophy. These sixteen essays examine Wittgenstein's attempt to get clear about the nature of philosophical utterances, and bring to light the thoughts behind his often cryptic remarks.

Excerpt


Wittgenstein's Philosophical Odyssey

I shall light a candle of understanding in your heart which shall not be put out.

II Esdras

Ludwig Wittgenstein was one of the most original philosophers of this century, and there can be no doubt that the impact of his perceptions regarding the nature of philosophical problems will radically and permanently change the course of philosophy in the future. Unfortunately, the influence of his thought has been retarded. Apart from a paper in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society and his famous Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, he did not permit any of his work to be published during his lifetime, although some of his lectures were mimeographed and circulated privately among a selected group of his students. According to all accounts, Wittgenstein was a man of compelling personality who tended to gather a circle of favored students around himself. An aura of mystery, not untinged with religion, was thus created around both his work and his special group of students. Understandably, such an atmosphere might well, and in fact did, have consequences somewhat less than desirable from an intellectual point of view. Fortunately, time has already begun to disperse the emotional mists and to clear the air. Now that Wittgenstein's work is being made publicly available, it should make itself felt widely and objectively in the doing of philosophy. Without stretching a metaphor unfairly, philosophy up to the present may be described as an expanding museum of exhibits, a sort of Madame Tussaud's, to which new figures are constantly being added but from which no figures are ever removed. But some things that Wittgenstein said will plant a seed in the minds of philosophers, which in time will grow into an improved understanding of the workings of philosophy, and enable us to look at it in a new way. And the explanations of theories and arguments flowing from this understanding will not become just additional exhibits: instead they will . . .

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