Monty Python and Philosophy: Nudge Nudge, Think Think!

By Gary L. Hardcastle; George A. Reisch | Go to book overview

17

Tractatus Comedo
Philosophicus

ALAN RICHARDSON

What is the aim of your philosophy?—To shew the fly the way out
of the fly bottle.

—Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §309


A Senseless Waste of Human Reason

In the late nineteenth century or early twentieth century, philosophers rediscovered an important idea, the idea of nonsense.1 Throughout the next few decades, philosophy was rife with discussions of nonsense. Indeed, an awful lot of philosophers through the first half of the twentieth century thought that an awful lot of other philosophers were speaking nonsense. (Very few philosophers thought that they themselves were speaking nonsense; nonsense was routinely understood to be what they spoke at the next café over, especially if that café was in Paris or the Black Forest.)

1 Philosophers discover nonsense periodically. David Hume (1711–1776) and
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) did so in the eighteenth century. No one has dis-
cussed nonsense philosophically with quite the verve of Thomas Hobbes
(1588–1679), however, who devoted a whole chapter of his leviathan
(Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994) to “insignificant speech.”

-217-

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