For Readers of Ludwig Wittgenstein

So much of Wittgenstein’s writing is asking the reader to imagine practical situations. He asks you to imagine some construction workers doing this and calling for this or that. Or in a store there is a drawer that contains this or that and one gives this or that when a particular word is spoken. It goes on and on this way.

But would it not have been more instructive for the readers and philosophers if Wittgenstein had instead asked them to go work at a construction site? Or to go to a foreign country where they did not know the language and to try to live there? He might have said after an aphorism: “Now, travel to a foreign land you know little of. Take no money with you. Live there until you have learned this or that. Then pick up with the next aphorism.”

Wouldn’t the whole discussion of “the mystical” been better advanced had Ludwig written: “Stop reading here. Now go to a war. Demand to be put on the front lines in the fiercest fighting. Continue to the next aphorism if you have survived.”

Much of Wittgenstein’s writing is basically asking academic, upper class men to imagine what it would be like to work on construction sites, operate a corner store, speak a foreign language badly, or be at the front lines of a war. Clearly, Wittgenstein was sour on philosophy because he felt he was having to explain life, how most people live it and have lived it in human history--indeed, how he had lived and thereby learned to do philosophy--to a bunch of overly-domesticated, physically unfit, university-sequestered half-men. 

1 comment:

  1. I am afraid to glowingly praise any of this thinking while sitting down, but I force myself to glowingly praise your work. Fucking spot on.


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