Tuesday, June 08, 2004

On the Wittgensteinian View of Philosophy

I have been reading O. K. Bouwsma's Commonplace Book: Remarks on Philosophy and Education. I like Bouwsma, but one of his great flaws is to fall hook, line, and sinker for the absurd Wittgensteinian view of philosophy. Some examples (I will deal with them in another post):

What can I now do? I can read Plato, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume - in a certain way....I think that what in all cases I do is to look for the analogy or analogies that are involved and then to elaborate the analogy. The elaboration of the analogy will serve to make what has been said ridiculous. Then I try to show what in the grammar of expression involved leads to the analogy in the first place. (from Pad 1.31)

Philosophy - as the stubborn effort to think clearly, to escape confusion, to escape the temptations of grammatical analogy. But why then did W. center his attention especially upon the thinking of, the language of, philosophers? I suppose because this is where confusion and the intensification of confusion is pursued and practiced with greatest zeal and success. (from Pad 1.40)

The history of philosophy. The history of magnificent confusions. Our concern is not with the beetle in the box, but with the boxed beetle. (Pad 2.22)

Philosophy isn't anything you learn. It is rather like your being entangled in a maze of barbed wire or like being lost in the wood. When you read a philosopher and you are not yourself lost, distressed, you are wasting your time. (from Pad 2.32)

If philosophers argue, it does not follow that their arguments are to be refuted. That is to treat what they say as philosophical and as a philosopher would. One is to do no more than to exhibit what the philosopher is saying or doing. He writes non-sense which is disguised. He builds houses of cards, writes down words which seem to have meaning. What is one to do but topple the house? (Pad 3.7)

Philosophy is the struggle against ordinary language motivated by an original misunderstanding. (from Pad 3.21)

Of course, philosophical questions are not concerned with the meanings of words. Tehy are not concerned with antyhing. They are expressions of confusions which arise out fo similarities and dissimilarities in the grammar of the relevant expressions in different situations. (Pad 3.27)

Philosophy is like a cage inside of which the philosopher paces up and down. Yes, that is how it is. And Wittgenstein sets a man free. The cage falls away. And what is the cage made of? Of twisted language. The man in the cage must learn to untwist, to disentangle the entangled, to separate the various strands. Thus, he can walk out. (Pad 3.48)

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