A Conversation for Ludwig Wittgenstein

Excellent Article

Post 1

Asteroid Lil - Community Editor and Ottist


My compliments to the researchers on this entry! I studied this fellow at university and never quite understood him, but he (along with Russell and Spinoza) are the only philosophers, from all that study, whose books I still open today.


Excellent Article

Post 2

Recumbentman

Why thank you Lil and greetings to your forest.

What is it of Russell's that you read? Wittgenstein said once that Russell's books should be divided up, the mathematical and logical ones bound in red and all students of philosophy to be directed to read them, and the writings on moral and religious topics bound in blue and nobody should read them.

Would you feel like supplying a picture of Ludwig for the entry?


Excellent Article

Post 3

Asteroid Lil - Community Editor and Ottist

If only I could! Unfortunately, the Italics are the ones who determine which entries get blobbed. Until policy changes regarding pre-existing entries, the most likely source of an illustration for this article will be if it is randomly selected as a test subject for a CA postulant -- and an article needs to be six months old, or greater.

I would also divide Russell's work into two groups: Principia Mathematica (written with Alfred Whitehead) and everything else. But then, when I was at university, the philosophy department was heavy into modal logics and disdained anything much looser than G.E. Moore. I understand fashions have changed. Anyway, I meant to say that I feel overdosed on formal logic, even though without it I wouldn't make nearly so much sense out of someone like SPinoza.

Do you know WHY Wittgenstein didn't like Spinoza? Was it a religion thing?

Another question -- is G.E. Anscombe's translation still the one used for the TLP and the Philosophical Investigations?


Excellent Article

Post 4

Recumbentman

I have the Anscombe PI, but I got my TLP quotes from Kenny's (unfortunately abridged) version in "The Wittgenstein Reader", which comes from Ramsey and Ogden's 1922 translation (with at least one unfortunate misprint, pointed out to me in the Peer Review thread). I much prefer the last sentence in that version; Kenny says "in spite of its Germanism it has a special authority as having been revised by Wittgenstein himself."

I think W simply didn't care for Spinoza's pantheism; it's a far cry from saying God is everything (Deus sive Natura) to saying God is outside the world! In other ways they could be seen as remarkably similar: ex-Jewish, fond of logical modes of expression, standing against the tide of popular opinion and so on.

"I understand fashions have changed." -- you mean, as in fuzzy logic?

I read Ray Monk's biography of the first half of Russell's life, never having studied Russell myself, and thought it remarkable that R was such a cursed character -- and that's how he saw himself. If anyone shows the awful signs of being in league with the devil . . . the time he failed to die in China, despite running a higher than fatal temperature, the facility with writing, and the decision to persevere and publish despite fatal flaws having been pointed out by Wittgenstein; the obsessive and unhappy womanising; my brother (who is a mathematician) had to give up reading the bio, it was so depressing. It's the only biography I've ever seen where nobody liked the subject, not even his biographer!


Excellent Article

Post 5

Dr Deckchair Funderlik

I just want to add my congrats to you Recumbentman. You did a lot of the work for this - my own input was marginal. I have been following the progress of the entry with interest and it is great to see it up on the front page.


Excellent Article

Post 6

Recumbentman

Thank you to the highly steamed and pressed Dr Funderlik whose grunts in the Post are recommended to all readerssmiley - biggrin


Excellent Article

Post 7

Recumbentman

. . . even if he doesn't bother trying to spell Garfunkel . . .


Excellent Article

Post 8

Asteroid Lil - Community Editor and Ottist


I got my BA in 76, the same year that Linguistics was recognised as a discipline by the University of Birmingham and got its own office on our floor of the Muirhead Tower. When I was an undergraduate, transformational syntax was the New Thing, and we were filling up blackboards with deep structures when we weren't filling them up with quantified modal logics. George Steiner had just written "After Babel". That's how out of date I am; if I were to start over again, I know I'd go into semiotics.


Excellent Article

Post 9

Dr Deckchair Funderlik

Ah... yes... of course I errr deliberately spelled his name that way -for legal reason, yes...

Thanks for the recommendation. I think I'll write that one down... smiley - smiley


Excellent Article

Post 10

Recumbentman

I graduated in 1970, at Trinity College Dublin; Wittgenstein was not on the course, but was mentioned by one lecturer who had been at Oxford (Cambridge forgot Wittgenstein as quickly as they could).

What got me hooked was a friend who said "Have you heard of this guy Wittgenstein? He's solved all the problems of philosophy!" I thought "At last, the answer".

(And indeed it was 42, or thereabouts.)

The Trinity course was remarkably similar to the selection Jostein Gaarder in Sophie's World, with the glaring ommission of Schopenhauer. One of our oldest lecturers (we had two in their nineties) was the last of the Hegelians, and he had an influence on the choice. A wonderful old codger, Mr Godfrey, he cycled around with his attaché case tied to his handlebars . . . "The Absolute, the Ab-so-lute. What can we say about the Absolute? Poof! Not a lot." The "poof" was pronounced as though smoking a pipe, which he did, though not in lectures.


Excellent Article

Post 11

Asteroid Lil - Community Editor and Ottist

Schopenhauer! He was mentioned in passing during one course I took on Neitzsche and Kierkegaard (it wasn't all logic).

I did a year of post-grad work, which was a mistake. In the first place, all ego aside, I was a bit ahead of my time, trying to do some cross-cultural research on anthropology of law (viz Pospisil) as a rebuttal to Professor Hart's views, and that didn't turn fashionable for another decade. And in the second place, do you find that it takes years for a BA Phil to ripen, so to speak? It's useful in all sorts of unexpected ways, but you need that decade to grok it.


Excellent Article

Post 12

Recumbentman

That would be Leopold J. Pospisil, Professor Emeritus Anthropology, Curator Emeritus, Peabody Museum, Ph.D. Yale University 1956? Took about three or four pages of google to find him . . . no I hadn't come across him before!

I agree totally; a BA in philosophy didn't mean much to me until many years after I graduated; in the meantime all my employment has been in music. As you say, "you need that decade to grok it" which is the first time I have come across that word too. Don't tell me it's a typo.


Excellent Article

Post 13

Asteroid Lil - Community Editor and Ottist


No, it's a word from a book written by Robert Heinlein in 1960, Stranger in a Strange Land. Forgettable except for this word, for which there was no equivalent in English until the hippies put it to work. You see it in respectable places these days.
http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,,sid9_gci212216,00.html

Yes, that Pospisil. He wrote Anthropology of Law.


Excellent Article

Post 14

Recumbentman

Ah . . . thank you for that! It reminds me that our Irish teacher (we all learned Irish in school, compulsorily . . . now I'm really glad we did, though I never have conversational use for it) told us that the word 'dig' (in the sense of grok) came from the Irish 'Tuig' which means understand. The question 'do you get it?' would be 'An dtuigeann tú?' pronounced 'on dig'n too?'.

Soooo useful to know that. 'So long' is also (probably) from the Irish 'Slán' (slawn) which means 'goodbye'. Sláinte is 'health' or smiley - cheers


Excellent Article

Post 15

Dr Deckchair Funderlik

Now I understand more about that Seamus Heaney poem 'Digging'.


Excellent Article

Post 16

Recumbentman

Grok is wonderful. think of it, a word from the Martian (what, only one language on Mars? They are still pre-Babel there? How quaint!)

I wonder how long it'll take to get into the dictionary.


Excellent Article

Post 17

Asteroid Lil - Community Editor and Ottist

It's already there, I think! I don't have time to do the research this morning, but I do believe it made the OED a few years ago, preceisely because it fills a linguistic niche so well.

Nice point about the monolinguistic assumption regarding Mars. But then, Heinlein was no philosopher. smiley - winkeye


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