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The Availability of Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy

The Availability of Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy

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Philosophical Review
The Availability of Wittgenstein's Later PhilosophyAuthor(s): Stanley CavellReviewed work(s):Source:
The Philosophical Review,
Vol. 71, No. 1 (Jan., 1962), pp. 67-93Published by:
on behalf of
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Accessed: 22/11/2011 12:44
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DISC USSIO N
THEAVAILABILITYOF WITTGENSTEIN'SLATERPHILOSOPHY
Epochs arein accordwiththemselvesonlyif the crowdcomes into theseradiant confessionalswhich arethe theatres orthe arenas,and as muchaspossible, . . .to listentoitsownconfessions of cowardiceand sacrifice, ofhateandpassion....For there isno theatre which is not prophecy.Not thisfalsedivination which givesnamesanddates,buttrueprophecy,thatwhichrevealsto men thesesurprisingtruths:thatthe livingmust live,that theliving must die, thatautumnmust follow summer,springfollowwinter, thatthereare fourelements,thatthere ishappiness,that there areinnumerablemiseries,thatlife is areality,that it isa dream,that man lives inpeace,thatmanlives on blood;in short,those thingstheywill neverknow.
-,JEAN
GLRAUDOuX
TNJuneofi929Wittgensteinwasawardeda Ph.D.fromCambridgeUniversity,havingreturnedtoEngland,andtophilosophy,lessthanayearearlier.His examiners were Russell andMoore,andforhis dissertation he had submittedhisTractatus, publishedsomeseven oreightyearsearlier,written earlier than that,and nowfamous.Thefollowingmonth,herefused toreadapaper("SomeRemarksonLogicalForm")whichhehadpreparedfor thejointsessionofthe MindAssociationand AristotelianSociety,andwhichobviouslygoeswiththe ideas he hadworked outin the Tractatus. Yearslaterhe saidto Moore"somethingtothe effectthat,whenhewrote[thepaperonlogicalform]hewasgettingnew ideasabout whichhewasstill confused,andthat he did not thinkit deservedanyattention."'InJanuaryof1930hebeganlecturingatCambridgeabout thosenew ideas,andin theacademicsessionof1933-1934hedictatedasetofnotesinconjunctionwith hislectures;during1934-1935hedictatedprivatelyanothermanuscript,longerthantheformer,morecontinuously evolvingandmuchcloserinstyletothePhilosophicalInvestigations.Thesetwo sets ofdictations-whichcame,becauseof
1
Thebiographicalinformation inthis (andin the final) paragraphcomesfrom the firstofMoore's threepaperscalled "Wittgenstein'sLecturesin
I930-33,"
Mind,LXIII
(I954)
andLXIV
(I955);
from R. R(hees)'sintro-ductionto The Blueand Brown Books;and fromabiographicalsketchbyG.H.vonWright, publishedtogetherwithNorman Malcolm'smovingmemoir,Ludwig WittgensteinOxford,
I958).
67
 
STANLErCAvELL
the wrappers theywere bound in,to be called, respectively,the BlueBook and theBrown Book-arenow publicly available,bearingappropriately the over-title PreliminaryStudies or the"PhilosophicalInvestigations."2ut theextenttowhich the ideasinthese pages areavailable, nowseven yearsafter the publication of theInvestigations,is a matter of somequestionevenafterthe appearanceof the first bookonthe laterphilosophy,fornone ofitsthoughtistobefoundinDavidPole'sThe Later Philosophy f Wittgenstein.3WhatIfindmost remarkable aboutthis bookisnotthe modesty ofits understandingnor the pretentiousnessand condescension of itscriticism, butthe pervasive absenceof any worry that some remarkofWittgenstein's maynot beutterlyobviousinitsmeaningandimplications. When,on the opening page, I read, "[Despitethefactthat] he ... has been popularlyportrayedas a kind of fanatic ofsubtletyifnot,worse,anaddict of mystification...I shallmaintainthat Wittgenstein'scentralideas...areessentiallysimple,"Iwas,although skeptical, impressed:thatwouldbe alargeclaimto enterand supportindiscussing anydifficult thinker,but it could beveryworth trying to do. About Wittgensteintheclaimisdoubled up.Fornot only is one facedwith the obvious surface difficultiesofthewriting,oneisalsometbya newphilosophical conceptofdifficultyitself:thedifficulty f philosophizing,and especially ofthefruitful criticism fphilosophy,is one ofWittgenstein'sgreatthemes(and,therefore,doubtless, simple,oncewecangraspit). My disappointmentwas,accordingly,thesharperwhenIhad to recognizethatPolewasconceivingthe task of steering towardadeep simplicity tobe itselfan easy one.Disappointment mountedto despairas Ifoundthe famousandexcitingand obscure tags oftheInvestigationsot only quotedwithoutexplanation,butquotedasthough theywereexplanations:
Atleast thismuchisclear,firstthatWittgenstein distinguishesin some sensebetweenthe structuralapparatusandthecontent of language;andsecondlythat he holds that philosophers are pronetothe errorof seeing the oneinterms of the other. We make a pictureofan independentlyexisting reality."Wepredicateofthethingwhat liesin the modeofpresentation"[p. 37].
Itwould,for example,havebeenworthwhile totryto point totherelationof that idea-whichisusuallyenteredas summary of philo-sophicaldisorder-totheidea(citedby Pole,p.54)that"grammar
2
Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Blue and BrownBooks (New York,
1958).
CitedhereasBB.
3
London,
1958.68

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