John S Moore
AA 180& 'What has to be accepted, the given, is, so one could say, forms of life'. (PI p 226) Compare with Nietzsche. Nietzsche works out a theory of demoralisation. Understanding of the logic of language games makes a difference to those one will play. Compare Heraclitus. The form of life as the will, prana, that which determines whatever it is that is said or believed. The language is merely the medium. Yet this is not something to be set up as a metaphysical theory. It is too particular, and any motive for demolishing it is likely to be sufficient to do so. There is no one way which is true over and above all others. To be able to talk on this plane we need a kind of higher logic. There are those who are desperate to discover the one explanation which is in a sense true. For them, an philosophy which focus on the nature of explanation itself, and thus dissolves the problem will appear irrelevant. Henceforth what is needed is not philosophical statements but logical tools. What we do with these tools is not the business of philosophy. 'one wonders what philosophy would have been like in Britain and the United States if it had not been for the accident of Wittgenstein, for he might not have been on the scene at all…. I meant that he became known to the world of philosophy through the very special circumstances of making a strong impression on Bertrand Russell, and being accepted into the world of philosophy through the bold initiative of Cambridge. Nature is wasteful, and if one wants to get something exceptionally good, one must take great risks about having a great deal that is simply wild. I am sure that both Russell and Cambridge were right to adopt such a policy. Cambridge is possibly the only university in the world that would have touched Wittgenstein at any price. Had it not been for Cambridge, and had it not been for Russell, - and some people would hold that he made an error of judgement- almost certainly nothing more would have been heard of Wittgenstein'. (JO Wisdom). Liberating force, restoring primacy to the will. Will to dissolve philosophical problems, the befuddlers of will and intellect. Can we say that he had a different motive from Russell and the others? Difference between the logic of what is, and the logic of what can be said. The former is superseded by the latter. The nature of explanation. The motive behind what is said. Understanding itself a language game based on needs. What we must not do is to try to alter the ground, to invent justifications for what does not require it. To that extent philosophy does not 'leave the world as it is' it recommends use with knowledge. We must return to the grounds of our particular needs and desires, and not let the idea of there being a different ground determine what we say. We show how the ground normally operates, and how misconceptions about its operation are liable to arise. Psychology comes into it, with the psychological phenomena associate with doubt and with certainty, we give simple examples of how philosophic and allied doubt may arise, and how it may be cured. Thus the idea that the language of our normal human purposes is in some sense inadequate may be dissipated, the idea that there is anything problematic there. Similarity with Schopenhauer and Nietzsche and Stirner. Ideas as 'spooks'. Conception of will as the ground. Desire, as the Buddhists say.
AD 55 Wittgenstein's criticism of Weininger's hierarchical arrangement of human nature. Similar to what one would presume would be Nietzsche's. The will to power concept is a thorough repudiation of dualism, ie there is no downward force, only upward forces according to their various natures.
AD 226& Ayer's book on Wittgenstein. Very interesting, though I find it hard to see his real objection to Wittgenstein. Private language in the sense he wants to insist upon seems rather trivial. … Then this idea of the transcendental ego that he says the early Wittgenstein derived from Schopenhauer. Ayer claims not to be tempted by solipsism and can see no need for anything other than the ordinary everyday self, whatever that is. He quotes William James in his denunciation of this concept. This is very interesting, a perspective that is difficult to grasp.
AD 249 Wittgenstein. The way I learned about him through my university course. His quirks and eccentricities. Like his lack of belief in the life of an academic philosopher. His insistence that everyone misunderstood him. ..Oxford v Cambridge. The obvious flaws and follies of Oxford. The impression Wittgenstein could make on the Oxbridge community. I admire their work, but am conscious of their foolishness. I learn of Wittgenstein through their work. Wittgenstein had a strong personality, but Oxford University has a stronger. It imposes a kind of deference, a respect for academic hierarchy, a respect for people in the folly of their personalities as well as the wisdom of their learning.
AD 273 Culture and Value. Winch as translator, Wittgenstein as guru. If one studies this sort of thing, why not Crowley? As objects of study there is an arbitrariness here. But much of what he says I can relate to my own predicament. Is Winch in anything like such a predicament? Winch is clearly a Wittgensteinian, from that point of view it must be an honour for him to translate Wittgenstein. But as a follower, translator and expositor, his position is very different from that of Wittgenstein himself. He has a clear job of work to do, and is not aiming for the kind of power Wittgenstein is aiming for. Something slightly painful in my feelings about Winch. If one is to have effective intellectual communication, one needs intellectual society. But what would someone like me have in common with someone like Winch? As well as strictly philosophical issues there are questions of general values. What assumptions would I share with him? Consider the bookshop where I bought the book. A good collection, it would seem there are a lot of people round here with refined intellectual interests. But then I think of myself and it seems it does not represent anything so satisfactory. My reading is not a mere joy of intellectual exercise, partly it is an attempt to resolve certain problems and difficulties I would not say that the remarks in Culture and Value strike me as especially profound, though they are of considerable interest. What he says on the beauty of mathematics as dependant of philosophical assumptions. He has a musical culture that I do not share, but then I am not German. He describes Ramsey as a bourgeois philosopher. On learns philosophy, one learns to question. At university I enjoyed it so much I wanted to continue with it, make a living out of it. But when one leaves, one is expected to leave, become a bourgeois. But that has no appeal. To be a bourgeois careerist, that is to be committed to a one-sided set of values. Some types of philosophy, such as the Marxist, may have something to say about the life you lead. Wittgenstein seemed to believe philosophy had wider application, Winch said he himself did. Wittgenstein, may have been anti bohemian, that may have been a quirk of his time, like Spengler's advice we should all become engineers. In Culture and Value, Wittgenstein shows himself as anti scientific and religious.. Winch may see himself as a servitor of wisdom. In knowing his place he has a happy enough position. Wittgenstein did not know his place. He was not particularly learned, in some fields he was vastly ignorant. He could build up a superman charisma
AE 120& Wittgenstein in his appeal to ordinary language is supposed to offer a refutation of scepticism. This might seem to be showing why we should accept certain beliefs which go beyond the immediately given. The given, of course, may be a belief. It may be a belief or idea which repels us , which we are unwilling to accept because it seems inescapable. The real danger of scepticism. Not in doubting the reality of the external world., or other minds. For it is quite possible to believe in these. It is in being unable to repel what seems omnipresent but repels us, the cliché, modern America….
AE 242 Schopenhauer and Wittgenstein in the Tractatus. Schopenhauer's idea that philosophy has managed to advance beyond scholasticism with Kant. The idea that it can now root itself in perception, that the words it uses may no longer be empty concepts, but point directly at perception. The thing in itself has been twice removed, as it were. Tractatus, how far can language picture reality? How far can it escape the circularity of a web of concepts?
AE 296 Concept of the genius. Where I doubt Schopenhauer is in his standard of truth, which is taken as justifying the genius in a objective sense. I am reminded of what Wittgenstein says on the beauty of mathematics, that it may depend on what philosophy of mathematics you have.
AF 326 Wittgenstein said that only the bad fear death. Some of his aphorisms are not especially profound.
AH 9 Wittgenstein's idea that error is somehow valuable, and that the cure can leave you better than before. The idea is obscure and seems to lack logical rigour. It has the gnomic character of oriental wisdom.
AH 11& Comparisons with Nagarjuna's Madhyamika. Dharmas. Are they useful, valuable, or significant ideas? What exists? What kind of existence could the dharmas have? One has to admit that to a certain extent they are constructs. They are private experiences, but one might not pay attention to them. To what extent might they exist? What is the inherent existence that is lacked? All existence is merely phenomenal. Things exist as they appear, but only in a phenomenal way. Therefore precisely as they appear, and there is nothing hidden. Possible reductio ad absurdum. In his extreme refusal to go beyond the given, ordinary language is obviously a raft that is indefinitely defensible. So he is always able to say he is not denying anything we take for granted. But is he not perhaps removing something of the dynamic behind language, ie something that actually gives rise to those feelings we are said to take for granted, and which he says he has not intention to disturb? May not much of our experience actually depend on more or less developed or embryonic philosophical theories? Some of the pictures and temptations he talks about may be actually quite useful in a way he does not allow for. And it may be that his account of language games do not actually capture the whole dynamic of language. That the emptiness they leave has the same kind of barrenness as is evident in his account of religious language. That he is too phenomenalistic, a religious phenomenalist as it were. It is here, I suggest that the concept of possibility becomes again philosophically useful. The object of the sunyata doctrine, I would say, is to avoid dukkha, that is to say being trapped by bad dharmas. The kind of Wittgensteinianism often taught in Oxbridge, is one very much centred and rooted in mundane life. This itself is a peculiar form of snobbery and elitism. If life is so good, why look for anything beyond mundane life? And in mundane life as lived as Oxford university there is much that is so enjoyable that any change might seem to be for the worse. Possibility is not some kind of absolute existent, it is compatible with Wittgensteinian criticism. And it is positive in a way that doctrines without it are negative. Possibility as corresponding to nirvana. Otherwise what sense if to be made of Wittgenstein's idea of enlightenment at all? From this point of view other philosophies may be conquered and used, if there is anything desirable in them. Far from being reduced, inner experience is immensely enriched.
AI 66 Hawking, like Wittgenstein, has managed to become a sage at Cambridge partly through extreme oddness. Probably all sorts of people could become sages, but in normal circumstances their ambitions are kept down.
AI 79 It is said by Gellner, in a new edition of Words and Things, that the Wittgensteinian faith of 30 years ago is now quite dead. But here was something to be said for the faith, naïve as it obviously was. To be stuck in a question, and to see no way out of it is to confront seriously the question of authority.
AI 107 Some people now are saying that Wittgenstein has freed the philosophy of mind from Descartes' errors, and thereby led us back to Aristotle. But to adopt Aristotle without going through all the argument would surely be a most retrograde step?
AI 206 Wittgenstein and his effect. We are talking about a minute group with immense cultural power. At a nodal point. Many fertile ideas reach this group, but there are others which for reason other than intrinsic merit, do not.
AI 231& What is the truest manifestation of the power of a civilisation? Arguably its philosophical systems. These are the basic programmes for life and development. All else flows from this. Understand these and we can understand much of why civilisation is as it is. Power. The basic criticism derives from this. As in the Middle Ages from Aristotle, whose doctrine of substance provides the foundation of thought. A different concept of reality from Plato's obsession with the idea as the intelligible realm. Considering the difference between Aristotle and Plato, it is as if the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus was essentially Aristotelian, and forsook this for the Platonism of the Investigations, where words bring power, and we are opened again to religion.
AJ 47 Wittgenstein and Kripke.
AJ 85 How to point up an inadequacy in Wittgenstein's philosophy. Possibilities of further development. Begin with the question of philosophical perplexity. Language is a tool, a medium for expressing things. Wittgenstein's philosophy is itself a language game, bestowing a form of satisfaction from contemplation of the facts of language. We see the variety of language games, the boundless variety of uses to which language might be put. Why should this insight itself bring any solution, any resolution? … the technique for dissolving philosophical questions. But the application of this technique is itself a language game. So contemplate the working of this game. A condition of puzzlement is resolved by contemplation of certain facts about language, how it is used. This is how the language game is played, there is puzzlement and a way of removing it. … we are looking at language for more than it can provide. But we have undermined what certainty we had. ….Limiting ourselves to language, taking language as used as a court of appeal, we have an unlimited number of mutually hostile opinions. Our own game is itself only an opinion. How can we stand outside language? How can our own game have any degree of certainty at all, how can it be shown to be better than an opinion which denies it, once that has been formulated? In allowing all language games, we allow the possibility of a disastrous paradox. But it looks like there can be no backtracking, Sceptical paradox that there are only language games. We having abandoned belief in any other landmarks, pole stars or guiding lights. That there are only language games, is this the certainty at which we have arrived? Yet to abandon this certainty can leave us in a genuine sceptical paradox which is genuinely depressing. A way of discourse has been understood as something like a game which we can play. No other justification seems even intelligible, Any language game is something that we may or may not play. How can I put restrictions on what is to be said? … Is there a point where the method breaks down, and an unresolvable perplexity ensues, in principle unresolvable?
AJ 156 Wittgenstein as guru. Much of his influence has little to do with the cogency of his argumentation. He sets the agenda for philosophical and other discussion through the sheer power of his personality. Tractatus as a way of avoiding the class paradox through concepts of saying and showing. Whatever its brilliance the Tractatus is quite obviously flawed. Every philosophy contains fairly obvious flaws and weakness, a strength of personality is required to ensure that these are not immediately fatal, and that the agenda can be shifted onto the problems now seen as important.
AJ 274 Grayling. As an effort to repudiate Wittgenstein, his emphasis on 'intentionality'. Trying to take bits of him, deliberately disregarding his overall drift. The challenge he throws down ought really to be met on its own terms. I f you do not believe his claims to have solved the problems of philosophy, what do you believe? If the Wittgensteinian shows one form of naiveté, the anti Wittgensteinian can seem stuck in one form of pedantry. A philosopher with supposedly all kinds of open questions.
AJ 282 Crispin Wright on Kripke
AJ 307 'A new scholasticism', all the work that has been done in development of Wittgensteinianism. But Wittgenstein's motive was deeply critical of modern civilisation.
AJ 350 To say your ideas are worthless is to say you bow to some outside standard. But I cannot believe such a standard, I can only believe in myself. So I must fight till I die. I cannot believe what I cannot believe. People believe all kinds of rubbish. The interesting thing about Wittgenstein is his claim to authority. He makes a claim to be right. A diabolic universe, when you can know something and be wrong. Such a universe would be one of monstrous hideous cruelty. Where truth could bring no relief, only a searing agony of frustration. Is such a world possible? It is in a way thinkable, It is the pit of Hell. Casting oneself into philosophical doubt, such damnation remains a possibility.
AK 210 What seems to be the case with the Wittgensteinian and a number of other relativistic positions, is that something is attempted to be said which it is hard to say in a current framework without self contradiction. Perhaps to say it properly a new convention needs to be set up, even a new dogma or creed. A brutal method seems to be required. Boldness, cutting of Gordian knot. The convention that is wanted to be made that is not able to be made. That certain considerations justify taking up a certain position. The difficulty of getting from premise to conclusion. Like an operation in mathematics one is unable to perform because the concepts are not adequate to it. Proposal that an argument be accepted as valid which might not have been thought sufficient. Something meant to be said which due to inadequate conceptual equipment cannot be said. A reluctance to assert a direct connection. Invention of a device. Whatever the difficulties in expressing a position , there was definitely something to be said, and good reasons for saying it.
AK 304 Rudolf Haller 'Questions of Wittgenstein'. On Spengler's teleology 'What , one may ask, do the later developments in Wittgenstein's views have in common with such confused notions?' For all its confusion, I find Spengler's idea attractive. As for the links with Wittgenstein, I suspect Haller often strays from the point. Many of the influences on Wittgenstein were very peripheral to his main thought. It is obvious why Wittgenstein was attracted to Spengler and Weininger, they were intriguing and persuasive writers. Many academic philosophers do not really have the philosophical temperament. They are not sufficiently challenged by doubt. .. What diverges from the standard intellectual patterns is treated as but half understood. …with what I believe, like St Paul, I want to convince the philosophers in the Areopagus. How far should one go in one's quest for certainty? Haller emphasises that Wittgenstein says there are bedrocks of certainty in the values one simply absorbs. Of course there is truth in this. But how far can and should doubt go?
AL 129 Clarks book Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy. The discussion of the thing in itself, neo Kantianism etc, could surely have benefited from a Wittgensteinian perspective. I don’t say Nietzsche had one, but his later theory was hardly incompatible with it. Clark mentions Wittgenstein's fly bottle, as if Wittgenstein is an authority she has absorbed, which seems not really to be so. A correspondence theory of truth is not even necessary. She may try to force Nietzsche into what she thinks is the most acceptable theory. Perspectivism. A lot of trouble there, trying to state Nietzsche's position with minimum inelegance.
AL 243 Take Wittgenstein's philosophy as a whole as a way of removing perplexity. Try to devise a way of preserving his insights while avoiding the vicious regresses to which he can give rise. Refer back to Russell's methods of dealing with paradox. His ad hoc rules. Digressing into Nietzsche, we find a better means of securing our position, namely one rooted in the facts, the reality of the world.
AL 247 Suppose that Wittgenstein is not only convincing, but to a large extent true. That philosophical problems do spring to a large extent from befuddlement about language. So it is not the business of language to say you cannot say something. Is there scepticism here? In untangling confusion philosophy is given a role. What security does it give us? Security of infinite possibility. But what if language turns on itself? Each language game is strengthened and made self secure. Criticism cannot undermine it. Is this a conclusion one actually wants?…. What Wittgenstein does. He presents a view of language freed from some of the restrictions philosophers have wanted to put upon it. …
AL 353 Wittgenstein's aspiration to genius. His impact on English culture, through the peculiar culture of Oxbridge. On people who would not dream of aspiring to be geniuses themselves. Who live a different kind of culture.
AM 1& Winch as a figure of virtue. The desire for mental domination, so prominent in Wittgenstein, is in a sense immoral. Yet such a desire seems to be a precondition of the highest kind of creative originality. Is it just that in a position of power and domination, one is able to flourish freely? Or is there something deeper than that? Wittgenstein's motivation. Mental domination is the key to human advance. The ethical mode of thought, from Fichte, through George Eliot, to Winch, can be seen as the expression of a class position. Like against the frivolous aristos. Ethics will seem to promote a sense of power and happiness.
AM 11 Wittgenstein laying bare the logic of language. Forms of life, multiform and various, geocentric. The concept of a form of lie may seem itself to be a challenge. It introduces a kind of relativism, but has paradoxical implications. But the logical method by which it introduces relativism, is surely desirable , and not something to be lightly ditched.
AM 51 Saw Jarman's film 'Wittgenstein'. Though the actor looked remarkably like Wittgenstein and gave a good performance, afterwards I felt the film was pretty unpleasant It ended with a sentimental moral. Jarman is really quite revolting with his mincing queens.
AM 55 Cambridge, cradle of poets, is an admirable place, but a very strange place, English culture is so hard to move. Self confidence is so deep rooted. Values, once formed, are rarely changed. But there is a nodal point where it is childishly easy for anyone with a strong personality to exert influence, and that is Cambridge. Wittgenstein, Hawking, Russell, GE Moore, the KGB….Jarman as director is disgusting. His life is disgusting, so excessively promiscuous. That is his whole sensibility is debauched. Lady Ottoline is made into a repellent bitch, of the type that delights queens. His compulsive sexual deviation pervades everything he touches. To call it a sick perspective is hardly illuminating, in view of everything that has been written about sickness. But it seems pretty miserable. The film might have been better as a more narrowly focussed drama. Alan Bennett could have written a script. What delights Jarman is not ideas, not emotions, but certain tricks of style. This because he is so utterly depraved.
AM 102 Giddens book 'New Rules of sociological Method', what should we call it? Syncretism? Eclecticism? Say that he aspires after a form of knowledge. What is the status of that knowledge? How can one miss the central point of these philosophies, treating the philosophers just as underworkers for the grand science of sociology? I would say we should look at Wittgenstein from the viewpoint of someone completely convinced. 'Hermeneutics'. Interpretations of the meanings people attach to their lives. Dilthey, Heidegger. The idea that Wittgenstein and Heidegger are compatible is somehow strange. The motive for reconciliation is something that must be suspect.
AM 107 The point about Wittgenstein is his claim to dissolve the problems of philosophy. This is his whole strength. The conviction that he can induce, that he is capable of inducing. Only by focussing on that is real development possible.
AM 115 Suggestion I find from Ryle that a logic can be found for any belief. Basic implication of Wittgenstein, one way of looking at it. From this, the need to repel ideas that are self defeating and threatening. Proposed ways of dealing with this. . 1 arbitrary convention. 2 some kind of linkage to what has to be agreed. The trouble with positions like Kuhn's is that they are insufficiently philosophical. Argument cannot cease. Reader and writer are closely involved, they each have a position. I must argue that my position should have a hold on you. Absurdity of rejecting a concept of truth. Even the humility of not venturing a truth claim. Philosophy is not science, it is not that it is less complex, rather that it is more fundamental. Persuasion is not a question of tricks, it must seem inevitable. It must relate to the indisputable, not to some questionable theory that may or may not be accepted., its antithesis being no less plausible. There is no room for free choice. If there were, then that there is free choice would be the determinate fact. To rest content with any gulf of disagreement is ultimately unphilosophical. Philosophical theories are not hypotheses to be picked according to taste.
AN 238 Wittgenstein and his assault on philosophic pride. Although his philosophy from one viewpoint is an assault on sceptical doubt, from another it is quite the opposite. What experiences appear to depend upon what discoveries. Assault against them. Denial of them. Denial of all that is not 'ordinary language'. Attack on all pretensions all aspirations. All exceptional experience. Extreme philosophical scepticism directed against any comforting faith. That it all may rest upon an illegitimate assumption, an illegitimate extrapolation. Pursued to a logical extreme, this is disturbing, even terrifying. Philosophy like an assault upon experience. Religions, the common theosophy that pervades normal experience. What philosophy suggests. The ugly chaos instead of present beliefs. The Sartrean contingency. Imagine undermining all the assumptions that make for the comfort of religion. Imagine that even your sexual pleasure is alleged to rest upon unjustified assumptions. Any healthy, straightforward delight, philosophy undermines with doubt. Yet certainty is not a psychological impossibility. Paralysing doubt itself rests upon an assumption. Philosophy as a ruthless criticism of experience. Ordinary experience it may well leave in place, extraordinary experience, however is another question. Philosophy may appear as some brutal instrument. So try to look to the conclusions of philosophy and see what they offer. Yield ourselves up to philosophy as if it were the highest truth. That a question has to be answered, that an opposing idea has to be considered. This in itself is a form of assumption. Idea that every act of will has to be justified by truth. Once on this track there is no escape…. That there is another way of being is known from experience. One that resists or ignores all such assaults, that shelves all such questions, refrains from approaching them. The assaults of philosophy upon experience. Yet these assaults are valuable lessons, in them is great power. ….One's right not to consider every opposing idea. Derive that from an original aggression, not from a search for 'truth' outside the self. Don't throw all your own beliefs into the melting pot. Concept of the Abyss. Philosophy makes you consider every opposing idea to those in which you take comfort. Every adjusted mode of being. Here is the bid for the future of civilisation. Argument in defence of what one believes. That may be constructed, it may be sound, but it is not the true source. To heaven it opposes some scorched hell of shame guilt and frustration. Why give anyone the right to their comforting illusions? Wittgenstein in particular. Why should any comfort be expected to arise from such cold criticism? Truth as something monumentally cheerless, ie if pleasing illusions come from unjustified assumptions (even if really they may come form elsewhere) then unpleasing disillusions may come from what is justified. Emotion of being faced with a lot of alien uncontrolled machinery. Set the perspective differently, for example with the Gnostic myth. The simple paradise can not be allowed to persist. No unjustified dogma can reign over us. Create what we believe to be the soundest possible basis for future experience. Resistance to ideas and thoughts one does not want to have. Phenomenal reality of any experience, based upon whatever presuppositions. Even to think some of the hostile possibilities is in a way dangerous. Of course there are other ways of looking at this, beginning from different assumptions. And there is the effort to dispense with all assumptions whatever, to take every idea at its own valuation. Resultant confusion. Narcissistic enjoyment. Against the hubris of the individual, the jealousy of the gods. A whole range of ideas and suggestions attaching guilt to the enjoyment of the individual. So much suggestion that to resist all this can seem to require a titanic strength. And eventually to yield can bring a kind of serenity. Then there are all kinds of philosophies attacking the basis of this egoism. All competing for our allegiance.
AN 244 Wittgensteinianism is different from direct moralism. It criticises what seem to be illegitimately derived philosophical ideas, that can seem to underlie certain forms of experience. This can be startling and disconcerting. Seemingly solid and satisfying experience replaced by nothing, reduced to the mundane. But then it can come back provided the purpose behind it is made clear. So experience becomes dependent upon philosophy. But this is bad for a number of reasons. This considering of possibilities is easily viciously regressive. This may be overcome. But it doesn't really deal with the main problem, which is the strength of a hostile idea directed towards itself. ….Philosophy as undermining religion. Even the theosophical kind of religion promoted by Aldous Huxley and furthered by Leary. Drug religion, related to the shamanism of the people of the steppe.
AN 336 Wittgenstein claims to destroy only houses of cards. The corollary of this is that every value that is worth having is capable of being rescued. There is nothing to regret in the destruction of illusions. Whatever joy there was therein can be saved. The true philosophical task of the modern era is to mine the spiritual treasure of the ages.
AP 273 Wittgenstein will defend the logic of any language game for which there is a motive outside philosophy. Thus religion can be defended, with its mysterious sources of authority. As can atheism. Winch's philosophy can have the effect of keeping us in a world where conventional meanings apply. The philosophical arguments that analyse them away can seem to be confused and unjustified.
AP 290 Philosophy and its significance. Efforts to think beyond the limitations of the ordinary. Illegitimate logical and grammatical error, say Wittgenstein and Winch. But look at the value of philosophy for eighteenth century Britain. The culture was philosophy driven. If one sticks to a rigidly protected common sense, how is interesting philosophy to arise?
AP 297 Dennett, Consciousness Explained. He fails to pay sufficient acknowledgement to Ryle and Wittgenstein, and claims too much credit for originality. Ryle and Wittgenstein. It is difficult to keep their discoveries constantly in mind, which is perhaps what they demand.
AP 371 When I recall that I learnt Wittgenstein. Might it not have been Heidegger? But then are these not two totally different kinds of philosopher? Wittgenstein is like the culmination of a tradition beginning with Hobbes. Analytical philosophy, compelling argument. Wittgenstein was like the most advanced representative of the British analytic tradition. One was involved in this anyway. He put up compelling arguments. Not puzzles it is an intellectual triumph to understand.
AQ 207 Grayling's book on Wittgenstein. It is an attack on Wittgenstein without doubt. Some of the objections he puts forward to the philosophy are not those of someone who has fully felt its force. He raises objections to the therapeutic method without really trying it. If he tried it he would use it on these. "Why if there is no genuinely independent world constraining the way we act, think and talk does it seem as if there is one? Why does it at least seem as though our practices and thought have always to accommodate themselves to something intractable and separate?" (P104) This seems to me a flat misunderstanding. Attributing to Wittgenstein a metaphysical assumption. Perhaps one could say Grayling's is a bad book. And that in philosophy there are a lot of bad books that pass muster. My motives for reading this stuff. Because I get involved in the argument, I am stimulated to argument. Others have an essentially different motive, scholastic or educational.
AQ 215 Reflections on Wittgenstein. This idea of finding similarities between Wittgenstein and Heidegger. Wittgenstein may have had something good to say about Being and Time, but he also did about Mein Kampf…..Turning him into something non philosophical. So called anti foundationalism. Various answers to sceptical arguments. Some seem simply to ignore the arguments. Dogmatically evade them. Even Wittgenstein breaks down. It is then that I see him leading on to Nietzsche.
CC 6/7 The value attached to rediscovering the logic of ordinary language, of understanding where you are. A refusal to share in any kind of common manhood, a desire to make myself into a kind of devil. Philosophical misconception. Uniqueness not the prerequisite of individuality. Problem of the general and the particular. To be responded to as an instance of the particular,. To be responded to as an instance of the general. To be responded to as uniquely differentiated. To be responded to as myself. The third possibility, the 'ordinary language one, one I have very little considered. It is to be expected that a philosopher, accustomed to question everything, should find a certain difficulty in reacting naturally. For a long time I have tended to identify myself and my ideas, as if I am nothing apart form that which makes me different form everyone else. It would be good to abandon philosophy once the right concepts have been established. All life should have a philosophical base.
DD 31 Wittgensteinian analysis of language game, what is 'reality' in the good sense of the word, ie when it is desired as a concept? Schizoid defences have made it come to seem impossible, and illusion. Yet we do know that it is possible to experience it, and that it can be good. The philosopher's miracle, casting our spooks. The demon necessity, the only sin is restriction. 'Reality' is first rejected because it limits, but the danger is that a new limit will be set up which excludes it.
DD 124 One of the effects of his philosophy is to show that moral judgements are possible, because there are a great many possible ways of looking at the world. Thus the essential reason for doing anything comes down to will, and here we are one with Nietzsche. Will here means naturally enough a selfish will. Certainly since Descartes the philosopher has been a figure alone…. Schopenhauer saw the primacy of will but saw it as evil This is the Buddhist position and more like that of Wittgenstein in the Tractatus. Will as obscurer, a tempting position. The mood of weariness.
DD 147 Wittgenstein on pictures. Tractatus idea that language should picture reality. Philosophical Investigations idea of pictures as an aid in understanding a particular language game. And also as dangerous generators of confusion in that they mislead us into thinking that a language game must obey the picture, that it is incomprehensible if it does not. And yet… In looking for the intelligibility that seems to attach to some particular picture, what are we really seeking? Maybe we are looking for a special kind of understanding, something beyond merely being able to play the language game. Such perfect certainty is only really to be found in the realms of mysticism, and it is very reprehensible to try to bind it up with particular judgements.
DD 156 Wittgenstein's philosophy can leave the door open to complete instinctual fulfilment, it strikes at the necessity of whatever ideas try to put limitations on its scope.
FF 355& Think of those who object to Wittgenstein, seeing him as offering a freedom that fails to take wing, To offer too much freedom at too low a level, is often to be blind to the necessity of finding that higher, unified freedom to which there is only one path. Wittgenstein's suffering. Freedom, choice. In one sense the highest rational value. But freedom is power, and as such it is a single thing, and there is one route to it.
GG 75& Wittgenstein's conception of 'forms of life' is one that could do with some criticism. It seems to entail a level of tolerance that can be paralysing. On a Wittgensteinian level we can discuss the nature of 'reasons'. Good reasons and bad reasons, reasons we tend to accept, those we tend to reject. …Forms of life, an explanation for discontinuities. Including the value judgement that we should no more try to reconcile these discontinuities than reconcile the lion with the kangaroo. But there is an urge to find a form of reconciliation of the discontinuities, a practical reason, if you like. The coexistence of different forms of life with nothing to choose between them poses a new and special problem for the reason. Rather than resting content in wherever it happens to find itself, it seeks a new order of rationality, a solution on a new level…….. Wittgenstein as showing how to dissolve philosophical problems without any of the conceptual rubric devised by later commentators. They pursue a kind of scholasticism, an intellectual discipline, a strengthening of the intellectual muscles, but much of the urgency has gone out of the question.
HH 79& Wittgenstein and the Madhyamika (Gudmundsen:- Wittgenstein and Buddhism). Salvation is not to be sought by prolonging or making permanent some particular mood we pass through, but comes from an understanding of the ordinary.
HH 134 The Madhyamika is of course primarily concerned with Nirvana, which is declared to be void. Understanding truth is empty, and language is empty. This is better than saying there is no truth, which is self contradictory. Perfect activity. Is to exorcise the bewitchment of language to open the door to this perfect activity? Is this bewitchment the only real obstacle to happiness? Maybe not, but perhaps it is the only obstacle to truth? …..
HH 237 Solipsism. All our prejudice of matter and particles. Of course Wittgenstein's refutation of solipsism is supposed to be adequate, and it a sense I suppose it is. But perhaps the only states of mind the Wittgensteinian philosophy is really interested in are those which can be communicated. It is easy to teach, we need only use the language games we need to use. However, it is possible to get into a state where one actually wants to disbelieve in the existence of other people, and is in no condition to listen to detailed arguments about the nature of language. It may not be possible in language to make clear the conditions of the problem of the knowledge of other minds, but the meaninglessness of this problem can be experienced directly in the trance state. I cannot lay hold on an 'I'.
IX 122 'The real discovery is the one that makes me capable of stopping doing philosophy when I want to. - the one that gives philosophy peace, so that it is no longer tormented by questions which bring itself into question'. § 133. He remained tormented all his life. Is philosophical confusion something he has banished forever? What of he who does not wish to be convinced? John Wisdom, talking of GE Moore on analysis, said Moore would to accept that no more could be said when he had deeply discussed the use of an expression. He insisted that a problem remained. Wittgenstein insisted it was no more. Linguistic philosophy can only prove its validity in its own terms by becoming accepted. ' I hold no opinions in philosophy' (LW}. Then why write anything? To show how something can be done. What if it can't be done? Perhaps it will convince someone. I am trying to ease my mind of philosophical torment. How have you eased it? I try to show the fly the way out of the fly bottle. Perhaps Wittgenstein has a philosophy that backfires on itself. Can it be a fact that philosophical problems arise from the misunderstandings of the use of words? Perhaps he cannot give philosophy peace. 'We want to understand something already in view. For this is what we seem in some sense not to understand'. If I claim to prove something which you do not accept, we reach a point where we do not simply agree to disagree but call each other blockheads. Try negating individually every section of the Investigations that is not purely factual. Does Wittgenstein bring certitude that philosophy leaves the word as it is? For he was a seeker after certitude. Moore said that Wittgenstein admitted that all his conclusions might be false, but that it was his method that matters. A drowning man clutching at a straw.
KK 152 'The attraction of certain kinds of explanation is overwhelming. At a given time the attraction of a certain kind of explanation is greater than you can conceive. In particular explanations of the kind "this is really only this"'. Say, as with a religious interpretation, one chooses some perhaps selective picture, which brings threads together, and mobilises for the future. It is a 'way, imposing order on recalcitrant material, it deals with some supposedly intransigent difficulties with such ingenuity that that one is inclined to go along with it, It offers perhaps the exciting hope of a resistance overcome, and new games one may immerse oneself in. Each game (but they are not really games because they are deadly serious) offers a certain kind of satisfaction, perhaps it resolves previous tensions. There might be facts, motives, phenomena, which do not fit conveniently into the explanation. Under the pressure of an overwhelming interest, ingenuity can find a means of accommodating them, or explaining them away. Wittgenstein's prohibition 'this is only this'. Not to get fixated by one picture, one type of explanation. Yet for the very reason of such a prohibition, that very ensnarement can be horribly seductive.
KK 215 Boehme and his solution to the problem of evil, Wittgenstein and his solution to the problems of philosophy. Boehme's is a satisfactory solution in its way. All revolving around the question of what is. If we can show that somehow evil is not, then God's perfect goodness is not impugned. A proof is required that evil is to be excluded from what we are to treat as the things that are. It is only those things that can really worry us. Being, existence, essentially grammatical terms, how we determine to use them decides what we are to allow to worry us. 'Being' allowed to some concept or other, give it a certain solidity in the mind. That to which we do not allow the status we can glide away from, it cannot cause us real mental disquiet when we conceptualise it, it is a mere cipher. Not everything can be a cipher, the mind must have something which is solid. Does therefore the mind create being? One feels (here I adopt a Wittgensteinian style) that there must be substrates of that which is. But maybe all that is need is a substratum of that which could be? What determines the limit? There are hierarchies of different possibilities existing at different levels. At different points there are moves which are prohibited, just as in pure mathematics, which is tautological. So here again I can resolve a problem by the manipulation of the concept of being. 'what are the limits?' There are no limits. The rules governing the use of the verb 'to be' are among the most important tools for the control of the mind. They govern what is to be considered as a problem to be resolved, and what is to be disregarded. Always there are rules.
KK 252 Is there a real pattern? Yes, there are relationships which are not immediately perceived, and which are answerable to desire. There is, as it were, an answer for which one was looking. The couple Wittgenstein had in mind may well have been a shallow pair, dealing mostly in social realities. What is love? Did Wittgenstein understand it?
LL 33 Ryle, Wittgenstein. What new do they put into ordinary language? The idea of contentment with it. Philosophic content with the pattern of ordinary language is essential new move they encourage us to make. Do we have to make that move? No. It is in the nature of a recommendation. To understand its force we can look behind for motives. Desires, inclinations. Perhaps the foundation of our position is not something philosophical at all. Vicious regresses. Philosophy part of language and is not some unique kind of metalanguage whose moves are not open to the same kind of interpretation.
NN 111 Carrying on his work. If we come up with some dogmatic formula that enables us to treat certain questions as cleared up, once and for all, and get on to other equally interesting things.
NN 132 Wittgenstein's fascination with the compelling nature of certain explanatory models. The real; meaning of any proposal to increase the general happiness of mankind, from Peter Laurie, to Major Douglas, is its persuasive force as an instrument of achieving power. We should not yield up to an idea simply because we find it find it attractive or convincing. Its power to convince me is not he most important thing about it.
PP 144 Wittgenstein on Freud. Wittgenstein concerned himself much with the nature of acceptable explanations. What is it that makes us feel that an explanation is acceptable? On this interpretation, the history of science becomes a more interesting subject. No longer is it the study of outmoded errors, but it may throw interesting light on what different times and cultures have been prepared to count as satisfactory explanation. Frazer, Levi Strauss.
SS 168& Vico, Collingwood, Winch. Winch's idea of Wittgenstein's language games. Now I do most certainly agree that it is a most important part of historical or sociological scholarship to establish what people were thinking and saying in their own terms. The idea though that this understanding amounts to understanding the reality of the situation they were in is a metaphysical presumption. With Vico we get this priestly or counterreformation impulse. It is an attack upon so called scientific reality. The priest does not lie. Sacerdos non mentit. The idea that human beings have the power to create their own reality. What power this should put into the hands of an intellectual, or priestly caste! Notice the curious fact that it is the highest elites in British society where religion flourishes the strongest. The power elite mistrust reason and prefer tradition, viz. the top public schools, the Roman Catholicism at Oxford, and among other elements of the establishment.
UU 15 Wittgenstein to Winch, forms of life. Linking up Wittgenstein with an idealist tradition from Hegel, through Croce and Collingwood. Idealism a form of reductionism. Leading either to scepticism, or to some form of dogmatism. Croce's idealistic idea that all history is the history of judgements. Wittgenstein's idea of forms of life and language games. From Wittgenstein's position, Croce's idea is just a form of reductionism, reducing one language game (historical facts) to another (judgements and opinions about historical facts). However some strains in Wittgenstein's thinking do have an idealistic tendency. Language games forms of life. Some people seem to suggest a kind of linguistic reductionism an relativism. Making opinions serve the place of facts and realities. Forms of life, We find that almost any set of attitudes and opinions can be justified. The ultimate point of reference is just the concept of the language game, thus in a sense all religions are true. For the idealist, all impression are true, and impressions make up reality. For the Wittgensteinian philosopher, language is itself a kind of ultimate. Questions of truth or untruth only arise within language games. 'Sociologism'. Thinking philosophically, it is hard to find a rational criterion for distinguishing between the truth or acceptability of different language games. Sociologism undermines the possibility of criticising ideologies and ways of life. In a sense it makes them all 'valid'. There is no ordinary language criterion here to fall back on. Nothing to give us a central point of reference in judging ideologies. Collingwood is very anti psychology as a science. For the science of psychology and his conception of history are antithetical. On the Collingwood/Croce/Winch idea it is very hard to accept that some 'forms of life' are honest and to be taken at face value, whereas some are not. I would say that this type of philosophy, like other forms of idealism simply lets in too much error I would want to exclude. I think this is too high a price to pay. I think we have to establish a criterion of judgement, which while retaining the advantages of the tolerant and permissive attitude to the great variety of 'forms of life' yet minimises some of its disadvantages, the dangers of paralysing scepticism and arbitrary dogmatism. An invented formula that is like a sovereign in a nation, putting an end to anarchy and civil war, and enabling all the various classes, interests and occupations in the country to get on with their own business to the benefit of all. There is nothing in the Wittgensteinian position to repudiate such a criterion. There is nothing in Wittgenstein to suggest that such relativism or reductionism is necessary. The philosophy points out the great variety of language games to be found in ordinary language. Ordinary language does not offer any guidance in the case under discussion, but is there any reason why we should not create a concept of 'reality' to cope with our difficulties?
UU 33 Different faces of Wittgenstein. Ryle v Winch. Winch's extension into an almost metaphysical realm. Idea of language games. Shift from the emphasis on solving philosophical problems, to justifying 'forms of life' in terms of quite permissible language games, letting in religion. Language games treated as one criterion of reality. This is a form of idealism. The great point is that any new philosophy inevitably creates a kind of metalanguage. Ordinary language games may provide the primary condition of logical soundness, but in thinking of the concept of language games as whole we have no such guidance. There is nothing to say we may treat language games as a criterion of reality.
XX 313 Rush-Rees (ed) Recollections of Wittgenstein. Reading that, so much falls into place. Wittgenstein's charisma. His intellectual culture, as distinct from his pure philosophy and the influence it had. A masochistic strain in him, self immolation. His taste for extreme decadents, like St Augustine, the later Tolstoy, and Kierkegaard. His foolishness. Self immolation. Recall TE Lawrence, seeking anonymity in the RAF. His desire to lose himself in ordinariness, a desire and temptation which most people find baffling and repellent, if fascinating. The strong belief in hard work, the democratic, almost saint like belief in the common, immolation of ones talents. Is this not far more comprehensible in the light of a certain kind of homosexuality? His communist sympathies. To the normal heterosexual intellectual, like George Gissing, the life of the masses is horrible and repellent, to have to become one of them is a kind of death. Tolstoy advocates it as part of his Christian morality. One can see how such values could appeal to the superior person (Donne, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, St Augustine) as a kind of asceticism, a demanding challenge. The very difficulty and repellent quality of the ideal offering material for heroism, self overcoming. But on the other hand might not the homosexual find erotic pleasure in what others kind so degrading, tedious and repellent? Anyway, to understand the nature of his intellectual interests, whatever the psychological causes, is to dispel the mystique, this atmosphere of 'wisdom' that his followers have established. Wittgenstein's followers. Apart from his philosophical influence, he exerted a spiritual, cultural, influence, which was not due so much to any superior wisdom as to the sheer strength of his personality. He was technical, practical, ascetic, musical, perfectionist, homosexual, masochistic. Why should people whose temperaments must be intrinsically different from his follow him spiritually? Something to do with the quality of England, the naivete combined with the sense of order and discipline. Nietzsche's famous question 'what do ascetic ideals betoken?' Asceticism as pursuit of power, as in Hindu literature. Wittgenstein was certainly no saint. But nor was he as enigmatic a people say he was. The mystery attaching to ascetic values. The so called 'Lawrence enigma'. Wittgenstein's 'wisdom'. Merely a form of interest. Irresponsibility of intellectuals generally. They have fun thinking. They fall under the influence eof strong personalities. The mystique that builds up. Pompous orthodoxies that characterise English society. How it takes a strong personality to break through such a mystique.
XX 327 Wittgenstein had a lot of fun. Culturally though, he supported what I consider to be a counter tradition of decadent forces. A kind of death wish culture. I cannot support this. I see its values as a kind of asceticism, with all that asceticism has to offer, but on the whole it represents a tradition which unless subjugated, brought under control, threatens to destroy and undermine all that I am trying to do.
ZZ 89 Triviality of much
philosophy. Verbal investigations said to be valuable and interesting,
the big questions having been settled by Wittgenstein. Warnock,
Their philosophy can really only be interesting if you really are
by Wittgenstein. Otherwise is it not even a rather arbitrary study?
pressing philosophical problems press, of a traditional type, it will
irrelevant. Verbal games, sub scholastic pedantry. The history of
remains. Warnock on Berkeley, Wollheim on Bradley, Pears on logical
As historians of philosophy Oxford philosophers are admirable. Warnock
says how he finds linguistic examination for its own sake intensely
But is this not because he holds beliefs which assure him of its worth?
Surely his first task must be to convince everyone else of these
to bring them out as explicitly as possible, so they are not open to
(if true). Future of philosophy question. Approach it from the question
of 'linguistic philosophy' the programme sketched out by Strawson and
Here the great questions, or the greatest questions are supposed
or dissolved. Where could one go from here?
Philosophical, Magical and Mystical Reflections
* Recently published book*
*Aleister Crowley, a Modern Master*
(Placing the Beast in his cultural background)
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