Proposing alternative perspectives to alleviate and liberate

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  • CV: Working in philosophy - like work in architecture in many respects - is really more a working on oneself. On one’s interpretations. On one’s way of seeing things. (And what one expects of them.)
  • PI 309: What is you aim in philosophy? -- To shew the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.
  • PI: 144: I wanted to put that picture before him, and his acceptance of the picture consists in his now being inclined to regard a given case differently: that is, to compare it with this rather than that set of pictures. I have changed his way of looking at things

“The hope of his philosophising, throughout his life was to release us from care and anxiety to peace, to peace and security.” (Bearn, 2010, pg 338 - 339)

  • PI 115: A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably. 

“A survey of Part I of the Investigations tells us that philosophical problems arise or remain because of:

  1. What forces itself on us, hold us captive, demands an answer, must be, leads us, we can’t help, or no one would say (14 times);
  2. What we are tempted, seduced, bewitched, or dazzled by (19 times);
  3. What suggests itself, strikes us, occurs to us, or impressions we are under (7 times);
  4. How things look to us (2 times);
  5. What we find surprising, convincing, senseless, ludicrous, sensible or matter-of-course (8 times);
  6. Our compulsions, needs, urges, wants, tendencies, inclinations, expectations or prejudices (28 times);
  7. What we notice, can get ourselves to think, can be satisfied with, only think of, overlook, don’t realize, fail to see, or forget (14 times);
  8. What we would like (6 times);
  9. What we are committed to, choose, decide, allow or refuse (6 times); and
  10. How we look at or represent things (5 times). (Klagge, 2011, pg 25)
  • Z 349: It is very difficult to describe paths of thoughts where there are already many lines of thought laid down, -- your own or other people’s -- and not get into one of the grooves. It is difficult to deviate from an old line of thought just a little.
  • CV: The only way for us to guard our assertions against distortions - or avoid vacuity in our assertions, is to have a clear view in our reflections of what the ideal is, namely an object of comparison - a yardstick, as it were - instead of making a prejudice of it to which everything has to conform.

“Wittgenstein seems to hope that the individuals can get away from a particular picture and can make a difference, at least for herself. In the context of philosophy he speaks of giving up the questions that do not make sense and says that this is a kind of resignation and act of the will. Clearly for him there seems to be a kind of hope that is possible after all to resist certain temptations of the time. This might require particular cognitive acts, but clearly something emotional is involved as well. What is changed through a different picture is, as was argued, not just this or that use of a concept, but a whole area of concepts relying on the changes of a whole set of practices.” (Smeyers, 2010, pg 98)

  • Z 350: “It is as if our concepts involved a scaffolding of facts.” That would presumably mean: If you imagine certain facts otherwise, describe them otherwise, than the way they are, then you can no longer imagine the application of certain concepts, because the rules for their application have no analogue in the new circumstances. -- So what I am saying comes to this: A law given for human beings, and a jurisprudent may well be capable of drawing consequences for any case that ordinarily comes his way; thus the law evidently has its use, makes sense. Nevertheless its validity presupposes all sorts of things, and if the being that he is to judge is quite deviant from ordinary human beings, then e.g. the decisions whether he has done a dded with evil intent will become not difficult but (simply) impossible.
  • OC 617: Certain events would put me in a position in which I could not go on with the old language-game any further. In which I was torn away from the sureness of the game. Indeed, doesn’t it seem obvious that the possibility of a language-game is conditioned by certain facts?

“Wittgenstein is invoking not something different from the things we notice, but some aspects of what we do notice. It has to be recognised, that is, that he is not directing us to look elsewhere but to look differently, that he is seeking to transform not the direction but the manner of our vision.” (Affeldt, 2010, pg 271)

“With such examples Wittgenstein means to call to mind ... the intimacy with which seeing is bound up with our embodiment, expectations, natural reactions, forms of life, and fact about our natural and social worlds.” (Affeldt, 2010, 276)

“I take seriously Wittgenstein’s interest in bringing philosophical anxiety peace, by learning how to bring philosophical investigations to an end ... And it is important to recognise that this end is not one final apocalyptic end; it is rather, as Cavell puts it, that each investigation come ‘to an end somewhere each in its time, place by pace.’ (Cavell, 1985, pg. 531)” (Bearn, 2010, pg 342)


References  (back to top)

    • Affeldt, G. (2010). On the difficulty of seeing aspects and the 'therapeutic' reading of Wittgenstein. In W. Day and V. Krebs (Eds), Seeing Wittgenstein anew. (pp. 268 - 288). Cambridge University Press.
    • Bearn, G. (2010). The enormous danger. In W. Day and V. Krebs (Eds), Seeing Wittgenstein anew. (pp. 338 - 356). Cambridge University Press.
    • Cavell, S. (1985). The division of talent. In Critical Inquiry. Vol. 11. 
    • Klagge, J. (2011). Wittgenstein in exile. Cambridge: MIT Press. 
    • Smeyers, P. (2010). Images and pictures, seeing and imagining. In M. Peters, N. Burbles, and P. Smeyers (Eds), Showing and doing: Wittgenstein as a pedagogical philosopher. (pp. 81 - 100). London: Paradigm Publishers.
    • Smeyers, P. and Peters, M. (2010). ‘Perspicuous representation,’ genealogy and interpretation. In M. Peters, N. Burbles, and P. Smeyers (Eds), Showing and doing: Wittgenstein as a pedagogical philosopher. (pp. 35 - 64). London: Paradigm Publishers.
    • Wittgenstein, L. (2001). Philosophical Investigations. 3rd Edition. Translated by G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
    • _____________  (1967) Zettel. Edited by G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright. Berkeley: University of California Press. 
    • _____________   (1980). Culture and value. Translated by Peter Winch. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
    • _____________ (1969). On Certainty. Edited by G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright. Translated by D. Paul and G.E.M. Anscombe. New York: Harper Torchbooks.