Scott's Reviews > Philosophical Investigations

Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Jun 07, 07

Recommended for: Serendipitous Charlatans
Read in January, 2004

To date the most overrated work of 20th century analytic thought (if one wishes to truly count the later Wittgenstein as an analytic). Written in a fragmentary styled not seen in the traditional philosophical corpus since Spinoza, Wittgenstein often leaves the reader guessing at what he could possibly be referencing. The work starts out quite strong as a critique of Russell and Moore, concerning their conceptions of language and its logic. But as the work progresses, many philosophers mistakenly take the hermeneutical gap between author and reader to be a sign of Wittgenstein's genius; instead of the proper and simpler idea that Wittgenstein himself is working with a fragmentary mind. Indeed, the fragmentary style allows many different thinkers to draw quite disparate conclusions from the same passages. I suspect the real reason everyone loves Wittgenstein is they love that he provides a means by which to buttress one's own theoretical predispositions.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by JB (new) - rated it 1 star

JB Dead on!


message 2: by Kyle (new) - rated it 1 star

Kyle Spinoza's writing isn't fragmented. He is at least following logical rules of deduction throughout the Ethics, even if he makes jumps at times.


Christopher Mcmaster There is sincerely no less meritorious an argument against a thinker than the one you have proposed above. That Wittgenstein has many interpreters is not itself a rebuttal; that Wittgenstein's interpreters have sometimes differed quite dramatically in their opinions is simply an observation.

Fragmentation is a bizarre accusation to level at a book that was assembled, rather than written as a book -- but I will let that slide. What I will not let slide is the notion that this fragmentation is detrimental to Wittgenstein's central thesis (and I assure you, there is a central thesis). Wittgenstein does not work on one central argument, but creates a series of illustrations, examples and logical arguments to support his theory of language and refute all others. As for Wittgenstein having a fragmented mind, I would advise you to have a think about the Tractatus and consider the fragmented mind that wrote such a work of precision and structure.


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