Thursday, January 22, 2009

Witty Geinstein


I am in the middle of a book. A philosophy book…hmmmm, or, a book about a philosopher, or…. I am reading Wittgenstein by Avrum Stroll (hhhmmmmmm…what’s in a name).

I cannot tell whether the book is a good book or a bad book because reading philosophy is something one does not do for entertainment. All I can say is that the book is confusing but it is understandable enough.


What made Wittgenstein different or unique among other modern philosophers is that he wrote just one book. A little book that is just 79 pages long. This is an extraordinary feat since most philosophical books takes about a thousand and a half page just to say “I think, therefore I am.” Wittgenstein wrote 15 more books after he died, an amazing feat.

The little book is titled’ “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.” Now, as a certified Harry Potter fan, this book sounds like fun, but it is not. Some say that if you are in good mood, the book can be like poetry otherwise….The book is enigmatic (one way of saying incomprehensible, unintelligible, unfathomable, impenetrable, inexplicable, inconceivable and perplexing). Here’s an interesting metaphor, “condensed cloud of philosophy in a drop of grammar. The general effect they make (the book’s contents) is that the text is a kind of cryptogram that requires deciphering.

The Tractus is written like a lesson plan…errr….I mean in short sporadic, aphorism like style. Hence the metaphor “condensed cloud of philosophy in a drop of grammar.”

Here are excerpts:

1. The world is everything that is the case.
1.1 The world is the totality of facts, not of things.
1.11 The world is determined by the facts, and these being all the facts.
2. What is the case, the fact, is the existence of atomic facts.

Now the exposition and the exegesis of these statements astound me. No wonder his philosophy of language is called logical atomism.

Wittgenstein’s life is as interesting as his philosophy.

He gave away his inheritance. This is not a joke since his family is a rich, aristocratic family in Austria. After writing Tractus, he taught in grade school. Where it is rumored he engaged in homosexual…errr….philosophizing. He had a bad temper, sensitive, dislikes people and all the trademark of a neurotic genius.

His lectures are reportedly weird because he lectured without any notes. He just talked and puffed his cigarette, paused to think and made strange facial gestures and then continued on lecturing or talking while his students sat around him like children waiting for something profound to come out of his lips.

I am about half the book. I am trying to make heads or tails but I think I’m doing ok.

Reading about a weird guy like Witt makes me think…

Sometimes I wonder, if I do something weird like stand on my head and then say weird things like….”If you take that, you took, and what is taken is what should be, and it is the token of the taking.” If I am rich, dead and had all the influence, complete with the quirks and mannerisms…I wonder how many people will try to do a hermeneutics and exegesis of what I have said.

Just wondering….delusions of grandeur.

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