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C.D. Broad's Review of Norman Malcolm's Memoir and von Wright's Biographical Sketch of Wittgenstein

The distinction between a professional philosopher and a philosopher for whom philosophy is a way of life.

REVIEWS

Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir. NORMAN MALCOLM; with a Biographical Sketch by GEORG HENRIK VON WRIGHT. Oxford University Press. 12s. 6d.

Wittgenstein died in Cambridge on April 29th, 1951, three days after completing his 62nd year. Many false, and some absurd, legends have sprung up about him, and some of them have been widely circulated. It is therefore most desirable that there should be a brief biography of him by an absolutely trustworthy, competent, and scrupulously accurate person, who knew him well and admired him and his work, and who has set himself to ascertaining the available facts. All these qualifications are possessed to a pre-eminent degree by Professor G.H. von Wright, and the biographical sketch which he contributed in October 1955 to Vol. LXIV of The Philosophical Review is a model of its kind. It is reprinted in the book under review, and occupies the first 22 pages of it. It is written in an English style of such excellence as few Englishmen and hardly any Americans nowadays manage to attain.

Von Wright does not confine himself to a bare record of facts. He gives his own estimate, which is very high indeed, of Wittgenstein's personality and intellect and of his earliest and his later contributions to philosophy. As to this I can only say that nothing impresses me so much about Wittgenstein as the impression which he made on such fine characters and such eminent philosophers as, e.g., Moore and von Wright.

As there is a legend that Wittgenstein was received in articulo mortis into the Roman Catholic Church, and as that legend is false, I take this opportunity to state, on the authority and with the permission of Dr. Bevan, in whose house Wittgenstein died, the relevant facts. I will premise by saying that, in view of the fact that Wittgenstein came of a family who were converts from Judaism to Roman Catholicism, that he was himself baptized in that religion, and that on more than one occasion he had seriously considered entering a monastic order, there would have been nothing surprising if he had (like Talleyrand) reverted to Roman Catholicism on his death-bed. The actual facts, as stated by Dr. Bevan, are these. Several of Wittgenstein's close associates were converts to the Roman Church. One

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UNIVERSITIES QUARTERLY          305

of them had a friend, a Dominican monk, whom Wittgenstein had known and liked. When Wittgenstein lay dying it was decided, after some discussion among his assembled friends, that this Dominican should say the prayers for the dying in his room. After the death the question arose whether there should be any religious service in connection with the burial in St. Giles' cemetery in Cambridge. One of his friends recalled that Wittgenstein had once told him, with strong expressions of approval, that Tolstoy (though not an orthodox believer) had, on the death of his brother, instructed the village priest to say the usual prayers at the graveside. It was thereupon agreed that the Dominican should be asked to say some prayers at Wittgenstein's funeral, and this was accordingly done. It appears from several statements in the book under review that, although Wittgenstein had a profound admiration for St. Augustine and his works, his own leanings were less towards Catholic orthodoxy than to certain of the more extreme forms of Christian heresy, as expressed, e.g. by Tolstoy and by Kierkegaard.

The greater part of the book consists of a personal memoir by Professor Norman Malcolm of Cornell University. Malcolm first came to Cambridge from U.S.A. for post-graduate study in the Michaelmas Term of 1938. He attended Wittgenstein's lectures and came into increasingly close personal touch with him during the period which ended with his return to U.S.A. early in 1940. He was enabled to stay longer than would otherwise have been financially possible through the generous help of Wittgenstein. They corresponded thereafter with each other, first during Malcolm's Instructorship at Princeton and later during his service in the U.S. navy. After a brief and rather chilling meeting in May 1945, when Malcolm utilized 35 hours' leave from his ship to visit Wittgenstein in Cambridge, the two did not meet again until the autumn of 1946, when Malcolm, accompanied by his wife, took up residence for a second time in Cambridge until the summer of 1947. During that period they saw a great deal of each other, and they corresponded regularly thereafter. In July 1949 Wittgenstein went to U.S.A. as guest of the Malcolms, and stayed with them until October, when he returned to England after a period of serious illness. He continued to correspond with Malcolm, writing his last letter thirteen days before his death.

Wittgenstein was plainly a formidable person, who called forth much admiration and great devotion in some of those who were in regular touch with him, but did not hesitate to chasten those whom

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he loved. He demanded complete frankness in speech of his friends, but sometimes reacted with rather childish annoyance when they responded to that demand. It was difficult for anyone who attended his lectures and discussion-classes to publish anything in philosophy without incurring the charge either of surreptitiously borrowing his ideas, or of wilfully or ignorantly misrepresenting them, or of both. An original thinker may well pray to be delivered from his disciples and admirers, but the vehemence and duration of Wittgenstein's reactions to their supposed peccadillos seemed often to be altogether out of proportion to the occasion.

All this is illustrated, but by no means over-emphasized, in the course of Malcolm's memoir. But the affection and awed admiration which Malcolm felt for Wittgenstein, and the respect and liking which Wittgenstein felt for Malcolm, shine out with their own light against the background of occasional ungraciousness and constant nervous strain. There are many agreeable and even playful incidents recorded. My impression is that there was for Wittgenstein little or no region intermediate between a state of high and concentrated seriousness and rather simple and sometimes almost crudely "low-brow" interludes. I suspect that this, rather than the alleged "artificiality" of the conversation at the High Table of Trinity, made the latter so distasteful to Wittgenstein. That conversation is the talk of men, all fairly eminent in their respective subjects, relaxing after a fairly tiring day's work. It presupposes common traditions, going back to undergraduate days, and habitual "family" jokes and allusions, and it moves in a sphere equally remote from high seriousness and from horseplay. A major prophet may be an excellent fellow, but he will hardly make an excellent Fellow. And, to pass from the general to the particular, one for whom philosophy is a way of life will find it difficult to associate on easy terms with those (like myself) for whom it is primarily a means of livelihood.          C.D. BROAD

Source: an Interlibrary Loan photocopy of the former British journal Universities Quarterly, 13 May 1959, pages 304-6. I have changed Broad's single quotes to double quotes because double quotes are used in the Americas to mean 'so-called' and 'as it were'.

The first edition of Malcolm's Memoir was published in 1958, the second in 1984. Michaelmas is 29 September, the day dedicated to the Archangel Michael in the church calendar; I believe that "Michaelmas Term" (October to December) would be equivalent to the Fall Quarter.

Wittgenstein lived 1889-1951, Norman Malcolm 1911-1990, von Wright 1916-2003, and C.D. Broad 1887-1971 (Professor of philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge University, 1923-1953).


Outline of this page ...


Notes about C.D. Broad

After his election in 1938 to G.E. Moore's former professorship at Cambridge, Wittgenstein told Drury that Broad had said: "To refuse the chair to Wittgenstein would be like refusing Einstein a chair of physics." Considering how "antipathetic" Broad found Wittgenstein -- although this was as much or more a question of principle as of temperament --, Broad does indeed seem to have been, in Wittgenstein's words, "a very just man" (Recollections p. 141-142), a man maybe of more character than he credited himself with in his "Autobiography" [Note 1].

C.D. Broad died on Thursday, 11 March 1971, but I don't know where he died or where he is buried (The death notice for Broad in the London Times of 15 March 1971 does not say). I do have a photograph of G.E. Moore's grave in St. Giles Cemetery in Cambridge (with an account of a visit to Wittgenstein's grave there in 1980), however. (Moore taught at Trinity College from 1911-1939.)

C.D. Broad and Wittgenstein

When Broad wrote in his "Autobiography" that he took little interest in later developments in philosophy (p. 61), I think this was partly because he basically couldn't stand Wittgenstein's manner of philosophizing (and consequently Wittgenstein himself), and felt that if such a man was "later developments" then he would rather do without. It may have been like what Wittgenstein had replied to Russell about the young Norbert Wiener: "Wiener good at mathematics? Then mathematics must be no good!" [Note 2]

But it was more than a personal disliking. Broad was a scholar who regarded Cambridge as a community of scholars. Wittgenstein was not a scholar; nothing Wittgenstein ever wrote is a work of scholarship. The text for which Wittgenstein was awarded the PhD, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, is not a work of scholarship; Broad would have had every right to oppose Wittgenstein's being awarded that degree. This is not a difference in temperament: this is a fundamental disagreement about the character of a university.

And it was more than a personal disliking because in Broad's view philosophy is not an activity for oracles and poets; it is an exercise of explicit reasoning -- i.e. where reasons are given and explanations of meaning are not shunned. When Broad called the Tractatus highly syncopated (meaning abbreviated), he was doing more than characterizing its style; he was also rejecting it as the form that philosophy and philosophizing should take.

Bertrand Russell said that, at the time he met Wittgenstein, the latter was extremely averse to explaining his ideas, because giving explanations spoiled their beauty. (It was very kind of Broad to simply call this "syncopation".)

I think I summed up my attitude to philosophy when I said: philosophy ought really to be written only as a poetic composition. (CV p. 24)

Some people will be sympathetic toward this attitude, others quite the contrary. (That Wittgenstein made this remark as late as 1934 surprises me, and I don't know whether he meant it to apply only to his attitude in the past. If he also meant it to apply to his work after the Tractatus, then I have no idea what he meant by it. The revised translation has "really one should write philosophy only as one writes a poem" [MS 146 25v: 1933-1934]. But there are countless types of poems, written countless types of ways.)

So one might say that Broad was indeed "very just" on two counts not to oppose the awarding of G.E. Moore's old professorship to Wittgenstein, allowing that in exceptional cases exceptions should be made. But if Broad had felt opposed, this should not be attributed to malice -- any more than Broad's opposition to Wittgenstein's taking part in the discussions of the Moral Sciences Club should be attributed to malice (Wittgenstein turned what was intended to be an exchange of views -- as in Socratic dialog or dialectic: to answer and be cross-questioned, refute and be refuted (Plato, Gorgias 461d-462a) -- into a monologue), but to principle.

Certainly a work like W.K.C. Guthrie's History of Greek Philosophy (Cambridge: 1962-1981) shows what university scholarship (erudition) can be. But as Broad well knew from his own life, scholarship can also be a false god: "I no longer believed in the importance of philosophy" (Broad, "Autobiography", p. 61). So that all I can think when I look at Broad's writing is: so much intelligence, so little point to intelligence.

And I attribute Broad's disillusionment to what in my opinion "must" be his misconception of philosophy: if Broad no longer believed in the importance of philosophy then it was because his conception of philosophy was not worthy of it.

Philosophy for Broad was not a Way of Life

"... one for whom philosophy is a way of life" (See the conclusion of Broad's review of Malcolm's Memoir above). Wittgenstein was not the first philosopher Broad had met for whom it was this way. When Broad was at Dulwich College (1900-1906) the headmaster was A.H. Gilkes,

a very remarkable personality, who certainly bore some likeness to the man whom he most admired and would most have wished to resemble, viz., Socrates. (Broad, "Autobiography", p. 40)

But A.H. Gilkes' example wasn't what made Broad want to become a philosopher. Actually Broad never especially wanted to become a philosopher. His desire when he first went to Cambridge University was to become a scientific researcher. It was only when he decided that he had no exceptional talent for science that he transferred his course of study to Moral Science [Note 3]. In the latter subject, however, as it happened Broad did have an exceptional talent. And it was for his talent for philosophical thinking that he was elected to a Trinity Fellowship and which thus determined his career (ibid. p. 48-51).

Broad himself regarded that determination as a matter of chance, which he believed plays an "enormously great part" in human life (ibid. p. 66). Which is apparently to say that Broad might just as easily have chosen to be an academic in some other field of study -- if he had had an exceptional talent in some area other than philosophy, and if so that he might not have done much thinking about philosophical questions.

Broad had read Schopenhauer and Kant before arriving at Cambridge, but as to the origin of his interest in philosophy, he wrote, "I cannot now remember at all clearly how it began. But I am certain that an important factor in it was the desire to talk big, and to impress my contemporaries and my elders ..." (ibid. p. 48). This sounds rather like a young person "going through a phase", something which, if unencouraged, he can be expected to "grow out of". (Albert Schweitzer e.g. as a youngster passed through a phase of "disputatiousness" -- He insisted on arguing about every philosophical, ethical, religious question with anyone and everyone -- which he soon enough abandoned.)

As part of his education, every young person should take an interest in philosophy, but not every young person should make it his life's work to teach philosophy -- regardless of whether or not he has an exceptional talent for philosophy; otherwise he may become like a teacher who has no true love for learning and who is consequently unable to inspire a love for learning in his students. Although Broad seems to have enjoyed being an academic, perhaps in light of what he later wrote about his life, he might have lived a personally more worthwhile life if this "phase" had not been encouraged; a university would seem to have been the last place that might have corrected what Broad regarded as the faults in his character. It was instead a place to hide. [Note 4]

If it really was chance that made the determination that philosophy was to be Broad's avocation (career) although it was not his vocation (calling in life), then perhaps it was natural that for a man of his character, when he retired from the Knightbridge Professorship in 1953, he did so "with great positive pleasure. No longer need I occupy the ambiguous position of an unbelieving Pope ..." (ibid. p. 65); because apparently Broad had begun to feel uneasy about being a professor of philosophy even before the outbreak of the Second World War:

... I cannot seriously reproach myself [with respect to carrying out my duties as a professor]. But a professor ought to be something more than an efficient and conscientious teacher and lecturer. He ought to be doing original work himself, and inspiring others to do the like. In this I conspicuously failed. What was fundamentally amiss was that such spring as there had ever been in my life had gone out of it. I no longer believed in the importance of philosophy. I took little interest in its later developments, and I knew very well that I ... had nothing further of value to contribute. (ibid. p. 61)

At the conclusion of his review of Malcolm's Memoir, Broad says that for him philosophy had been "primarily a means of livelihood". And he felt that he done well from it: "I had good health and a sufficient [private] income [from his savings and the investments he had made (Broad, "Autobiography", p. 52)] ... and the right to remain a Fellow of Trinity, and, as such, to retain my rooms in College and to eat my free dinners in Hall." (ibid. p. 65)

.....

I find it very hard to believe that Broad has given a true account of his life. Not everything a truthful man says is true, and it is easy enough to project the disillusionment of age onto an earlier period of one's life. On the other hand, perhaps it is only that I find it very hard to accept Broad's account. Broad writes as if he believed that he had been living a lie or had given his life to a lie: "I no longer believed in the importance of philosophy."

If that is correct, then I must question Broad's conception of philosophy in the first place. If the questions he was thinking about were so far removed from living life that they could seem unimportant to him, then these questions were not worthy of his attention in the first place. [Note 5]

Socrates in Plato's dialogs, despite the results of his philosophizing seeming to be entirely negative (as is consistent with Apology 21a-d), for, unlike Socrates, the men he questions do not know what they think they know, and so Socrates is never able to collect anything more than "broken fragments of the dish" he seeks: What is piety, courage, justice (Republic 331e-335e is an exception, for by saying what justice is not, Plato also says what it is), self-control, wisdom? -- despite this result Socrates not only never says that he "no longer believed in the importance of philosophy", but even says that if there is a life after this one, then he wanted to continue philosophizing there as well (Apology 41b; cf. Euthyphro 15c: "As for me, I will never give up until I know").

On the other hand, Broad does not say why he no longer believed in the importance of philosophy, nor why he had ever believed it to be important, nor what he now thought to be important. So I don't really know what I am talking about, because I don't really know what Broad was talking about.

"I find it hard to accept ..." Is that everything Broad had to say? Is it really possible that a man can be no more than a "professional philosopher", that he can regard philosophy as little more than a "career opportunity"? But were there not men in the Middle Ages who regarded the priesthood that way? And isn't that what the Sophists (regardless of the reality) are often pictured as having been -- men with real talent for philosophical thinking but who saw no value in their subject beyond its providing them with a living? Think of the many reasons men have for becoming doctors. Certainly not all men who choose that profession do so because they believe they have a "vocation to ease human suffering".

So perhaps when I wrote above that Broad was "a man of much more character than he credited himself with", I was mistaken. Perhaps he was a scoundrel. Because one might also say that if he "no longer believed in the importance of philosophy", then he should have resigned his professorship. [Note 6] That indeed might be what a decent man would have done. On the other hand, there is probably a further "on the other hand" here, although I do not see one.

When would philosophy not seem to lose its importance to a man? Perhaps if there were some innate ethical drive, such as existed in Socrates, or some innate metaphysical curiosity, such as (I imagine) existed in Plato, within a man, -- or if a man could not tolerate living in a confused mind (Philosophy requires puzzlement), -- then a lifelong thirst for philosophy would be possible. In any case, I don't understand how anyone without this thirst could bear to think philosophically. Philosophy with its demand for unwavering focus on reconceiving (i.e. trying to see in a new way) questions that are inherently confusing is very difficult; even if someone believes that "a method had been found", a philosophical method is not mechanical; it is not an abacus.

On the other hand, the "thirst for learning" (According to Zeller this was the earliest meaning given to the word 'philosophy', although it has of course long been limited much further) is not necessarily accompanied by an exceptional talent for philosophical thinking. And maybe that is why I find Broad's testimony so hard to accept. I keep wanting to object that philosophy is much too hard ... Would Broad's reply have been, "For you perhaps." [Note 7]

"What does it mean when a Chinaman smiles?"

It is important for our view of things that someone may feel concerning certain people that their inner life will always be a mystery to him. That he will never understand them. (Englishwomen in the eyes of Europeans.) [Note 8]

Broad wrote that we cannot "learn to act rightly by appealing to the ethical theory of right action" and therefore that the "interest of ethics is thus almost wholly theoretical", although it may have some

slight practical application. It may lead us to look out for certain systematic faults which we should not otherwise have suspected; and, once we are on the look out for them, we may learn to correct them. But in the main the old saying is true: Non in dialectica complacuit Deo salvum facere populum suum [Maybe: "God did not choose to save men through the use of their reason"]. Not that this is any objection to dialectic. For salvation is not everything; and to try to understand in outline what one solves ambulando and in detail is quite good fun for those people who like that sort of thing. [Note 9]

My first response to this was that Socrates would never have called ethics "good fun" and that an author who writes this way has nothing to say to me. But perhaps that was very unfair to Broad. Perhaps there are cultural differences that ought to be taken into account.

If Broad had written something like: "One does not become a good man merely by reasoning about it; nonetheless, it is philosophically interesting to try to describe what a good man does, and perhaps in describing this we may discover and be led to correct some unrecognized faults in ourselves" (if that was what he meant, and I don't know if he was), I would not have responded the way I did. And I suppose that Broad might have written in that way -- if he hadn't been so "English". As if it were bad manners to appear to be too much in earnest about anything (The horror of any kind of "enthusiasm" or "sentimentality"). In that case Broad's form of expression would be a matter of customs, of upbringing, rather than a reflection of his own character. In other words, his way of expressing himself isn't something that should be held against him, but rather it ought to be recognized for what it is: form, not content. If, that is, form and content can be that independent of one another.

Maybe former English "independent" (i.e. preparatory) school boys (Dulwich College wasn't a "public school", but it was attended by the sons of well-off middle class (bourgeois) families) are incomprehensible to someone of my social condition. And so maybe I misjudge C.D. Broad by laying beside him a yardstick that simply doesn't give a fair measure of him. Broad's flippancy -- e.g. "but salvation isn't everything" -- is incomprehensible to me (I needn't believe what the Puritans believed about salvation, but no one who knows what someone who does believe that means by 'salvation' would say that to him "salvation isn't everything"; what sense would there be in saying that). But I don't think this flippancy in itself indicates that Broad was lacking in character, because Broad certainly wasn't lacking in character. He was a man who took (at least) his non-philosophical responsibilities in life with the greatest seriousness.

I have never had such questions about G.E. Moore (1873-1958), who also attended Dulwich College. So perhaps it is better for me that Broad wrote the way he did, at least from this point of view: perhaps I should now realize that I don't really understand Moore either, that I don't really know "what manner of man he was" (Russell).

On the other hand, of course, I may be quite mistaken about all this: perhaps I just don't accept either Broad's account of what philosophy amounts to or his consequent attitude toward philosophy. For C.D. Broad ethics and indeed the whole of philosophy is of little more than "theoretical" interest. Reason enough not to believe in the worth of philosophy, and Broad did not believe in it. But in my view, he was wrong.


Endnotes

Note 1: "Autobiography" in The Philosophy of C.D. Broad, ed. P. Schilpp, 1959 (Library of the Living Philosophers; x); Broad wrote the autobiography in August 1954. [Back]

Note 2: Ronald W. Clark, Life of Bertrand Russell, New York: 1976, p. 216. This is Russell's paraphrase of Wittgenstein's Letter to him from Norway, [November 1913], R.22.

These "later developments" in philosophy also included the contention made by some linguistic analysts or "language philosophers" (and perhaps by Wittgenstein himself; I don't know) that all philosophical problems can be "dissolved" through investigation of the language they are posed in. But Broad did not believe that, for example, the problem of free will is a "pseudo-problem" ("Autobiography", p. 67).

I don't believe that Wittgenstein would have called it a pseudo-problem either, but I don't think that Wittgenstein would have called it, in the form Broad posed it, a philosophical problem. Here there are different conceptions of philosophy -- i.e. definitions of its nature and aims -- at work. And that distinction is also important, if I know what I'm talking about, for understanding Broad's attitude toward "later developments". Bertrand Russell wrote: "as with all philosophers before [Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations], my fundamental aim has been to understand the world as well as may be, and to separate what may count as knowledge from what must be rejected as unfounded opinion" (My Philosophical Development, New York: 1959, p. 217); this is philosophy defined as a system of speculative theories closely allied to the sciences. Wittgenstein's book's conception is of course very different. In sum, I think, if I am not mistaken, that Broad regarded the Tractatus as uncongenial in style (i.e. philosophical method) and Wittgenstein's later work as foreign to Broad's own conception of philosophy -- foreign to what Broad wanted from philosophy. [Back]

Philosophy as studied at Trinity College Cambridge

Note 3: "'Moral Science' is the official name in Cambridge for what is elsewhere called philosophy." (ibid. p. 47-48). But not really, because at Trinity College ancient philosophy was studied by students only in the Classics department, not also in the Moral Science department, where philosophical studies began with Descartes; other peculiarities were the close connection between the study of philosophy and the study of economics, and that many philosophers approached their subject from the side of mathematics or mathematical physics; Trinity had been the college of Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, and latterly John Venn, Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein, and Frank Ramsey, [J.M. Keynes whose college was Kings, choose to discuss his philosophical-mathematical work on probability with Trinity's Broad and Russell, as well as with Kings' W.E. Johnson], among many others (See C.D. Broad, "The Local Historical Background of Contemporary Cambridge Philosophy" in British Philosophy in the Mid-Century, London: 1957, p. 15-17). According to Heilbroner, in the 1760s, during the time of Adam Smith at the University of Glasgow, "Moral Philosophy covered Natural Theology, Ethics, Jurisprudence, and Political Economy" (The Worldly Philosophers 7th ed. (1999), iii, p. 42).

According to a note by McGuinness, the "Moral Science" faculty has been called the faculty of "Philosophy" at Cambridge since 1969 (Wittgenstein in Cambridge (2008), p. 287n). [Back]

Note 4:

The story of St. Peter's denial seems to me to be one of the most remarkable and moving passages in the New Testament. Whatever else in that book may be doubtful or false, it surely must be true.... I am fairly confident that, in St. Peter's place, I should, like Peter, have denied him through cowardice. (Broad, "Autobiography", p. 68)

But who doesn't believe that he too would have done that? (And Peter was not cowardly, because it was to Peter that Christ gave the admonishment in Gethsemane that "Those who live by the sword die by the sword".) I quote this to show that Broad was falsely harsh in his judgment of himself in his "Autobiography". As to the cowardice he accused himself of, how could Broad have known if that really applied -- because he carefully avoided any situation in which it might have been put to the test; and in any case fear is relational: a man who is not afraid of rough sport may fear clearing land mines or being tortured. With respect to the courage that is most difficult in life, Broad did not fail, for he stood by his widowed mother -- who was a lifelong cross for him -- until the end of her life.

"Democracy was not safe for the World"

Among Broad's other fears, perhaps understandable, although not in a philosopher, in the context of the times he had lived through, was fear of the common man, or, what amounts to the same thing, fear of human nature. Broad made the extraordinary statement that following World War One,

after years of nightmare and madness, the world was "made safe for democracy", though it would soon become abundantly clear that democracy was not safe for the world. (ibid. p. 54)

This is rather like blaming the flock for the shepherd's decisions. It quite ignores the fact that both Mussolini and his German counterpart were invited to form governments by an alliance of industrialists and landowners -- in a word, the capitalist and propertied classes -- who were afraid of losing their privileged positions through uncontrolled workers' movements ("socialism"). And that the first step of Fascists once in power was to put an end to fair elections, which of course made it impossible for democracy to function as a brake on rulers by means of elections.

On the other hand, if Broad was right, he did not say here what form of government, if any, he thought would have made the world safer. [The Vox populi (Assimilating Wittgenstein).] [Back]

Note 5: Even if at some point in his studies a man discovers that philosophy is not going to answer the questions that are most important to him -- or at least not reply to those questions in the way that he had hoped it would, it does not follow that the man will now regard those replies as of no importance, or that he will no longer want to think about philosophy.

Philosophy is not a search for the truth (although that is its intent) nor even for understanding, but rather only for an understanding, an understanding that does not last for very long. Maybe today I had an insight. But yesterday I hadn't had that insight and yet I had still found it possible to live. And if I did not live as well yesterday as I do today, yet I still manage to live today without tomorrow's insight. And it is not unlikely that I will come to believe yesterday's insights to have been delusions ("Is my understanding only blindness to my lack of understanding?" Wittgenstein asked in old age). So is this affliction of spirit worth it?

If there were a "solution" to the problems of logic (philosophy) we should only need to caution ourselves that there was a time when they had not been solved (and even then people must have known how to live and think). (CV p. 4)

On the other hand, Broad may not have been talking about this at all. But I don't think that Broad was talking about vanity either; I don't think he meant: Because I believed that I could no longer do original work in philosophy, I no longer believed that philosophy was important. Or did Broad mean that he believed that it was no longer important for him to philosophize? But that is not what he wrote. [Back]

Note 6: Michael Wolff, who read Moral Sciences as an undergraduate at Cambridge in 1945-7, wrote [11 July 2007]:

"As for Broad, he must have been in that frame of mind when philosophy itself seemed to be not worth getting agitated about. What I particularly remember about his lectures, something you don't mention, was that he read every sentence twice, almost intoning them. I realize now that he had a lifetime job and that he was indifferent to his listeners' response of bemusement or ridicule. I certainly learned from him and his twice-told lectures allowed me to keep good notes which I was never able or never wished to do with the other lecturers."

Socrates would not have been found in Aristophanes' basket, up in the sky studying clouds (Apology 19c). Socrates had decided as a young man that such studies were as nothing in importance beside the study of the correct conduct of our life ("Know thyself") -- and therefore had given them up. Why did not Broad resign and take up whatever it was that really did seem important to him?) [Back]

Note 7: Broad's attitude toward philosophy appears very different in his essay "Some Personal Impressions of Russell as a Philosopher", which he contributed to Bertrand Russell, Philosopher of the Century: Essays in his honour (London: 1967). At least Broad doesn't say there that he owes an immense debt to Russell's work in philosophy, but that in any case philosophy is unimportant. (Russell's view of philosophy was very different from Wittgenstein's.) [Back]

Note 8: CV p. 74. "Our view of things" -- Wittgenstein was alluding to what he called "forms of life". (Obviously if they had been Chinese, Wittgenstein would have asked, "What does it mean when an Englishman smiles?")

Wittgenstein asked Drury "What does it mean to us if a Chinaman smiles?" in the context of what Wittgenstein took to be a guidebook's mistaken understanding of a Medieval carving: "That must be wrong.... It is the case that we forget the meaning of certain facial expressions and misinterpret their reproduction." (Recollections p. 104) [Back]

Note 9: From the concluding passage of Five Types of Ethical Theory (1930), quoted in one of the collection of essays written for The Philosophy of C.D. Broad (see Note 1 above), p. 563, an essay I have not read. I do not know what Broad meant by the combination of words 'what one solves ambulando and in detail' (although it seems to concern how one does in fact find salvation; the "in detail" I cannot account for except that it contrasts with "in outline"). [Back]


Writings on C.D. Broad: a bibliography, including links to a few Internet pages about Broad.


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