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What did Wittgenstein Want from Philosophy?

In his earliest work, and later as well, Wittgenstein wanted to exclude "the mystical" (i.e. 'reality beyond what is knowable by reason and-or experience', which would be a subject for metaphysical speculation), which, according to Wittgenstein, includes "value" (ethics, aesthetics) and God, from philosophical speculation. But is including that (even) logically possible according to Wittgenstein?

Context: these are "logic of language" remarks. That expression of Wittgenstein's means, in my jargon, 'a way to distinguish between nonsense and language with meaning in philosophy'. (How quotation marks are used in philosophy.)

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Note: Words that follow "Query" are from my site's server logs. They have often suggested to me the thoughts that follow.

"The logic of our language is misunderstood"

Query: reasons that led Wittgenstein to Philosophical Investigation's theory of language.

Partly, but this is nonetheless a very important part: this was what Wittgenstein always wanted from philosophy: to vary Drury's expression: "to keep the mystical secure" ["to keep wonder secure" (The Danger of Words (1973) p. 113-4); but this in a different sense of the word 'wonder' from Plato's 'wonder' = 'perplexity' where Plato's aim is to solve the riddle rather than simply recognize that it marks a limit].

This was the aim -- or, maybe it was the aim -- of both the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and the Philosophical Investigations (Why in the latter work was it impossible [What kind of impossibility was this?] for him to say anything about "all that music has meant in my life" (Recollections p. 160)?) [Wittgenstein's statement to Ludwig Ficker.]

"Theories of language"

But did Wittgenstein have a "theory of language"? We call all sorts of things theories. For example, by 'theory of language' may be meant 'an account of how language works stated in the context of a particular way of looking at language'. For Wittgenstein's later work, If we look at language from the point of view of grammar and sense and nonsense (if we use this particular definition of the word 'meaning'), then if follows that ... That is a conventional theory, rather than a speculative theory about what reality really is.

In contrast the TLP does not present itself as a theory in that sense of 'theory' -- i.e. as a mere way of organizing a selection of facts -- but as reality itself: Language is and only can be a model of the facts -- i.e. a picture of the world with the same structure as the world. All other language use is nonsense. The "picture theory" of the TLP is not, according to the TLP, a theory. (Wittgenstein's book is a metaphysics rather than a logic of language.)

(See also: Did Wittgenstein have a philosophy of language? What do we mean by 'Philosophy of Language'?)

Another part was the critical thinking that he had been doing, and the criticism offered by Frank Ramsey and Piero Sraffa, about the ideas Wittgenstein had expressed in his Tractatus (In the Preface to the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein says his new way of thinking grew out of criticism of his old way of thinking).

The problems of philosophy are solved by "looking into the workings of our language", but this investigation gets "its purpose ... from the philosophical problems"; these, and not language itself, are the subject matter of philosophy (cf. PI § 109). Our "questions refer to words; so I have to talk about words" (ibid. § 120).

The expression 'a logic of language' is my jargon, and what I regard as Wittgenstein's master problem in philosophy: How to make an objective distinction between sense and nonsense in philosophy?

Query: A Level, religious language, Wittgenstein.

But this issue is not as simple as this -- as religion and language, as if language were necessarily the key to understanding religion (whereas it may well not be; see the prior discussions of that question: Religion and primitive language-games | and The usefulness of the method of "language-games" in the Philosophy of Religion).

Really what I would like to say is that here too what is important is not the words you use or what you think while saying them, so much as the difference that they make at different points in your life. How do I know that two people mean the same thing when each says he believes in God? And just the same thing goes for the Trinity. Theology that insists on certain words & phrases & prohibits others makes nothing clearer. (CV (1998 rev. ed.) [MS 173 92r: 1950])

What I would want to say is the you must first have lived before you can understand this aspect of human life. Of course, that is not always true (There are children who are quite deep), but nonetheless there is a difference between the religion of a child and that of an adult: as we live we learn about ourselves and common humanity ("Know thyself"), and our understanding of religion may change and may deepen. Or it may not. (Wittgenstein, the word 'God' and its place or absence in a human life.)

With respect to religion, life can educate one to an understanding of it [cf. CV p. 86 [MS 174 1v: 1950], and there is no field of thought where one's understanding may develop more. Or it may not. But this is not through of a deepened understanding of the logic of religious language.

"How do I know ...?" In the case of the Trinity, we could say that if two people use the same verbal formula, then they mean (believe) the same thing. (Does 'believing' here mean other than holding a particular verbal formula as correct, e.g. contradicting anyone who asserts its contrary?) And with respect to God and Russell's "Theory of Descriptions", if they use the same descriptions, if both say e.g. that God the Father created the world, and the rest of the Creed, then we could say that two people mean the same thing when they say they believe in God.

That is what we could say -- i.e. you have to set some criteria for knowing or not knowing; -- you can't simply ask rhetorically "How do I know?"

Wittgenstein's logic as a life rope. And as a broom.

Confusion comes before clarification. If there is such a thing as a language-game [proposition types as language-games] of confusion [or, propositions that are undefined combinations of words that "seem to mean something"], it is logically prior to the language-game of clarification [or, propositions that are "grammatical remarks"].

And because confusion comes before clarity, I would no more give Wittgenstein's writings to secondary school children than give them poison; what could that accomplish except to foster in them a doctrinaire rejection of metaphysics (as in Logical Positivism)? When I was at school I heard children who were studying the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus claim that "the deepest questions of philosophy are not questions at all" [cf. TLP 6.52 as well as the rest of 6.5's remarks]. But Plato's perplexity over the meaning of common names is not "no question at all" -- on the contrary, it puzzles both logic of language and metaphysical anthropology (i.e. questions about the origin of common names). And "the eternal questions" are also not "no question at all". Nor is ethics (Plato's "we are discussing no small matter, but how to live") "no question at all".

Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is rather like his own description of religious conversion: a life rope thrown to a drowning man. -- But one must first be drowning, or one will not comprehend what it is that has been thrown to one.

Query: what did Ludwig Wittgenstein advocate?

"A philosopher says: Look at things this way!" (CV p. 61), and so we can speak about advocacy: "I am in a sense making propaganda for one [way] of thinking as opposed to another. I am honestly disgusted with the other" (LC p. 28). He also advocated putting an end to metaphysical speculation (In the TLP he goes to the extreme of saying that all language that is not the language of the natural sciences, e.g. language about God, ethics, aesthetics, is nonsense and consequently should not be spoken at all but should be "passed over in silence"; of course to take that position, he has to define the word 'nonsense' eccentrically, such that language that can convey meaning -- such as the very language of the TLP itself -- is nonetheless nonsense). What Wittgenstein really advocated was the end of Philosophy altogether, declaring Metaphysics nonsense, Ethics as not even part of Philosophy, leaving only Logic behind like a broom to sweep Philosophy away, "leaving behind nothing but its smile" until that too faded away.

Verbal and Real Definitions of concepts

Query: Epictetus' definition of piety.

This again is the idea of "real definitions" of concepts -- i.e. of words. "What is piety really? What is piety as such?" [Plato: what is the common nature of all things holy? (Euthyphro)] But words -- i.e. spoken sounds, ink marks on paper -- do not have meaning in themselves [or where would it be looked for? would it be like turning over a rock and finding something written on the other side?], nor is their meaning whatever suggests itself to you when you hear the sound (cf. "impressionistic meaning"), nor is it a halo that the word carries round with it and retains regardless of context or any sort of application, nor is the meaning of a word something theoretical: something to construct an hypothesis about (although the dictionary compiler who seeks to report actual usage of words and the etymologist who seeks the historical origin of words may approach their work that way [Grammatical rules, considered as such, are not statements of fact; they are conventions. Of course, the sign 'The word 'thunder' means a booming noise in the clouds' may be used to state a fact -- a fact about the English language that is, not as it were a fact about thunder.]). [See Wittgenstein's meaning of 'meaning', the sense of that word Wittgenstein chose (selected among many) in order to make an objective distinction between sense and nonsense in philosophy.]

Here we are misled by a grammatical analogy: you can ask what a cow is, so why can't you ask what piety is? As if both words were names of objects, the latter admittedly being however only of "an abstract object"; you won't find piety in a pasture.

There are no "real definitions" of concepts/concept-words -- i.e. of words -- i.e. bare signs --. There are instead only verbal definitions (i.e. conventions, rules).

That there are many other meanings of 'meaning' than the one Wittgenstein chose, many possible definitions, many things (linguistic phenomena) to call the "meaning of a word". But, the question is, of what use are those definitions to philosophy, which seeks only "the true and the serviceable"?

Air Pressure: definitions in natural science

Query: what is the difference between the psychological definition of the term 'sensation' and the common everyday use of the word?

In the science of medicine, is the meaning of the word 'sensation' determined by how sensation is measured -- i.e. is method of measurement used to define that word? Cf. the word 'weather', which in meteorology, I think, means something like: 'measurement of the interaction between heat, pressure, wind, and moisture' (Note that the word 'pressure' is like the word 'force' in physics: its meaning is determined by how it is measured). As we normally use the word 'sensation' we use a rather vague scale of 'mild' to 'strong', as in 'slight pain' and 'extreme pain'. But does medicine measure sensation?

You can't say that the word 'summer' is meaningless unless you say how you are measuring summer, can you? That depends on how freely we are using the word 'measure'. As we normally talk 'summer' means (something like) 'the season from June to August'; we could call that "the measure of common usage", if we liked to. If, however, we turn to the science of weather, the meaning of the word 'summer' seems to depend e.g. on whether we are measuring temperature or measuring hours of daylight, because, due to the fact of the phenomenon of heat lag, these yield different definitions of 'summer'. Can you say: we simply don't normally use the word 'summer' with such definiteness: the definition of the word 'summer' simply is 'the season from June to August'; anything more belongs to a "real definition of summer"? And so: cf. 'thunder'. (In the old city of language (PI § 18), if you approach the center from a new direction, you often don't know your way about -- particularly if, as I do, you have entered the forgetfulness of old age (cf. Wittgenstein's old woman in On Certainty § 532).)

Query: definition of language.

Why does anyone [why do we] ask for a definition of a commonly used word? What are they looking for beyond what we already know -- namely, how to use the word? An assigned definition [i.e. jargon] used by the sciences e.g.? Or a "speculative" (i.e. "real") definition offered by who knows who, answering the question: what is the essence of language? In the latter case, how is an answer to that question arrived at? and how do you know whether the answer is true or false? Can this be anything more than a case of "whatever seems correct to me is going to be correct" (PI § 258)? Or is someone seeking a reply of the form "When I think of language, I think of ... What I mean by language ['language'?] is ..." ["impressions of meaning"]?

In philosophy what is most likely, I want to say, is that they themselves do not know what they are seeking. The language of someone who is confused is unclear; and someone's unclarity about something is often [usually] the source of philosophical ["metaphysical"] questions.

"Love is not a feeling" - Wittgenstein's Remark is Logic of Language

Note: this supplements the discussion Philosophy of Psychology - The Language of Feeling. The expression 'logic of language' is my jargon, although it is taken from Wittgenstein's TLP.

Query: Wittgenstein. Love is not a feeling.

But that form of expression is misleading, because it suggests that Wittgenstein had a theory about love, as if he were trying to say "what love really is" or "what true love is". A clearer form of expression would be: the word 'love' is not a sensation-word [or, the word 'love' is not the name of a sensation]; it is a disposition-word. Or: we do not use the word 'love' the way we use the word 'pain' (Of the two, only the latter is a sensation-word). That is less misleading because the second form is clearly a grammatical remark-- i.e. it belongs to a definition; in Wittgenstein's jargon the word 'love' has a different "grammar" from the word 'pain'.

In his remarks in Zettel (in the context in which the combination of words 'Love is not a feeling' (§ 504) is found), Wittgenstein is looking for a way to classify the different words of, what he called "the philosophy of psychology". And he thinks of [or identifies] three categories: sensations, emotions, and dispositions, all three of which we more or less group together under the ambiguous title 'feeling' or 'feelings'. And Wittgenstein goes on to say that 'love' is a disposition-word. It is not an emotion-word or a sensation-word, although it [love] may be, and usually or often is (but never necessarily is), accompanied by emotions or accompanied by sensations. If e.g. someone's heart skips a beat, that is a sensation, and there are various moods or emotions that may accompany love as well (particularly clearly in the case of "romantic love") -- but the point is: that you don't stop loving someone if you fall asleep or if you are unconsciousness; but we don't say of someone who is unconscious that they have a toothache or that they are hoping for this day to end soon, the one (toothache) being a sensation, the other (hoping) being an emotion.

(As to these three categories, however, always remember that there are many ways to cut a pie, not just one.)

Further, if by 'love' we meant a mood (emotion), then would it be possible to be angry with someone you love, to scream and say spiteful things to them? If 'anger' were a disposition-word rather than a mood-word, it would be possible to be angry while you were laughing at Laurel and Hardy. But you do not cease to love when something comic makes you forget yourself.

(We distinguish between anger and hatred; 'hatred' is a disposition-word. Of course, our choice of words is not always consistent, e.g. 'I really loved that cup of tea' meaning that you enjoyed it (an emotion), and the "cold anger" that prolonged injustice produces in us is a disposition. Language is very seldom like a game played according to strict rules. A clear example is the word 'hope', which is sometimes an emotion-word, sometimes a disposition-word (as in "... and you are waiting for a letter that never comes").)

Query: Wittgenstein. Love is not an emotion.

We seem to name by the word 'love' a disposition often accompanied by emotions, sometimes sensations. (The relationship between a word and the phenomenon it is associated with.)

We are only describing our language here, the language we speak. But it's true that to describe our language is to describe our natural history. There is some relation between language and nature (human nature e.g.), but it is not necessarily a simple one.

Query: Wittgenstein. Pain is not a feeling.

What we are talking about is classification schemes -- grammatical classification schemes; in some schemes there will be a class {love, pain, ...} e.g. the class of all sensation-, emotion-, and disposition-words; in other schemes there will be a class {pain, ...} e.g. the class of all sensation-words, and 'love' will not be a member of that class, just as 'pain' will not be a member of the class of all disposition-words (and if we chose, for some special purpose or other, to identify the class of all disposition-words with the class of all feeling-words, then 'pain' would be excluded from the class of all feeling-words). There are many ways to slice a pie, depending on what we want to do with the slices.

(We are and we are not describing reality (the facts). We are not describing a reality independent of our language when we are describing a system of conventions, which is what a classification scheme is. We are, however, describing reality -- i.e. facts about our language, not, however, facts about an independent-of-language reality -- if those conventions happen to be those of our everyday language.)

'Love is not a feeling.' If Wittgenstein is reporting "usage", our common grammar for the word 'love' (somewhat in the manner of a dictionary compiler) his report may be true or false (or true in some cases, false in others). -- But if Wittgenstein's statement is true or false, it is a true or false statement [report] -- not about "love itself" --, but about the rules [-- the "grammar", in Wittgenstein's jargon; or, logic, or, semantic grammar, or, semantic logic --] of our everyday language.

Query: Wittgenstein. Love.

Why is anyone interested in this remark per se (i.e. divorced from the context in which it was made)? Is it because they imagine that Wittgenstein has given a "real definition" of love -- i.e. stated a theory about love, that Wittgenstein has said what he thinks love "really is" -- as if the word 'love' were the name of an object the essence of which one might have a theory about. But Wittgenstein's later work cannot be understood if his work is approached from the old way of thinking: the view that philosophy is a collection of theories and doctrines. Wittgenstein did not put forth a thesis about love.

If one tried to advance theses in philosophy, it would never be possible to debate them, because everyone would agree to them. (PI § 128)

In philosophy one is in constant danger of producing a myth ... Instead of simply saying what anyone knows and must admit. (Z § 211; cf. PI § 599)

Wittgenstein's remarks about our common grammar for the word 'love' should provoke the response: yes, that is the way we use this word in our language: 'love' is a disposition-word, not a sensation-word. Grammatical remarks are only reminders of what is already known -- but is so familiar that it goes unnoticed -- by any user of the language (PI §§ 127, 129).

... in constant danger of producing a myth of symbolism.

I.e. of giving a false account of the "grammar" of our language by basing one's account on surface grammar rather than depth grammar (in Wittgenstein's jargon, which is another way of stating the distinction between a sign and the sign's use [meaning] in our language). Note that the word 'symbol' in this particular context (particular case) = 'sign'; the word 'symbol' is not used here as it was in the TLP.

Query: Wittgenstein. That was not real pain, otherwise it would not have disappeared.

Which is precisely what we do not say, and which shows that pain is a "feeling" -- i.e. that the word 'pain', unlike the word 'love', is a sensation-word (that its part of speech is not disposition-word).

Zettel § 504

Love is not a feeling. Love is put to the test, pain not. One does not say: "That was not true pain, or it would not have gone off so quickly." (Z § 504)

That test is a defining characteristic or defining difference between the parts of speech 'disposition-words' and 'sensation-words'. "Are you sure it's love, not just infatuation?" but not "Are you sure you have a toothache?" Wittgenstein is making nothing more than a grammatical reminder, stating nothing more than a rule of grammar, which everyone should recognize.

Query: different names for love: e.g. Platonic.

The form of expression 'different names for love' (cf. 'different types of love') suggests [the picture] that there is only one phenomenon called 'love' -- i.e. that there is an essence of love [a "one thing in common" to everything we call 'love'] (although we are never told just what the essence of love is) -- a single phenomenon that we call by the name 'love', always the same despite the various masks it may wear (cf. 'love by any other name').

Contrast these two pictures: (1) pointing out various resemblances between various phenomena called 'love', with (2) claiming [but without demonstrating] that despite any appearances to the contrary love is always the same phenomenon, whether the phenomenon is called 'maternal love', 'fraternal [or, brotherly] love', 'romantic love', 'love of eating', 'love of country', 'love of God', 'love of truth', 'conjugal love', 'Platonic love [the love between friends, if that is a distinction with a difference and not simply a synonym of 'brotherly love'], 'love of life', and so on.

Wittgenstein cannot by understood if his work is approached from the "old way of thinking" (PI Preface), the old point of view. You must be willing to learn a new point of view.

Is there "a Metaphysical Use" of Language?

Query: philosophical grammar what does it mean?

Below I write: "grammar, logic, semantic grammar, semantic logic", meaning that those expressions are equivalent -- but they are all, nonetheless, jargon. What is wrong with Wittgenstein's expression "philosophical grammar"? Is it any more misleading than the others? It was the expression Wittgenstein chose for the title of a book he drafted in 1933-1934. ["Philosophical grammar -- what does it mean?" See Wittgenstein's use of the word 'grammar'. Bertrand Russell used the expression "philosophical grammar" for what, he argued, was the logically correct syntax.]

Pictures versus Meaning

Note: this continues the discussion Philosophy of Time.

Query: Wittgenstein Augustine time.

What you can say is that Augustine has many e.g. similes, "time flows like a river"; these can be called "pictures of time", but Wittgenstein said: these pictures do not explain the meaning of the word 'time' (cf. PI §§ 425-426). We also have many pictures of mind that are grammatically worthless [misleading] -- i.e. that do not show how the use we make of the word 'mind' in our everyday language. (Rules of grammar [definitions] are given in other ways, not by the pictures words may suggest to us [although this needs some qualification (PI II, iv, p. 178g); it should not be asserted dogmatically]).

Of what value is a word's "original home"?

Query: Wittgenstein defines philosophy as a kind of homelessness.

We might want to say that. "Bringing words back to the language-games that are their original homes" (cf. PI § 116) wouldn't have much point if what they were being brought back from wasn't a condition of homelessness -- i.e. meaninglessness. Or would it? What metaphysicians do with -- i.e. what use they make of -- e.g. the word 'mind' may in some instances be nonsense, but in other cases that word may be used to conjure up idle pictures [idle because they are unverifiable, not because they are nonsensical: there is no technique defined by which these pictures can be compared with what they are said to picture -- but that does not in itself make the pictures meaningless. "What does the word 'mind' suggest to you?" This may not yield a definition in Wittgenstein's objective sense, but it needn't yield nonsense either: poetry is not necessarily nonsense even if a word is used there in an extra-ordinary way] -- idle pictures which are mistaken for insights into "the essence of mind" (or, into what thought and perception "really are"). And therefore, even if the latter use of the word 'mind' is not nonsense, nonetheless by showing the way the word 'mind' is used in the everyday life that is its original home, the illusion that these idle pictures are insights into "the reality behind reality" may be dispelled.

When philosophers use a word ... and try to grasp the essence of the thing, one must always ask oneself: is the word ever actually used that way in the language-game that is its original home?

What we do is to bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use. (PI § 116)

It was the aim of Wittgenstein's philosophical methods to break free of the pictures that hold philosophers captive (ibid. § 115), like Augustine's pictures of time (as in "time flows like a river", "the concourse of history" etc.). Because poetry has no place in philosophy [The pictures of metaphysics can be likened to poetry], if it is the truth that philosophers seek. What are called "symbols" in poetry or "things that cannot be put into words" -- are not available to philosophy's critical use of reason, and therefore, although poetry has its place in our life, its place is not inside philosophy.

A 'logic of language' is objective

Query: what is a line geometry wise?

This is a case where it really is much clearer if we ask instead: How is the word 'line' used -- or, how do we use the word 'line' -- in geometry? Our habitual form of expression "What is a line?" already points us toward the wrong grammatical model: it makes us imagine that we are asking about the nature of an object. Of course since there is no object, we fall into perplexity, and here speculative imagination runs wild: we try to define word, not by rules for its use, but by our trying to grasp the essence of some "abstract object" (with the criterion of correctness that "whatever seems right is right", PI § 258). [The meaning of the word 'point' in geometry.]

"Whatever seems right" is not an alternative logic of language; -- it is no logic of language at all, because it is not objective. Maybe defining that expression this way is my jargon, but it is based on such texts as: "I want to play chess, and a man gives the white king a paper crown, leaving the use of the piece unaltered, but telling me that the crown has a meaning to him in the game, which he can't express in rules" (The Blue Book p. 65), -- but it was precisely rules that Wittgenstein wanted, because rules can make meaning objective.

[Maybe it is helpful here to compare what the form of expression "What is weight?" suggests to us versus the form of expression "How do we use the word 'weight'?" and the answer: "The meaning of the word 'weight' is given when we give our method of measuring weight." That is, don't try to guess the meaning of a word (because then you will lose yourself in idle pictures), but instead ask for our rules for using the word.]

"Community of ideas"

On the other hand, the query may allude to the following:

The philosopher is not a member of any community of ideas. That is what makes him into a philosopher. (Z § 455)

Which means? I think this: that No one seeks to find answers to questions if the answers (1) are already given by the community he is a member of, and (2) are accepted by the member himself.

What we call "common sense" is the product of a community of ideas, and may more or less vary from community to community.

A community of ideas says when the bedrock (PI § 217) has been reached.

A community of ideas is the frame around the picture (like the nativity, childhood, and post-crucifixion stories of the Gospels are). It says what the meaning of events is. ("Language is determinant. It frames the problem and defines response ..." (James Orbinski)) The community "frames the narrative"; it determines the point of view. Or, the community of ideas is the frame; it is itself the point of view.

And to say this is to determine the concept 'community of ideas' more precisely. (Cf. CV p. 82; but also Z § 325)

Plato says that "no one seeks to find what thinks he already has" (Meno 84c). The member of a community of ideas does not seek his own point of view or to find the truth by himself, but instead accepts the point of view and conceived facts given to him by the community he belongs to. In contrast, the philosopher is someone who does question the community-provided point of view -- and in that sense, he is someone who stands outside [or has stepped back from] the community. The philosopher wants to distinguish for himself between what we know and what we may only think we know (but do not).

Natural science is an example of a "community of ideas", the ideas being the rules for scientific reasoning (theory construction), plus research methods and records keeping standards, as well as e.g. statistics and the theories that are accepted by all members: e.g. the theory of evolution, into which every new discovery must somehow be fitted, with no anomalies recognized as being anomalous.

Communities of belief vs. Communities of people

Catholic Christianity is a community of doctrine (By the word 'faith' Catholicism means 'truths revealed by God Himself'. "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith," the priest says at Mass: "Christ has died ... is risen ... will come again"), which if someone stops accepting, that person no longer belongs to, and indeed he will be asked why he would want to remain a member of the community if he doesn't believe "what the Church teaches". Catholicism is a community of ideas, not a community of human beings, which may make infant baptism more than a little cruel.

In contrast, Judaism is a community of human beings, not a community of ideas -- or rather it is a community with only one basic idea, namely national identity, that any member of the community must accept as dogma (And this is why it is possible for some members to call themselves "secular Jews", although the distinction between 'religious' and 'secular' is lost at the most basic level of Judaism).

So that it is not easy to see what Catholicism would be if it were a community of human beings rather than a community of ideas, given that Christianity is not a national identity ideology. (We could also speak of "communities of ideals", but the idea in my context is a community of creeds.) Many, although not all, forms of religion -- namely those with creeds, doctrines, dogmas -- are "communities of ideas" or "communities of faith".

The Gospel of love, doctrine (Catholic faith)

"There was so much that I was supposed to teach in El Toboso that I didn't understand.... The Trinity. Natural Law. Mortal sin. I taught them words out of textbooks. I never said to myself, do I believe these things? I went home and read my saints. They wrote of love. I could understand that. The other things didn't seem important." (Greene, Monsignor Quixote (1982), x, 2)

If Socrates, whose only concern was how man should live his life (ethics), had been a Christian, in Phaedrus 229e-230a he might have said apropos of those theological questions, "... to concern myself with extraneous matters when I haven't as yet learned to love my neighbor as myself would seem to me ridiculous."

[The Lord didn't say that we shall have to pass an examine in the catechism, much less in theology, to enter the kingdom of God, but that we must love God with our whole heart and our neighbor as ourself, forgiving those who have wronged us and asking forgiveness of those we have wronged. This could be the inscription at the entrance of God's kingdom: Let no one enter here who has not loved as the merciful Samaritan loved. (The Samaritan of the Gospel story does not ask about the man "who fell among thieves", not even whether the man himself was not a villain, but simply helps the stranger who is in need.)]

That seems to be the "spirit of Christ" (Christianity's "only theology") Schweitzer speaks of. And for ordinary Catholics doctrine (called 'faith' by Catholic Christianity) seems to provide only a general picture of Christian responsibility and hope, and within that picture so far as I can tell, Catholics allow themselves to be guided by their own consciences -- i.e. "discernment" of right and wrong. (Heinrich Böll remembered, when he was a boy in what was then very Catholic Cologne, hearing the women say in conversation among themselves, "The pope said that? If the pope said that, then the pope is wrong.")

A family is not a community of fairness ("justice"); it is a community of love. And in a community of love, whatever is not done from love is not done as it should be done; the answer to why you did what you did must always be, Because that is what love told me to do. But on the one hand, there is the Gospel of love ("spirit of Christ"), which is merciful, but on the other hand, there is the Catholic doctrine of love, which is judgmental. And that is the conflict within the "family" of the Church.

The concerns of a particular community versus the foundations of all communities

But maybe Wittgenstein's remark was an allusion: "Ramsey was a bourgeois thinker. I.e. he thought with the aim of clearing up the affairs of some particular community." He was uninterested in studying the foundations of communities as such (which is what a philosopher does [either by trying to find a serviceable general definition for the word 'community', a one defining thing in common of all communities, "the essence of community" as it were, if there is one, or, if not, to note similarities and dissimilarities among the various things we call 'communities']); he was only interested in studying the foundations of the one community he belonged to and took for granted. (Culture and Value p. 17).

A member of a community of ideas does all his thinking within the confines ["thought-world"] of that community. But the philosopher tries to stand outside [or to break out] of all such confines (ibid. p. 37), to question everything, not taking even what is granted for granted.

Law and "any reasonable man"

Query: the difference between a reasonable and unreasonable person; philosophy.

There are many possible responses to this query, e.g. by 'reasonable man' do we mean 'man of reason', e.g. someone who if he is faced with a choice of alternatives will "enter into reasons" -- i.e. who will ask "What are the reasons for? What are the reasons against?" and base his choice on those grounds, as contrasted with someone who does not use reason but will simply decide based on whatever happens to seem right to him? But that is not the only way we define the expression 'reasonable man'; sometimes we simply mean by that 'someone who sees things the way we do' -- i.e. 'someone who agrees with us'. That is not what 'reasonable' means in philosophy, however. Nonetheless there are some philosophical comments that may be made about that particular definition of 'reasonable man'. For example, the next response:

Here we are talking about "communities of ideas" and "agreement in forms of life" (PI § 241), as in the case of sanity and madness -- i.e. who decides which is which? Does the vox populi: is the voice of the people the voice of God? Cf. In a court of law: "proved beyond a reasonable doubt" and "guilty with reasonable certainty".

Is a way of looking at things embodied in definitions in this case? Can 'reasonable man' or 'reasonable doubt' be defined other than by examples -- specifically by examples which may be acceptable to one "community of ideas" but not to others? [How similar this is to religious differences is not clear to me: e.g. is it not "reasonable" that the widow should be thrown on her husband's funeral pyre? "All right-thinking persons will agree with me about this."]

Law does not define "legal terms" by means of examples: it tries to grasp their essences [i.e. to state general definitions using the form normally found in dictionaries), even when doing this fills the law with verbal formulas so vague that they might be taken many ways (It also presents jurors with forms of expression, e.g. 'aid and abet', that are not used in everyday life, and thus which are without meaning to jurors). "Who applies the law defines the law" [for 'application' = 'use' = 'meaning']. Can you say that? -- But does not precedent qualify that statement with "more or less"? For what role has precedent after all if not that of giving sample applications [definitions-by-example of legal terms]?

Does a ruler have a length?

Query: measure the ruler. Wittgenstein.

"Everything has a length -- except the standard-metre stick in Paris" (cf. PI § 50). The standard stick has no [measurable] length [Obviously it has "extension".].

Query: Wittgenstein's claim that a ruler cannot measure itself.

I would like to see the counter-claim -- i.e. what could be done with, what use invented for, the contrary grammatical rule (which so far is merely an undefined combination of words) 'a ruler can measure itself'? What would you do -- e.g. hold a yardstick up to a mirror, count the inch markers numbered 1 to 36 in its reflection, and thus verify that your yardstick was indeed a yard long? Would you place your ruler on a sheet of paper, mark its full extension on the paper, move the ruler away and then put it back to verify that your ruler indeed had the same length as the marks you made on the paper?

Can you measure your own height by placing your hand on top of your head (PI § 279)? [I have seen a young child do just that when asked how tall she was, only to see her just as quickly realize that this method would not do the work she had wanted it to do -- namely, measure her height.] Can you verify a newspaper report by reading the same copy of that newspaper twice [cf. (ibid. § 265)]? (Such questions were asked by Wittgenstein; they are examples of grammatical jokes.)

Query: how round is a circle?

As round as round can be, i.e. completely. How long is a meter stick? Is a/the circle used to define 'round'? But should we say that the circle is not round for the same reason the meter-standard is not a meter long? although the meter-standard does have extension, just as a circle has shape. Contrast using an example to define 'round' or 'length' vs. asking whether a particular figure you see is round or what something length is. (The method of measurement is the meaning, i.e. defines the measuring-word, e.g. if the shape of length of something is measured by comparing it to a standard.)

What are being made here are all grammatical remarks, a description of how we use particular words; these remarks are not statements about "what the nature of rulers really is". There is no standard [no authority, no court of appeal] to appeal to apart from [beyond] the standard metre stick: all rulers take their calibration from the standard metre stick in Paris. And in your room, if you have only one ruler, your ruler plays a similar role to the role the standard metre stick plays in the greater world: you can measure the length everything in your room except your ruler.

In sum, the ruler is an absolute dictator ("How is a king like a meter stick?"), answerable to no-one and to nothing. But were some very general facts of nature to change (e.g. if our yardsticks began to shrink and expand at random), then standards would lose their function and there would be no measurable length (but only unmeasurable extension; the meaning of the word 'length' is dependent on the method by which length is measured).

You can measure to test the ruler. (PI II, x, p. 191)

But to test is to measure against a standard, and if you are "testing the ruler", you are not using the ruler as the standard, but something else.

Query: Wittgenstein; measuring ruler against itself.

That is not what we call 'measurement', because measurement has two distinct parts: (1) a standard and (2) a thing measured against that standard; now, how will a standard be used to measure itself. You might as well draw a line across a sheet of paper, label the line "1 meter", and claim that paper as proof that the paper was one meter in length. (Verifying a news story by checking two copies of the same newspaper (PI §  265): That is not what we call measuring the truth, so to speak.)

Query: ruler no. 258 Wittgenstein.

The ruler is not mentioned in that remark (PI § 258) -- but trying to use a ruler to measure itself can be compared in this way to the notion of trying to define the name of one's own sensation (dubbed 'S') by giving oneself a private demonstration (of S), about which Wittgenstein writes: "whatever is going to seem right to me is right. And that only means that here we can't talk about 'right'." And so in which way is a ruler comparable? In that in both cases what appears to be an act of verification shows itself to be no verification at all (i.e. not a measurement, not an identification).

Must the human appendix have once upon a time been functional?

The supposition that it "must have done" -- does this belong to the scientific world-view? Is there a place in such a world-view for things that "just are" for no reason [or, cause] at all? (cf. "Do you think there must be a reason?")

Query: body parts that once served a purpose but now have none.

Should it be: "no as yet discernible purpose"? But suppose no further research is being done with the aim of discerning a purpose? Then in that case, what would be the purpose of such a proviso ["provided that future research doesn't discern one"]? Wouldn't that be like adding: "if I am not mistaken" to every assertion of belief or knowledge that you made? Wouldn't that be an incorrect -- "ungrammatical" (i.e. nonsense) -- expression of uncertainty? 'My name is Robert, if I am not mistaken' could only be a grammatical remark ["rule of grammar" in Wittgenstein's jargon] except in the most exceptional of cases (knocked on the head, etc.). [cf. Eddington's remarks about seeking strict causality in nature.]

Wittgenstein used the words 'compelling evidence' in On Certainty -- but wouldn't 'conclusive' be a better criterion for applying 'to know'? "Conclusive evidence" does not after all imply that you may not be wrong: further evidence may prove you so. (Note: there is no essence of 'conclusive evidence'; the definition of that expression varies from language-game type to language-game type; cf. "The kind of certainty is the kind of language-game", and what we mean by 'certainty' in maths is not what we mean by 'certainty' in a court of law.

Examples of Metaphysical Propositions

Query: 'Everything in the world is constantly in motion.' How can we say this?

That is an example of a metaphysical proposition: it says that, despite appearances to the contrary, all thing are in flux (i.e. in a state of change). Of course that is not what we normally mean by 'despite appearances', because normally as we use this language, there is (1) an illusion and (2) an act of verification (i.e. sense perception) that removes the illusion; however, with metaphysics there is no defined way to verify the proposition of Heraclitus that "all things are in motion" (Cratylus 401d, 402a) -- i.e. that not all things are in a state of change is an illusion that no verification can remove. (Parmenides and the birth of reason alone as the standard of truth.)

Query: knowledge is the true organ of sight not the eyes.

Note: This is apparently a quotation from an ancient Sanskrit text called the Panchatantra, which I have not read and know nothing about. "You don't know much, and that's a fact," a rather rude duchess said to Alice. Well I don't either.

At first blush this is, I think, a good example of a metaphysical statement. It talks about "the true organ of sight", as if this statement were telling us what is "really real" or what "the reality behind reality" is, as if the reality before our eyes -- namely, that the organ of sight is the eye, just as the organ of hearing is the ear, etc. -- were mere appearance and not "true reality". And the statement uses language strangely, because we do not use the word 'knowledge' to name an organ (Strange sounding language is an important clue that a statement may be "metaphysical"). So then is the statement false? Before asking whether or not it is true or false, we should ask if the statement is nonsense (an undefined combination of words) or not (which so far, of course, it is). What use can we make of (invent) for these words?

One possibility is N.R. Hanson's "seeing is theory laden". "Knowledge is the true organ of sight" -- you might "put it that way", but a clearer way to express this idea would be: seeing requires not only eyes, but also knowledge (experience of the world). Hanson wrote that seeing a bird is as well seeing that it will behave in a predictable way -- but these are not two distinct acts of seeing; and so our concepts 'seeing' and 'knowledge' are here connected. And there is another comparison:

To use Kant's words (although perhaps not with his meaning for them): "Percepts without concepts are blind." Perceptions which we cannot conceive (give a sense to) -- although not necessarily in the sense of 'put into words' -- are without meaning for us. (Usually, to investigate a concept is to investigate the use of a word, but Wittgenstein gave an example where this is not clearly so: "knowing how a clarinet sounds". And dogs do not use language, but their ability to learn shows that they have knowledge.) The Sanskrit text continues:

Query: it is necessary to have clear ideas to see.

Seeing is concept-laden (although in Plato's case this is intentional), but theory-laden seeing is not wanted in the sciences (or in philosophy, for that matter).

Is impossible to learn anything new? If to see requires knowledge, then how is it that anyone ever came to know anything? If you must know in order to see, then you cannot see what you do not already know. Plato responded to this notion in the Meno. But we will let the notion of "recollection" go, although that too is a good example of metaphysics: it claims to tell us what "the reality behind reality" is, as if the reality before our eyes were mere appearance. That was a notion that M. O'C. Drury forcefully attacked in the context of the sciences: "Reality which lies before us at every moment is replaced by the abstract picture we have ourselves created" (DW p. 100).

On another hand, maybe this query was originally sent to the correct page [M. O'C. Drury's "Concerning Mind and Body"], because that page has crazy pictures [actual drawings] too. Although on that page, it would be "the mind is the true organ ..." although it is made nonsense by the word 'true'.

Have I used the word 'metaphysical' here in a different way from that of metaphysicians themselves? Well, I have to confess that I have never seen anything they call 'metaphysics' that is not either nonsense, or myth-making (i.e. either undefined combinations of words, or speculation in the form of pictures that it is not logically possible (i.e. defined how) to compare with what the metaphysician imagines them to be pictures of). Their claims that it is otherwise are to me like the reports in old natural history books of explorers who had seen -- or almost seen -- headless men whose eyes, noses and mouths were in their chests. (Although in the latter case it would at clear to us what we were to look for, that is not a criticism of metaphysics, for metaphysics asks about what is, because of the grammatical rules defining it, impossible to perceive (Cf. Anyone asking for a material proof for the existence of God demonstrates a most fundamental misconception).)

Among other things, he [Captn. Minnes] and the other Captains that were with us told me that negroes drowned look white and lose their blackness, which I never heard before. (Diary of Samuel Pepys, 11 April 1662)

Those who told the tale were, judging by context, ships' captains (Minnes may have been the captain of a Portuguese ship), and the telling of this tale took place on a "fine pleasant walk" from Greenwich to Woolwich. In any case how did Pepys report what he heard -- as the natural historians did, who faithfully recounted the tales which explorers to the New World had told, or was Pepys like Wittgenstein's "savages" (PI § 194) who misunderstand what they hear and give a strange account of what was in fact said? Now, with respect to metaphysics: which am I more like -- the natural historians or the "savages"? (My account of metaphysics is a description of the grammar of metaphysical statements.)

What do we mean by 'parable'?

Query: Parable of The Born-Blind People.

Is my story, which I later renamed Fable of The Born-Blind-People, really an example of what we mean by 'parable' -- because I tell the reader what its [intended] deeper meaning is? Professor Trudinger once stressed in class that the word 'parable' is related to the word 'parabola' -- i.e. that the message of a parable does not travel in a straight line (although the story itself does). You have to think about a parable to grasp its message (the deeper meaning behind the simple meaning of the story line).

A parable is a riddle. To solve. The Lord said of all parables, "Give ear and try to understand."

Query: Schweitzer philosophy on parables.

According to Albert Schweitzer (The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle, ed. Burkitt, tr. Montgomery (1931), p. 102), Jesus taught in parables in order to hide his meaning from the non-elect, so that they might not learn the secret of salvation from him. The notion of election -- that the fate of the sower's seed (Mark 4.3-8 [context: 4.1-25]) is predestined by God -- belongs to the world-pictures of both Jesus and Paul.

Jesus speaks in parables about the Kingdom of God in order that those "who have ears to hear", that is to say, those who are appointed [i.e. have been predestined, or, elected, by God] to accept His message, may understand it, and that those who are not called to the Kingdom [i.e. who are not among the elect] may not repent at His preaching and thus establish a claim to the forgiveness of sins at the Judgment and participation in the Kingdom (Mark iv 9-12).

But, I ask, is God so feeble then, are the walls of the Kingdom so weak then? For if the non-elect are able to understand, will not some of them indeed understand, and do the very thing they are predestined not to do. And if they cannot do that, then why hide the teaching from them. And indeed Jesus tells everyone the secret in the Lord's Prayer: to have forgiven those who have wronged us is all that is required for salvation (That is the meaning of "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy" [Matthew 5.7]: if we forgive those who have wronged us, then God will forgive us our own wrong-doing); and the baptizer John's call to repentance in order to be saved or redeemed is not in the least obscured either: he tells "the multitude" who ask him what they must do: to share what they have with those who are poorer than themselves (Luke 3.11). So it seems to me that there are contradictions in the synoptic Gospels' stories, even within the individual Gospels.

What remains to philosophy?

Pythagoras called himself, not a wise man ("sophist") for only god is wise, but instead a lover of wisdom ("philosopher"). (Diog. L. i, 12) Since no one knows other than quite vaguely what the word 'wise' is supposed to mean when anyone utters it, and since I am not offering a definition here, there doesn't seem much point to my including this quote. By 'philosopher' we mean: 'one who seeks the truth' (ibid. viii, 8); however, -- is that any clearer?

We would ask: the truth -- the truth about what? But see 'philosophy' in ancient times when that word encompassed three subjects: "physics, ethics, and dialectic or logic", in other words: all of learning (ibid. 1, 18) [This is why the highest academic degree holder is called a "doctor of philosophy", someone who in Medieval times had mastered the whole of philosophy, i.e. of learning]. "I am a lover of learning," Socrates said (although even so: learning -- learning about what? In Socrates' case: ethics).

"The processes of reasoning employed by both physics and ethics form the province of dialectic or logic." (ibid.). Is this not 'logic' as 'the art of reasoning'? And is this not what concerns Wittgenstein's philosophy?

About ethics there is little to say (Wittgenstein's notion "absolute value" is indefinable, according to his way of looking at it), and physics is no longer part of philosophy. Of course metaphysics as the invention of pictures that float free of any evidence (i.e. verification) is still a possible activity. But that was not what Wittgenstein wanted from philosophy, because, in a sense, he was seeking the truth rather than conjecture [speculation]. And, therefore, what else remains to philosophy except the art of sound reasoning? For Wittgenstein, nothing. For Socrates and Plato, everything, as it was in the beginning of philosophy.

What is Philosophical Integrity

Query: Wittgenstein motto gods.

Norman Malcolm misquotes Longfellow's verse, which is also misquoted by Wittgenstein as "For the Gods are everywhere" (CV p. 34, a remark from 1938), of which here is Longfellow's actual verse:

In the elder days of art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part,
For the Gods see everywhere.

And then Malcolm applies this verse to Wittgenstein's attitude towards philosophy and towards life, saying that Wittgenstein's "philosophical work was indeed wrought with the greatest care. The intensity of his striving for complete understanding ..." (Recollections p. xiii)

"Because the gods see everywhere". What does it mean? The craftsmen who built the Greek temples built with the same artistry (care and neatness) places that would be hidden from human eyes when the temple was finished, because nonetheless the gods could see those places hidden from man. (Whereas in construction in our day no concern is shown for what is hidden by walls, for that is something no man will see.)

"... striving for complete understanding". And that of course is what makes a philosopher. I, on the other hand, just hack and slash at philosophical problems. It seems to me that don't put my whole heart into philosophy -- not, at least, in the way I did when I was a youth and supposed that I could discover the Truth, solve "the riddle of existence", life's meaning.

They don't eat fish in the fisherman's house, the cobbler's children go barefoot, and this advocate of philosophy does not philosophize ... It's not that "I no longer believe in philosophy" (C.D. Broad), nor is it because I believe that discoveries in "logic of language" (Wittgenstein) are not worthwhile, but because the great philosophical questions without answers (Socrates, Plato), which are what the student of philosophy really wants the answers to surely, go unanswered.

But sometimes, often for many months at a time, I just hack away at problems in logic-of-language, recording "whatever seems right" (PI § 258), as if my heart were not in my work. Then I might refer to myself as a "hack writer", as in Graham Greene, The Third Man: "I'm just a hack writer who drinks too much, falls in love with girls." But even Wittgenstein could once write: "nothing stirs me. My material is far away from me."

We shouldn't pay much attention to our moods, so long as they don't drag us off course, a course which must be directed by our ideals, not our moods. But this should trouble me: that I don't re-read and re-read yet again what I have written; -- because it is precisely this that philosophy requires of me. That type of conscientiousness is what Malcolm will have meant by "striving for complete understanding". [But as to Wittgenstein. I often wonder what he was striving to understand with his endless remarks about the Philosophy of Psychology. There is logic-of-language, but there is also the eternal questions (which Schweitzer called "elemental and final", and of which Plato said: "We are discussing no small matter, but how to live" [Gorgias 472c, 487e, 492d, 500b-d]). That Wittgenstein excluded these matters from his philosophy -- i.e. from philosophy -- forever puzzles me.]

The philosopher sometimes in contrast to the man

Trying to understand a philosopher's thought on his own ground. The view from inside (including criticism from inside), not criticism from outside using foreign standards. That is not easy. So it is a remarkable accomplishment to understand even a single philosopher. To understand more than one is ...

Theories wearing the clothing of facts = wolves in sheep's clothing.

Wittgenstein's attempts to live his "philosophy of life" (which is not to be identified with what I have called his logic of language). Could one make of this a list of rules, a collection of maxims (patterned on Epictetus e.g. but not so long)? Maybe that should be instead, however: Wittgenstein's "religion of life".

What I know (or think I know) about Mathematics

How do I know that all calculi [calculuses] are like the few I am familiar with? By definition [i.e. by the definition of 'calculus']. Either I know it by definition or I do not know it at all, and then I do not know what I am talking about here. A calculus can be likened to a game played according to the strictest rules, strict -- and complete -- rules; like chess: each and every move must by justified by a rule. But unlike chess, in mathematics if at some point you need a rule (e.g. as was the case with "If ac = bc, then a = b"), you can always invent one. All that matters is that: wherever a rule is needed it must exist or be made to exist (invented); the rules needn't pre-exist, but a rule must be invented when one is discovered to be absent.

It doesn't work this way: sections of the rails are missing but the train is still on the tracks [A child throwing a ball into the air and catching it is a game like that]. If any step -- any move in the game -- were based on "intuition" [i.e. guessing] rather than a rule, this would not be a calculus ['calculus' -- i.e. this is a definition]; it would not be mathematics. Because rules are the only justification the moves in this game [calculus] has -- and it belongs to this game that we want its every move to always be justified (In this it is like chess).

Someone who is good, i.e. fast, at mathematics may not need to make the rules explicit (unlike someone who is slower), but if anyone says that the rules cannot be made explicit, step by step [as a protocol, algorithm], then I would [then we must] say: this person is not doing mathematics. (Of applied maths, apart from basic geometry, I have no understanding.)

If ac=bc, then a=b, but if c=0 then a=b regardless of the values of [the variables] a and b, and then there will be contradictions in algebra (Five will equal four, for instance). But Wittgenstein saw no problem in that for mathematics: if a contradiction arises when you follow a rule, then you invent a rule to prohibit the contradiction (e.g. "But the value of the variable 'c' cannot be 0"); it's not the end of mathematics if a contradiction is found. Again, the rules needn't be pre-existent, but they must be made when needed to keep the train on the tracks ("intuited tracks" is nonsense).

Harvey Hewett-Thayer

Hewett-Thayer, Harvey. Hoffmann: author of the tales. Princeton University Press, 1948.

1.3.85 I was at Princeton University today: I asked after Harvey Hewett-Thayer. The woman, neither young or old, at the desk of the German Language Department looked perplexed when I asked her: "Have you been working here long?" I next asked her if Harvey Hewett-Thayer used to work in that building, because I had come to the University for no other reason than to see where Hewett-Thayer had taught.

There is a picture of "Harvey Thayer", as the professor I then met called him, in the University library, in a seminar room BJ3 -- although I was turned away at the door of the library. When Harvey Hewett-Thayer taught, he taught in the History Department; there was no German Language Department in those days.

The professor I briefly spoke with, kindly enthusiastic, recommended I call Bernhard Ulmer [1907-1999] who is "very nice" and would "like to talk about the old days". However, being very shy and not liking to bother people, I didn't call him. (And very sorry I am to be shy in that way.)

Next door to the Carlisle Building, the present History Department, there is a lecture hall in McCrow (I think that's the name), a grand wooden hall with a high ceiling and a balcony. I don't know whether "Harvey Thayer" lectured there, but it's certainly old enough for him to have (It appears to have been there since before electric lights).

17.9.85 I went to the Princeton University library today -- to see the photograph of Hewett-Thayer. I had written to the library's director to ask for permission to enter the library. I had written of the profound decency (This form of expression was of course a parroting of Wittgenstein's form of expression) -- using those very words -- of Hoffmann: author of the tales, and said that since there was a picture of its author, I would like to see it.

17.9.85 When I saw Harvey Hewett-Thayer's portrait in the Princeton library, I was surprised I admit. He looked bright, "dapper", dressed in tweeds like a British country gentleman. Had I expected a careworn face, with sad eyes?

A man's "style" of writing shows the man's character (according to Wittgenstein, but I don't think that is always true).

Wittgenstein's portraits show someone on whom a rucksack (knapsack) would have looked at home. Robert Schumann, on the other hand, looks like Schumann. (How do I know? This is not a question of having grounds.)

Should Hoffmann have looked like ein burlesk phantastischer Elfe (Thayer, p. 9n)? Or should I have expected a careworn face, with sad eyes? I think of his books, and so of him, as being alive with energy.

Do I have a careworn face with sad eyes? (It is a very strange experience rereading these words I wrote more than thirty years ago. What I wrote about logic of language would not be much different now, but all the rest ...)

The entry for "Heinrich von Ofterdingen" in The Encyclopedia Americana, 1954, was written by Harvey W. Thayer.

14.2.86 I found this heading on a catalog card: Hewett-Thayer, Harvey Waterman, 1873- ... Then he would have been about 75 in 1948.


Brahms kept a thick blanket on top of his piano, so that he would not disturb his landlady when he was composing. (Cf. CV p. 64. That is what I too experience.)

Dostoyevsky wanted to publish a journal under the title "Truth", and so he applied to the government, but the Russian government refused to allow this title, on the grounds that it was pretentious.

"The Enemy of Music"

E.T.A. Hoffmann wrote a story in 1814 called Der Musikfeind in which a young boy was so deeply affected by music that he ran from the house whenever it was performed (which it was at home in those days). Those who did not understand regarded him therefore as an "enemy of music".

That is my account from memory of twenty years ago (see Hoffmann: Author of the Tales p. 283).

Not apropos of that: the thoughts, of many years later, about Der Sandmann.

Dostoyevsky's Review of E.T.A. Hoffmann

People call him [Poe] the equal of Hoffmann. We have already said that this is not true. Moreover, Hoffmann is immeasurably greater than Poe as a poet. With Hoffmann there is an ideal, indeed not always explicit, but in this ideal there is purity, there is real beauty, genuine, peculiar to the man.... We have not yet spoken of his best production, Kater Murr. What genuine, mature humor, what vigor of realism, what malice, what types and portraits, and with all of these -- what thirst for beauty, what bright ideal!

... the fantasy, for example, of Hoffmann [who] personifies the forces of Nature in forms: he introduces into his stories sorceresses, spirits, and sometimes even seeks his ideal beyond the earth, in some extraordinary world, accepting this world as a higher thing, as if he himself believed in the actual existence of this secret, enchanted world.

(From "an unsigned editorial preface [to Three Tales of Edgar Poe in the journal Time [Vremya], January, 1861] which has since been identified [by L.P. Grossmann (p. 191n7)] as Dostoevski's", quoted and apparently translated by Charles E. Passage in Dostoevski the Adapter (Chapel Hill, 1954), p. 131, 191)

Postword: About old age: "I want to sleep!" (like little Varka in Chekhov's story), to think about philosophy without eyes that are always full of sand.

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