January 06, 2010

Am I missing something?

As I mentioned yesterday, I have a long standing love of philosophy--some of it anyway. Some varieties, however, like logical positivism and so-called analytical philosophy get on my last nerve.

Recently, however, someone lent me a copy of Ludwig Wittgenstein's magnum opus Philosophical Investigations, which was one of the most influential philosophy books of the 20th century.

(That should be another reminder that the 20th century wasn't anything to write home about.)

In that book, Wittgenstein broke from his earlier work, which tried to limit meaningful statements to those that could be logically or empirically demonstrated and developed a more flexible approach to language.

After finally finishing the book, all I got from it was the point that language is flexible and has different meanings and uses depending on the context or language game--which is something I already knew.

There were a few decent lines in it, like these:

Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.

...philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday.

...the meaning of a word is its use in the language.

The question "What is a word really?" is analogous to "What is a piece in chess?"

If a lion could talk, we could not understand him.

On the whole, however, I don't get what the shouting is about. So again, am I missing something here?

HEALTH CARE. It looks like the US House will pursue some changes to the Senate health care reform bill.

A DOWNER. Many Americans with major depression don't receive treatment. This is especially true of African Americans and Hispanics.

LOST WAGES from the recession cost more than health care reform.

THE FUTURE is unknowable. Here's a recent op-ed on this topic from the Charleston Gazette.



Jeff Allen said...

Hi Rick,

I agree. I think Tolkien had it right when he tied language to mythology.

David said...

If a lion could talk, we could not understand him.

If the lion speak English, but not shout, then we can understand him.