- Paperback: 195 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press (May 15, 1984)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226904350
- ISBN-13: 978-0226904351
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The editor’s Preface states, “In the manuscript material left by Wittgenstein there are numerous notes which do not belong directly with his philosophical works although they are scattered among the philosophical texts. Some of these notes are autobiographical, some are about the nature of philosophical activity, and some concern subjects of a general sort, such as questions about art of about religion… Some of these notes are ephemeral; others on the other hand---the majority---are of great interest. Sometimes they are strikingly beautiful and profound. It was evident to the literary executors that a number of these notes would have to be published… The remarks are published here in chronological order … It is conspicuous that nearly half the remarks stem from the period after the completion (in 1945) of Part One of Philosophical Investigations.”
He says, “Anyone who listens to a child’s crying and understands what he hears will know that it harbours dormant psychic forces, terrible forces different from anything commonly assumed. Profound rage, pain and lust for destruction.” (Pg. 2)
He explains, “It is all one to me whether or not the typical western scientist understands or appreciates my work, since he will not in any case understand the spirit in which I write. Our civilization is characterized by the word ‘progress.’ Progress is its form rather than making progress being one of its features. Typically it constructs. It is occupied with building an ever more complicated structure. And even clarity is sought only as a means to this end, not as an end in itself. For me on the contrary clarity, perspicuity are valuable in themselves. I am not interested in constructing a building, so much as in having a perspicuous view of the foundations of possible buildings. So I am not aiming at the same target as the scientists and my way of thinking is different from theirs.” (Pg. 7)
He wonders, “What would it be like not to have heard of Christ? Should we feel left alone in the dark? Do we escape such a feeling simply in the way a child escapes if when he knows there is someone in the room with him?” (Pg. 13)
He argues, “People say again and again that philosophy doesn’t really progress, that we are still occupied with the same philosophical problems as were the Greeks. But the people who say this don’t understand why it has to be so. It is because our language has remained the same and keeps seducing us into asking the same questions. As long as there continues to be a verb ‘to be’ that looks as if it functions in the same way as ‘to eat’ and ‘to drink’, as long as we still have the adjectives ‘identical,’ ‘true,’ ‘false,’ ‘possible,’ as long as we continue to talk of a river of time, or an expanse of space, etc., etc., people will keep stumbling over the same puzzling difficulties and find themselves staring at something which no explanation seems capable of clearing up. And what’s more, this satisfies a longing for the transcendent, because in so far as people think they can see the ‘limits of human understanding,’ they believe of course that they can see beyond these.” (Pg. 15)
He admits, “I don’t believe I have ever INVENTED a line of thinking, I have always taken one over from someone else. I have simply straightway seized on it with enthusiasm for my work of clarification… What I invent are new SIMILIES.” (Pg. 19)
He asserts, “Christianity is not a doctrine, not, I mean, a theory about what has happened and will happen to the human soul, but a description of something that actually takes place in human life. For ‘consciousness of sin’ is a real event and so are despair and salvation through faith. Those who speak of such things (Bunyan for instance) are simply describing what has happened to them, whatever gloss anyone may want to put on it.” (Pg. 28)
He observes, “The spring which flows gently and limpidly in the Gospels seems to have FROTH on it in Paul’s Epistles. Or that is how it seems to me… But to me it’s as though I saw human passion here, something like pride and anger, which is not in tune with the humility of the Gospels. It’s as though he IS insisting here on his own person, and doing so moreover as a religious gesture, something which is foreign to the Gospel… In the Gospels… everything is less pretentious, humbler, simpler. There you find huts; in Paul a church. There all men are equal and God himself is a man; in Paul there is already something like a hierarchy; honours and official positions. That, as it were, is what my NOSE tells me.” (Pg. 30)
He notes, “Kierkegaard writes: If Christianity were so easy and cozy, why should God in his Scriptures have set Heaven and Earth in motion and threatened eternal punishments? Question: But in that case why is this Scripture so unclear? If we want to warn someone of a terrible danger, do we go about it by telling him a riddle whose solution will be the warning?... God has FOUR people recount the life of his incarnate Son, in each case differently and with inconsistencies---but might we not say: It is important that this narrative should not be more than quite averagely historically plausible JUST SO THAT this should not be taken as the essential, decisive thing? So that the LETTER should not be believed more strongly than is proper and the SPIRIT may receive its due… Roughly in the way a mediocre stage set can be better than a sophisticated one… because these might distract attention from what matters.” (Pg. 31)
He asserts, “at my level, the Pauline doctrine of predestination is ugly nonsense, irreligiousness. Hence it is not suitable for me… If it is a good and godly picture, then it is for someone at a quite different level, who must use it in his life in a way completely different from anything that would be possible for me.” (Pg. 32)
He states, “Christianity is not based on a historical truth; rather, it offers us a (historical) narrative and says: now believe!... The historical accounts in the gospels might, historically speaking, be demonstrably false and yet belief would lose nothing by this … because historical proof (the historical proof-game) is irrelevant to belief… A believer’s relation to these narratives is NEITHER the relation to historical truth (probability), nor yet that to a theory consisting of ‘truths of reason’..” (Pg. 32)
He reasons, “I cannot call [Jesus] LORD, because that says nothing to me… I cannot utter the word ‘Lord’ with meaning, because I do not believe that he will come to judge me; because THAT says nothing to me. And it could say something to me, only if I lived COMPLETELY differently. What inclines even me to believe in Christ’s Resurrection? … if he did not rise from the dead, then he decomposed in the grave like any other man… in that case he is a teacher like any other and can no longer HELP; and once more we are orphaned and alone… But if I am to be REALLY saved---what I need is CERTAINTY---not wisdom, dreams, or speculation---and this certainty is faith.” (Pg. 33)
Later, he says, “The Christian religion is only for the man who needs infinite help, solely, that is, for the man who experiences infinite torment. The whole planet can suffer no greater torment than a SINGLE soul. The Christian faith---as I see it---is a man’s refuge from this ultimate torment. Anyone in such torment who has the gift of opening his heart, rather than contracting it, accepts the means of salvation in his heart.” (Pg. 46)
He clarifies, “Sometimes a sentence can be understood only if it is read at the RIGHT tempo. My sentences are all supposed to be read SLOWLY.” (Pg. 57) Later, he adds, “Am I the only one who cannot found a school or can a philosopher never do this? I cannot found a school because I do not really want to be imitated. Not at any rate by those who publish articles in philosophical journals.” (Pg. 61)
He says, “It strikes me that a religious belief could only be something like a passionate commitment to a system of reference. Hence, although it’s BELIEF, it’s really a way of living, or a way of assessing life. It’s passionately seizing hold of THIS interpretation.” (Pg. 64)
He acknowledges, “I may find scientific questions interesting, but they never really grip me. Only CONCEPTUAL and AESTHETIC questions do that. At bottom I am indifferent to the solutions of scientif problems; but not the other sort.” (Pg. 79)
He observes, “A proof of God’s existence ought really to be something by means of which one could convince oneself that God exists. But I think that what BELIEVERS who have furnished such proofs have wanted to do is give their ‘belief’ an intellectual analysis and foundation, although they themselves could never have come to believe as a result of such proofs… Life can educate one to a belief in God. And EXPERIENCES too are what bring this about; but I don’t mean visions and other forms of sense experience… but, e.g., sufferings of various sorts.” (Pg. 85-86)
Wittgenstein’s comments collected in this volume go far beyond what has previously been released by his executors---particularly with regard to religion. This book will be “must reading” for anyone with even a “general” interest in the man and his philosophy.
I'm sure this is not his best work by far, but still I found it very dry and put together poorly.
Basically reads out like a bunch of side-notes each paragraph having nothing to do with the paragraph above it.
With all that said there are a few gems in C & V like Wittgenstein's: religion is the father in the dark room to ease the fear of the child analogy, the the gems were few and far in between IMO.