- Hardcover: 321 pages
- Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 4 edition (October 12, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1405159286
- ISBN-13: 978-1405159289
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 102 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Philosophical Investigations 4th Edition
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From the Back Cover
Immediately upon its posthumous publication in 1953, Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations was hailed as a masterpiece, and the ensuing years have confirmed this initial assessment. Today it is widely acknowledged to be the single most important philosophical work of the twentieth century.
In this definitive new en face German-English edition, Wittgenstein experts Peter Hacker and Joachim Schulte have incorporated significant editorial changes to earlier editions of Philosophical Investigations in order to reflect more closely Wittgenstein's original intentions. Notable revisions include the placement of Wittgenstein's notes – Randbemerkungen – into their designated positions in the text, some corrections to the originally published German text, and the numbering of all the remarks in what was Part 2 and is now named Philosophy of Psychology – A Fragment. Extensive modifications and corrections have also been made to G. E. M. Anscombe's original English translation. Detailed editorial endnotes have been added to illuminate difficult translation decisions and to identify references and allusions in Wittgenstein's original text.
About the Author
Peter Hacker is the author of the four-volume Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations (Blackwell, 1980-96) the first two volumes co-authored with G. P. Baker (Second Editions, 2003, 2009) and of Wittgenstein’s Place in Twentieth-century Analytic Philosophy (Blackwell, 1996). He has also written extensively on philosophy of mind, including Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (Blackwell, 2003) and History of Cognitive Neuroscience (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), co-authored with M. R. Bennett, and Human Nature: The Categorial Framework (Blackwell, 2007), the first volume of a trilogy on human nature.
Joachim Schulte edited the authoritative critical-genetic edition of Wittgenstein’s Philosophische Untersuchungen (2001). He is author of Wittgenstein: An Introduction (1989), Chor und Gesetz: Wittgenstein im Kontext (1990), Experience and Expression: Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Psychology (1993), and of many dozens of philosophical papers.
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First, this is a scholarly edition. It presents the German text and the English translation on facing pages. The copy text, if you will, for the translation is that of G.E.M. Anscombe, but it is revised by P.M.S. Hacker and Joachim Schulte. Wittgensteinians study LW’s writings word by word, and some of the translation choices have been disputed. The book also contains endnotes and a substantial index. Considering the accumulated elements of apparatus and the density of the text, the price is a bargain. This is, after all, one of the most important books of 20thc philosophy.
It is, of course, quite skeptical of the philosophic enterprise. LW believed that the ‘problems’ of philosophy were essentially self-created and result from the constraints posed by language. That which we cannot speak of, LW argued, was what was truly important. The rest was a series of muddles. The book consists of two parts, the second renamed “Philosophy of Psychology – A Fragment.” The first consists (crudely speaking) of an extensive set of observations on language and communication, the second on perception and behavior. These observations are stated with great lucidity though we can feel the weight of reflection that stands behind them. We can also feel the weight of previous philosophic opinion, though LW is very sparing in his mention of other philosophers. His immediate predecessors are mentioned and he cites both Plato and Augustine (quoting the latter in Latin). He mentions William James, but on his predecessors he tends to remain silent. When he reflects on causality, e.g., he does not engage directly with Hume, though it is clear that Hume is in his thoughts. He anticipates much contemporary neuroscience, in, e.g., his discussion of the problems of ‘consciousness’, but he does not provide extensive references.
At a number of points (a very small number of points) he states his aims and his conclusions with great specificity:
“Philosophy is a struggle against the bewitchment of our understanding by the resources of our language” (#109).
“What I want to teach is: to pass from unobvious nonsense to obvious nonsense” (#464).
“A whole cloud of philosophy condenses into a drop of grammar” (#315).
“What is your aim in philosophy? – To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle” (#309).
He is (expectedly) hard on psychology:
“The confusion and barrenness of psychology is not to be explained by its being a ‘young science’; its state is not comparable with that of physics, for instance, in its beginnings . . . . For in psychology, there are experimental methods and conceptual confusion. . . . The existence of the experimental method makes us think that we have the means of getting rid of the problems which trouble us; but problem and method pass one another by” (II, #371).
There are other memorable passages which I will allow the reader to discover for him- or herself.
I would describe this book as a necessary read for anyone interested in the history of philosophy and the course of modern thought. Even if one is not prepared to dissect it in detail, it is a pleasure to watch a brilliant mind at work, tracing an outline of thought that has been immensely influential.
First, the geeky stuff on the translation and editing. Like the Anscombe translation, this one with Hacker and Schulte joining their efforts to Anscombe's, presents the original German and the English translation on facing pages. As a reader with a spotty knowledge of German, this gives me the opportunity to refer to the original where the English seems obscure, ambiguous, or just plain impenetrable. If you're a student of Wittgenstein, Hacker and Schulte have helpfully addressed numerous, controversial aspects of Anscombe's translation -- many of these, such as the difficulty with the German "Satz" (translated relative to context by "sentence" or "proposition", two very different English words) and "Seele" ("soul" sometimes but "mind" others by context in English), are discussed in their Preface.
If you are a quasi-casual reader, many of these points of translation are probably less important than overall readability. And I think Hacker and Schulte have improved readability, updating the feel of Wittgenstein's writing, which is often colloquial, to something more modern.
They've also added over 20 pages of sometimes helpful footnotes, where additional information about the translation or about Wittgenstein's thoughts are enlightening. And they've recast "Part II" of the Investigations itself as "Philosophy of Psychology -- A Fragment" -- their reasoning for that is given in their Preface.
Like most great philosophical texts, no matter how many times I read the Investigations, it's different each time, and I feel foolish for having understood so little the previous time. The new translation offers a great excuse to give it another read.
There are many themes to pick up, including the great variety of linguistic behavior (as contrasted with naive views of language as representing or naming, or with Wittgenstein's own view in the Tractatus), the illusions of distinctive mental activities (such as "meaning" a word while uttering it, or translating the inner to the outer or public), and the general theme of philosophical problems arising when "language goes on holiday".
It's the last that continues to grab my attention, persistently through readings, with different remarks jumping out of the text each time. The simple view is that Wittgenstein thinks ordinary language (what we all say and do in practical contexts every day) is fine as it is, but that it's when we detach ordinary language from those practical contexts that we get in trouble. We fall into perplexing philosophical quandaries, supposing ourselves to really wonder whether the external world or other minds exist, or whether objects are material or ideal.
But philosophical exercises of language are exercises of language, after all. It's not as though we can simply say, "Don't do that" when philosophers speak, and point out that they've left the "ordinary" behind. It's not a simple mistake, and the line between the "ordinary" and the "philosophical" is crossed sometimes without special notice. And it's not even the exclusive province of professional philosophers (amateurs seem even more impressed than the professionals sometimes by their own metaphysical musings).
Certainly, there is more to say about the mistake that philosophers, amateur and professional, make. In particular, there is Wittgenstein's distinction between empirical remarks (remarks about facts in the world) and grammatical remarks (by contrast, remarks about how we speak or are to speak about those facts in the world). The philosopher mistakes the one for the other, thinking that, for example, by adopting what we call an idealist grammatical position (when we talk of objects in the world, we are really talking of mental or ideal objects) we have really discovered something about the objects and not just made a statement about how we should speak of them. Much more to say on this, of course -- which is why a short review is so presumptuous. In fact, it's Wittgenstein's thoughts on why we fall victim to such a misunderstanding that I puzzle most about.
And, of course, just the fact that this translation is originaly made by Anscombe, friend of Wittgenstein, one of which was given the responsability of publishing his work in case that he died, that just makes the book trustrable. So, after the sequel of
revisions, we have now this one, the best improved of all.