Monday, July 15, 2013

Of Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein (Photo Credit: Ben Richards, 1947.)
I met Wittgenstein once.

On a ship. In dry dock.

On a moonless night.

I stepped into it, to watch the darkness shine through the gaping holes in its hull.

So had Wittgenstein.

He nodded, as if he expected me.

Gazing into nothingness, he said:

"What does the word 'darkness' mean if only light discerns meaning? Perhaps 'darkness' is actually the self-discovery of light? And if so, then neither of them is what the other imagines it to be."

I owe a lot to Wittgenstein.

And he never asked me for anything in return.

Here are four of the many jewels he unearthed during his years in the mines of Philosophia:

"People are deeply imbedded in philosophical, i.e., grammatical confusions. And to free them presupposes pulling them out of the immensely manifold connections they are caught up in." -- Philosophical Occasions, Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination." -- Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language." -- Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein

"My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.) " -- Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein

P.S. Wittgenstein told a friend that Kierkegaard was the most profound author of the nineteenth century and a saint.

P.P.S. Born in Vienna into one of Europe's wealthiest families, Wittgenstein gave away his entire inheritance.

-- Richard Power

Power's eighth book,  Humanifesto: A Guide to Primal Reality in an Era of Global Peril , is available now in soft cover and Kindle versions, from Amazon and elsewhere.