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[Wittrs] Philosophy as Itching [message #672] Tue, 01 September 2009 18:08 Go to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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Another interesting quote from Culture and Value from 1950 on page 86.

"Philosophy hasn't made any progress? -- If somebody scratches a spot where he has an itch, do we have to see some progress? Isn't it genuine scratching otherwise, or genuing itching? And can't this reaction to an irritation continue in the same way for a long time before a cure for the itching is discovered?"

... and that is your quote of the day.
 
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[Wittrs] Philosophy as Itching [message #673 is a reply to message #672] Tue, 01 September 2009 18:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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... a couple of thoughts, Stuart:


1. I wonder if all that people who are opposed to W's method really mean is that "debate" is something they find enjoyable -- or is something that has helped them further their learning. Let's say I said, "fencing makes me think." And let's say it was true. And let's say that several people felt that way. And so if you came along one day and said, "philosophy isn't fencing," you would be exactly right, correct? Some people might find that sex helps them philosophize. (You know, I bet you could find a neuroscience of some sort with a theory as to why). But philosophy's mission isn't sex.  And it isn't fencing.

2. I think you should not underestimate what the idea of "sense cleansing" and "grammar navigation" is really all about. I myself would not consider it a narrow exercise. It sort of goes back to that discussion you and I had about what W meant by "language" (a broader idea).  Getting two people in a dispute to see their own sense of reference and to see how their language frame fits together is not a little matter. Untangling knots directly is surely more powerful than hoping they untangle by clashing premises against one another. That would be like a plumber trying to remove a clog with a hammer. 

Regards and thanks.
 
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
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Wright State University
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[Wittrs] Philosophy as Itching [message #674 is a reply to message #672] Tue, 01 September 2009 18:11 Go to previous message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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... yes, Stuart, that would be the way that I take the quote.


The 'itching" can be thought of as:

(a) endless debate over and over again
(b) the juxtaposition of sense in a way that creates the "problem," thus necessitating the "craft"  

There is also a curious and sophisticated remark here. He's challenging his own criticisms from an even haughtier loft. He's saying that it is senseless to say that philosophy doesn't make "progress," because, after all, itching does what it does. It would be like looking at a lower form of life or existence or culture and saying, "it is providing them their days." You will note he wrote this near the end of his life. And you will note that, unlike the ban-the-bomb quote I posted previously, he had occasion to think about philosophy all of his life. So it wasn't a "fresh" eruption.

And the cure is the thing that eliminates the irritation. And that would be the dissolving of the problem away by showing the confusions of sense and grammar, dissolving the issue into informational problem, thereby resigning it to another (professional) field.   

Note that none of this says that philosophy as a social club shouldn't exist or that classical or analytic philosophy shouldn't be taught or performed. What it says is that philosophy is supposed to be a training ground where a person is shown the path to Wittgenstein. It would be like graduating with a certificate in heightened awareness. First you teach skills (e.g., symbolic logic), then you teach thought games (all of philosophy), and then, in the final year, you teach their "solutions" (Wittgenstein). If philosophy did this, it would be training students to go out into other fields and apply heightened understanding to the issues those fields have when they make similar kinds of mistakes.  You could also award robes or something to students that "got it," while just giving the degree to those who didn't. That way, the employers would know what sort of graduate they were getting.

Regards.
 
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Redesigned Website: http://seanwilson.org/
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Twitter: http://twitter.com/seanwilsonorg
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