(Are blog post titles taken from song lyrics as annoying to some people as Facebook status updates taken from song lyrics? Protests will be heeded.)
Anyway, I read very slowly, which has its disadvantages. So I've been looking into techniques for reading more quickly. Some of these involve not reading every word and counting on being able to, as it were, predict (or unconsciously guess) what the missing words are likely to be. This is not at all how Wittgenstein wanted to be read. He didn't aim to provide easily extractable content. And there's something questionable about the idea of identifying the alleged content, even though I think it's reasonable to point out when the content is not what some people say it is. So one qualification I would add to my first thoughts on PI 217 is that no gloss should ever be taken as a substitute for reading and thinking through the original. His aim, after all, was to work on the will, and no list of points made will do this work. (I don't mean that we must give him whatever he wanted because he is Saint Ludwig. I mean that his work cannot be judged (or used in any way, really) without being approached as it was intended to be approached. We wouldn't be using or judging his work if we took it some other way of our own.)
Secondly, the corbel that supports nothing is like a piece of machinery that does no work. Asking for a philosophical account of rule-following is idling, the question an occasion of language going on holiday. But there are reasons why we ask, as there are reasons why someone might want a purely decorative corbel. These reasons have to do with history, I think Wittgenstein believed. And I think TLP 6.371 and 6.372 can shed light on this. We want explanations because we think everything can be explained, so we ask even where no answer can be given, and we are inclined to accept whatever 'answer' is given, even if it really tells us nothing. (We might even mistakenly think of Wittgenstein as developing a kind of foundationalist theory.) We like to have the appearance of explanation as we might like the look of corbels (or spoilers on cars), even when no work is done by them.
Presumably we like the look of corbels because of some association they have with something like grandeur. Do we like explanations for the same kind of reason? Or is it metaphysics that has this appeal? If so, why? When a metaphysical-sounding question is not in fact a scientific one (in which case it's OK, I would think) then is it actually a kind of subconscious yearning (is that too strong a word?) for something like a creation myth? Or a certain kind of religion?