Tuesday, July 30, 2013


A few things you could have missed but might find interesting:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

In praise of journalism

I find a lot of journalism genuinely shocking in its sloppiness and inaccuracy, so maybe I should speak up in favor of journalists who do a good job. Before I went to Cambodia I re-watched The Killing Fields and decided I should subscribe to the New York Times instead of just reading whatever news I could find free online. I don't love the macho stereotype of the journalist in that film, but I do like commitment to truth and truth-telling.

The best example of this that I know is Thet Sambath, a Cambodian film-maker whose Enemies of the People is at least as good as The Killing Fields (it's about who was responsible for the Khmer Rouge atrocities). Apparently he's making another film, despite repeated attempts on his life. Hopefully after the elections things will improve. It doesn't seem hugely likely, but perhaps progress is being made.

In favor of charity

Brian Leiter links to this piece in the New York Times and encourages "philosophers who seem to think charitable giving is an ethical imperative" to contemplate it. The author, Peter Buffett, makes some odd complaints about charity. Here's one:
Often the results of our decisions had unintended consequences; distributing condoms to stop the spread of AIDS in a brothel area ended up creating a higher price for unprotected sex.
How is this bad? If unprotected sex with prostitutes costs more than it used to then, other things being equal, there will be less of it than before. That's a good thing. The problem, or problems (the spread of AIDS and the existence of prostitution), isn't completely solved, but progress has been made. I suppose raising the price of unprotected sex incentivizes it for prostitutes, but if the price is raised by distributing condoms (thereby making unprotected sex rarer) then this distribution is not going to lead to more unprotected sex than before. At worst it will make no difference at all, but that isn't what Buffett describes happening.

But that isn't his main point. Here is something closer to that:
Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine.
The first sentence of this paragraph has a paradoxical sound to it. Too much commercialism? Let's spend money on fixing that! Maybe that would produce good results, but I doubt we'll find a better alternative to those currently available any time soon. There are already ideas other than neoliberalism and universal commodification out there. They need more political support, and I'm sure their supporters would welcome money from people like Buffett to spend on promoting them. (This is what Leiter seems to want, and I agree with him.) Buffett's next two sentences are false. Wi-Fi on every street corner (again, other things equal) is progress. I agree that the forced prostitution of children is worse than a lack of Wi-Fi. So would everyone. That's why we need to get our priorities straight. But progress in a relatively unimportant area is still progress. Increasing access to technology, education, or safer living conditions is not going to cause people to have worse lives (as measured by such things as how many of them are forced into prostitution).

In short, charitable giving done intelligently is far more likely to do good than harm, and almost certainly is an ethical imperative for most of the people who read Leiter's blog.

More (and better) from Neil Sinhababu at NewAPPS.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mm-mm good

I mentioned here that Wittgenstein makes an odd comment about the word 'good' in his lectures on aesthetics:
A child generally applies a word like ‘good’ first to food. One thing that is immensely important in teaching is exaggerated gestures and facial expressions. The word is taught as a substitute for a facial expression or a gesture. The gestures, tones of voice, etc., in this case are expressions of approval.  
I also said that:
There is much more to be said about how we get from yummy! to appreciation, about the tremendous (because "One wouldn’t talk of appreciating the tremendous things in Art"), and about the significance of all this (its relevance to ethics, for instance). But that will have to wait. 
Presumably Wittgenstein's thinking about the word 'good' being a substitute for a facial expression or gesture that expresses approval is related to Philosophical Investigations 244:
How do words refer to sensations? -- There doesn't seem to be any problem here; don't we talk about sensations every day, and give them names? But how is the connection between the name and the thing named set up? This question is the same as: how does a human being learn the meaning of the names of sensations? -- of the word "pain" for example. Here is one possibility: words are connected with the primitive, the natural, expressions of the sensation and used in their place. A child has hurt himself and he cries; and then adults talk to him and teach him exclamations and, later, sentences. They teach the child new pain-behavior.
"So you are saying that the word 'pain' really means crying?" -- On the contrary: the verbal expression of pain replaces crying and does not describe it.     
Can we infer that the word 'good' replaces cheering (as in hooray, as in the boo-hooray theory, aka emotivism) or saying 'aah!' or 'mmm!' and does not describe it? I (tentatively) think so. But learning new pain-behavior and new approval-behavior (if that's the right term) is learning something new. It isn't just doing the same thing in a pointlessly different way. So what is it? Well, we know what it is. But perhaps it would be good to get re-acquainted with it.

The move from "mmm!" to "That's good" is, among other things, a move from (something that has the form of) expression to (something that has the form of) a report. It's a move into language, away or on from just being a thing. ('Mmm!' doesn't have much meaning or grammar.) It's a move toward articulation, which allows for greater detail or precision and for (more) rational understanding of what is expressed. It allows for disagreement, too, which is part of this rational understanding. The move into language (and reason) is also a move into society or community with others, out of the (more) private world of the pre-linguistic. But it isn't a leap from one sphere into another. It's a growing from one area into a wider area that still includes the point of origin. I can and do still say "mmm!" or cry instead of always saying "This is good" or "I'm in pain."

The first step is being trained to associate the exaggerated facial expressions and gestures with the pleasant sensations of eating. The next is to be trained to say 'good' or 'it's good' or whatever instead of making such gestures (if kids ever do start by simply mimicking the gestures--at any rate they need to be taught to say 'good,' etc.). Then you start working on your pronunciation (not goo or goot but good), your grammar (not just good but This is good, etc.), and applying words like 'good' to other foods, other sensations, other kinds of thing. And that involves being shown, or simply noticing for oneself, similarities between the original paradigm cases and others.

This can be complicated, as Wittgenstein describes in the case of appreciating a piece of music (from Culture and Value, p. 59):
Doesn’t the theme point to anything beyond itself? Oh yes! But that means: the impression it makes on me is connected with things in its surroundings- e.g. with the existence of the German language and its intonation, but that means with the whole field of our language games. If I say, e.g.: it’s as though a conclusion were being drawn, or, as if here something were being confirmed, or, as this were a reply to what came earlier, - then the way I understand it clearly presupposes familiarity with conclusions, confirmations, replies, etc. A theme, no less than a face, wears an expression.     
It's the ability to say things like "it's as though a conclusion were being drawn" (when this is appropriate, of course) that characterizes what Wittgenstein means by appreciation. It involves having a discerning and articulate taste, although there are limits to this kind of articulation. A novice will not understand an expert, at least some of the time. The only way is for the novice to learn more, to develop the ability to see likenesses and connections. Learning to appreciate a piece of music is not so much a matter of coming to see (or hear) that it is good as it is coming to understand it, finding one's way around it, becoming familiar with it. (And what Wittgenstein says about how one does this, e.g. learning from someone else to hear one part as if it were a conclusion, might be regarded as a helpful filling in of details left out of Nietzsche's account of how one comes to love a piece of music, which is not to say that Wittgenstein would agree with Nietzsche. It is, instead, to say that he could do so.)

Going back to the first step, I am reminded of the opening of the Philosophical Investigations, whose first step is about these first steps, our first learning of language. Wittgenstein begins at the beginning. Not because he's so methodical--it isn't really that kind of book (it's not a textbook)--but because this is where the trouble starts, I suppose. In moving from expressions to uses of language that look like reports we acquire the temptation to think of them as reports. Hence of our inner life as consisting of weird metaphysical objects. But it is more everyday than that. And weirder. After all, as Augustine says, the mind is like God:
[...] a kind of trinity exists in man, who is the image of God, viz. the mind, and the knowledge wherewith the mind knows itself, and the love wherewith it loves both itself and its own knowledge; and these three are shown to be mutually equal, and of one essence 
Book X of the Confessions is surely also relevant here:
15. Great is this power of memory, exceeding great, O my God—an inner chamber large and boundless! Who has plumbed the depths thereof? Yet it is a power of mine, and appertains unto my nature; nor do I myself grasp all that I am. Therefore is the mind too narrow to contain itself. And where should that be which it does not contain of itself? Is it outside and not in itself? How is it, then, that it does not grasp itself? A great admiration rises upon me; astonishment seizes me. And men go forth to wonder at the heights of mountains, the huge waves of the sea, the broad flow of the rivers, the extent of the ocean, and the courses of the stars, and omit to wonder at themselves ...
One of the most wonderful things of all is the human mind, including the faculty of memory, which is a great mystery, and which Augustine seems to have been fooled with regard to in the passage Wittgenstein quotes in PI 1. Augustine cannot remember how he learned language--he is fooled into thinking that he must have learned it as he describes by the form of language itself. We are educated, led out, by and into language, but also corrupted by it. Wittgenstein's response is to do battle against this bewitchment by means of language itself.
Bernie Rhie quotes Wittgenstein saying that: "If I say of a piece of Schubert’s that it is melancholy, that is like giving it a face." Giving it a face helps us understand it, connect it with facial expressions, gestures, and what they express (although this should not be thought of as something we can really make sense of wholly apart from expressions of it). It is like giving us a concept, a category, like a light, under which to see it. It helps us place it in relation to other things, and thereby (perhaps) understand it. 

And, Wittgenstein says, the word 'good' (and others like it) are first learned in connection with a kind of face and as a substitute for that kind of face. The word has a kind of depth because it replaces (but does not stand for) an expression, not just a three-dimensional object (a wide-eyed, smiling face, say) but one that calls for a certain kind of response (or effect) and implies that it is itself the effect of something else, such as the eating of tasty food. In the beginning was the deed, perhaps, but a gesture is the kind of deed that points back or in to something like a cause (that which it expresses) and forwards or out to something like an effect (the kind of response it calls for).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Flip again

Here's an interesting piece about a flipped course. These are the bits that stood out when I read it:
Only about 25 percent of them watched the prerecorded lectures before class. As a result, class discussion of content became an exercise in futility. Their comments at the end of the semester made it clear that about two-thirds of them preferred a typical lecture class.
I'm pretty sure my students would have been no more interested in watching a Superprofessor lecture on Ancient Rome than they were in watching me—it wasn't me or my style (as they clearly said in the surveys); it was the extra work required of them.
Provide a lot of structure, including weekly quizzes that require students to stay on top of the course content.
The students' graded performance—especially in the A-B range—advanced remarkably over previous versions of the same course. The same content, more difficult exams, and new instructional methods led to improved learning.
[Students] have to come to see the value of doing assigned pre-class work and then see that coming to class is an efficient way to learn (or, more precisely, to earn high grades). 
Contrary to what the fashionable disruptive innovators might have us believe, flipped classes are not easy to teach, and they are not easy to take. 
In sum, the flipped course is more work for everyone, but the better students learn more as a result of doing the extra work. Is this really a surprise? There's a percentage of students who will do whatever it takes to earn high grades (and it's pretty clear here that grades are the motivator). Set the bar high and they will find a way to get over it. So that's the obvious thing to do. Except that there are other students. They might not be capable of what the others can do. Or they just might not care so much. The decision teachers have to make then is whether to leave these students behind, or at the very least to run a serious risk of doing so, or not to raise the bar quite so high after all. And the obvious thing to do in this case is to try raising it and see what happens. That's what I always do, and I imagine it's what most people who teach at the college level do (and probably what all teachers do, unless they are constrained from doing so). But there comes a point when you're leaving too many of your students too far behind. And then you have to stop raising the bar and focus more on making sure everyone, or nearly everyone, gets over it. Which is likely to involve explaining things to those who don't understand. And then you're lecturing again.

I don't mean to sound too much as though I'm defending traditional lectures. I was taught with the tutorial system, which usually meant one-on-one teaching for an hour or more a week plus lots of independent (but guided) reading and writing. We were explicitly encouraged not to go to lectures, regardless of our major. And philosophy, we were told, is an activity, not something that you really can learn from lectures, so philosophy lectures seemed extra pointless. I still went to some because I found them useful or inspiring or just a nice change of pace, but if I lecture now it's not because that's what I grew up with. And I don't really lecture. I never do all the talking in a class. But I do most of the talking because I understand and care about the material more than anyone else in the room. My classes are part question-and-answer, part general discussion, part conversation with those who care the most or understand the least, and part lecture. Sometimes I try other things, but these are the staples that I keep coming back to. No doubt different approaches work better for different people, but I really doubt that flipped classrooms are any kind of miracle solution to the age-old problem of getting people to understand difficult material, or of getting people to work when they would rather play.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cynicism plus

Two pieces on cynicism remind me of a theory I vaguely started to bake (I'm not sure I got as much as halfway) recently. The first is Simon Critchley and Jamieson Webster on self-help and New Age spirituality. The second is Julian Baggini praising cynicism. Critchley and Webster make a lot of unsupported claims, or claims for which they provide no evidence (perhaps because this is The Stone and not anything more scholarly), such as this:
With the rise of corporations like Google, the workplace has increasingly been colonized by nonwork experiences to the extent that we are not even allowed to feel alienation or discontent at the office because we can play Ping-Pong, ride a Segway, and eat  organic lunches from a menu designed by celebrity chefs. 
This is probably true in the sense that the amount of Segway-riding at work has increased from none to some, but surely the kind of work environment described here is still extremely rare. Most of what they say feels true, albeit not entirely surprising. Does New Age spirituality need any more bashing? But there's some better stuff in there too:
A naïve belief in authenticity eventually gives way to a deep cynicism. A conviction in personal success that must always hold failure at bay becomes a corrupt stubbornness that insists on success at any cost. Cynicism, in this mode, is not the expression of a critical stance toward authenticity but is rather the runoff of this failure of belief. 
Cynicism, they imply, has at least two modes, one good one bad. It can express a critical stance toward the cult of authenticity (good) or be the mere runoff of a failure of belief (bad). The bad kind of cynicism is complacent, dishonest, and uncharitable. The good kind asks questions and evaluates, but is not purely negative.

Baggini focuses on what is good about cynicism. As he says: "The cynic, after all, is inclined to question people's motives and assume that they are acting self-servingly unless proven otherwise," and "They [i.e. cynics] are realists who know that the world is not the sun-kissed fantasy peddled by positive-thinking gurus and shysters." He acknowledges that one can take this too far, but defends the tendency of cynicism to help us avoid cons and fantasy. Fair enough.

I see cynicism as coming in many forms. The whole of economic theory seems basically cynical: people are all basically self-interested and motivated by desire for profit. That's a cynical view. And if it turns out that people don't behave so as to maximize their profits, then profit is reinterpreted as utility, and it is posited that whatever they did must have been done in an attempt to maximize their utility. That's a pretty cynical move. Marx is cynical about religion (among other things). Schopenhauer is cynical about love. Nietzsche is cynical about morality. Freud is cynical about motivation generally. All reductionism is a form of cynicism. And all of these forms of cynicism appeal to us (including me) partly because there seems to be so much truth in them.

But none of them seems wholly true. And it's the exceptions that are interesting. Human life would scarcely be worth thinking about if the cynics were completely right. We have to acknowledge the truth in what they say if we are to avoid naivete and fantasy. But everything really valuable and interesting seems to me to belong to the extra part of life, the part that resists reduction, the non-self-interested, the non-rational, the non-consequentialist, the non-biological or mechanical. And I suppose it's just that kind of gooey sentiment that is perhaps most likely of all to breed cynicism. Oh well.     

Monday, July 15, 2013

Some things are better than others

Various things have led me to think about judgments of relative quality recently. Today it's Gary Gutting comparing the Beatles and Mozart. As usual, I mostly agree with him, but not entirely. Here's a key part of his article:
fans of popular music may respond to the elitist claims of classical music with a facile relativism. But they abandon this relativism when arguing, say, the comparative merits of the early Beatles and the Rolling Stones. You may, for example, maintain that the Stones were superior to the Beatles (or vice versa) because their music is more complex, less derivative, and has greater emotional range and deeper intellectual content. Here you are putting forward objective standards from which you argue for a band’s superiority. Arguing from such criteria implicitly rejects the view that artistic evaluations are simply matters of personal taste. You are giving reasons for your view that you think others ought to accept.
Further, given the standards fans use to show that their favorites are superior, we can typically show by those same standards that works of high art are overall superior to works of popular art. 
The view roughly is that some things are better than others because they are more interesting, from which Gutting apparently draws the conclusion that the more interesting something is, the better. But what if it's too interesting? That sounds paradoxical, but by 'interesting' here I mean having the kind of features Gutting mentions: complexity, originality, emotional range, and intellectual content. It is surely possible for art to be too complex, too original, too emotionally ranging, and too intellectual. I can prefer this dessert to that because this one is sweeter without its being the case that the best dessert of all would be pure sugar.

How original or complex a work should be seems to be relative to the audience or the context: to what extent is the relevant scene tired and in need of something new?, how much intellectual content can we handle? We don't want Zizek references in a Sesame Street song. Complexity and emotional range also depend on the general context, and on personal taste too, I would think. If everything is complex, simplicity might be a breath of fresh air. But it's also true that different people will be happier with different levels of complexity. I like a certain straightforwardness, a rawness of emotion. But something above the level of the moronic. I can also imagine liking a song, say, that is purely sad, or purely happy, but if too many songs are like this then I will crave emotional range. Other people are likely to be roughly similar, but their preferred ranges of complexity and emotion will vary at least somewhat, as will the background of what they have been reading or seeing or hearing lately. The relative absence of a common culture makes universal judgments of quality difficult. If the scene is Broadway or the Vienna State Opera then we can be fairly objective about what is stale and what is refreshing, what builds on recent trends cleverly and what is merely derivative, but when the scene is your cable package or my iPod then it's much harder to speak to a general audience about what is an exciting new TV series or just the same old rubbish. That is, The Wire was a great TV series, but if you are five years old it will not be much fun for you. Nor will it be if you are fifty but have been fed such a diet of unsophisticated televisual gruel that you cannot handle something so complex. When we all watched the same TV, listened to the same radio, went to the same plays and concerts, it was much easier to talk about what was good or bad, because there was one audience for whom it might be too much or not enough in one way or another. (Of course there never was such a time, but some times have approximated it more than others. We are far from it today.)

Another thing that led me to think about all this (or to want to blog about it, which, alas, is not the same thing) is the debate about the relative quality of philosophy journals and areas of philosophy. In this discussion at NewAPPS, for instance, some people claimed that the general standard of originality and rigor is lower in aesthetics and applied ethics than in other areas of philosophy. These people work in aesthetics and applied ethics, as well as in other areas, so they aren't simply attacking other people by attacking their territory. And their expertise gives a lot of credibility to what they say. And it surely is possible to distinguish good work in philosophy from bad, otherwise how would we grade student papers or conduct peer review?

On the other hand, it would be odd if someone said that, say, History is better than English. That more original work and greater rigor were to be found in one discipline than the other. Such claims might be defensible (perhaps English has been taken over by trendies spouting pomo nonsense), but they would still sound odd, like a claim that jazz is better than medieval music. How can you compare the two? This is (at least one reason) why it is important that the people on the NewAPPS thread stuck to words like 'rigor' and 'originality' rather than using the less helpful word 'better.' There probably isn't much originality in applied ethics. There would be a risk of absurdity otherwise. "Surprise! The ethics of assisted suicide is actually a pseudo-problem after all." We don't, most of us, want that kind of originality. And the kind of rigor that is possible and desirable in such a field is going to be different from that in, say, logic. Judgements about what is better than what else just don't seem helpful, or even very meaningful, in such contexts. (The relative ease with which a given person can knock out a publishable paper in one area but not another is irrelevant, it seems to me. This could just reflect that person's strengths and weaknesses rather than the easiness of the discipline or area in which she finds it easier to work.)

Statements like "Mozart is better than the Beatles" or "work in the philosophy of language is better than work in aesthetics" seem pretty useless to me, except as revealing or expressing the speaker's preferences. Expressing such preferences is perfectly reasonable. It would be weird not to have any, and there is something to be said for acknowledging them. Be true to your school, as the Beach Boys said, and the sentiment is more defensible, I think, when applied to, say, the Frankfurt School or Antirealism, than when applied to a literal school. Within a specific context one can accurately and valuably make distinctions of quality. The new Camera Obscura album is not their best work. That's pretty much just a fact, just as the Philosophical Investigations is better than the Brown Book. But is analytic philosophy better than continental philosophy, or ethics better than metaphysics, or Kant better than Nietzsche? On their own those are silly questions. Not because they cannot be answered, but because a simple Yes or No answer is no use. We need to get into the details. And after a detailed answer a summary thumbs up or down would make a mockery of the thought that preceded it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More on elucidation

Further thoughts and notes (more notes, really) on what I said before about the Tractatus. Wittgenstein's fundamental thought is given in 4.0312:
My fundamental thought is that the “logical constants” represent nothing.  That the logic of facts does not allow of representation.
Propositions represent objects (and their relations), i.e. facts. What must or should be done in any non-factual sense cannot be represented. "If...then" statements can all be replaced by propositions connected with the Sheffer stroke or by truth-tables, and truth-tables are like rules for a game. Nothing tells you that you have to play that game. The only necessity is logical necessity, which is the necessity of a game. Compare Anscombe:
in a divine law theory of ethics [...] what obliges is the divine law‑as rules oblige in a game. 
Here is more Wittgenstein on philosophy and the limits of the ethical/sayable (not the same thing, but they share a border):
4.113 Philosophy limits the disputable territory of natural science.
4.114 It should delimit the thinkable and therewith the unthinkable.
It should limit the unthinkable from inside, by way of the thinkable. 
4.115 It will refer to the unsayable in that it presents clearly the sayable.
4.116 Everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly.  Everything that can be said can be said clearly. 
I think this backs up what I was saying about the limit in question being a kind of border between scientific facts (which Wittgenstein understands in a very broad sense--scientific facts are basically just facts, and maybe even all possible facts) and the unsayable. The unsayable is also unthinkable, so I don't think this should be regarded as any kind of mysticism. The unthinkable cannot be thought at all. There is no room here for 'grasping' or 'intuiting' the ineffable.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Anscombe's psychology

"Modern Moral Philosophy" refers to psychology twice in its opening lines:
I will begin by stating three theses which I present in this paper. The first is that it is not profitable for us at present to do moral philosophy; that should be laid aside at any rate until we have an adequate philosophy of psychology, in which we are conspicuously lacking. The second is that the concepts of obligation, and duty‑-moral obligation and moral duty, that is to say‑-and of what is morally right and wrong, and of the moral sense of "ought," ought to be jettisoned if this is psychologically possible; because they are survivals, or derivatives from survivals, from an earlier conception of ethics which no longer generally survives, and are only harmful without it. 
I think the second thesis is usually taken to mean that we should jettison the concepts she mentions. But what she actually says is that we should jettison them if this is psychologically possible. It's possible to read her as implying that we ought not to jettison them if we cannot do so. Cannot psychologically, that is. What does that mean? Well, an analysis of 'psychologically' might well belong to the philosophy of psychology, along with analyses of intention and other more familiar concepts in the philosophy of psychology.

Why might this matter? If this is what she means then her thinking seems to be in line with Wittgenstein's on secondary sense. One difference between nonsense and secondary sense is that the latter is psychologically necessary. (Is that right?) (Am I just regurgitating Reshef's ideas here? If so, are they properly digested?) It would also mean that she is usually misread. And, since I have wanted to defend the use of the concept of moral rights but reject the concept of moral obligation, it suggests that I should maybe re-think my position to be sure it's really coherent. If one is justified as either metaphorical or secondary, why can't the other be?

I don't mean that Anscombe is secretly hinting at some big idea about secondary sense. I think she does believe we should get rid of the (non-theistic version of the) notion of moral obligation. But I wonder whether she's making some acknowledgement here of a Wittgensteinian alternative to her view. This alternative would involve using words like 'ought' in a moral sense even though their use in this sense primarily belongs in another context. It would be like calling Tuesday lean or saying that someone calculated in her head. It would not be a metaphorical use of words, because no other words would do. It's this nothing-else-will-do part that makes it psychologically impossible to give up the words in question. Or that's what I'm suggesting.

True, Anscombe says that this use of words is "only harmful" without the primary context, but if giving it up is impossible then perhaps it's the best option available to us.

Tractarian elucidation

I must have read about this before, but I just noticed for myself the apparent link from the very first sentence of the Tractatus to 3.263 and 6.54. Here's 3.263:
The meanings of primitive signs can be explained through elucidations.  Elucidations [Erläuterungen] are propositions which contain primitive signs.  They can thus only be understood if one is already acquainted with the meanings of these signs.
This sounds like a joke or catch-22. It might not be, if the signs being explained are not the only such primitive signs in the elucidations. (Or if, as Wittgenstein suggested, you can know a thing without knowing about it: in that case one might be acquainted with the signs' meanings but still have something to learn about these meanings. I'm not sure what to make of this idea, though. Partly it sounds like nonsense. Partly it sounds like a reference to the need to remind ourselves of the grammar of words whose use is familiar to us but forgotten or obscured in philosophy.) But it certainly sounds like a joke. It also sounds like the first sentence of the book's foreword:
This book will perhaps only be understood by one who has himself already at some time thought the thoughts that are expressed herein – or at least similar thoughts.
Primitive signs sound as though they cannot be explained (since their "explanations" can only be understood by someone already familiar with their meanings). But if one is acquainted with their meanings, then one can perhaps understand the "elucidations" that contain these signs. (Although it isn't immediately clear what that would amount to.) Similarly the Tractatus can perhaps only be understood by someone already acquainted with the kind of thoughts it contains. It isn't going to explain itself. So how will it get anything across at all?
6.54 My propositions elucidate by whoever understands me perceiving them in the end as nonsensical, when through them – upon them – over them, he has climbed out.  (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed out upon it.)
He must overcome these propositions, then he sees the world rightly.  
It won't, in other words. The propositions don't elucidate. Or, if we want to say that they do, they elucidate passively, by being perceived in a certain way (as nonsensical) by a certain kind of person (one who understands Wittgenstein) at a certain kind of time (in the end, after a process of overcoming).

This is all hard to understand, so it's worth gathering other clues. Also relevant, surely, is this:
4.112 The end of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts.
Philosophy is not a subject but an activity.
A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.
The result of philosophy is not “philosophical propositions” but the clarification of propositions.
Philosophy should make clear and distinct thoughts that, without it, are, as it were, unclear and indistinct.
This suggests that the time to throw away the ladder is when one's thoughts, or certain of them, have been logically clarified. The thoughts in question are seemingly those that contain meaningless signs: meaningless because the relevant propositions are nonsensical, and signs because what elucidations are is explained in terms of  "explaining" primitive signs.

Terms that might helpfully be defined or explained: 'primitive,' 'sign', 'nonsensical.'

On nonsense we might look to 5.473:
5.473 Logic must take care of itself.
A possible sign must be able to signify.  Everything that is possible in logic is also allowed.  (“Socrates is identical” therefore denominates nothing [heisst darum nichts] because there is no property that “identical” denominates.  The proposition is nonsensical [unsinnig] because there is some arbitrary definition that we have not made, but not because the symbol in and of itself would be forbidden.)
We cannot, in a certain sense, go wrong in logic. 
4.4611 implies that what belongs to the symbolism is not nonsensical, but what does not so belong, by 5.473, is. And this depends on arbitrary stipulations.

What Wittgenstein says about "primitive signs" is that they are names, and that they cannot be analyzed further by a definition (see 3.26 and 3.261). And a sign is a perceptible potential bearer of meaning.

In short, the Tractatus aims to be an aid to the reader's coming to see that he or she has been having nonsensical thoughts. 6.53 is relevant to this:
The right method for philosophy would properly be this: To say nothing other than what can be said, thus propositions of natural science – thus something that has nothing to do with philosophy –, and then always, if another wanted to say something metaphysical, to point out to him that he had given no meaning to certain signs in his propositions.  This method would be unsatisfying for the other person – he would not have the feeling that we were teaching him philosophy – but it would be the only strictly correct one.
Max Black says of this: "It will be noticed, of course, that the method pursued in the Tractatus is not the ‘correct’ one." But this seems to be only half right, or all right but potentially misleading. The book certainly does not limit itself to propositions of natural science. But it does present itself as pointing out (in a peculiar way) to those who want to say something metaphysical that they have given no meaning to certain signs in their propositions. It takes the approach that it does presumably in order to be satisfying, to give the reader the feeling that he is being taught philosophy, despite the book's open (and opening) insistence that this is not the case: "It is therefore not a textbook," sentence two of the book's foreword.  

What's the point of this? Wittgenstein told Ludwig von Ficker:
The book’s point is an ethical one. I once meant to include in the preface a sentence which is not in fact there now but which I will write out for you here because it will perhaps be a key to the work for you. What I meant to write, then, was this: My work consists of two parts: the one presented here plus all that I have not written. And it is precisely this second part that is the important one. My book draws limits to the sphere of the ethical from the inside as it were, and I am convinced that this is the ONLY rigorous way of drawing those limits. In short, I believe that where many others today are just gassing, I have managed in my book to put everything firmly into place by being silent about it. 
I don't know what counts as all that Wittgenstein did not write in the book. It could be just things he thought of writing but decided to leave out, like the sentence he refers to above. But it could be literally all that he did not write, i.e., presumably, everything that can be said. And that would be the propositions of natural science referred to in 6.53. Why would these be so important? Because, I take it, they are all that can be said. Writing out all these facts would be to draw a limit to the sphere of the ethical from the outside, because it would not contain anything ethical. It would make no reference to the subject (see 5.631), nor to value or the meaning of life (the "sense of the world"--see 6.41). Indeed, these two go together. According to 5.631 it is precisely of the Schopenhauerian thinking, representing, metaphysical (see 5.633) subject alone of which there could not be talk in The World as I Found It. But ethics doesn't get in either:
6.4321 The facts all belong only to the assignment, not to the correct response to it.   
So ethics and the subject seem somehow to be one. I don't know what to make of that.

Let's go back to the ethical from the inside. Why would that be the only rigorous way to draw the limits to the sphere of the ethical? And what does drawing such limits mean?

A possible reason for thinking that from the inside is the only way to draw the limits is that they can only be drawn from the inside or the outside, and the outside way involves writing down every single proposition of natural science. It's hard to imagine that being done without a few etceteras here and there, which would not be very rigorous. So maybe that's why the limits of the sphere of the ethical must be drawn from the inside.

Now, what does that mean? It might mean simply to define the ethical, or it might mean to put a kind of protective fence around the ethical. I imagine it's kind of both. When Kant limits reason to make room for faith he doesn't dictate the limits of reason. He means simply to show where they are, so that people can see what room there is for faith. Kant does not create this room. Nor does he demand it. And I would think the same should go for Wittgenstein on the limits of the ethical. After all, how could he create the limit of the ethical? And what right could he have to dictate where it lies?

So, it seems to me, Wittgenstein means to show the limits of the ethical. And he means to do this by not gassing but by being silent. I think the following is relevant, from December 1929:
Man feels the urge to run up against the limits of language. Think for example of the astonishment that anything at all exists. This astonishment cannot be expressed in the form of a question, and there is also no answer whatsoever. Anything we might say is a priori bound to be mere nonsense. Nevertheless we do run up against the limits of language. Kierkegaard too saw that there is this running up against something and he referred to it in a fairly similar way (as running up against paradox). This running up against the limits of language is ethics. I think it is definitely important to put an end to all the claptrap about ethics—whether intuitive knowledge exists, whether values exist, whether the good is definable. In ethics we are always making the attempt to say something that cannot be said, something that does not and never will touch the essence of the matter. It is a priori certain that whatever definition of the good may be given--it will always be merely a misunderstanding to say that the essential thing, that what is really meant, corresponds to what is expressed (Moore). 
Now, Wittgenstein is talking about Heidegger just before this, and it's possible that the start of this passage is meant to be a paraphrase of his ideas. But at least by "I think it is definitely important to put an end to all the claptrap about ethics--" Wittgenstein is surely giving his own view. Just before that, and so in a position that makes it hard to interpret, he says that This running up against the limits of language is ethics. That's a striking definition of ethics, if that's what it is. But that is what it looks like. And it seems to fit the idea of the Tractatus as a work that draws the limits of the sphere of the ethical from the inside. On the other hand, it doesn't seem to fit Heidegger's ideas well at all. It's been a while since I read Being and Time, but this sounds much more like Wittgenstein to me.

How could running up against the limits of language be ethics? Because doing so is attempting to go beyond the world, into the supernatural? Because in ethics we do not only stray into nonsense but run into it, it being the essence of what we want to say (by which I mean its being a priori certain that anyone who tries to speak ethics will end up speaking nonsense)? Something along these lines seems to be the idea. So an investigation in ethics has to be an investigation of language, of the limits of language. And that is what the Tractatus seems to be.

Hmm. More to follow.

Monday, July 8, 2013


All the recent talk of blog anniversaries sent me off to see when mine is. Turns out my first post was on July 2nd 2010, so just over three years ago. I posted 28 times that month! I've slowed down since, but I'm never sure whether that's a good thing. I sometimes find it easy to avoid real work by telling myself that blogging is work, but I also find that blogging sometimes really is productive. In a perfect world I would post something almost every day, but it's probably just as well that this isn't a perfect world. Still, Kelly Jolley's claim to have written "quite a bit of–well, why shrink from it?–crap" sounds like a challenge to me. You call that crap? I'll show you crap. 

On the other hand, recent visits from Graham Harman, David Stern, and Brian Leiter make me think I should avoid writing crap. At least about other people. I try to avoid this anyway, of course, but I have become aware of how different what is received sometimes is from what I transmit. Which is disconcerting. And I do tend to assume that only a few friends are reading, which is probably a bad idea. Resolved: must try harder.

Men can achieve greatness only by surmounting their own littleness.

(The post's title comes from Franz Kafka via Matt Pianalto. I return to them below.)

I was surprised to read how much misunderstanding of "the banality of evil" there is, but there is more to this article in The Stone than that. Here's a key part:

Arendt concluded that evil in the modern world is done neither by monsters nor by bureaucrats, but by joiners.
That evil, Arendt argued, originates in the neediness of lonely, alienated bourgeois people who live lives so devoid of higher meaning that they give themselves fully to movements. It is the meaning Eichmann finds as part of the Nazi movement that leads him to do anything and sacrifice everything. Such joiners are not stupid; they are not robots. But they are thoughtless in the sense that they abandon their independence, their capacity to think for themselves, and instead commit themselves absolutely to the fictional truth of the movement. It is futile to reason with them. They inhabit an echo chamber, having no interest in learning what others believe. It is this thoughtless commitment that permits idealists to imagine themselves as heroes and makes them willing to employ technological implements of violence in the name of saving the world.
If thoughtless joining is bad, as it certainly seems to be, then it might seem that being a thoughtful leader is better. But leaders require followers, and followers sound like thoughtless joiners, which are bad. There's also the danger of arrogance. In contrast to that is Kafka as quoted by Matt Pianalto:
One must patiently accept everything and let it grow within oneself. The barriers of the fear-ridden I can only be broken by love. One must, in the dead leaves that rustle around one, already see the young fresh green of spring, compose oneself in patience, and wait. Patience is the only true foundation on which to make one’s dreams come true.
There are echoes of Dostoevsky here, or rather Ivan Karamazov, it seems to me:
I have a longing for life, and I go on living in spite of logic. Though I may not believe in the order of the universe, yet I love the sticky little leaves as they open in spring. I love the blue sky, I love some people, whom one loves you know sometimes without knowing why. I love some great deeds done by men, though I've long ceased perhaps to have faith in them, yet from old habit one's heart prizes them. Here they have brought the soup for you, eat it, it will do you good. It's first-rate soup, they know how to make it here. I want to travel in Europe, Alyosha, I shall set off from here. And yet I know that I am only going to a graveyard, but it's a most precious graveyard, that's what it is! Precious are the dead that lie there, every stone over them speaks of such burning life in the past, of such passionate faith in their work, their truth, their struggle and their science, that I know I shall fall on the ground and kiss those stones and weep over them; though I'm convinced in my heart that it's long been nothing but a graveyard. And I shall not weep from despair, but simply because I shall be happy in my tears, I shall steep my soul in my emotion. I love the sticky leaves in spring, the blue sky—that's all it is. It's not a matter of intellect or logic, it's loving with one's inside, with one's stomach. One loves the first strength of one's youth.
Kafka and Ivan love spring, and see it expressed even in death, even in a graveyard. It is not always easy to see it there (to put it mildly), but it can be done. Kafka is oddly voyeuristic-sounding on how:
It isn’t necessary that you leave home. Sit at your desk and listen. Don’t even listen, just wait. Don’t wait, be still and alone. The whole world will offer itself to you to be unmasked, it can do no other, it will writhe before you in ecstasy.
Father Zossima is odd, too, but perhaps better:
“That life is heaven,” he said to me suddenly, “that I have long been thinking about”; and all at once he added, “I think of nothing else indeed.” 
“Heaven,” he went on, “lies hidden within all of us—here it lies hidden in me now, and if I will it, it will be revealed to me to-morrow and for all time.”
“And that we are all responsible to all for all, apart from our own sins, you were quite right in thinking that, and it is wonderful how you could comprehend it in all its significance at once. And in very truth, so soon as men understand that, the Kingdom of Heaven will be for them not a dream, but a living reality.”
"[...] Believe me, this dream, as you call it, will come to pass without doubt; it will come, but not now, for every process has its law. It's a spiritual, psychological process. To transform the world, to recreate it afresh, men must turn into another path psychologically. Until you have become really, in actual fact, a brother to every one, brotherhood will not come to pass. No sort of scientific teaching, no kind of common interest, will ever teach men to share property and privileges with equal consideration for all. Every one will think his share too small and they will be always envying, complaining and attacking one another. You ask when it will come to pass; it will come to pass, but first we have to go through the period of isolation.”
It is the "fear-ridden I" (Kafka's words) that Zossima sees as needing to be overcome, the "terrible individualism" in which we "tremble in fear," as he puts it. Kafka's solution is love, which he also calls patience: "the barriers of the fear-ridden I can only be broken by love. [...] Patience is the only true foundation on which to make one’s dreams come true." Zossima also says that we must wait for the necessary psychological process to follow its law, and that the solution lies in overcoming egoism and realizing that, apart from our sins, we are "all responsible to all for all." 

Matt wonders [or rather, he raises the question] whether Kafka's patience might be boring or voyeuristic [which it might seem if you imagine Kafka sitting in his apartment or office patiently waiting for something to happen], but it's only going to be boring if the whole world does not take off its mask and offer itself to you, writhing in ecstasy. And then that is only going to be voyeuristic if you leave it writhing there alone. Kafka's words sound too pornographic, but I think his idea is that (again rather like Zossima) you have to actively love the world. It's hard to talk about that without at least sounding as though you have making love in mind. But of course he doesn't mean fucking the world in the sense of screwing it over, nor does he mean having a handjob while thinking of the world. I would say that Kafka's choice of words is unfortunate, but then I'd be giving advice on writing to Franz Kafka. 

I'm not saying that Kafka and Dostoevsky (who I think is pretty much speaking through Ivan and Zossima here) are right, but their ideas are both interesting and interestingly similar. 

There's a Wittgenstein connection too, since Wittgenstein was extremely fond of the Zossima parts of The Brothers Karamazov. And he has some things to say about the ego in the Tractatus. Concerning his own there is this:
the truth of the thoughts communicated here seems to me unassailable and definitive. I am therefore of the opinion that the problems have in essentials been finally solved. And if I am not wrong in this, then the value of this work now consists secondly in that it shows how little has been achieved by the solving of these problems.
This sounds at least somewhat immodest, despite the last sentence of it. But I think it (immodestly again?) recalls Kant (Critique of Pure Reason. A xiii-xiv): 
In this enquiry I have made completeness my chief aim, and I venture to assert that there is not a single metaphysical problem which has not been solved, or for the solution of which the key at least has not been supplied.
While I am saying this I can fancy that I detect in the face of the reader an expression of indignation, mingled with contempt, at pretensions seemingly so arrogant and vain-glorious. Yet they are incomparably more moderate than the claims of all those writers who on the lines of the usual programme profess to prove the simple nature of the soul or the necessity of a first beginning of the world. For while such writers pledge themselves to extend human knowledge beyond all limits of possible experience, I humbly confess that this is entirely beyond my power. 
Speaking of the simple nature of the soul, Wittgenstein says this:
5.5421 This shows also that the soul – the subject, etc. – as it is conceived in the contemporary superficial psychology, is a nothing [Unding].
A composite soul would by definition [nämlich] be no longer a soul. 
Is Wittgenstein then a member of the kind of metaphysicians Kant criticizes? Does he profess to prove the simple nature of the soul? I don't think so. Later he writes:
5.64 Here one sees that solipsism, rigorously followed through, coincides with pure Realism. The I of solipsism shrinks to an extensionless point, and the reality coordinated to it remains. 
5.641 There is therefore really a sense in which there can be non-psychological talk in philosophy of the I.
The I occurs in philosophy through the fact that the “world is my world.”
The philosophical I is not the human being, not the human body, or the human soul that psychology deals with, but rather the metaphysical subject, the limit – not a part of the world.
The I is both an extensionless point and the limit of the world. But it is not a part of the world, and so cannot be talked about or thought of. It is inconceivable. There is a sense in which it can be talked of, but this is "through the fact" that the "world is my world" (note the scare quotes there). We talk of the I by talking of the world, then, and perhaps also of its being my world. But I think we have to drop the "my world" stuff because 'my' implies I, and there is no I to talk about here. The I of psychology is a nothing and the I of philosophy is nothing we can talk about. It is an idea to overcome.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Logical form

According to Wikipedia:
Norman Malcolm famously credits Sraffa with providing Ludwig Wittgenstein with the conceptual break that founded the Philosophical Investigations, by means of a rude gesture on Sraffa's part:
Wittgenstein was insisting that a proposition and that which it describes must have the same 'logical form', the same 'logical multiplicity'. Sraffa made a gesture, familiar to Neapolitans as meaning something like disgust or contempt, of brushing the underneath of his chin with an outward sweep of the finger-tips of one hand. And he asked: 'What is the logical form of that?'
Thanks to the New York Times, here it is:

They translate it as "I don't care."

Monday, July 1, 2013

Wittgenstein bibliography 2004-2013

      I'm working on a revised edition of my Wittgenstein dictionary, which involves updating the bibliography.This turned out to be more laborious than I expected. It seems you need to buy software to do it the easy way. So just in case it helps anyone else, here is what I've come up with so far. It isn't complete for 2004 or 2013, it goes a little into 2014, and it's probably missing some things, but maybe it will be useful to someone.

Addis, Mark. Wittgenstein: A Guide for the Perplexed. London; New York: Continuum, 2006.
Ahmed, Arif. Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: A Critical Guide. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Ammereller, Erich, and Fisher, Eugen, eds. Wittgenstein at Work: Method in the Philosophical Investigations. London and New York: Routledge, 2004.
Appelqvist, Hanne. Wittgenstein and the Conditions of Musical Communication. Helsinki: Hakapaino Oy, 2008.
Arnswald, Ulrich. In Search Of Meaning: Ludwig Wittgenstein On Ethics, Mysticism, And Religion. Karlsruhe: Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe, 2009.
Atkinson, James. The Mystical in Wittgenstein's Early Writings. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.
Badiou, Alain. L'antiphilosophie De Wittgenstein. Caen: Nous, 2009.
Badiou, Alain. Wittgenstein's Antiphilosophy. Trans. Bruno Bosteels. London and Brooklyn, N.Y.: Verso, 2011.
Baker, Gordon P. Wittgenstein's Method: Neglected Aspects: Essays on Wittgenstein. Ed. Morris, Katherine J. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Pub., 2004.
Baltas, Aristeides. Peeling Potatoes Or Grinding Lenses: Spinoza And Young Wittgenstein Converse On Immanence And Its Logic. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University Of Pittsburgh Press, 2012.
Beaney, Michael. The Analytic Turn: Analysis in Early Analytic Philosophy and Phenomenology. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2007.
Boston, Mass. and Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013.
Braver, Lee. Groundless Grounds: A Study of Wittgenstein and Heidegger. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2012.
Bru, Sascha, Huemer, Wolfgang, and Steuer, Daniel, eds. Wittgenstein Reading.  
Cahill, Kevin. The Fate of Wonder: Wittgenstein's Critique of Metaphysics and Modernity. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.
Carey, Rosalind. Russell and Wittgenstein on the Nature of Judgement. London and New York: Continuum, 2007.
Child, William. Wittgenstein. Abingdon, U.K. and New York: Routledge, 2011.
Coliva, Annalisa. Moore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism, Certainty, and Common Sense. Basingstoke, U.K. and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Crary, Alice, ed. Wittgenstein and the Moral Life: Essays in Honor of Cora Diamond. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2007.
Day, William, and Krebs, Víctor J., eds. Seeing Wittgenstein Anew. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
De Pellegrin, Enzo, ed. Interactive Wittgenstein: Essays In Memory Of Georg Henrik Von Wright. Dordrecht and New York: Springer, 2011.
DeAngelis, William James. Ludwig Wittgenstein--A Cultural Point Of View: Philosophy in the Darkness Of This Time. Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2007.
Denis McManus, ed. Wittgenstein and Scepticism. Abingdon, U.K. and New York: Routledge, 2013.
Dromm, Keith. Wittgenstein on Rules and Nature. London and New York: Continuum, 2008.
Edelman, John T., ed. Sense and Reality: Essays Out Of Swansea. Frankfurt: Ontos, 2009.
Eldridge, Richard Thomas, and Rhie, Bernard, eds. Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies: Consequences of Skepticism. New York: Continuum, 2011.
Eldridge, Richard Thomas. Literature, Life, and Modernity. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.
Ellis, Jonathan, and Guevara, Daniel, eds. Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Engelmann, Mauro Luiz. Wittgenstein's Philosophical Development: Phenomenology, Grammar, Method, and the Anthropological View. Basingstoke, U.K. and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
Ertz, Timo-Peter. Regel Und Witz: Wittgensteinsche Perspektiven Auf Mathematik, Sprache Und Moral. Berlin and New York: W. De Gruyter, 2008.
Fleming, Richard. First Word Philosophy: Wittgenstein-Austin-Cavell, Writings on Ordinary Language Philosophy. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2004.
Fogelin, Robert J. Taking Wittgenstein at His Word: A Textual Study. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2009.
Frascolla, Pasquale. Understanding Wittgenstein's Tractatus. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.
Fronda, Earl Stanley B. Wittgenstein's (Misunderstood) Religious Thought. Leiden, The Netherlands and Boston: Brill, 2010.
Gibson, John, and Huemer, Wolfgang. The Literary Wittgenstein. London and New York: Routledge, 2004.
Glock, Hans-Johann, and Hyman, John, eds. Wittgenstein and Analytic Philosophy: Essays for P.M.S. Hacker. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Good, Justin. Wittgenstein and the Theory of Perception. London and New York: Continuum, 2006.
Gorlée, Dinda L. Wittgenstein in Translation: Exploring Semiotic Signatures. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter Mouton, 2012.
Hagberg, Garry. Describing Ourselves: Wittgenstein and Autobiographical Consciousness. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Halais, Emmanuel. Wittgenstein et l‘Énigme de l'Existence: La Forme et l'Expression. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2007.
Hallett, Garth. Linguistic Philosophy: The Central Story. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008.
Hamilton, Andy. Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Wittgenstein and On Certainty. Abingdon, U.K. and New York: Routledge, 2014.
Harré, Rom, and Tissaw, Michael A. Wittgenstein and Psychology: A Practical Guide.  Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2005.
Heaton, John M. The Talking Cure: Wittgenstein's Therapeutic Method For Psychotherapy. Basingstoke, U.K. and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Horn, Patrick Rogers. Gadamer and Wittgenstein on The Unity Of Language: Reality And Discourse Without Metaphysics. Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2005.
Horwich, Paul. Wittgenstein's Metaphilosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Hutto, Daniel D. Wittgenstein and the End of Philosophy: Neither Theory nor Therapy. Basingstoke, U.K.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
Hymers, Michael. Wittgenstein and the Practice of Philosophy. Peterborough, Ont. and Buffalo, N.Y.: Broadview Press, 2010.
Iczkovits, Yaniv. Wittgenstein's Ethical Thought. Basingstoke, U.K. and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
Jolley, Kelly Dean. Wittgenstein: Key Concepts. Durham: Acumen, 2010.
Jost, Walter. Rhetorical Investigations: Studies in Ordinary Language Criticism. Charlottesville: University Of Virginia Press, 2004.
Kahane, Guy,and Kanterian, Edward, eds. Wittgenstein And His Interpreters: Essays In Memory Of Gordon Baker. Malden, Mass. and Oxford: Blackwell Pub., 2007.
Kanterian, Edward. Ludwig Wittgenstein. London: Reaktion Books, 2007.
Kerr, Fergus. Work On Oneself: Wittgenstein's Philosophical Psychology. Arlington, Va.: Institute for the Psychological Sciences Press, 2008.
Kienzler, Wolfgang. Ludwig Wittgensteins "Philosophische Untersuchungen". Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2007.
Kishik, David. Wittgenstein's Form of Life. London and New York: Continuum, 2008.
Klagge, James Carl. Wittgenstein in Exile. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011.
Klebes, Martin. Wittgenstein's Novels. New York: Routledge, 2006.
Knott, H. A. Wittgenstein, Concept Possession and Philosophy: A Dialogue. Basingstoke, U.K. and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
Kölbel, Max, and Weiss, Bernhard, eds. Wittgenstein's Lasting Significance. London and New York: Routledge, 2004.
Kuhrt, David. Wittgenstein the Tartar. Palo Alto, Calif.: Academica Press, 2013.
Kusch, Martin. A Sceptical Guide to Meaning and Rules: Defending Kripke's Wittgenstein. Montreal and Ithaca, N.Y.: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006.
Kuusela, Oskari, and McGinn, Marie, eds. The Oxford Handbook Of Wittgenstein. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Kuusela, Oskari. The Struggle against Dogmatism: Wittgenstein and the Concept Of Philosophy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2008.
Labron, Tim. Wittgenstein and Theology. London: T & T Clark, 2009.
Labron, Tim. Wittgenstein's Religious Point of View. London and New York: Continuum, 2006.
Landini, Gregory. Wittgenstein's Apprenticeship with Russell. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Last, Nana. Wittgenstein's House: Language, Space, & Architecture. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008.
Laugier, Sandra. Why We Need Ordinary Language Philosophy. Trans. Daniela Ginsburg. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Lawn, Chris. Wittgenstein and Gadamer: Towards A Post-Analytic Philosophy of Language. London and New York: Continuum, 2004.
Lazenby, J. Mark. The Early Wittgenstein on Religion. London: Continuum, 2006.
Lemaire, Eric, and Padilla Gálvez, Jesús, eds. Wittgenstein: Issues and Debates. Frankfurt: Ontos and New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 2010.
Lewis, Peter. Wittgenstein, Aesthetics, and Philosophy. Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2004.
Lindskog, Dale. Diagnosis And Dissolution: From Augustine's Picture To Wittgenstein's Picture Theory. Frankfurt am Main and New York: Peter Lang, 2007.
Litwack, Eric B. Wittgenstein and Value: The Quest for Meaning. London and New York: Continuum, 2009.
Livingston, Paul M. Philosophical History and the Problem Of Consciousness. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Lurie, Yuval. Wittgenstein on the Human Spirit. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2012.
Lütterfelds, Wilhelm and Majetschak, Stefan, eds. "Ethik und Ästhetik sind Eins": Beiträge zu Wittgensteins Ästhetik und Kunstphilosophie. Frankfurt am Main and New York: Peter Lang, 2007.
Lütterfelds, Wilhelm. Erinnerung an Wittgenstein: "Kein Sehen In Die Vergangenheit"?  Frankfurt am Main and New York: Peter Lang, 2004.
Marques, António, and Venturinha, Nuno, eds. Knowledge, Language And Mind: Wittgenstein's Thought In Progress. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2012.
McGinn, Marie. Elucidating the Tractatus: Wittgenstein's Early Philosophy of Logic and Language. Oxford: Clarendon; Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
McGinn, Marie. The Routledge Guidebook to Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. Abingdon, U.K. and New York: Routledge, 2013.
McManus, Denis. The Enchantment of Words: Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Monk, Ray. How to Read Wittgenstein. New York: Norton, 2005.
Mounce, H. O. Metaphysics and the End of Philosophy. London and New York: Continuum, 2007.
Moyal-Sharrock, Danièle. Perspicuous Presentations: Essays on Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Psychology. Basingstoke, U.K. and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
Moyal-Sharrock, Danièle. The Third Wittgenstein: The Post-Investigations Works. Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2004.
Moyal-Sharrock, Danièle. Understanding Wittgenstein's On Certainty. Basingstoke, U.K. and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
Mulhall, Stephen. Philosophical Myths Of The Fall Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005.
Mulhall, Stephen. Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense and Imagination in Philosophical Investigations, §§ 243-315. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Mulhall, Stephen. The Conversation of Humanity. Charlottesville: University Of Virginia Press, 2007.
Mulligan, Kevin. Wittgenstein et la Philosophie Austro-Allemande. Paris: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, 2012.
Munz, Peter. Beyond Wittgenstein's Poker: New Light on Popper and Wittgenstein.  Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2004.
Munz, Volker A. Satz Und Sinn: Bemerkungen Zur Sprachphilosophie Wittgensteins. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2005.
Neumer, Katalin. Traditionen Wittgensteins. Frankfurt am Main and New York: Peter Lang, 2004.
Nielsen, Kai, and Phillips, D. Z. Wittgensteinian Fideism? London: SCM Press, 2005.
Nielsen, Keld Stehr. The Evolution of the Private Language Argument. Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Pub., 2008.
Niiniluoto, Ilkka, and Vilkko, Risto, eds. Philosophical Essays in Memoriam Georg Henrik Von Wright. Helsinki: Philosophical Society of Finland, 2005.
Nordmann, Alfred. Wittgenstein's Tractatus: An Introduction. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Norris, Andrew John. The Claim to Community: Essays on Stanley Cavell and Political Philosophy. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2006.
Nyíri, János Kristóf, and Demeter, Tamás, eds. Essays on Wittgenstein and Austrian Philosophy: In Honour Of J.C. Nyiri. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004.
Padilla Gálvez, Jesús and Gaffal, Margit, eds. Forms of Life and Language Games. Frankfurt: Ontos-Verlag, 2011.
Pandey, K. C. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ethics and Religion. Jaipur: Rawat Publications, 2008.
Patterson, Dennis M. Wittgenstein and Law. Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2004.
Pears, David. Paradox and Platitude in Wittgenstein's Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Perissinotto, Luigi  and Cámara, Begoña Ramón, eds. Wittgenstein and Plato: Connections, Comparisons and Contrasts. Basingstoke, U.K. New York: and Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
Perissinotto, Luigi, and Sanfelix, Vicente, eds. Doubt, Ethics and Religion: Wittgenstein And The Counter-Enlightenment. Frankfurt and New Brunswick, N.J.: Ontos, 2010.
Peters, Michael, Burbules, Nicholas C., and Smeyers, Paul. Showing and Doing: Wittgenstein as a Pedagogical Philosopher. Boulder, Colo.: Paradigm Publishers, 2008.
Pichler, Alois, and Säätelä, Simo, eds. Wittgenstein: The Philosopher and His Works. Frankfurt: Ontos and Piscataway, N.J.: Transaction Books, 2006.
Pichler, Alois. Wittgensteins Philosophische Untersuchungen: Vom Buch Zum Album. Amsterdam and New York, NY: Rodopi, 2004.
Pihlström, Sami. Wittgenstein and the Method Of Philosophy. Helsinki: Societas Philosophica Fennica, 2006.
Plant, Bob. Wittgenstein And Levinas: Ethical And Religious Thought. London and New York: Routledge, 2005.
Poisson, Céline, ed. Penser, Dessiner, Construire: Wittgenstein et l'Architecture. Paris: Éditions de l'Éclat, 2007.
Potter, Michael D. Wittgenstein's Notes on Logic. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Putnam, Hilary. Jewish Philosophy as A Guide To Life: Rosenzweig, Buber, Lévinas, Wittgenstein. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008.
Read, Rupert J. A Wittgensteinian Way With Paradoxes. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2013.
Read, Rupert J. Applying Wittgenstein. Ed. Laura L. Cook. London and New York: Continuum, 2007.
Read, Rupert J. Wittgenstein Among The Sciences: Wittgensteinian Investigations Into The "Scientific Method". Ed. Simon Summers. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2011.
Read, Rupert J., and Goodenough, Jerry, eds. Film As Philosophy: Essays In Cinema After Wittgenstein And Cavell. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
Rhees, Rush, Religion and Wittgenstein's Legacy. Eds. D. Z. Phillips, D. Z. and Mario von der Ruhr. Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2005.
Richter, Duncan. Wittgenstein at His Word. London and New York: Continuum, 2004.
Ricketts, Tom, And Potter, Michael D. (Eds) The Cambridge Companion To Frege. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Robinson, Christopher C. Wittgenstein and Political Theory: The View from Somewhere. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009.
Ross, John J. Reading Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: A Beginner's Guide. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2009.
Sanders, Andy F. D.Z. Phillips' Contemplative Philosophy of Religion: Questions And Responses. Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2007.
Schalkwyk, David. Literature and the Touch of the Real. Newark: University Of Delaware Press, 2004.
Schönbaumsfeld, Genia. A Confusion of the Spheres: Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein on Philosophy and Religion. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Schroeder, Severin. Wittgenstein: The Way Out Of the Fly-Bottle. Cambridge; Malden, Mass.: Polity Press, 2006.
Shen, Aimin. The Limits of Language: A Comparative Study of Kant, Wittgenstein, And Lao Tzu. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2011.
Sluga, Hans D. Wittgenstein. Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
Stenholm, Stig. The Quest for Reality: Bohr and Wittgenstein, Two Complementary Views. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Stern, David G. Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: An Introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Sterrett, Susan G. Wittgenstein Flies a Kite: A Story of Models of Wings and Models of the World. New York: Pi Press, 2006
Stocker, Barry. Post-Analytic Tractatus. Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2004.
Stout, Jeffrey and MacSwain, Robert, eds. Grammar and Grace: Reformulations of Aquinas and Wittgenstein. London: SCM, 2004.
Strandberg, Hugo. The Possibility Of Discussion: Relativism, Truth, And Criticism Of Religious Beliefs. Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2006.
Suits, Bernard. The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2005, 1978.
Sullivan, Peter M. and Potter, Michael D., eds. Wittgenstein's Tractatus: History and Interpretation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Travis, Charles. Thought's Footing: A Theme in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Clarendon Press; Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Venturinha, Nuno. Wittgenstein after His Nachlass. Basingstoke, U.K. and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Vossenkuhl, Wilhelm. Solipsismus und Sprachkritik: Beiträge zu Wittgenstein. Berlin: Parerga, 2009.
Whiting, Daniel. The Later Wittgenstein on Language. Basingstoke, U.K. and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Williams, Meredith. Blind Obedience: Paradox and Learning in The Later Wittgenstein. London and New York: Routledge, 2010.
Williams, Meredith. Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: Critical Essays. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007.
Wilson, Sean. The Flexible Constitution. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2013.
Wisnewski, Jeremy. Wittgenstein and Ethical Inquiry: A Defense of Ethics as Clarification. London and New York: Continuum, 2007.
Zalabardo, José L. Wittgenstein's Early Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Zijlstra, Onno. Language, Image, and Silence: Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein on Ethics and Aethetics. Bern and New York: Peter Lang, 2006.