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(2018) Philosophy in the condition of modernism, Dordrecht, Springer.

Wittgenstein as unreliable narrator/unreliable author

Rupert Read

pp. 49-70

Examining the famous section 133 of the Philosophical Investigations, I seek to elucidate Wittgenstein's extraordinary writing-stratagem. His writing has often been criticised as "obscure'—this evinces a fundamental failure to understand the way Wittgenstein writes, especially in those works where he laboured for years over how to present them. In his two masterworks, Wittgenstein operates as, in broadly Modernist terms, as an unreliable narrator. Wittgenstein seems to offer a theory to end all philosophical theories, in his early work. In his later work, he seems to offer a discovery to end all philosophical discoveries. Both appearances are subtly, deliberately, seriously delusive. And necessarily so: any stratagem that does not involve such "indirection' will tend to fall back into the very thing it criticises. I examine the well-known invocation of therapies and the discussion of "the real discovery'—the one that allegedly enables one to stop philosophising, in §133. The translation of 133 is pondered, and a reading proposed wherein this passage certainly does not amount to any crude "end of philosophy' thesis, but is rather profoundly manifestative of the kind of aspect to Wittgenstein's writing that Cavell has taught: i.e. 133 too turns out not to be a "statement' of Wittgenstein's "position', but a set of temptations that need careful work by one to avoid entrapment by.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-77078-9_3

Full citation:

Read, R. (2018)., Wittgenstein as unreliable narrator/unreliable author, in A. Falcato & A. Cardiello (eds.), Philosophy in the condition of modernism, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 49-70.

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