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07/22/2014

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Enzo Rossi

In haste: insofar as Wittgenstein has a bad name in some analytic circles, it's arguably on account of his quietism. Much analytic philosophy sees itself as engaged in a positive enterprise of constructing concepts (ein Aufbau!) rather than tearing down philosophical houses of cards. Continentals are closer to the latter attitude -- even phenomenologists. I remember how at St Andrews even a giant like Crisping Wright had to overcome some anti-Wittgensteinian prejudices.

Ed Kazarian

Interestingly, Deleuze despised Wittgenstein's conceptual quietism, to borrow Enzo's phrase above, and the continental retrieval of W has, as far as I know, been led by Derrideans (Jack Caputo, for instance, did a seminar on him in 1997 or 1998 at Villanova, which felt like a watershed moment to is, at least). Not sure what this means, but I hope it's an at least interesting data point.

Enzo Rossi

Yes. Deconstruction vs construction indeed. Or something like that. Maybe. Also, I misspelled Crispin's name.

Pete Wolfendale

There is a long tradition of quietist bridging of the analytic/continental divide from either side, usually between some variant of Wittgensteinianism (e.g., Cavell, Rorty, etc.) and Heideggerianism (e.g. Derrida, Levinas, etc.) by means of a joint commitment to the overcoming of 'metaphysics'. As someone who works on both analytic and continental philosophy, but is decidedly anti-quietist and pro-metaphysics, I find this no end of frustrating. I wrote something on this a while back if you're interested: http://deontologistics.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/burning-bridges/

Colin Cmiel

1. Continental Philosophy is a huge tent. My understanding is that Delleuze also disliked Merleau-Ponty and phenomenology in general.

2. There seems to be a growing appreciation that Wittgenstein's views are very close in some important ways to Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. They are all responding to Kant by bringing together the transcendental and the empirical, essence and existence, form and content. For example, I think it's pretty clear that Merleau-Ponty's account of object constancy via style is _very_ similar to Wittgenstein's discussion of family resemblance. Also, Avner Baz has argued (convincingly in my view) that there are important similarities between Merleau-Ponty and Wittgenstein's account of language. Maybe most importantly, they all take seriously the Kantian position that the conditions of the possibility of experience are also the conditions of the possibility of the objects of experience. Heidegger: the world is the totality of tools; Merleau-ponty: the thing is the correlate of my body; (early) Wittgenstein: the limits of my language means the limits of my world. Consequently, they end up with similar (deflationary) responses to Cartesian skepticism. Obviously this needs much more defense than I'm giving here.

3. If I'm right, then it's an amusing twist of history that Wittgenstein ends up being philosophically closer to Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty than to Russell/Carnap/Frege.

4. I'm really unsympathetic to the desire of philosophers to score points without really understanding the alternative position, which seems pretty common with critics of Wittgenstein these days. Since their goal surely can't be to convince the other side it seems more like a sort of self-congratulatory performance.

5. Finally, I think there are a lot of ways to understand quietism, and I think we would have to spell them out before concluding that Wittgenstein is a quietist. Another way to put this, I don't think that quietism is the same as therapy.

Colin

What I should have said in my point about quietism. James Conant and Cora Diamond defend a reading of Philosophical Investigations in which Wittgenstein's goal isn't to get us to stop doing philosophy and force us to return to 'non-philosophical' ways of talking (i.e., quietism), but to show us how to get out of the tangles we find ourselves in when we inevitably do philosophize. Philosophy isn't something bad; it's what happens whenever we try to make sense of the world; it's just that when we try to make sense of the world we tend to find ourselves tied into knots. A goal of PI is to show how we can untie ourselves from these knots -- to bring us from disguised to undisguised nonsense.

On this reading the problem _wouldn't_ be constructing concepts, but confusion stemming from uses of concepts (whether new or old) that may seem to have a clear sense, but (on closer inspection) don't have any sense at all. They might lack sense for many reasons, but on this reading concepts _don't_ lack a sense because they violate some rule of language. If this reading is correct, then I don't think Wittgenstein would have any problem with philosophers generating concepts like being-in-the-world, differance, etc so long as those terms have been given a determinate sense.

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