Journal of my journey towards understanding: Wittgenstein 1: Philosophical literature at its best

Wittgenstein’s “Philosophical Investigations” is philosophy literature at its best in my opinion.

One of the greatest features of philosophy is that it takes something we have grown familiar with, think is simple, think we have explained and so finished with; it takes this and explodes it into a complex, unfamiliar, mysterious (because it is unexplained) terrain full of mountains and valleys before which we can stand in awe.

In fact Wittgenstein in his preface to “Philosophical Investigations” describes his remarks as “sketches of landscapes which were made in the course of… long and involved journeyings”.

As far as I have got in the “ Investigations” – I’m on remark 78 – the phenomena he has exploded into its magnificent complexity is language.

A lot of his remarks are questions that he doesn’t answer but asks again and again in various analogies.

I love the way he doesn’t just say that Augustine was wrong with a capital “W”; rather that Augustine describes a language which doesn’t describe all that language does but never-the-less describes a language that could be considered complete.

This is where the concept of language games comes in. The language game that Augustine describes is a game not only in its own right and can stand on its own; but is also part of a larger game.

So it could be said to be complete and incomplete.

Isn’t that ambiguity just beautiful? To be able to say of a thing that it is whole and yet lacking?


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