2. What did the later Wittgenstein (of Philosophical Investigations) mean by "language games," what did he think was the way to solve philosophical problems, and what kind of language did he think we can't have?
4. What was Arendt's descriptive phrase for what she saw as Eichmann's ordinariness?
- Should we be silent about things we can't prove? Should philosophy concern itself with more than understanding the logic of language?
- Do you use language as a pictorial medium, a tool for managing social relationships and expressing our thoughts and feelings, or what?
- Are ordinary people capable of great evil? Are you? How can we be sure that a Holocaust will never happen again? What will you teach your children about that?
- If the government attempted to round up, detain, and deport millions of Latinos and Muslims, how would you respond
- Is "the banality of evil" relevant to our time?
- Do you think there's an important ethical difference between Foot's and Thomson's versions of the trolley problem? Why or why not? What would you do?
- Does Thomson's violinist thought experiment persuade you that even if a fetus is a person, that doesn't necessarily make abortion wrong?
“The world is everything that is the case.”
“Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits.”
“I give no sources, because it is indifferent to me whether what I have thought has already been thought before me by another.”
“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”
“A nothing will serve just as well as a something about which nothing could be said.”
“A logical picture of facts is a thought.”
“A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably.”
What do we see when we observe the above figure? What we see in the above figure, of course, is dependent upon that with which we are familiar. Those who are not acquainted with the shape and form of a rabbit but are with that of a duck will see only a duck--and vice versa... When we normally speak of seeing in our everyday language-game, we are not inclined to say, "I see the picture as a duck," but rather we simply say, "I see a duck."
“Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.”
“If you tried to doubt everything you would not get as far as doubting anything. The game of doubting itself presupposes certainty.”
April 26 is the birthday of the man who said, “Philosophy is like trying to open a safe with a combination lock: each little adjustment of the dials seems to achieve nothing, only when everything is in place does the door open”: Ludwig Wittgenstein (books by this author), born in Vienna in 1889. He was described by his colleague Bertrand Russell as “the most perfect example I have known of genius as traditionally conceived: passionate, profound, intense, and dominating.” He was the youngest of nine children; three of his brothers committed suicide.
Wittgenstein was born into one of the richest families in Austro-Hungary, but he later gave away his inheritance to his siblings, and also to an assortment of Austrian writers and artists, including Rainer Maria Rilke. He once said that the study of philosophy rescued him from nine years of loneliness and wanting to die, yet he tried to leave philosophy several times and pursue another line of work, including serving in the army during World War I, working as a porter at a London hospital, and teaching elementary school. He also considered careers in psychiatry and architecture — going so far as to design and build a house for his sister, which she never liked very much.
Wittgenstein was particularly interested in language. He wrote: “The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.”
And, “Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.” -Writer's Almanac
“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”
“The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.”
“The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.”
It was as though in those last minutes he was summing up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us-the lesson of the fearsome word-and-thought-defying banality of evil.”
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