Wittgenstein’s voice: Reading, self-understanding, and the genre of philosophical investigations

Garry L. Hagberg

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    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Since the time of Socrates and perhaps even that of Heraclitus, philosophical reflection has found expression in some form of autobiographical or selfinterrogative work; one of the outstanding exemplars of this mode of philosophical engagement was Augustine's Confessions. This mode and that book particularly exerted a profound influence on Ludwig Wittgenstein, and in a fairly self-contained sector of his masterpiece, Philosophical Investigations, we see a modernized version of such self-interrogation in action. In his remarks on the experience of reading—a familiar experience that we all too easily take to conform to a Cartesian model—we witness a mind confronting its own temptations to simplify, to adopt misleading philosophical “pictures” or conceptual templates, to hypothesize phantom mental events to fulfill the needs of an unwittingly adopted explanatory schema. And those pictures of reading, as we see here, generate corollary pictures of “self-reading,” of autobiographical writing. A close look at Wittgenstein's self-monitoring analysis, however, reveals the conceptual intricacies of reading and, by extension, some of the parallel intricacies of self-understanding.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)499-526
    Number of pages28
    JournalPoetics Today
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007

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