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Finding One’s Way about: High Windows, Narrow Chimneys, and Open Doors. Wittgenstein’s “Scepticism” and Philosophical Method

  • Danilo Marcondes De Souza Filho
Chapter
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 145)

Abstract

In the so-called philosophical tradition from the beginning of Greek philosophy to the present time, we find different conceptions of philosophy; different ideas of what philosophy is, or should be. According to some, philosophy is very close to science; according to others, philosophy must be seen as having a practical objective; still others relate philosophy to mystical experience and religious belief. Perhaps the trouble with us today is that we sometimes ignore or blur this difference, calling “philosophy” what in the past was known by such terms as sophia, episteme,philosophia, prote philosophia, phronesis, dialectica, among others. I shall try to show here, that although to a certain extent in the Anglo-Saxon world, the conception that relates philosophy primarily to science and to epistemological problems has dominated for the past fifty years or so, Wittgenstein can be considered as defending a different conception, in which philosophy is closer to practical purposes and concerns, similar in many ways to classical scepticism.

Keywords

Everyday Life Ordinary Language Philosophical Problem Mystical Experience Ordinary Life 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    See, for example, R. Watson, “Sextus and Wittgenstein,” Southern Journal of Philosophy 7.3 (1969): 229–236: J. Bogen, “Wittgenstein and Scepticism,” Philosophical Review 83 (1974): 364–373; A. Cohen, “Sextus Empiricus: Scepticism as a Therapy,” The Philosophical Forum 15. 4 (1984): 405–424.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For example, see J. Annas, “Doing without objective Values: Ancient and Modern Strategies,” in The Norms of Nature: Studies in Hellenistic Ethic, eds. M. Schofield and G. Striker ( New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986 ).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Some passages are particularly relevant in this respect: “The clarity we are aiming at is complete clarity. But this simply means that the philosophical problems should completely disappear. The real discovery is one that makes me capable of stopping doing philosophy when I want to” (L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations,3d ed. [Oxford: Blackwell, 1973], p. 133). Also: “The difficulty here is: to stop” (L. Wittgenstein, Zettel,2d ed. [Oxford: Blackwell, 1980], p. 314). See also Cohen, “Sextus Empiricus,” p. 419): “The anti-philosopher can do away with philosophy only by doing philosophy.”Google Scholar
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    SeeConversations with Druryin R. Rhees,Ludwig Wittgenste: Personal Recollections (Oxford: Blackwell, 1981).Google Scholar
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    See Sextus Empiricus: Outlines of Pyrrhonism (hereafter H.P.), in Works, trans. R. E. Bury, Loeb Library (London: Heinemann, 1976), I. Ch. 34.Google Scholar
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    I think this echoes Kant’s distinction between doctrine and critical inquiry: “Such a science must not be called a doctrine,but only a critique of pure reason”(I. Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason,trans. I. K. Abbott (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952), p. vii.Google Scholar
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    L. Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (London: Routledge, Kegan & Paul. 1974 ), 4. 112.Google Scholar
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    L. Wittgenstein, The Blue and Brown Books,2d ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1969), pp. 28, 62.Google Scholar
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    Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, § 133.Google Scholar
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    Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, § 133.Google Scholar
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    See Laércio Diógenes, Vida, doutrina e sentenças dos filósofos ilustres (Brasília: ed, UnB, 1988), pp. ix, 62; H.P. II, 246, 250, 254, 258.Google Scholar
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    See, however, H.P. III, 280.Google Scholar
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    See C. Hookway, “Scepticism and Autonomy,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 90 (1989–1990); 103–118.Google Scholar
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    G. E. Moore, “Wittgenstein’s Lectures in 1930–33,” Mind 63.249 (1954): 5.Google Scholar
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    See T. R. Schatzki, “The Prescription Is Description: Wittgenstein’s Views of the Human Sciences,” in The Need for Interpretation, eds. S. Mitchell and M. Rosen ( London: The Athlone Press, 1983 ), pp. 120–121.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., § 122. See Sextus’s criticism of the notions of definition (horos) and mental representation (nooumenon),as well as his attack on the traditional view of concepts (H.P. II, 227–228).Google Scholar
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    See N. Malcolm, Nothing Is Hidden (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986), Ch. 6.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    “We want to replace wild conjectures and explanations by quiet weighing of linguistic facts” (Wittgenstein, Zettel,p. 447).Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    This suggestion comes from my colleague Professor Luìs Carlos Pereira.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    His main targets seem to be his own “Tractarian semantics,” Frege’s conception of meaning, Russell’s theory of descriptions, and the “Augustinian picture” of language.Google Scholar
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    Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, § 47.Google Scholar
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    See Malcolm, Nothing Is Hidden,Ch. 6.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
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    Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, § 435.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., § 126.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    RFM, p. 333.Google Scholar
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    L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Grammar ( Oxford: Blackwell, 1974 ), pp. 210–211.Google Scholar
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    M. Burnyeat, “The Sceptic in His Place and Time,” in Philosophy in History, eds. R. Rorty, J. B. Schneewind, and Q. Skinner ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984 ), p. 230.Google Scholar
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    H.P. II, 97–99.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Bumyeat, “The Sceptic.”Google Scholar
  57. 57.
  58. 58.
    Ibid., p. 226.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
  60. 60.
    Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, § 124, quoted above.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Bumyeat, “The Sceptic,” p. 251.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Burnyeat, “Idealism and Greek Philosophy: What Descartes Saw and Berkeley Missed,” in Idealism: Past and Present, ed. G. Vesey ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982 ), p. 42.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    J. Lear, “Leaving the World Alone,” Journal of Philosophy (1982): 382–403.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Wittgenstein, Zettel, § 315.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Lear, “Leaving the World Alone,” p. 390.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Williams, “Scepticism without Theory,” p. 58.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

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  • Danilo Marcondes De Souza Filho

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