Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Unphilosophical Investigations

I've never gotten around to reading Philosophical Investigations (I prefer the more fragmentary works, lectures notes, etc., published posthumously), but this quote is marvelous, if only because I love coffee and I like Wittgenstein:

“Describe the aroma of coffee—why can't it be done? Do we lack the words? and for what are words lacking?—But how do we get the idea that such a description must after all be possible? Have you ever felt the lack of such a description? Have you tried to describe the aroma and not succeeded?” Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations.
The Slate article is good, too, although I could do without the back-handed slap at "bloviating deconstructionists."  Then again, analytical philosophers are engaged in a constant feud with Continental philosophers; although I've always thought of Wittgenstein bridging that gap somewhat (which is yet another way of reading him, and yet another controversy about how he should be understood.  Oh, read the article, you'll see what I mean.)

I'm always asking my students to describe a flavor, and then asking them why they can't.  It has something to do with composition and rhetoric, of that I'm sure.....