Friday, May 06, 2011

Hertzberg, Lars. Review of James C. Klagge, WITTGENSTEIN IN EXILE. NDPR (April 2011).

Klagge, James C.  Wittgenstein in Exile.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.

In Wittgenstein in Exile, James Klagge discusses the tendency of philosophers from the time of Wittgenstein down to this day to find his thought either difficult to understand, hard to accept, or both. He argues that the difficulty is not so much one of style or method, but rather of the spirit in which Wittgenstein worked, and he suggests that the problem should be seen in the light of the intellectual distance between Wittgenstein and his cultural surroundings, a distance that he himself was painfully aware of and that can be characterized by means of the metaphor of exile. Wittgenstein, Klagge claims, was an exile in space but also in time: in Spenglerian terms, Wittgenstein saw himself as the representative of a culture that was already a matter of the past, while his audience belonged to its present state of decline. (At this point, it might be objected that Wittgenstein saw himself as torn between the old and the new; thus, he worried about the fact that he was not carrying out the kind of work the great classical philosophers had done.) While on this theme, one might ask whether Wittgenstein's sexual orientation may not have contributed to his sense of exile. . . .


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