14 July 2006
Malkovitch + Malkovitch + Malkovitch? + Malkovitch + Malkovitch
What would it be like to be in someone else's head? I think I know.
[The following is only tangentially related to the preceding.]
Wittgenstein gives up several things: a model of making sense; rules or criteria for following rules or criteria; an epistemic anti-model; means for clarifying our language; etc. But he doesn't really offer any tools for a serious interface session with your self, introspection.
Wittgenstein doesn't argue much, he discusses. He generally seems to make all the steps visible, he works on what's already apparent. Does he? I'd be tempted to say, "Wittgenstein is an obscurantist, a cultish figure. He doesn't do anything so much as provide fodder for quote books." But what about the serious work, the heavy lifting that's apparent from just reading what's on the page? The struggle of a writer who seems not to have edited himself. What if you saw him actually working? There would be a gravitational pull. "But he's unconvincing without systematic argumentation." Are you convinced by him?--sometimes. Well, that's enough.
The man who wrote, "the human body is the best picture of the human soul," generally shows his soul physically, on the page. His writing is closer to journaling. It's therapeutic. Trying to decipher Wittgenstein is, in a manner roughly speaking, like trying to decipher the journal of an Austrian emo kid from the 1940s. What kind of context must be missing?
The human body is the best picture of the human soul. Wittgenstein doesn't offer any tools for introspection, but he requires introspection. To work in good faith: The humanist's highest calling.
I've been trapped in my head. I make notes about this fact at work, post-it notes, and I put them around my cubicle. I think about how I'm only thinking about myself all the time. Insufferable. Philosophy does not seem to be an avenue down which many philosophers go. It seems like there must be heavy lifting done, and it doesn't have to be apparent. It should not be something like learning calculus. Roughly speaking, everything is rule following. Philosophy is rule following, but it's also preparatory to rule following. Before philosophy there is actual life, and after philosophy there is actual life. Philosophy must be part of actual life.
I'm almost in despair about philosophy; but I feel quite invested in seeing this through.