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Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Humility

  • David E. Cooper (a1)

Extract

In 1929, doubtless to the discomfort of his logical positivist host Moritz Schlick, Wittgenstein remarked, ‘To be sure, I can understand what Heidegger means by Being and Angst’ (WVC, 68). I return to what Heidegger meant and Wittgenstein could understand later. I begin with that remark because it has had an instructive career. When the passage which it prefaced was first published in 1965, the editors left it out—presumably to protect a hero of ‘analytic’ philosophy from being compromised by an expression of sympathy for the arch-fiend of ‘continental’ philosophy. It was as if a diary of Churchill's had been discovered containing admiring references to Hitler. This was the period, after all, when Heidegger was, as Michael Dummett recalls, a ‘joke’ among Oxford philosophers, the paradigm of the sort of metaphysical nonsense Wittgenstein had dedicated himself to exposing.

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References

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1 References in the text to Wittgenstein are to abbreviated titles of the following works: Notebooks 1914-16, trans. Anscombe, G. E. M.(Oxford: Blackwell, 1961) [NB] Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief, ed. Barrett, C. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967) [LC];Philosophical Investigations, trans. Anscombe, G. E. M. (London: Macmillan, 1969) [PI];On Certainty, trans. Paul, D. & Anscombe, G. E. M. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1969) [OC];Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Trans. Pears, D. F. & McGuinness, B. F. (London: Routledge, 1974) [TLP];Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle: conversations recorded by Friedrich Waismann, ed. McGuinness, B. F. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1979) [WVC];Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough, trans. Miles, A. (Retford: Brynmill, 1979) [RF];Culture and Value, trans. Winch, P. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1980) [CV];Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology: Vol. 1, trans. Anscombe, G. E. M. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988) [RPP];‘Lecture on ethics’ [LE] & ‘The big typescript’ [BIG] in The Wittgenstein Reader, ed. Kenny, A. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994).

2 Stanley, Cavell, Philosophical Passages: Wittgenstein, Emerson, Austin, Derrida (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), 13.

3 I discern this ‘prevailing treatment’ in, inter alia,Richard, Rorty, ‘Wittgenstein, Heidegger and the reification of language’ in his Essays on Heidegger and Others (Cambridge University Press, 1991);Karl-Otto, Apel, ‘Wittgenstein and Heidegger: language games and life forms’, in Critical Heidegger, ed. McCann, C. (London: Routledge, 1996);Jürgen, Habermas, Postmetaphysical Thinking: philosophical essays, trans. Hohengarten, W. (Cambridge: Polity, 1992); and Ross, Mandel, ‘Heidegger and Wittgenstein’, in Heidegger and Modern Philosophy: critical essays, ed. Murray, M. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978).

4 Op.cit. note 3, 50, 52,63.

5 References in the text to Heidegger are to abbreviated titles of the following works: Identität und Differenz (Pfullingen: Neske, 1957) [ID];Erlaüterungen zur Hölderlins Dichtung (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1971) [EH];On Time and Being, trans. Stambaugh, J. (New York: Harper & Row, 1972) [TB];Gesamtausgabe: Vol. 56/57 (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1975— ) [G];The Question concerning Technology (and other essays), trans. Lovitt, W. (New York: Harper & Row, 1977) [QT];‘Letter on humanism’, in Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings, ed. Krell, D. F. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978) [LH];Being and Time, trans. Macquarrie, J. & Robinson, E. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1980) [BT];On the Way to Language, trans. Hertz, P. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1982) [WL];Early Greek Thinking, trans. Krell, D. F. & Capuzzi, F. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984) [EGT];Basic Questions of Philosophy, trans. Rojcewicz, R. & Schuwer, A. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press) [BQP].

6 David, Pears, The False Prison: a study of the development of Wittgenstein's Philosophy, Vol. 1, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), 5.

7 Op. cit. note 3, 270.

8 On this point, see also Dreyfus, Hubert L., Being-in-the-world: a commentary on Heidegger's Being and Time, Division I, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991).

9 For this way of speaking, see Heidegger (TB), and for a lively dismissal of the later philosophy's critical potential, see Edwards, James C., The Authority of Language: Heidegger, Wittgenstein and the threat of nihilism, (Tampa: University of South Florida Press, 1990).

10 Thomas, Nagel, The View from Nowhere, (Oxford University Press, 1986), 108–9.

11 See Heidegger (BT, 436ff) and Heidegger's various speeches collected in The Heidegger Controversy: a critical reader, ed. Wollin, R. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993).

12 Op.cit. note 6, 17-18. For a similar interpretation, see Edwards, , op. cit. note 9.

13 Stephen, Mulhall, On Being in the World: Wittgenstein and Heidegger on seeing aspects (London: Routledge, 1990), 199ff.

14 See, for example, George, Steiner, Heidegger (London: Fontana, 1978), 147.

15 For a detailed exposition of this idea of ‘dependence’—though one influenced by Heidegger, not Wittgenstein—see Nishida, Kitaro, Last Writings: nothingness and the religious worldview, trans. Dilworth, D. (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987).

16 Hilary, Putnam, Pragmatism: an open question (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), 33, 50–1.

17 Max, Black, ‘Lebensformen and Sprachspiel in Wittgenstein's later work’, in Wittgenstein and his Impact on Contemporary Thought, ed. Leinfellner, E. et al. (Vienna: Holder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1978), 329.

18 I attempt a fuller exposition of what it is that changes in Heidegger's later philosophy in my Heidegger (London: Claridge, 1996).

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