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Lost Fragments of the Philosophical Investigations

Graphics by Michelle Jia : Image Flickr ( I, II, III ) 


694. Mr. N. N. says, “I think there’s an axe-wielding maniac outside my door.”—Oh really? How do you know you think that?

695. I want to say: “open the door and see if there’s somebody standing there.” But this would be an error. We have been seduced by a picture.

696. Think of what we mean when we say “axe” and “wielding.” Sometimes we say “use an axe to chop wood”; sometimes we say “try some Axe body spray.” See how the problem melts away?

697. What is the grammar of apologies? (Note to self: must write to N. N.’s widow. Sorry about whole axe-wielding maniac thing, etc.)

698. All philosophical problems are the result of ordinary words being wrenched out of their everyday contexts. For example, the word “determinism.” In everyday life, we frequently use the word: “have some determinism-flavored ice-cream”; “your necktie looks very determinism”; “have a slice of determinism.” These cases form a family. The word has no meaning beyond its uses.

699. Meaning is always use. Pay attention: we’ll come back to that.

700. Idea for a joke: a philosophy that’s designed to clear up confusions and that nobody can understand. This would be hilarious.

701. Note to self: make sure to blame philosophers for using ordinary words in specialized senses. Then use words like “grammar” and “game” unintelligibly. Call prayer a game.

702. A: “But in everyday situations, nobody uses the word grammar the way you do!”
B: “I’m doing philosophy. Who cares about everyday situations?”
A: “I thought you did.”
B: “Be quiet.”

703. What I’m doing isn’t philosophy—philosophy is that awful thing that generates all the confusions. No, what I’m doing is philosophy. Can’t you hear the difference?

704. I should change my mind in mid-sentence!!—no, no, perhaps I shouldn’t.

705. My aim is to teach you to pass from a piece of disguised nonsense (the Tractatus) to something that is patent nonsense (the Investigations).

706. Time for a deep-sounding metaphor. Language is a wave. We try to swim against it, but we are the water. (That’ll get me into Bartlett’s.)

707. I feel like saying “I want to say.” But I want to say “I feel like saying.”  

708. Which of these expressions should I choose? Fortunately meaning is use, so synonyms do not exist (how could two things have the same “meaning” if we sometimes use one and sometimes the other?!).
See, the fly is out of the bottle! And he is now helping himself to my sandwich. ((Grammar of “regurgitation.”))

709. Meaning is often use, but not always. (Did I say something different somewhere else? How could we know? By looking back? Back at what?)

710. Quick, change the subject! Keep ’em guessing.

711. Find a friend. Bring him a jigsaw puzzle. Open the box. Throw all the pieces on the floor. Tell him “you put it together.” (Could one write a whole book of philosophy that way?)

712. A: “My book is a jigsaw puzzle. You put it together.”
B: “Screw you, Ludwig.”
A: “What is the grammar of ‘screw you’?”

713. B: “I swear to God, if you keep this up I am going to hit you in the face.”
A: “That would be a move in the ‘hitting in the face’ language-game.”
B: “How would that be language? How would it be a game? Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?”
A: “My spade is turned. I think perhaps the metal may have been cheap.”

714. You have now hit me in the face. Do I feel pain? Well, I am exhibiting pain-behavior [Schmerzbenehmen]. My nose is exhibiting blood-behavior [Blutbenehmen]. My eyes are exhibiting tear-behavior [Tränenbenehmen]. What is the grammar of “emergency room”?

Joshua Landy's picture
Joshua Landy is the Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University, where he co-directs the Initiative in Philosophy and Literature. His books include Philosophy as Fiction: Self, Deception, and Knowledge in Proust (Oxford, 2004), How to Do Things With Fictions (Oxford, 2012), and (as coeditor) The Re-Enchantment of the World: Secular Magic in a Rational Age (Stanford, 2009).