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Instead of taking the impossibility of certain knowledge in experience as an intellectual problem, Cavell understands it as an existential condition. Philosophers have traditionally disavowed that condition by turning skepticism into an intellectual problem. The pathology behind that disavowal becomes the center of what Krebs calls Cavell’s “clinical turn.” The philosophical criticism resulting from that turn involves a radical change in attitude, where thinking is – as Cavell puts it – a mode of praise. This essay argues that thinking as praise makes receptiveness paramount, and requires a reconnection with feeling and passion that brings the body back into philosophy.
From the very beginning of his philosophical work, Wittgenstein was concerned with "seeing". This chapter shows that the generalized blindness involved in Frazer's stance and extended by Wittgenstein to the traditional philosophy is a main concern behind the exploration of "seeing aspects". Trapped in the scientific attitude, Frazer assumed that ritual practices result from empirical beliefs or opinions, and so he was unable to see them as any more than superstitions or incipient attempts at science. Wittgenstein argues that Frazer was bound to miss their significance insofar as he attempted to understand and explain them in terms of their external relations of rationality or causality. Wittgenstein's proposal involves change in attitude, deliberate grammatical openness and receptivity to the natural gesturality of language and the underlying, pulsating activity of the body.
The real difficulty in coming to terms with Wittgenstein's teaching emerges when philosophers turn from talking about that teaching to actually doing philosophy that's supposed to proceed in its light. This chapter illuminates the nature of the difficulty by attending carefully to the way it manifests itself in a recent article by Stephen Mulhall on Wittgenstein's remarks on seeing aspects. It argues that Wittgenstein's remarks are meant to bring us back to, or project us into, situations of speech, or anyway situations in which words are called for particular words whereby we are meant to discover things about the meanings of the words we utter, things that we cannot have failed to know, and yet things that are, for some reason, hard to see. Mulhall's interpretation looks to find in Wittgenstein's remarks a very different kind of satisfaction, or peace, from that which they are designed to enable.
To see and describe aspects in Wittgenstein (aspects of insight, of perspicuity, of profundity, etc.) is what any discussion of his writings, and in particular of the enigmatic Philosophical Investigations, attempts to do. It would be a cute pun, but a sad excuse for a book, if this volume of new essays offered simply the promise of “seeing” and describing “aspects” in Wittgenstein's discussion of aspect-seeing. Having invited and then discussed the essays in the present volume with our contributors over a handful of years, we find that they offer more than that simple promise. At a minimum, they bring out a range of connections between Parts I and II of the Investigations that should interest Wittgensteinian scholars whose central concerns would otherwise seem untouched by the discussions of aspect-seeing in the Investigations and elsewhere. More than occasionally these essays open up novel paths across familiar fields of thought to anyone for whom, for example, the objectivity of interpretation, the fixity of the past, the acquisition of language, or the nature of human consciousness remain live issues. But a recurring discovery in the chapters that follow is that there is something to be found in his remarks on aspect-seeing that is crucial to, yet all but overlooked in, the reception of the later Wittgenstein.
Seeing Wittgenstein Anew is a collection which examines Ludwig Wittgenstein's remarks on the concept of aspect-seeing, showing that it was not simply one more topic of investigation in Wittgenstein's later writings but rather a pervasive and guiding concept in his efforts to turn philosophy's attention to the actual conditions of our common life in language. The essays in this 2010 volume open up novel paths across familiar fields of thought: the objectivity of interpretation, the fixity of the past, the acquisition of language, and the nature of human consciousness. Significantly, they exemplify how continuing consideration of the interrelated phenomena of aspect-seeing might produce a fruitful way of doing philosophy in a new century.
This chapter focuses on the epistemological intuitions that import into the proceedings from the outset expectations about what conditions must be satisfied in order to arrive at a true proposition with self-revelatory content. It highlights that it is easy, when reflecting in a preliminary way about the kind of autobiographical understanding that comes from a grasp of one's past, to conceive of the problem as a polarized epistemological dichotomy. Iris Murdoch emphatically asserts that the past, properly understood, should be "unfrozen", and that one has no less than a moral obligation to "re-think". The chapter further talks about two pole models. In the first one the narrative self is indeed a narrative construction, and in the second one the narrative self is one that is constituted not by present active retrospection but rather by the passive, factually constrained accurate memory of those past episodes of one's life.
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