Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 December 2019
Ludwig Wittgenstein: the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century; a shock of greying hair swept to his left temple, piercing blue eyes; an English accent with occasional Germanisms; dressed in grey slacks with a sports jacket and open-necked shirt.
Gottlob Frege: the greatest logician of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century; wears a beard, is dressed in a dark formal suit and wears bow tie; a thick German accent.
John Searle: a distinguished Californian philosopher from the University of Berkeley; small of stature, with dark eyes and black hair; casually dressed in blue jeans, with an open-necked shirt and jacket; a broad Californian accent and loud voice.
Wolfgang Künne: a distinguished German philosopher from the University of Hamburg; balding, wears glasses; dressed in slacks and sports jacket with a tie; speaks almost perfect English with a slight German accent.
Peter Strawson: sometime Waynflete Professor of Metaphysics at the University of Oxford; balding; dressed in sports jacket and wearing a tie; a deep voice and slightly clipped manner of speech; speaks slowly and meticulously.
The setting is an Oxbridge Common Room in Elysium, where the shades of the dead and of the living are conversing after dinner. The French window is open to a great lawn, and the stars are just beginning to show in the twilight. All except Wittgenstein are seated in comfortable, dark brown leather armchairs, around a low table on which their post-prandial drinks are placed. Wittgenstein is seated on a wooden chair, drinking a glass of water. Frege is smoking a pipe. There are some books on the table, some of them open.
Wittgenstein: You know, philosophical problems really are like knots we tie in our understanding. The smaller the knot, the harder it is to unravel. If you tug on the thread, the knot gets smaller and smaller – and it becomes the very devil to untie.
Frege: Ja, Wittgenstein; we all know that you spin lovely metaphors and similes. What exactly do you have in mind?
Wittgenstein: Well, actually, I was thinking of something you wrote?
Frege: So! And what displeased you?