Philosophical remarks and Philosophical Investigations
In his always instructive essay, “The Philosophy of Wittgenstein”, Rush Rhees underscores that “If you do not see how style or force of expression are important you cannot see how Wittgenstein thought of philosophical difficulties or philosophical method” (Rhees 1970a: 38). Notice that Rhees binds together Wittgenstein's understanding of style or force of expression, and his understanding of philosophical problems and methods. In doing so, Rhees properly follows Wittgenstein. In the “Preface” of Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein confesses that “the best [he] could write would never be more than philosophical remarks; [his] thoughts were soon crippled if [he] tried to force them on in any single direction against their inclination”. But, after a long pause (embodied in one of his everlastingly elongated dashes), he redirects the force of his confession by binding his need to write remarks and to follow the inclination of his thoughts to the nature of his philosophical work: “And this was, of course, connected with the very nature of the investigation.” I shall return to this binding of philosophical remarks to the nature of the investigation – but first I want to consider philosophical remarks themselves. What are they?
Philosophical remarks: a first look
Wittgenstein offers a couple of very brief characterizations of philosophical remarks. He calls them “short paragraphs”. He adds that the short paragraphs sometimes form a fairly long chain about the same subject but that they sometimes jump from one topic to another.