The Third Way: Wittgenstein and the Tradition of Socratic Scepticism

Thomas Wallgren


Arguably, there is a tradition in Wittgenstein scholarship that sees his philosophy, and itself, as continuing modern philosophy in ways that are different from mainstream analytical philosophy and perhaps morally and intellectually superior to it. I have a sense of belonging, with some difficulty, to this tradition. Here, I try to make a contribution to the selfunderstanding and hence, transformation, of this tradition by doing the following. I first provide a list of topics that are, as it often appears to me, typically not dealt with adequately in the tradition I claim. The list has five topics: There is a mystification of three distinctions, i.e. of the everyday / philosophical; of the sense / nonsense and of the empirical / conceptual distinctions. My fourth misgiving is with the question who is addressed in philosophy and my fifth one is with how the question of critical standards is discussed and (dis)solved. I then discuss the fifth topic only in the light of some examples, one from debate about the Iraq war and the death penalty, one from discussion of pain and animal ethics, and one from the midsections of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, part 1 and from the response of Finn- Swedish poet Tua Forsström to it. I suggest a distinction between a volitional and an existential source for the kind of criticism that I am interested in here. In the end I draw some lessons from the foregoing with respect to how we place Wittgenstein in the history of Western philosophy; with respect to what we understand the aims of philosophy to be and with respect to how we understand its worth.


philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; 20th century philosophy; analytic philosophy; self-understanding; the everyday; transformative philosophy; example; politics

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