Wittgenstein and the relation between life and philosophy

Knut Erik Tranøy

Abstract



The paper raises two questions about the relation between life and philosophy. (1): What can philosophy do for the philosopher him/herself? Case in point, Heidegger: Can philosophy influence or determine a philosopher’s political commitments? (2): Can a philosopher use his moral philosophy – say, medical ethics theory – to help others (doctors, nurses) “resolve” their practical moral problems? – It made quite an impression on me when (in 1950) I asked Wittgenstein why he had resigned from his Cambridge chair, and he answered: “Because there are only two or three of my students about whom I could say I do not know I have done them any harm.” Was this the same person about whom Gilbert Ryle in an obituary wrote that Wittgenstein was a philosophical genius and a pedagogical disaster, and who on his deathbed (in 1951) said, “I’ve had a wonderful life”?

Keywords


philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; 20th century philosophy; biography; history of philosophy; Heidegger Martin; moral philosophy; ethics; society; life

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