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Philosophy and Literature: Wittgenstein Re-reading



Garry Hagberg


Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 5:00pm - 7:00pm


Building 100, Room 101K



Philosophy and Literature: Wittgenstein Re-reading

Abstract: Our reasons for re-reading can be philosophically instructive. If we were to see word-meaning as fixed (as we will see, what Wittgenstein called “the dream of the straight highway”), the purpose of re-reading would be invariably simple: it would be to remind ourselves of what we forgot. But memory comes into re-reading in ways far more complex, and ways far more interesting, than this simple picture would suggest: both the context of the re-reading, and the relevant experience of the re-reader, inflect (and as we shall see, indeed give nuanced content to) word-meaning -- even with a word as seemingly simple as a proper name. A consideration of these issues helps clarify some of the connections between aspect-perception and word-meaning, and it brings into sharp focus what Cavell has called “our relations to our words”. It was Hume who said that at twenty years of age we may prefer Ovid, at forty, perhaps Horace, and at fifty, probably Tacitus. Why? Does Wittgenstein’s liberated conception of word-meaning provide insight into what may be lurking in the conceptual sub-terrain here?