Wittgenstein's Stones: From Ireland to Lofoten

Camelia Elias (Foredragsholder)

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    It is a well-known fact by now that Wittgenstein preferred remote places, and some of his favorite journeys have been to both Ireland and Norway. From his own accounts, one can infer that Wittgenstein thought of his philosophy in terms of methodical approach as a game with uneven stones. You tread here, you tread there, you slip and fall, you get cut, you touch the stone and feel its roundness, and then you get an idea. It is no wonder that he often invoked stones when he thought of inanimate objects that might think themselves, and of whose thoughts we might hear about if stones could speak or had emotions. Stones, in Wittgenstein, play an important role particularly as they seem to put the philosopher on a track about thinking what certainty means, under what condition it occurs and what it does to the thinking agent. When Wittgenstein rhetorically asks in his later work, On Certainty, can one say...?, can one trust oneself to say...? a stone is often invoked as a means to support the idea that if one cannot know things for certain, one can always rely on stones. And while it may not be certain that one can argue anything about the existence of stones, and whether they have any emotions, Wittgenstein seems to imply that there is something fascinating about the stones' consistency and resilience. A stone is akin to an island, and it can be argued that at least as far as Wittgenstein's aesthetics is concerned, it constitutes a beginning for mapping a geography of differences. This paper looks at the correlation between Wittgenstein writing on islands and the Pythagorean aphorism “we begin from emptiness,” and advances the claim that philosophy, if driven by the force of stones, is a form of paleontological art: the more solid and the rounder, the more trustworthy.

    Periode3 dec. 2010
    BegivenhedstitelThe Island and the Arts
    PlaceringTromsø, Norge