“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Curing Philosophy

Wittgenstein’s model philosopher would act like a physician, though instead of trying to cure physical ailments, he would attempt to relieve metaphysical tension. The philosopher is a doctor of the mind, more commonly known as a psychologist. His task is to keep the language from misunderstanding itself. This, in turn, prevents people from becoming insane.
Insanity is not a measure of a person’s deviancy from normal. Insanity is an imbalanced soul. Entire cultures can be insane. Normalcy is currently insanity.

Playing a language game wherein subjects are necessarily separate from objects, and causes from effects, leads to insanity. The world cannot be made sense of when it is broken into two domains, irreconcilable one with the other. Out from another body comes our body, kicking and screaming. Soon enough it is taught to speak and acquires a mind all its own. We may not be born alone, but after internalizing our own name, we surely die alone.

A lonely death was Wittgenstein’s worst nightmare. This sickness unto death, the sickness of philosophy, causes one to question their own being, which immediately throws the whole enterprise of thought backwards over one’s head up into the air. The symptoms of this condition include nausea and alienation, even suicidal feelings in some. The cause is confused thinking.

As the old story goes, there is me and there is you, and an impossible to leap gap between us. You have private sensations and ideas unreachable by me, and I hide the same from you. We cannot share our lives, nor can we share our deaths.

But is it true? is there a you separate from me, or a me from you? Speaking, even writing, is addressing an other. Language implies dialogue. The question, however, is whether there is such a thing as a thought before a word.

I am.

The ‘I am’ is God consciousness. God is the thought that gives rise to all other thoughts. The story of Genesis is the invention of time, the codification of language, the construction of culture and the meaning of Man. History is a thought in dialogue with itself: history is reading and writing, thinking and speaking, remembering and willing.

But where and for who does history really exist? In the mind of each individual? Hardly a trace of it could possibly exist there! History is a common agreement, a shared story we must all participate in telling. No single person could know history without telling it to all.

Our supposedly private thoughts have no meaning until they are pronounced. Until we communicate, not even we know what we mean.

Is it really necessary to draw such a sharp line between meaning and truth, between the mind and the world, between appearance and reality?

How could a reality ever appear? By definition, it seems out of our reach. As beings with minds, we perceive only appearances. The structure of reality itself remains hidden.

But wait. What could we possibly mean by “reality” in this sense? Why is it that we would even posit something that is impossible to know? Is it because it appears to exist? Well then reality is “only” an appearance!

Everything is exactly as it appears; the world is all that is the case.
How on earth did an animal gain a conscience? When did we start hearing voices in our head? When did we become mortal souls in need of divine salvation?

When the thought “I am” was uttered, all other things followed.

It took only 1600 years for Descartes to make explicit what had been implied all along: I think, therefore I am. I do not have to speak or live with others to exist–I can stand alone. The meaning of my mind is my own.

This, of course, is insane. The body cannot live on doubt or the measured knowledge it provides.

Wittgenstein sought a cure. It was to view all thought as public. Everyone already knows your secrets, because your secrets are the same as the people you talk to. What they don’t know, you don’t know.

(Telepathy becomes impossible. There are no comprehensible thoughts that could be silently transfered from my mind to yours. If there were comprehensible thoughts, speaking them would accomplish the same “trick.”)

This is all very difficult for the ego to accept, no doubt. It enjoys its suffering, because its short releases of pain are intensely pleasurable. To release completely, though, amounts to the ego’s death; so it’s no wonder it returns endlessly to suffering.

Being a thinking thing trapped in a body that is decaying daily is no mind’s idea of a good time!
We need the cure. We need to locate the drain, unscrew it, and squeeze all the me juice out until privacy and secrecy become, not embarrassing, but impossible.







One response to “Curing Philosophy”

  1. Tribute to Wittgenstein | Footnotes 2 Plato Avatar

    […] had infected me. I was sure his solutions had dissolved all my philosophical problems (indeed, I thought he’d cured me of philosophy). Of course, back in college, I had only just begun to construct philosophical problems for myself. […]

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