Wittgenstein on Science and Philosophy

Quotes from Hans Sluga, Wittgenstein

Chapter 1. The situated thinker.

The Alienated Thinker

“For one thing, Wittgenstein appears to assume in them a sharp division between philosophy and science. Thus he rejects any conception of philosophy that would make it into a quasi-scientific enterprise. He writes accordingly, in the Blue Book: ‘Philosophers constantly see the method of science before their eyes, and are irresistibly tempted to ask and answer questions in the way science does. This tendency is the real source of metaphysics and leads the philosophers into complete darkness‘. It is also clear that he feels generally antipathetic to science or, at least, that he feels distanced from it. ‘I am not aiming at the same target as the scientists,’ he writes, ‘and my way of thinking is different from theirs‘. And: ‘We cannot speak in science of a great, essential problem‘. And finally: ‘I may find scientific questions interesting, but they never really grip me‘.”

“In either case he holds that ‘the work of the philosopher consists in assembling reminders for a particular purpose‘. That purpose is at times described as therapeutic in character and the therapies are understood by him, in turn, as multiple and diverse. ‘There is no such thing as one philosophical method, but there are methods, like different therapies‘. The ultimate goal of these therapies is to bring about the disappearance of the problem of life. ‘We feel that even when all  possible scientific questions have been answered, the problem of life remains completely untouched … The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing the problem‘. Elsewhere, he describes philosophy as ‘a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language,’ and declares ‘the real discovery‘ to be ‘the one that gives philosophy peace‘.”