Wittgenstein's Artillery: Philosophy as Poetry (Hardcover)

Wittgenstein's Artillery: Philosophy as Poetry By James C. Klagge Cover Image
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How Wittgenstein sought a more effective way of reaching his audience by a poetic style of doing philosophy.

Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, "Really one should write philosophy only as one writes poetry." In Wittgenstein's Artillery, James Klagge shows how, in search of ways to reach his audience, Wittgenstein tried a more poetic style of doing philosophy. Klagge argues that, deploying this new philosophical "artillery"--Klagge's term for Wittgenstein's methods of influencing his readers and students--Wittgenstein moved from an esoteric mode to an evangelical mode, aiming for an effect on his audience that was noncognitive, appealing to the temperament in addition to the intellect.

Wittgenstein was an artillery spotter--directing artillery fire to targets--in the Austrian army during World War I, and Klagge argues that, years later, he became a philosophical spotter, struggling to find the right artillery to accomplish his philosophical purpose. Klagge shows how Wittgenstein's work with his students influenced his style of writing philosophy and motivated him to care about the effect of his ideas on his audience. To illustrate Wittgenstein's evolving approach, Klagge draws on not only Wittgenstein's best-known works but also such lesser-known material as notebooks, dictations, lectures, and recollections of students. Klagge then goes beyond Wittgenstein to present a range of literature--biblical parables and children's stories, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche--as other examples of the poetic approach. He concludes by offering his own attempts at a poetic approach to addressing philosophical issues.

About the Author

James C. Klagge is Professor of Philosophy at Virginia Tech and the author of Wittgenstein in Exile (MIT Press), Simply Wittgenstein, and Tractatus in Context: The Essential Background for Appreciating Wittgenstein's "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus." He is coeditor of two collections of Wittgenstein's writings, Philosophical Occasions: 1912-1951 and Public and Private Occasions, and editor of the essay collection Wittgenstein: Biography and Philosophy.

Praise For…

”An original contribution to Wittgenstein scholarship that will interest both those who are curious about Wittgenstein’s life as well as how it might have influenced his thinking and those who are interested only in the think-ing itself. It is clearly written, carefully researched . . . instructive, and a pleasure to read. . . It is refreshing, also, to see a novel approach to material that has been written about so much before.”
Duncan Richter, Philosophical Investigations

"As is to be expected, the marvel of Klagge’s forty-some years of original scholarship in Wittgenstein Studies...takes centre stage in Wittgenstein’s Artillery....Klagge offers his readers a very unusual perspective on how to tackle material that all too often seems impenetrable​....[T]here is much to admire, to debate, to generate surprise and even some discomfort: Wittgenstein’s Artillery is astonishing both for its scholarship and its courage."

"An insightful exploration . . . Klagge thoroughly analyses Wittgenstein’s views on and uses of poetry and argues that this art form is central to his way of doing philosophy . . . This book will therefore be of great use to anyone interested in Wittgenstein and poetry and, to a wider extent, in Wittgenstein’s way of doing philosophy."
Nordic Wittgenstein Review

“In this superb book, Klagge (Virginia Tech) elucidates what Wittgenstein meant by comparing the composition of philosophy with the composition of poetry. A central question about Wittgenstein’s work is whether his writing style is merely an idiosyncrasy of the man or a vital element of his method(s). Klagge offers readers a way of answering: it is a vital element of his method(s)....Summing Up: Essential.” 

"Superb....Klagge’s book is a tour de force and there is nothing else like it in print....a must-read for Wittgenstein scholars with an interest in poetry, and it should be of great interest to anyone who wishes to understand better the possibilities of philosophy as a form of writing."
The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism
Product Details
ISBN: 9780262045834
ISBN-10: 0262045834
Publisher: The MIT Press
Publication Date: August 3rd, 2021
Pages: 272
Language: English