T.S. Eliot’s early drafts of his poetic masterpiece The Waste Land famously used an offbeat line from Dickens as a rather cryptic working title: ‘He Do the Police in Different Voices’. These words might serve equally well — perhaps, indeed, rather better — as a title to a philosophical masterpiece by one of Eliot’s contemporaries: Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. At some points in Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein shamelessly violates the rules of ordinary language — only to be stopped and cautioned by another voice, which goes on to spell the rules out. At other times, he gets lost and asks for directions — whereupon a different voice emerges from the text to set him back on track. If the text is loitering, a voice will speak up to move it on; if the text is rushed, a voice will slow it down and pull it over for speeding. The word ‘Investigations’ in Wittgenstein’s title suggests detective work,1 but in actual fact his philosophical practice has as much in common with an old-fashioned bobby on the beat, walking down the mean streets of linguistic philosophy.
|Title of host publication||Literature and Philosophy|
|Subtitle of host publication||A Guide to Contemporary Debates|
|Number of pages||15|
|Publication status||Published - 2006|