Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 339-349

First online:

Logic and Sin: Wittgenstein's Philosophical Education at the Limits of Language

  • Al NeimanAffiliated withUniversity of Notre Dame

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Unfortunately, Wittgenstein has entered the philosophical “canon”, an entrance that has served to reify interpretations of his work. In this essay I refer to recent books by Richard Eldridge (1997) and Phillip Shields (1998) which allow us again to see The Philosophical Investigations as something more than a stultifying relic. Specifically, these authors, by reading Wittgenstein's work not merely as text but also as performance, allow us to enact our own liberating performances of that work. To engage in such “enactments of freedom” is the essence of philosophical education in the sense established by extra-canonical writers such as Socrates and the Stoics, on the one hand, and Emerson and James, on the other. At least this is so if my use of the work of classicist Pierre Hadot, on the one hand, and brief reference to literary critic Richard Poirier, on the other, is at all successful in illuminating theses from Eldridge and Shields on the nature of Wittgensteinian philosophy.