Idolatry and Fashion

  • Anat Biletzki
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 319)


“During the period since 1914 three philosophies have successively dominated the British philosophical world… first that of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, second that of the Logical Positivists, and third that of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations.”1 This estimate of importance is how things looked to Russell in 1959. But forty years later Hacker summarizes things differently: “…In the last twenty-five years…mainstream Anglophone philosophy, partly under the influence of Quine, has increasingly moved away from Wittgenstein’s ideas.”2 Variegated, indeed contradictory estimates of Wittgenstein’s influence proliferate.3 And not only of his philosophical influence, witness Rubinstein’s comment that “If Wittgenstein’s star has dimmed a bit in philosophy, there is a growing curiosity about his work among behavioral scientists.”4 These are all post-facto estimates; but such appraisals began to surface in earlier times, concurrent to Wittgenstein’s teaching. Here is a symptomatic one:

What is a prophet like? Wittgenstein is the nearest to a prophet I have ever known. He is a man who is like a tower, who stands high and unattached, leaning on no one. He has his own feet. He fears no man. “Nothing can hurt me!” But other men fear him. And why? Not at all because he can strike them or take their money or their good names. They fear his judgement….The acquaintance with Wittgenstein has given me some inkling as to what the power of the prophet was among his people. “Thus saith the Lord” is the token of that being high above all fear and all blandishment, fearless and feared, just and conscience. Thus saith the Lord!


Philosophy Department Logical Positivist Philosophical Community Utter Negation Trouble History 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anat Biletzki
    • 1
  1. 1.Tel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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