The Fourth Station: Taking Nonsense Seriously
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It might have seemed, in the 1980s, that there was nowhere left to go in Wittgenstein interpretation, that going further would result in overinterpretation. This should actually be qualified: there was nowhere left to go in the grand plan of early Wittgenstein (Tractatus) and later Wittgenstein (Investigations), with the middle Wittgenstein sometimes playing a part in explication of the move between them. True, several additional volumes of the Nachlass were constantly being brought out, edited, published, and translated,1 thus adding to the textual oeuvre to be read and interpreted if one desired a comprehensive philosophy including all, or most, of Wittgenstein’s words. But these works had to do, mostly, with mathematics and psychology, not to mention religion, culture, aesthetics, certainty; in other words, these texts did not fit in naturally with the over-riding issue which had served as the guide to interpretation — the issue of language, in general, and the more specific problems about language — the relationship between language and world, the question of meaning (and meaninglessness), the limits of sense, etc. Under the auspices of that general issue it might have seemed that nothing new could be done beyond exegetical nitpicking — overinterpretation — which would, as a matter of course, fit into one of the three stations already visited by the train of interpretation.