The results of this article are, at least, some answers to crucial questions. Wittgenstein does not think that philosophers are ill, that philosophical questions are illnesses, that only philosophers are patients of philosophical therapies. Not all philosophers qualify as therapists, Wittgenstein’s therapies are not necessarily to be thought of as psychological therapies and their ideal of health does not consist in the end of philosophy. The answers tell us in the first place what philosophical therapies are not . They serve as a warning not to extend the comparison beyond its own limits, not to let everything we associate with ‘therapies’ or ‘illness’ influence our interpretation of Wittgenstein without there being evidence in his work for our claims; in short, not ‘to make the analogy hold throughout’ (BB 7). Analogies can
This is the preprint version of an article published in International Journal of Philosophical Studies 23 (4), 566-583. The final publication is available at . Please cite the published version only. easily mislead us and, to quote Wittgenstein, ‘by our method we try to counteract the misleading effect of certain analogies’ (BB 28), and ‘it is the apparent analogy, and again the lack of analogy, between these cases which causes our trouble’ (BB 49). A convincing interpretation of Wittgenstein’s comparison of philosophical methods to therapies in PI has to build on an overall understanding of his methods in PI and draws its evidence primarily from PI itself. The comparison should not be interpreted by using the word ‘therapies’ as a starting point from which properties are being projected onto the philosophical methods advanced by Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein writes: ‘The use of expressions constructed on analogical patterns stresses analogies between cases often far apart. And by doing this these expressions may be extremely useful’ (BB 28). The comparison of philosophical methods to therapies is surely useful and important, but it is one comparison among others. It makes sense to talk about Wittgenstein’s therapeutic methods, but, at the same time, there are aspects of his methods that are not adequately captured by the therapeutic simile. The comparison does not provide a stable basis on which an understanding of the later Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophy can be built. To get a clearer view of the later Wittgenstein’s methods, a promising way might be to analyze other comparisons on philosophical methods (e.g. showing a fly the way out of the fly-bottle, arranging books of a library (BB 44), etc.), starting from a small number of interrelated questions. 17 Although a systematic account may never emerge, an overview of Wittgenstein’s comparisons and what they do and do not tell us about his methods may prevent us from seeing his conception of philosophy through the glasses of only a single comparison; from, in Wittgenstein’s words, being held captive by a picture (PI 115).
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