[lit-ideas] Re: Ownership and the possessive case

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 6 May 2009 23:13:14 +0000 (GMT)

--- On Wed, 6/5/09, Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx> wrote:

> First, it is  ungrammatical,
> "not to threaten visiting lecturers with pokers".

It's not ungrammatical, at least not in any serious way - it's humorous (this 
in Popper's view is probably what incensed Wittgenstein, though Popper was 
being perfectly serious at the same time) and surely less charmless than "Never 
threaten a lecturer/speaker with a poker."


> "Not to threaten visiting lecturers with pokers"
> As opposed to  _non-visiting_ lecturers? The
> 'visiting' is _not_ otiose; it 
> is  insulting.

Again I take "visiting" as humour, playing on the idea that whatever the ethos 
might be poker-wise within the usual group attending, it should perhaps show 
greater care in its treatment of outsiders/"visitors". Show kindness to 
strangers, make guests welcome etc.

The context is that Wittgenstein has dismissed Popper's prior examples of 
genuine philosophical problems by classifying them under other headings: as 
regards the validity of moral rules, Popper chooses a simple and unmomentous 
example partly to provoke but partly because for Popper such questions of moral 
validity are there to be raised about almost anything. It is a playful remark, 
albeit made with serious intent (Popper's work is laced with these).

Popper was not so much personally insulting Wittgenstein as trying to provoke 
on what he took to be a key difference between them as to whether there are 
genuine philosophical problems to be solved or simply philosophical confusions 
to be 'dissolved' by examination of how the intellect has become bewitched by 
language. (That Wittgenstein may have taken this as a personal insult of some 
kind is of course possible. It may also be that Wittgenstein had a disdainful 
view of Popper's intellect and found the whole fiasco tested his patience 
beyond endurance). 


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