02 September 2015

Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language

So said Ludwig Wittgenstein.

I did not stumble on this beguiling jewel of language reading Wittgenstein. Nein. That would require too much grit, wit and deutsche. I found it reading an intriguing article in Slate by David Auerbach titled "The Limits of Language", subtitled "Wittgenstein explains why we always misunderstand one another on the Internet".

It was very prescient of Ludwig, who died in 1951, to do this for us. He just knew that the Internet was going to be a poor medium for us to communicate in. Some may claim he was merely saying that humans are poor at communicating sometimes, but then they would clearly not get Witt.

Mr Auerbach's  proposition appears to be that because the later period Ludwig held that the meaning of what we say can't be abstracted away from the context in which we say it, this means that the inherent abstraction of our communication on the Internet results in our words losing their appropriate context and therefore losing the required nuance required for communicating meaningfully.

The point here is that if you are not following what I am trying to say, it's not because of me, its because of you, whoops, I mean it's because of this Internet thing we're communicating on. You see, as Wittgenstein put it, "speaking a language is part of an activity, or a form of life" and since the Internet is neither an activity nor a form of life (it's a wide web where words were wrapped waiting to wield when wanted), we struggle to properly understand each other on it.

I may've taken Ludwig slightly out of context there, but you'll get my drift, with a pinch of wit.

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