Department of Philosophy

Simon Glendinning, "Wittgenstein and Heidegger and the 'Face' of Life in Our Time"

Simon Glendinning is Professor in philosophy at The London School of Economics and Political Science. During his stay in Bergen he will give a guest lecture on Wittgenstein og Heidegger.

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"Concepts lead us to make investigations; are the expression of our interest, and direct our interest." Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Perhaps one thinks that it can make no great difference which concepts we employ... But...this is not true." Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Meaning is a physiognomy." Ludwig Wittgenstein

"What it is that we are talking about is shown in how we talk about it, and in how that talk enters our lives, the shape-the "face"-that life containing such talk has." Cora Diamond

"Of all possible notations, our ordinary language is the one which pervades all our life..." Ludwig Wittgenstein

In this talk I attempt to develop a consistently Wittgensteinian reading of Heidegger's interest in the use of the expression "Being" . As the citations above serve to indicate, my recommendation will be that we take up the Heideggerian interest in relation to a Wittgensteinian question concerning the "face" of a life containing - or not containing - such talk. Although I hope to make this recommendation compelling, I am aware that a reading of the Heideggerian interest from a Wittgensteinian point of view that is not through and through critical of that interest is likely to seem implausible. Given the apparently extreme distance between Wittgenstein's ultra-mundane investigations of the logic of ordinary language and the vertigo-inducing heights of the Heideggerian question of Being - or indeed Heidegger's other equally extraordinary questions about Angst or the Nothing or the Worldhood of the World or Dasein - the very idea of pursuing a sympathetic reading of the latter via the former might be thought a nonstarter. I will identify a feature of Wittgenstein's recorded remarks on Heidegger that opens a reading of the Heideggerian interest in "Being" that is anything but critical through and through. However, this should not obscure the fact that the Wittgensteinian point of departure that guides me here also exposes a sharp distinction between the two thinkers, and I will try to make some headway clarifying the differences too.