Introducing “Wittgenstein Wednesday”


One of the problems I have being a student in the areas of theology and philosophy is that I am constantly coming into contact with writers and thinkers who I haven’t actually read. Although the graduate program I’m currently enrolled in has exposed me to a lot of great thinkers and their writing, much of my required reading consists of philosophers and theologians who are active now and writing about the ideas and work of “The Greats.”

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, and it is necessary to understand contemporary treatments of classic ideas that address contemporary problems. And some folks would probably consider me a little bit off for thinking that this presents a problem. But I’m not spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to earn this degree just to do it. Sure, that master’s diploma is going to look nice when it’s framed on my wall. And I’m sure the transcripts that back it up will do wonders for admission to a PhD program, not to mention the (modest) increase in pay I will receive from my employer. But I’m doing this to actually learn something!

Thus, I have been slowly trying to acquire and read the works of major (and minor) theologians and philosophers whose ideas have influenced the areas my academic work leads me into. This is a slow-going process mostly because of the reading I’m required to do for school.

I just recently finished reading Culture and Value by Ludwig Wittgenstein. This is not a work of philosophy, per se, but rather a collection of reflections and thoughts gleaned from manuscripts that was edited and published posthumously. That is, they aren’t necessarily representative of what one would call Wittgenstein’s philosophy.

Although I am not opposed to, nor do I refrain from, online shopping, there is something inherently enjoyable in going into a bookstore and discovering things. That is how I wound up with this volume. Wittgenstein was on my list of philosophers to read and Culture and Value just happened to be the only book by Wittgenstein on the shelves that day.

One way that I interacted with this book was as a writer. In that sense, Wittgenstein’s various reflections (often one-liners) read to me almost like a series of writing prompts. They just beg to be reflected on themselves.

So, that’s how I’m going to treat this book. I’m going to use it as a big bundle of writing prompts. Each week I will choose one reflection as a prompt and write based on that prompt. My reflection will be posted on Wednesdays. I chose Wednesday, as should be obvious, for alliterative purposes — that is, for the same reasons that many American families prepare Mexican food on Tuesdays. There’s no inherent connection except that “Wittgenstein Wednesdays” sounds to me like a catchy titular theme for a series of blog posts.

I have no intention of trying to stick to Wittgenstein’s actual, intended meaning (a sentiment he may have found pleasing). Rather, I’m simply going to use his words as a jumping-off point for my own.

See you on Wednesday!

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