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Pierre Hadot- About Ludwig Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein in Swansea, picture taken by Ben Richards.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Hygeia is a quote from Pierre Hadot’s ‘Qu’est ce que la philosophie antique?’, page 410 and 411. Folio Essais Gallimard. When the study of Pierre Hadot’s book about antic philosophy leads, like an unfolding thread of wool, to discover Ludwig Wittgenstein and his reflection about the limits of language, but as Hadot also states below, philosophy as a way of life.


‘I think that I will be useful to precise briefly the representation I picture to myself of philosophy. I fully admit that, as much during the Antiquity than nowadays, philosophy is a theoretical and ‘conceptualizing’ activity, but I think also that, in the Antiquity, it is the choice the philosopher makes of a way of life that characterizes the fundamental tendencies of his philosophical discourse and I think, after all, it is true for philosophy as a whole. I don’t want obviously to say that philosophy is determined by an arbitrary and blind choice, but I’d rather say that there is a supremacy of the practical reason over the theoretical reason:

The philosophical reflection is motivated and directed by ‘what interests reason’, as Kant was saying, that is by the choice of a way of life. I would say with Plotinus: ‘It is desire that gives birth to though’. But there is a sort of interaction or a reciprocal causality between will and intelligence, between what the philosopher deeply wants, what interests him in the strongest way which is the answer to the question: ‘How to live?’, and what he is trying to elucidate and discover by reflection. Will and reflection are inseparable.

In modern or contemporary philosophies, this interaction also exists sometimes and we can, up to a certain level, explain the philosophical discourses by the existential choices that motivate them. For instance, as we know it by a letter from Wittgenstein, the ‘Tractatus logico-philosophicus’, that presents itself apparently as a theory of proposal, which it is in fact, but is also fundamentally a book of ethics, in which ‘what is of the ethics’, is not told but shown. The theory of proposal is elaborated to justify this silence about the ethic, which was forecasted and wanted since the beginning of the book. What motivates the ‘Tractatus’, is in fact the will to guide the reader towards a certain way of life, a certain attitude, which is completely similar to the existential options of antic philosophy, ‘To live in the present’, without regretting, fearing nor hoping anything.’


More about Ludwig Wittgenstein: 🌿 More about Pierre Hadot:
Pierre Hadot- About Ludwig Wittgenstein

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