Remarks on the Relentless Honesty of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Personality disorders and emotional biases are something that does not evaporate at the higher levels of cognitive ability, as far as I can see. Whereas the main philosophical subject of my first book (Yorick) was the prison of subjectivity and the downsides of principium individuationis, the subsequent (and considerably less successful) ones have been about breaking the flesh prison and transcend personality to get an unbiased look at the world – they followed immediate bodily urges headed towards transcendence, quite painful ones, like my chest breaking open due to high internal pressure (i.e. there are internal states that are truly (and universally) meaningful and that cannot be philosophised away as a (mis)reading of Wittgenstein might imply). The transcendent mind is the honest. Yesterday when I started writing this note and wrote most of the subsequent paragraphs I intented to write about honesty in intellectuals e.g. Freud and, more significantly, Marx, both strong and determined and humanistic Aufklärer who however also were mystifiers and fanatics due to their emotions i.e. dishonest, but now I don´t feel like doing that at great length and in general I do not like it to be overly critical of others, not least I wanted to write about the biases and dishonesty of their followers which lies in that they have a (usually above average-penetrating) insight into a fragment of society which they then mistake as a glorious insight into the whole and want to spill it over the whole and they aren´t good at distinguishing descriptive from normative shit, etc., however it came to my mind recently that politics is an arena where forces (motivated by various interests) clash anyway, not a sphere of harmony and stability of reason: it is agonal, history, at large, a somehow mitigated chaos anyway, it is just that the Absolute Mind will be a somehow detached observer of that all. (That politics is agonal is something Marx said and where he clarified something, however he mystified it when he reduced it to the primacy of class struggle and when he said that the stupid proletariat is the locus of absolute truth; I wanted to say that it is, on the whole, amazing how a person as intelligent and seemingly sober as Marx who could generate powerful insights on the one hand could be so blind to the shortcomings and the reductionism in them on the other hand … probably because of this he became a much less productive intellectual in the second half of his life; there are assumptions that the elderly Marx ruminated a lot about whether his framework wasn´t somehow too simplistic and for instance he ruminated in a conversation about the possibility that it wasn´t class struggle as the supposed prime mover of history but rivalries between nations, but nowhere he systematically elaborated on that (and other stuff) and he does not even seem to have systematically thought about that (and other stuff); he had written the voluminous Grundrisse within months because he anticipated a crisis of capitalism and wanted to have a theoretical framework ready, the crisis came indeed but, however, was not an indication of a final cataclysm of capitalism, thunderbirds in the sky, as he had thought/hoped, but just a cloud that passed; in the latter part of his life he endlessly wrote on Capital (and could not complete it, though much of its content is already contained in the Grundrisse), whereas in his former years he had ejected profound writings on a somehow annual basis; maybe Marx did not want to weaken the worker´s movement by casting doubt on Marxism, but what seems more apparent is that Marx was actually incapable of doing that; I need to closer investigate this and somewhere in the future will write on Marx.) The friendly Zen masters teach us that out of 10.000 people who want to reach true Satori, 3 or 4 will finally do (which however does not invalidate Satori as an ideal that gives orientation and triggers aspiration and where convergence to it is fractal-like anyway: Should the Transbodhidharma come, also Bodhidharma will look a bit stupid, etc.). Perfect Satori, realisation of Absolute Mind/Master Intellect/Omega Mind or Cosmic Consciousness, as R.M. Bucke calls it, is something individuals like Laotse or (according to Bucke) Shakespeare or Balzac have achieved, however (according to Bucke) Walt Whitman was the first one in history who did not „succumb“ to Cosmic Consciousness as a somehow supreme instance (and then founded a religion or cult, or made unearthly things next to the most rational ones, like Pascal), but made it, well, instrumental and a tool for himself. If I am correct that was what I was thinking as well when fantasising about the #whitelodge. I am aware that this paragraph, because of its density, unelaboratedness and excessive jumping between disciplines, will be a bit unintelligible to people (at the first reading, but exegesis is, of course, possible) but I don´t fucking care and I just do what I like.

Shortly after Wittgenstein had withdrawn from philosophy and became an elementary school teacher in Lower Austria he wrote to Russell that he´s under the impression that the people of rural Austria are even worse than anywhere else (Russell, however, tried to calm him and replied that he thinks that they are just as bad as anywhere else). It has been noted that Wittgenstein beated his pupils when he lost his nerves with them. He tried to be constructive with them, however. When they had a hiking day and walked through the woods and a child became scared of the scenario, Wittgenstein approached him and said: „Hast du Angst? Dann musst du nur ganz fest an Gott denken.“ After Wittgenstein turned into philosophy and had gone to Cambridge again, he became himself ethically anxious and ruminated about his „sins“ because he was such an ethically conscious person. („What are you thinking about?“, someone would ask him. „Logics, or your sins?“ „Both“, Wittgenstein would reply.) The following Christmas holidays, when he had been in Vienna again, he took the uncomfortable trip over the Wechsel (a four hour trip in the midst of winter) to offer his sincere apologies to the girl he had brutally beaten years before. Meanwhile a woman, she replied with an indifferent „ja, ja“, and Wittgenstein had to take another four hour trip back home (over the Wechsel). Such was Wittgenstein. – When Wittgenstein gradually died from cancer he wrote in a letter to a friend that he was not fond about good news that his health had become better again after the first bad diagnosis, since he „did NOT have the wish to live much longer“, because, although he wasn´t very old physiologically, he had an „old soul“. Some years later when his doctor told him the end is finally close, he replied: „Good!“ His last words on his death bed, before he lost consciousness, were: „Tell them I´ve had a wonderful life.“ Such was Wittgenstein.

As I prepare to write a note about Marcel Duchamp I have just read Calvin Tomkins` biography (now for the, I guess, fourth time) and there it is mentioned that gallerist Sidney Janis was very fond of Duchamp, as he found that Duchamp was nearly the only artist he had ever met who had the „inner security“ to tolerate vastly different viewpoints and approaches as well and who was interested in art and artists very different from himself as well – as Sidney put it, he did not consider it necessary to „defend“ his own approach all the time (the other only artist he had ever met to be like that was Mondrian). I reiterate: (According to Janis) Duchamp and Mondrian were the only two artists who had such a quality of „inner security“, which I, a worm, would not have expected to be associated with great security, honesty or bravery at all but just a natural human quality. (I also want to write a note about Mondrian because 1) his wonderful, soaring in higher regions-name 2) the harmony of his spheres 3) because in Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts edited by Walther it is noted that of all the De Stijl artists who all wanted to reach harmony, Mondrian was the only one to actually achieve it.) – Note however that artists and people in general are usually not as bad as their reputation, quite frequently they are quite ok and when you meet them personally they are nicer than their behaviour on the internet would imply.

Wittgenstein is acknowledged as being the only philosopher who has developed two different philosophies in his lifetime (as a matter of honesty). However, I do not find it outer space to develop a (seemingly) different philosophy every week. I guess if the Hegelian Absoluter Geist is realised, there will be only one philosophy, it will be a consciousness over all the other philosophies, and it will be fully identical to itself. (Whether the realisation of the Absolute Geist pays off is something I don´t know though.)

P.S.: There is an early portrait of Wittgenstein at age 1. The physiognomy is already very impressive.

The relentless honesty of Ludwig Wittgenstein