Saturday, 8 March 2014

Karl Krauss on Psychoanalysis, in "Wittgenstein's Vienna"

I am reading "Wittgenstein's Vienna", by Toulmin and Janik (1973).
This is not an intellectual biography of Wittgenstein, but an attempt to contextualise Wittgenstein's thought as integral with problems of cosmopolitan life in Vienna at the end of the 19th century.

As I have written elsewhere, I have come to know Wittgenstein's work indirectly, through art and writing, broadly what I place in phenomenology. Art and writing-thinking, phenomenology, as practice, was the necessary counter-argument, for me at a certain time, against a scientific-technological world-view. Once I became aware of Wittgenstein's work, having gained a toe-hold in philosophy, it seemed to me that the mental-imaginative place in which Wittgenstein was situated, that could make attempting the work which became "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus" necessary, I had wanted to oppose. I came across Kierkegaard's writing aged thirty. I found there to be a way out what appeared to me as a generalising, subject-eliminating mode of thought in SK's treatment of irony and ambiguity. My feeling through my thirties was that Wittgenstein's work would be the way out of generalising from within that mode of thinking I opposed. But I had wanted to say that the problem Wittgenstein addressed only arose because that mode of thinking took root, so the proper response was to do (and therefore think) otherwise.

It's some time ago now when all this was very vivid. Kierkegaard had been vital to me to combat - something! Reading, two or three years ago, intellectual biographies of Heidegger (Safranski) and Popper (Hacohen), I was still on that wave of acquiring ammunition to kill the mode of questioning and thinking that gives rise to the problem Tractatus addresses. For me Heidegger's criticism was performative, taking the condition of anxiety or mood (states of subjectivity) as disclosive of (some basic) truth. Popper was deeply anti-Heidegger, but nevertheless insisted on subjective life being present in science.

My posting on "new atheists" is prompted by being reminded of what I worked hard not to have to fight any more. It is not possible to prove the existence of minds (persons) to the "mindblind".

Now I'm getting a lot of pleasure in finding out more about Wittgenstein's "Problemstellung". I may even end up reading TLP!

Anyway, in the present book I discover it was Karl Kraus who famously said "Psychoanalysis is that spiritual disease of which it considers itself to be the cure." (Wittgenstein's Vienna, p.75).

I saw in a bookshop that Jonathan Franzen has recently translated Karl Kraus. Must find out more.

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