Friday, 3 August 2007

Schopenhauer and Wittgenstein's Ladder

Wittgenstein was one of the few philosophers of note that did not read much of what other philosophers had written. One exception, however, was the work of Schopenhauer.

I presented Wittgenstein's ladder to you before, but the germ behind the philosophy and the metaphor itself can be found in Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation as follows:
Perception is not only the source of all knowledge, but is itself knowledge par excellence; it alone is the unconditionally true genuine knowledge, fully worthy of the name. For it alone imparts insight proper; it alone is actually assimilated by man, passes into his inner nature, and can quite justifiably be called his, whereas the concepts merely cling to him.
And later:
For the man who studies to gain insight, books and studies are merely rungs of the ladder on which he climbs to the summit of knowledge. As soon as a rung has raised him one step, he leaves it behind. On the other hand, the many who study in order to fill their memories do not use the rungs of the ladder for climbing, but take them off and load themselves with them to take away, rejoicing at the increasing weight of the burden. They remain below for ever, since they are carrying what ought to have carried them.

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