It's a Wonderful Life: Reflections on Wittgenstein's Last Words
Author: Hall, Ronald L.
Source: Philosophical Investigations, Volume 33, Number 4, October 2010 , pp. 285-302(18)
Abstract:On his deathbed, Wittgenstein is reported to have said, upon hearing that his friends were coming for a visit, “Tell them I've had a wonderful life.” Malcolm found this puzzling, given that Wittgenstein seemed to be fiercely unhappy. I find my way into these words against the backdrop of the Hollywood film It's a Wonderful Life and Wittgenstein's famous remark, to wit, “Man has to awaken to wonder . . . Science is a way of sending him to sleep again.” Along the way I discuss Plato's praise of wonder, Nietzsche's attack on science, and Kierkegaard's remark about finding the sublime in the pedestrian. I conclude that Wittgenstein did have a wonderful life insofar as he was fully awake to wonder, what I call the wonder of our words.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2010-10-01