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It's a Wonderful Life: Reflections on Wittgenstein's Last Words

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Abstract:

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

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9205.2010.01424.x

Affiliations: Stetson University

Publication date: October 1, 2010

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