Saturday, November 11, 2006

A chance meeting

I came in from the cold, out of the blasted icy blasts, and we began to talk about judgements of taste and judgements of the agreeable. I have this idea, which I believe to be mistaken, but which - surely - cannot be wrong, that since pleasure in the beautiful arises from the play of understanding and imagination, pleasure in the merely agreeable cannot involve cognition (but must be 'bodily', given that what is required for this pleasure is the material existence of this object). We were thinking of this because SF is pursuing a line of thinking tangentially related to - but not necessarily supported by- mine.
Beside us, a man was growing restless. He deployed that universally recognised tactic for announcing one's interest to strangers: "........ Wittgenstein(?)", where the missing words are mumbled, producing the ambiguous result of either a question or a statement. The key word is enunciated clearly. Thus it could be that he said "Have you read much Wittgenstein?" or "I have read a little Wittgenstein" or "this problem was (dis)solved by Wittgenstein".
It is always a pleasure to meet someone like this under these circumstances. He had studied philosophy thirty years ago, and still tries to think things through thoroughly in his current situation (as an economist). We spoke of various matters, but, as is often the case when talking to Wittgensteinians, the discussion reached its peak with mutterings of conspiracy. Something about Wittgenstein's secret communist activity (I didn't hear, because the man really was muttering. I think he may have said "Wittgenstein was the third gunman on the grassy knoll" but I don't think the dates are right.) I would venture the thesis that Wittgenstein acolytes have a troubled and problematic relationship to the unknown, to the infinite. But I am not in a position to say.

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