The Strangeness of the Ordinary: Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations
Marjorie Perloff, Ph.D., Presidential Fellow
Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy
Rodgers Center For Holocaust Education
Department of Philosophy at Wilkinson College
Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations—one of the great philosophy books of the 20th century—argues that philosophy is not a theory but a practice and that its key is an understanding of how language works. There are no grand overarching Platonic ideas—of beauty, goodness, justice, truth—but rather words that have meanings in very specific contexts. Philosophical Investigations takes on—and refutes—the Augustinian theory of language which prevailed for centuries—the theory that WORDS represent specific THINGS. Dr. Perloff argues that what Wittgenstein teaches us above all else is to question large, meaningless generalizations, whether in politics or aesthetics or ethics. Wittgenstein helps us understand that the limits of my language are the limits of my world.
Marjorie Perloff was born Gabriele Mintz into an assimilated Jewish family in Vienna. In the immediate aftermath of the Anschluss, Gabriele, her parents, and older brother escaped to Switzerland and later emigrated to the United States. A prolific and groundbreaking scholar, Dr. Perloff has written more than a
dozen books. A recipient of the Robert Penn Warren Prize, Dr. Perloff is Scholar-in-Residence and Florence Scott Professor of English Emerita, at USC, and Sadie Dernham Patek Professor of Humanities Emerita, at Stanford University. She is an elected Fellow of the American Philosophical Society and the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Copies of Wittgenstein’s Ladder and Edge of Irony: Modernism in the Shadow of the Hapsburg Empire available for purchase. Book signing and reception follow the lecture.
Marjorie Perloff, Ph.D.
Presidential Fellow, Chapman University
Author of Wittgenstein’s Ladder: Poetic Language
and the Strangeness of the Ordinary