10.03.2002

[67,68] There have been a number of comparisons between Wittgenstein and Immanuel Kant. Structurally, the Tractatus conforms to the noumenal/phenomenal duality posed by Kant in his first critique. But I have argued that the differences between Kant and Wittgenstein are far more significant than the similarities. Still they lived lives that were neat and orderly. The stories about Kant's keeping to a daily schedule are legendary. Wittgenstein's rooms at Whewell Court were remembered by students for their spare furnishings and cleanliness. Orderly lives apparently left room for disorderly, revolutionary thinking.

After a series of remarks on the irreducibility, contingency, and conventionality of language that add up to a disorderly view of how language-games hang together, Wittgenstein offers an organizational concept: family resemblances. As Wittgenstein puts it "'games' form a family." Language-games cluster around these resemblances. But we ought not fix on these resemblances; such focus leads to generalizations that require the rhetoric of an underlying foundation of common logic for support. Wittgenstein merely grants that there are family resemblances evoked by points of overlap and criss-crossing between language-games.

Remark 68 moves us again away from notions of uniformity and parameters in and between games. Wittgenstein investigates how we use the word "game." Our perspective is one of players within a game. The view from this playing field does not include boundaries. Boundaries can be drawn, but the perspective that leads to the drawing of boundaries is different from that of the player. Umpires or referees worry about boundaries; players play. But even this distinction in perspectives within the playing field does not hold generally. Everywhere in the game are "unregulated" or unboundable areas. The game of tennis, for example, "is not everywhere circumscribed by rules; but no more are there any rules for how high one throws the ball in tennis, or how hard; yet tennis is a game for all that and has rules too."

I think about the skill of the player in terms of playing with the rules. In ice hockey there are rules against elbowing, spearing, slashing, high sticking, and so on. However, great hockey players have always known that these rules apply only to those stupid enough to get caught. There is an art to breaking the rules that is very much part of the game.

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