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By Sam Harris

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When Wittgenstein repeats remarks but places them in new contexts, he is not necessarily revising their tenuous meanings, as is required by the hypothesis that he was constantly changing his mind. Perhaps, since their meaning is tenuous, he is trying to show the meanings in a pattern or context that will allow the associated horizon to show itself most clearly. The problem is not necessarily the meaning but one of allowing the meaning to become manifest. The arrangement of remarks would be perfect if it mirrored the topography of the City, but that survey project was never completed.

Instead, the remarks locate points in the City of language, major landmarks as well as smaller features, by literally bordering on nonsense, showing in this way what it is that we cannot say. When we return to these locations after having traveled different paths through the City, we become more familiar with landmarks, but their location does not change. In the same way, becoming more familiar with the meaning of particular sentences does not change their meanings. The objective meanings are determined by the relationships between particular sentences and the appropriate horizons, and these meanings can be explored over time.

Wittgenstein's interpreters have worked at the hermeneutics of his texts, turning him relentlessly back into a philosopher with precise and complicated philosophical doctrines that are deployed against other philosophical doctrines. In a curious way, this development is a confirmation of the insight that the reader typically supplies much of the content of the text to be interpreted: philosophers have read Wittgenstein, and they have discovered him to be a philosopher. Wittgenstein's defenders have stressed the subtlety of his views, at times aping the behavioral characteristics of the master but always suggesting that others are the boors at the feast of philosophy, picking up the wrong forks and turning the wrong edge of their spoons to the soup.

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