‘The spirit of this civilization is a spirit that is alien and uncongenial to the author ...’ (CV, 1998, 8e)

Alois Pichler


In his Schreiben und Denken (2000), the Austrian linguist Hanspeter Ortner identifies ten main writing strategies (“Schreibstrategien”): (1) writing in one go; (2) writing of one idea to one text version; (3) writing of one idea to several text versions; (4) writing, through several text versions, of one idea to several new ideas; (5) planning with subsequent writing out of the plan; (6) writing down of text-externally elaborated results; (7) linear step-by-step writing; (8) syncretistic writing; (9) writing of parts; (10) puzzle-writing (“Puzzle-Schreiben”). In my “The Philosophical Investigations and Syncretistic Writing” (2013) I argue that the textual genesis of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations (PI) is well described as syncretistic in Ortner’s sense, and that equally the form of the PI is, in an important sense, syncretistic. I connect the PI’s syncretistic form to Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophy and argue that it is a natural consequence from his view that philosophy has to employ many methods and has a strongly poetic dimension. In the present, related, contribution I argue that Wittgenstein’s writing work, as it is documented in the Nachlass, in fact can be seen to exemplify all of Ortner’s ten writing strategies, but that on the other hand it must be noted that for his PI Wittgenstein specifically settled on syncretistic strategy and form. Once more I propose to relate this to the PI’s conception of philosophy and further argue, with reference to PI §133, that there is an intimate connection between the syncretistic and the function of examples in Wittgenstein’s philosophy. I conclude by asking to what extent we have been able to integrate Wittgenstein’s philosophy as it manifests itself in the PI into academic scholarship. The PI’s philosophy appears indeed inseparable from its (syncretistic) form. It may, however, not only be difficult to recognize the principles of this form, but it may also be, that this form—in a fundamental sense—clashes with the “spirit of our civilization”.


philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; 20th century philosophy; example; writing theory; strategy; syncretistic; album; criss-cross; text genesis; linear; progress; form; philosophy; puzzle

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