Wittgenstein (was Re: PGP/MIME)

reynt0 reynt0 at cs.albany.edu
Thu Feb 2 22:18:10 CET 2012

On Thu, 2 Feb 2012, Robert J. Hansen wrote:
  . . .
> Oh, Wittgenstein's wonderful.  I have a quote from him on a Post-It on
> my monitor:
> 	"What makes a subject difficult to understand ... is not
> 	 that some special instruction about abstruse things is
> 	 necessary to understand it.  Rather it is the contrast
> 	 between the understanding of the subject and what most
> 	 people want to see. ... *The things that are most obvious
> 	 can become the most difficult to understand.*"
  . . .

For several years I had the last seven words of the following
auf Deutsch painted decoratively by a hot rod artist on the
trunk lip of my car.  But the only people who ever commented
were a German tourist couple in a parking lot once.

"Ich glaube einen Philosophen, einen der selbst denken kann,
koennte es interessieren meine Noten zu lesen.  Denn wenn
ich auch nur selten in's Schwarze getroffen habe, so wuerde
er doch erkennen, nach welchen Zielen ich unablaessig
geschossen habe"  [from the Notebooks, IIRC at this moment]
("I believe a philosopher, one who can think for himself, can
be interested to read my notes.  Then if I even only seldom
in the black have shot [ie hit the archery target in center],
so would he nevertheless be able to know, at which target
I unremittingly have shot.")

The idea being that some things are so hard to talk about
that you have to work at them bit by bit and hope that the 
shared continuity can be understood.  A little bit like
Zen, IMHO.  Also like trying to get security ideas across
publicly sometimes without saying everything so bluntly
that bad guy evesdroppers can easily understand.

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