chapter  1
26 Pages

Understanding nonsense

I would like in this first chapter to articulate the conception of philosophy that runs through this book. It is a conception that owes much to Wittgenstein on the one hand and to Aristotle on the other. From Wittgenstein comes chiefly the idea that philosophy has no subject matter, nothing that it studies and seeks to describe and to theorize, the idea that the business of philosophy is with clarity and not with truth of some special kind such as Descartes sought with his method and persuaded following generations to seek. Wittgenstein’s conception of the task of philosophy brings to the center the notions of sense and nonsense that assume the kind of importance that truth and falsehood had for Descartes’s conception of philosophy as theorizing and seeking a higher order of truth.