The Sad (?) Insight of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein

In 1921 Wittgenstein thought that the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus had solved all the problems of philosophy.

Later in his life (The Philosophical Investigations, published 1951) he came to the conclusion that he was utterly wrong.

He found out that language itself is the problem.

Language is woven into the fabric of life, and as part of that fabric it works relatively unproblematically.

Philosophical problems arise when language is forced into an abstract environment, where all the familiar and necessary landmarks and contextual clues are absent. The tragedy is that almost nobody understood Wittgenstein at that time.

One of his students in Cambrigde when he still believed in abstraction was Alan Turing. He invented the Turing Machine, one of the foundations of computers and computer languages.

Computer Languages and everything created by a Computer Languages suffers the Problem Wittgenstein identified.

I was a witness to an important part of the history of computing. I was responsible for many what I now would call abstraction-projects.

I have been extremely busy with the creation of E-Learning, Knowledge-Management, Centers of Expertise, Educational Games based on Story Telling etc.

They all failed in the end but the creation-process was fun.

One of the inspiring persons I spoke was Mr. Ikujiro Nonaka. His book The Knowledge-Creating Company was just published.

He showed that knowledge could be divided into formal (again abstract) and informal knowledge.

He defined a 2X2 matrix of the knowledge-tranfer process.

The most difficult of course was the transfer of informal-informal knowledge.

My big mistake was to believe that informal/informal knowledge-tranfer could be supported by a Computer System.

The Computer System itself is formalizing everything. Many years later (about 5 years ago) I came to the same (sad?) conclusion as Wittgenstein (and Bahktin).

What can we do? The only way to transfer “knowledge” is to talk person-to-person in a secure environment.

Some people will understand each other and become friends. They are a small Centre of Expertise.

Many people will think(!) they understand the other. They will go their own way until they realize, perhaps when they are 56 (like me), that in the end your mostly wrong and sometimes right.

Keep meeting and talking! And realize The Creation Process is always Fun.

LINKS

About the War of Words

About the Foundations of Mathematics

How the Proof of the Pudding is Really in the Eating

How to Analyze a Context

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