Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture
To study a banyan tree
You not only must know
Its main stem in its own soil
But also trace the growth
Of its greatness in the further soil
For then you can know the true nature of its vitality
- Rabindranath Tagore
For some, perhaps many, contemporary philosophers, the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein is striking, impressive, and powerful. But also paralysing, alienating and sterilising. It has seemed best to get out from under its influence, to plant new ideas elsewhere and see what grows.
This talk will address the question of why, Wittgenstein matters today. The talk will not offer exegesis of selected passages from Wittgenstein. Instead, it will offer accessible accounts of some key areas in contemporary intellectual culture: Representationalism, Theory of Mind, and Science and Scientism. It will offer examples of Wittgenstein's transformative arguments and insights, showing how they open up lines of inquiry that, in our conflicted and stultified world, are revolutionary, vital and fertile. Synoptic and combative, the talk will seek to demonstrate Wittgenstein’s greatness in the further soil.
Speaker biography: Dr Ian Ground is currently Teaching Fellow in Fine Art at Newcastle University and is Secretary of the British Wittgenstein Society. A philosopher and specialist in adult education, Ian was born in London and has made his home in Newcastle upon Tyne. In a range of roles, including Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Ian has taught philosophy at the universities of Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham and Edinburgh.
Ian Ground’s primary interests are in the philosophy of Wittgenstein, with particular reference to the philosophy of mind, and especially as this has implications for our understanding of animal psychology and cognition. He has also worked extensively in philosophical aesthetics and in the field of Lifelong Learning. His books include Art or Bunk? and Can We Understand Animal Minds?.
His next publication is a new edition of Portraits of Wittgenstein for Bloomsbury Academic Press (Summer 2015) --- a comprehensive and definitive collection of recollections of the man.
Other Royal Institute of Philosophy lectures include: