Quell’idiota di Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein è il genio del XX secolo per antonomasia.

Tuttavia, predicava anche la necessità di un po’ di stupidità ogni tanto…

… “Never stay up on the barren heights of cleverness but come down into the green valleys of silliness.” …

E poiché era l’uomo più coerente del pianeta, non mancò di uniformarsi al precetto che lui stesso aveva formulato.

A fargli il pelo e il contropelo ci pensa Neven Sesardic nel suo bellissimo “When Reason Goes on Holiday: Philosophers in Politics”.

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Le sue simpatie sovietiche erano abbastanza scoperte…

… Wittgenstein had strong sympathies for the Soviet political regime of the thirties…

Nato a Vienna nel 1889, scrisse il Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus nel 1889. Quando mise piede a Cambridge Keynes annunciò sobriamente che “Dio” era arrivato nel campus.

Nel 1935 visitò l’ Unione Sovietica considerando l’ipotesi di trasferirsi lì definitivamente. Lo dice Ray Monk nella sua eccellente biografia.

Non che fosse marxista. Era solo “simpatetico“…

… The summer of 1935 was the time when Marxism became, for the undergraduates at Cambridge, the most important intellectual force in the university, and when many students and dons visited the Soviet Union in the spirit of pilgrimage. . . . Despite the fact that Wittgenstein was never at any time a Marxist, he was perceived as a sympathetic figure by the students who formed the core of the Cambridge Communist Party, many of whom . . . attended his lectures (Monk 1990, 348)…

Se non credete a Monk, credete almeno a Keynes

… is not a member of the Communist Party, but has strong sympathies with the way of life which he believes the new régime in Russia stands for.”…

Gli piaceva il modo di vivere di laggiù…

… his strong sympathies for the way of life he believes the new régime in Russia stands for…

Gli piaceva e lo diceva senza posa. Anche quando le stragi degli oppositori di Stalin erano fresche fresche e non certo segrete…

… Wittgenstein must have been aware that only a few months before he wrote the letter to Keynes, a huge uproar had erupted in England over large-scale summary executions in the Soviet Union after the Kirov murder…Ricordo che era il filosofo del “su ciò di cui non si può parlare bisogna tacere”. E la sua vita era improntata a questo motto (non parlava quasi mai). Viene il sospetto che alle sue parole esplicite sia necessario dare un peso sopra la media.

Insistette molto presso Keynes per il suo viaggio a Mosca, cosicché Keynes organizzò lo “scambio“. Ma quale scambio?…

… To sum up, my hypothesis is that the tit-for-tat exchange of services (involving philosophers) was conducted in two separate stages. First, Keynes incurred a debt to Maisky via the following causal sequence: Wittgenstein’s request Keynes’ mediation Maisky’s intervention Wittgenstein goes to Russia. In the second round the debt is repaid along the path: Maisky’s request Keynes’ mediation Editor’s decision Mitin publishes an article in Philosophy…

Un prezzo decisamente elevato, e Wittgenstein ne era al corrente. Considerata la sua moralità leggendaria non si può liquidare la cosa come un mero e occasionale opportunismo. Qui l’idiozia è un fattore decisivo per spiegare la cosa.

***

Wittgenstein era attratto da Stalin, ne abbiamo diverse riprove.

Quali furono le sue impressioni di viaggio? Uno dice: “forse vedere le cose da vicino può avergli giovato”.

Ci riferisce tutto l’amico Georg Henrik von Wright

… He visited Moscow and Leningrad in September [1935] and apparently was pleased with the visit” (Malcolm 2001, 15)… two years later he considered going to Russia again (Engelmann 1967, 59)…

Insomma, voleva tornare quanto prima.

Anche per questo tra gli studenti era noto col simpatico nomignolo di “lo stalinista”…

… [E]ven after the show trials of 1936, the worsening of relations between Russia and the West and the Nazi–Soviet Pact of 1939, Wittgenstein continued to express his sympathy with the Soviet regime—so much so that he was taken by some of his students at Cambridge to be a ‘Stalinist’” and then continues: “This label is, of course, nonsense” (Monk 1990, 354)… Wittgenstein was regarded as a Stalinist “by those who knew him well” (Moran 1972, 92)…Wittgenstein’s politics were ultra-left wing and . . . he had strong sympathy for Stalin and the Soviet Union” (Cornish 1998, 49)…. Elizabeth Anscombe, one of Wittgenstein’s most trusted friends and collaborators, was directly asked whether those in his close circle saw him as a Stalinist, she actually did not deny it at all but resorted to equivocation (Moran 1972, 92)…

Le sue malfamate amicizie a Cambridge non lo aiutarono certo a levarsi di dosso quel nomignolo…

… It is worth stressing that many of Wittgenstein’s friends were Communists or fellow-travelers, so it would not be surprising if some of them had infected him with the Stalinist bug. Take Piero Sraffa, an Italian economist… Wittgenstein acknowledged his indebtedness to Sraffa in the preface to Philosophical Investigations… according to former president of Italy (and former Communist) Giorgio Napolitano, Sraffa maintained regular contacts with the Italian Communist Party: “whenever he came to Rome, he never missed meeting with Togliatti and other [Communist] leaders” (Napolitano 2007, 411)… this was the person “whose opinion Wittgenstein valued above all others on questions of politics”…

Reminiscenze di testimoni su W. e sugli amici di W. a Cambridge…

… The atmosphere of Stalinism contained something that attracted him: a total destruction of early twentieth-century social forms was required (he thought) if there was to be any improvement. “Die Leidenschaft verspricht etwas,” he said to [Austrian philosopher Friedrich] Waismann: the passion that infused society there meant that some good could come from it (McGuinness 2002, 45). Fania Pascal had the impression that the sufferings of so many in the Russia of the 1920s and 1930s were accepted by Wittgenstein as an accompaniment, relatively unimportant, of the affirmation of a new society. Misery there would have been anyway: now at least it was for a purpose (ibid.; emphasis added). These attitudes did not dispose him to think well of the British government or of its attitude towards the Europan situation. He looked at a picture of them—‘a lot of wealthy old men’—and contrasted them (God forgive him!) with Stalin (ibid., 46). On political questions, from 1939 onwards anyway, Wittgenstein was generally sympathetic with the Russian communists. . . . I loathed Stalinism from 1937 onwards (or earlier) and I used to disagree with Wittgenstein’s judgments on Russia on this account (Rush Rhees, quoted in Moran 1972, 95). If you spoke of regimentation of Russian workers, of workers not being free to leave or change their jobs, or perhaps of labor camps, Wittgenstein was not impressed. It would be terrible if the mass of the people there—or in any society—had no regular work. He also thought it would be terrible if the society were ridden by “class distinctions,” although he said less about this. “On the other hand, tyranny. . .?”—with a questioning gesture, shrugging his shoulders—“doesn’t make me feel indignant” (Rhees 1984, 205; emphasis added)…

I campi di concentramento non lo turbavano, dunque. E nemmeno la tirannia. Non dava grande importanza alla libertà umana.

Ma perché, secondo Wittgenstein, Stalin faceva quel che faceva sollevando tanta riprovazione? La risposta favorita: perché Stalin aveva un compito improbo da svolgere…

… Maurice Drury says Wittgenstein once told him: “People have accused Stalin of having betrayed the Russian Revolution. But they have no idea about the problems that Stalin had to deal with…

Una scusa del genere non è solo stupida, è molto peggio: è la stessa scusa addotta dagli stalinisti. Una specie di linea di partito a cui Wittgenstein si atteneva.

… Wittgenstein’s excuse is exactly how Stalinists themselves typically tried to justify… second, it is ludicrous to suggest that it was necessary to kill millions and send millions of others to the gulag…

Testimonianza dello studente Theodore Redpath

… One evening I saw an English film in which Ralph Richardson took the part of a landowner, who seemed to me a thoroughly decent sort of chap, but who was morally condemned by the film, apparently simply for being a landowner. This struck me as grossly unfair, and not long afterwards I happened to tell Wittgenstein what I thought. His reply struck me, as so much of what he said used to do. He said that simply being a landowner could have been quite bad enough (1990, 36–37; emphasis added)…

Deportare un proprietario terriero per il fatto di essere un proprietario terriero sembrava essere ok per Wittgenstein.

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E con Hitler? Come si rapportò a Hitler il Nostro?

Era pacifista (almeno finché Hitler non attaccò l’URSS)…

… in November 1940 he signed a letter in support of the so-called People’s Convention, an anti-war event organized by the Communist Party of Great Britain that was about to take place in London on January 12, 1941…

Dopo l’attacco all’ URSS tutto cambia. In conformità con le direttive di partito, naturalmente…

… Of course, everything changed on June 22, 1941. After Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union, the Communists radically changed their minds about the war. As did Wittgenstein (McGuinness 2012, 309, 345)…

Tanto sofisticato nelle ricerche filosofiche, quanto semplicione in politica. E dire che la politica lo interessava quanto la filosofia…

… The enormous sophistication and hypercritical spirit that Wittgenstein displayed in his philosophical work disappeared when his thoughts turned to politics…

E pensare che proprio lui si lamentava dei colleghi semplicioni 🙂 …

… In a letter to Norman Malcolm in 1944, Wittgenstein lamented that the clear thinking nurtured in philosophy is often abandoned when philosophers address practical issues of great importance: “What is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc., and if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life?” (quoted in Malcolm 2001, 93). Wittgenstein was obviously unaware that his lament about the uselessness of philosophy for everyday thinking also applied to his own case, and with a vengeanc…

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