In place of a proper “introduction”, he belittles Wittgenstein’s prowess and contributions, as well as somehow making the book about his own capability by railing against what he has defined as Wittgenstein’s main tenants.
But I found his argument bland, less challenging and exciting than Wittgenstein’s itself, and most damningly stilted – much like most modern philosophy (and scholarship too).
This is of course to be expected, coming from an Oxford Supernumerary Fellow.
It has been a long time since I have read purely academic writing – especially the contemporary version – and I remembered why I despise it so much. It says nothing, but criticizes everything.
The New Criticism or Postmodern approach to literary criticism emphasizes not the intention of the author but the effect it has, the poetic influence it carries. I think this is in limited ways convenient, but in others completely bullshit because it sets aside what could be most useful for effecting real-world change.
It ignores that all that happens in our society derives from individual human decisions and actions.
Through this, it discourages a thorough examination of the coercive imperialism of academia itself; universities subsequently have become enablers and breeding grounds for capitalism and its cultural logic.
A world dominated by finance and capitalist propaganda is of course is reflected in our “higher” education – as it is reflected in the whole of society.
“Higher” education must be earnestly questioned, despite whatever slight benefits it might punctuate against the current of domination.
Its methods and their consequence cannot be clouded by a myth of the superiority of knowledge, or a certain prestige of appearance, or unquestioned perpetuation – this is exactly what Wittgenstein deplores, and I can see why Grayling, sequestered in the white tower, attacks his late philosophy so vehemently.
It is hardly for philosophical reasons, it is truly a political attack. (That this statement is largely academically taboo is revealing, and frustrating)
I have planned a couple posts about Wittgenstein, and in the future I have a lot more to say about what I dislike about the so-called modern education system.