WITTGENSTEIN AND THE LION
Try this! Philosophers love what they call ‘thought experiments’. They imagine some unlikely situation and then explore how it would be to be in such a situation. This one is about a (very famous) philosopher sitting together with a (very pensive) lion for a chat, without any fear of being mauled.
If a lion could speak, we could not understand him
From: Philosophical Investigations (English translation 1953, p. 223)
Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1889 - 1951
“Wenn ein Löwe sprechen könnte,
wir könnten ihn nicht verstehen“.
From: Philosophische Untersuchungen
Let us assume that the problem of translating Lionese into English (and reverse) is solved.
Would you talk to a lion and …
- ask him how he feels
- tell him a dream you had last night
- invite him to play soccer with you
- talk about the Corona virus
- tell him you don’t understand him?
If you were a lion, would you talk about
- your favourite meat
- having a tooth ache or a sore toe
- things only lions see, feel or are interested in
- what you learned from your parents
- how humans behave?
would you understand the tiger in The Tiger who Came to Tea [by Judith Kerr], that he stayed for tea, behaved very well, but … didn’t come back. Would you understand why he never came back?
[Pieter Mostert, 20 March 2020]
Posted by Steve Hoggins on 20th March 2020 at 12:00am
Category: Philosophy at Home