I’ve got to another sticky point in Parsons’s book (some irritating obscurity), and am a bit stumped to know what to think. But I’ll return to that in due course.
In the meantime, one other thing I’ve started doing in a very busy week is to look at the remarks on the foundations of mathematics in the last third of Wittgenstein’s Big Typescript. Michael Potter and I are going to run a seminar on this material during the coming term. Why? Well, we both are interested in reading this relatively recently published text — and in Wittgenstein’s Cambridge it seems odd not to return occasionally to think again about his distinctly odd ruminations about mathematics as new generations of graduate students come through.
Yet, as ever, I can’t but be irritated by Wittgenstein’s affectation in refusing to write decent connected prose (albeit a different kind of irritation from that in reading Parsons). Oh yes, I know we are supposed to find deep significance in his choice of the aphoristic style. But most of what is written about that is pretentious bollocks, of course. (Wittgenstein’s epigones like to intimate that if you don’t appreciate the deep significance of the master’s allusive style, you are an illiterate philistine. Which is both fatuous and offensive.) Anyway, just as an exercise, I’m having some amusement taking a section of the Big Typescript (which at least is divided into sections) and imagining embedding the fragmentary remarks into some connected prose in a sensible ordering and with the twists and turns of argument signalled. If something useful comes out of it, I’ll post a version here!