James C. Klagge

James C. Klagge is Professor of Philosophy at Virginia Tech and the author of Wittgenstein in Exile (MIT Press), Simply Wittgenstein, and Tractatus in Context: The Essential Background for Appreciating Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. He is coeditor of two collections of Wittgenstein's writings, Philosophical Occasions: 1912–1951 and Public and Private Occasions, and editor of the essay collection Wittgenstein: Biography and Philosophy.

  • Wittgenstein's Artillery

    Wittgenstein's Artillery

    Philosophy as Poetry

    James C. Klagge

    How Wittgenstein sought a more effective way of reaching his audience by a poetic style of doing philosophy.

    Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “really one should write philosophy only as one writes poetry.” In Wittgenstein's Artillery, James Klagge shows how, in search of ways to reach his audience, Wittgenstein tried a more poetic style of doing philosophy. Klagge argues that, in deploying this new philosophical “artillery”—Klagge's term for Wittgenstein's methods of influencing his readers and students—Wittgenstein moved from an esoteric mode to an evangelical mode, aiming for an effect on his audience that was noncognitive, appealing to the temperament in addition to the intellect.

    Wittgenstein was an artillery spotter—directing artillery fire to targets—in the Austrian army during World War I, and Klagge argues that, years later, he became a philosophical spotter, struggling to find the right artillery to accomplish his philosophical purpose. Klagge shows how Wittgenstein's work with his students influenced his style of writing philosophy and motivated him to care about the effect of his ideas on his audience. To illustrate Wittgenstein's evolving approach, Klagge draws on not only Wittgenstein's best-known works but also such lesser-known material as notebooks, dictations, lectures, and recollections of students. Klagge then goes beyond Wittgenstein to present a range of literature—biblical parables and children's stories, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche—as other examples of the poetic approach. He concludes by offering his own attempts at a poetic approach to addressing philosophical issues.

    • Hardcover $45.00
  • Wittgenstein in Exile

    Wittgenstein in Exile

    James C. Klagge

    A new way of looking at Wittgenstein: as an exile from an earlier cultural era.

    Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922) and Philosophical Investigations (1953) are among the most influential philosophical books of the twentieth century, and also among the most perplexing. Wittgenstein warned again and again that he was not and would not be understood. Moreover, Wittgenstein's work seems to have little relevance to the way philosophy is done today. In Wittgenstein in Exile, James Klagge proposes a new way of looking at Wittgenstein—as an exile—that helps make sense of this. Wittgenstein's exile was not, despite his wanderings from Vienna to Cambridge to Norway to Ireland, strictly geographical; rather, Klagge argues, Wittgenstein was never at home in the twentieth century. He was in exile from an earlier era—Oswald Spengler's culture of the early nineteenth century.

    Klagge draws on the full range of evidence, including Wittgenstein's published work, the complete Nachlaß, correspondence, lectures, and conversations. He places Wittgenstein's work in a broad context, along a trajectory of thought that includes Job, Goethe, and Dostoyevsky. Yet Klagge also writes from an analytic philosophical perspective, discussing such topics as essentialism, private experience, relativism, causation, and eliminativism. Once we see Wittgenstein's exile, Klagge argues, we will gain a better appreciation of the difficulty of understanding Wittgenstein and his work.

    • Hardcover $8.75
    • Paperback $25.00