Boris is a German I met a week or so ago at the hostel in Doolin; he was reading a book on philosophy, the gist of it being can philosophy be taught in the same way that physics or history is taught? He promised to let me know how it turned out.
A couple of days and several showers later, Boris moved on for a few days in Connemara (the showers are important because Boris apparently makes all his big decisions whilst showering) to enjoy some hiking and improve his ability to pun in English.
He got back to the hostel last night, having had a splendid time in Connemara, apart from spraining a wrist after he fell off his bike showing off. As compensation, his punning had improved no end. He described a trip he took on the bike around Killary Fjord to the southern most tip, a small, and I mean small, fishing village called Rossroe.
'Ah! Rossroe' I said. 'If you went to Rossroe, you must have seen the house Wittgenstein stayed in in the late 40's'. Boris' face was as I imagined it appeared when he fell off his bike and hurt his wrist - drained of blood, slack of jaw and beads of sweat on brow. 'Wittgenstein? Wittgenstein lived in Rossroe?'
Wittgenstein, or to give him his full moniker, Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951) was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, mind and language, I have no real idea what any of that actually means but he seem to be a big noise in the philosophical world. Although he ended up teaching at Cambridge he began his career in a remote Austrian village where he seemed to enjoy hitting his students, concussing one and making the ears of another bleed. During his short lifetime he published just one slim book, the 75-page Tracatus Logico - Philsophucus in 1921, one article, one book review and a children's dictionary, which I assume includes a definition of child abuse.
He was born into one of the richest families in Europe, his sister's wedding portrait was painted by Klimt, which was nice and three of his five brothers committed suicide, which was not so nice. He served in the Austrian army, where he was decorated, during the First World War and as a hospital porter in London during the Second. He also suffered depression all his life.
Not unsurprisingly, he seemed happiest when ensconced in the world of philosophy.
Boris, having a philosophical turn of mind, was stunned by this information and immediately penciled in a return trip to Rossroe and contacted a philosopher friend in Germany, who is on his way to Ireland and had asked for places to visit.
Apparently the book on whether it is possible to teach philosophy as other subjects, ended unsatisfactorily. In philosophical terms, I assume that means that philosophy can be taught, but also, it can't. Maybe.