Is the point of philosophy to transmit beliefs about the world, or can it sometimes have higher ambitions? In this bold study, Karen Zumhagen-Yekple makes a critical contribution to the "resolute" program of Wittgenstein scholarship, revealing his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus as a complex, mock-theoretical puzzle designed to engage readers in the therapeutic self-clarification Wittgenstein saw as the true work of philosophy. Seen in this light, Wittgenstein resembles his modernist contemporaries more than might first appear. Like the literary innovators of his time, Wittgenstein believed in the productive power of difficulty, in varieties of spiritual experience, in the importance of age-old questions about life's meaning, and in the possibility of transfigurative shifts toward the right way of seeing the world. In a series of absorbing chapters, Zumhagen-Yekple shows how Kafka, Woolf, Joyce, and Coetzee set their readers on a path toward a new way of being. Offering a new perspective on Wittgenstein as philosophical modernist, and on the lives and afterlives of his indirect teaching, A Different Order of Difficulty is a compelling addition to studies in both literature and philosophy.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 336
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
"Zumhagen-Yekple's innovative study connects a great theme of modernist literary works, that of difficulty, with Wittgenstein's understanding of philosophy and the kinds of difficulty that it presents. A Different Order of Difficulty is enormously illuminating in the connections it makes between philosophical and literary questions--questions that are central in literary modernism and in Wittgenstein's thought."--Cora Diamond, University of Virginia
"A Different Order of Difficulty takes the very best in Wittgenstein and applies it expertly, astutely, and with impressive clarity to Woolf, Joyce, Kafka, and Coetzee. The results are both illuminating and inspiring. Instead of being mere vehicles for the transmission of ideas, modernist fictions become events, experiences, instruments of personal transformation; their opacity sets us challenges which can only be met if we change our fundamental attitude to ourselves and to the world. This is an important book, one which will, I hope, shape thinking on modernist fiction--and on Wittgenstein--for years to come."--Joshua Landy, Stanford University