Fergus Kerr describes the issue of the book as `to show students of theology that they have much more to gain from reading Wittgenstein´s later writings than it is commonly supposed, and, secondly, that they are in a good position to understand him` (vii).
In the end of his enterprise, the postscript of the second edition left aside, he summarises the value for us: `even if Iam wrong, however, the reader will have been immersed in an anthology of Wittgenstein´s texts, many of which will surely stay in the memory, whatever is to happen, after Wittgenstein, to the practice of Christian theology` (190).
These two statements are the framework of the book. In those 200 pages, Kerr introduces, what he considers, several key issues of Wittgensteinian thinking, by showinga development towards his later writings. Kerr focuses on the `philosophical investigations` (published 1951, posthumously). Here he believes to have discovered an example of how to overcome Descartes’ view on the self, that is what he thinks to be the main issue of Wittgenstein´s later writings.
First I will do a small summary (1) of the book`s structure, than I will make some briefmethodological remarks (2) followed by an analysis of the most important ideas (3).
Kerr starts by introducing and discussing several views of modern philosophy on the self. He realises that the starting point in all these concepts is the individual. Descartes’ heritage dominates, let me say, our views on the self, since our culture (Kerr) paradigms of knowledge are tight to ideals ofimpartiality and objectivity.
Kerr then (chapter 2) introduces some thoughts about language in connection with a part of Augustine´s Confessions, which forms the beginning of the Philosophical Investigations. This is the ‘warm-up` to Wittgenstein’s main issue, to deconstruct the power of the metaphysical defined self.
The second part illuminates statements of Wittgenstein´s writings,continuing the discussion of the self, language and forms of interaction between the selves. Later, (chapter 5 and 6) Kerr contrasts Wittgenstein´s position with realism and idealism.
In the last two chapters Kerr introduces thoughts on theological topics. First (chapter 7) he deals with Wittgenstein´s thoughts on theological questions (e.g. proofs of gods existence, talking of `god`).
In the lastchapter he tries to show how Wittgenstein´s ideas can be helpful for most ethical discussions and issues of today (e.g. genetic, mortality).
2) Methodological remark - The second hand experience:
Do not misunderstand me but I appreciate 2nd hand things. They are often cheap. As these objects are not thrown away or forgotten in dark cellars, it shows that someone believes that they can bere-used. This can be also said about thoughts.
Before we can look at some main ideas, we have to remember that this book I am writing about is Kerr´s interpretation of Wittgenstein´s thinking. Therefore the potential task is to understand this interpretation. Though this is trivial, we have to keep it in our minds.
To get a view of how Kerr is dealing with Wittgenstein´s texts I checked the originalsources to find out how Kerr uses them, even if there is not enough space to analysis it in detail. Therefore just one comment: It seems that Kerr is using Wittgenstein’s texts in an appropriate way.
As Kerr describes his task of showing the reader the value of Wittgenstein´s work, he seldom criticises him. Therefore it will be often impossible, in the following part, to differentiate easilybetween Kerr’s interpretation and Wittgenstein’s original.
3) Main ideas
a) Reality through language for the selves – enough loneliness
This complex bunch of ideas is difficult to handle. Where should we start?
Maybe with the self: Wittgenstein emphasizes, that if we understand the ego only on a mental level, we would continue to isolate the spiritual from the physical. (55) Therefore we...