When everyone thinks you are wrong

My friend John W. Cook published three books on Wittgenstein: Wittgenstein’s Metaphysics, Wittgenstein, Empiricism, and Language, and The Undiscovered Wittgenstein. His early essays "Wittgenstein on Privacy" and "Human Beings" are considered by some to be two of the best essays on Wittgenstein, but he repudiated much of his early view on Wittgenstein long time ago. The interpretation he offers in his three books has been, however, widely scoffed by other Wittgenstein scholars. The books got extremely hostile reviews, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that everyone thinks he is wrong. I still don’t agree with John’s interpretation, but I think there is much more to it than most of his critics think. The fact that everyone thinks he is wrong doesn’t mean he is wrong; and the scholarship, the intellectual courage, and persistence John exhibits are all admirable.

John inscribed the following words in one of his books he gave me: "May we sometimes agree." We may. But even if in the end I still don’t accept his interpretation, I have at least been inspired by him to decide to read all of Wittgenstein’s published works chronologically. And I will do it soon.

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