The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 7, 2007

Philosophy of Culture(s)

Gertrude D. Conway
Pages 73-80

Both Citizen and Cosmopolitan
Wittgenstein on the Role of the Philosopher

Among the fragments published in Zettel, one finds one of Wittgenstein's most enigmatic comments. In entry 455, he states that "the philosopher is not a citizen of any community of ideas. That is what makes him into a philosopher". The apparent incongruity between this entry and the thrust of Wittgenstein's later works initially draws one's attention, but the passage sustains interest because it is situated at the nexus of issues addressed in current philosophical debate regarding cultural pluralism. This paper attempts to make sense of the Zettel fragment in the contexts of both Wittgenstein's own analysis and such debate. It argues that the post-Enlightenment philosopher's role entails a cosmopolitan point of view with promotes both the recognition of citizens' embeddedness in a cultural tradition and the need for a critical distancing from that tradition, occasioned by an awareness of cultural pluralism.