A contribution to the sixth installment of the Common Knowledge symposium “Apology for Quietism,” this article compares the worldview of Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes) and the quietism that it presumably entails to the early Wittgenstein's worldview and his quietism. The first section of the article treats a relevant paradox in the worldview of the early Wittgenstein: his positive exhortations for certain types of speech and silence, for certain types of action and inaction, seem in conflict with his statement that, in the world, “there is no value—and if there were, it would be of no value.” The second section examines an internal paradox in the worldview of Qoheleth, who commends the enjoyment of a world that he considers meaningless and vain. The third and final section of the article compares these paradoxes as constitutive of the texts in which they appear. Conveying no univocal message, while both writers exhibit quietism, they also gesture toward kinds of speech and action.
N. Verbin; The Ladder and the Cage: Wittgenstein, Qoheleth, and Quietism. Common Knowledge 1 August 2010; 16 (3): 474–492. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-2010-007
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