Did Wittgenstein use silly points to make profound ones?

James Gingell in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_1223 Jun. 14 21.31Ludwig Wittgenstein, it is said, loved cricket. Curious, perhaps, for such a famously serious Austrian to have affection for so trivial and English a game, but I have a theory as to why.

Maybe he liked the game’s hypnotic rhythms, its genteel pace, the easy ebb and flow of an even match. Maybe his eyes and ears enjoyed the game’s distinctive sights and sounds: the flapping white flannels and the rounded knock of bat on ball. Maybe it was the drama, the gladiatorial confrontation of a furious quick bowler hurling rock-hard leather towards a belligerent batsman. All of this grand and strange theatre might have helped him unknit his brow, do some unthinking and achieve the kind of meditative state so important to big intellectual breakthroughs.

For me, though, the more likely draw for Wittgenstein was the game’s language. His whole life was spent attempting to deconstruct the lines of code underpinning evolution’s most fabulous app – verbal communication. And cricket, with its dense and extraordinary quilt of gorgeous words and phrases, must have utterly captivated him.

The complexity of cricket necessitates an equally complex language merely to describe the basics of the game. There’s quite a lot of vocab for a player to learn just to know where to stand on the field. Imagine a circle of radius three metres around a batsman. Any fielder brave enough to stand on that circle can be described as any of (the titular) silly point, silly mid-off, silly mid-on, short leg,backward short leg, leg slip, slip or gully, depending on which point of the compass they are standing on in relation to the batsman.

More here.

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