I don’t often admit defeat when I’m reading. I tend to slog away to the end of a book, even if I’m not enjoying it much. Partly this is stubbornness, partly pride, but partly also a belief that most books contain something worthwhile.
Recently, though, I had to admit defeat. More specifically, I had to admit that although I was halfway through Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, I had absolutely no idea what it was about. I mean, I’d read the words and they’d seemed like sentences, but the result was always something either patently obvious or completely senseless. It wasn’t even that I got some parts and not others – I just didn’t get the book at all.
Since this is apparently one of the key philosophical texts of the 20th century, I’m perfectly happy to admit that the fault is mine, not Wittgenstein’s. Perhaps you need more of a background in philosophy to understand what he’s referring to. Or perhaps you just need to be cleverer than I am. In any case, I gave up.
To mitigate my sense of sadness at giving up on this book, I thought I’d write about it and ask if anyone else wants to share. What book have you given up on? Or do you always read to the end? And by the way, if anyone can shed any light on what Wittgenstein is talking about and how to understand it, do let me know!