Archive for June, 2015

Wittgenstein’s ladder

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Austrian Philosopher Wittgenstein once described the structure of his expositions as such:

My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them—as steps—to climb beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.)
He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.

This concept is known as Wittgenstein’s Ladder (wikipedia: do read this)

A lot of the finesse in designing a modern syllabus lies in understanding how to construct this ladder, such that

  1. The first rung is reachable from where the student is right now
  2. Each following rung is reachable from the previous rung
  3. The final rung is where you want it to be, and goes far enough

Knowing where you want the final rung to be may not tell you very much about the first rung at all, because the first rung could be completely fictional relative to the last – what’s important isn’t consistency per se, but the ability to conceive of a continuous path of rungs in between them. The presented facts can outright contradict each other, even, if that helps promote faster ladder-climbing.