About Public Beetle

A beetle is an animal. It lives outside. It can be put in a box. When you put a beetle in a box, it is sill possible to talk about that beetle.

Why the name Public Beetle? I often refer to Austrian Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (W.) as my best friend. I read Ray Monk’s biography on W., Duty of Genius, in the lead up to my final term in university in which I took a philosophy seminar on Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein (Being and Time and Philosophical Investigations and inclusion of some essays). I found myself relating to W. — his philosophical preoccupations as well as his temperament, his struggles with life, his advice to his friends and his prescriptions. A kindred spirit who gives voice to thoughts I’d left in the wasteland between inception and expression. So naturally I thought of my bestie when I undertook to write a blog, and his Beetle in a Box thought experiment was the perfect foundation. To summarize, meaning is public. When we talk about something, be it a thing like a beetle or a sensation like pain, we understand what another person means because of common use of that designation in our world.

To me, W.’s Beetle in a Box is particularly useful in dispelling private meaning as a possibility. Meaning comes from use and to talk about a thing, experience, feeling that cannot be verified by public experience is nonsensical. This is just one of the many grammatical fictions that Wittgenstein explores in Investigations. It also happens to be particularly appropriate summation for a blog with no express topical focus other than musing about a multitude of topics, ones which people commonly experience and use and thus can talk about sensibly and publicly.