I was a philosophy student for my brief attempt at tertiary education—I know what you mean. Our lecturer would describe the text as ‘dense’ - more aptly, I thought, the author is dense.
An anecdote from that class: after a lecture on Wittgenstein, a student asked the lecturer if the rest of the semester’s lectures were to be canceled.
I cannot think of a single obvious interpretation for why this occurred, but I can think of a few possible ones. Could you please clarify?
There is an obvious one, actually—a frequent (perhaps inaccurate) interpretation of the last parts of the Tractatus is as a denial of the possibility of any real philosophy (including Wittgenstein’s).
Since one would naturally cover the Tractatus before The Philosophical Investigations or other works, a rather juvenile response would be exactly that anecdote.
Yep. The lecture presented the view that Wittgenstein had explained away most of philosophy—in his own words, that he had resolved all philosophical problems.
How silly of Wittgenstein! Didn’t he know that Hegel had already completed philosophy?
Oh, Hegel. I remember a lecture where the professor read from Hegel’s Wissenschaft der Logik like it was a holy scripture. When he was finished, he looked up and said: “With this, everything is said”. I didn’t understand anything, it was a jungle of words like being and not-being and becoming and how one thing becomes the other. I said that I didn’t understand anything, and what did the lecturer reply with a smile? “It’s good you don’t understand it!” I seriously had the intense urge to shout at him, but instead I just didn’t show up anymore.
A perhaps equally juvenile concern of mine, is whether Wittgenstein himself failed to stand on the shoulders of giants (at least in the Tractatus), by essentially starting from scratch with his own propositions, drawing logical conclusions from them rather than using or at least referring to previous work.