Via the Facebook feed of Squiffy-Marie von Bladet, I bring you Michael Frayn’s “Fog-like Sensations.” It begins:
(According to some sympathisers, the reason why drivers on the motorways failed to slow down in thick fog recently, and so crashed into each other in multiple collisions of up to thirty vehicles, was simply because the authorities had failed to provide illuminated signs explaining that the fog was fog. This is a situation on which Wittgenstein made one or two helpful remarks in a previously unpublished section of Philosophical Investigations.)
694. Someone says, with every sign of bewilderment (wrinkled forehead, widened eyes, an anxious set to the mouth): “I do not know there is fog on the road unless it is accompanied by an illuminated sign saying ‘fog’.”
When we hear this, we feel dizzy. We experience the sort of sensations that go with meeting an old friend one believed was dead. I want to say: “But this is the man philosophers are always telling us about! This is the man who does not understand—the man who goes on asking for explanations after everything has been explained!”
(A sort of Socratic Oliver Twist. Compare the feelings one would have on meeting Oliver Twist in the flesh. “And now I want you to meet Oliver Twist.”—“But…!”)
695. Now I feel a different sort of excitement. I see in a flash a thought forming as it were before my mind’s eye—“This is at last the sort of situation which philosophers have always waited for—the sort of situation in which one as a philosopher can offer practical help!”
It becomes ever more baroque and funny. At the end, Steve Petersen (who posted it at his site) says “Also see Jerry Fodor’s spoof, inspired by Frayn.” The word “spoof” ordinarily suggests humor, but Fodor did not get even a smile out of me. That’s the difference between a writer and a philosopher, I guess.