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Challenge for PHILOSOPHERS who WRITE

October 20, 2010

I have noticed that the ‘audience’ of Wittgenstein Tweets comprises a fair number of philosophers and writers.  I employ these terms ‘philosophers’ and ‘writers’ as loosely as they do.  I personally believe that a great deal of good can be created in the realm where philosophical thinking meets creative writing. If you don’t agree with me, stop reading.  Have a biscuit.  Whatever. 

I have personally written a few of short stories tenuously related to philosophical subjects, e.g.

Love Thy Neighbour (ethics & political philosophy)
Every Dog’s Bark Plays a Melody (philosophy of psychology)
Existence Melts (the very dubious fringes of metaphysics)

But the point of this post is to issue a challenge to all philosophers who write. It is an odd challenge, which has nothing (much) to do with Wittgenstein.  I imagine telling Wittgenstein about it and I imagine him frowning very seriously.

At some point last year I wrote a very short (3 page) called ‘Logic Primer’. I was fairly happy with it, but not entirely, and it has not yet seen the light of day.  Although I think there may be many things lacking with it, I’m quite confident that at its heart lies a concept (well, at least a gimmick) worth a story.  Then Wittgenstein Tweets got me thinking that there are probably philosophical writers out there who could well do justice to this concept.

This is an experiment in how philosophers can join together to play with ideas.

My challenge is twofold:

a) Can you ‘work out’ what the point of this story is?  Call this point ‘X’.
b) Can you improve or completely rewrite this story in order to explore X in a more successful way?

The pre-first-draft short story is here: Logic Primer.

I will not judge a) but you probably need to do it to do b).  You may not know if you’ve achieved a), and you may need to read over the story a couple of times (surely a classic mark of a bad story, but please keep this judgement in a pocket until after reading).

The task in b) is very flexible, although there is a word limit of 1500 words.  The deadline for submissions is Christmas Day 2010. The prize is, unfortunately, just the intrinsic satisfaction of success.  I will also post the winning submission on here.  Obviously there is the enticing possibility that you will sculpt one of the finest short stories of all time (in which case I’d request at least a footnote).

Please send submissions to hi@zephauerbach.com and feel free to ask any questions to this email or below.

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