Here is the abstract for Cook’s paper:
John W. Cook (2010). Locating Wittgenstein. Philosophy 85 (2):273-289.
Wittgenstein wrote ‘While thinking philosophically we see problems in places where there are none. It is for philosophy to show that there are no problems’. He meant that the ‘problems’ philosophers grapple with are of their own making. In a related remark he said: ‘This is the essence of a philosophical problem. The question itself is the result of a muddle. And when the question is removed, this is not by answering it’. Even more explicitly he said: ‘All that philosophy can do is to destroy idols’. As he understood his job, it was not to produce or construct something; his job was entirely destructive. This is how Wittgenstein thought of philosophy when he thought about it in the abstract, and I share this view of philosophy. I believe that when we see how to dispose of all philosophical categories, our job is finished. For example, in epistemology our job is not to argue that it is possible to know such-and-such because so-and-so ; rather, we undermine all those ideas that make it seem as though we could not know such-and-such. Undermining philosophical ideas takes the form: When we philosophise, we are tempted to think so-and-so, but if we consider that idea, and do so while remaining free of all philosophical jargon , we find that we cannot make sense of it.
“It reminds me of that old joke- you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist's office and says, hey doc, my brother's crazy! He thinks he's a chicken. Then the doc says, why don't you turn him in? Then the guy says, I would but I need the eggs. I guess that's how I feel about relationships. They're totally crazy, irrational, and absurd, but we keep going through it because we need the eggs.”
Woody Allen is right, here, about relationships, but also about philosophy. Philosophical ideas are …”totally crazy, irrational, and absurd, but…we keep going through it because we need the eggs.” And here is where Allen has philosophy and, I think Cook does not. We go through with these crazy philosophical ideas, even though they are based on some false assumptions that we are chickens, so to speak, because we are invested in them. Lots depends on the eggs we get from those assumptions, the mistakes we’ve made, the commitments we hold, …and we are not willing to give them up easily, even though, like the guy in Allen’s example, one admits the eggs one has are based on someone’s crazy idea that they are a chicken. Philosophy can not be easily done by showing some few key mistakes, and let it go at that. No one is going to give up their eggs just because someone makes an argument that they are based on some philosophical mistake. Wittgenstein thought that he could figure out where the mistake was made and his work would be done. He did this after writing the Tractatus. He possibly always thought his job was to simply figure out the mistakes made. It seems to me that is a narrow view of philosophy, and not even a complete understanding of how to correct its mistakes. How would you know you had a correct analysis of the mistakes of philosophy unless your efforts to correct them, by getting people to see the error of their ways (in holding onto the eggs) succeeded? You couldn’t. How do you show that you understand a mathematical principle if all you can do is show various wrong answers. You have to also go on to show how to obtain correct answers.