There is an interesting discussion taking place at Leiter Reports and the boundaries of language, regarding "the Wittgenstein Fallacy," i.e., the idea that the profession is in such dire straits nowadays – e.g., in demanding mountains of publications for tenure and even tenure-track positions – that even Wittgenstein would not succeed if he were alive today.
There are two issues here: whether early and/or frequent publication is necessary for professional success, and whether having an attitude toward philosophy similar to Wittgenstein's hurts one's chances for same. These two coalesce into one only if one equates a Wittgensteinian attitude with low rates of publication in particular. (A further issue is whether we should equate philosophical success with professional success in the first place.) In his discussion at Leiter Reports, Jason Stanley paints a picture in which (with the crucial qualifier that this applies at the elite departments but maybe not at others) the best students can succeed in getting good jobs even without publications, based on their budding reputations (the grapevine, I suppose, more than letters of reference). It seems we have no way of disputing this, as he would know this from the inside, so I will not do so.
Moreover, I certainly agree with Professor Stanley that "it's a mistake to rush into print," and that "pressure on graduate students to publish is unhealthy and detrimental to the profession, because [...] it takes years to produce a good piece of philosophy [...])." As Wittgenstein himself put it: "This is how philosophers should greet each other: 'Take your time!'" (This is from Culture and Value, which also has: "In philosophy the winner of the race is the one who can run most slowly. Or: the one who gets there last").
But so far the only thing this has to do with Wittgenstein is that (as James Klagge elaborates in a comment to that post) he only published one book (the Tractatus, his unrevised dissertation) and an early article ("Remarks on Logical Form") during his lifetime. Indeed, the view Professor Stanley says that he is specifically concerned to reject is "that philosophy is so extraordinarily hard to do that virtually any publishing whatsoever is a sign of failure to recognize its profundity," a view he attributes to "the followers of Wittgenstein, and most specifically the students of Burton Dreben," Dreben being another notorious non-publisher and purported Wittgensteinian (I cannot confirm this, as I was not one of his students).
I don't say this is a straw man (though Professor Stanley also notes that it is "less and less common nowadays"), but it does seem to me to be comically overstated. Rejecting it – as we should – leaves open the possibility that philosophy is so extraordinarily hard to do that most of what is actually published nowadays fails to recognize its difficulty.
But even this fails to answer the latter question (i.e, whether it is detrimental to one's career to have a Wittgensteinian attitude in and toward philosophy). So let us ask: who are these elite students, who succeed merely on their aura of promise? Why are they so highly regarded? It certainly isn't because of any Wittgensteinian attitude they may have (i.e., other than refraining from publication, which you don't have to be a Wittgensteinian to do). Instead, they are students of the most highly regarded scholars in the profession: the stars of the mainstream-analytic firmament. Indeed, Professor Stanley's own suggestion for a contemporary Wittgenstein-analogue, in refuting the "Wittgenstein fallacy," was not someone with contemporary-Wittgensteinian views, but rather the exact opposite, i.e., "a graduate student at Princeton in the 1980s under David Lewis and Saul Kripke." (Any suggestions that Kripke counts as someone tolerant of, or even aware of, Wittgensteinian views, on the basis of his having written a famous book on the Investigations, will be mocked, or perhaps ignored, as I determine appropriate.)
As Professor Leiter has presented it on his blog and elsewhere (I can dig up links on request), the contemporary consensus on Wittgensteinian views in philosophy is that, while there had been until recently a few remaining such holdouts against the naturalistic tide (to wit: Chicago, Harvard, Pittsburgh, and Berkeley), it seems that even these are returning to the fold (what with Dreben's death and the emeritus status of Cavell and Putnam at Harvard, and their replacement by fresh-faced youngsters with more respectable views). Indeed, even counting Putnam here, or seeing Pittsburgh and Berkeley as Wittgensteinian redoubts in the first place (i.e., on the basis of their housing McDowell and Sluga respectively), is stretching it; and Chicago is just as much, if not more, a haven for classical German philosophy as it is for Wittgenstein.
So while it may indeed be the case that Cavell's and McDowell's actual students may get jobs – I can think of at least one of each – despite their views (and of course even these students may not have Wittgensteinian views at all), it surely remains undeniable that Wittgensteinian attitudes are dangerous to one's career. After all – to make just one point in this regard – just as all but the elite departments demand scholarly publication, they equally demand scholarly specialization; and unless such candidates are willing to present themselves as "historians of analytic philosophy" (i.e., qualified to teach the Frege/Russell/Tractatus course, along with intro logic and maybe analytic philosophy of language), they may very well fall between the stools in this sense. Once more from Culture and Value: "I find it important in philosophizing to keep changing my posture, not to stand for too long on one leg, so as not to get stiff." So while, with Nietzsche, I "admire scholars even for their hunched backs," it's hard, from this seemingly vanishing minority perspective, not to see the profession as one full of stiffs – and it is quite clear that the feeling is mutual (mutatis mutandis).
9 hours ago