Wittgenstein’s Curse: how bad academic writing is these days is a function of how seriously academics take themselves, and the author of this Wilson Quarterly essay blames it, only semi-facetiously as he says, on Wittgenstein:

Wittgenstein’s early philosophy led him to the conclusion that we cannot talk rigorously or precisely about most things that humans deem of ultimate importance: truth, beauty, goodness, the meaning and ends of life. We can speak precisely and meaningfully only about those things that objective science can demonstrate. In his view, philosophy was to be a helpful tag-along of science: It can paint clear verbal pictures of what science divulges. But even Wittgenstein recognized that this understanding of the limitations of language was too limiting, and he became more and more interested in the provisional and social character of language, and in how the mystery of meaning emerges out of the shared play of making worlds out of words. He was struggling beyond scientism, and his final book, Philosophical Investigations (1953), posthumously assembled, seems to point suggestively away from the narrowness and inconsequentiality of his earlier position.

But if Wittgenstein struggled against the conclusions of his early work, I fear that the Western academic world increasingly succumbed to a desire for the kind of dubious seriousness that enticed the young philosopher.