By Robert Hanna
TABLE OF CONTENTS
V. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 1: The Title, and Propositions 1–2.063
V.1 A Brief Synopsis of the Tractatus
V.2 The Tractatus in Context
V.3 The Basic Structure of the Tractatus: A Simple Picture
V.4 Tractarian Ontology
V.5 Reconstructing Wittgenstein’s Reasoning
V.6 What Are the Objects or Things?
V.7 The Role of Logic in Tractarian Ontology
V.8 Colorless Objects/Things
V.9 Tractarian Ontology, Necessity, and Contingency
V.10 Some Initial Worries, and Some Possible Wittgensteinian Counter-Moves
VI. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 2: Propositions 2.013–5.55
VI.1 What is Logical Space? What is Real Space?
VI.2 Atomic Facts Necessarily Are in Manifest or Phenomenal Space, But Objects or Things Themselves Necessarily Aren’t in Manifest or Phenomenal Space
VI.3 Logical Space is Essentially More Comprehensive than Manifest or Phenomenal Space
VI.4 Why There Can’t/Kant Be a Non-Logical World
VI.5 A Worry About Wittgenstein’s Conception of Logic: Non-Classical Logics
VI.6 What is a Tractarian Proposition?
VI.7 Naming Objects or Things, and Picturing Atomic Facts
VI.8 Signs, Symbols, Sense, Truth, and Judgment
VI.9 Propositions Again
VI.10 Language and Thought
VII. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 3: Propositions 4–5.61
VII.1 The Logocentric Predicament, Version 3.0: Justifying Deduction
VII.2 The Logical Form of Deduction
VII.3 Logic Must Take Care of Itself
VII.4 Tautologies and Contradictions
VII.5 What is Logic?
VII.6 Logic is the A Priori Essence of Language
VII.7 Logic is the A Priori Essence of Thought
VII.8 Logic is the A Priori Essence of the World
VIII. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 4: Propositions 5.62–7
VIII.1 Tractarian Solipsism and Tractarian Realism
VIII.2 Tractarian Solipsism
VIII.3 Tractarian Realism
VIII.4 Is the Tractatus’s Point an Ethical One?
VIII.5 The Meaning of Life
VIII.6 Three Basic Worries About the Tractatus
VIII.7 Natural Science and the Worry About the Simplicity of the Objects or Things
VIII.8 Natural Science and the Worry About the Logical Independence of Atomic Facts
VIII.9 Tractarian Mysticism and the Worry About Metaphilosophy
IX. Carnap, The Vienna Circle, Logical Empiricism, and The Great Divide
IX.1 Carnap Before and After the Tractatus
IX.2 Carnap, The Vienna Circle, and The Elimination of Metaphysics
IX.3 The Verifiability Principle and Its Fate
IX.4 The Davos Conference and The Great Divide
X. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 1: Preface, and §§1–27
X.1 From the Tractatus to the Investigations
X.2 The Thesis That Meaning Is Use
X.3 A Map of the Investigations
X.4 The Critique of Pure Reference: What the Builders Did
XI. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 2: §§28–242
XI.1 The Picture Theory and the Vices of Simplicity
XI.2 Wittgenstein’s Argument Against The Picture Theory: A Rational Reconstruction
XI.3 Understanding and Rule-Following
XI.4 Wittgenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: The Basic Rationale
XI.5 Wittgenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction
XI.6 Kripkenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: Why Read Kripke Too?
XI.7 Kripkenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction
XI.8 How to Solve The Paradox: Wittgenstein’s Way and Kripkenstein’s Way
XI.8.1 Wittgenstein and The Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction
XI.8.2 Kripkenstein and The Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction
XII. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 3: §§242–315
XII.1 What is a Private Language?
XII.2 The Private Language Argument: A Rational Reconstruction
XII.3 Is Wittgenstein a Behaviorist? No.
XII.4 Wittgenstein on Meanings, Sensations, and Human Mindedness: A Rational Reconstruction
XIII. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 4: §§316–693 & 174e-232e
XIII.1 Linguistic Phenomenology
XIII.2 Two Kinds of Seeing
XIII.3 Experiencing the Meaning of a Word
XIII.4 The Critique of Logical Analysis, and Logic-As-Grammar
XIV. Coda: Wittgenstein and Kantianism
XIV.1 World-Conformity 1: Kant, Transcendental Idealism, and Empirical Realism
XIV.2 World-Conformity 2: Wittgenstein, Transcendental Solipsism, and Pure Realism
XIV.3 World-Conformity 3: To Forms of Life
XIV.4 The Critique of Self-Alienated Philosophy 1: Kant’s Critical Metaphilosophy
XIV.5 The Critique of Self-Alienated Philosophy 2: Wittgensteinian Analysis as Critique
XV. From Quine to Kripke and Analytic Metaphysics: The Adventures of the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction
XV.1 Two Urban Legends of Post-Empiricism
XV.2 A Very Brief History of The Analytic-Synthetic Distinction
XV.3 Why the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction Really Matters
XV.4 Quine’s Critique of the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction, and a Meta-Critique
XV.5 Three Dogmas of Post-Quineanism
XVI. Analytic Philosophy and The Ash-Heap of History
XVI.1 Husserl’s Crisis and Our Crisis
XVI.2 Why Hasn’t Post-Classical Analytic Philosophy Produced Any Important Ideas in the Last Thirty-Five Years?
XVI.3 On Irad Kimhi’s Thinking and Being, Or, It’s The End Of Analytic Philosophy As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
XVI.4 Thinking Inside and Outside the Fly-Bottle: The New Poverty of Philosophy and Its Second Copernican Revolution
This installment contains sections V.1.
But you can also read or download a .pdf version of the complete book HERE.
V. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 1: The Title, and Propositions 1–2.063
V.1 A Brief Synopsis of the Tractatus
The “certain ideas” that Russell referred to in the Preface of the “Logical Atomism” essay, were worked out by Wittgenstein in a much-reworked series of notes and journal entries on philosophical logic written from 1912 or 1913 to 1918, and finally published in journal format in 1921 (in German) and as a book in 1922 (in an English translation by C.K. Ogden, assisted by Frank Ramsey), the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
Its English title (in Latin, obviously) was very cleverly suggested by Moore (a former classicist), and clearly plays a riff on the title of Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, therefore strongly suggesting both logico-philosophical iconoclasm, as well as Spinoza’s rational mysticism, according to which personal enlightenment or wisdom is being able to see the world sub specie aeternitatis.
Indeed, Wittgenstein’s “logico-philosophical treatise” (Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung) presents a radically new and revolutionary conception of philosophical analysis, according to which —
(i) not only mathematics but also metaphysics reduces to the propositions of logic (including both the truth-functional tautologies and the logico-philosophical truths of the Tractatus itself) together with factual propositions,
(ii) factual propositions and facts alike reduce to logically-structured complexes of ontologically neutral “objects,” which can variously play the structural roles of both particulars and universals (including both properties and relations),
(iii) factual propositions are nothing but linguistic facts that “picture” other facts according to one-to-one isomorphic correspondence relations,
(iv) all non-factual propositions are
either (iva) “senseless” (sinnlos) truth-functional tautologies expressing nothing but the formal meanings and deductive implications of the logical constants,
or (ivb) the logico-philosophical propositions of the Tractatus itself,
or (ivc) “nonsensical” (unsinnig) pseudo-propositions that violate logico-syntactic rules and logico-semantic categories, especially including all the synthetic a priori claims of traditional metaphysics,
(v) the logical constants do not represent facts or refer to objects of any sort (prop. 4.0312) but instead merely “display” (darstellen) the a priori logical “scaffolding of the world” (prop. 6.124), which is also “the limits of my language” (prop. 5.6), and can only be “shown” or non- propositionally indicated, not “said” or propositionally described,
(vi) the logical form of the world is therefore “transcendental” (prop. 6.13), and finally
(vii) the logical form of the world reduces to the language-using metaphysical subject or ego, who or which is not in any way part of the world but in fact solipsistically identical to the world itself.
Looking at theses (v), (vi), and (vii), we can clearly see that Wittgenstein‘s icon-smashing “transcendental” conception of analysis is radically ontologically ascetic, since everything logically reduces to one simple thing: the language-using metaphysical subject or ego.
Indeed, it’s by means of considering theses (v) and (vi) that we can recognize the surprising and often-overlooked but quite indisputable fact that the Tractatus is every bit as much a neo-Kantian idealistic metaphysical treatise directly inspired by Schopenhauer‘s World as Will and Representation (1819/1844/1859), and thereby mediately inspired by Kant‘s first Critique, as it is a logico-philosophical treatise inspired by Frege‘s Begriffsschrift and Whitehead‘s and Russell’s Principia.
Wittgenstein later told G. H. von Wright that “he had read Schopenhauer‘s Die Welt as Wille und Vorstellung in his youth and that his first philosophy was Schopenhauerian epistemological idealism.”[i]
The Schopenhauerian influence is also fully explicit in Wittgenstein‘s Notebooks 1914–1916.[ii]
Indeed, in 1920 Wittgenstein wrote to Frege about “deep grounds for idealism” (tiefen Gründe des Idealismus).[iii]
And in 1931 Wittgenstein wrote that “Boltzmann, Hertz, Schopenhauer, Frege, Russell, Kraus, Loos, Weininger, Spengler, [and] Sraffa have influenced me.”[iv]
So whereas the Moore-powered Russell abandoned or rejected Kant‘s epistemology and metaphysics, Wittgenstein instead assimilated or sublimated them.
And from this standpoint, we can see that the Tractatus is fundamentally an essay in transcendental logic:
The limit of language is shown by its being impossible to describe the fact which corresponds to (is the translation of) a sentence, without simply repeating the sentence. (This has to do with the Kantian solution of the problem of philosophy.)[v]
The Tractatus ends with the strangely moving proposition, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent/Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss mann schweigen (prop. 7) — a proposition that, not altogether coincidentally, is also the single repeated lyric of a bizarrely beautiful song by the bizarrely brilliant Finnish composer and performer M.A. Numminen.
What on earth does this proposition mean?
One possible interpretation, now known as the resolute reading, is that proposition 7 is saying that the Tractatus itself — except for the Preface and proposition 7, that is — is logically and philosophically worthless nonsense.[vi]
So according to the resolute reading, the Tractatus is the self-conscious reductio of classical metaphysics.
But on the contrary, the resolute reading, in effect, confuses the Tractatus with Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.
Both, to be sure, are wonderful books written by brilliant philosophical logicians — but two radically different kinds of book.
More precisely, for Wittgenstein, to say that a proposition is “nonsense” is only to say that it literally does not picture an atomic fact, and also that the proposition is not a contingent (i.e., non-tautological, non-contradictory) truth-function of propositions that picture atomic facts.
This exhausts the domain of what can be “said” in the strict sense.
According to Wittgenstein, by this criterion many seemingly sensible, supposedly intelligible, putatively important philosophical propositions and their contraries alike (e.g., “God exists,” “God doesn’t exist,” “human freedom exists,” “human freedom doesn’t exist,” “the human soul is immortal,” “the human soul isn’t immortal,” etc.) are all shown to be in fact nonsensical, in roughly Carroll‘s sense of a proposition‘s being logically absurd and worthless, end-of-story, even if charmingly amusing in a children‘s book.
Such strings of words do not, properly speaking, belong to any well-ordered logical or natural language.
Correspondingly, in the Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein says that
[w]hen we say “Every word in language signifies something” we have so far said nothing whatever; unless we have explained exactly what distinction we want to make. (It might be, of course, that we wanted to distinguish the words of language … from words “without meaning” (ohne Bedeutung) such as occur in Lewis Carroll‘s poems, or words like ‘Lilliburlero’ in songs.) (PI §13)
But according to Wittgenstein in the Tractatus, it’s also the case that many fully intelligible and deeply logically important propositions — or as Kant would have said, “thinkable” — propositions are classified as nonsense by this criterion, along with some other deeply aesthetically or ethically important propositions that silently show things rather than strictly saying them.
The logical, aesthetic, and ethical relevance and value of these propositions is not affected by their shown to be being non-factual, non-scientific, and thus in one sense “nonsensical” propositions.
On the contrary, their logical, aesthetic, or ethical relevance and value is magnified and preserved precisely because these propositions cannot be reductively analyzed in the manner of scientifically meaningful or factual propositions.
In this special sense, the nonsensicality of a given proposition is equivalent to its logical irreducibility and its axiological integrity.
Thus the resolute reading of the Tractatus neither distinguishes between the various crucially different ways in which propositions can be non-factual, nor takes the fundamental saying vs. showing contrast sufficiently seriously.
The main point of the Tractatus is that there are many crucially different kinds of nonsense.
And certain kinds of nonsense are radically more logically, aesthetically, or ethically important than factual meaning itself.
So to collapse the several kinds of nonsense into a single flattened-out logically absurd and worthless kind, full stop, is just to miss that main point.
In this sense, the resolute reading is resolutely jejune.
But most crucially of all, against an explicitly Kantian and Schopenhauerian backdrop, the resolute reading can be neatly avoided, because proposition 7 is then instead in effect saying
(i) that traditional metaphysics has been destroyed by the philosophical logic of the Tractatus just as Kant‘s first Critique had destroyed traditional metaphysics,
(ii) that the logico-philosophical propositions of the Tractatus itself would have counted as absurdly nonsensical in Lewis Carroll‘s sense because they are neither factual propositions nor truth-functional logical truths, were it not for a much deeper fact, namely,
(iii) that these Tractarian propositions are self-manifesting transcendental truths in the Kantian sense about the nature of logic, and therefore have the basic function of constituting a logical stairway or “ladder” (Leiter) to axiological heaven, aka “God,” aka “the highest good,” between the factual natural sciences and aesthetics or ethics, and finally
(v) that ethics consists in the mystical feeling that the world can be viewed sub specie aeternitatis and in decisive, action-guiding, world-changing noncognitive volitions (props. 6.4- 6.522), not propositional thoughts.
So at the end of the Tractatus Wittgenstein logically transcends scientific knowledge in order to reach the ethical standpoint in a Kantian (and also a Spinozan, Pascalian, Kierkegaardian, and more generally Existentialist[vii]) sense.
And this is precisely why, in 1919 — and shortly after he had studied the Critique of Pure Reason carefully for the first time[viii] — Wittgenstein told the journal editor Ludwig von Ficker that “the [Tractatus]‘s point is an ethical one.”[ix]
Kant makes essentially the same radical move in the B edition Preface to the first Critique: “I had to deny [scientific] knowledge (Wissen) in order to make room for [moral] faith (Glaube)” (CPR Bxxx, boldfacing in the original).
Moral faith in the Kantian/Wittgensteinian sense is when we stop cognitively generating all those scientific words, achieve some degree of purity of heart, and silently perform ethical deeds.
(In this connection, recall Goethe’s famous line from Faust, “In the beginning was the Deed,” itself playing a riff on the Bible’s “In the beginning was the Word.”)
[i] G.H. Von Wright, “Biographical sketch of Wittgenstein,” in N. Malcolm, Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir, with a Biographical Sketch by G.H. Von Wright (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1984), p. 6.
[ii] See also R. Brockhaus, Pulling Up the Ladder: The Metaphysical Roots of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus (La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1991).
[iii] R. Monk, Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius (London: Jonathan Cape, 1990), pp. 190 and 605.
[iv] L. Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, trans. P. Winch (Chicago, IL: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 19e, underlining added.
[v] Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, p. 10e.
[vi] See, e.g., C. Diamond, The Realistic Spirit: Wittgenstein, Philosophy, and the Mind (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991).
[vii] See, e.g., S. Crowell (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Existentialism (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2012).
[viii] Wittgenstein read the Critique of Pure Reason in 1919 while interned as a POW at Como in Italy. See Monk, Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius, p. 158.
[ix] As quoted in Brockhaus, Pulling Up the Ladder: The Metaphysical Roots of Wittgenstein‟s Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus, p. 296.
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