By Robert Hanna
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 section VIII.6.
But you can also read or download a .pdf version of the complete book HERE.
VIII.6 Three Basic Worries About the Tractatus
It’s philosophically commonplace to raise three basic worries about the Tractatus.
The first basic worry is that Wittgenstein offers no sufficient justification for his claim that the atomic facts in the world must be composed of absolutely or metaphysically simple objects (2.02).
Here it’s important, however, to remember that simplicity does not imply that the objects or things don‘t have internal properties or internal complexity — they do (2.01231, 2.0233–2.02231) — but only that the objects are explanatorily and ontologically basic, hence undecomposable into more objects.
But even granting that, why couldn’t the objects or things be complex?
And why couldn’t the objects or things be only relatively simple — say, relative to each logical analyst, or relative to each user of the language, or relative to each context of utterance, etc.?
Let’s call this the worry about the simplicity of the objects or things.
One possible response that Wittgenstein could make to this worry is just to insist that the metaphysical subject or ego is a transcendental and anonymous subject or ego, not an individual psychological subject (5.641).
Then the objects are simple, relative to a single transcendental subject or ego and to a single language.
But that response still doesn’t answer the worry about simplicity, since metaphysical complexity and relative simplicity are perfectly conceptually consistent with one another.
The second basic worry is that there appear to be clear counterexamples to Wittgenstein‘s thesis that the atomic facts are logically independent of one another.
If point A is red (positive atomic fact 1), then isn‘t it necessarily not the case that point A is green (negative atomic fact 2)?
And if point A is brighter than point B (positive atomic fact 1), and point B is brighter than point C (positive atomic fact 2), then isn‘t it necessarily the case that point A is brighter than point C?
Let’s call this the worry about the logical independence of atomic facts.
One possible response that Wittgenstein could make to this worry is just to insist that if these facts are indeed logically dependent on one another, then that shows only that they are complex facts, not atomic or elementary facts, and that the proposition, “This point in the visual field is simultaneously both red and green” is actually a logical contradiction, as per the following propositions.
6.375 As there is only a logical necessity, so there is only a logical possibility.
6.3751 For two colours … to be at one place in the visual field, is impossible, logically impossible, for it is excluded by the logical structure of colour.
Let us consider how this contradiction presents itself in physics. Somewhat as follows: That a particle cannot at the same time have two velocities, i.e., that at the same time it cannot be in two places, i.e., that particles in different places at the same time cannot be identical.
(It is clear that the logical product of two elementary propositions can neither be a tautology nor a contradiction. The assertion that a point in the visual field has two different colours at the same time, is a contradiction.)
But that response is still open to the objection that whenever some example of an elementary proposition is given by Wittgenstein, another “red-green” style counterexample can be constructed which apparently shows that atomic facts are not modally independent of one another — but if at that point, Wittgenstein again claims that this shows only that these facts are complex, not atomic, then surely he is merely begging the question.
And the third basic worry is that Wittgenstein‘s conception of philosophy is ultimately nihilistic or radically skeptical, in the sense that he rejects all or at least virtually all of traditional philosophy (e.g., all of classical metaphysics) as unacceptable nonsense (4.003), but at the same time he also has no positive or metaphysical conception of philosophy to offer in its place, and in fact claims that all his own philosophical claims in the Tractatus (“my propositions”) are nonsense (6.54).
Let’s call this the worry about metaphilosophy.
One possible response that Wittgenstein could make to the worry about metaphilosophy is to claim that on his view philosophy is simply the activity of logical analysis, not a positive theory; hence just because it is not a positive philosophical theory in the classical sense of being a super-science, it doesn’t follow that it’s in any way nihilistic or excessively skeptical:
4.112 The object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.
The result of philosophy is not a number of “philosophical propositions,” but to make propositions clear.
Philosophy should make clear and delimit sharply the thoughts which otherwise are, as it were, opaque and blurred.
Nowadays, this is called metaphysical quietism,[i] and it’s closely related to the so-called “resolute” reading of the Tractatus.
But that response is still open to the objection that this approach to philosophy is wholly parasitic on the natural sciences, and that at the end of the day, it’s in fact only an opening to updated versions of Locke‘s “underlabourer”conception of philosophy, aka scientism, as per the following propositions.
4.11 The totality of true propositions is the total natural science (or the totality of the natural sciences).
Philosophy limits the disputable sphere of natural science.
It should limit the thinkable and thereby the unthinkable.
It should limit the unthinkable from within through the thinkable.
6.53 The right method of philosophy would be this. To say nothing except what can be said, i.e., the propositions of natural science, i.e., something that has nothing to do with philosophy: and then always, when someone else wished to say something metaphysical, to demonstrate to him that he had given no meaning to certain signs in his propositions. This method would be unsatisfying to the other — he would not have the feeling that we were teaching him philosophy — but it would be the only strictly correct method.
So can Wittgenstein offer defensible counter-replies to these worries and counter-worries?
My claim is that he can, if we look more closely at his conceptions of natural science and the mystical.
[i] See, e.g., D. Macarthur, “Metaphysical Quietism and Everyday Life,” in G. D’Oro and S. Overgaard (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Philosophical Methodology, (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2017), pp. 249–273.
AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 487
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