Transcendence and Wittgenstein's Tractatus

Transcendence and Wittgenstein's Tractatus

MICHAEL P. HODGES
Copyright Date: 1990
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 172
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14bt4xk
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  • Book Info
    Transcendence and Wittgenstein's Tractatus
    Book Description:

    Although Wittgenstein claimed that his first book, theTractatus Logico-Philosophicus, was essentially an ethical work, it has been viewed insistently as a purely logical one. His later work,Philosophical Investigations, is generally seen as presenting totally different ideas from his earlier writings. In this book, Michael Hodges shows how Wittgenstein's later work emerged from his earlierTractatus, and he unifies the early philosophy, both its well-known logical aspects and the lesser known ethical dimensions, in terms of the notion of transcendence.

    Hodges studies theTractatusin light of Wittgenstein's own claim that the Philosophical Investigations can only be understood when read against the background of theTractatus. At the heart of an understanding of the earlier work is the idea of transcendence which structures both Wittgenstein's logical and ethical insights. Seen in terms of this notion, the rigorous unity of Wittgenstein's early thinking becomes apparent and the gestalt shift to the later philosophy comes clearly into focus.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0583-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-28)

    Ludwig Wittgenstein has been and continues to be one of the most enigmatic figures in twentieth-century thought. He is a man of intense and powerful philosophical reflection who wrought not one but two major transformations of the philosophical landscape with so-called logical positivism between the world wars and then “ordinary language” philosophy in the 1950s and early 1960s, yet he would not have endorsed either position. His creative influence is certainly as alive today as it was thirty years ago, as his work undergoes transformation and reinterpretation at the hands of a new generation of thinkers, including the likes of...

  6. 2 THE THEORY OF LANGUAGE AND LOGIC
    (pp. 29-52)

    What is the Tractarian question concerning language? There are various ways to formulate it. For example, it can be expressed as the question: What is the difference between sense and nonsense? This formulation is suggested by Wittgenstein’s own characterization of theTractatuscited in Chapter 1. Notice that this question presupposes that there is such a difference and that some marks or sounds have a sense or are meaningful. This leads to another way of formulating the question: What must be in order for there to be a meaningful language? This formulation has the advantage of focusing our attention on...

  7. 3 PHILOSOPHY, ELUCIDATIONS, AND SHOWING/SAYING
    (pp. 53-74)

    Given the previous account of the nature of propositions, what can we say of the “propositions” that are the account itself? What of the claims that objects constitute the unalterable form of reality and that the general form of a proposition is: This is how things stand. Can these be propositions? They seem to tell us something about the way things must stand if language is to be possible. But insofar as they express necessary conditions for the possibility of meaning and in doing so are meaningful, their very meaningfulness requires their truth. That is, they appear to be examples...

  8. 4 THE METAPHYSICAL SUBJECT
    (pp. 75-88)

    The various lines of inquiry we have examined have all led to the showing/saying distinction. Not only is that distinction necessary for a full explication of the logical doctrine of objects that underlies the whole picture theory, it is also required to understand the nature of the so-called elucidations contained in theTractatus. Wittgenstein’s elucidations seem to be designed to call attention to what language shows. Since, however, what can be shown cannot be said (T4.1212), his claims cannot say what language shows. Still, they do somehow give linguistic expression to it. The showing/saying distinction is, therefore, not merely...

  9. 5 THE ETHICAL
    (pp. 89-118)

    The tensions identified on the logical side of theTractatusbecome even more acute as we turn to the ethical. The ethical side of theTractatusis not a mere unimportant addendum to a work primarily focused on other issues. Although discussion of ethics occupies a relatively small portion, Wittgenstein indicates that the whole point of theTractatusis ethical.¹ Of course, this does not imply that the logical dimensions of theTractatusare not of great importance to Wittgenstein. Certainly they are. However, let me remind you of what Engelmann said in comparing Wittgenstein to the Positivists,

    He has...

  10. 6 ETHICS AND HAPPINESS
    (pp. 119-158)

    There are three distinct claims that form the background for Wittgenstein’s account of the relation of ethical goodness and happiness. First, there is his view that the will is impotent. He says, “The world is independent of my will” (T6.373), and in theNotebookshe says, “I cannot bend the world to my will. I am completely powerless” (NBp. 73, 11.6.16). Although we have already developed some aspects of his view of the will, a closer look will be necessary.

    Second, there is a Stoic, Kantian thesis that ethics must deal with what pertains to the will as...

  11. 7 THE TENSION BETWEEN ETHICAL AND LOGICAL TRANSCENDENCE
    (pp. 159-184)

    In its logical sense transcendence cannot be an attitude that a particular subject takes to the rest of the world. That is, it cannot be seen as an achievement of a particular subject. Whatever happens for or to a particular empirical subject is among the totality of facts and so can be represented by language. But Wittgenstein insists that the transcendence of the metaphysical subject cannot be represented. It is not an item in the world. The idea that it can both constitute the limit of all possible representation and be represented is solipsism in its metaphysical form. Wittgenstein’s whole...

  12. 8 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 185-198)

    For both the logical and ethical dimensions of Wittgenstein’s early thought, there is an unavoidable internal tension. It manifests itself on the logical side in the attempt to “say”—the saying that is theTractatus—what, according to theTractatus, cannot be said. On the ethical side it manifests itself in the demand for absolute value that makes its actual achievement incoherent.

    These are but two symptoms of a single philosophical disease—the attempt to think from a “transcendental point of view.” The very project of theTractatusis statable only from such a vantage point. Only from a perspective...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 199-202)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 203-205)