Developing Wittgenstein's view that scepticism is self-undermining, the Guidebook offers a combative yet therapeutic interpretation that locates On Certainty between the standpoints of Kant and Hume. He shows us paths from metaphysical abstraction to the more habitable, yet largely unrecognised, world of our everyday lives. But how does this therapeutic conception infuse the enigmatic epistemological writings known as On Certainty? As a guide, Hamilton is precisely the sort of reader Wittgenstein would have wanted, one fully engaged in thinking with, and against, the text.
By demonstrating the power of the text to stimulate his own thoughts, Hamilton encourages us to think with the text ourselves. He also teaches aesthetics and history of jazz at Durham, and contributes to The Wire magazine. Toggle navigation. Anthony Savile. Robert Fogelin. Jean Roberts. Professor George Pattison.
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Categories: Western Philosophy, From C -. Notify me. The analysis must culminate with a name being a primitive symbol for a simple object. Moreover, logic itself gives us the structure and limits of what can be said at all. This bi-polarity of propositions enables the composition of more complex propositions from atomic ones by using truth-functional operators 5. He delves even deeper by then providing the general form of a truth-function 6.
Having developed this analysis of world-thought-language, and relying on the one general form of the proposition, Wittgenstein can now assert that all meaningful propositions are of equal value. Subsequently, he ends the journey with the admonition concerning what can or cannot and what should or should not be said 7 , leaving outside the realm of the sayable propositions of ethics, aesthetics, and metaphysics.
It follows that only factual states of affairs which can be pictured can be represented by meaningful propositions. This means that what can be said are only propositions of natural science and leaves out of the realm of sense a daunting number of statements which are made and used in language. There are, first, the propositions of logic itself. These do not represent states of affairs, and the logical constants do not stand for objects.
This is not a happenstance thought; it is fundamental precisely because the limits of sense rest on logic. Tautologies and contradictions, the propositions of logic, are the limits of language and thought, and thereby the limits of the world. Obviously, then, they do not picture anything and do not, therefore, have sense.
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Propositions which do have sense are bipolar; they range within the truth-conditions drawn by the truth-tables. The characteristic of being senseless applies not only to the propositions of logic but also to mathematics or the pictorial form itself of the pictures that do represent. These are, like tautologies and contradictions, literally sense-less, they have no sense.
Beyond, or aside from, senseless propositions Wittgenstein identifies another group of statements which cannot carry sense: the nonsensical unsinnig propositions. Nonsense, as opposed to senselessness, is encountered when a proposition is even more radically devoid of meaning, when it transcends the bounds of sense. While some nonsensical propositions are blatantly so, others seem to be meaningful—and only analysis carried out in accordance with the picture theory can expose their nonsensicality.
Wittgenstein does not, however, relegate all that is not inside the bounds of sense to oblivion. He makes a distinction between saying and showing which is made to do additional crucial work. This applies, for example, to the logical form of the world, the pictorial form, etc.
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They make themselves manifest. Is, then, philosophy doomed to be nonsense unsinnig , or, at best, senseless sinnlos when it does logic, but, in any case, meaningless? What is left for the philosopher to do, if traditional, or even revolutionary, propositions of metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics cannot be formulated in a sensical manner? It is an activity of clarification of thoughts , and more so, of critique of language.
In other words, by showing them that some of their propositions are nonsense. For it employs a measure of the value of propositions that is done by logic and the notion of limits. It is here, however, with the constraints on the value of propositions, that the tension in the Tractatus is most strongly felt. It becomes clear that the notions used by the Tractatus —the logical-philosophical notions—do not belong to the world and hence cannot be used to express anything meaningful. Since language, thought and the world, are all isomorphic, any attempt to say in logic i.
That is to say, the Tractatus has gone over its own limits, and stands in danger of being nonsensical. The Tractatus is notorious for its interpretative difficulties. In the decades that have passed since its publication it has gone through several waves of general interpretations. These revolve around the realism of the Tractatus , the notion of nonsense and its role in reading the Tractatus itself, and the reading of the Tractatus as an ethical tract. There are interpretations that see the Tractatus as espousing realism, i.
Such realism is also taken to be manifested in the essential bi-polarity of propositions; likewise, a straightforward reading of the picturing relation posits objects there to be represented by signs. As against these readings, more linguistically oriented interpretations give conceptual priority to the symbolism. In any case, the issue of realism vs. Subsequently, interpreters of the Tractatus have moved on to questioning the very presence of metaphysics within the book and the status of the propositions of the book themselves. Beyond the bounds of language lies nonsense—propositions which cannot picture anything —and Wittgenstein bans traditional metaphysics to that area.
The traditional readings of the Tractatus accepted, with varying degrees of discomfort, the existence of that which is unsayable, that which cannot be put into words, the nonsensical. More recent readings tend to take nonsense more seriously as exactly that—nonsense.
The Tractatus , on this stance, does not point at ineffable truths of, e. An accompanying discussion must then also deal with how this can be recognized, what this can possibly mean, and how it should be used, if at all. This discussion is closely related to what has come to be called the ethical reading of the Tractatus. And it is precisely this second part that is the important point. Obviously, such seemingly contradictory tensions within and about a text—written by its author—give rise to interpretative conundrums.
Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Mind (Routledge Revivals)
There is another issue often debated by interpreters of Wittgenstein, which arises out of the questions above. This has to do with the continuity between the thought of the early and later Wittgenstein. And again, the more recent interpretations challenge this standard, emphasizing that the fundamental therapeutic motivation clearly found in the later Wittgenstein should also be attributed to the early.
The idea that philosophy is not a doctrine, and hence should not be approached dogmatically, is one of the most important insights of the Tractatus.
Wittgenstein used this term to designate any conception which allows for a gap between question and answer, such that the answer to the question could be found at a later date. The complex edifice of the Tractatus is built on the assumption that the task of logical analysis was to discover the elementary propositions, whose form was not yet known. What marks the transition from early to later Wittgenstein can be summed up as the total rejection of dogmatism, i. It is in the Philosophical Investigations that the working out of the transitions comes to culmination. Other writings of the same period, though, manifest the same anti-dogmatic stance, as it is applied, e.
Philosophical Investigations was published posthumously in It was edited by G.
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Anscombe and Rush Rhees and translated by Anscombe. It comprised two parts. Part I, consisting of numbered paragraphs, was ready for printing in , but rescinded from the publisher by Wittgenstein. Part II was added on by the editors, trustees of his Nachlass. In a new edited translation, by P.
In the Preface to PI , Wittgenstein states that his new thoughts would be better understood by contrast with and against the background of his old thoughts, those in the Tractatus ; and indeed, most of Part I of PI is essentially critical. Its new insights can be understood as primarily exposing fallacies in the traditional way of thinking about language, truth, thought, intentionality, and, perhaps mainly, philosophy. In this sense, it is conceived of as a therapeutic work, viewing philosophy itself as therapy.
Rather, it pointed to new perspectives which, undoubtedly, are not disconnected from the earlier critique in addressing specific philosophical issues. This picture of language cannot be relied on as a basis for metaphysical, epistemic or linguistic speculation. Despite its plausibility, this reduction of language to representation cannot do justice to the whole of human language; and even if it is to be considered a picture of only the representative function of human language, it is, as such, a poor picture.
Furthermore, this picture of language is at the base of the whole of traditional philosophy, but, for Wittgenstein, it is to be shunned in favor of a new way of looking at both language and philosophy. The Philosophical Investigations proceeds to offer the new way of looking at language, which will yield the view of philosophy as therapy. Traditional theories of meaning in the history of philosophy were intent on pointing to something exterior to the proposition which endows it with sense.
Ascertainment of the use of a word, of a proposition , however, is not given to any sort of constructive theory building, as in the Tractatus. An analogy with tools sheds light on the nature of words. In giving the meaning of a word, any explanatory generalization should be replaced by a description of use.
The traditional idea that a proposition houses a content and has a restricted number of Fregean forces such as assertion, question and command , gives way to an emphasis on the diversity of uses. Throughout the Philosophical Investigations , Wittgenstein returns, again and again, to the concept of language-games to make clear his lines of thought concerning language. Primitive language-games are scrutinized for the insights they afford on this or that characteristic of language.
Language-games are, first, a part of a broader context termed by Wittgenstein a form of life see below. Secondly, the concept of language-games points at the rule-governed character of language. This does not entail strict and definite systems of rules for each and every language-game, but points to the conventional nature of this sort of human activity. There is no reason to look, as we have done traditionally—and dogmatically—for one, essential core in which the meaning of a word is located and which is, therefore, common to all uses of that word.
Family resemblance also serves to exhibit the lack of boundaries and the distance from exactness that characterize different uses of the same concept. Such boundaries and exactness are the definitive traits of form—be it Platonic form, Aristotelian form, or the general form of a proposition adumbrated in the Tractatus. It is from such forms that applications of concepts can be deduced, but this is precisely what Wittgenstein now eschews in favor of appeal to similarity of a kind with family resemblance.
One of the issues most associated with the later Wittgenstein is that of rule-following. Rising out of the considerations above, it becomes another central point of discussion in the question of what it is that can apply to all the uses of a word. The same dogmatic stance as before has it that a rule is an abstract entity—transcending all of its particular applications; knowing the rule involves grasping that abstract entity and thereby knowing how to use it.
Wittgenstein proceeds mainly in PI —, but also elsewhere to dismantle the cluster of attendant questions: How do we learn rules? How do we follow them? Wherefrom the standards which decide if a rule is followed correctly? Are they in the mind, along with a mental representation of the rule? Do we appeal to intuition in their application? Are they socially and publicly taught and enforced?