This paper discusses the question of dogmatism in relation to Wittgensteins philosophy. I argue that Wittgensteins philosophy is both a break from, yet dependent upon, the analytical philosophical tradition. If this fact is not acknowledged one runs the risk of appropriating Wittgensteins philosophy dogmatically.
Glocks reading of Wittgenstein is employed to show the mistake in reading Wittgenstein as if he worked entirely within the analytic philosophical tradition. Such readings generally attribute theses to Wittgenstein – in direct contrast to his own intentions – and they tend to disregard or misrepresent Wittgensteins deeply critical attitude towards the «scientific spirit» of the age.
It is also argued that a reading that focuses solely on Wittgensteins more methodologically oriented remarks runs the risk of misrepresenting them, if they are disconnected from the particular philosophical problems that they are internally connected to.
Finally, it is argued that the struggle against dogmatism is a constant struggle. Dogmatism is, in Wittgensteins conception of it, not something that can be fully avoided since dogmatism is inherent in the philosophical desire itself. Dogmatism in philosophy is not merely dogmatism in academic philosophy but comes together with a very natural desire to establish one fixed meaning for our words.
Ever since its publication, the form and numbering system of Ludwig Wittgensteins Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922) has been the subject of comment, reflection and speculation. What many of these commentaries have in common is that, in hinting at a presumed point of connection between the Tractatus form and numbering system, they allude to A.N. Whitehead and Bertrand Russells Principia Mathematica (1910). This essay points at another connection, namely Wittgensteins reading of L. Tolstoys Kurze Darlegung des Evangelium (1892). It is well known that Tolstoys magnificent work features prominently both in Wittgensteins efforts to come to terms with himself and in his work on the (Proto) Tractatus. In his preface to Kurze Darlegung des Evangelium Tolstoy describes the theme of the book and explains its composition, progression and inherent structure. It is these structural considerations that this essay proposes as a key to understanding the Tractatuss form and numbering system. Here the overall working hypothesis is (in a rigorous formulation): the composition of the Tractatus, its form and numbering system, constitute a modified version (a more formalized implementation) of Tolstoys compositional strategy in Kurze Darlegung des Evangelium.
In a well-known 1919 letter to Der Brenner publisher Ludwig von Ficker, Wittgenstein writes that the point of his Tractatus (der Sinn des Buches) is an ethical one. Approaching the Tractatus within an overall resolute framework and taking as its direction some of the central motifs in the work of Michael Kremer, Cora Diamond, and other resolute readers, this paper examines a relatively neglected topic, the sense in which the book can be understood as having a cultural point as well. The idea gains plausibility from the fact that Wittgensteins sense of the philosophical significance of cultural matters and his sense of the state of Western culture were fairly constant from the time he wrote the Tractatus until the end of his life. Of particular significance for him in this regard was what he saw as the distorting effect that causal-scientific modes of thought exerted on our understanding, both in philosophy and in the broader intellectual and spiritual life of the West.
In this article I will contrast two ways of viewing a possible connection between animal and human rationality: that of Alasdair MacIntyres Aristotelian naturalism, where the continuity between the animal and the human is based on our biological nature; and Wittgensteins notion of primitive reactions as it appears in Norman Malcolm and others. The notion of primitive reactions differs from MacIntyres in that instead of revealing continuity in intellectual capacities between animals and humans, it points to a similarity in our responses to human and animal behaviour. I argue that this is not (either for Wittgenstein or for Malcolm) to make an empirical point about the development of language from instinctive behaviour, but is rather a conceptual point: an elucidation of what we mean by the mental terms we use, i.e., what we mean by ascribing thoughts, beliefs or feelings to someone.
Wittgenstein introduces his famous private language scenario in §243 of Philosophical Investigations. What should be beyond dispute is that Wittgenstein sets himself against the scenario. What is less clear is the how of this setting against. The character of this how is the main topic of my essay.
According to most commentators, Wittgensteins aim is to refute the idea of a private language, to prove that such a language is logically or conceptually impossible. Call this the orthodox line of interpretation. On the basis of the orthodox line, it becomes difficult to reconcile the discussion of the notion of a private language with the conception of philosophy and of philosophical problems that Wittgenstein expresses in his so-called metaphilosophical remarks. One might (as has been suggested by commentators such as Michael Dummett and Eike von Savigny) hold that this reveals that there is a tension between the way in which Wittgenstein describes his philosophical procedures and the manner in which he practices philosophy. However, one might also hold that the apparent mismatch reflects back on the assumptions that ground the orthodox line of interpretation itself. What I offer, is an anti-orthodox story about how to understand Wittgensteins remarks on the notion of a private language, a story which is more constrained by Wittgensteins strictures on methods and procedures as well as his conception of the character of philosophical problems than the stories told by those who fall within the orthodox camp.
In this paper I examine a contextual argument central to a critique of "the new Wittgenstein". The argument is as follows: in his own discussions of the Tractatus in the early 1930s, Wittgenstein treats the Tractatus as though it defended (false) claims; therefore, it is unreasonable to assume that the author of the Tractatus conceived this work as one not defending any claims, i.e. as purely therapeutic and undogmatic (as "the new Wittgenstein" claims). To evaluate this argument, I employ reflections and distinctions of authorship introduced originally within literary theory. One result of my analysis is that where opponents of "the new Wittgenstein" invoke this argument, they presuppose a model of authorship which is too simple, and that in turn invalidates their argument. This does not, however, imply that their opposition to "the new Wittgenstein" cannot be correct on other grounds, something which I dont address in this paper. Still, much of what I discuss can be understood as supporting views which are also defended by "the new Wittgenstein". At the end of the paper, I suggest how we can consider Wittgenstein's discussion of the Tractatus in a way which allows both for the possibility of Wittgenstein treating it as a dogmatic work, and for the Tractatus nevertheless remaining a therapeutic work.
In this paper we discuss some of the most important themes Wittgenstein is concerned with in his extensive remarks about the foundations of mathematics, such as the conceptual difference between mathematical propositions and empirical propositions. The differences that Wittgenstein brings to our attention have impact on philosophical issues about the concept of infinity in mathematics and about the nature of mathematical proof. They are also significant for our understanding of mathematics as a science, and especially for how it differs from the natural sciences. These themes are dealt with in this paper with the aim of bringing to light the originality and sensitivity of Wittgensteins thinking, and to show how it differs from the received views and ways of approaching the issues that have dominated the discussion within the philosophy of mathematics in the last 100 years.
Among Wittgensteins remarks we also find scattered reflections on the nature of philosophy and its methods. These remarks, which frequently take the form of comparisons or analogies, often seem either trivial or incomprehensible if taken out of their context. This essay deals with one such remark, in which Wittgenstein wants to draw attention to the queer resemblance between a philosophical investigation (especially in mathematics) and one in aesthetics. By placing this analogy in its context, I want to show how it can shed light on some key features of Wittgensteins philosophical work (especially his lectures on aesthetics and the foundations of mathematics) and his conception of philosophy. I argue that the methodological similarity that the analogy alludes to has to do especially with the idea of a synopsis of trivialities or a perspicuous representation, i.e. the Darstellungsform that is fundamental to Wittgensteins later philosophical work. In this connection, I will address Wittgensteins controversial criticism of set theory, and show how it can be seen as an example of a philosophical investigation in mathematics that can be clarified by the analogy with an aesthetic investigation.
Wittgensteins writings were influential on Michael Frieds art criticism in the 1960s. An important element of Frieds criticism was his modification of Clement Greenbergs theory of modernist painting. In the first part of this paper I will address some aspects of this criticism. I will then present some important aspects of Frieds critique of the minimalists and their art practice. Frieds essay Art and Objecthood (1967) is important in that respect. In his essay Fried asserts, among other things, that minimalist art exercises a theatrical effect on the beholder, and that this new form of art should be described as a form of theatre that incorporates the beholder in the artwork. Interestingly, the minimalists were also influenced by Wittgensteins thinking. Minimalist art appeared as a critique of the high modernist conception of art. I will pay attention to this critique in my paper. Finally, I will discuss a more recent example of the way Wittgensteins thinking informs debate about art and aesthetic practice. I will discuss Frieds way of understanding the photographic practice of the Canadian artist Jeff Wall, using an excerpt from Wittgensteins Culture and Value, which appears in his new book Why Photography Matter as Art as Never Before (2008).
Rush Rhees, who is known as Wittgenstein's student and an editor of his works, was also a significant philosopher in his own right. A large part of his work, much of which was published posthumously, was devoted to a critical discussion of Wittgenstein's philosophy. Central to this was his criticism of Wittgenstein's use of the notion of a language game. Rhees thought that the builder's game of Philosophical Investigations § 2 could not be regarded as a language. He also emphasized that language could not be thought of as a range of language games. This misses out on the unity language has, which is best understood along the lines of the unity of conversation. Furthermore, in a conversation there is a deepening of understanding, for which there is no room in a game. It is suggested that this is connected with the idea that conversations may have more or less depth; the shallower a piece of conversation the more game-like it is. In Wittgenstein's thought there was no room for speaking of the worth of a conversation. Rhees described the ultimate concern of philosophy as attaining clarity about such notions as the growth of understanding or the possibility of discourse, and he considered the great question of philosophy to be, "What is language?" In his concern with these concepts, his thinking differed from that of Wittgenstein, who would have shunned any attempt to formulate the aims of philosophy in general terms.