Alois Pichler: Wittgenstein and Authorship (an attempt)

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 don’t 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.

Keywords: authorship, contextual arguments, narratology, philosophy as therapeutic project, “The new Wittgenstein”