Informed by silence

Paddock, Jeff (2000) Informed by silence. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Wittgenstein in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus seeks to demonstrate the activity of purging from philosophical and scientific discourse all expressions of thought that are not stated clearly in a way that allows their veracity to be determined through truth-functional analysis; however, he concedes the language in which he expresses this project falls short of his standard for acceptable discourse and therefore cannot define his project didactically. This apparent contradiction has fostered both criticisms and interpretations of the Tractatus. The critic Gellner on this ground dismisses the text as meaningless while Feibleman faults Wittgenstein for denying rather than embracing the metalanguage the Tractatus employs along with its metaphysical implications. Those reinterpreting Wittgenstein's project read into the Tractatus elements he expressly rejects: Kantians such as Pears, the synthetic a priori and a transcendental standpoint; phenomenologists such as Black, reflexivity; and semiotical analysts such as Brown, a triadic rather than gapless dyadic relation of world, language and meaning. Nieli's and Edwards' presentations expose Wittgenstein's predilection for the ineffable truths of religion, ethics and esthetics for which the Tractatus clears a space in limiting sensible discourse to propositions of natural science. In this light, one must take seriously Wittgenstein's rejection of the metaphysical discourse the Tractatus employs, thereby allowing what Wittgenstein leaves to silence to inform debates regarding criticisms and reinterpretations based on what are clearly false readings of the Tractatus as a metaphysical treatise: in other words, letting the message of what he does not say show what is not meant by what he does say. As Marion demonstrates, Wittgenstein's idea -that one can never say what philosophy is but can only do it - is expressed and evolves during Wittgenstein's lifetime in his treatment of mathematics as anti-Platonist constructivism employing operations without classes. Following through on the radical implications of this approach, Wittgenstein abandons his Tractarian belief in a solitary pure transformational language of scientific discourse in favour of multitudinous ordinary language games. Wittgenstein's final anti-standpoint leaves him vulnerable to charges his approach is nonrational and mystical.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 9194
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 168-173.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: 2000
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 1889-1951--Tractatus logico-philosophicus; Logic, Symbolic and mathematical; Language and languages--Philosophy

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