Wittgenstein: Life, Philosophy and SpeechJune 27, 2021
Wittgenstein’s main concern throughout his philosophical studies is “How should we live?” It can be said that it is to find an answer to the question. Wittgenste’s, fake, hypocritical, artificial etc., where empires are liquidated, old orders are destroyed but new ones cannot be established. Considering that he lived in a period when approaches were effective in cultural and political life, this concern of him can be better understood.
Wittgenstein exhibited the values of simplicity and extreme honesty throughout his life, and perhaps he was able to protect himself from the chaos of the age thanks to these values. It cannot be said that there is a doctrine or system that Wittgenstein put forward about how we should live. How much we can talk about this is also debatable. It can be said that Wittgenstein’s approach to the subject is mostly to reveal what cannot be said. We can say that separating the sayable from the unsayable gives Wittgenstein’s philosophical project its main color.
This approach of Wittgenstein is reminiscent of Kant’s critique of metaphysics. Kant, in his Critique der reinen Vernunft, tried to reveal what the mind can know within its own limits, and what cannot be known and cannot be spoken about. According to Kant, our knowledge is limited to the phenomenal; It is impossible for us to have any knowledge of it, although we can think of what is on our own. It is also impossible for us to reason and arrive at correct conclusions about ideas that we cannot represent in our vision, such as God, the soul, or the entire universe. Wittgenstein follows a similar line. However, perhaps his project is even more radical. Wittgenstein tries to determine what is unthinkable within the limits of language.
In Ancient Greek, “kritikos” means to draw a boundary, and the “critical” in the title of Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft denotes a process of drawing a boundary in this sense.
However, there is a problem here. Drawing a border first brings to mind a geographical picture. A border drawn in this context divides a certain region into two as inside and outside the border. Therefore, an entity is attributed to the outside as well as the inside of the border. How can a border be drawn without attributing existence to the region outside the border? Wittgenstein tries to achieve this through language and again through language. Let us now try to understand the path Wittgenstein followed in the Tractatus to achieve this goal.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook