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The Conflicts of Modernity in Ludwig Wittgenstein’s «Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus»


Marek Dobrzeniecki

The author offers a new look at one of the most influential books in the history of philosophy: Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. He presents the Tractatus as expressing the intellectual anxieties of its modernist epoch. The most intriguing but usually unanswered question concerning the Tractatus is why Wittgenstein had to think that only propositions of natural science have meaning. The author reviews the most popular interpretations of the Tractatus and comes to the conclusion that the early Wittgenstein was an ethical subjectivist. With this insight, he solves the tension between Tractarian theses that influenced neopositivism and its mystical part.
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Chapter 2. The Simple Objects of the Tractatus


The main question in the following chapter reads as follows: is the ontology of the Tractatus materialistic? Are the simple objects of the Tractatus material particles, or something else? If we accept a realist theory of meaning, and if we assume that it is possible to ask about the reference of names outside the context of a proposition, then there are two positive and probable (considering Wittgenstein’s early writings) answers to the question: “what is the reference of simple names?” at our disposal, i.e. that there are simple units of perception (the phenomenalistic interpretation of Tractarian objects147), or that they are physical particles (the materialistic interpretation)148. In this chapter I shall present arguments in favour of and against both of these proposals (sections 2.1 and 2.2). I am also going to argue that the materialistic interpretation offers stronger arguments in its favour (sections 2.2.2 and 2.2.3). In section 2.3 I will analyse the resolute interpretation. I have decided to analyse this way of reading the Tractatus because of the conception of philosophy that it ascribes to Wittgenstein. In my opinion, the resolute interpretation mistakenly identifies the target of Tractarian critique of philosophy, thus a discussion on the resolute interpretation gives me an opportunity to introduce the second hallmark of Tractarian scientism, i.e. Wittgenstein’s claim that in the task of solving “the problems of life”149, or in the task of defending the values of the human world, philosophy is of no avail. ← 71 | 72 →


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