Fw: [quickphilosophy] Ostrow Sums Up the Tractatus

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2010 08:54:57 -0700 (PDT)

From Matthew Ostrow's helpful Wittgenstein's Tractatus: A Dialectical 
What W considers as characteristic of the philosophical approach…is just its 
tendency to misinterpret that feeling of disquiet, to misconstrue what is 
appropriate as a response.  Our unease in the world crystallizes into 
unresolvable philosophical perplexity.
This whole issue can be seen to underlie the following important remarks:
At the basis of the whole modern view of the world lies the illusion that the 
so-called laws of nature are the explanations of natural phenomena. (6.371)
So people stop short at natural laws as at something unassailable, as did the 
ancients at God and Fate.
And they both are right and wrong.  But the ancients were clearer, in so far as 
they recognized one clear terminus, whereas the modern system makes it appear 

though everything were explained (6.372)
W claims that at the basis of the modern view is a "illusion." He is not 
suggesting, then, that the pursuit of philosophy is to be replaced by a kind of 
scientism, a belief that the deepest yearnings of human beings can finally be 
met in the context of scientific progress.  But neither are we to turn to 
nonscientific modes of explanation.  The ancients are here commended not for 
having a superior explanatory system, but for recognizing, in the worlds of the 
later W, that explanations come to an end somewhere: rather than serving as the 
basis of an ultimate "super account," the appeal to God or fate is, for the 
Tractatus, an acknowledgement that there is a point at which nothing more can 

Over and over, the text attempts to expose the different guises of 

disquietude: as the demand that the picture's fundamental relation to the world 
be once and for all secured, as the need for a theory of types to prevent 
nonsense, as the attempt to set down a formal specification of the laws of 
thought.  And over and over we are to see in response how, in the words of 
5.473, logic must take care of itself.  We are to see, that is, how there is 
after all nothing for us to do to satisfy these kinds of concerns, how it is 

concerns themselves that are the source of our fundamental unease. In gaining 
clarity about our philosophical confusions we can then be said to be liberated 
from the problem of life, the sense that our fundamental relationship to the 

world is something that requires a straightforward solution.  Thus W 
intersperses remarks about the disappearance of philosophical problems with 
claims about the appropriate way of living in general:
The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of the problem. 

this the reason why those who have found after a long period of doubt that the 
sense of life became clear to them have then been unable to say what 

that sense?) (6.521)
If, for the Tractatus, philosophy comes to stand for our fundamental 
estrangement from the world, it is then in the disappearance of philosophy that 
our redemption lies.

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