IDEAS, REVIEWS, and SMULER/SCRAPS
ABSTRACT, Ph. D. dissertation,
Bruce Howes, The Clear Terminus: A Kierkegaardian reading of
submitted to the University of Ottawa, 2001
Bruce Howes: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
Ludwig Wittgenstein is making the case that thought must extend
beyond the limits of language. His view of this is a direct result
of his early reading of Kierkegaard's
In FRAGMENTS Kierkegaard
(as Climacus) says the following: "The paradoxical passion of the
understanding is, then, continually colliding with this unknown, which
certainly does exist but is also unknown and to
that extent does not exist" (FRAGMENTS, p. 44). The 'collision'
bespeaks of 'Something' with which the understanding collides. And
yet, with the application of reason, it is clear that this Something is
really a mere
nothing. For this Something is outside the purview of reason
and, according to that reason, is thus a chimera.
This same dilemma is the
key to the metaphysics of Wittgenstein's TRACTATUS. The particular
historical connection between Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein can be seen
in a reference made by Wittgenstein in conversation with members of the
Vienna Circle: "... we do run up against the limits of language.
Kierkegaard too saw that there is this running up
against something and he referred to it in a fairly similar way (as
running up against paradox)" (WITTGENSTEIN AND THE VIENNA CIRCLE, p. 68).
We can obviously think that Something against which we run. However,
Something cannot participate in a thought in the sense of a mental
equivalent to a proposition and so cannot be considered anything at all.
This latter represents how language is limited in the TRACTATUS, whereas
the former depicts the requirement that thinking reach beyond the limit
Friedrich Waismann carefully
wrote down what Wittgenstein said in these talks because he planned to
write, with Wittgenstein's blessing, an expository book on the Tractatus
(Monk THE DUTY OF GENIUS, p. 283). We
can thus infer that this proposed project was acting as a guide to
Wittgenstein's remarks at the time of the above statement. As such
Wittgenstein is here making a clear reference to Kierkegaard's influence
on the Tractatus.
May 5, 2001