A short essay I wrote in 2018

On Wittgenstein: The Anti Philosopher’s Philosopher. No Nonsense Philosophy Project.

The context of this essay is a series of discussions with many people, though I was motivated to write by someone whom will remain nameless,  his argument or concern I feel is that philosophy is so thoroughly interwoven with theology, mysticism and many other concepts to supposing such are a nonsense that it is by virtue useless as an academic study and or means to understanding ourselves in reality. Thus the charge here levelled at philosophy is that it is a nonsense as a whole. Ergo philosophy should be replaced by science, however that would work. I feel this is a very low-resolution type of thing, I don’t feel that such thinking has at all truly endeavoured or explored philosophy as a mind expanding exercise, learning the history of philosophy. That is to say learning the rich discussions that cross thousands of years of human history, detailing how such things as logic progressed. In doing this one learns, to take one’s time knowing there’s wisdom to be had. 

Usually along with calls to bin philosophy comes a one-line quote from such as Wittgenstein, being for ignorance reasons- The Anti Philosopher’s Philosopher. The man with the linguistic take on traditional philosophy, the philosophic theorist that would support the notion; a philosopher shouldn’t theorise. (Odd that isn’t it.) Wittgenstein’s most notable work is the best possible peace to expose Wittgenstein true feeling towards philosophy, the introduction alone by Bertrand Russell his most famous work “The Problems Of Philosophy”. That interestingly share a common thread with “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”; is enough to discredit this Anti Philosophy Philosophy. If that contradiction wasn’t glaring enough in itself. 

Russell breaks down Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, Bertrand writes: “MR. WITTGENSTEIN’S Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, whether or not it proves to give the ultimate truth on the matters with which it deals, certainly deserves, by its breadth and scope and profundity, to be considered an important event in the philosophical world.” in essence is to say; be it leading to truth or not, it is a valuable event in philosophy, what does that mean? It certainly doesn’t mean occurring out-with philosophy, but rather something said in philosophical discourse. By merit of the work that went into it- is valuable. Like the work of Spinoza’s “Ethics” he argued that the heretic and atheist was just ignorant, uneducated and thus is innocent, not to be punished but pitied for he has not seen the grace of God as evident in nature. Of course completely ridiculous to assume on the disbelief of God or the devin perhaps pan-thetic universe one is in error or ignorant. yet it in part made the first steps towards secularism and or humanism. Bertrand goes on to write; “Starting from the principles of Symbolism and the relations which are necessary between words and things in any language, it applies the result of this inquiry to various departments of traditional philosophy, showing in each case how traditional philosophy and traditional solutions arise out of ignorance of the principles of Symbolism and out of misuse of language.” so now we must explore symbolism, what is it? In as simple terms hopefully not too simple; symbolism is as old as the Donning of man, we use symbols to communicate often more than one message. Often a visual form of communication that bypass cognition and invoke subconscious behavioural responses or thought process. Something I personally have been writing about and am oh too familiar with in my behaviour work. The Aesthetic quality of existence, what we see and how that makes us feel, I think is a connection between behaviourism, aesthetics and emotion are something linguistic leanings tend to miss. Take for example the image of a person in an exorbitantly luxurious car, immediately one begins to make associations about such a person often accompanied by feelings of jealousy or inferiority. Untimely such feelings affect our behaviour. This is what is meant in symbolism when referencing ‘pre-programed’ behaviour. A very inaccurate use of words however thanks to such as Wittgenstein we are stuck with them as (A.I) researchers are stick with the imperfect phrase ‘artificial intelligence’. It’s simply what stuck. This leads to massive open questions on the nature of language with no clear answer in sight. Because something arise out of ignorance does that make it valueless? No, it doesn’t man himself rose out of ignorance it is what is meant here. Our existence and the solution we have brought even empiricism and logic; everything we have built roes out of ignorance, from error  to success is man’s story. This notion was captured really well by Nietzsche.

“Nietzsche wrote in “Beyond Good And Evil”- “How could anything originate from its opposite? For example truth out of error? Or the will to truth out of the will to deception? Or the generous deed out of selfishness? Or the pure sun-burst vision of the wise man out of covetousness? Such genesis is impossible; whomever dreams of it is a fool, nay, worse than a fool; things of higher value must have a different origin, an origin of their own– in this transitory seductive, illusionary, paltry world, in this turmoil of delusion and cupidity, they cannot have their source. But rather the lap of being, in the transitory, in the concealed God, in the ‘thing-in-itself–their must be their source, and nowhere else!’ – this mode of reasoning discloses the typical prejudice by which metaphysicians of all time can be recognized, by this mode of valuation is at the back of their logical procedure; through this belief of theirs, they exert themselves for their ‘knowledge,’ for something that is in the end solemnly christened ‘the truth.’ The fundamental belief of metaphysicians is the belief in antithesis of values.” this was in reference to Philosophical bias. He questions whether antithesis exists at all, humorously suggesting that antithesis may be wholly invented or of a perspective perhaps ‘frog perspective’ and goes on to suggest as we all expect that there is a higher still mode of values beyond good and evil. Suggesting that it is possible that what makes something good is that it is “insidiously related” to the bad. Then finally arriving at the relevant point here, “I know say to myself that the greater part of conscious thinking must be counted as part of the instinctive functions, and it is so even the case of philosophical thinking;..”

A point I strongly agree with, to reason is an involuntary response stimulus. Something we share with most mammals at the very least. What I feel relates this to our current conversation with is that symbols are deeply related to man’s sense of right and wrong, these functions of Symbols in our biology are related to our survival and sense of being or a better word might be belonging in the world. “To be” and “being” are symbolic. We use them to describe the life of a person. He/she has being, is in the world for example. Comes with all its own associated thinking. We use language symbolically for the reason it communicates deep and often multiple meanings. It invokes in us responses that bypass cognition and effects how we behave. This was Wittgenstein point not that philosophy is to be disposed or is deception. Also note I was able to communicate that using less than a paragraph of the Introduction to Wittgenstein Magnus Opus. That dear reader that is philosophy, which begs the question. How can such philosophy be used to destroy philosophy and argue philosophy as a whole is a nonsense? In what manner of bizarre logic would the practice of philosophy detract from the value of philosophy? As indicated again by Russell in the introduction of “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus” “The logical structure of propositions and the nature of logical in-ference are first dealt with. Thence we pass successively to Theory of Knowledge, Principles of Physics, Ethics, and finally the Mystical” (das Mystische). In order to understand Mr. Wittgenstein’s book, it is necessary to realize what is the problem with which he is concerned. In the part of his theory which deals with Symbolism he is concerned with the conditions which would have to be fulfilled by a logically perfect language. There are various problems as regards language. First, there is the problem what actually occurs in our minds when we use language with the intention of meaning something by it; this problem belongs to psychology. Secondly, there is the problem as to what is the relation subsisting between thoughts, words, or sentences, and that which they refer to or mean; this problem belongs to epistemology. Thirdly, there is the problem of using sentences so as to convey truth rather than falsehood; this belongs to the special sciences dealing with the subject-matter of the sentences in question. Fourthly, there is the question: what relation must one fact (such as a sentence) have to another in order to be capable of being a symbol for that other? This last is a logical question, and is the one with which Mr. Wittgenstein is concerned. He is concerned with the conditions for accurate Symbolism, i.e. for Symbolism in which a sentence ““means” something quite definite.” in essence why it is ridiculous to use single sentences to convey support for a proposition in philosophy. For the quote by Wittgenstein “don’t think, look” takes on a whole new dimension. Rather inaccurate language from some so concerned, a better way to say this might be. Don’t think first look then think. Or as I have often said, “first listen, look, think then act.” Something I still struggele with personally.

Further an interesting factoid to support the notion contained in this essay for an essay. When you hear the word drink to recognise that word i.e what it means; all the same centres of the brain light up as if you had performed the behaviour of taking a drink. 

Primary Source

“Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung” 

By Ludwig Wittgenstein

Published by Engine Mortale

Engine Mortale is my chosen pseudonym, I’ve chosen a pseudonym because I think it most appropriate as some of work will be rather personal. I figured this was the best way. I’m an autodidact, my to prominent fields of study’s are behaviour and philosophy, most recently art and poetry have been of keen interest. I hope genuinely that some good comes out of my out of this thing i call a life, if nothing else just that.

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