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The Tractatus paradox

Mosmer, Reza (2013)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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In the penultimate remark of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus Wittgenstein declares that anyone who understands him judges the book to be nonsense. The immediate reaction to this paradoxical statement is to reject the insights of the book that this assessment is based on; that is, to reject the book’s theories of logic and language. Commentators have tried to save the book’s fundamental philosophical ideas by blocking this immediate response. In this thesis I characterise and explore different attempts to do so. I discuss attempts of Russell, Carnap, Max Black, Malcolm, Hacker’s Ineffability interpretation and Conant’s (and Diamond’s) Therapeutic interpretation.
I argue that the Therapeutic reading is the most promising attempt in its main ideas. Nonetheless, current versions of the Therapeutic readings do not seem successful. I borrow ideas from Grice’s pragmatic theory of conversation and Davidson’s account of metaphor to explain how the book is to be read therapeutically. I argue that the book is a long conversation between Wittgenstein and his audience which eventually turns out to be a pointless series of remarks. The book, however, works metaphorically in such a way that it affects its readers and helps them to divest themselves of the inclination to do philosophy.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Miller, Alex and Suikkanen, Jussi and Byrne, Darragh
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Philosophy
Subjects:B Philosophy (General)
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:4397
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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