Silence as the Ultimate Fulfillment of the Philosophical Quest

Abstract

The surprising comment Wittgenstein makes at the end of his Tractatus suggests that, even though the analysis of words is the proper method of doing philosophy, philosophy’s ultimate aim may be to experience silence. Whereas Wittgenstein never explains what he meant by his cryptic conclusion, Kant provides numerous clues as to how the same position can be understood in a more complete and systematic way. Distinguishing between the meanings of “silence,” “noise” and “sound” provides a helpful way of understanding how philosophers can devote so much effort to analyzing words even though their quest is ultimately fulfilled only in a deep experience of reality that is most adequately expressed in silence.

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Stephen R. Palmquist
Hong Kong Baptist University

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