Saying and Showing: The Ethics of Wittgenstein's "Tractatus"

Dissertation, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (1998)
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Abstract

This dissertation is an exploration into some contemporary literature concerning the ethical content of Wittgenstein's work. The main focus of the dissertation is Wittgenstein's Tractatus and two Wittgensteinian commentators, Cora Diamond and James Edwards. The text focuses on Cora Diamond's book, The Realistic Spirit: Wittgenstein, Philosophy, and the Mind, and James Edwards', Ethics Without Philosophy, Wittgenstein and the Moral Life. I respond not only to Cora Diamond and James Edwards, but also to works by K. T. Fann, Newton Garver, Norman Malcolm, and Brian McGuinness. ;My dissertation explores a Wittgensteinian puzzle stemming from Wittgenstein's remarks in a letter to Ludwig von Ficker, in which he said that the Tractatus has an ethical point. Another piece of the puzzle is the lack of ethical remarks in the Tractatus. Yet another piece of the puzzle is that Wittgenstein's Tractatus has a conclusion which delimits language as unable to say things which are ethical. How can the Tractatus have an ethical point when it says very little about ethics, and seem to prohibit the very possibility of language about ethics? The answer must lie not in what language can say, but what language can show. So if the Tractatus is to have an ethical point, it must have something to do with what language can show. My dissertation is organized in a way that answers three questions: how can language show anything? what does language show? how is what is shown ethical? Also, my dissertation is organized in order to respond to Realist, realist, Idealist, and anti-realist interpretations of the Tractatus. I first cover Diamond and Edwards' answers to the three questions, then cover Realist, realist, Idealist, and anti-realist interpretations of the Tractatus and the puzzle; then I follow with an interpretation of my own, and a revisitation of Diamond and Edwards given my reading of the early Wittgenstein

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