Contextualism and Nonsense in Wittgenstein's Tractatus

Central to a new, or 'resolute', reading of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus is the idea that Wittgenstein held there an 'austere' view of nonsense: the view, that is, that nonsense is only ever a matter of our failure to give words a meaning, and so that there are no logically distinct kinds of nonsense. Resolute readers tend not only to ascribe such a view to Wittgenstein, but also to subscribe to it themselves; and it is also a feature of some readings which in other respects are clearly not Resolute. This paper forms part of a reply to Hans-Johann Glock's work in which he argues (in part) that Wittgenstein in the Tractatus held a view of nonsense other than the austere view. Instead, Glock argues, Wittgenstein there held that there are many logically distinct kinds of nonsense. Here, I outline and defend the austere view, together with its attribution to the early Wittgenstein, against a number of Glock's criticisms, and focussing especially on Wittgenstein's reformulation in the Tractatus of Frege's context-principle.
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DOI 10.4314/sajpem.v25i2.31436
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