Rivista di Storia Della Filosofia 68 (4):721-737 (2013)

Daniele Mezzadri
United Arab Emirates University
This paper examines an aspect of the debate between the so-called “traditional” and “resolute” (or “therapeutic”) interpretations of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, by focusing on the notion of nonsense and on the role that the context principle plays for a correct interpretation of that notion. In the first section the author distinguishes between “substantial” and “austere” conceptions of Tractarian nonsense; in the second section it is discussed how the austere conception of nonsense – held by the resolute interpreters of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus – derives from a literal reading of the context principle. In the third section, by concentrating on some sections of the Tractatus where the notion of nonsense in explicitly discussed, it is shown that such a literal interpretation of the context principle cannot be attributed to Wittgenstein. In the last section, by combining remarks on contextuality, meaning and nonsense, a reading aimed at reconciling the Tractatus’ view of nonsense and the context principle is sketched.
Keywords Wittgenstein  Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus  Context Principle  Nonsense
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DOI 10.3280/SF2013-004004
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