Logic, Idealism and Materialism in Early and Late Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein's philosophies, from both the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations, are explained and developed. Wittgenstein uses a primitive version of recursion theory to develop his attempt at a purely logical metaphysics in the Tractatus. However, due to his implicit materialist assumptions, he could not make the system completely logical, and built in a mystical division of possible worlds into the true and the false. This incoherence eventually lead him to reject logic as a method for doing metaphysics, and indeed to reject metaphysics entirely. I argue that his move from the Tractatus to the Investigations was valid, but only given his materialist assumptions. If he had been willing to drop this unnecessary baggage, recursion would have played a very different role in his system, since he would then have had no need to separate static objects from processes, which he saw as purely mental. F.H. Bradley developed such a nonmaterialist metaphysics in the nineteenth century, but was crippled by a mentalism that Wittgenstein was free of. The anti-mentalism and anti-materialism that Wittgenstein considered as given were not so obvious to his predecessor, Russell, who revolted against Bradley's idealism in much the same way Wittgenstein ended up revolting against Russell's logical atomism. In my view, none of these positions was the right approach, which would require nonmentalism and nonmaterialism. But for some reason, these things (which seem to go together quite naturally to me) have been widely considered to be incompatible. Bradley was appropriately a non-materialist, but suffered from mentalism. Russell and the early Wittgenstein were appropriately nonmentalists, but suffered from materialism. The later Wittgenstein was, I would argue, still an ardent materialist and anti-mentalist, in spite of the fact that he had long since realized the contradictions to which materialism leads; he just had not recognized that it was his materialist assumptions that had lead him there, since these assumptions were so firmly engrained in his thinking as to be invisible..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index Translate to english
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,479
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Ian Proops (2011). Logical Atomism in Russell and Wittgenstein. In Marie McGinn & Oskari Kuusela (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein. Oxford University Press.
Michael Beaney (2012). Logic and Metaphysics in Early Analytic Philosophy. In Lila Haaparanta & Heikki Koskinen (eds.), Categories of Being: Essays on Metaphysics and Logic. Oxford University Press, Usa. pp. 257.
E. D. Klemke (1971). Essays on Wittgenstein. Urbana, University of Illinois Press.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

7 ( #500,416 of 1,925,764 )

Recent downloads (6 months)


How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.