On Trying to be Resolute: A Response to Kremer on the Tractatus

European Journal of Philosophy 10 (1):43-78 (2002)
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A way of reading the Tractatus has been proposed which, according to its advocates, is importantly novel and essentially distinct from anything to be found in the work of such previously influential students of the book as Anscombe, Stenius, Hacker or Pears. The point of difference is differently described, but the currently most used description seems to be Goldfarb’s term ‘resolution’ – hence one speaks of ‘the resolute reading’. I’ll shortly ask what resolution is. For now, it is enough that it aims to give full weight to the penultimate section of the Tractatus in which Wittgenstein declares his propositions to be nonsense, where giving full weight to that declaration involves not hearing it as allowing that those ‘nonsensical’ propositions might have another kind of ‘sense’. In that same section Wittgenstein explains that these nonsense propositions, while devoid of meaning, have a use: to make the kind of use of them that their author intends – and so to understand him – requires recognizing that they are nonsense; and through that recognition one ‘surmounts’ these propositions, and is led ‘to see the world aright’. So there is a point to all this nonsense. What point?



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Peter Sullivan
University of Stirling

Citations of this work

On reading the tractatus resolutely: Reply to Meredith Williams and Peter Sullivan.James Conant & Cora Diamond - 2004 - In Max Kölbel & Bernhard Weiss (eds.), Wittgenstein's Lasting Significance. London; New York: Routledge. pp. 42-97.
Wittgenstein on the substance of the world.Ian Proops - 2004 - European Journal of Philosophy 12 (1):106–126.
Ineffability and nonsense.Peter Sullivan - 2003 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 77 (1):195–223.
Mysticism and nonsense in the tractatus.Michael Morris & Julian Dodd - 2007 - European Journal of Philosophy 17 (2):247-276.

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