Monday, 14 May 2007

Everybody's Looking for the Ladder

I previously gave you Kant's dove; I now offer you Wittgenstein's ladder.

Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus can be pretty much summarised thusly: anything that doesn't refer to the factual world is meaningless.

Of course, that statement and most of the Tractatus itself did not refer to the factual world and was therefore meaningless by its own reckoning, which was something Wittgenstein was indeed aware of.

So in order to dig his way out of the hole of meaninglessness that he made himself fall into, Wittgenstein used the following non-factual and therefore meaningless metaphor:
My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)

He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.

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