SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

The ontology of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
(History of Philosophy, English)

Traditionally there are two main readings of the Tractatus. On the one hand, the metaphysical reading (see e.g. Hacker 1986; 1996; 2000; Pears 1987; Koethe 2003) argues that Wittgenstein is committed to metaphysical realism: the ontological remarks that open the Tractatus are truths that characterize a reality independent of how humans conceive it. On the other hand, and against this reading, the resolute reading (see e.g. Connant 1989; 2000; 2002; Diamond 1991; 1997; 2000; Goldfarb 1997; 2011; Cahill 2004; 2011) takes TLP 6.54 as serious as possible and argues that Wittgenstein does not set forth any ineffable metaphysical theory or doctrine. That is, they deny that Wittgenstein is committed to metaphysical realism or any other kind of metaphysical theory. In addition, there are also alternative readings (see e.g. McGinn 1999; 2006; Moyal-Sharrock 2007) that generally coincide in rejecting the idea that Wittgenstein is advancing ineffable metaphysical doctrines -- at least with regards to ontology.

The aim of this paper is twofold. First, I argue that the rejection of the metaphysical reading by the resolute reading, and other alternatives, operates on the false assumption that the denial of metaphysical realism and its consequences encompasses the negation of any sort of metaphysical theory in the Tractatus. Second, I set forth an alternative metaphysical reading of the Tractatus that does not entail metaphysical realism. I argue that Wittgenstein advances a picture theory of reality that concerns both pictures and ontology. However, Wittgenstein's ontology is concurrent to his understanding of pictures; it does not precede it. Ontology is dependent on the logical structure it shares with pictures. Consequently, ontological claims characterize reality as we picture it and represent it in thoughts, language and iconic presentations not reality independent of how humans conceive it. The gap between pictures and ontology is eliminated, thus avoiding metaphysical realism.


Chair: Alessandro Cecconi
Time: 14:40-15:10, 20 September 2019 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.005

Jordi Fairhurst 
(Universidad de las Islas Baleares (UIB), Spain)

Jordi Fairhurst is a PhD candidate at the University of the Balearic Islands with a FPU grant from the Ministerio de Educacion, Cultura y Deporte del Gobierno de España (MINECO). He obtained a B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy from the University of the Balearic Islands. His current project focuses on Wittgenstein's ethics, although his research interests also encompass meta-ethics, ethics and philosophy of language. His most recent publication is "The Ethical Subject and Willing Subject in the Tractatus: an Alternative to the Transcendental Reading" (Philosophia, 2019).

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