The Tractatus: A Note

While the positivists took Wittgenstein’s early work as a call to expand only upon the principles of what can be philosophically expressed by logic-language, there is ample evidence that this is precisely the opposite of his intentions, as in many ways what I’d call myth, but which he’d probably frame as ethics, was the real task of philosophy. It was a critique of approach. In this light, perhaps the Tractatus was initially proclaimed by its author as the final work of philosophy not because it heralded the success of philosophy, but rather because it announced its boundaries, which as a whole hearkens its general failure! The realm “of which we cannot speak clearly” contains, among other things, the very mysteries of existence and consciousness which are to a certain extent forever unknowable no matter what models science invents to explain its machinations. The goal of myth is to point towards this mystery, without having any particular goal to unclothe it. Rather, it seeks to garb it in new ways. This is the realm that myth is best suited to. However, there is no parallel to be found within the positivist view; a view which we can, in the context of culture, relate to both science and industry. This can be seen in the positivists interpreted of the Tractactus,

For the pragmatically-minded men of 1920, on the other hand, the absolute moral individualism which represented the unspoken point of the Tractatus was, quite simply, useless. For their purpose, all that appeared important in the book was the parts that could be put to constructive use … The sweeping away of the old Central European dynasties had left a new world waiting to be built ― on the scientific and cultural, as much as on the political plane. Positivism, one might say, is the utilitarianism of the philosophical rationalist ― the metaphysical, or dogmatically antimetaphysical, justification of an empirical pragmatism that other men “accept upon instinct.”