The Philosophy of Wittgenstein - The Linguist and the Analyst - Seeker's Thoughts

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The Philosophy of Wittgenstein - The Linguist and the Analyst

Wittgenstein had an extraordinary journey before focusing on philosophy full-time, including military service and teaching. His approach was unique: shifting away from logical structure towards language use as his focus shifted away from logic structures.

He held that language reflected reality and logic was the limit of understanding; consequently, tautologies and contradictions did not represent facts accurately.

The Logic of Meaning

Wittgenstein addressed many central philosophical problems related to world, thought and language in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus work. His solution relied on logic and representation theory; specifically his "picture theory of meaning". According to this concept, propositions only make sense when they depict pictures of actual events; those which don't meet this requirement are nonsensical (Wittgenstein would call these unsinnig). Wittgenstein established criteria to help define whether something qualifies as such - in his work.

Wittgenstein took an entirely unique approach in exploring the relationship between language and reality. Rejecting any notion that there was one, objective reality, he developed an account of thought, language and the world in his theory he believed that language reflected an underlying logical order of reality, with structure manifest in logical arrangement of its elements; through such analysis of world thought language systems the meaning of propositions could be discovered through their logical form.

Key to his approach was that it only applied to language used for the expression of ideas; therefore, religious, ethical or aesthetic language did not fall within his scope of study. This contradicted Russell and Frege who believed that words represented specific objects or feelings which they named; communication could only occur through one common language.

Wittgenstein's later works, particularly Philosophical Investigations, marked further explorations of this new philosophy. From shifting from an emphasis on logical structures of language to its application in different social contexts and from systematic writing to fragments and aphorisms; all aspects related to his radical rejection of dogmatism could be found within these works - and its full implications explored.

The Rules of Grammar

Wittgenstein's work rests upon the principle that meaning can be determined through comparison between language use and rules governing the game of logical analysis. Wittgenstein's "picture theory" of meaning excludes religious, ethical, artistic or technical languages as carriers for meaningful propositions; these kinds of language derive their sense from their use itself and so cannot carry meaningful (sinnliche) propositions. Instead, two conditions must exist in order for sensical language: its structure must conform with constraints of logic form while its elements must refer back to objects in real world; these conditions must also allow religious, ethical ethical ethical artistic or technical languages from being carried meaningful propositions; these kinds of languages cannot carry meaningful (sinnlichen).

Wittgenstein's emphasis on logical analysis also enabled him to blur the boundary between semantics and metasemantics. Logical analysis involves following rules or conventions for using signs, such as sounds, marks on paper, figures in sand or gestures; logic does not address their meaning - which would fall under metasemantics.

Example: Kissing a photograph does not indicate any feelings of affection from those seen, thus rendering this act invalid as an expression of love. On the other hand, sending your feelings in written form through letters will likely be perceived by its recipient as mere affectionate language and cannot be considered an act of romance.

Wittgenstein used the analogy of understanding propositions through game rules to argue that any statement that can be understood by analogy with game play rules was true regardless of its empirical relevance. His picture theory of meaning provides a powerful way of recognizing senseless statements and denigrating their significance.

Wittgenstein's final phase of philosophical thought spanned approximately 1946 until his death in 1951 and included writings such as the Tractatus, Philosophical Remarks, Blue and Brown Books, Philosophical Grammar as well as sections from Philosophical Investigations and Zettel. Wittgenstein abandoned systematic writing for more in-depth considerations regarding dogmatism rejection.

The Meaning of Words

Wittgenstein's later work, Philosophical Investigations (PI), explored this theme. He believed that Tractatus had missed this crucial aspect by treating language like an object that could be reduced to rules. To demonstrate his point, in PI he first examined what it means for words to be used differently across contexts before using chess to demonstrate how one piece can have different powers depending on where it sits on a board.

Wittgenstein explored how words combine to form "states of affairs", or combinations of objects, leading him to an alternative conception of reality than was advocated in his Tractatus: that facts comprise more of reality than objects; facts themselves can then be broken down further into states-of-being or combinations of objects. Furthermore, Wittgenstein discredited traditional definitions of what constitutes truth or validity based on fixed rules - instead seeing these properties emergent within systems without fixed laws that dictated them.

He rejected the belief that words have fixed meanings, instead emphasizing how these can shift depending on context and usage; often writing phrases such as "Meaning is Use" in his notebooks to remind himself.

Wittgenstein then went on to examine how meaning, the world, thought and language are intertwined in an intricate web that cannot be grasped through single analyses of any one aspect alone. In essence, he returned to some of the issues raised in his Tractatus; only now his methodology was far more sophisticated.

He came to the conclusion that only what can be expressed with sayable propositions could be shown through pictures, thus excluding metaphysical, ethical and aesthetic positions from philosophy as an excluded category.

The Meaning of Life

At the conclusion of his Tractatus, Wittgenstein departs from logic and launches into a stream of aphoristic thoughts on ethics, death, God, scepticism and the meaning of life. At first glance, these thoughts may appear random; however, they all share one theme: they address issues which cannot be answered through scientific or philosophical means; indeed, philosophy itself deals with this type of dilemma. Wittgenstein offered his own solution for these difficulties by asserting that there simply are no meaningful answers available; in essence, this meant that, if there was meaning or purpose to this world at large, it is inaccessible to humans. Philosophy may seem pointless to him, but that does not imply that humans cannot comprehend our world. Instead, it implies that its incomprehensibility exceeds any natural capacities a man possesses.

Wittgenstein came to the conclusion that words only make sense through their usage in language, rather than any expression of objective truth or facts about the world. Instead, religious, ethical, technical, artistic and mathematical languages derive meaning from how they are used in practice; Wittgenstein rejected any predetermined meaning for words like 'God is good' or 'It is wrong to murder' that contains objective truth that could be verified.

The primary difference between early and late Wittgenstein philosophy lies in that early Wittgenstein focused on more central philosophical questions while later Wittgenstein critiqued 'the craving for generality' more heavily. Additionally, traditional philosophy was heavily influential on early Wittgenstein while his later style of philosophical thought developed his own unique voice - thus leading to diverging interpretations between them both; most interpreters have recognized major discontinuities while acknowledging some continuity as well.

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