Volume 85, Issue 4, Fall 2011
Ronald E. Hustwit, Sr.
Wittgenstein on Modernism and the Causal Point of View
Wittgenstein expressed an antipathy to modernism from his earliest work to his latest. He connected modernism with modern science and with what he
called “the causal point of view.” The causal point of view, which operates like a presupposition or pre-dispositional attitude, blocks a clear vision of the richness
and complexity of the world and human life, and denies access to a religious point of view and the benefits of faith. His analysis of the causal point of view lays bare the uncritically accepted place it holds in our thinking and helps to relieve the anxiety felt over the idea of causal necessity that accompanies it. Wittgenstein’s
world-view and larger philosophical tasks are often easily lost in the details of his analyses and remarks, but not here as he unpacks the reasons for his discomfiture with the assumptions of the modern world.