Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 27, Issue 1, Fall 2022

Richard McDonoughOrcid-ID
Pages 143-163

A Hegelian Dialectical Model of the Relation between Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations

There has been considerable disagreement about the relationship between Wittgenstein’s Tractatus (TLP) and his Philosophical Investigations (PI) with some scholars arguing that there is considerable continuity between them and some arguing that they are completely opposed. The paper argues that this breadth of disagreement is not surprising because the relation between TLP and PI is analogous with that described in Hegel’s dialectical model of philosophical truth in the Phenomenology of Spirit. One might say that TLP is “refuted” by PI but there is also a sense in which PI is “the truth” of TLP. TLP and PI are both essential stages in “the progressive unfolding of truth” bound together like the successive stages in a single living organism where the view of the former is both “annulled” and “preserved at a higher level” in the view of the latter (Aufhebung). The paper thereby helps to facilitate Rorty’s attempt to usher “analytical philosophy” from its Kantian to its Hegelian stage.