Philosophical Topics

Volume 42, Issue 2, Fall 2014

Contemporary Tractatus

Eli Friedlander
Pages 45-73

Missing a Step Up the Ladder

In this paper I want to argue that a unified set of concerns constituting a new dimension—a realignment of our sense of language, self, and world—emerges in the progress of the Tractatus as we turn to inquire into the inner connection between language and such notions as world, limits, life, and ipseity. The most elusive step in that progress, and the one most necessary to recognize as part of the argument of the Tractatus, is the transition from an understanding of language in terms of logic, sense, and meaning to a perspective in which language becomes the primary locus of significance or meaningfulness (that is, meaning that has value or importance). It is also the pivot from the logical to the ethical concerns of the book. An ethics that appeals to the notion of meaningfulness is elaborated in terms of the dimension of existence, namely in terms of the very possibility of agreement of disagreement with what has ultimate reality.

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