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In Search of Meaning

Ulrich Arnswald

‘If there is any value that does have value, it must lie outside the whole sphere of what happens and is the case.’

(Tractatus 6.41)

Liam Hughes

Texte intégral

1The above quotation is part of section 6.41 of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, which marks the beginning of a discussion of ethics and the mystical. In what follows, I shall try to understand and assess the idea that all that is of value lies outside the world, in terms of the Tractarian philosophy. I shall also use the Notebooks 1914-1916, where many of the key points are to be found in a more extended form. Given that the remarks on ethics in the Tractatus are of a piece with the rest of the philosophy expressed there, it is interesting to speculate on how much of it would be abandoned in the light of his later changed views on the nature of language. I devote the concluding paragraphs to such speculation.

2Wittgenstein’s ethical ideas are difficult to articulate for several reasons; they are difficult in their own right and the gnomic character of the expression adopted in the Tractatus does not help one. They are unlike what typically passes for discussion in ethics, and finally, not least, because Wittgenstein himself says they are inexpressible. Certainly, Wittgenstein never held a moral theory — indeed his efforts in this area were designed to put a stop to such theorising. When discussing Schlick’s book on ethics Fragen der Ethik Wittgenstein asks:

Is value a particular state of mind? Or a form attaching to some data or other of consciousness? I would reply that whatever I was told I would reject and that not because the explanation was false but because it was an explanation.
If I were told anything was a theory, I would say, No, no! That does not interest me. Even if this theory were true, it would not interest me — it would not be the exact thing I was looking for. (WVC, 116)

3The view expressed here is like a leitmotiv for Wittgenstein’s early views of ethics. Although the Tractatus is essentially concerned with the ethical, a point Wittgenstein insists on in the Preface of the book — the sense of “the ethical” here is not straightforward. In a book on ethics one might expect to find discussion of how one should live one’s life (albeit couched in abstract terms), the goal of existence; what counts as valuable; how one can justify one course of behaviour over another; whether moral principles are generalisable and so on. Moreover, at a certain point the ethical views propounded will have to take account of the wider society and their impact on social and political arrangements. One finds little of this in the Tractatus (Griffiths 1976, 97). Wittgenstein’s concern there was quite different. He wanted to make clear the boundaries of what could intelligibly be said. To this end, approximately five-sixths of the book deals with questions of logic — how language relates to the world, how it is possible to say anything at all. It turns out that all that concerns value falls outside what can be said. However, there is an indication that though what is of value cannot be expressed, it is shown by for instance, the manner in which one lives one’s life — one’s attitude to suffering, adversity and especially one’s death. Value can also be revealed through the Arts — music, drama and literature.


4What sense can we make of the claim that value lies outside the world? To understand this we need to grasp Wittgenstein’s rather special use of the word “world”. The Tractatus opens with:

The world is all that is the case.
The world is the totality of facts, not things. (TLP 1, 1.1)

5A proposition depicts a fact; it is a picture or model of reality. If we understand it we know that such and such is the case, if it is true — and not the case, if it is false. Just as notes on the stave of a musical score show how the piece of music is to be played — is a representation of the music; similarly, the proposition shows its sense. If one can read music, theoretically, one can play an entirely new piece — it is a matter of understanding a system of musical notation. Likewise, if one understands a language, one can comprehend an entirely new proposition.

A proposition shows its sense.
A proposition shows how things stand if it is true. And says that they do so stand. (TLP 4.022)

6Now, if we consider some moral injunction such as, “You should consider the feelings of others” or a more generalised statement like “Infidelity is wrong” we can see that these do not describe any state of affairs. They do not picture any fact and in short say nothing about the world. The same applies to judgements of aesthetic value — if we say, “This symphony is greater than that one” we may be able to support what we say by reference to form or structure; however, we will not be able to say in what the value of the music consists. Wittgenstein asks:

What is valuable in a Beethoven sonata? The sequence of notes? No, it is only one sequence among many, after all. (WVC, 116).

7Indeed as with ethics Wittgenstein will countenance no explanation of the value of a piece of music — it does not reside in the composition or the circumstances surrounding its creation — the thoughts, feeling and emotions of the composer. One can follow Wittgenstein’s reasoning here, once one accepts his terms. The judgements above do not say anything about the world — they do not say how things are. They in fact introduce another level — a notion of comparison and difference, grading and appraisal — an idea of hierarchy. But “All propositions are of equal value.” (TLP 6.4) and later on “Propositions can express nothing that is higher” (TLP 6.42). “It is clear that ethics cannot be put into words. Ethics is transcendental. (Ethics and aesthetics are one and the same)” (TLP 6.421).

8What status therefore do these ethical and aesthetic judgements have? On Wittgenstein’s account we are, strictly speaking saying nothing when we say such things. They are nonsensical. They attempt to say what can only be shown. It is important to understand that these statements are not nonsensical in the sense of being gibberish — like illformed sentences or nonsense verse. The fact that they are nonsensical does not mean that they do not have a point. If we consider the propositions of logic, which are really tautologies and therefore have no content they say nothing but none the less, show something about the world. They represent the scaffolding of the world. It is important to bear this in mind, lest we conclude that all that is important can be spoken about and thus ethics, religion, metaphysics and whatever else that cannot be caught within the scientific net may be consigned to the philosophical scrap-heap. Paul Engelmann remarks:

Positivism holds — and this is its essence — that what we can speak about is all that matters in life. Whereas Wittgenstein passionately believes that all that really matters in human life is precisely what, in his view we must be silent about. (Engelmann 1967, 97)

9This is clearly a cautionary reminder of the extent to which Wittgenstein’s work was misunderstood by his contemporaries. For instance, those who used the Tractatus to attack metaphysics, but in so doing entirely missed the ethical point of the book (cf. Janik and Toulmin 1973, 169). It is essential that one treats the Tractatus as a complete philosophy which deals with logic; revealing its character and drawing a boundary around what can be said, thus making manifest the ethical which must remain unsaid. The hope is that if one thinks through this, one is able to view the world aright and hence the ethical function of the book will be achieved.

10“Logic is transcendental” (TLP 6.13). It is important to bear in mind that logic is not part of the world. It is rather, a transcendental requirement of our being able to speak about it. To bring out part of this point consider the examples: “This rose is red” and “Venus is the morning star” the logic of the word “is”, is different in each case — that of “predication” and “identity”, respectively (cf. Mounce, 1981, 28). One can know this only from knowing what it makes sense to say and this is determined by the logic of the language. Logic determines all possibilities but for this reason says nothing about the world. It shows itself as a kind of scaffolding necessary for the projection of meaning.

11The method of projection is not expressed in what is said, but without it nothing could be said. So far we have noted the delimiting function of logic — it prescribes the sayable. Thus it is not part of the world. The ethical too stands outside the world, which consists of facts. So like logic, ethics is transcendental. Given that we can make sense of the role of logic — to what extent can we elucidate the ethical? It is a characterisation of the ethical to say that what is of value is inexpressible, though a minimal one. Fortunately, Wittgenstein does provide further comment in scattered remarks, which elaborates on that skeletal account.


12One of the consequences of all propositions being equal (being on the same level) is that agency as we ordinarily understand it disappears. The human being becomes simply part of the phenomena of the world. Qua phenomena, human occurrences are of no more significance than anything else that happens in this world; than the lives of beasts and insects, the falling of the leaves. Wittgenstein writes somewhat startlingly:

There is no such thing as the subject that thinks or entertains ideas. (TLP 5.631)

13If I wrote a book called The World as I found it, I should have to include a report on my body and should have to say which parts were subordinate to my will, and which were not etc., this being a method of isolating the subject, or rather showing that in an important sense there is no subject; for it alone could not be mentioned in that book.

14Peter Winch in his essay on “Wittgensteins Treatment of the Will” (1972, 112) quite rightly notes tensions and inconsistencies in the passage above. If I distinguish those occurrences which are under the control of my will from those which are not, in order to isolate the subject (i. e. the distinction between being able to walk at will, and for instance, perspiring, which is not under our control), then it seems odd to say that this shows that in an important sense there is no subject. If one accepts that there is no subject then one seems forced to draw the conclusion that the distinction in the first place was bogus and those things I do, and what happens to me, are on the same level. Perhaps, Wittgenstein is struck by the fact that there is a similarity between what we do and what merely happens to us. It might be said that our capacities are just natural historical facts about us, about which we have neither choice nor control. In any case, it is not the thinking “I” or the “I” of psychology that is the subject of ethical attributes but the metaphysical “I”. This raises the question what the metaphysical “I” is, which I hope will emerge as we develop Wittgenstein’s account. The metaphysical “I” is synonymous with some notion (as yet unclear) of the will. Thus, Wittgenstein writes: “[I know] […] that my will penetrates the world. That my will is good or evil.” (NB, 11.6.16) For Wittgenstein, “There are two godheads: the world and my independent I” (NB, 8.7.16). The task of life is bringing these two into harmony; but how is this to be done? One can find something of an existential slant in Wittgenstein’s way of thinking about the problem. We are thrown into the world — a world that exists before our coming, a world which is alien and in which we are powerless. “That is why we have the feeling of being dependent on an alien will.” (NB, 8.7.16). At this point in his reflections Wittgenstein seems to equate the world with God or at least the sense of the world. “How things stand, is God. God is how things stand.” “What we are dependent on we call God.” (NB, 1.8.16) Later he makes the point explicitly: “In this sense God would simply be fate, or what is the same thing; The world which is independent of our will.” (NB, 8.7.16). This equation between God and the world helps make some of Wittgenstein’s remarks clearer (cf. Zemach, 1966). The good life is quite simply the happy life. Being happy or unhappy depends on my attitude to the world. The world itself is neither good nor evil — such valuations arise with the entry into the world of the metaphysical “I”. I must therefore simply accept everything that happens in the world — including the misery of the world because I cannot change it. The good will then is related to acceptance. Our freedom exists in recognising and embracing necessity. We can however make ourselves independent of fate. In a revealing sentence, Wittgenstein writes: “I can only make myself independent of the world — and so in a sense master it — by renouncing any influence on happenings.” (NB, 11.6.16)

15One could see such renunciation as submitting to the will of God. In practical terms, having a good will is not a simple matter. We must live a life of knowledge, which is the only bulwark against the misery of the world. We need to be indifferent to “the amenities of the world” and if we are blessed by having them, we should treat them as “so many graces of fate” (NB, 13.8.16). We become involved in unhappiness once we wish things were otherwise. This arises when one thinks one can alter or affect the world — that one’s desires or wishes are somehow privileged. Anything that we do, including what we think, is just part of the world and happens not as a result of our will but according to the laws of nature. Given that the only necessity is logical necessity and there is no logical necessity between will and world there can be no guarantee that what we will is successful. Even “the supposed physical connection” (which Wittgenstein regards as a fiction) is not something in our power to will (cf. NB, 5.7.16).

16To understand our position in the world we must view it sub specie aeternitatis — as a limited whole. That is to say, no part of the world is privileged or preferred to another. No state of affairs is more desirable than another. It is not the way the world is that is important but that it is. When one views the world in this way, no longer in the midst of things; the psychological agent becomes no more important than any other part of the world. One’s life is seen as if from beyond. Looking at the world in this way changes nothing in the world — it does not alter the facts. However, in another sense, one’s whole world changes — it is the sense of the world that changes: “The world of the happy man is different from that of the unhappy man.” (TLP 6.43)

17Wherein does the difference lie? It cannot be just in respect of their happiness or unhappiness. Neither can it reside in the fact that one has a happy optimistic disposition while the other tends to have a depressive one. These would be merely features of the world with which we must come to terms. Rather, their lives are different in that the happy person is in agreement with the world. This means being free from fear and hope — the two great enemies of happiness. Both of these propel the subject into the future with all its uncertainties. Thus by being afraid of what will or may happen at some future date, we destroy our present happiness through anxiety; while hoping for something in particular to happen may wreak havoc on our equilibrium if the hope is unfulfilled. “To be happy one must live in the present. For life in the present there is no death” (NB, 8.7.16). Under such circumstances one is “in agreement with that alien will, on which I am dependent. That is to say I am doing the will of God” (NB, 8.7.16). Thus, “[f]ear in the face of death is the best sign of a false i. e. a bad life” (NB, 8.7.16). On this view, being happy — though it certainly seems to involve contentment — is also to do with understanding life and having a certain view of our position in the world.

18Here clearly it is the metaphysical “I” which looks at the world in this way, since the “I” of psychology is itself just part of the world. The metaphysical “I” is not part of the world or in the world, but a boundary of it (NB, 2.8.16). This “I” is transcendental, it is not an object. “I objectively confront every object. But not the I.” And later on in the same entry: “The I makes its appearance in philosophy through the world’s being my world.” (NB, 12.8.16). It is my world in that for there to be a world there must be consciousness. It is to this centre of consciousness, which we call the “I” that the world is given. Hence, it is my world.

19One of several difficult points in understanding Wittgenstein’s ethics — is how something outside the world can be the subject of ethical attributes and related to this how in the absence of agency the issue of ethical attributes can arise at all. One might say that if one does not act, a fortiori, one does not act well or badly. Moreover, we judge people by what they do and not merely by their attitude to life, though what they do will obviously be informed by it. I do not think that Wittgenstein can answer this difficulty within the framework of his Tractarian philosophy. I shall however, explore one line of explanation, which ultimately fails though I hope in an instructive manner.

20One needs to distinguish the person or subject qua phenomenon in the world, the subject of psychology and the metaphysical subject. The former disappears like the Humean self becoming, not as in Hume’s work, impressions, but part of the world of facts. However, the subject is not captured exhaustively in descriptions of its factual nature. The spiritual or metaphysical part lies in the life of knowledge, reflection and judgement. One has the feeling that Wittgenstein separates the factual nature of actions from their meaning or significance. Or perhaps, we can say that actions under a merely factual description have no significance. Objectively speaking they have no meaning.

21Accordingly, in his Lecture on Ethics written some years after the Tractatus but still very much in its spirit, he argues that any judgement of value that can be re-described in terms of factual propositions, is merely a relative judgement and belongs to the world. While those that could not be so described were true ethical propositions and expressed absolute value. Wittgenstein makes the point firstly, that the word “good” can be used in a relative and an absolute sense. If we say, “this is a good knife” we are saying that it serves its purpose well. Similarly, if we say, “X is a good runner” we can explain the sense of “good” by the use of other terms, such as “X can run a mile in such and such a time” (cf. LE, 6).

22So to come to Wittgenstein’s own example, he imagines someone saying of an other that he does not play tennis well, to which the other replies that he does not want to play any better. This would be the end of the matter and the critic might say; “Well, that’s all right then.” This judgement depends on what the individual wants. Consider the example where someone has told a preposterous lie and the critic says: “You’re behaving like a beast” and he says “I know but I don’t want to behave any better”, could he then say “Ah, then that’s all right.”? Certainly not; he would say “Well, you ought to want to behave better” (LE, 5). When we speak of what the critic “could” say here, we are drawing attention to a grammatical feature of such judgements — that is to say, we are drawing attention to what it makes sense to say in such cases (cf. Rhees 1970, 97). This is an absolute judgement and it cannot be couched in other terms. It is not relative to the individual’s wants. The grammar of the absolute or ethical judgements makes it impossible for them to be re-phrased in factual terms or explained in such terms. Given, that ethical judgements are judgements of absolute value for Wittgenstein, one may ask; to whom or what are they attributable? The short answer is the metaphysical subject, but this requires explanation.

23Just as there two senses of subject — the psychological and the metaphysical, so there are two corresponding senses of “will” — though Wittgenstein is rather unclear about this. The ‘will’ which, belongs to the world, is presumably the will that we share with animals and the rest of nature. Part of the phenomenal world à la Schopenhauer. It encompasses all our psychological strivings, appetites, desires and actions considered as phenomenal events. Then, there is the ethical will, which seems to relate to the ordinary will in a similar way as the metaphysical subject relates to the psychological. Put simply, these pairs of distinctions are just different characterisations of the same thing. The metaphysical will or subject is that which endows meaning to actions and the world.

24Wittgenstein makes an important distinction between “wishing” and “willing”. Unlike “wishing” which may precede or accompany an action, “willing” is the action itself. He reaches this break-through (which pre-figures his discussion of the will in the Philosophical Investigations) towards the final entries in the Notebooks. But an action takes place in the world, so how does the ethical enter? Perhaps we can say that an action qua event in the world has no ethical character; however, the sense of the action namely, what it is I intend to do, does. Let us consider the example of cutting someone’s leg off — if the intention in this case is to save the person’s life, the moral character of the action will be different than if done from other motives, i. e. malice. Whichever motive or intention the agent has will not alter the “factuality” of what takes place. Thus the ethical will is the character of the action given by the intention of the agent.

25However, when we analyse such examples we realise that they will not do the job we require of them. What I want, or intend just collapses into the ordinary psychological notion of the will. Whenever one tries to draw the distinction, one ends up, either falling back into the ordinary and rejected notion of the will or evacuating the concepttion of the metaphysical will of sense.

26In the Notebooks, we see Wittgenstein struggling with these difficulties regarding just what role he can assign to the will. He is drawn to the idea that the phenomenal will — the will as commonly understood — has some foothold on the world and has some connection with ethics. In the Tractatus, he presents a more clear-cut and decisive view. The notion of ethics there, is more or less forced on him by his concept of the will and world being radically divided — the former located outside the world and therefore can do no real work and the latter, which consists entirely of “facts”. The Lecture on Ethics shows an interesting departure from the austere pronouncements of the Tractatus and importantly, the beginning of the use of examples. These examples though not all serving the same function, throw light on the problems we have been examining.

27Like in the Tractatus, Wittgenstein wants to show that what is most important in life — that which is of value — cannot be expressed. One example he uses of absolute value is the concept of “feeling absolutely safe”. But as he himself points out, one can only be safe from this or that under such and such circumstances. The idea of absolute safety no matter what happens, is not an intelligible one — so far as our language allows. There is a tendency in our nature to say such things, which Wittgenstein recognises and regards as worthy of respect. This tendency can be described as pushing against the boundaries of language. Analogies could be drawn with Socrates when he says “[…] no evil can happen to a good man either living or dead […]” (Plato 1970, 516). That a good man cannot be harmed uses a notion of “harm” that is not any ordinary one. Nothing that we normally regard as harm touches him. It expresses a particular attitude to adversity such that whatever happens his integrity will not be destroyed. Or again, the biblical reminder; “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” These remarks all point to an ethic that is not of this world (cf. Winch, 1972).

28When Wittgenstein speaks of wondering at the existence of the world he makes explicit a paradox with which we have been struggling. He asks how it is possible that something that is dateable, an experience, could have absolute value. In one way, he is tempted to reject the idea as pure nonsense. However, he knows that he has had such experiences and that they are entirely real. He even tries to address the paradox by suggesting that another way of expressing his feeling is seeing the world as a miracle. This point is elaborated by his observing that if what we call a miracle were to occur, namely, something that has never been encountered before (a person spontaneously growing the head of a lion); once we began to reduce it to various facts and regarded it scientifically, then the miracle would vanish. Basically, he wants to emphasise that the world of ethics is incompatible with the world of facts and the scientific viewpoint. The idea that the ethical is not borne by the psychological subject is reiterated in a spirit reminiscent of an example that we have already discussed, when he remarks:

If for instance in our world-book we read the description of a murder with all its details physical and psychological the mere description of these facts will contain nothing which we could call an ethical proposition. The murder will be on exactly the same level as any other event, for instance the falling of a stone. (LE, 6)

29This seems quite a difficult position to sustain. For one thing, describing the act as murder introduces an ethical dimension. It points to an unlawful killing, which is not ethically neutral. Secondly, since it includes psychological detail e. g. about intention and motivation we are in a position to assess guilt to some extent. We know that some behaviour is under our control while other is not. Thus murdering someone is not at all, on the same level as the falling of a stone. If a murderer were to use such an analogy as his defence in court, he would be laughed to scorn. What exactly is Wittgenstein saying here? He is saying that there can be no ethical propositions, simpliciter. What people do from the point of view of their physical and psychological states is on precisely the same footing as, a stone falling, a change in the weather, fruit ripening or whatever. To examine the first point, let us agree with Wittgenstein that there will be no ethical propositions in such a description, still nothing precludes the appearance of recognisably ethical thought and reflection in such a book. The murderer’s motivation may be revealed to us — he decides to commit murder to avenge a perceived wrong done to his family. He may see the killing as an unpleasant duty he is called upon to perform. However, after the deed he sees things very differently and suffers intense remorse. He comes to realise that he should never have done such a thing and seeks punishment for his crime. (It should be noted that each of the italicised words involves ethical notions) Clearly, one does not have to look far to find books, which raise and treat such ethical issues, such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. (Wittgenstein’s book ”The World as I found it” is something quite different). Whether or not one can find examples of ethical propositions in these works is beside the point, though I believe one can. The point is that if people did not live lives in which ethical matters were fundamental such books would not be the great works they are. And unless people lived such lives the concerns expressed there would be unintelligible.

30The second point is related to the above discussion and can be disposed of quickly. The idea that in this book (Wittgenstein’s) descriptions of psychological and physical states, which include human actions such as murder, could be on the same level as natural events is untenable. If someone were to write such a book as a kind of modernist experiment it would be unlike any book ever written. To put the point more strongly it would be scarcely intelligible because it would not describe anything that was recognisably human. Wittgenstein is committed to the view that the book in question could contain feelings of pain and rage. However, if these higher-order concepts are used as opposed to, for instance, purely scientific descriptions in physical or neurophysiological terms — these then bring with them a range of human reactions. For instance, reactions to the pain of the victim; questions about the appropriateness of the rage and to whom the rage was directed and so on. In other words, we are dealing with quite a different set of considerations from those, which would arise in connection with a natural occurrence. As noted above considering the actions of others as natural events is something that we cannot do, apart from in the most exceptional circumstances (cf. Strawson, 1974).

31Leaving these difficulties aside it is nonetheless true that the Lecture on Ethics shows important developments from the period of the Notebooks and the Tractatus. There is the use of examples, which was to become an essential feature of his later works. We see Wittgenstein attempting to give expression to his ethical and religious experiences whereas to do so during the Tractatus period would have been seen as a kind of profanation of what we must pass over in silence (cf. Nieli, 1987). As in the Tractatus he is looking for some essential feature, a commonality in these experiences which links them together. Two of his examples, namely, “the feeling of absolute safety” and “wondering at the existence of the world” he shows to be nonsense when analysed in terms of our normal concepts. They seem to function like similes, which however cannot be rephrased in literal terms. One of the examples, as we have seen, brings out a quite legitimate logical or grammatical difference between judgements of relative and absolute value.


32One feels the ethics of the Tractatus is the result of profound inner questing — an ethic of one individual trying to come to terms with the misery of life. It is an essentially inward-looking ethics, emanating as it does from an austere and rigorous view of language, with the world being the realm of facts. Given the further fact of the agent not being part of the world, it follows that ethical value can have no place there.

33If Wittgenstein were to write on ethics in the spirit of the Philosophical Investigations, one would expect quite a different picture. The conception of the will and thus agency is different. A person knows what he intends to do without recourse to any evidence. I can tell someone that I am going to raise my arm in one minute and do it. Others know about my behaviour inductively. This has important implications for agency and responsibility. In the Tractatus there was only a problematic connection between what you wanted or willed and what happened. Given that there was no logical connection it seemed that the only connection there could be, was an inductive one. This meant that the resulting action was entirely contingent and one was, so to speak, at the mercy of fate. But the relation between “willing” and “doing” is an internal one. The world is not independent of my will. I act in and on the world. What I do and fail to do makes a difference and it is not merely the attitude, which I have to it that matters.

34Just as the later Wittgenstein brought out how language was an essentially social phenomenon and not the property of any individual; so too ethical concern can only arise because of the existence of others. Language games emerge and develop with the social practices people engage in. In order to understand the various language games, including talk of right and wrong, we must understand the practices and forms of life in which these are embedded. Ethical and aesthetic judgements take place in particular historical circumstances. What may be a moral issue in one society may not be one in another. Or what may be a moral dilemma for one individual in a given society may not arise for someone else of the same society. To understand these ethical issues or in some cases to even understand them as ethical issues may require considerable background and filling out of the context. For these and other reasons, Wittgenstein would insist on the use of examples to elucidate such problems.

35However he would not have changed his view on the radical distinction between “fact” and “value” and that one could not derive an ethical conclusion from any factual argument. Again, on his view, the idea that a system of ethics, for instance, the Christian one, could be right or wrong, does not make sense, unless it means simply that one agrees with it or accepts it (cf. Rhees 1970, 101). Consequently, there could not be a science of ethics. Wittgenstein rejects what goes with this, the generalisability of ethical judgements, and when he spoke about ethics, he spoke in the first person and he considered this to be essential (cf. WVC, 117).

36Finally, placing value outside the world or “passing over it in silence” are not options that are available to us. It is only because people think and talk about ethical matters — make judgements regarding the rightness or otherwise of actions, that we have any conception of excellence and perfection. If morality did not affect our daily lives, have an impact on our world; it could not be an issue in some later life or other realm. Wittgenstein’s later writings help us see that if there is any value that does have value it must lie within what happens and the judgements we make on these.



Engelmann, Paul (1967): Letters from Ludwig Wittgenstein with a Memoir, Oxford 1967.

Griffiths, A. Phillips (1974): Wittgenstein, Schopenhauer and Ethics, in: A. Phillips Griffiths (ed.), Understanding Wittgenstein, Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures, Vol. 7, 1972/73, London 1974, 96-116.

Janik, Allen / Toulmin, Stephen (1973): Wittgenstein’s Vienna, London 1973.

Mounce, H. O. (1981): Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. An Introduction, Oxford 1981.

Nieli, Russell (1987): Wittgenstein from Mysticism to Ordinary Language, Albany, NY 1987.

Plato (1970): Great Dialogues of Plato, translated by W. H. D. Rouse, ed. by Eric H. Warmington and Philip G. Rouse, New York 1970.

Rhees, Rush (1970): Some Developements in Wittgenstein’s View of Ethics, in: Rush Rhees (ed.), Discussions of Wittgenstein, London 1970, 94-103.

Strawson, Peter F. (1974): Freedom and Resentment, London 1974.

Winch, Peter (1972a): Wittgenstein’s Treatment of the Will, in: Peter Winch, Ethics in Action, Oxford 1972, 110-129.

— (1972b): Can a Good Man be Harmed, in: Peter Winch, Ethics in Action, Oxford 1972, 193-209.

Zemach, Eddy M. (1966): Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of the Mystical, in: Irving M. Copi/Robert W. Beard (eds.), Essays on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, London 1966.



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