The Method of the Tractatus

Nikolay Milkov


In the last years, a small but rapidly growing group of American philosophers tried
to convince the world that almost eighty years of Tractarian studies rest on mistake:
Starting with Russell and Ramsey, Wittgenstein’s commentators neglected 6.54 which
‘clearly states’ that the propositions of this work are a plain nonsense. My task in
this paper is to show that this thesis is mistaken, and that it is mistaken in an
important way. Above all, the representatives of this group confuse the method
(style) of the Tractarian theories with the method of their exposition. Further, I
suggest a new interpretation of 6.54 which differs from both that of this group, as
well as from that of Peter Hacker: Wittgenstein’s main problem in the Tractatus was
the advancing of a content-less (intuitive) Conceptual Notation and of instructions
how to use it. Once we have mastered these two, we must throw them away.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; elucidation; ladder metaphor; nonsense; therapy

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