Unnatural Nonsense? On the expectancy of consistency in the Tractatus

Yrsa Neuman


In the TLP, Wittgenstein writes as if he did accept talk about both substantial and
“plain” nonsense. Sense and nonsense, I take it, is internally connected to the Satz
– a Satz has sense, otherwise it is not a Satz. Now Wittgenstein is not consistent in
wording when it comes to this either, but talks as if there were also unsinnige Sätze
(nonsensical propositions). The fact that there are inconsistencies poses problems to
both resolute and metaphysical readers (i.e. austere and traditional readers), and
the way out, I claim, is connected to the realisation that many representatives for
both readings implicitly impose a less credible view on Wittgenstein as a person and
that it is unclear when one is warranted to ascribe a deliberate and conception of
nonsense to Wittgenstein. The starting point for my discussion is Cora Diamond’s
“What nonsense might be” from The Realistic Spirit (1991).


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; consistency; nonsense

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