The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus reads like a calculator's weblog about C-3PO's honors thesis, or an instruction manual for meaning itself translated from the algebra by Data from Star Trek Voyager. The book's skeleton is a septet of underwhelming statements: "The world is all that is the case;" "A thought is a proposition with a sense." The intellectual savagery of this book lies in what spins out of these nodes, furious and brilliant. Each initial statement is broken out into sub-statements which are numbered according to Wittgenstein's secret taxonomy. For example, paragraph 3.33 ("In logical syntax the meaning of a sign should never play a role…") is elaborated by paragraph 3.331 ("From this observation we turn to Russell's 'theory of types'. It can be seen that Russell must be wrong." [Oh SNAP!!! How much did Bertrand Russell hate reading paragraph #3.331 in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus?])
Then, late one August night Wittgenstein awoke with the realization that he had not totally destroyed philosophy. A few wily questions had survived his armageddon. They had grown stronger during his hiatus. They had learned from their fellow questions' fatal errors. They steeled themselves to the Tractatus. And now they called out to Wittgenstein, taunting him. So our hero came out of retirement and starting swinging harder than ever. He returned to Cambridge University and began raging against the dying of the light. He raged so hard, he accidentally developed an entirely new philosophy of language, one that contradicted the Tractatus-Logico Philosophicus. This new philosophy was called "Language Games." The basic idea behind it was, "Just talk and have fun. It's all good. It's only language." This philosophy was a little more mellow and less strident than the pit bull paragraphs of Wittgenstein's earlier work. This later period of Wittgenstein's career is referred to as the "All Good Period."
From amazon's Writers Under the Influence essay series.Posted by Bill Stilwell at September 17, 2004 09:42 AM