By Allan Janik and Stephen Toulmin
New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973.
314 pages
ISBN # 671-21725-9.

Comments by Bob Corbett
January 2004

Allan Janik and Stephen Toulmin present a very radical reinterpretation of the life and work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. The view they argue is so contrary to received views that it amounts to a total and complete re-evaluation of Wittgenstein and a denunciation of a nearly century long tradition that has presented and adopted a fairly well-known view of Wittgenstein.

However, Janik and Toulmin (J&K) are disturbed by a number of things including:

It is the thesis of J&K that indeed the tradition didn’t understand him, but Russell and Moore, particularly, tried to just adopt him into the interests and questions of British philosophy of the turn of the century – their philosophy – while Wittgenstein was securely rooted in the intellectual life of Vienna at the turn of the century.

K&T deny that Wittgenstein was, as were Russell and Moore, much interested in epistemology, philosophy of science nor even logic for its own sake. Rather, the life-long interest of Wittgenstein was the relationship of language to reality.

The key that drives their audacious book and its thesis is Wittgenstein’s claim at the end of the Tractatus that there are things which can be said – and they are developed in the Tractatus – and about the rest we can only remain silent. However, according to K&T Wittgenstein’s primary interest – two things which could not on his own view – be said: the meaning of life and the nature of value, were the things which interested Wittgenstein the most. He made a distinction between what could be said and what could only be seen and shown. It was this realm of the seen and shown that fascinated him.

In order to demonstrate their thesis K&T show the internal textual difficulties with the standard view of understanding Wittgenstein as, first, the early champion of Logical Positivism, then the apostate to Positivism who developed The Philosophical Investigations.

By tracing a great deal of Wittgenstein’s pre-British days in Vienna, and studying the intellectual cultural of that city before and immediately after WWI, J&T are able to make a powerful case for their thesis. They certainly managed to convince me. And I must say the Wittgenstein who emerges from their study is a much more interesting thinker and person that the Wittgenstein I had known before.

However, I am not satisfied that Wittgenstein’s radical separation of fact and value is quite as drastic as Wittgenstein claims, and thus has some philosophical consequences I can’t quite accept.

  1. The claim that “that of which we cannot speak we must remain silent” seems to me to be a metaphorical claim.

    It is a claim rooted in his skepticism which I share, but more clearly seems to mean that there are things we can speak about and those things are in science. The rest, the things which on the J&T thesis are important – the meaning of life and our values, cannot be demonstrated and we can’t “know” these things in any philosophically serious sense.

  2. The distinction between what can be SHOWN and what can be SAID, however, leads elsewhere.

    As J&T show, Wittgenstein does believe modes exist for “showing” both meaning and value: poetry, literature, the arts, models of the lives of real people themselves.

I readily accept those claims. But I want to add that speaking – in non-scientific senses at times as well as in scientific senses as well, will often inform us and guide us in coming to “see.”

Thus in ethics I too accept Wittgenstein’s fundamental skepticism, and the view that these things must be seen and not spoken (in his metaphorical sense of hard-line “knowing.” Yet reason and criticism may well enlighten and guide our seeing just as much as poetry and human models.

Knowing the relevant facts about our acts, for example, may often be relevant to our “seeing.” We have a better sense of consequences and meanings even if our speaking is not fully exact..

Such a view would remain within the radical skepticism embedded in J&T’s Wittgenstein, but still leave an important place in our lives and intellectual pursuits for something like the J&T book itself (which would be strictly speaking “nonsense” on a Tractatus criterion), not as a demonstration of a true thesis, but as a powerful and useful guide TOWARD SEEING. Just as these few sentences may even themselves be a spoken set of words, they might be useful in going beyond the metaphor of the meaning of silence, and embracing a second level of speech, not at all up to the rigors of scientific language.


I kept a number of notes, things that guided me or seemed useful. I include them here in case they might be interesting to any who read these comments.

Chapter 1: Introduction. Pp. 13-32.

The central concern of this book is a reinterpretation of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. It is the author’s position that the relatively standard views of Wittgenstein, even abstracting from differences, is that this work is about logic and language, and completely separate from ethics and metaphysics.

They deny this, and argue that a consistent and coherent reading of the book can’t be made on that thesis, not a consistent and coherent understanding of Wittgenstein’s life.

They argue, instead, that one must understand more than just the text itself, and must understand the milieu out of which he came – turn of the century Vienna, and to pay attention to the last 5 pages of the Tractatus in which he concludes with comments on ethics.

Check: C.A. Macartney’s THE HABSBURG EMPIRE, 1790-1918.

Many of the issue center around the birth of modernism in turn of the century Vienna.

Contradictions in Vienna which drove this movement. P. 19. “Still less, shall we then be able to broaden our social view and recognize how that same Vienna, which prided itself on its image as the City of Dreams, could at the same time be described by its own most penetrating social critic as the “Proving-Ground for World Destruction.” (critic is Karl Krauss.)

J&T have a very controversial thesis which puts the ETHICAL at the center of Wittgenstein’s book, not the logical/linguistic.

Key figures who set the tone for Wittgenstein: Adolf Loos and Karl Krauss.

The standard view is that the work of Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell provide the stimulus for Wittgenstein’s philosophy. J&T point out that he went to them already having a set of philosophical problems in mind and they often didn’t understand him.

p. 29: “Instead, we must look directly at the Vienna of Wittgenstein's childhood-at its social and political problems, its cultural preoccupations, and above all at that general philosophical framework which was the common possession of musicians, writers, lawyers and thinkers of all kinds, quite as much as of academic philosophers. And, to the extent that the Tractatus is a key book or understanding the period from which it came, we can hope that this investigation will cast light in both directions, so that, in reappraising our view of Ludwig Wittgenstein and his ideas about language, we shall come to see more clearly also the character of the Viennese environment which was the cradle for so much in mid-twentieth-century art and thought.”

Chapter 2: Habsburg Vienna: City of Paradoxes. Pp. 33 – 66

This chapter is deeply indebted to Schorske’s book.

KK = Kaiserlich-Koniglich. The imperial royal – the empire centered in Vienna and the rest empire was sort of a tag-along.

K&K = Kaiserlich and Koniglich. The notion of the King of Austria being also, but separately the emperor of the total empire.

The collapse of the empire was under three Kaisers:

The theme was law and order. Authoritarian, but quite orderly.

1895 Cilli affair is useful. Styrian town which had a battle over whether or not the Slovenic language could be used in schools. Tension between Austria and the rest of the empire.

Franz Joseph relied heavily on the army for order. HAUSMACHT. Power in the kaiser’s hands.

In the Habsburg empire: Germans, Ruthenes, Italians, Slovaks, Rumanians, Czechs, Poles, Magyars, Slovenes, Croats, Transylvanian Saxons and Serbs.

p. 41: Vienna was a significant achievement:

“In all of the Habsburg lands, Vienna was unique in one important respect. Here was at least partially achieved that supranational, cosmopolitan consciousness which was the dynasty's only hope for survival. The external splendors of fin-de-siecle Vienna were, after all, largely due to Francis Joseph in person. Between 1858 and 1888 he rebuilt the city, as though to efface 1848 and everything it represented." Where the city walls had previously been, the city was encircled by a magnificent, sixty-foot-wide, tree-lined boulevard, the celebrated Ringstrasse. Where the Turks had camped during the siege of Vienna, a fine new city hall was erected. But this was only a beginning. He constructed also a new Imperial Palace, with two new museums opposite it, a new Reichstag building, and a controversial new Imperial Opera House and, as the final touch, a new Imperial Theater where the Viennese could satisfy their passion for drama.”

The Ringstrasse is from 1858-1888.

Jung Wien: Hung out at Griensteidl Café.

p. 45: “This was the background to the circle of young poets, focused around Arthur Schnitzler and Hermann Bahr, who met at the Cafe Griensteidl and were known as Jung Wien: the most distinguished of them being Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Stefan Zweig. They had been raised in a society that thought it quite natural to center its life upon the theater, which formed the standards of speech, dress and mores;" and in a city in which the standards of journalism were exceptionally high.”

P 45. The literary form that was favored: The feuilleton.

“That which they (and indeed their fathers) considered to be the ne plus ultra in the paper was the literary or cultural essay, the "feuilleton"

“’The feuilleton writer, an artist in vignettes, worked with those discrete details and episodes so appealing to the nineteenth century's taste for the concrete. But he sought to endow his material with color drawn from his imagination. The subjective response of the reporter or critic to an experience, his feeling-tone, acquired clear primacy over the matter of his discourse. To render a state of feeling became the mode of formulating a judgment. Accordingly, in the feuilleton writer's style, the adjectives engulfed the nouns, the personal tint virtually obliterated the contours of the object of discourse.’”

This last paragraph is from Schorske’s book.

Rigorous social rules left no space for discussion of sex, thus insuring a key Interest in sex.

Schorske on the failed liberalism: p. 48.

“Austrian liberalism, like that of most other European nations, had its heroic age in the struggle against aristocracy and baroque absolutism. This ended in the stunning defeat of 1848. The chastened liberals came to power and established a constitutional regime in the 1860's almost by default. Not their own internal strength, but the defeats of the old order at the hands of foreign enemies brought the liberals to the helm of the state. From the first they had to share their power with the aristocracy and the imperial bureaucracy. Even during their two decades of rule, the liberals' social base remained weak, confined to the middle-class Germans and German Jews of the urban centers. Increasingly identified with capi talism, they maintained parliamentary power by the undemocratic device of the restricted franchise.”45

The goals of liberalism:

  1. Constitutional monarchy.
  2. Entrepreneurs replace nobility as ruling class.
  3. Scientific rationalism to replace superstitutious Catholicism.

Key leaders:

  1. Vikton Adler. Socialist.

  2. Karl Lueger – Christians aimed at democratic underclass. Radical anti-semite.

  3. George Ritter von Schonerer. Pro-German nationalist. Used violence which broght him down.

  4. Theodore Herzl. Jewish, often pro-German early on. Zionist in the end.

See Schnitzler’s: Reigen. (La Ronde and Hands Around and Ring Around the Rosey. [English titles])

Chapter 3: Language and Society: Karl Krauss and the Last Days of Vienna.

pp.. 61– 91. The central notion the authors are after is Krauss’ careful separation of reason – merely a means to achieve ends well and art (imagination), the art of valuing – is a key to what is useful to them in the comparison with Wittgenstein. And in showing how Wittgenstein is rooted in Krauss. Krauss believe vehemently in the “disaster” of Vienna. Culturally bankrupt. Hypocritical. He wanted to change it. Tool:

Die Fackel. 1899-1936. 922 issues. He started it when he was 24. After 1912 he wrote the entire thing himself. It was polemic and satire.

“Psychoanalysis is that spiritual disease of which it considers itself to be the cure.”

Since reason was only instrumental on Krauss’ view and values rose out of creative imagination and choice, bourgeois society, newspapers with their shaping of people’s view, psychoanalysis – all were enemies of the artistic impulse in all people.

p. 76. The problem with Die Neue Freie Presse.

“And Die Neue Freie Presse was a special object of his wrath, precisely because its high journalistic standards were allied to a point of view and presentation which were anything but objective. Fear of official censorship, in fact, made the paper the covert mouthpiece of the regime, while its elegant reporting was always slanted toward industrial interests. In Kraus's view, therefore, claims to journalistic excellence included, above all, a claim to excellence in deceit. It was the most deserving of attack, because it exemplified all the things that other newspapers sought to emulate and was the ideal to which every other publisher aspired.”

He especially reviled the feuilleton for its confused mixing of objectivity and subjectivity.

Central to Krauss’ criteria was the unity of artist’s beliefs and life with his artistic output. Integrity was essential.

“So the Krausian can engage in a critique of culture only indirectlythat is, by maintaining what Paul Engelmann referred to as a "creative separation" between reason and fantasy, between the sphere of "facts" and the sphere of "values. 1112 This explains why those who view the resulting work only superficially easily misunderstand it, as has certainly been the case with the two most eminent Krausians, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Arnold Schonberg. For, like Kraus and Nestroy before him, the Krausian will be appreciated by some for the wrong reasons and con demned as a nihilist by others on equally mistaken grounds, both sets of critics having somehow stopped short of the Krausian ‘origin.’”


Die Letzten Tage der Menschheit. A 700 page play. Satire on WWI. (by Kraus)

Chapter 4: Culture and Critique: Social Criticism and the Limits of Artistic Expression. pp. 92 – 119.

Loos: “disguishing articles of use from objets d’art. P. 93

For Karuss – need to bring about a moral awareness. From false consciousness to consciousness.

“Loos desired to eliminate all forms of decoration from functional items.” 93.

Klimt led 19 students forming “The Secession” 1899. 23 years after French Impressionism began.

Schiele: line over color.

The transitional figure---------------leads------------------the radical

Gustav Mahler------------------------------------Arnold Schonberg

Otto Wagner--------------------------------------Adolf Loos

Gustav Klimt-------------------------------------Oscar Kokoschka

Mahler – Songs of a wayfarer and Songs of the earth

“… one did not compose in order to produce pleasant sounds, but in order to express one’s personality.”

1891 Jung Wien – leader Schnitzler.

Loris – just 17. wrote poetry. Was Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Hofmannsthal moved to total drama as expression – music, words, stage action.

p. 117: “We have spotlighted the problem of language in Hofmannsthal, because this serves to introduce and illustrate our own central hypothesis about Viennese culture-namely, that to be a fin-de-siecle Viennese artist or intellectual, conscious of the social realities of Kakania, one had to face the problem of the nature and limits o f language, expression and communication.

p. 119. “To sum up: by the year 1900, the linked problems of communication, authenticity and symbolic expression had been faced in parallel in all the major fields of thought and art-by Kraus and Schonberg, Loos and Hofmannsthal, Rilke and Musil. So the stage was set for a philosophical critique of language, given in completely general terms. The next item on our agenda is to look and see how this task presented itself to thinkers and writers brought up in the Viennese milieu of the 1890s and 1900s- especially, when it was viewed in the light of the three philosophical traditions with which they were most familiar. These were (1) the neoempiricism of Ernst Mach, with its emphasis on "sense impressions" and natural science; (2) the Kantian analysis of "representation" and the "schemata," regarded as determining the forms of experience and judgment, and its continuation by the antiphilosopher Arthur Schopenhauer ; and (3) the anti-intellectualist approach to moral and aesthetic issues put forward by that other antiphilosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, and echoed in the novels and essays of Leo Tolstoy.”

“We shall begin this philosophical reconstruction by looking at the views of the first modern European writer to consider language itself as the central and crucial topic for philosophical examination. Given the outcome of our investigations to date, it will come as no surprise that this first attempt to give such a completely general critique of language, from the philosophical point of view, was made by a Bohemian apostate Jew who, as a drama critic in Berlin, straddled in his own person the frontiers between philosophy and literature. The man was Fritz Mauthner, a writer whose Sprachkritik Wittgenstein himself referred to later in the Tractatus, and whose skeptical aims and discursive methods he explicitly contrasted with his own more formal and rigorous approach to the philosophy of language.”

Chapter 5: Language, Ethics and Representation. 120 – 166.

After a long chapter of a following of Kantian philosophy, with the corrective of Schopenhauer, to a detailed account of the work of Fritz Mauthner, Ernst Mach and Heinrich Hertz, the authors arrive at the conclusion below as it related to Wittgenstein’s later thinking:

p. 65-66. ‘With this historical reconstruction as a background, we can now identify the general intellectual problem which faced men in all fields of thought and art in Vienna in the years just before the First World War- the problem which might well present itself to them as the central problem of philosophy itself. By 1900, we said, the time had already been ripe for a comprehensive critique of language, designed to draw together and generalize, in philosophical terms, all the more localized and particular critiques of established means of expression and communication already familiar in (for example) logic and music, poetry and architecture, painting and physics. Such a philosophical critique must presumably confirm and justify the separation between facts and values as a philosophical necessity, so going far beyond the boundaries of particular fields. Mauthner, with his Critique, had made a first attempt to provide such a general philosophical analysis, and up to a point the result was impressive enough. By exploring the ramifications of his nominalist principles, his final Sprachkritik certainly ended by supporting the core ethical position held in common by Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard and Tolstoy -- namely, the view that the "meaning of life" is not a matter for rational debate, cannot be given "intellectual foundations," and is in essence a "mystical" matter. But it supported this proposition only at a steep price. For, according to Mauthner's arguments, it was not merely the "meaning of life" which ceased to be a possible object of knowledge. His principles had compelled him to deny, also, the possibility of any genuine knowledge going beyond a metaphorical description of the world, even in science and logic.


Chapter 6: The Tractatus Reconsidered: An Ethical Deed. Pp. 167 – 201

p. 167. “What was the philosophical problem by which Wittgenstein was already preoccupied-the problem whose solution he saw as a key to all the out standing difficulties in philosophy-before he even got in touch with Frege and Russell in the first place?”

Two major problematics:

  1. The text itself is not sufficient to understand the puzzles the Tractatus presents.

  2. The last 10 pages are particularly problematic. Often just written off as some sort of undefended pronouncements of Wittgenstein.

Russell and Frege did influence him by giving him tools to address his “meaning of life issues.”

P. 177: “From 1919 on, he became a lonely and introverted figure. He admitted to having been impressed by Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West, and he retreated more and more into ethical attitudes of extreme individualism and austerity. For Wittgenstein as for Tolstoy, the demands of personal integrity were associated with a theoretical commitment to an absolute egalitarianism and an overriding concern with his brother men. Yet this commitment remained largely theoretical. His normal habit of life was that of a recluse, and it was only during the Second World War that his convictions had a chance to express themselves practically, in his decision to take up war work in the most menial of occupations, as a hospital porter and orderly.”

The subjective thinker goes beyond the limits of reason in faith, art and the use of language, not as practical, but to reach a spiritual world.

His is not a picture theory of language. Rather, sentences are a construction of our experience of the world in language.

His correspondence theory of truth: the sentence “the cat is on the mat,” is true is and only if the cat is, indeed, on the mat. Logic, truth tables etc. tells us a priori if a sentence is POSSIBLY true.


All the evidence for the Janik/Toulmin thesis is (and must be) circumstantial.

Important letter Wittgenstein wrote:

p. 192: “In yet another of these letters, he gives what is the most explicit idea of what he conceived he had accomplished in the Tractatus:

“The book's point is an ethical one. I once meant to include in the preface a sentence which is not in fact there now, but which I will write out for you here, because it will perhaps be a key to the work for you. What I meant to write, then, was this: My work consists of two parts: the one presented here plus all that I have not written. And it is precisely this second part that is the important one. My book draws limits to the sphere of the ethical from the inside as it were, and I am convinced that this is the ONLY rigorous way of drawing those limits.

“In short, I believe that where many others today are just gassing, I have managed in my book to put everything firmly into place by being silent about it. And for that reason, unless I am very much mistaken, the book will say a great deal that you yourself want to say. Only perhaps you won't see that it is said in the book. For now I would recommend you to read the preface and the conclusion because they contain the most direct expression of the point of the book.

The world – the fact of it – has no meaning or sense. That lies outside the world.


On the paradox of God and moral rules:

p. 194: “Schlick says that in theological ethics there are two interpretations of the Essence of Good. On the shallower interpretation, the Good is good, in virtue of the fact that God wills it: on the deeper interpretation, God wills the Good, because it is good. On my view, the first interpretation is the deeper: that is good, which God commands. For this blocks off the road to any kind of explanation, "why" it is good; while the second interpretation is the shallow, rationalistic one, in that it behaves "as though" that which is good could be given yet some further foundation. “And, a little later on, he cites a remark from Schopenhauer: "To preach morality is hard; to give it an intellectual justification is impossible."


Wittgenstein sees a significant difference between SAYING and SHOWING
which is quite parallel to the distinction between fact and values/

p. 195-196; “In science, we want to know the facts; in the problems of life, facts are unimportant. In life, the important thing is the capacity to respond to the suffering of another. It is a matter of right feeling. The philosophy of the Tractatus is directed toward showing how "knowledge" is possible. But, in its world-view, this knowledge is relegated to a secondary role. The vehicle for conveying feeling, which has the primary role in life, is the poem or the fable. Tolstoy’s Tales especially impressed Wittgenstein in this respect, as Paul Englemann tells us;62 and so also did the early American Western films, which he viewed as fables or moralities. These fables reach out to a man in his Innerlichkeit, and so are the means of touching the fantasy, which is the fountainhead of value.


.p. 196: “Rationalistic ethics and metaphysics are to Wittgenstein what the feuilleton is to Kraus : conceptual monsters, which only succeed in mixing up essentially different things.”

Vienna parallels:

Art / ornamentation -- Adolf Lous

Essay / Feuilleton -- Karl Kraus

Theatrical effects in music / pure music -- Arnold Schonberg

Fact / value Know / show -- Ludwig Wittgenstein Reason / fantasy


197: “All of these distortions were the result of telescoping elements which were essentially unrelated and which in combination were destructive of one another. Since society not only condoned but demanded the production of such aberrations, a critique of any of the arts was implicitly a critique of culture and society as a whole. Wittgenstein's Tractatus furnished the most abstract of these and therefore the least readily comprehensible. Nonetheless, it was-as Engelmann claimed-one central and essential element in the twentieth- century Viennese critique of language, communication and society.”

Philosophy can only make a negative contribution.


p. 199: “The task of philosophy is not to seek to build up a body of doctrine, but to be on guard continually against just that. There simply cannot be any meaningful propositions except those of natural science; there are no metalanguages ; logic is meaningless (sinnlos) and philosophy is nonsense (Unsinn). Yet even here there is a certain Krausian irony, f or Wittgenstein considers that this. "nonsense" is anything but unimportant.”

Chapter 7: Wittgenstein the Man, and His Second Thoughts. Pp. 202-238.

This chapter concerns the move toward the latter Wittgenstein, author of the Philosophical Investigations and what to make of that radical break with the Tractatus, or at least with Logical Positivism – since it is the J&T thesis that there really is no radical break, but a recognition that his main aim had been misunderstood by the Positivists.

J&T situate Wittgenstein’s contribution via the Tractatus by giving some background into the earlier work of Moore, Russell, Frege and Mach. In the early years of the 20th century Moore and Russell led a movement to reform philosophy and overcome idealism by means of critical and analytical methods.

This same aim was pursued in Vienna by attempts of the generalizing the successful methods of the natural sciences and mathematics to philosophy.

The shift to Logical Positivism came much later, in the 1920s when “atomic facts” were first defined as sense data.

Wittgenstein didn’t meet Schlick and Carnap until 1927 and then didn’t want to discuss technical philosophy with them, but to read poetry to them. This fits his movement into the world of “seeing” rather than “saying.”

p. 216. “For his own part he hoped that he had "climbed through, on, over', the metaphors of the Tractatus, that he had finally "sur mounted" them;33 and, having kicked away the temporary scaling ladder he had used to get there, he was distressed to see others picking it up and embedding it permanently in intellectual concrete. That had never been his intention. The logical positivists were overlooking the very difficulties about language which the Tractatus had been meant to reveal; and they were turning an argument designed to circumvent all philosophical doctrines into a source of new doctrines, meanwhile leaving the original difficulties unresolved.”

The real topic of the Tractatus and of Wittgenstein’s work in general was:

Later (1920s) Viennese intellectuals embraced the positivistic view of Wittgenstein and his newer work was described as “therapeutic positivism” and embrace the ordinary Language arguments.

p.220: “Paul Engelmann puts the point:

“A whole generation of disciples was able to take Wittgenstein as a positivist, because he has something of enormous importance in common with the positivists: he draws the line between what we can speak about and what we must be silent about just as they do. The difference is only that they have nothing to be silent about. 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 besilent about.”

I am quite persuaded by J&T’s thesis about how to understand Wittgenstein, and must admit he now becomes a much more interesting thinker to me than before.


Add Hofmanstahl to my list. He abandons lyric poetry for morality plays.

Lebensformen language games: Life forms.

Loos: forms of culture


Chapter 8 Professionalism and Culture: The Suicide of the Modern Movement. Pp. 239 – 262.

The end of chapter 7 prepares us for the problematic of this chapter.

Wittgenstein has an excessively radical fact/value dichotomy.

This needs to be explored to see to what extent such a view FREED that culture (turn of the century) for artistic expression.

The excesses of his view are:

Chapter 8: Professionalism & Culture: The Suicide of the Modern Movement.. pp. 239-262.

WWI brought a special loss to both Austria and Russian with the collapse of the Habsburgs and the Romanovs, the oldest regimes.

The main responses among the aristocratic and intellectual classes were:

  1. Those who withdrew from politics to simply await some sort of restoration.

  2. Those who despaired of the collective and moved to radical individualism. J&T see Wittgenstein in this class.

  3. Those who like Kraus opted out of any activism but did play the role of Jeremiah in proclaiming the coming of the end.

  4. The largest group which saw the need of a pragmatic response to the new historical situation and enlisted positivism and modern technology into the war for progress.

    Within this group there was a rise of professional groups which replaced the old system of patronage. Divisions were disputed among the “schools” in both the intellectual world and the arts.

    In politics there was the rise of power according to the concept of “peoples” even more than according to nation state.

On the historical nature of Wittgenstein:

p. 243: Wittgenstein's approach to problems of ethics and valuation, in the Tractatus, was equally ahistorical. His own opposition between the sphere of facts (which lent itself to representational description) and the sphere of values (about which one could speak at best poetically) was no more qualified, conditional or open to historical reconsideration than Kierkegaard's denunciation of Christendom, or the morality of moral codes. On the contrary, it was as important for Wittgenstein as for Kierkegaard to put the "transcendental" character of ethics on a timeless basis; after that, there could be no doubt about it, no subsequent going back. This meant, of course, that Wittgenstein's approach to ethics was also entirely apolitical. However much we may see a connection in retrospect between the collapse of the Habsburg Empire and Wittgenstein's own personal crisis of the early 1920s, he himself would probably have seen no connection between these two things.

Wittgenstein’s view of morality is individualistic, not collective and comes via Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard.

p.244: The only hope for the individual is to find, and save, his own soul; and even this he can do only by avoiding worldly entanglements. One of the few pieces of authentic moral advice Wittgenstein was heard to give in his later years is the maxim, ‘One must travel light.’”

p. 257 “ If, on their first meeting, Wittgenstein insisted on reading the Vienna Circle philosophers the poetry of Tagore, this then was a highly Krausian action with a genuine polemical point. For it amounted to a declaration that philosophical technicalities are, at best, a means to an end-namely, the liberation of a man's mind, so that he can face the truly profound and significant issues dealt with by writers like Tolstoy and Tagore. In this way, Wittgenstein openly dissociated himself from the "technical" or "professional" conception of philosophy, which valued the novel methods of the Tractatus as providing the basis for an autonomous, self-respecting academic discipline."

Chapter 9: Postscript: The Language of Alienation . Pp. 263-275.

The authors claim that the political institutions in Habsburg Austria and U.S. today tend to alienate individuals, thus lessons can be learned.

The tendency is for the alienated to either:

  1. Like Kraus take a Jeremiahan approach of condemning while watching the fall of society.
  2. Like Wittgenstein withdraw into a private world of personal values.

Lessons to be learned:

  1. If politican and social language gets debased the result is a pathological society.
  2. Our language games must mirror actual social experience.
  3. Revolutions are not only economic, but social, cultural and linguistic as well.
Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu

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Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu