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Heidegger and Wittgenstein's Commonality

Heidegger and Wittgenstein's Commonality

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Published by shawn
An exploration of the commonality in take between Wittgenstein's "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus", hereafter referred to as the Tractatus, and Heidegger's "The Way to Language".

An exploration of the commonality in take between Wittgenstein's "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus", hereafter referred to as the Tractatus, and Heidegger's "The Way to Language".

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Published by: shawn on May 12, 2009
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This paper is an exploration of the commonality in take between Wittgenstein's"TractatusLogico-Philosophicus", hereafter referred to as the Tractatus, and Heidegger's"The Way toLanguage".Written by: Shawn Monaghan (critical on scribd.com) November 23, 1995That which mirrors itself in language, language cannot represent. That which expresses itself inlanguage, we cannot express by language (4.121).In this proposition of the Tractatus, Wittgenstein delimits the limits of language. We cannotrepresent the link language has with the world as this goes beyond the limits of language and todo so is impossible, to do so is to fool ourselves that we are getting anywhere. We can only showhow language links with the world, Wittgenstein does this through the tool of pictures. A pictureis a model of reality, a model that represents the possible structure of reality. To know if the picture is true one must compare it to reality and by doing so the picture if it agrees with realityis right if not then it is wrong. The way that pictures is compared to reality is through the stuff of atomic propositions and atomic facts. On Wittgenstein's estimation their exists an isomorphicone-to-one relationship between atomic facts and atomic propositions and this is the only thingwe can know as to how language relates to the world. To cognisize, theorize or otherwise aboutthe rightness or wrongness of the picture is something we cannot do, this would overstep the bounds of language and of thought leading us to the realm of the unsayable the realm of nonsense.Theories which make a proposition of logic appear substantial are always false. One could e.g. believe that the words 'true' and 'false' signify two properties among other properties, and then itwould appear as a remarkable fact that every proposition possesses one of these properties....Indeed our proposition now gets quite the character of a proposition of natural science and this isa certain symptom of its being falsely understood (6.111).This idea displayed by Wittgenstein is perhaps better looked at in conjunction with hisfundamental thought:My fundamental thought is that the 'logical constants' do not represent. That the logic of factscannot be represented (4.0312).Or, in other words, the structural identity between language and reality is unrepresentable. Thisgeneral principle is also upheld in Heidegger's :If we are on the trail of language as language,... We can no longer root about for general notionslike energy, activity,... view upon the world, or expression, under which we might subsumelanguage as a particular instance of this or that universal. Instead of explaining language as thisor that, and thus fleeing from it, the way to language wants to let language be experienced aslanguage. True in the essence of language, language is grasped conceptually; but it is caught inthe grip of something other than itself (406).
 
The mode of showing is the only meaningful device, to meaningfully understand language, wecan adopt when studying language (and its limits) is clearly set here in both Heidegger andWittgenstein. If one looks merely at the implied concept of showing in the above quotationHeidegger's concept of showing appears very similar to Wittgenstein's. For Wittgenstein theisomorphic relationship between atomic propositions and atomic facts is a form which cannot berepresented (4.0312). It can only be shown, as representing logical constants or representing therelationship between language and reality cannot be done:That which mirrors itself in language, language cannot represent (4.121).For this would be to get outside of the realm of language, to look at language itself from outsideof it, this is impossible and to try to do so is to ignore the limits of language and of thought.Wittgenstein's conceptualization of 'showing', appearing below in my own words, is quite plainand unembellished:
That which cannot be represented can only be shown.
This he attempts to do by developing the concept of a picture as a tool for illustrating propositions. The picture is a model of reality it shows reality it shows what but not how. Theway it can do this showing is by the isomorphic relationship it shares with reality this cannot beexplained it merely is.Heidegger has a vaguely similar principle in mind when he says that explaining language by wayof some conceptual framework, calling it 'this or that,' is to think we can somehow look upon itas a subject of study separate from ourselves. As if to say we are capable of objectively removingourselves from language, capable of isolating it and categorizing it as if it were merely an objectat our disposal to prod and probe, a chair which we could encircle with a line, for instance. Whenwe look at language we are assaulted with a weft. A complex interwoven web is language. Weare not capable of merely looking at this complex weft and isolating it as we would cut a knotfrom a shoelace, we ourselves are inextricably tied into that weft. So the way to language is notto theorize to objectify it for this we cannot do, we must allow language to show us the way. Wemust follow the trail of language to gather and somehow glean what it shows us in all itsconcatenations, turns and knots:We human beings, in order to be who we are, remain within the essence of language to which wehave been granted entry. We can therefore never step outside it in order to look it over circumspectly from some alternative position (423).A greater understanding of Heidegger's means of exploring language through the showing rather than understanding that we traditionally know as knowledge is demonstrated by this:If we grasp what we shall now try to say as a sequence of assertions about language, it willremain a concatenation of unverified and scientifically unverifiable claims. If on the contrary weexperience the way to language in terms of what transpires with the way while we are under wayon it, then a kind of surmise could awaken, a surmise by which language would henceforth strikeus as exceedingly strange (397).
 
Heidegger in essence is telling us that we are not going on a journey of thought in its normalsense but a tour of language. Showing is what this whole treatise is about, we explore languagein order to allow it to show us that which we cannot traditionally objectively grasp. We aredirected to keep in mind simple pictures of where we have gone and the end result, if our tour issuccessful, will be the big picture the big showing of language.Keep in mind the word 'transpire' used above (in quote) that which transpires, it can be said, isthat which we come to know: that which comes to light. Knowing in the traditional sense of knowledge is not something we can do with language according to Heidegger (as we can'tseparate ourselves from language), this leaves us with 'that which comes to light' this light we are projecting through our journey as a showing of language, our way is a sort of slide show of our  journey to language, a type of showing that might have benefited greatly by Wittgenstein'sconcepts of pictures.Although Heidegger thinks we can use language to show the way to language, this is a long process of peering at that which is shown then thus allowing something else to be shown etc. (along chain-linking of Showings (pictures?)), Wittgenstein's version of showing is relatively shortand uninvolved, I will write it again:
That which cannot be represented can only be shown.
For Wittgenstein little else can be said about showing, he describes it as something that merely'becomes clear' as something 'mystical'. Once this clarity occurs that which we wonder about can be said to have shown itself and we no longer doubt or wonder about it, but once this experiencehas transpired we can not explain it, we cannot say where or in what way the senseless becamesense-full (came to make sense)(6.521).This is strikingly similar to Heidegger's way in that where we arrive is not necessarily cognition, but it does give us a kind of surmise. We do not have knowledge in its traditional sense, butneither are we back at square one from which we started. The primary difference between thetwo forms of showing appears to be that Wittgenstein's form seems more private. It is a privateexperience that one cannot describe to another, at least that is the way it appears in proposition6.521. Heidegger's experience however appears to be a public tour he can be the tour guide toshow the way on our journey of showing. Now if I were to take the Tractatus as a wholeWittgenstein also shares the public nature of the showing of Heidegger:My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognises them assenseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them (6.54).In the light of this statement proposition 6.521 seems to take on different proportions. Yes wecan have a time of clarity where the senseless comes to make sense, it is inexplicable and yet itcan be a way that could successfully show others to the clarity (for why else would he havewritten it thus). This is a striking similarity between Heidegger and Wittgenstein theisomorphism is uncanny. Both attempt to take their readers on a tour-guide of nonsensetoward an ultimate goal which they hope will come to make sense to be sense-full.Wittgenstein says that the limits of our language our also and therefore the limits of our world.Egoistic solipsism is therefore not possible for the egoistic I of the solipsist is negated by theworld being
my
world. Wittgenstein shows this by using the example of 'the world as I found it',in this world the I does not exist it the subject can not be mentioned:
of it alone in this book mention could
not
be made
(5.631)
.

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