Refuting the mystical, metaphysical concept of the existence of individual, discrete selves (while bearing in a non existent mind, that there is no universally accepted theory as to what the word "existence" means)
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Ludwig Wittgenstein, at an early age, already caught up by deep philosophical problems.
Wittgenstein's anti-Cartesianism is evident in the Blue Book "where he writes, first, that our language creates the illusion that the word 'I' refers to 'something bodiless, which, however, has its seat in our body," and then concludes: 'In fact this seems to be the real ego, the one of which it was said, "Cogito, ergo sum".' he returns to the theme once again in the Philosophical Investigations where he writes: " 'I' is not the name of a person, nor 'here' of a place, and 'this' is not a name. But they are connected with names. Names are explained by means of them. It is also true that it is characteristic of physics not to use these words." (P.I.,410) In the Tractatus he states that "there is no such thing as the soul" (TLP5.5422) He uses the words 'soul' and 'subject' interchangeably, so what he was really getting at was that the subject (self) does not exist as an object. He considered the self, the 'I', to be a mystery inaccessible to thought, which is based on language. "language disguises thought. So much so, that from the outward form of the clothing it is impossible to infer the form of the thought beneath it." It became apparent to Wittgenstein that the subject cannot be conceived of in Cartesian terms as both simple and representing (ie. thinking, believing, judging, etc.) These two characteristics, which the classical modern tradition from Descartes to Leibniz to Russel has taken to be compatible, are, in fact, not so. And with this observation he cuts through the Gordian knot of the modern conception of the subject. The idea that a simple self could also be a representing self is indeed absurd. Wittgenstein rejects the idea of a composite subject: "a composite soul would no longer be a soul."