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The Earlier Wittgenstein on the Notion of Religious Attitude

  • Chon Tejedor (a1)

I defend a new interpretation of Wittgenstein's notion of religious (or ethical) attitude in the Tractatus, one that rejects three key views from the secondary literature: firstly, the view that, for Wittgenstein, the willing subject is a transcendental condition for the religious attitude; secondly, the view that the religious attitude is an emotive response to the world or something closely modelled on this notion of emotive response; and thirdly, the view that, although the religious and ethical pseudo-propositions of the Tractatus are nonsensical, they nevertheless succeed in expressing the religious attitude endorsed by Wittgenstein. In connection to the first, I argue that the notion of willing subject as transcendental condition is abandoned by Wittgenstein in the Notebooks and is no longer a feature of his position in the Tractatus. In connection to the second, I argue that the religious attitude is dispositional rather than emotive for Wittgenstein: it is a disposition to use signs in a way that demonstrates one's conceptual clarity. Finally, in connection to the third, I argue that the religious or ethical attitude is strongly ineffable in that it cannot be described, expressed or conveyed by language at all.

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S. Schroeder The Tightrope Walker’, Ratio 20: 4 (2007) 442463

L. Wittgenstein A Lecture on Ethics’ (LOE), The Philosophical Review, 74: 1 (1965), 312

P. Sullivan “The General Propositional Form is a Variable.” (Tractatus 4.53)’, Mind 113, 449, 4356 (2004)

M. Kremer The Purpose of Tractarian Nonsense’, Noûs 35, 3973 (2001)

H-J Glock , A Wittgenstein Dictionary (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996)

M. McGinn Elucidating the Tractatus: Wittgenstein's Early Philosophy of Logic and Language. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)

J. L. Zalabardo – Zalabardo The Tractatus on Logical Consequence’, European Journal of Philosophy 18: 3, 425442 (2010)

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  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
  • URL: /core/journals/philosophy
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