Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

5-10-2010

Graduate Advisor

Eric Wiland, Ph.D.

Committee

Eric Wiland, Ph. D.

Waldemar Rohloff, Ph. D.

Jon McGinnis, Ph. D.

Abstract

ABSTRACT Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus has this motto: “…and whatever a man knows, whatever is not mere rumbling and roaring that he has heard, can be said in three words.” There is a ‘tension’ in the Tractatus between whether or not ethics may be known. I contend that the motto helps resolve this tension and that therein lies its importance. I address, inter alia, the origin of this motto, some philosophical influences on Wittgenstein, the phenomena/noumena distinction and Wittgenstein’s distinction between ‘sense’ and ‘nonsense’. I, then, treat Wittgenstein’s say/show distinction and how the Tractatus beckons not to the poverty of silence but to the richness of activity. Next, I address Wittgenstein’s teaching that an ethical insight is not something cognitively reasoned but something compassionately felt. Finally, I interpret the motto as beckoning not to philosophical imponderables but to a principled life.

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