Thursday, 14 February 2013
He was the commissar to a philosophical rebuke. A sharp, witty and scintillating ideal of modern thought, an emissary of a linguistic and metaphysical atomism and the expounding of a landscape of unprecedented abstraction. For it was his the redefinition of philosophy and logical form and function that continues to form a pillar of which we attempt to circumvent and infer to the fullest of play. And it was his fetish for language that deployed a panorama beyond the topography of mere letters and symbols, one that placed the world and its state of affairs at the focal pivot rather than a temporal periphery. Ludwig Wittgenstein remains the embodiment of such an ideal, the clarification of thoughts and the expression of such thoughts via the universal medium of language and discourse. To the early Wittgenstein, the temporal world is not a landscape of mere objects and things; rather it is the ultimate extravagance of facts made differential by pictures. Pictures are thoughts, they are thoughts thread by the isomorphic arrangement of elements predicated on objects in the state of affairs; for the structure of reality mirrors the framework of language. Such an approach to philosophy foresees the 'limits of the world as the limits of language' and the profound realisation that in so far as pictures are concerned, they fail to describe logical form yet unless language really mirrored reality, it would become impossible for sentences to ever be sensible, coherent and complete. But to the later Wittgenstein, the picture metaphor is inverted upon its head and words ultimately become cast our thinking of what reality actually is. We cannot live in a realm independent of the conceptual toolbox of language, for their exists an inseparable contingency; a family resemblance whereby words deduce meaning not from an inherent essence but from a matrix of similarities. We then realise Wittgenstein's erasure of the picture metaphor, the notion that semantics arises from an associative relation between ideas in the head and the underlying Platonic essence. Meaning is just the by-product of a hypothetical language game lacking any real foundation or justification and to Wittgenstein it is the binding role of the philosopher to validate such a game with description. Verily it becomes impossible to separate oneself from the language game and superimpose, compare and contrast its successes, failures and shortcomings. Private language seems to circumvent this paradigm, by working from the centre of an individual outwards until one realises that private sensations alone are contingent upon external, societal criterions and negates the difference between thinking and actually using the private language soundly. And over the long haul it becomes rather appeasing and satiable to consider the musings of Wittgenstein as laws and constants of human language and behaviour, strung by the words yet envisaged by a picture.