Wittgenstein’s Ethical Nonnaturalism: An Interpretation of Tractatus 6.4147
and the “Lecture on Ethics”
by Owen Flanagan
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, sec. 6.421. It
is clear that ethics cannot be expressed.
E thics is transcendental.
(Ethics and æsthetics are one.)
This, and other similarly
cryptic entries in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (hereafter
TLP) 6.4147 lead Russell to write this in his otherwise laudatory
introduction to the work:
Mr. Wittgenstein manages
to say a good deal about what cannot be said, thus suggesting to the
skeptical reader the possibility there may be some loophole through
a hierarchy of languages, or by some other exit. The whole subject of
ethics, for example, is placed by Mr. Wittgenstein in the mystical,
inexpressible region. Nevertheless he is capable of conveying his ethical
opinions. His defence would be that what he calls the mystical can be
shown, although it cannot be said. It may be that this defense is adequate,
but for my part, I confess that it leaves me with a certain sense of
intellectual discomfort. (TLP 1922, p. 18).