Wednesday, August 22, 2007

4.112 The end of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts.

Philosophy is not a subject but an activity.

A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.

The result of philosophy is not “philosophical propositions” but the clarification of propositions.

Philosophy should make clear and distinct thoughts that, without it, are, as it were, unclear and indistinct.

I am echoing Descartes here at the end, for no very good reason, but the translation seems as good as any. The clear and sharply distinguished are to be produced from the cloudy and blurred together. But can a thought need logical clarification? Mustn’t it already have a (perfectly good) sense? The work of philosophy starts to sound either chimerical or else psychological/therapeutic.

Schopenhauer Fourfold Root p. 4: “In general the real philosopher will always look for clearness and distinctness; he will invariably try to resemble not a turbid, impetuous torrent, but rather a Swiss lake which by its calm combines great depth with great clearness, the depth revealing itself precisely through the clearness.”


N. N. said...

Language disguises thought. Though ordinary language is in perfect logical order, that order is extremely complicated. Its complex conventions disguise its logical form. Therefore, that form must be unmasked. The unmasking is "clarification."

At least, that is how matters seem to me.

DR said...

Yes, although I might say "misleading" rather than complicated, at least in some cases. The results of the "unmasking" you refer to are not to be "philosophical propositions," though, but, presumably, propositions that are quite ordinary, yet clear. The danger of putting things my way is that it introduces a reference to therapy that isn't there in what Wittgenstein writes. I also want to avoid, though, giving the impression that only philosophers know the true meanings of our propositions, as if there really were philosophical propositions, i.e. important truths that only philosophers can get to.