And this tautology is what is so hard for the philosopher to accept. The goal of the book, it seems, is to lead one to acceptance, to peace. Cf. PI 133. The TLP offers one method, the PI perhaps another. Or more than one. Cf. Schopenhauer: Kant “had circumnavigated the world and shown that because it is round, one cannot get out of it by horizontal movement.” (The World as Will and Idea trans. R. B. Haldane and J. Kemp (3 volumes, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1883), vol. II, p. 10).
Ostrow (p. 133) sees an ethical obligation here, since failure to remain silent would indicate a refusal to accept reality or the course of one’s own experience. Yet see what Wittgenstein says about talking nonsense in the Lecture on Ethics.
Friedlander (p. 148) notes that Wittgenstein talks about speaking (sprechen) not saying (sagen). “What is at stake here is, then, an actual intervention with speech rather than the abstract opposition of the sayable and the unsayable.” He continues, in the next paragraph: “Moreover, the opposite of silence is not necessarily speaking with sense but, rather, making noise. Speaking without sense is one way of being noisy. The ending of the Tractatus should therefore be read in conjunction with the epigraph of the book, which places the act of expression against a background of noise: “…and whatever a man knows, whatever is not mere rumbling and roaring that he has heard, can be said in three words.” The implication is that the noise of empty talk, whether it be nonsense or mere mindlessness, conceals something. To be silent means primarily not to fall prey to the rumbling and roaring of rumor. Silence is what we need in order to be attentive to what there is, to the showing of truth.”
This seems to go perhaps farther than the text warrants, but Wittgenstein’s remarks about
Friedlander (pp. 149-150) goes on to show how Wittgenstein’s views on silence were not simple, at least later in his life. We must not, he seems to say there, be silent about important matters (e.g. God) just because chatterboxes talk a lot of nonsense about such things. But it still seems important to him not to be one of these chatterboxes. He gave his word to a friend of his (Drury) that he would not refuse to talk to him about God or religion. It does not follow that he would have no objection to a philosopher publishing works for a general (i.e. wide, impersonal) audience on such subjects.
Then again, Nordmann (p. 156) says that “one remains silent when speaking nonsense knowingly.” As long as we do not actually say anything, we can speak as much as we like (which perhaps will not be very much, of course), so long as we know what we are doing and do not lay any “claim on what is inexpressible in speech.”
Schopenhauer Fourfold Root p. 154: “Indeed, there are some [ideas] which never find words, and alas these are the best.”
Black (p. 378) quotes Silesius: “Schweig, Allerliebster, schweig: kannst du nur gänzlich schweigen,/ So wird dir Gott mehr Gut’s, als du begehrst, erzeigen." This is translated by Maria Shrady in Angelus Silesius The Cherubinic Wanderer (Paulist Press, 1986) thus: "Silence, Beloved, be still; if you be wholly quiet, God will show you more good than you know how to desire." (p. xi) This disguises the repetition of schweigen, though, so perhaps "Silence, beloved, silence: if you can only be completely silent, then God will show you more good than you know how to desire" might be preferable.