Last time we discussed Heidegger’s Freiburg inaugural address, ‘What is metaphysics?’, and Carnap’s response to it, ‘The elimination of metaphysics through logical analysis of language’. We now build on that discussion. Our primary text will be James Conant’s ‘Two conceptions of Die Uberwindung der Metaphysik’: Carnap and early Wittgenstein’. Conant is a member of the ‘resolute’ school of interpreting Wittgenstein, which takes Wittgenstein at face value when he writes in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (6.54): “My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder after he as climbed up on it.) He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.” For our purposes this interpretation of Wittgenstein is mediate between Heidegger and Carnap on metaphysics. We will follow (and critique) Conant’s argument, and refer as appropriate to relevant text in the Tractatus. Our focus, however, is primarily on metaphysics and only secondarily on Wittgenstein or interpretations of Wittgenstein.
Here are the PDFs of the two texts we’ll be using: https://humstatic.uchicago.edu/philosophy/conant/Conant%20-%20Two%20Conceptions%20of%20the%20Ueberwindung%20der%20Metaphysik.pdf and https://people.umass.edu/klement/tlp/tlp.pdf (This version of the Tractatus is nice, displaying side by side the German with the two primary translations, plus a good index in addition to the normal indexing. It’s easy to go back and forth between Conant and relevant text in Wittgenstein. Again, our major text is Conant, but we’ll be referring back to the Tractatus). Conant is good about quoting enough text on the material he is referring to, however, particularly for new joiners, here are the PDFs for the Heidegger and Carnap we discussed last time (and which are the basis of Conant’s article): https://wagner.edu/psychology/files/2013/01/Heidegger-What-Is-Metaphysics-Translation-GROTH.pdf and http://www.calstatela.edu/sites/default/files/dept/phil/pdf/res/Carnap-Elimination-of-Metaphysics.pdf
About ‘Readings in the history and philosophy of science’:
From its inception this group was organized to provide a science friendly philosophy group. We hope to leave every meeting with a better understanding of some of those perennial issues regarding knowledge and science which continue to engage active discussion – problems such as the problem of induction, usefulness of philosophy and metaphysics, reconciling the old and new, and the relationship of language to doing. We explore science from its origins to modern developments, as voiced not only in the writings of those who have philosophized about science, but also in the voice of the scientists themselves. We explore history of scientific ideas, connections between these ideas, and streams of scientific thinking. The readings and discussions steer deep into empiricism, rationalism, and realism, as well as into the nature of objectivity, role of language and logic, and, not least, how we collectively come to agreement on what is true. For more information, request new or old handouts, or get on the mailing list, send a note to Allan at firstname.lastname@example.org . Materials are sent out in addition to what comes up on the meetup.com site.