The Disenchantment of Nonsense: Understanding Wittgenstein's Tractatus


Department of Religion and Philosophy
Hong Kong Baptist University
Kowloon Tong
Hong Kong


This paper aims to argue against the resolute reading, and offer a correct way of reading Wittgenstein'sTractatus. According to the resolute reading, nonsense can neither say nor show anything. The Tractatus does not advance any theory of meaning, nor does it adopt the notion of using signs in contravention of logical syntax. Its sentences, except a few constituting the frame, are all nonsensical. Its aim is merely to liberate nonsense utterers from nonsense. I argue that these points are either not distinctive from standard interpretations or incorrect. Instead, the Tractarian elucidations help to shed light on the nature of language and logic, and introduce the correct method in philosophy. Philosophy deals with philosophical utterances and Tractarian elucidations by pointing out that they are nonsensical. By doing this, one is helped to see that what they appear to be saying is shown by significant propositions saying something else.