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BOOK REVIEWS 491 say, is likely to alter current understanding of the Tractatus in any appreciable way, nor does it shed much light on the many perplexing passages with which commentators have wrestled for years. Professor yon Wright's introduction, however, gives us fascinating glimpses into Wittgenstein's character, and goes some way to resolving some of the controversies that have surrounded the Ogden translation. The Times Literary Supplement a few years back contained in its correspondence columns (apropos of the Pears and McGuinness translation) an often lively and at least once rather disgraceful exchange involving on one side the Wittgenstein executors and on the other a gentleman who claimed to have heard Wittgenstein say that he, Wittgenstein, had checked and approved Ogden's translation. Professor yon Wright now confesses that his researches into the publication history of the Tractatus do tend to show that Wittgenstein did read and approve the Ogden translation. A silly point, perhaps, as it is neither here nor there with respect to the relative merits of the older and more recent translations, but of use if it lays a silly controversy to rest. Among the many letters of Wittgenstein concerning the publication of the Tractatus, the one of greatest interest tells a prospective publisher that the point of the Tractatus is ethical, and that the gist of what he is doing can be gained from the introductory and concluding sections. How seriously one takes this comment depends on how ardently one supposes that Wittgenstein desired to publish his book. It is always possible that he, like most men, was willing to push his work by representing it in a way that he thought would appeal to his publisher. A. R. LoucH Claremont Graduate School Martin Heidegger on Being Human. An Introduction to Sein und Zeit. By Richard Schmitt. (New York: Random House, 1969. Pp. x+274. $2.95) Richard Schmitt's study is probably the most illuminating English language account of Heidegger's Sein und Zeit to date. Not without its diffficulties--no examination of Heidegger's thought could be--the book nonetheless sheds considerable light on obscure Heideggerian doctrines concerning such notions as ontology, language , phenomenology, and understanding. The prime virtue of Schmitt's study is its thoughtfulness. Issues are explored with an eye to their apparent obscurity, its sources, and the conceptual means of dispelling it. Helpful references are made to Husserl's phenomenological studies, and central Heideggerian doctrines are construed largely against this background. I shall consider but a few points by way of review. Schmitt points out correctly that some of the fundamental problems generated by Sein und Zeit are the result of Heidegger's rejection of traditional philosophical vocabulary and his quest for a new and more appropriate mode of speech. In particular, 'being' is an inadequate term--though the least inadequate of available linguistic devices for its particular purpose. A result of this, clearly, is that Heidegger's investigations cannot easily be compared with those of others in the philosophical tradition. In particular Heidegger and, say, Hegel cannot be perspicuously compared with respect to their respective doctrines of "being." Though one might think this circumstance engenders a large and pretentious claim for Heidegger's work, what it does most of all is place a heavy burden of proof with respect to coherency and intelligibility on the whole of Sein und Zeit. Heidegger, not the philosophical tradition , is the prime defendant on trial. Schmitt sees this, and much of the value of his 492 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY study lies in his ability to represent Heidegger skillfully and plausibly. Questions remain, of course, as to whether such a wholesale revision of language as Heidegger suggests is even remotely feasible. In this respect Schmitt shows Heidegger's work to be programmatic in a problematic way. Schmitt does much to dispel the notion that Heidegger's "pre-conceptual understanding " is a concept-free Wesenschau. The difference between pre-conceptual and conceptual understandings is more nearly a matter of the degree of explicitness and the availability of linguistic means for making an understanding explicit (see p. 30). Though mentioned in other accounts of Heidegger, this point bears repeating. As Schmitt points out, Heidegger rejects...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 491-493
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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