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R.E. TULLY Wittgenstein, Russell, and the Self I want to talk about some intriguing aspects of the work of Russell and Wittgenstein during the period of their allegiance to logical atomism. It may come as a relief to learn that my interest here has nothing directly to do with mathematical logic or with the formal theory of language, but it is only right to acknowledge right off that, concerning logical atomism, especially Wittgenstein's, the verdict of history seems already to have been given about the relatively greater importance of formal topics. Questions regarding mysticism and the general character of experience (again, especially in regard to Wittgenstein) are held to be of secondary importance at best. I think that the reluctance of commentators to broach these questions when talking about Wittgenstein is partly to be explained by the fact that the philosopher himself has been the primary commentator on his early work: before another commentator ever arrived on the scene, the master had already come and gone, but not before laying down a fresh new commentary on an old piece of work. Part of the later Wittgenstein's vocation as a philosopher was to teach us how to identify the errors and attitudes of his earlier work, and in his eyes these had to do mainly with a mistaken theory of meaning. It is a curious case in the history of philosophy where the very subject under study has been able to exercise a seemingly permanent influence on posterity's attitudes towards his work. In any case, issues related to mysticism and the nature of experience are supposed to be neutralized by logical atomism. The doctrine itself, at least as Wittgenstein developed it, nurtures its own immunity against them. One can either dismiss them outright as nonsense or adopt an attitude towards them of self-imposed, knowing silence. So any attempt to take up such issues invites the logical atomist's reproach: either you have failed to appreciate that in any proper sense you cannot say anything about these matters, or you have not learned the need for prudent silence. It is evident I have chosen the latter horn. As for Russell, the historical judgment is different. None of his philosophical writings which come under the heading of logical atomism deal with mysticism as such, while his frequent discussions of experience seem to be a carryover from earlier periods of his thought and hence not to be distinctive of his logical atomism. Hence the two versions of logical atomism in Russell and Wittgenstein lend themselves to a facile contrast: UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME 57, NUMBER 4, SUMMER 1988 Wittgenstein's is a formal theory of propositions which says far more about the structure of the world corresponding to them than about its experienced content and which also ventures some remarks about mysticism and the impossibility of exceeding the limits of genuine meaning; Russell's version, while less formally rigorous, says much more about the sorts of objects which we encounter in experience, though nothing about the limits of language. The common denominator in these versions concerns the formal analysis of language. A corollary is that what is peculiar to Russell's version is unrelated to Wittgenstein's, and conversely. For this reason, as well as for the others I have suggested, propositional theory is often what is taken to be distinctive of their logical atomism. However, it is not the only distinctive thing. I believe that there is an important theme which further helps define the logical atomism of both philosophers. This concerns the role of the Self, about which their views were irreconcilably different at one level yet interestingly similar at another. I should add that there are other important themes, connected with Realism and the kinds of objects which comprise states of affairs, but the notion of the Self which I want to concentrate on here has the advantage of touching on such themes and the additional advantage of providing a focus for some of Wittgenstein's remarks about mysticism in the Tractatus. Indeed, far from being a youthful excursus at the end of that work, Wittgenstein's crypticisms about such things as death, value, and...


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