Ilse Somavilla: "Wittgenstein’s various approaches to ethics and religion"

Despite his refusal to treat ethics and religion in philosophy, these topics were of decisive significance for Wittgenstein both in his way of life and in his philosophizing. Instead of trying to establish theories about these topics, though, he found other ways to address them – visible in his Lecture on Ethics, his diaries and his reflections scattered throughout the Nachlass. I am going to discuss these various approaches, above all Wittgenstein’s coded remarks containing his reflections on ethics and religion. By giving a text-immanent explanation, by comparing his coded remarks to those in his philosophical manuscripts both in content and style, I will raise the question whether the method of encoding was a device to address the “sphere of the ineffable”. Wittgenstein’s code might thus be seen as a special type of text in his oeuvre, clearly marked by a specific kind of script, in order to relegate the topics not to be treated within philosophy into a separate part of his work. Thus, he apparently not only tried to emphasize the distinction between personal belief and philosophical problems, but also between nonsensical and meaningful propositions.

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