Logical Atomism -|- Educational Philosophy Theory

Logical Atomism

No Comment - Post a comment

Whereas Moore advocated a return to "common sense"—a typically Anglo Saxon response, not just to idealism but to any kind of theoretical thought which seems to conflict with the narrow world of experience—Russell was moving in an altogether different direction.

Russell and, at least at first, Wittgenstein, thought that the underlying structure of language mirrors that of the world, and that, therefore, the analysis of language would reveal important truths about reality. In fact, there is just a germ of truth in this idea, as Hegel pointed out long before. Here, however, it is presented in a narrow, one-sided way, which leads straight to a dead-end.

"Out of the frying-pan, and into the fire!" Russell differed from Moore in attempting to work out a new theory and methodology. How to put logic on a scientific basis? Why, by giving it a mathematical language. In 1918-19, under the influence of the brilliant young Austrian Wittgenstein, he published a series of articles entitled The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, in which he endeavoured to disclose the fundamental workings of language and thereby reveal the fundamental structures that language describes.

Wittgenstein, who had moved to Cambridge, initially shared the position of Russell and Carnap, but later became skeptical of the foundations of mathematics and logic and moved away, to a study of ordinary language. He advanced the idea that "all philosophy is a critique of language." His declared aim was to wage a "battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language."

This kind of thing is seriously put forward as the "final solution" for all the great philosophical problems of the past. Just tidy up your grammar and syntax, and all will be well! As if these problems were caused by some misunderstanding, or by not speaking correctly, or formal defects of thought. Now for the first time in 2,500 years, the great men of Oxbridge suddenly begin to think and speak with the necessary clarity, and quickly sort out all the confusions caused by muddleheads like Socrates, Aristotle, and, of course, Marx.

The theory of logical atomism is based on a completely false understanding of language. It is derived from a superficial analogy with the physics of the day. The simplest kind of statement is called "atomic," while more complex statement are given the label "molecular." By borrowing a few phrases from physics, Russell hoped to lend his assertions about language a scientific air. There is absolutely nothing scientific about it. Language is least of all susceptible to a "reductionist" treatment of this sort. It is a complex whole that is much more than the totality of its individual parts. Russell’s whole approach reflects the deficiencies, not only of his narrow and formalistic philosophy, but also the limitations of physics at that time.

There is nothing new even in the notion of linguistic philosophy. This was already present in the writings of Locke, Berkeley and Hume, let alone Hegel, who had some brilliant dialectical insights on language. The celebrated Tracticus of Wittgenstein is a good example of how these ladies and gentlemen tied themselves in knots with their metaphysical speculations on language. According to Wittgenstein, we can only know the world through the empirical sciences, yet the Tracticus claims to reveal the relationship between language and the real world. The Tracticus actually says of itself that what it says cannot be coherently said. And these people accuse Hegel of obscurantism!

This Post has No Comment Add your own!

Yorum Gönder