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Wittgenstein: An Introduction.

Schulte, Joachim. Wittgenstein: An Introduction. Translated by William H. Brenner and John F. Holley. New York: State University of New York Press, 1992. ix + 187 pp. Cloth, $29.50; paper $9.95--In this excellent introductory study, Schulte provides a clear, concise account of Wittgenstein's life and works. Schulte captures the flavor of Wittgenstein's life: the passion and intensity, as well as the desire for solitude and loneliness which inform his writings. The first chapter presents a sensitive and thoughtful picture of Wittgenstein as a man who loved to make things. We suffer with Wittgenstein as he lives to see the suicides of three of his four brothers and contemplates suicide himself, and we feel gladdened when an uncle persuades Wittgenstein to choose a creative endeavor--the writing of his first book. Schulte portrays Wittgenstein in search of the "decent" life. His book is to be commended for introducing us to the Wittgenstein whose forceful personality so markedly colors his work.

The second chapter deals with the Tractatus. Schulte warns us away from treating the Tractatus as "either a presentation of a systematic ontology or a treatise exclusively on the logical syntax of language" (p. 44). His exposition leads one toward the unstated but pressing issues in Wittgenstein's early work. Schulte seeks to recapture the sense of the Tractatus to which Wittgenstein alludes in his Preface:

Wittgenstein wants to lead the reader to a certain point through the

book's style, as well as through hinting at its intention; he wants to

influence the reader's personal attitude, winning him over and obtaining

his consent regarding certain matters not open to meaningful discussion.

Therefore, he is seeking to stimulate a reaction akin to aesthetic

pleasure that cannot be completely articulated in words. If this

reaction is elicited, then according to the author, the purpose of the

book has been achieved. (p. 46)

Schulte deals evenhandedly with both the logical and ethical dimension of the Tractatus. This chapter discusses facts, states of affairs, names, objects, elementary propositions, the showing-saying distinction, sense and nonsense, solipsism, ethics, and mysticism. Schulte draws the important distinctions, and indicates where the controversies in the scholarship lie. He then directs the reader to the secondary literature and does not become absorbed with competing interpretations of the text at this introductory level. Schulte does use Wittgenstein's notebooks as well as his letters to supplement his reading of the Tractatus.

The third chapter addresses the "connecting links" binding Wittgenstein's early thought to his later work. Schulte addresses Wittgenstein's criticism of science as the primary method for giving sense to events--or as the only useful or acceptable method of interpreting foreign cultures. This chapter contains a further discussion of the ethical as well as a discussion of the magical, of grammar, and of the foundation of mathematics. The inclusion of this connecting material is a strong recommendation for Schulte's book as the introduction to Wittgenstein of choice. The treatment of material from Philosophical Remarks and Philosophical Grammar, Culture and Value, "Lecture on Ethics," as well as "Remarks on Frazer's The Golden Bough," offers the reader a coherent and complete introduction to Wittgenstein's thought preferable to those introductions which treat the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations only.

Chapters four through six explore the issues addressed in the Philosophical Investigations and discuss both the ideas as they appear in the Investigations and their relevant roles in other of Wittgenstein's works. Chapter four is devoted to the language game. Chapter five takes up the idea of criterion, and thus deals with personal identity, the grammar of sensation, philosophical psychology, rule following, and private language. The book concludes with a discussion, in chapter six, of certainty.

I found this book informative and enjoyable; uncomplicated yet subtle and enlightening. I enthusiastically recommend it for students, those who are approaching Wittgenstein for the first time, those who need a refresher course, and those who know Wittgenstein well but would like a refreshing overview of his thought.
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Author:Duval, R. Shannon
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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