Ludwig Wittgenstein and das Mystische

Photo taken from this site.

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) was not only a great analytic philosopher but also a person of profound mystical sensibility:

“(6.44) It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists. (6.45) To view the world sub specie aeterni (*) is to view it as a whole – a limited whole. (6.45) Feeling the world as a limited whole – it is this that is mystical. When the answer cannot be put into words, neither can the question be put into words. The riddle does not exist. […] (6.522) There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical” (Pears/McGuinness translation of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus). In German: “Nicht wie die Welt ist, ist das Mystische, sondern daß sie ist. Die Anschauung der Welt sub specie aeterni ist ihre Anshauung als – begrenztes – Ganzes. Das Gefühl der Welt als begrenztes Ganzes ist das mystische. Zu einer Antwort, die man nicht aussprechen kann, kann man auch die Frage nicht aussprechen. Das Rätsel gibt es nicht. […] Es gibt allerdings Unaussprechliches. Dies zeigt sich, es ist das Mystische”.

Wittgenstein seemed to point out in this way one of the philosophical misunderstandings: when a thinker tries to discuss with other people, so with some elements of the world he lives in, about the existence of the world as a whole (even if it would be an infinite whole, I suppose). They are utterly unable to give answers which would be of real importance for him, and he is equally unable to give them such explanations.

I think, it would be similarly pointless to expect from creatures met in a (lucid) dream any valuable answers regarding causes and meaning of the dream. Nevertheless, a conversation of this kind could turn out to be an occasion to gain an insight into the nature of this state. For me, such experience might be verbalized as something along the lines of that: Marcin Dolecki (a reader is recommened to put here his or her name) is one of the persons existing in a dream, just as real as any other, and at the same time the whole dream worlds are being brought into existence entirely by me. Nevertheless, these words are still pretty inadequate to the reality.

The very core of the metaphysical heritage – all recorded attempts to create a general theory of being – is perhaps the most charming and impressive example of futile strivings in the history of humankind. Paradoxally, that`s an important reason why metaphysical texts are worthy of being studied, as the inspiring and thought-provoking beginning of searching for oneself.

Mystical is that what is the most own, unconditionally present, beyond words.

Wittgenstein closed his Tractatus with a famous sentence about Das Mystische: “(7) What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence” [Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen].

It would be even more appropriate to say no sentence at all. It has been written down in this post infinitely more than nothing, but this is still nothing, (un)fortunately.

(*) From the perspective of eternity.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s