Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Richness of Unanswerable Questions

"6.432 How things are in the world is a matter of complete indifference for what is higher. God does not reveal himself in the world...
6.44 It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that is exists.
6.45 To view the world sub specie aeterni [under the category of eternity] is to view it as a whole- a limited whole. Feeling the world as a limited whole- it is this that is mystical." -Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus , 149

"To believe in God means to understand the question about the meaning of life. To believe in God means to see that the facts of the world are not the end of the matter. To believe in God means to see that life has a meaning." -Wittgenstein, Notebooks 1914-16, 74e, entry for 8.7.16.

[Interjection: Here W. is reminding me of the Sabbath and of the knowledge we come to in conversion. By knowledge here is referenced, I think, what W. also says in these words: "Feeling the world as a limited whole- it is this that is mystical". I like Philip Rieff's term "the feeling intellect." The menuha, the positive rest of the Sabbath, is properly a resting embrace of this wholeness, of this larger meaning, of the eternity that God has placed in our hearts. Perhaps some may feel threatened by my linking knowledge to conversion, that is, special knowledge that sets the believer apart from others, in a more enviable position, having something the princely, self controlled Buddhist may not, while one is poor and of no account and still swayed by addictions, perhaps. Some Jesus freak loser. But there are, however you cut it, differences in the "wholes" acknowledged, either by secularity or Buddhists, to use these examples, with Christianity. For example, in secularity, the facts of the world are the end of the matter, but: "To believe in God means to see that the facts of the world are not the end of the matter." Buddhists deny that we have a self. They point to discontinuities and suggest from this that we are not we.... Christ, on the otherhand, says, only if you lose yourself will you find yourself. The Buddhists are also, apparently (from my limited knowledge) keen to avoid self-absorption and self-centeredness. They acknowledge the problem that Jesus is addressing. They just seem to disallow the solution that Jesus Christ's words speak about. So their wholeness is not the wholeness of the self surrendered to Christ. It is a different wholeness. But then one must admit that this is doubtless a highly surface level reading. Still, don't fear the synthesis. Its how you live! ]

Famous final words of Wittgenstein's Tractatus : "7. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence."

"My work consists of two parts: the one presented here plus all that I have not written. And it is precisely this second part that is the important one. My book draws limits on the sphere of the ethical from the inside as it were, and I am convinced that this is the ONLY rigorous way of drawing those limits. In short, I believe that where many others today are just gassing , I have managed in my book to put everything firmly into place by being silent about it." -Wittgenstein in a letter to the editor Ludwig von Ficker.

"Positivism holds- and this is its essence- that what we can speak about is all that matters in life. Whereas Wittgenstein passionately believes that all that really matters in human life is precisely what, in his view, we must be silent about." -Paul Engelmann, Letters from Ludwig Wittgenstein, with a Memoir (1987 trans.), p. 97.

"Life seriously led poses questions whose answers lie beyond language's reach, questions that can be answered only in the living. But Wittgenstein, like Kierkegaard and Levinas, realized how impoverished life would be absent such questions ." -William Placher, The Triune God: An Essay In Postliberal Theology , 2007, p. 36-37. [All quotes were also taken from the cullings presented in Placher's book).

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