Philosophy as Sprachkritik. The Palimpsest of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

Roure P.

in: 100 Years of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus — 70 Years after Wittgenstein's Death. A Critical Assessment. Contributions of the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society. Band / Vol. XXIX, Alois Pichler,Esther Heinrich-Ramharter,Friedrich Stadler, Editor, Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, Vienna, pp.491-501, 2023

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Publisher: Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society
  • City: Vienna
  • Page Numbers: pp.491-501
  • Editors: Alois Pichler,Esther Heinrich-Ramharter,Friedrich Stadler, Editor
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


In his logical-philosophical treatise, Ludwig Wittgenstein defined “all philosophy” as Sprachkritik, “but not in the sense of Mauthner” (TLP 4.0031). This strange tribute to Fritz Mauthner (1849-1923) undoubtedly contributed to marginalise him as an illustrious and unknown outsider, even if Wittgenstein’s later philosophy, interpreted as a turn from logical language to ordinary language analysis, has been considered to be much in line with Mauthner’s semantic and pragmatic reflections on language as a human activity. This interpretation of a turn in Wittgenstein’s philosophy and the related presentation of Mauthner as a “precursor” of Wittgenstein’s late philosophy should be questioned. I suggest that the seemingly negative reference to Mauthner’s in Wittgenstein’s definition of philosophy as language critique in the Tractatus is more complicated than it seems and that it represents a key to understanding the continuities in Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophy as critical activity and language analysis. Rather than merely identifying common motives of Mauthner and Wittgenstein, which are particularly significant in the latter’s posthumous Philosophische Untersuchungen (1953), the aim of this paper is to question, from the very text of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and its subtext, what it means to define philosophy as critique of language, and what such a conception implies concerning the nature, method and purpose of philosophy as a unique kind of theoretical activity.