Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Project of Philosophy and Contemporary Society, Advanced Research Center for Human Sciences, Waseda University


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Meaning of Life and Nonsense in Tractatus
: No Answer for No Question and Some Fictional Illuminations

Isabel G. Gamero Cabrera

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.9, No.1 (June 2019):33-53




In this paper I clarify Wittgenstein’s position on meaning of life as exposed in Tractatus, and the related questions about the nonsensical and the ineffable. The problem is as follows: if there is a question that cannot be expressed, does it mean that there is no answer to it or rather that the answers are nonsensical? In order to address this issue, I develop my arguments in three parts: in the first step, I explain Wittgenstein’s thesis about the meaning of life as exposed in Tractatus, with an especial emphasis on the notions of nonsense and ineffability. In the second one, I go beyond Wittgenstein’s explanation in the Tractatus and refer to its two possible interpretations: the resolute and the illuminating ones, evaluating their plausibility and accuracy. Lastly, I provide some fictional examples in order to illustrate my explanation and to show, indirectly, what according to Wittgenstein cannot be said.

Keywords: meaning of life, nonsense, absurd, ineffable, mystical, existential crisis

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