Wittgenstein reads Nietzsche: The roots of Tractarian Solipsism

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This essay takes as its point of departure a remark written by Wittgenstein in his secret code on 8 December 1914. It belongs to the second of the surviving wartime notebooks and concentrates on Nietzsche. There Wittgenstein says that he is ‘strongly impressed’ by Nietzsche’s ‘hostility to Christianity’ in works such as Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist, raising this issue in connection with his ‘strictly solipsistic point of view’. This is the very first occurrence of the idea of solipsism in Wittgenstein’s writings, one that will be central to the Tractatus. On the basis of various remarks dating from May 1915, I argue that Wittgenstein’s reading of Nietzsche was actually crucial for the development of his early view of solipsism, which – in sharp contrast to Nietzsche – he associated with his mysticism. I show in detail that the so-called ‘proto-Prototractatus’ ended exactly at proposition 6.131, which expresses the view that ‘[l]ogic is transcendental’. I also show that many of the ethical-religious remarks from the third notebook are interwoven, both in the Prototractatus and the Tractatus, with those originally drafted in 1915. The essay includes an Afterword addressing the matter in the light of Russell’s multiple relation theory of judgment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWittgenstein and Nietzsche
EditorsShunichi Takagi, Pascal Zambito
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781003831778
ISBN (Print)9781032100494
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2023


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