The Mystical

  • W. Donald Hudson
Part of the New Studies in the Philosophy of Religion book series (NSPR)


In the Tractatus1 Wittgenstein argued that there is something which cannot be put into words but which nevertheless shows itself. He speaks of it as ‘transcendental’. That which is transcendental appears to have two forms or instantiations which I shall refer to as the ‘logical’ and the ‘ethico-religious’ respectively. ‘Logic is transcendental’ says Wittgenstein at 6.13; and ‘Ethics is transcendental’ at 6.421 (italics mine). In the latter of the two senses, i.e. the ethico-religious, he describes the transcendental’ as the ‘mystical’ (6.44, 6.45, 6.522), and it is with the mystical that I shall be concerned in the main body of this chapter. First, however, we must be clear about the difference between the logical and the ethico-religious instantiations and in particular about what is meant by saying that each shows itself.


Logical Form Picture Theory Moral Objection Logical Positivist Italic Mine 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    Cf. M. Black, A Companion to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus (Cambridge, 1964) p.190.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Grundgesetze der Arithmetik, II.56; cf. J. Griffin, Wittgenstein’s Logical Atomism (London, 1964) p.9.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    Quoted in P. Engelmann, Letters from Ludwig Wittgenstein with a Memoir (Oxford, 1967) p.143.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    R. Carnap, ‘Intellectual Autobiography’ in The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap edited by P.A. Schilpp (London, 1963) pp.26–7.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    See his letter to Ficker, op.cit., Frederich Waismann, Philosophical Review, January 1965, p.13,Google Scholar
  6. and A. Janik and S. Toulmin, Wittgenstein’s Vienna (London, 1973) p.194.Google Scholar
  7. 26.
    W.W. Bartley, Wittgenstein (Philadelphia and New York, 1973); see also his Theory of Language and Philosophy of Science as Instruments of Educational Reform: Wittgenstein and Popper as Austrian Schoolteachers (reprinted from Method and Metaphysics, edited by R.S. Cohen and M.W. Wartofsky) (Boston, 1974).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© W. Donald Hudson 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Donald Hudson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ExeterUK

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