‘There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words’ — so says Wittgenstein in the Tractatus (6.522). One could say that belief in the truth of this statement of Wittgenstein’s constitutes the essential minimum condition which must be fulfilled if one is to at all sympathetically approach the notion of ‘the mystical’. Wittgenstein is not saying that there are things (e.g. complex states of mind, attitudes, relationships, etc.) which are very hard ,impossible for all except the exceptionally linguistically gifted, to describe. He is saying, surely, that it is logically impossible to put certain things into words, or impossible in some other fundamental sense. Can we believe this? What would it be like to try to believe this statement? Surely we cannot, in the ordinary way, try to think of examples of things or kinds of things about which we cannot — logically cannot — say anything (i.e. anything significant). For it would appear that to ‘think of anything’ at all would be to bring that thing under some description or other, and so that thing would no longer be strictly indescribable.
KeywordsPosit Stein Clarification
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