Arrogance Eats Ontology For Breakfast

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein ends his notorious Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus with this penultimate proposition (6.54):

My propositions serve as elucidations in this way: he who understands me eventually recognises them as nonsensical, when he has used them – as steps – to climb up over them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.) He must overcome these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.

I love this quote. If we are to break out of dualistic thinking, we have to soar to the heights of the realisations of Wittgenstein, and when at those heights, perhaps we see the ridiculousness of the path we took to get there. Once we are there we are there. Wittgenstein guides us to these insights, via his many propositions, but after having sweated blood and tears to really get Wittgenstein, he is basically saying throw his book away, we don’t need it any more.

I know there are many interpretations of what he was trying to tell us, but for me I experience his words as telling me there is something about being in the world, my essential being, that informs my relationships with others. You study the philosophy, you gain an insight here or there, and then you carry on with your work in this world.

The Ladder of Seeing

The Ladder of Seeing

Some of you may have seen our Ladder of Seeing. It is not in Holonomics but it is in our paper Holonomic Thinking (published in Portuguese). The highest rung is blank.

I would never wish to be so arrogant that I place words on this top rung, and neither would I wish to even comment on what this upper rung means to anyone. This is where we reach ontology, our understanding of being and meaning, and it is not for me or Maria to say to others what is there. But maybe if we do climb so high, as Wittgenstein recommended, all we need to do is throw the ladder away.

Related Articles

Maria Moraes Robinson and Simon Robinson, Holonomic Thinking – Como transformar estratégias e resultados por meio de um novo sistema operacional mental, Harvard Business Review Brasil, April 2014, HBR Reprint R14004H-P

Exploring Wittgenstein: The Early Years

Exploring Wittgenstein: Transition

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