Book Chapter

Solipsism And The Graspability Of Fact


Johnston C (2019) Solipsism And The Graspability Of Fact. In: Wittgenstein and the Limits of Language. New York: Routledge.

Wittgenstein’s Tractarian discussion of solipsism opens with the claim that ‘[t]he limits of my language mean the limits of the world’ (TLP 5.6.) According to this paper, Wittgenstein expresses here a thought that the subject makes no sense of her thinking having content going beyond in kind that which she possesses in thinking. What the subject possesses in thinking is furthermore a truth or falsity, so that the idea is ruled out of truth-independent substance to the world. At the same time, however, thinking is an act of the subject given to her only as such – only as something she does, and so only as a determination of herself. Truth is not therefore independent of the subject; rather, as Wittgenstein puts it, ‘the world is my world’ (TLP 5.62). This conclusion threatens an idealism under which the nature of truth is explained by reference to that of the subject; objectivity is grounded in a deeper subjectivity. This threat is deflected by the recognition that the solipsist’s subject is an essentially undistanceable ‘I’ without content or character, so that ‘solipsism strictly carried out coincides with pure realism’ (TLP 5.64).

Publication date02/12/2019
Publication date online02/12/2019
Publisher URL…ok/9780815385011
Place of publicationNew York