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The Book of the World as I Found It: Langland and Wittgenstein’s <i>Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus</i>

The Book of the World as I Found It: Langland and Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Argues that PPl is readable through Wittgenstein’s early philosophy because it primarily concerns the logical constitution of the subject. One of L’s foci is the paradox of subject/object, which he pursues through the device of personification, showing how proliferating aspects of the subject are objectified for interrogation by the transcendental subject (I), which itself resists capture in representation. L, using both a first-person avatar of the subject (I) and a third-person avatar (Will), produces a model of the split subject that is cognitively verisimilar, logically reproducing the ways in which the consciousness encounters reality: as an-object-for-the-subject. His purpose is ethical: the more the subject is admitted to be a worldly object interposed among other objects without privilege, the more the proprietary boundaries drawn around the self break down. L, like Wittgenstein, uses logic to arrive at the point of selflessness. Likewise, in insisting on the ineffability of the transcendental subject through repeated trials, L gestures towards the unsayable ‘feeling of the self as a limited whole’ that Wittgenstein identified as ‘the mystical feeling’. (ST, adapted from the abstract for the journal)


Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 20 (2008), 341–60.


Tolmie, Sarah