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Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Mathematics Author(s): Michael Wrigley Reviewed work(s): Source: The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 27, No.

106 (Jan., 1977), pp. 50-59 Published by: Blackwell Publishing for The Philosophical Quarterly Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2218928 . Accessed: 23/07/2012 17:22
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contributions to the philosophy of mathematics, in conWittgenstein's trast to his workin so many otherareas of philosophy, have oftenbeen dismissed as of littlevalue. GeorgKreisel,forexample, ends his reviewof the Remarks on theFoundations of Mathematics by sayingthat "it seemsto me to be a surprisingly mind".' I hold insignificant productof a sparkling the oppositeopinion, and myaim in thispaperis to showthatWittgenstein's of mathematics has onlybeen held in such low regardbecause it philosophy has been misunderstood, and that in factit is no less original and important than the restofhis work.2 Some writers have taken Wittgenstein's of mathematics to philosophy be an extreme formof constructivism, i.e., he is said to hold that the only valid mathematics is that whichuses constructive methods. This type proof of philosophy of mathematics is familiar fromBrouwer, but Wittgenstein's is supposedto be of a muchmorerestricted constructivism kindthan Brouwer's intuitionism. we a are strict finitist who holds is, told, Wittgenstein that the only comprehensible and valid kind of proofin mathematics takes ofintuitively the form clearmanipulations of concrete objects. In his article on the Remarks Michael Dummetthas attributed such a positionto Wittto Dummett "Wittgenstein genstein. According adopts a versionof conwhich "is of a much more extremekind than that of the structivism"3 Paul Bernays intuitionists".4 of "thefinitist writes and constructive Similarly attitude. . . takenby Wittgenstein towards theproblems ofthefoundations of mathematics"5 and he explicitly claims that "[Wittgenstein] maintains a standpoint of strictfinitism".6 But such an interpretation is everywhere at odds with Wittgenstein's completely generalconceptionof philosophy. In theInvestigations we read that "philosophy with may in no way interfere the actual use of language;it can in the end onlydescribe it. For it cannot either. It leaves everything as it is. It also leaves give it a foundation
1G. Kreisel, "Wittgenstein's Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics", BJPS, IX (1958-9), p. 158. 2I have been much helped in writingthis paper by the discussions I have had on Wittgenstein's philosophy of mathematics with Dr B. H. Slater. I must also thank Dr Colin Radford, Mr Anthony Hodgetts and Mr Philip Welch for their helpful comments on an earlier draft, and Mr Roger Picken and Mr. Michael Sissons for their assistance in translating passages from Wittgenstein und der Wiener Kreis. 3Michael Dummett, "Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Mathematics", PR, 58 (1959), reprinted in Readings in the Philosophy of Mathematics,edd. P. Benacerraf and H. Putnam (Oxford, 1964) and in Wittgenstein: The Philosophical Investigations,ed. G. Pitcher (London, 1968): Pitcher, p. 424. 40p. cit., note 3, p. 439. 6p. Bernays, "Comments on Ludwig Wittgenstein's Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics", Ratio II (1959-60). Reprinted in Benaceraff and Putnam, p. 522. 60p. cit., note 5, p. 519.

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can advance it" (? 124). as it is and no mathematical mathematics discovery of mathematics But an extremeconstructivist involvesdrastic philosophy revisionsof mathematics and by no means leaves it as it is. As Bernays view a large part of classical points out, "for the strictlyconstructivist mathematics simplydoes not exist".7 So it is quite clear that Dummett's of Wittgenstein cannotbe correct. and Bernays'interpretation A different but one which nonetheless of Wittgenstein, interpretation makeshim a kind of finitist, has been put forward by Kreiseland by Kielviews on mathematics are near kopf. Kreisel claims that "Wittgenstein's but he adds the qualification those of strictfinitism" "perhapsone should . . . on the strictly finitistic aspects of mathematics say he concentrates clear fits which [he] considers comfortably [because] all the mathematics of strictfinitism".8 his examinawithinthe framework Kielkopfconcludes that "[Wittof mathematics tion of Wittgenstein's by claiming philosophy finitism strict thatis, he "accepts strict finitist",9 is] an open-ended genstein as as be done of much mathematics can as an adequate philosophy only by the remainder means. However,he resolvesto understand strictfinitistic of mathematics philby deviatingas littleas possiblefromstrictfinitistic and Kielkopfare, I think,puttingforwardmuch the Kreisel osophy".10 of Wittgenstein.Having grasped the point that for same interpretation is a descriptive activitythey reconcilethis with Wittgenstein philosophy thathe is, at any rate primarily, theirclaimthat he is a finitist by claiming of which areas of mathematics interestedonly in those very elementary even when thus modified is the correct finitism strict However, description. does not square withhis descriptive is a finitist the claimthat Wittgenstein whichcan of philosophy.Even forthose parts of mathematics conception a is different finitistic version the be re-donein a finitistic way piece of in fromthe original. We do not do any of our mathematics mathematics aim is to so if describe matheand at a finitistic Wittgenstein's way present as a correct finitism maticsas it nowis he couldnot acceptstrict description or onlyinteris primarily of any part ofit. Nor is it truethat Wittgenstein mathematical mathematics.WhilstWittgenstein's estedin veryelementary and this is of an are kind, elementary particularly examples predominantly workKreisel, on theFoundations true of the Remarks of Mathematics-the on-if we conDummettand Bernaysbased theirinterpretations Kielkopf, as a whole, of mathematics work on the philosophy sider Wittgenstein's Remarks-the since the been have the works which including published und der and Wittgenstein PhilosophicalRemarks, PhilosophicalGrammar, is by no in mathematics WienerKreis-it becomes clear that his interest areas. As we shall see later,there to its relatively meanslimited elementary
80p. cit., note 2, pp. 147-8. "Remarks on the 9C. F. Kielkopf, Strict Finitism: An Examination of Wittgenstein's Foundations of Mathematics" (The Hague, 1970), p. 186. 10Op.cit., note 9, p. 182.
70p. cit., note 5, p. 522.

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does avoid verycomplicated are goodphilosophical reasonswhyWittgenstein to do withfinitism. examples,but theyhave nothing out I wantto devotethe restofthispaperto the positivetask of setting in Wittgenstein's someofthe themes ofmathematics whichseem philosophy to me to be the most fundamental.NaturallyI have had to omit many at length, such as the probconsiders important topicswhichWittgenstein lems concerning the question of what the applicabilityof mathematics, a proofin mathematics, the infinite in mathematics, constitutes etc., but I think thatthetopicsI do deal withgivea clearenough nevertheless picture ofmathematics forits highly character of Wittgenstein's original philosophy to emerge. a descriptive forWittgenstein is essentially the Since philosophy activity as it is, is to understand mathematics aim ofthe philosopher ofmathematics and it is no businessof his to criticize the way mathematicians go about all or part task to rewrite theirwork. So it is no part of the philosopher's formalist in new and supposedly better ofmathematics ways,as the logicist, it was. The had and intuitionist of thought philosophers mathematics should focus his on mathematicians attention what actuallydo philosopher it. He be not to be of should careful and tryto give a correct description whichmathematicians themselves misledby the descriptions give of what are for these well be they quite confused. doing, may very philosophically well use the word 'time' but could not knew to how Augustine enough answerthe question"what is time?". It is the same,Wittgenstein believes, with mathematics. Mathematicians can discovermathematicalfacts but "what a mathematician is inclinedto say about the objectivity and reality but something of mathematical facts is not a philosophy of mathematics, for philosophicaltreatment" (PI 254).11 So if the philosopherwants to itself describemathematics he must be carefulto separate mathematics fromthe thingswhich mathematicians and philosophers have said about mathematics."Time and again" Wittgenstein emphasizes"I would like to I their mental is the of what check account books mathematicians; say: as about business their and instincts they go processes,joys, depressions, in mine" be other but no of are concern connections, they may important (PG 295). saw thisdistinction on the one between mathematics itself, Wittgenstein on the other, as of fundamental hand, and what is said about mathematics, philosophicalimportance. He held that all the problemsof traditional of mathematics whichappeared to be problemswithinmathephilosophy in what was said about mathematics matics were in fact just confusions resulted from which an incorrect ofmathematics.Like language, description mathematics mustbe in orderjust as it is, and the beliefthat philosophical
llIn references to Wittgenstein's works I use the following abbreviations: PIPhilosophical Investigations(followedby section number); PG-Philosophical Grammar; PR-Philosophical Remarks; RFM-Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics;and WWK-Wittgenstein und der WienerKreis (all followed by page number).

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of mathematics within mathematics have repercussions might investigations were in some way and perhaps show that certainareas of mathematics as invalid must be mistaken. Philosophicalproblemsabout mathematics, about anything else, are, in Wittgenstein's view, simplya matterof not ofthesubjectmatter clearly.Whenwe achievea clearUbersicht seeing things of mathematics shoulddisappear. In philosophy the philosophical problems from a first this is to separatethe mathematics the step towardsachieving asides and explanations whichaccompany it-what Wittgenstein comments, but a verbalexplanais mathematics, of a theorem calls "prose". The proof tion of its significance is "prose". As Wittgenstein explainedto Waismann, between "it is very importantto make the strictest possible distinction has been made clear,thenall these calculusand prose. Once thisdistinction suchas consistency, etc.,arenotraised"(WWK 149). questions independence, the verbal "prose" whichaccomcontrasts In thispassage Wittgenstein itself. withthe "calculi" whichmake up mathematics panies mathematics is usingthe term'calculus' in a special sense,and in fact this Wittgenstein account of matheconceptof a calculuslies at the heart of Wittgenstein's and show how I to now want discuss this matics. So concept Wittgenstein's it. from viewson someparticular topicsflow was simplyabout the prothat eithermathematics Frege had thought marks stood marks on or else those and what of forsomething paper perties for of for mathematics. was matter stood the Since, subject example, they that whenadded to the sign'1' then the sign '0' does not have the property must be it gives the sign '1', Frege arguedthat mathematical propositions showedthat thereis a thirdalterabout certainentities. But Wittgenstein the question"what is chess about?". Plainly it is not native,forconsider of the pieces used to play the game, but on the other about the properties in Frege's sense. Witthand the pieces do not standforor meananything to the same answer the question "what is mathematics gensteingives I believethat mathematics has to about?". "I've been asked . . . whether on paper. To that I answered:in exactlythe same sense do withinkmarks is thus as chesshas to do withwoodenpieces" (WWK 104). Wittgenstein or mean in formulae do not stand mathematical that for anything saying far so as are in but have themselves, only they significance manipulated formaniputo rules. A "calculus" is just a particular procedure according formulae is defined its rules. In which mathematical simply by lating a so to within to means "calculate" calculus, operate usage Wittgenstein's be it a piece ofalgebraor analysisor elementhat any piece ofmathematics, is just as mucha piece ofcalculation. account Wittgenstein's taryarithmetic, of mathematicscan now be stated very simply. "Mathematicsconsists of calculations"(PG 468), and so it is a mistaketo thinkthat in entirely for mathematicshas no mathematicswe are dealing with propositions; A mathematical is about not matter and anything. "proposition" subject sinx dx=- eX(sinx - cos x)' or 'ei = such as 'Jex --1', is not a proposition

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at all, for it is just a piece in the symbolic game and has no sense. Mathematical "propositions" thus cannot be true or false, and so "proof" in mathematics is not a proof at all in the logical sense. Even mathematical and continuous', propositions which contain words, such as 'f is differentiable have no sense and do not express genuine propositions. Here too we are just dealing with a formula in a calculus which is a mere piece in the game along with all the other signs. "In mathematics", Wittgenstein tells us, "everything is algorithmand nothing meaning; even when it doesn't look like that because we seem to be using words to talk about mathematical things. Even these words are used to construct an algorithm" (PG 468). Traditional philosophers of mathematics have all failed to realize this, and have puzzled over the status of mathematical propositions-are they truths of logic (Frege and Russell), synthetic a priori propositions about our formsof sensible intuition (Kant), or descriptions of mental constructions (Brouwer)? Wittgensteinshows that there are no mathematical propositions or truths, and so all the theories of traditional philosophy of mathematics, which flow from the assumption that there are, are so many Luftgebdude. In set theory the idea that Cantor was proving propositions about the "transfinite"generated storms of controversy. But both Cantor's supporters and his opponents were talking nonsense, for, as Wittgenstein remarked in another context, "the decisive movement in the conjuring trick has been made, and it was the very one that we thought quite innocent" (PI 308). beThis view of mathematical "propositions" leads to radical differences tween Wittgenstein and all the traditional philosophies of mathematics. In particular it makes it quite clear that Wittgenstein could not have been a finitistof any sort, for even the finitistthinks that mathematics proves propositions about something. A picture which many traditional philosophers of mathematics have worked with is that certain parts of mathematics-set theory and the various branches of mathematical logic-are more fundamental than the rest. Consequently it has been thought that it is philosophically illuminating to study those parts of mathematics, generally known as the "foundations of mathematics". For example, an eminent contemporarymathematician and philosopher, Jaakko Hintikka, has said that "it is not likely that any substantial progress can be made in the genuinely philosophical study of mathematics without using the concepts and results of [symbolic logic and foundational studies] to a much greater extent than has happened so far".12 Wittgenstein is completely opposed to such a view. Of course any philosophically valuable work in philosophy of mathematics requires a knowledge of more than elementary school mathematics, but Hintikka's suggestion that the so-called "foundations of mathematics" are peculiarly relevant to the philosopher is mistaken. Wittgenstein's position is that "the mathematical problems of what is called foundations are no more the foundations
12K. J. J. Hintikka (ed.), The Philosophyof Mathematics(London, 1969), p. 1.

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of mathematics than a painted rock is the supportof a painted tower" ofmathematics" are in no way morefunda(RFM 171). The "foundations mentalthan any otherpart of mathematics.They have merely been made to lookas iftheyare because oftheterminology whichhas beenincorporated into these calculi,and in this way theyhave acquiredtheir aura of philoBut appearances are misleading-"It is said thatthose sophicalsignificance. notionsare highlyabstractand wonderfully deep. But the apparentdepth a wrong comesfrom as any calculi".13 imagery.They are just as pedestrian is "since the propositions of the The idea behindthe traditional conception can be analysedinto propositions about set theory and restof mathematics mathematical of the logicists showed)thenthe proposilogic (as the efforts tionsof set theory and mathematical logic are thosewhichsupportthe rest ofmathematics of mathematics and on whichthe validityof otherbranches sincethere areno mathematical propositions, Wittgenstein, depends". But for the wholepictureis a falseone. Resultsin algebra,topologyand analysis, about "foundations" because etc., do not logicallydepend on propositions and do not logically theyare notpropositions dependon anything.If mathematics can be said to have foundations at all they are of quite a different kind fromthat usually supposed. Mathematics has its foundations in the and has of outside this it needs neither nor any other activity calculating foundations."What we have to do is to describethe calculus-say of the cardinalnumbers-that is, we must give its rules and by doing so we lay of arithmetic. Teach it to us and you have laid its foundathe foundations tions" (PG 297). An immediate of Wittgenstein's of mathematics consequence description as consisting of calculations"is that therecan be no "metamathe"entirely is conceivedof as expressing matics". Metamathematics about propositions but sinceforWittgenstein in a formal the calculi mathematics metalanguage, a formalmathematical"metaof mathematicsdo not express anything, aboutmathematics. The onlylanguage language"cannotexpress propositions is supposedto is ordinary whichcan do this in the way metamathematics non-formalized language, but this is "prose" and not mathematics. For so-called metamathematics is just more mathematicson Wittgenstein, all fours than chessis about withthe rest. It is no moreaboutmathematics If calculi of the "metamathematics" to contain draughts. appear propositions resultoftheircontaining about mathematics thenthat is just the misleading words as well as othersigns,but here as everywhere else in mathematics is and used his "everything algorithm nothingmeaning". Wittgenstein favouriteanalogy to explain this point to Waismann: "I can play with to certainrules. But I can also inventa game in which chessmen according I play withthe rulesof chess,and the rulesof the game are, say, the rules of logic. In thatcase I have yetanother game and not a metagame.What
13Wittgenstein,1939 lectures on mathematics, notes taken by Norman Malcolm (unpublished), pp. 65-6. (Cf. Wittgenstein's remarks about the "charm" of Cantor's work, Lectureson Aesthetics, Psychologyand Religious Belief, p. 28.)

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Hilbertdoes is mathematics and not metamathematics. It is anothercalculus just like any other" (PR 319). This radical attitudeto metamathematicsmeansthat metamathematical theorems like G6del's incompleteness theorem, results,etc., have only as muchphilosophical decidability significance as any othermathematical to wit,none. theorem, Hilbert's whole motivationfor inventing"metamathematics" was of courseto deal withthe problemof consistency, and, as we should expect, radical views on metamathematics Wittgenstein's go hand in hand with equally radical views on the questionof consistency.Wittgenstein's way is to showus whatan inconsistency ofdealingwiththeproblem ofconsistency in mathematics is so that it becomesclearthat traditional ideas about really and the need forconsistency inconsistency proofshave arisenfroman incorrectcharacterization of what it is for a mathematicalcalculus to be inconsistent.The root of the troubleis the mistakenidea that in mathematicswe are dealingwithpropositions. It is thisthat makesthe possibility of inconsistency so alarmingbecause it appears that in an inconsistent said to systemwe can provecontradictory propositions.As Wittgenstein . . . is contradiction, Waismann: "the idea of inconsistency and this can only arise in thetrue/false game, i.e., whenwe are makingassertions"(PR basic thesisis of course that "playingthe true/false 321). Wittgenstein's is what we are not doing in mathematics. In mathematical just game" calculi all we do is calculate, and we do not proveanything in the logical so of a and does not the contradiction sense, possibility producing logical arise. Since all we do is to calculate all that can go wrongis that we find ourselvesin a positionwhere we cannot calculate further, and once this has been the for a need point grasped consistency proofvanishes,forit is seen that whenan inconsistency arisesin mathematics, is prethe situation to that rules of a as the and is ciselyanalogous finding game conflict, easily wereto arisebetween dealt with. "If an inconsistency the rulesofthe game it would be the easiest thingin the worldto remedy. All of mathematics, we have to do is to make a new stipulation to coverthe case wherethe rules conflict and the matter'sresolved" (PR 319). The discovery of an inconis in a mathematical calculus more than a sistency nothing momentary hiatus in our calculatingwhichis over once we have laid down a new rule to resolve The philosophical needforconsistency theconflict. vanishes proofs because all it means to say that a calculus is consistent is that we can calculate in it and it needs no proofto tell us whether that is so or not. couldprove Indeed, no proofcouldtell us that,forno piece of mathematics "this calculusis inconsistent"; the proposition becauseno calculuscan prove of mathematics thinkthat the fact anything. The formalist philosophers that we can go on calculating in a calculusis not sufficient to show that it is consistent, for mighttherenot be hidden inconsistencies waitingto be discovered?But it is nonsense, wouldreply, to talk of "hidden Wittgenstein for "an inconsistency is only an inconsistency when it inconsistencies",

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14AlanRoss Anderson, "Mathematics and the "Language Game" ", Review of Metaphysics,XI (1958), reprintedin Benacerraf and Putnam, p. 489.

arises" (PR 319), a point he makes vividly with the following example: "Suppose two rules of a game were to contradict one another. I have such a bad memory that I never notice this, but always forget one of the two rules or alternately follow one and then the other. Even in this case I would say that everything's in order. The rules are instructionshow to play, and so long as I can play they must be all right. They only cease to be all right the moment I noticethey are inconsistent,and the only sign for that is that I can't apply them any more!" (PR 321-2). In his article on the Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics Alan Ross Anderson criticized Wittgenstein's views on consistency. According to Anderson "in tryingto alter our attitude towards contradictionsWittgenstein sometimes seems to be recommendingthat we stop playing the consistencygame altogether",14and he criticizes Wittgensteinfor describing the formalists' attitude to inconsistency as "the superstitious fear and awe of mathematicians in the face of contradiction" (RFIM 53). But once we see inconsistency for the harmless thing it is we see the pointlessness of Hilbert's programmeof proving "the certitude of all mathematical methods" by giving consistency proofs. Taken to its proper conclusion, Hilbert's view implies that there is no point in doing any furthermathematics until the calculus in question has been proved consistent. But if Wittgenstein is right we may well describe such an attitude as "superstitious fear and awe in the face of contradiction". Wittgenstein is not of course suggesting that we just ignore inconsistencieswhen they arise and stop "playing the consistencygame", as Anderson seems to think, but is simply showing us that inconsistencies can only be dealt with when they arise and dealt with very easily at that. It might appear that Wittgenstein'sposition implies that mathematicians ought to stop doing consistencyproofs,forif they see what an inconsistency really is then the need for consistency proofs vanishes. But Wittgensteinis not committed to such a view. He has nothing to say about what are called "consistency proofs" in mathematics qua mathematics, but he wishes to point out that since they are not proofs of anything they do not prove anything about consistency. As Philip Welch has pointed out to me, proofs of consistencyor inconsistency,e.g., that 'V=L' is inconsistentwith the assumption that there exists a measurable cardinal, or that - GCH is consistent with the axioms of ZF set theory, play an important role in set theory. But Wittgenstein's position in no way affectsthe status of such proofs as mathematics. They can be called "consistency proofs" on the grounds that the word 'consistent' appears in the calculus, but Wittgenstein wishes to make it clear that the words 'consistent' and 'inconsistent'are just signs in the calculus like any others, and this does not mean that those calculi have anything to do with consistency. Just as everywhere else in mathematics "everythingis algorithm and nothing meaning". I now want to turn to a furtheraspect of Wittgenstein's philosophy of

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mathematics which shows yet anotherway in which it differs fromthe traditionalviews. Apart from sharingthe conceptionof philosophyof as a criticaland revisionary mathematics formalists activity,the logicists, and intuitionists also shared a pictureof mathematics as a singlehomostructure.In contrast to this Wittgenstein geneousand monolithic emphasizes that the calculiwhichmakeup mathematics are extremely diverseand he callsthe"motley"ofmathematics. Sincephilosophy heterogeneous-what is a descriptive activityit shoulddo justiceto thisfactabout mathematics. whicha contem"feelschangesin the styleof a derivation The philosopher passes over calmly with a blank face" (PG 381). porarymathematician These changesin styleindicatewhereone calculusstopsand another begins. effects of rewriting mathematics It is one of the philosophically misleading that it in an axiomaticway, as advocated by the logicistsand formalists, matheof characteristic this"motley"whichis suchan important obliterates as a mathematics and logicistideal of presenting matics. The formalist forms of "veil the axiomatic would system important singleall-embracing a is as form of when human to the wrapped point unrecognizability, proof of clear beinga prerequisite up in a lot of cloth" (RFM 76), so thatfarfrom would ideal of this achievement of understanding mathematics, philosophical realize we should be a majorobstacleto it. Here,as withconsistency proofs, axiomatics is not impugning that Wittgenstein qua mathematics.His objecview that axiomatization tionsare aimed at the philosophical gives mathestructure.As we and reveals its fundamental matics secure foundations as nonsensical,but the have seen, Wittgenstein regardsthis programme it out is just as valid as any to in the mathematics attempt carry produced is seenas replacing mathematics othermathematics.Onlywhenaxiomatized and as being a betterversionof the same mathematics non-axiomatized that axiomatization is the "motley"obscured. When it is recognized thing and mathematics new and different more just adds to the just produces then all is well. make of calculi which collection mathematics, up motley and "naive" set axiomatic would for theory So, regard example,Wittgenstein than as just two different set theory calculi,one no betteror morerigorous the other. in another is misleading The traditional way, for pictureof mathematics of simplerones: of more complexcalculi as extensions it leads to thinking of the rationalswhich of as an extension are thought e.g., the real numbers of the integers.This way of thinking of as an extension are in turnthought he stresses, one. Each calculus, view,a totally is, in Wittgenstein's misguided with no gaps which need to be filledby is completeand self-contained "extensions"of the calculus, and this is true no matterhow simple the forsince calculusis. Indeed, to talk of "extending"a calculusis nonsense, we not rule if add a new then have we its each calculusis defined rules, by of one calculus a new one. Thinking extendedthe old calculusbut invented ofdraughts. ofchessas an extension is likethinking ofanother as an extension

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One of the mostimportant of the factthat each calculusis consequences froma autonomousis that all calculi are, qua calculi,on an equal footing forphilosophy of philosophical point of view. This is of great importance forif our aim is to understand the conceptcalculusand the mathematics, associatedproblems, thenone calculusis as good,i.e., as interesting, as any other-"None of themis moresublimethan any other" (PG 334). It will be just as philosophically to considervery simple therefore illuminating morecomplex calculias to consider ones. In factthereare goodphilosophical reasonswhy simplecalculi are bettersuited to the philosopher's purposes, forthe more complexa calculusthe greaterthe dangerof committing the sin of the calculus traditional of original philosophy mathematics-confusing with "prose". Also with complexcalculi thereis more dangerof getting involvedwith purelymathematical problemswhichare none of the philothesedangers business. thatin "foundations" Wittgenstein thought sopher's with were at theirgreatest;and the fact that theyhave been preoccupied is of doubt the main reason traditional these areas mathematics no why just of mathematics have been led to say such absurd things. In philosophers on simplecalculi,so that to thisWittgenstein focusesour attention contrast can be more thephilosophical seen the clearlyand it will be easier problems to achievethat Ubersicht whichwillresolvethem. us back to the topicI startedwith-Wittgenstein's This brings supposed It is easy to see that it is his concentration on simplecalculiwhich finitism. thathe is a finitist. For example,the followhas misledpeopleintothinking in support ing passage fromthe Blue Book has been cited by Kielkopf15 "If I wishedto findout of his strictfinitist of Wittgenstein: interpretation what sort of thingarithmetic is, I should be very contentindeed to have a finite cardinalarithmetic.For (a) this would lead me on to investigated all the more complicatedcases, (b) a finitecardinalarithmetic is not init has no gaps whichare filledby the rest of arithmetic" (p. 20). complete, I thinkit is perfectly clear that what Wittgenstein is in fact doing here is out themethodological explainedabove and thishas nothing setting principle of finitism".16 to do withwhathe himself referred to as "the absurdities I have onlyscratched of the wealthof materialwhichWittthe surface has leftus on the philosophy of mathematics, but I hope it is clear genstein as a philosopher from and selective evensucha brief thatWittgenstein survey ofmathematics to offer and of has much thatis highly greatinterest. original When it is morefullystudiedhis workon mathematics may well providea of mathemuch needed impetusfor a genuinely philosophical philosophy in to the niceties of latest contrast the on the results matics, disquisitions so for of in mathematical often mathematics. which logic pass philosophy At present, is stillto be done to bring thisabout. however, everything University ofKent
150p. cit., note 9, p. 177. 161939lectures (see note 13 above), p. 23.