Priyambada SarkarApr 20, 2022
Language, Limits, and Beyond
Early Wittgenstein and Rabindranath Tagore
Oxford University Press 2021
What does a Bengali intellectual and poet have in common with a British-Austrian logician and philosopher? In Language, Limits, and Beyond: Early Wittgenstein and Rabindranath Tagore (Oxford University Press, 2021), Priyambada Sarkar explores the shared fascination both of these figures have with the limitations of language, the nature of the ineffable, and the role of poetry in our appreciating both. While we know that the young Ludwig Wittgenstein read Tagore’s works to the Vienna Circle, Sarkar goes beyond this and other biographical anecdotes to demonstrate the depth of his interest in Tagore and the resonance between their approaches to language. She argues that while philosophers, according to early Wittgenstein, should maintain silence about certain domains, this does not extend to the poet or the artist, who is able to show, indirectly, what is beyond the threshold of language: the ethical, the religious, and the aesthetic. Tagore’s works themselves not only exemplify this capacity, but reflect on this possibility itself, and it is for this reason, Sarkar explains, that they are fruitfully read alongside of the Tractatus.
Malcolm Keating is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Yale-NUS College. His research focuses on Sanskrit philosophy of language and epistemology. He is the author of Language, Meaning, and Use in Indian Philosophy (Bloomsbury Press, 2019) and host of the podcast Sutras (and stuff).