Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tractatus Politico-Philosophicus

Last week I received the following in an email from the American Philosophical Association:

Marek Derewiecki, a leading philosophy book publisher in Poland, has just released a new book: W. Julian Korab-Karpowicz, Tractatus Politico-Philosophicus.

W. Julian Korab-Karpowicz’s Tractatus Politico-Philosophicus, both inspired by and critical of, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, is a work of political philosophy that aims to establish the principles of the good state and a happy society, and to open up new directions for the future development of humankind.

The book is simultaneously published in two languages (Polish/English). The Polish text is used alongside the English. Like Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Korab-Karpowicz’s Tractatus Politico-Philosophicus is written in short, numbered paragraphs. It is concluded by Seven Principles of a Happy Society.

The book can be ordered through or directly from the publisher. Free copies of the book are available to APA members who would consider it for review.

The author of the Tractatus Politico-Philosophicus, W. Julian Korab-Karpowicz has received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oxford and is currently Professor at Lazarski University in Warsaw and at Zayed University in Dubai. He is the author of five books. He now intends to publish his Tractatus Politico-Philosophicus in the US entirely in English.
A few pages of the book are available in English translation online for free. I like the idea of thinking about how society should be arranged, but this is strange stuff. The Wittgenstein connection in these pages (from remarks in the 10s, so presumably late in the book) seems to consist solely of the book's being composed of numbered propositions presented with little argument. That's it as far as I can see.

And it's not easy to understand without elaboration. According to 10.252 citizens should not be reduced to a hired workforce, but by 10.25 there should be some large private enterprises. Presumably these will have hired workers. So some citizens will be reduced to a hired workforce. There will be free access to capital (10.26), provided by whom? And "no great differences in wealth" (10. 27), ensured by what?

The idea is not a socialist paradise. The economy is to be based on private entrepreneurship. There will be a draft (10. 67) and, if there are "significant cultural differences in a country" resulting in conflict (how much conflict?), then either "the more tolerant civilization" will dominate the others or else there will be "equal subjection of all to a dictatorship" (10.752). After all (10.753): "A dictatorship that is tolerant of cultural diversity, or an authoritarian government whose purpose is to ensure social peace, is a better regime than an illusory democracy riven by civilizational conflict that ends in civil war."

I think I'll pass.      


  1. An example of an illusionary democracy like that would be today's Iraq, a country that has become formally a democracy after the fall of Saddam Hussein, but is a democracy only in theory.

    1. Yes, there are certainly better situations than Iraq's.


  3. To Duncan Richter. There are cetrainly better democracies. Iraq is an example of an illusionary democracy, "riven by civilizational (sectarian) conflict". One cannot mechanically export democracy everywhere. There are countries where "a dictatorship that is tolerant of cultural diversity, or an authoritarian government whose purpose is to ensure social peace, is a better regime than an illusory democracy riven by civilizational conflict that ends in civil war". This is apparently the meaning of 10.753 of the Tractatus.

    1. Agreed. My concern is that even qualified support for dictatorship seems dangerous to me. At least, I would want to know more details before saying whether I agreed or not. Some dictatorships are better than some so-called democracies, I agree, or might agree, but what is the exact meaning of these terms here? That matters a lot.

    2. Already Aristotle declared that politics was a practical science (and art). It can be measured by its consequences. Thus, one could argue that whether policy or a system of government is better than others can be measured by the degree of happiness or suffering of the people which are affected by it. Obviously, this brings us to a reflection about happiness. What is suffereing seems more obvious. There is a lot of it in everyday world news.

    3. Yes. We could use a better understanding of happiness and how to achieve it. Some attempts to figure this out seem quite crude, but the best response (I think) is to do the job better, not just to reject the whole project.

  4. Is there a remark near the end where he declares that all the preceding remarks are nonsense and need to be "transcended"?

    1. In Tractatus Politico-Philosophicus there is no such a remark. This is a work of political philosophy, rather than a treatise on logic. See:

    2. Thanks. I thought my comment was a (weak) joke. Apparently not.

      To be more serious: dressing up a political theory in the garb of a trendy cult philosophy work to give it a spurious air of mystery/authority smacks of charlatanism. It certainly puts me off going anywhere near it.

  5. 7. We must speak about what we can no longer pass over in silence.
    7.01 Propositions are not of equal value. Some make sense, others are meaningless; some express truth, others are false; some teach us something, others mislead or demoralize us.
    7.1 The sense of the world lies in the world itself. It is determined by culture.
    7.101 Each culture gives people a certain vision of the world.
    7.102 By creating culture, human beings create their own environment, which is the world.
    7.12 In the world created by human beings, nothing is as it is and nothing happens as it does happen. The world undergoes a constant transformation: what is old goes away and what is new arrives.
    7.13 The essence of culture, of the human-made environment, is values.
    7.1301 By creating culture, human beings go beyond their original biological endowment. Values constitute a new driving force for their actions.
    7.14 Every value always has some value.
    7.15 If there are values that have a value, they are a part of everything that happens and takes place in human life.
    7.16 For nothing that happens and is the case is accidental.
    7.1601 The occurrence of human activities depends on the economic, political, moral and religious values adopted by people. The entire educational and political system in a given society is determined by the values adopted.
    7.17 What makes them [these activities] non-accidental lies, in fact, in the world, because every value, every custom, and every belief is in the world and has a specific social function.
    7.18 It must therefore lie in the world.
    7.2 There can be ethical propositions. Speaking with sense about ethics and politics is possible.
    7.201 Not only is it possible to apprehend the values that define human traits and actions, and to talk about them with sense; they have actually been a subject of discourse since the beginning of humankind.
    7.202 The world is something more than the totality of facts and propositions can express something higher than facts. That “something higher” is values.
    7.2021 The world is the totality of values, rather than the totality of facts.

    1. Thanks. I hadn't seen this part of the book.

    2. The annoucement says: "Free copies of the book are available to APA members who would consider it for review."

    3. I thought about that. I'm not sure that I have time to read and review it though. Nor that anyone wants to see my review of it. I was interested enough to read a few pages though.

  6. bbc on unwritten rules