• Sam26
    1.6k
    I'm glad I made a copy of the thread I wrote from the other forum. I'm not sure if there is enough interest to post some of that here. Maybe I could post it for people to read and comment on. What do you people think?
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    Welcome back!

    I remember that there was a very good thread on the older forum about Wittgenstein's Tractatus. Was that your thread? In any case, if you can repost the original post, and the date, it ought to be possible to find the old thread on the Wayback Machine.
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    Please do a thread on the Tractatus while referring to the answers already provided in the old thread. That would be heavenly.
  • TimeLine
    2.7k
    I'm glad I made a copy of the thread I wrote from the other forum. I'm not sure if there is enough interest to post some of that here. Maybe I could post it for people to read and comment on. What do you people think?Sam26

    Yeah I actually remember that, and it got somewhat controversial because of a poster who appeared to be taking your ideas. X-) But aside from that, it was actually a great post.
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    Welcome Sam, good to see you here. Go for it. :)
  • Banno
    8.4k
    Indeed.
  • Sam26
    1.6k
    Thanks for the comments. I hope all of you are doing well. I'm currently living in Florida enjoying the warm weather. As some of you know I'm retired, so in my spare time I study Wittgenstein. Although, I've slowed down a bit in the past couple of years.

    No matter how many times I edit these posts, I always find more mistakes.

    Sam
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    I am going to use K. T. Fann's book Wittgenstein's Conception of Philosophy as a guide for much of my summary of the Tractatus, because I think it is one of the best summaries written on Wittgenstein's early and late philosophy. If you want to study Wittgenstein I would suggest getting Fann's book. You can get it on Alibris (used) for just a few dollars.Sam26

    Thanks for the recommendation. I noticed that Google Books makes the whole book available for online reading. (I grabbed it and OCRed it so that I could annotate it). This is strange since Google *also* makes available a free sample, and sell the whole book in the Books section of the Google Play Store.
  • Janus
    9k
    OCRed it so that I could annotate it)Pierre-Normand

    I'm interested to know what OCRing is...
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    I'm interested to know what OCRing is...John

    Optical Character Recognition... to convert the raw images in the pdf files that I had generated into searchable text (that can also be underlined, highlighted, copied, etc.) I couldn't find a good freeware to do that, so I downloaded a 7-day trial version of Adobe Acrobat DC. Thus converted, the pdf book looks just the same but it now has a hidden text layer added to it.
  • Janus
    9k


    OK thanks. Is it easy to convert the online book to PDF?
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    OK thanks. Is it easy to convert the online book to PDF?John

    I found an online tool for that. Just PM me.
  • ernestm
    1k
    I am so glad to find an expert on this.

    Please could you update me, what is the current thinking on Austin's idea of performative utterances, and Ryle's idea of categorical mistakes?
  • Sam26
    1.6k
    Introduction

    It is important to understand the background of Wittgenstein's works in order to better understand his thinking. I am not going to be able to give those of you who are interested a complete background of what was going on in philosophy at the time, vis-a-vis Bertrand Russell, A. N. Whitehead, and Gottlob Frege. I will only give you bits and pieces, and hopefully this will inspire you to do your own thinking, and come to your own conclusions about the nature of Wittgenstein's work; and not only the nature of his work, but to come to understand how his thinking should influence the way we think about language, and in particular - propositions.

    As much as I enjoy Wittgenstein's philosophy, and thinking about what he said concerning the nature of a proposition, it is important to understand that no philosopher no matter how brilliant - is without flaws. Hence, we have to be careful about getting tunnel vision, and we have to be careful about being to dogmatic about a certain philosopher, philosophy, or theory. That said, we can learn much about some of the problems of philosophy by spending some time trying to understand Wittgenstein's methods, and how these methods apply to philosophical thinking concerning the proposition. After all, propositions to philosophers, are like the hammer, saw, and nails to a carpenter.

    I have come to the conclusion after reading several biographies and studying Wittgenstein on my own, that in the 20th century Wittgenstein is to philosophy, what Einstein is to physics; and just as a physicist would not neglect Einstein's theories, I think philosophers should also not neglect the study of Wittgenstein's methods. His writings are some of the most original in all of philosophy, and the power of his intellect is demonstrated not only in his philosophy, but in other areas of his life.

    Wittgenstein was born in Vienna, and he was the youngest of eight children. He came from a very cultured and rich industrialist family. In fact Johannes Brahms would come to the Wittgenstein home and play his music. Ludwig was educated at home until the age of 14, when his parents decided to send the young Wittgenstein to Linz to prepare him in mathematics and the physical sciences. It seems that the young Wittgenstein wanted to study with the physicist Boltzmann, however Boltzmann died in 1906. After being educated in Linz for three years, he then went to Berlin to study mechanical engineering at the Technische Hochscule at Charlottenburg. After two years in Berlin he went to England where he became a research student of engineering at the University of Manchester. During this time he engaged in aeronautical research, and went from experimenting with kites, to the construction of a jet reaction propeller for aircraft. The design of the propeller was a mathematical endeavor, which eventually led the young Wittgenstein into pure mathematics, and then, to the foundation of mathematics. Apparently his interest in the foundation of mathematics led him to Russell and Whitehead's work, called the Principles of Mathematics. The Principles of Mathematics greatly affected the young Wittgenstein, and this interest led him to the works of Frege who was the founder of modern mathematical logic; so it was through Russell, Whitehead, and Frege's works that Wittgenstein entered into the study of philosophy.

    According to G. H. Von Wright, Wittgenstein read Schopenhauer's Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, and this brought him face-to-face with Schopenhauer's idealism. Later Wittgenstein apparently abandoned his Schopenharuerian idealistic views in favor of Frege's conceptual realism; and it seems that after a talk with Frege, Wittgenstein decided to go to Cambridge and study philosophy with Russell (G. H. Von Wright, A Biographical Sketch, p. 6).
  • Sam26
    1.6k
    Wittgenstein: On Certainty Post #1

    What follows is my own analysis of On Certainty, and this analysis is done with very little input from other philosophers. Hence, some of my thoughts may diverge or converge with others, but they are mine and I take responsibility for them. Hopefully, I will hit the mark from time-to-time, at least that is my goal. Maybe some of you will get something out of this, but I can tell you it takes a lot of work, and even then, it is easy to miss the point of Wittgenstein's thinking. I have read and re-read On Certainty many times, and each time I do, I learn something new.

    Wittgenstein wrote On Certainty in response to Moore's papers, Proof of an External World and A Defense of Common Sense in which Moore lists a number of propositions that he claims to know with certainty. Propositions such as the following: "Here is one hand" and "There exists at present a living human body, which is my body (G.E. Moore, Philosophical Papers (1959), p. 1)." Moore continues to enumerate other propositions that he claims to know, with certainty, to be true. These propositions provide for Moore a proof of the external world, and as such, they supposedly form a buttress against the skeptic.

    As we read On Certainty we note that it is not only Moore's claim to knowledge that Wittgenstein criticizes, specifically Moore's use of the word know, but he also critiques the skeptic, and their use of the word doubt. Wittgenstein's response to Moore's propositions is not entirely unsympathetic, although he argues that Moore's propositions do not accomplish what Moore thinks they do, viz., to provide a proof of the external world; which in turn is supposed to undermine the doubts of the skeptic. Moore's proof is supposed to show that the conclusion follows necessarily, and if it does, then the skeptic's doubts are supposed to vanish - at least in theory. The proof would look something like the following:

    1) Moore has knowledge that he has two hands.

    2) Moore makes the inference from the fact that he has two hands, to the conclusion that there exists an external world.

    3) Hence, Moore knows that an external world exists.

    Wittgenstein is challenging the first premise in the above argument; more specifically, he is challenging Moore's claim that he knows that he has hands. Moore demonstrated this by holding up one hand, and then the other.

    Having knowledge of something presupposes that there are good reasons (at least in many cases), or at least some justification to believe it, but exactly what is it that Moore has knowledge of? He claims to have knowledge of the existence of his hands, but what would count as evidence for such a claim? Do I know that I have hands because I check to see if they are there every morning? Do I make a study of my hands, and thereby conclude that I do indeed have hands? I have knowledge of chemistry, physics, history, epistemology, and other subjects, and there are ways to confirm my knowledge. However, in our everyday lives do we need to confirm that we have hands? And, do we normally doubt such things?

    From here I will examine On Certainty, sometimes line-by-line, other times a section at a time.
  • Sam26
    1.6k
    Wittgenstein: On Certainty Post #2

    "If you do know that here is one hand [G.E. Moore, Proof of an External World], we'll grant you all the rest. When one says that such and such a proposition can't be proved, of course that does not mean that it can't be derived from other propositions; any proposition can be derived from other ones. But they may be no more certain than it is itself (OC, 1)."

    So, Wittgenstein grants that if Moore does indeed know that he has a hand, then Moore's conclusion follows. The skeptic says that such a proposition can't be proved. This doesn't mean, though, that we can't derive them based on other propositions. However, the derivation may not be any stronger than the proposition we started with. There seems to be something foundational here, viz., that some propositions are foundational to our claims of knowledge or our claims of doubt. When you reach bedrock no part of the foundational structure is stronger.

    "From it seeming to me--or to everyone--to be so, it doesn't follow that it is so. What we can ask is whether it can make sense to doubt it (OC, 2)."

    The skeptic may have a point (although it may not be the point he/she is trying to make), that just because people (or Moore) say something is so, it doesn't follow that it is. However, Wittgenstein points out that what we need to ask, is whether the doubt makes sense. Doubting occurs in a language-game, and language-games have rules - later Wittgenstein will point out that a doubt that doubts everything is not a doubt.

    Knowledge has to be demonstrated - whereas Moore seems to just state his propositions as facts, and this need to be shown or demonstrated in some way.
  • mcdoodle
    1k
    My own view, for instance, is that Wittgenstein is incorrect about the proposition of ethics. I believe that the propositions of ethics do not transcend the world, i.e., in the sense that they are attempts to say what cannot be said. I also believe that there are moral facts, and that they are objective facts that all of us are able to comprehend. They are not senseless in the Wittgensteinian sense.Sam26

    Sam, I am glad to see you here. Your notes on Wittgenstein are very valuable, as is your quiet, deliberate voice.

    There is a copy of the 1929 Lecture on Ethics online, here, in an unformatted version. It ends:

    My whole tendency and I believe the tendency of all men who ever tried to write or talk Ethics or Religion was to run against the boundaries of language. This running against the walls of our cage is perfectly, absolutely hopeless. Ethics so far as it springs from the desire to say something about the ultimate meaning of life, the absolute good, the absolute valuable, can be no science. What it says does not add to our knowledge in any sense. But it is a document of a tendency in the human mind which I personally cannot help respecting deeply and I would not for my life ridicule it. — Wittgenstein
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    According to the Tractatus a proposition pictures reality, so if we are to understand a proposition that refers to unicorns, it is because the proposition displays a picture, and that picture either matches up with reality or it does not. If it correctly mirrors reality, then it is true, if it does not mirror reality, then it is false.Sam26
    From your post "Wittgenstein: The Tractatus Post #5".

    There is a metaphysical assumption lumped into that paragraph that plagues the Tractatus and for the matter the correspondence theory of truth. Namely, that to know if a picture is accurate in depicting reality, we already have to know what reality looks like. In other words, there is a certain unspecified set of criteria that has to be met for a picture to be in accordance with reality, which exhaustively can never be achieved (A central reason why Popper's Fallibilism will always be superior to Verificationism). Wittgenstein does not go into detail about this set of criteria, which is unfortunate. Perhaps, this is just a game of semantics over "correctly" or "accurately"; but, this is where I think Wittgenstein is lacking in his appeal to the scientific process or logical positivism, which would have made his Tractatus a lasting work of philosophy if it already is not one.
  • Sam26
    1.6k
    There is a metaphysical assumption lumped into that paragraph that plagues the Tractatus and for the matter the correspondence theory of truth. Namely, that to know if a picture is accurate in depicting reality, we already have to know what reality looks like. In other words, there is a certain unspecified set of criteria that has to be met for a picture to be in accordance with reality, which exhaustively can never be achieved (A central reason why Popper's Fallibilism will always be superior to Verificationism). Wittgenstein does not go into detail about this set of criteria, which is unfortunate. Perhaps, this is just a game of semantics over "correctly" or "accurately"; but, this is where I think Wittgenstein is lacking in his appeal to the scientific process or logical positivism, which would have made his Tractatus a lasting work of philosophy if it already is not one.Question
    Wittgenstein thinks there is a one-to-one correspondence between the smallest constituent parts of a propositions (names), and the smallest constituent parts of the world (viz., obects). This idea is repudiated in the PI; and you're right he does make metaphysical assumptions that aren't substantiated. He didn't think it was his job to provide examples of names or objects, but he wasn't unaware of the problem.

    I do think there is something to the idea that propositions picture reality, or mirror reality. The problem is that philosophers are always trying to find a precise definition that explains what correspondence means, and precision is not always possible or needed. I think we generally understand what it means for a painting to picture reality, and in many of the same ways we generally understand what it means for a proposition to mirror reality. Is it a model that fits every instance of a proposition? No.
  • Shawn
    10.7k
    I do think there is something to the idea that propositions picture reality, or mirror reality. The problem is that philosophers are always trying to find a precise definition that explains what correspondence means, and precision is not always possible or needed. I think we generally understand what it means for a painting to picture reality, and in many of the same ways we generally understand what it means for a proposition to mirror reality. Is it a model that fits every instance of a proposition? No.Sam26
    Here's the problem. Wittgenstein goes on to assert the validity of pictures depicting reality, without specifying what criteria are being met to accurately or correctly depict reality. It's not a matter of semantics as to what degree are we 'accurately' or 'correctly' depicting reality because if the assumption that either a picture is in accordance with reality (the state of affairs of being 'True') or is not in accordance with reality (the state of affairs of being 'False'), because we are already making the assumption that what we are saying is 'True' as opposed to being 'False' when talking about pictures of reality (or the representation of states of affairs in reality via the use of elementary propositions, eg. names). Otherwise, if we can't specify the meaning of "correctly" or "accurately" in this context, then sad to say the whole thing is nonsense.
  • Sam26
    1.6k
    Here's the problem. Wittgenstein goes on to assert the validity of pictures depicting reality, without specifying what criteria are being met to accurately or correctly depict reality. It's not a matter of semantics as to what degree are we 'accurately' or 'correctly' depicting reality because if the assumption that either a picture is in accordance with reality (the state of affairs of being 'True') or is not in accordance with reality (the state of affairs of being 'False'), because we are already making the assumption that what we are saying is 'True' as opposed to being 'False' when talking about pictures of reality (or the representation of states of affairs in reality via the use of elementary propositions, eg. names). Otherwise, if we can't specify the meaning of "correctly" or "accurately" in this context, then sad to say the whole thing is nonsense.Question

    My understanding is that he does specify what criteria has to be met in order for a proposition to depict reality. And you're correct it's not a matter of semantics, it's in accordance with his understanding of how a proposition matches up one-to-one via names and objects. If the proposition's names match with the objects in reality, then you have a one-to-one correspondence, if not, then you have a false proposition. Correctly and accurately, as you state, is simply determined by the relationship between the proposition (names) and the world (objects).
  • Luke
    890



    To add to what Sam said, I believe this is well summarised by Wikipedia's Tractatus article, particularly in its reference to a geometric projection:

    In order for a picture to represent a certain fact it must in some way possess the same logical structure as the fact. The picture is a standard of reality. In this way, linguistic expression can be seen as a form of geometric projection, where language is the changing form of projection but the logical structure of the expression is the unchanging geometric relationships.

    So, for example, Wittgenstein's law court dolls possess the same logical structure as the facts if they stand in the same relationships to each other as the facts they represent, or if they are are projected in the same way as/from the facts.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.