• Wallows
    8.6k
    But bipolarity has to do with propositions that have sense and can be either true or false, which is why they are called bipolar in the first place. The "That which we cannot talk about must pass over in silence", refers to non-bipolar propositions, in the realm of the nonsensical.Pussycat

    But, the seventh proposition of the Tractatus can be interpreted as self-referential to all the previous propositions. Hence, the principle of bipolarity can apply to all the other propositions and maintain that we must remain silent when thinking about them, as nonsensical, I think.
  • Pussycat
    173
    I dont understand what you mean, but I got the impression that you have something seriously wrong here. Anyway, this will be dealt with when treating the Tractatus. My point in making the above comments was to show that there can be different interpretations leading to completely different conclusions: one reading was that of the now dead logical atomism.


    I think it mostly depends on what the "silent things" are thought and taken to be, if they are false propositions, logical propositions, directive and prescriptive, or ethical and metaphysical etc.. And secondly what are we supposed to do with/in the silence.


    So much confusion because of the 7th proposition, like its a 7th seal or something. For someone that wanted to clarify and elucidate thoughts, not very succesful, is it?

    But why do you think that W was praised so much and admired in the circle of Vienna?
  • Wallows
    8.6k
    Anyway, this will be dealt with when treating the Tractatus.Pussycat

    So, where do you want to start? From the beginning? We've covered a lot already, so maybe skim the thread and then see what questions you have then?
  • Pussycat
    173
    From the beginning yes, always a good place to start, if you find it though! So, preface is next, but I dont have the time now, probably later today.
  • Pussycat
    173
    Wallows! You there man?
  • Fooloso4
    856
    The Tractatus is an austerely beautiful and simple work. One would do well to read it instead of reading about it. To that end I will be following and perhaps contributing.
  • Wallows
    8.6k
    Wallows! You there man?Pussycat

    Yes, I am here.
  • Wallows
    8.6k
    The Tractatus is an austerely beautiful and simple work. One would do well to read it instead of reading about it. To that end I will be following and perhaps contributing.Fooloso4

    Great to have you with us, @Fooloso4. We are around propositions 2.5. If you want to start over, I'm fine with that also.
  • Pussycat
    173
    Well! Despite all of Tractatus's problems and the author's later dismissal of his own book, it still, somehow, remains an important work on logic. But if we are to start at the beginning, just like the king said to the white rabbit in Lewis' Caroll book "Alice in Wonderland": "Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop", then I think we should first see what Wittgenstein has to say in the preface:

    This book will perhaps only be understood by those who have themselves
    already thought the thoughts which are expressed in it—or similar
    thoughts. It is therefore not a text-book. Its object would be attained
    if there were one person who read it with understanding and to whom it
    afforded pleasure.
    — Wittgenstein

    So there are some prerequisites for understanding the book, because Wittgenstein spent a great deal of his time thinking about the connection of logic to language, most probably had long conversations about that with his supervisor Bertrand Russell, and it seems that he has aware of the progress that Gottlob Frege made on the matter, so the Tractatus can be seen as a response to thoughts expressed by these thinkers, and more. But what is interesting in the section above, is his last sentence concerning the book's object, seeking out just one person to both understand it and like it, so that it could be considered a success, a failure otherwise. But if we - analysts - are to remain loyal to Wittgenstein and the Tractatus, then I reckon that we should do and expect the same, that our goal would be accomplished should there be someone that reads our comments with understanding and takes pleasure from them, otherwise we would have failed to render the book's intended meaning.

    (Here is a good place for someone to wonder - especially one that didn't take pleasure - whether pleasure is related to understanding, and vice versa).
  • Pussycat
    173
    The Tractatus is an austerely beautiful and simple work. One would do well to read it instead of reading about it. To that end I will be following and perhaps contributing.Fooloso4

    Yes, like Nietzsche advises, read the original. Alas, my german is poor, but luckily Wittgenstein took care to provide an english translation!
  • Fooloso4
    856
    At the risk of stating the obvious I would like to draw attention to 1.13:

    The facts in logical space are the world. — T 1.13

    The underlying structure of the world is logical rather than physical. Its substance is some unnamed, unidentified objects. This is deeply problematic and W. does not deal with it. Perhaps at this stage he was unaware of the problem. In any case, we can put that aside in order to get a clearer view of the picture of reality he is drawing. More on this picture at the end of 2.

    Objects are simple. — T 2.02

    Objects make up the substance of the world. That is why they cannot be composite. — T 2.021

    The substance of the world can only determine a form, and not any material properties. For it is only by means of propositions that material properties are represented—only by the configuration of objects that they are produced. — T 2.0231

    It [substance] is form and content. — T 2.025

    Space, time, colour (being coloured) are forms of objects. — T 2.0251

    Objects are what is unalterable and subsistent; their configuration is what is changing and unstable. — T 2.0271

    In a state of affairs objects stand in a determinate relation to one another. — T 2.031

    Here we have the ontology of the Tractatus. Simple objects contain within themselves the possibilities of combination, it is by the combination or configuration of objects that material properties are produced. It is by combination that facts are produced.


    At 2.1 there is a shift from the substance and structure of world to what we can say about it:

    We picture facts to ourselves. — T 2.1

    As with the facts themselves, a picture of the facts is in logical space. The elements of the picture correspond to the elements of the facts. — T 2.13

    What every picture, of whatever form, must have in common with reality in order to be able to represent it at all—rightly or falsely—is the logical form, that is, the form of reality. — T 2.18

    There is no picture which is a priori true. — T 2.225

    A logical picture of reality is not necessarily a true picture of reality. The picture must be compared to reality. (2.223) But how is this picture to be compared to reality? Where do we find these simple objects? They are by their nature not things that can be seen or found. Their existence seems to be determined a priori.
  • Pussycat
    173
    Very platonic the Tractatus, wouldn't you agree?
  • Fooloso4
    856


    In some ways, but the object/form is quite different than either the Platonic Forms or the idea of matter and form.
  • Pussycat
    173
    Yes, there are differences, the main being, I think, that tractarian forms are essentially possibilities of object configurations, whereas in Plato, well I don't know what they are in Plato, I don't think it is made clear, but most probably platonic forms share the same level of abstractness as objects in the Tractatus. Whereas forms have been defined in the Tractatus in terms of objects, these objects remain unclear, just as the platonic forms remain unclear.
  • Wallows
    8.6k


    Lovely analysis. Please go on.
  • Fooloso4
    856


    Wittgenstein never names the simple objects, he merely assumes they must exist. Plato's Forms on the other hand are the Forms of what W. would call complexes - Beauty, Justice, Good.



    Thank you. I will.
  • Pussycat
    173
    True, I guess we will see that in the future.

    But les us continue with the preface:

    The book deals with the problems of philosophy and shows, as I
    believe, that the method of formulating these problems rests on the misunderstanding
    of the logic of our language. Its whole meaning could be
    summed up somewhat as follows: What can be said at all can be said
    clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.

    How far my efforts agree with those of other philosophers I will not
    decide. Indeed what I have here written makes no claim to novelty in
    points of detail;

    And indeed he was right not to claim novelty, for many of the thoughts and ideas in the Tractatus had already been expressed by others, basically idealist philosophers dealing in logic, figures like Aristotle and Plato among the ancients, Kant and Hegel among his near contemporaries, Frege and Russell among his peers, at least the ones I know of and have studied, more or less. But there were some fresh and new ideas as well. In any case, I think that his main idea - one that he never abandoned - was very clearly expressed, much more clear than any other thinker ever did. Which is, as he states above, that many, if not all, philosophical problems are not really problems, but only appear so due to the misuse of language, as if language has been compromised somehow. This reminds of Kant and his work, the "Critique of Pure Reason".

    The book will, therefore, draw a limit to thinking, or rather—not to
    thinking, but to the expression of thoughts; for, in order to draw a limit
    to thinking we should have to be able to think both sides of this limit
    (we should therefore have to be able to think what cannot be thought).

    The limit can, therefore, only be drawn in language and what lies on
    the other side of the limit will be simply nonsense.

    So, according to the Tractatus, a limit to thinking cannot be drawn, since we have to think the unthinkable. A limit in thinking may as well exist, but we, as humans, wouldn't know what this limit is or where it lies. However, the same does not hold for language, the expression of thoughts that is, where we can draw a limit between things that make sense and others that do not - the nonsensical. But this assertion has commentators confused, since it seems that there are contradictory remarks in the Tractatus, the relation between logic, thought and sense, I mean.
  • Pussycat
    173
    How far my efforts agree with those of other philosophers I will not
    decide. Indeed what I have here written makes no claim to novelty in
    points of detail; and therefore I give no sources, because it is indifferent
    to me whether what I have thought has already been thought before me
    by another.

    And so the Tractatus is one of the few philosophical works of the modern era, since the time that philosophy has been made into a system and standardised, since philosophers were obliged to give sources - by whom, is a question - that pays no or very little attention to sources, which can be seen as a sign of arrogance and impertinence on the part of the writer, but then again, others might see it differently.

    I will only mention that to the great works of Frege and the writings
    of my friend Bertrand Russell I owe in large measure the stimulation of
    my thoughts.

    Like master like man, like they say. :)

    If this work has a value it consists in two things. First that in it
    thoughts are expressed, and this value will be the greater the better the
    thoughts are expressed. The more the nail has been hit on the head.—
    Here I am conscious that I have fallen far short of the possible. Simply
    because my powers are insufficient to cope with the task.—May others
    come and do it better.

    ... or to show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle. It seems that language games - proverbs and the sort - have always been part of Wittgensteinian thought since the beginning, but maybe he was too timid then, lacking in self-confidence, weak even, to promote and support them in his philosophical system, which he did at a later time when he had grown stronger. Nevertheless, he was always sincere enough to admit and confess that he had trouble coping with language: "My difficulty is only an - enormous - difficulty of expression", or blaming himself: "I work quite diligently and wish that I were better and smarter. And these both are one and the same". I explain myself so that I won't get misexplained, like they say.

    Now, if I am allowed to cheat a little, I would like to quote some passages from later in the book:

    4.003 Most propositions and questions, that have been written about
    philosophical matters, are not false, but senseless. We cannot,
    therefore, answer questions of this kind at all, but only
    state their senselessness. Most questions and propositions of
    the philosophers result from the fact that we do not understand
    the logic of our language.

    (They are of the same kind as the question whether the Good
    is more or less identical than the Beautiful.)
    And so it is not to be wondered at that the deepest problems
    are really no problems.

    So the issue for W is how can our language, or rather its use, become the clearest it can be. This examination ends up being an investigation into the logic that governs the world, and so the various language problems become logical problems, which he considers they are, or must be, the simplest of all:

    5.4541 The solution of logical problems must be simple for they set the
    standard of simplicity.

    Men have always thought that there must be a sphere of
    questions whose answers—a priori—are symmetrical and united
    into a closed regular structure.

    A sphere in which the proposition, simplex sigillum veri, is
    valid.

    The sphere to which he is referring brings a little bit of Parmenides, if anyone has heard of it/him.

    While "simplex sigillum veri" means "simplicity is the sign of truth" in Latin. Or "Keep it simple, stupid" in English, which has KISS as an acronym, like the guys in the US Navy, being in a playful mood, commonly say.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KISS_principle

    A minimalist approach, that is, an economy, like the "principle of least action" in the physical world, consisting of a small number of axioms or principles or concepts that everyone can understand.

    Love_gun_cover.jpg
  • Fooloso4
    856
    A logical picture of facts is a thought. — T 3

    This is the second step in W.’s attempt to draw the limits of thoughts. The first was made at 2.225:

    There is no picture which is a priori true. — T 2.225

    In the Investigations W. says:

    So you let yourself off the very part of the investigation that once gave you yourself most headache, the part about the general form of propositions and of language. — PI §65

    I am going to let myself off and skip over most of his discussion of propositions, the details of which do not bring into sharper focus the picture of the Tractatus I am drawing.


    In a proposition a thought finds an expression that can be perceived by the senses. — T 3.1

    Recall from the preface:

    Thus the aim of the book is to draw a limit to thought, or rather—not to thought, but to the expression of thoughts … It will therefore only be in language that the limit can be drawn. — T Preface

    What constitutes a propositional sign is that in it its elements (the words) stand in a determinate relation to one another.
    A propositional sign is a fact.
    — T 3.14

    Although W.’s concern will be primarily linguistic the elements of a propositional sign need not [edited to include 'not'] be words:


    The essence of a propositional sign is very clearly seen if we imagine one composed of spatial objects (such as tables, chairs, and books) instead of written signs. Then the spatial arrangement of these things will express the sense of the proposition. — T 3.1431

    The proposition, the book is on the table can be expressed by putting a book on a table or an object that represents the book on an object that represents a table.

    In a proposition a thought can be expressed in such a way that elements of the propositional sign correspond to the objects of the thought. — T 3.2

    The elements are names:


    I call such elements ‘simple signs’ ... 3.201


    The simple signs employed in propositions are called names. 3.202


    A name means an object ... 3.203


    The configuration of objects in a situation corresponds to the configuration of simple signs in the propositional sign. 3.21

    In a proposition a name is the representative of an object. 3.22


    Objects can only be named. Signs are their representatives. I can only speak about them: I cannot put them into words. Propositions can only say how things are, not what they are. 3.221
    — T

    Using the spatial object analogy, a picture of what is the case, the facts regarding what objects in a room, we can use a dollhouse as a model to express the fact that there is a chair next to the desk and a book on the desk. We can also use C for chair, B for book, and D for desk and arrange them in such a way to represent the fact that the a chair next to the desk and a book on the desk. Or we can use the names chair, desk, book and the relations “on” and “next to”.

    One point that needs clarification: the names used in propositions and the things named are not the elemental names and elemental objects. Chairs and desks are not elementary. They can be broken down into parts. They are complex or configured or compound names and objects.

    Only propositions have sense; only in the nexus of a proposition does a name have meaning. — T 3.3


    A proposition determines a place in logical space. The existence of this logical place is guaranteed by the mere existence of the constituents—by the existence of the proposition with a sense. — T 3.4

    The demarcation of logical space is essential to the limits of thought and language.



    A propositional sign, applied and thought out, is a thought. — T 3.5

    When the sign for chair, desk, and book are arranged in their proper relations we have a logical picture of the room.

    A thought must be logical and to be true it must be an accurate picture or representation of the world, of what is the case, of the facts.
  • Pussycat
    173
    This is the second step in W.’s attempt to draw the limits of thoughts.Fooloso4

    The demarcation of logical space is essential to the limits of thought and language.Fooloso4

    Thus the aim of the book is to draw a limit to thought, or rather—not to thought, but to the expression of thoughts … It will therefore only be in language that the limit can be drawn. — T Preface

    So do you think that the Tractatus asserts that a limit to thought can be drawn, or should we take what he says in the preface, that the limit can only be drawn in language (and not in thought)?
  • Fooloso4
    856
    So do you think that the Tractatus asserts that a limit to thought can be drawn, or should we take what he says in the preface, that the limit can only be drawn in language (and not in thought)?Pussycat

    This is a difficult problem. As we progress there is more to be said, but the question cannot be adequately addressed without discussing large sections of the text.

    A few general questions and observations:

    He says we cannot draw a limit to thought because this would require that we find both sides of the limit thinkable. If both sides are thinkable then there is no limit. But doesn’t the same hold for language, the expression of thought? Wouldn’t one have to say the unsayable, speak nonsense? Is nonsense thinkable? Is nonsense illogical?

    Why would he he say that the aim of the book is to draw a limit to thought only to immediately correct himself? Why not just say a limit to the expression of thought or the limit of language? Is there a clear distinction between thought and its expression? Do we think first and then express what has been thought?

    At 4.114 he says:

    It [philosophy] must set limits to what can be thought; and, in doing so, to what cannot be thought. It must set limits to what cannot be though by working outwards through what can be thought. — T 4.114

    Is he saying that a limit to thought can be established after all?
  • Pussycat
    173

    Exactly, proposition 4.114 I had in mind when I wrote above:

    ...But this assertion has commentators confused, since it seems that there are contradictory remarks in the Tractatus, the relation between logic, thought and sense, I mean.Pussycat

    I remember reading about this a while ago, some find it contradictory, others not. I don't know what to make of it, I just don't bother with thoughts in the Tractatus (what can be thought), but only with language (what can be said).
  • Wallows
    8.6k
    Nice conversation you guys got going here. Enjoying it. Cheers.
  • Fooloso4
    856


    I took another look at this this morning.

    In the preface the problem is to draw a limit, but the problem at 4.114 it is to set a limit. Drawing a limit here means to go as far as thought can go, but one can set a limit at some point before the end. The limit he sets is at the point where thoughts loose their clarity:


    The object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts …
    Philosophy should make clear and delimit sharply the thoughts which otherwise are, as it were, opaque and blurred.
    — T 4.112

    There is still the problem of the limits of logic/world and:

    Thought can never be of anything illogical, since, if it were, we should have to think illogically. — T 303
  • Pussycat
    173
    but if thats the case, he would/should have said "set limits to what cannot be thought clearly". The ogden trans is worse, since it actually says "the unthinkable".

    As for the illogical, we see the pattern here repeating, thinkable/unthinkable - logical/illogical. But i really doubt that W saw anything as illogical.
  • Fooloso4
    856
    ↪Fooloso4 but if thats the case, he would/should have said "set limits to what cannot be thought clearly". The ogden trans is worse, since it actually says "the unthinkable".Pussycat



    That was stipulated at 4.112


    As for the illogical, we see the pattern here repeating, thinkable/unthinkable - logical/illogical. But i really doubt that W saw anything as illogical.Pussycat

    What cannot be thought as determined by the limits he sets to philosophy is not the illogical but the nonsensical. This is not to say that we cannot think something that is nonsense but that it is disqualified as a philosophical activity.

    The ethical is outside the limits of language/world. Thus outside the distinction between logical and illogical. The relationship between thought and ethics/aesthetics. Is the feeling that the world is mystical something that is thought? Does what makes itself manifest show itself in thought?
  • Wallows
    8.6k
    If we are to take a resolute reading of Wittgenstein, then we must begin talking senselessly and nonsensically. Who wants to start?
  • Fooloso4
    856


    This is a new term for me. I had to look it up. The problem with such labels is that once the label is applied or accepted one is implicated in a variety of assumptions he or she may not hold. How T 6.54 is to be interpreted, what it means for his propositions to be nonsensical, are open questions not determinations that should inform one’s interpretation.


    The sense of the world must lie outside the world. — T 6.41

    What does this mean? Is it that anything we say about the world does not convey its sense? In that case, all propositions about the world are nonsense since they talk about what is in the world. As far as I can see this commits us to neither the irresolute idea that they convey “ineffable insights into the nature of reality” or that they are a “string of words that convey no content whatsoever”. (Bronzo Resolute Reading)

    On my tentative reading they simply do not convey what cannot be said but can only shown. To see what is being shown means to move beyond the propositions about the world.
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