• Sam26
    2.4k
    A Summary of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

    I’m going to try to condense the Tractatus, which hopefully will help those of you with an interest to better understand its contents.

    The Tractatus is the culmination of Wittgenstein’s early philosophy or thoughts. It was completed before he was 30 years old. He covers a wide range of philosophical ideas, including, the nature of the world, the properties of language, the nature of logic, the nature of mathematics, and remarks on the philosophy of science, ethics, religion, and mysticism (Wittgenstein’s Conception of Philosophy, by K. T. Fann, p. 3).

    Without a doubt the Tractatus is one of the most difficult works in philosophy to understand. One of the reasons for this is the way the book is written, i.e., the style of the book. It consists of very short concise numbered remarks. Another reason the Tractatus is difficult, is that the subject matter itself is difficult. It is common even amongst philosophers to generally misunderstand the contents therein. Even Bertrand Russell misunderstood the contents of the Tractatus, and he wrote the introduction.

    In the preface to the Tractatus Wittgenstein tells us what the book is all about. “The book deals with the problems of philosophy, and shows, I believe, that the reason why these problems are posed is that the logic of our language is misunderstood. The whole sense of the book might be summed up in the following words: what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.

    “Thus the aim of the book is to draw a limit to thought, or rather—not to thought, but to the expression of thoughts: for in order to be able to draw a limit to thought, we should have to find both sides of the limit thinkable (i.e. we should have to be able to think what cannot be thought).

    “It will therefore only be in language that the limit can be drawn, and what lies on the other side of the limit will simply be nonsense (Preface, p. 3).”

    One of the other goals of this thread is not to critique Wittgenstein’s statements, but just to give a general understanding of its contents.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.6k
    I look forward to more of this thread.
  • Gregory
    4.6k
    This is a good topic. Questions like "how many souls do you have" and "what is the relationship between your objective mind and your subjective mind" would thwart his scheme however. Religious questions like that many of us feel are not meaningless
  • Pfhorrest
    4.6k
    Questions like "how many souls do you have" and "what is the relationship between your objective mind and your subjective mind" would thwart his scheme however. Religious questions like that many of us feel are not meaninglessGregory

    Or would his scheme not instead thwart those questions, and show that they are meaningless, your feelings be damned?
  • Sam26
    2.4k
    Post 2

    One of the common misunderstandings of Wittgenstein’s later writings is that he rejected the Tractatus. And while it’s true that Wittgenstein did reject some of his earlier premises (e.g., that there was a one-to-one correspondence between names and simple objects in the world – more on what names and simple objects are later), he did not reject the Tractatus in total. This is not to say that he wasn’t a harsh critic of the Tractatus, because he was. It’s only to say that there is a continuity of thought between Wittgenstein’s early and later thinking. That continuity consists in answering the questions of the nature, job, and method of doing philosophy. One can think of Wittgenstein’s early method of doing philosophy, as the traditional method, and in his later works he introduces a new method of analysis (one could look at his early method as an a priori method, and his later method as a posteriori – although this is not written in stone), in both methods he is still thinking about the logic of language, just in different ways.

    According to K. T. Fann the basic assumptions behind the Tractatus has to do with the structure of language being revealed by logic, and that the function of language is to describe the world. Wittgenstein deals with two major questions, according to Fann, “(1) What is the nature of logic? And (2) How is language related to the world? (Wittgenstein’s Conception of Philosophy, p. 5).”

    The Tractatus is divided into seven major parts, the seventh part, though, only consists of one statement. The following is a list of these seven parts:

    (1) “The world is all that is the case.”
    (2) “What is the case—a fact—is the existence of states of affairs.”
    (3) “A logical picture of facts is a thought.”
    (4) “A thought is a proposition with a sense.”
    (5) “A proposition is a truth-function of elementary propositions.
    (An elementary proposition is a truth-function of itself.)
    (6) In six Wittgenstein gives the general form of a truth-function.
    (7) “What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.”


    Each of these numbered divisions are numbered to establish a hierarchy. For instance, remark 1.12 is an elaboration on 1.11, which is an elaboration on 1.1, etc., etc. His remarks are put down as if they were unassailable and definitive, with no argument, or very little argument.

    Each of these seven divisions can be further broken down into three main topics, logic, language, and the world.

    (This isn't going to come fast and furious guys and gals, but I'll try to post at least one post a day.)

    I will continue…
  • Sam26
    2.4k
    Post 3

    Logic seems fundamental to Wittgenstein’s thinking, however, how logic fits into his thinking in both his early and later thinking is a bit different, but not always. A difference can be seen, for example, in his thinking about propositions. Propositions are a mirror image of the world in the Tractatus. Propositions have a one-to-one correspondence with the world, viz., with facts. One can think of meaning in the Tractatus as a kind of pointing to, i.e., propositions point to facts in the world, names as part of propositions point to objects which are the smallest parts of facts. This logic is much different from the logic that is seen in his later philosophy (Philosophical Investigations). In the Philosophical Investigations he uses the language-game and use (of words, of propositions) within the social context to show the logic behind language. A vague proposition in the Tractatus is no longer vague when fully analyzed. In the PI, a vague proposition is still vague when analyzed, but it has a kind of logical use, a social use, that incorporates its vagueness into its social function.

    The logic in the Tractatus contains an exactness that is disposed of in the PI (at least for the most part). It’s this exactness, I believe, that leads Wittgenstein to believe that he has solved all the philosophical problems (in the T.) in one fell swoop. How has he solved all the philosophical problems? Well, if as Wittgenstein supposes one can analyze all propositions via their truth-functions (more on this later), and these line up with facts in the world, then we can determine what’s true and what’s false based on Wittgenstein’s a priori analysis. This is probably why Russell thought that Wittgenstein was creating a logically perfect language.
  • Sam26
    2.4k
    Post 4

    Wittgenstein saw logic as something sublime in the Tractatus. “For there seemed to pertain to logic a peculiar depth—a universal significance. Logic lay, it seemed, at the bottom of all the sciences.—For logical investigations explores the nature of all things. It seeks to see to the bottom of things and is not meant to concern itself whether what actually happens is this or that (PI, 89).” Wittgenstein’s view of logic drove him in a particular direction, viz., the logical connection between the proposition (thought) and the facts (states-of-affairs in the world). For the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus there was an a priori order to the world, and that order would show itself in the connection between the proposition and the world. “The great problem round which everything that I write turns is: Is there an order in the world a priori, and if so what does it consist in (Nb, p.53)?”

    In later posts we will see how Wittgenstein uses logic to connect the dots. Connecting the dots was an investigation into the structure of the proposition, and the structure of the world, and again, it’s logic that will reveal that structure.

    “This order of investigation [in the Notebooks], however, is roughly the reverse of the order of presentation in the finished text [in the Tractatus]. In the Tractatus Wittgenstein starts with the proposition: ‘The world is all that is the case’ (T. 1.0). ‘The world is the totality of facts, not of things (T. 1.1).’ Though these statements stand at the beginning, they are best regarded as conclusions from what follows. The account of the nature of the world is given first because it anticipates and is required by the theory of language which comes later. The meaning of these metaphysical statements cannot be fully appreciated until his account of the nature of language is understood (Wittgenstein’s Conception of Language, by K. T. Fann, pp. 6, 7).”
  • Gregory
    4.6k
    Was the world more religious or mystical for the early Wittgenstein or more so for the latter man? That is, was the the thing-in-itself more a mystery for him in his younger days or when he got older?
  • Sam26
    2.4k
    I don't think you could say Wittgenstein was religious, maybe in his very early years, but definitely not in his later years. He never ridiculed religion, and in fact, he admired some religious writings. He definitely had a mystical bent to his personality. Some misinterpreted this side of Wittgenstein as religious, but I would say not. The mystical for Wittgenstein would best be expressed between the ideas of saying and showing. He didn't think the mystical could be expressed, but only shown in our actions (e.g. praying and meditating). The mystical goes beyond what can be expressed in language. Wittgenstein believed that language has a boundary, beyond which is that that is senseless (not nonsense, but senseless). I'll talk about this later in my posts.
  • Gregory
    4.6k
    I'll talk about this later in my posts.Sam26

    If you can talk more about the difference between the younger and latter Wittgenstein, I'd appreciate it. On the religious question, he sounds Zen. A bit too much for me
  • Shawn
    12.6k
    @Sam26, when you mention the arrangement of facts in logical space, please mention me.

    Regards.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.3k
    Without a doubt the Tractatus is one of the most difficult works in philosophy to understand.Sam26

    Are you serious? The Tractatus has got to be one of the most boring, simplistic, and straight forward pieces of philosophy, (if it can even be called philosophy), ever written.

    In the preface to the Tractatus Wittgenstein tells us what the book is all about. “The book deals with the problems of philosophy, and shows, I believe, that the reason why these problems are posed is that the logic of our language is misunderstood. The whole sense of the book might be summed up in the following words: what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.

    “Thus the aim of the book is to draw a limit to thought, or rather—not to thought, but to the expression of thoughts: for in order to be able to draw a limit to thought, we should have to find both sides of the limit thinkable (i.e. we should have to be able to think what cannot be thought).

    “It will therefore only be in language that the limit can be drawn, and what lies on the other side of the limit will simply be nonsense (Preface, p. 3).”
    Sam26

    Oh yeah, and thanks for reminding me, not only is it the most boring simplistic piece of work, but it's all wrong as well. That's because philosophy is not boring, simplistic, and straight forward as Wittgenstein makes it out to be in the Tractatus. At least he came to recognize this before he wrote his Philosophical investigations.
  • Sam26
    2.4k
    If you think that why are you in here posting?
  • Wayfarer
    20.4k
    The whole sense of the book might be summed up in the following words: what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.Sam26

    The Vienna Circle took that as one of the foundational principles of positivism, and yet that is not at all what Wittgenstein meant. The concluding sections are in support of propositions such as 'ethics are transcendental':

    6.41 The sense of the world must lie outside the world. In the world everything is as it is and happens as it does happen. In it there is no value—and if there were, it would be of no value.

    If there is a value which is of value, it must lie outside all happening and being-so. For all happening and being-so is accidental.

    What makes it non-accidental cannot lie in the world, for otherwise this would again be accidental. It must lie outside the world.

    Hence also there can be no ethical propositions. Propositions cannot express anything higher.

    6.421 It is clear that ethics cannot be expressed.

    Ethics are transcendental.

    (Ethics and æsthetics are one.)

    Yet, somehow, from this, positivism then says that 'all metaphysics is meaningless' and that therefore the only meaningful statements are those which can be validated with respect to sensible experience. Which is pretty well the exact opposite of Wittgenstein's attitude, in my opinion.
  • Banno
    22.9k
    He believed in god, although not the sort that is found hereabouts. When asked if he believed in god, he replied "yes, I do, but the difference between what you believe and what I believe may be infinite".

    So there will be scant solace here for the religiously incline, I suspect; they will need to give up much in order to follow the conversation.
  • Banno
    22.9k
    Well, yes, the stuff passed over in silence is of the utmost import.
  • Sam26
    2.4k
    He believed in god, although not the sot that is found hereabouts. When asked if he believed in god, he replied "yes, I do, but the difference between what you believe and what I believe may be infinite".Banno

    Can you reference that Banno? I've read quite a bit, but never came across anything like that.
  • Sam26
    2.4k
    Yet, somehow, from this, positivism then says that 'all metaphysics is meaningless' and that therefore the only meaningful statements are those which can be validated with respect to sensible experience. Which is pretty well the exact opposite of Wittgenstein's attitude, in my opinion.Wayfarer

    Ya, the Vienna Circle got it wrong, as many did back then when reading Wittgenstein.
  • Wayfarer
    20.4k
    The significance of 'what cannot be said' doesn't simply translate as 'shuddup already'.

    [Entry into the] inconceivable is most fully elaborated in the famous climactic scene [of the Vimalakirti Sutra] , in which Vimalakirti suggests that the assembled bodhisattvas tell about their own entry into full awareness of the reality of nonduality. Then thirty-one bodhisattvas present a seminar on the multifaceted aspects of nonduality. Such dualities as good and bad, saintly and profane, and birth and death are taken for granted and presumed real in our conventional management of our lives. The nondual awareness is important because our sense of estrangement and suffering arise and our lives become fragmented with these unquestioned habits of dualistic discrimination.

    Each bodhisattva gives a brief but penetrating account of some apparent dichotomy or polarity and how they transcended it to enter into nondual awareness. One describes freedom from calculations of happiness and misery. Another describes equanimity about all conceptions of the pure and impure. Another describes distraction and attention as not separate in the mental process. Another declares that self and selflessness have no duality, since there is no fixed self to be made selfless.

    Manjushri then congratulates all the bodhisattvas on their fine explanations, but declares that all their statements have been themselves dualistic. Manjushri says that the entrance into nonduality is not to express, proclaim, designate, or say anything.

    Manjushri then turns to Vimalakirti and asks him to expound the principle of the entry into nonduality. Vimalakirti remains silent.

    Now THERE'S a silence.
  • Banno
    22.9k
    Rush Rhees in conversation with Monk - Duty of Genius. The exchange is with Rev. Wynford Morgan. Just after the "Don't ask, give" parable. Ch 22?
  • Pussycat
    368
    The logic in the Tractatus contains an exactness that is disposed of in the PI (at least for the most part). It’s this exactness, I believe, that leads Wittgenstein to believe that he has solved all the philosophical problems (in the T.) in one fell swoop. How has he solved all the philosophical problems? Well, if as Wittgenstein supposes one can analyze all propositions via their truth-functions (more on this later), and these line up with facts in the world, then we can determine what’s true and what’s false based on Wittgenstein’s a priori analysis. This is probably why Russell thought that Wittgenstein was creating a logically perfect language.Sam26

    I think that the way he solved all the philosophical problems was by showing, or at least hoping to show at a later time, that these problems were not in fact problems, but pseudo-problems, arising from bad and mis-understanding of language. Just like he says somewhere regarding the problem of the left-right hand posed by Kant, that this is not a philosophical problem, but a purely geometrical/mathematical one: it can be "solved" by transforming the coordinates in 4-d space. And so his method is not one of "solution", but of "dissolution", just like Alexander the Great did with the gordian knot. The knot was entangled in an unorthodox way, the only way to untie it or "solve" it, was to employ an equally unorthodox method, pertinent to its nature, cut it through.
  • Sam26
    2.4k
    I don't really see any major disagreement.
  • Pussycat
    368
    Because you said that he solved all philosophical problems by analyzing propositions via their truth-functions. Philosophical propositions, pertaining to philosophical problems, and according to him, do not have a truth-function, they are neither true or false, right or wrong, but nonsensical, and so the best one can do with them, is to get rid of them. For example, the critique of pure reason by Kant, is a fine example of a nonsensical book.
  • Sam26
    2.4k
    Because you said that he solved all philosophical problems by analyzing propositions via their truth-functions. Philosophical propositions, pertaining to philosophical problems, and according to him, do not have a truth-function, they are neither true or false, right or wrong, but nonsensical, and so the best one can do with them, is to get rid of them. For example, the critique of pure reason by Kant, is a fine example of a nonsensical book.Pussycat

    Remember I'm talking mainly about the Tractatus, and it's clear if you read what he said about that book, that he believed he solved all the major problems of philosophy. It's in the Tractatus that Wittgenstein puts forward his theory of truth-functions, which I'll be talking more about as we go along.
  • Sam26
    2.4k
    Thanks Banno.
  • Sam26
    2.4k
    Post 5

    Language

    “My whole task consists in explaining the nature of the proposition. That is to say, in giving the nature of all facts, whose picture the proposition is (Nb, p. 39).” Out of this idea springs Wittgenstein’s picture and truth-function theories of language. These theories will answer the questions, how are propositions related to the world, and how are they related to one another.

    Wittgenstein’s premise is that if we can talk about the world, then there must be propositions directly connected to the world. He determined that since these propositions (speaking of elementary propositions, which are a subset of ordinary propositions) are connected to the world, then their truth or falsity is determined by the world, and not other propositions. So, the question arises, how are they connected to the world?

    “It is obvious that the analysis of propositions must bring us to elementary propositions which consists of names in immediate combination.

    “This raises the question how such combination into propositions comes about (T. 4.221).”

    Elementary propositions are further broken down into names, and names are the smallest parts of elementary propositions (T. 4.22). So, what you have are propositions broken down into elementary propositions, and further broken down into names. If an elementary proposition is true, then the state-of-affairs obtains or exists, if the elementary proposition is false, then the elementary proposition is false and the state-of-affairs fails to obtain or exist (T. 4.25). The truth or falsity of elementary propositions is dependent on the world, which is made up of facts or states-of-affairs. If you were able to list all true propositions you would have a complete description of the world.

    Wittgenstein was convinced that in order for language to work there had to be this one-to-one correlation between language and the world. He is still operating under the old assumption that meaning is associated with the object it denotes. Hence, the idea that names (the smallest constituent part of elementary propositions) is directly connected with objects (the smallest constituent part of atomic facts). In fact, all true propositions are a mirror image of the world. It’s these ideas that Wittgenstein argues against in the Philosophical Investigations.
  • A Seagull
    615
    Tractatus is best viewed as a poem. It is elegantly written and tells a story, it describes a framework of ideas. But it is not strictly logical nor does it solve any problems, at least none that are not contrived.

    It is not surprising that the later Wittgenstein rejected it as a foundation for his philosophy.
  • Pussycat
    368
    Remember I'm talking mainly about the Tractatus, and it's clear if you read what he said about that book, that he believed he solved all the major problems of philosophy. It's in the Tractatus that Wittgenstein puts forward his theory of truth-functions, which I'll be talking more about as we go along.Sam26

    Yes, he believed he had solved them at the time, but how, is the question. He says so at 6.53:

    The right method of philosophy would be this. To say nothing except what can be said, i.e. the propositions of natural science, i.e. something that has nothing to do with philosophy: and then always, when someone else wished to say something metaphysical, to demonstrate to him that he had given no meaning to certain signs in his propositions. This method would be unsatisfying to the other—he would not have the feeling that we were teaching him philosophy—but it would be the only strictly correct method. — w

    The truth-functions have to do with the propositions of natural science, not with philosophy or metaphysics. Philosophy/metaphysics shouldn't, cannot have any propositions at all, language is solely used for the natural sciences. Using language to say something philosophical or metaphysical is an abuse of language, you understand?
  • Sam26
    2.4k
    I'll discuss more of this later.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment