Tractus Logico-Philosophicus

May 07, 2011

Austrian Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractus Logico-Philosophicus (Which is Latin for Logical-Philosophical Treatise) is considered an important event in the Philosophical world.
The book looks at the principles of Symbolism, the relations which are necessary between words, the ignorance and misuse of the principles of Symbolism and language.
His book contains 7 main sections
  1. The world is everything 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 sense.
  5. A proposition is a truth-function of elementary propositions.
  6. The general form of a proposition is the general form of a truth fiction, which is: [\bar p,\bar\xi, N(\bar\xi)].
  7. Whereof one cannot speak, one must pass over in silence.
The book is divided into parts to serve everyone, not just Philosophers, as more of a guide.
To understand the book, you firstly need to understand the problems it deals with. The book tries to tackle many problems with logically perfect language, such as the problem what naturally occurs in our minds when we use language with the intention of meaning something by it.

There is also the epistemological problem of defining the relation between thoughts, words and sentences and what they refer to or mean.

Another problem is using sentences to convey truth rather than falsehood, which refers to the special sciences dealing with the subject matter.

An interesting question the book also raises is what relation must one fact (such as a sentence) have to another in order to be capable of being a symbol for another?
The answers to these problems lay in one of the most fundamental parts of Wittgenstein's theory, which is the conditions for accurate Symbolism to define something definite. Day to day language is rather vague, so what we assert is never really definite.

In order to define something logic needs to be taken into account. A perfectly logical language has rules of syntax which prevent nonsense and has single symbols which have definite unique meanings; these individual symbols are put together to form sentences. Syntax is taken into account here as the meaning of a sentence is determined as soon as the component word is known. In order to know the meaning of a sentence there must be something in common between the structure of the sentence and the structure of the fact within it. However Wittgenstein states that the relation between the sentence and component word cannot be said in language, only shown.

Wittgenstein states that the first step towards a perfect language would be to have individual names for every simple symbol, and never the same name for two different simple symbols. The symbol as a whole will be a 'complex'.

Wittgenstein's thesis also has the prominent theme of facts. He states that the world consists of facts (1.1 The world is the totality of facts, not of things.), and that facts cannot, strictly speaking, be defended; we can only explain what we mean by saying that facts are what make propositions true or false. Facts may contain parts which are facts or may contain no such parts. If we regard for example 'Socrates is wise' as an atomic fact we perceive that is contains the simples 'socrates' and 'wise'. Therefore, we can label 'socrates' and 'wise' as simples as the have been annualised fully and defined as fact.

He explains facts that are not compounded of other facts are Sacherverhalte, whereas a fact which consists of two or more facts is called a Tatsache. For example "socrates is wise" is a Sachverhalt, whereas "socrates is wise and Plato is his pupil" is a Tastsache but not a Sachverhalt.

Facts are also the centre point of his theory of Symbolism, with the opening statement being "we make to ourselves picture of facts." He states a picture is a model of reality, with the object in reality corresponding to to the elements of the picture; the picture is therefore a fact. The fact that things have a relation to each other is represented by the fact that in the picture its elements have relations to each other; in the picture and the pictured there must be something identical in order that one can be a picture of the other.

Wittgenstein also discuses the subject of life after death and God, and that because these subjects cannot be proven as a fact, the are pointless thoughts in the world. He states “Much of philosophy involves attempts to say the unsay able, and by implication the unthinkable”, “what can we say at all can be said clearly. Anything beyond that—religion, ethics, aesthetics, the mystical—cannot be discussed. They are not in themselves nonsensical, but any statement about them must be.”

Wittgenstein also discussed the subject of names, and how they are only given to simples, and believes that we should not give one name to two things, or two names to one thing. He states that there is no way we can explain the totality of things that can be named, as to do this we would have to know of a property which must belong to every thing in existence.
Wittgenstein states that it is impossible to say anything about the world as a whole.

He explains that whatever is said about the world can only be subjected to a bounded portion of the world. As explained before nothing can be described as a whole as there is not a property which belongs to anything as a whole. We can however go beyond the boundaries of the world through the use of logic, but we cannot explain this as 'what we cannot think we cannot think, therefore we also cannot say what we cannot think.'

This is key to Solipsism, which explains that what cannot be said can not be shown.
Key criticisms towards the book include Bertrand Russell's criticism that the theories represented need a greater technical development. This applies most of all to the theory of numbers, which states that 'a number is the exponent of an operation'. The theory can only deal with finite numbers, and no logic can be logical if it does not break the boundaries of logic -meaning that his theory of numbers should be capable of dealing the transfinite numbers.

The book is extremely important for Journalists as it shows how important fact is in our world, explains the theories behind sharing an idea and explains how people picture the world and how to influence their prospective.

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