Monday, 20 June 2022

Wittgenstein's Tractatus

I bought a copy of Wittgemnstein's Tractatus Logico Philosophicus more than 60 years ago. From time to time I have dipped into it, puzzling over a few remarks here and there, but I'd never read the complete work until now. A few days ago I started from the beginning and, reading a few pages each day, I finished yesterday.

As the title suggests the Tractatus is primarily concerned with philosophical logic. In it Wittgenstein affirms that all logical truths are truth functional tautologies, so no apparatus of proof is necessary, since the truth of a tautology is in all cases obvious. That thesis is false as are a number of Wittgenstein's remarks about Mathematics.

Among philosophical works the Tractatus is unusual in containing so many statements which are clearly false.

My edition has the German original and an English translation on opposite pages, and would be useful to an English speaker wishing to learn the vocabulary to discuss philosophical logic in German, or to a German speaker wishing to discuss such matters in English. Someone looking for an introduction to the subject matter would be wise to look elsewhere.

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