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Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig…
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Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921)

by Ludwig Wittgenstein

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 52 mentions

English (23)  French (3)  Tagalog (1)  Swedish (1)  All (28)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
The Mentaculus ( )
  Dumbedore_return | Apr 29, 2017 |
Not my favorite! I'm more into the later Wittgenstein e.g. Philosophical Investigations. ( )
  Todd.Burst | Aug 28, 2015 |
The nexus between logic, literature, and philosophy. He had me until Proposition 3.333. ( )
  le.vert.galant | Jan 26, 2015 |
Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity.
—Ludwig Wittgenstein

I took medialunas and a corto doble at Las Juventus off the Plaza del Congreso every morning on my way to work. A pretty girl had the table set and the coffee poured before I could unfold the Clarín early edition. One morning I read an article about Wittgenstein, how he carried a copy of the Tractatus in his knapsack along the frontlines during WWI, about his rejection and subsequent return to academia, and his checkered career as a village headmaster. Ever since, when I think of Wittgenstein, I think of breakfast in Buenos Aires, and the face of that girl.

It is difficult, at this far remove from its initial publication, to read the Tractatus pure, straight, and so some passages read like a prose poem—“the way a picture touches reality”—and some bits sound like fortune cookie wisdom:

The world of the happy man is a different one from that of an unhappy man;

It is clear that there are no grounds for believing that the simplest eventuality will in fact be realized.


'Wittgenstein was preoccupied with the scope and limits of language, and in the Tractatus he was concerned primarily with language as a representing medium, a means of conveying how things are in the world' (Antony Flew). He also wanted to correct some mistakes in the logics of Frege and Russell. Wittgenstein thought that fundamental confusions could be avoided by constructing a sign-language that was governed by logical grammar and syntax, so he wrote what he thought would, nay, must be true if language was to accurately represent the world. Of course, since he himself deployed a language of signs and symbols in the presentation of his thoughts, all kinds of ‘meta’ possibilities and interpretations pop up in the Tractatus. Some parts are aphoristic, like Zen koans:

Language disguises thought;

The world and life are one;

Eternal life belongs to those who live in the present;

When no questions are left, that itself is the answer.


Other bits are seemingly nonsensical—

A picture contains the possibility of the situation it represents;

The propositions of logic demonstrate the logical properties of propositions by combining them so as to form propositions that say nothing


others vaguely profound—

The limits of my language are the limits of my world;

Whatever we see could be other than it is;

The totality of true thoughts is a picture of the world


and some are all of the above:

The riddle does not exist;

Outside logic everything is accidental.


There are sketches illustrating the rules of logical syntax that resemble the pincers of Triassic crustaceans.

In Wittgenstein’s version of a world precisely represented by language, propositions were their own proofs, and “inevitable” signs spoke for themselves. His model of a perfectly logical system, as it was for Frege and Russell, was mathematics. This set him off in search of invariant functions and operations and applications, the pursuit of which (ironically) revealed the limits of formal logic. Wittgenstein’s perfectly logical reality was paradoxically unreal, impossible, and disconnected from actual lived experience—which is more ambiguous, complex and uncertain than formal logic can abide.

For the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus, a proposition of perfect logic restricted reality to two alternatives: yes or no. Logic precluded surprise or doubt. Whatever was ineffable was unreal. There was no place for wonder. Too much, finally, was left unaccounted for by cold, austere logic. To his credit, Wittgenstein in his later work undertook an analysis of how language actually functioned, signs and symbols still failing us. Thus was the Tractatus part of the activity that was Wittgenstein’s philosophy, less a conclusive, fully realized credo than a springboard to further reflection. As it would be for its readers. ( )
  HectorSwell | Mar 6, 2014 |
Boring, Absurd, False. The foundation for the most mindless philosophy to have ever subsisted. ( )
  SpaceyAcey | Sep 23, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (105 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wittgenstein, LudwigAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blumbergs, IlmārsIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Favrholdt, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hermans, Willem FrederikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kolak, DanielTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGuinness, B. F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyman, HeikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ogden, C. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ozoliņa, IndraEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pears, David F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rasels, BērtrandsForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rītups, ArnisAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Russell, BertrandIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taurens, JānisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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1. The world is all that is the case.
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6.54 My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.) He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.
6.53 The correct method in philosophy would really be the following: to say nothing except what can be said, i.e. propositions of natural science--i.e. something that has nothing to do with philosophy--and then, whenever someone else wanted to say something metaphysical, to demonstrate to him that he had failed to give a meaning to certain signs in his propositions. Although it would not be satisfying to the other person--he would not have the feeling that we were teaching him philosophy--this method would be the only strictly correct one.
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The original German title is “Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung”.
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Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
Haiku summary
Step one: The world is /
All that is the case. Step two: /
Throw away ladder.
(williecostello)
We're trapped by our words.
Make a ladder of words, then
knock the ladder down.

(Carnophile)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0415254086, Paperback)

Perhaps the most important work of philosophy written in the twentieth century, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was the only philosophical work that Ludwig Wittgenstein published during his lifetime. Written in short, carefully numbered paragraphs of extreme brilliance, it captured the imagination of a generation of philosophers. For Wittgenstein, logic was something we use to conquer a reality which is in itself both elusive and unobtainable. He famously summarized the book 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.' David Pears and Brian McGuinness received the highest praise for their meticulous translation. The work is prefaced by Bertrand Russell's original introduction to the first English edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:04 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

In this 1921 opus, Wittgenstein defined the object of philosophy as the logical clarification of thoughts and proposed the solution to most philosophic problems by means of a critical method of linguistic analysis. Beginning with the principles of symbolism, the author applies his theories to traditional philosophy, and more. Introduction by Bertrand Russell.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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