Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Plowing through Wittgenstein: Section 3

Okay, so far in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, we have the world...
1. "The World is everything that is the case."

Or The World= totality of facts. A fact = the existence of a state of affairs.
2. "A state of affairs is a combination of things."
We have thoughts that picture the world...

"Logical pictures can depict the world."

3. "A logical picture of facts is a thought."

Now, we get to language...
4. "In a proposition a thought finds an expression that can be percieved by the senses."

So, I suppose, this is how we get out the thoughts inside our heads- by expressing them in propositions. We've gone from a world of things to logical pictures of those things to propositions that express those logical pictures of things. All of this this seems fairly evident. But the idea that a thought is a picture of reality and a proposition is a model of reality allows us to see the two as similarly isomorphic in relation to the actual states of affairs that make up the world.

Now Wittgenstein gets at the limitations of words: "Objects can only be named. Signs are their representatives." Words point at things, without embodying or encapsulating them. Therefore:

"Propositions can only say how things are, not what they are."

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

A proposition seems to encapsulate all of the rules that govern its existence. Wittgenstein writes that "a proposition can determine only one place in logical space: nevertheless the whole of logical space must already be given by it." In some sense, a proposition "says" all of the "logical scaffolding" around it along with what it actually says- if you consider how grammar works, it is much the same way- we don't state the rules of grammar that govern our statements, but they're already given by every statement in a language.

This also suggests that a totality of propositions would say everything that could be said, logically, to picture the world. A logically-perfect language would also remove many of the problems of language- such as words having more than one meaning- that Wittgenstein believes have caused many of the problems of philosophy.

"A propositional sign, applied and thought out, is a thought."

5. "A thought is a proposition with sense."

Appropriately enough, I have to think about this one.

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