Skip to main content

Today in Language: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein died on April 29, 1951. He was a linguist's philosopher. In Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus he tackled the limits of language and thought--on what can or cannot be expressed. This had a lot of ramifications for philosophy but also for linguistics, though it is important to note that Wittgenstein overhauled his theory of language later in his career (in spite of his initial confidence in the accuracy and definitiveness of Tractatus).
Nonetheless, Tractatus is an important work, and I for one actually enjoy the rigid structure of numbering every proposition and sub-proposition. It enables the reader to follow Wittgenstein's thought process a bit more, though I still don't understand everything.

The seven key propositions allow one to follow the book's argument, though I leave out proposition 6 here simply because it is not self-explanatory:

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.)
7. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.

NOTE: This is based on the translation by Pears & McGuinness.


Popular posts from this blog


Read this in English.





今週初めて黒澤明の『隠し砦の三悪人』という映画を見ました。この三悪人とは、だれですか? 三船敏郎が演じる真壁六郎太(まかべろくたろう)と二人の百姓です。この3人の登場人物の関係はとても面白くて、全ての人間の弱さも愛される性質も示します。


Children's Brains Miniseries: Age and Wisdom

Elihu, in Job 32:7, had a good thought: "I thought, 'Age should speak;  advanced years should teach wisdom.'"

According to recent research, as reported by ScienceDaily, wisdom truly is an advantage gained by age. Notice the first sentence of the second paragraph--it gives the definition of wisdom in the study. Wisdom here is basically experience. That is not a bad definition, though wisdom is a difficult word to pin down. And biblical wisdom is certainly more than mere experience.