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Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (International Library of Philosophy and Scientific Method)

3.9 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge & Kegan Paul; 2nd edition (1961)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003030UKY
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,345,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Guha on December 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Since most of the reviews of the Tractatus here contain either fawning praise or vituperation without much expository content, it may perhaps be useful to give an account, in reasonably clear terms, of what this book is actually about. Granted that my account is somewhat simplified, it will still be better than quasi-mystical gushing praise or bitter unargued criticism. The central idea of the Tractatus is expressed very clearly at proposition 4.01 and certain comments following it:

"A proposition is a picture of reality.

A proposition is a model of reality as we imagine it." [4.01]

"At first sight a proposition--one set out on the printed page, for example--does not seem to be a picture of the reality with which it is concerned. But neither do written notes seem at first sight to be a picture of a piece of music . . . And yet these sign-languages prove to be pictures, even in the ordinary sense, of what they represent." [4.011]

"A gramophone record, the musical idea, the written notes, and the sound-waves, all stand to one another in the same internal relation of depicting that holds between language and the world.

They are all construed according to a common logical pattern." [4.014]

So, Wittgenstein's basic view in the Tractatus is simple: statements ("propositions") are pictures or models of the situations they are about. The sequence of words "The cat is on the mat" would be taken by him to picture the situation that consists in one object (the cat) standing in a certain relation (being on) to another object (the mat). Or rather, this would be the way to understand this proposition if the cat and mat themselves were indivisible atoms, without any smaller parts.
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Format: Paperback
Do not buy this edition! The editing is so bad that there are blatant typos in nearly every entry of Wittgenstein's text. There are no notes by an editor or translator, so the reader has no idea who is responsible for this ridiculous butchery of the text. I'm talking about the most basic proofreading here, not about interpretations of the text (I don't read German, so I can't comment about that). For example: " If they world had no substance, then whether a proposition had sense would depend on whether another proposition was true (2.0211)." They world? "It is obvious that an imagined world, however difference it may be from the real one . . .(2.022)" -- this kind of thing can't help but distract the reader from the meaning. These are just 2 of scores of examples. Those were on the same page, and you find them on every page. 7 Treasures Publications seems to be some kind of fly-by-night garage publisher; this is the crudest, most unprofessional publication I've ever seen.
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Format: Paperback
As others here have said, this edition contains numerous typographical errors. Such a level of care is unworthy of the text, and unworthy of the reader to whom the text is addressed.

If you purchase this book, it will come with a date stamped on the back page; this date will read as no more than a few days from when you made your purchase. In other words, this is a distributor's edition. Its base text is copied inexpertly and in marked contrast to the efficiency of your personal copies' printing and delivery.

Buy this if you want to give an incompetent business whose priority is not the integrity of its product some of your money. But if you want to read the text, look for another edition.
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To date, most reviews of this book have reflected digestion of Wittgenstein's philosophy rather than addressing the quality of the edition. The translation is often terribly tacit or outright incorrect. Unfortunately, Seven Treasures seems to be capitalizing on how few editions remain of this work remain in print. This is not a source that should be used for any scholarly work. Hopefully we will see a Blackwell edition comparable to their PI anniversary printing, with the original German text included.
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Originally published in 1921 Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is arguably the most influential piece of twentieth century philosophical writing. This edition contains the well respected 1961 Pears and McGuinness translation as well as the introduction to the original English edition by Bertrand Russell. I offer the following comments for potential readers.

Despite its unquestioned historical significance the Tractatus is not necessarily a good entry point into Wittgenstein's thought. Arguably, if one were to read it not aware of the context within it which it was written it might seem pedantic and tedious - it is largely focused on addressing logico-linguistic questions prevalent at the outset of the twentieth century. From my perspective, an understanding of Frege and Russell is essential to appreciating the Tractatus. In particular it is important to have an appreciation for Frege's notions of concept, and his views on sense and reference; Whereas, Russell's approach to names and descriptions is also important.

Although I appreciate Wittgenstein's work in the fields of language and logic I think his influence on modern philosophy has not been entirely positive. For instance it could be argued that the Logical-Positivist movement stemming from Wittgenstein's early work steered philosophical discussion into and sterile and uninteresting period where large metaphysical questions were deemed out of bonds (undoubtedly some would consider this a good thing).

Overall, the Tractatus is a classic in modern philosophy - an important read for all serious students. For non-Wittgenstein enthusiasts, however, it can be a difficult read in early twentieth century analytic philosophy.
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