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Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (Routledge Classics) 2nd Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0415254083
ISBN-10: 0415254086
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Wittgenstein, in his preface, tells us that his book is not a textbook, and that its object will be attained if there is one person who reads it with understanding and to whom it affords pleasure. We think there are many persons who will read it with understanding and enjoy it. The treatise is clear and lucid. The author is continually arresting us with new and striking thoughts, and he closes on a note of mystical exaltation.
–The Times Literary Supplement

Tractatus is one of the fundamental texts of twentieth-century philosophy - short, bold, cryptic, and remarkable in its power to stir the imagination of philosophers and non-philosophers alike.
–Michael Frayn

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 142 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (June 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415254086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415254083
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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397 of 419 people found the following review helpful 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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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful By M. Manson on August 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Tracatus is the only book Wittgenstein published during his life. He was an odd man, with an odd lifestyle, and he published it with the idea that it would be the "book to end all books" philosophically.

Ironically, in his later years he denounced the book and called himself naive for writing it.

On the below review: Tractatus focuses on an empirical ontology. Where the review below goes wrong is the assumption that Wittgenstein is denouncing all non-objective and materialistic reality. The final line in the book (which is probably the books most poignant, and oft-quoted line) is "What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence." demonstrates Wittgenstein is aware of the context that he's covering: the empirical, and objective realm of sensorimotor and rational experience. Wittgenstein was quite the mystic (to the horrors of Bertrand Russell), so one cannot be polemic towards his implied intentions; Wittgenstein was simply attempting to comprehensively cover the only realm in which he felt was capable of being written about: the objective realm.

It is under this context the book must be appropriately reviewed. The following paragraph will review the book within those parameters.

The book is quite thorough. It is a mere 90 pages or so, but every statement is concise, to-the-point, and unwavering in its objective quantification and observation of reality. It is laid out like an old mathematical textbook with decimal numbers annotating each statement in relation to every other statement. Thorough it is, but the book also requires a great deal of effort. Wittgenstein assigns a seemingly endless list of nouns to vague and ambiguous ideas (i.e., fact, thought, picture, proposition, internal property, composite name, sign, etc.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Reader From Aurora on February 6, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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