- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; 471st ed. edition (January 12, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0486404455
- ISBN-13: 978-0486404455
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.2 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 120 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 471st ed. Edition
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
About the Author
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) was arguably the most influential philosopher of the twentieth century. He was born in Vienna, but studied and practiced philosophy in Great Britain. He was a professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge from 1939 until 1947. He worked in and transformed the fields of logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language.
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What can I say? This "philosophy" suffers from an all too common problem...the philosopher believes he is writing for no one but cloistered scholastics. At least, in prior centuries, it was true. Anyone writing in the 20th century and later, however, has no excuse but arrogance to write such dense crap. It is rather telling that while I was working on my own PhD in Philosophy, I heard many people mention this text - but knew very few that had actually read it.
A key to understanding is to read the philosophers entire body of work. In the case of Wittgenstein, this is the only text he published in his lifetime. However, posthumously published materials show clearly that Wittgenstein criticised and repudiated ideas he wrote in the Tractatus. Sartre and Heidegger similarly criticised their own earlier work - without mentioning that they were doing so. This leads to only three conclusions: either they had forgotten what they wrote earlier, they did not care what they wrote earlier, or they arrogantly assumed that they could write anything, even strings of baby-talk nonsense (ga ga goo goo, for instance), and some people would hail them as profound thinkers.
If you can't admit your mistakes to your admiring public...something is very wrong, indeed!
Alone amongst the philosophers of the Western world, Schopenhauer held true to his philosophy - in every edition of his published works. The only changes were complimentary additions, and slight changes for the sake of greater clarity. Schopenhauer himself wrote that he was writing for the ages. Almost 200 years later, he is still being read. Wittgenstein (Sartre, Heidegger, and Rand) will never reach that milestone.
If you want real philosophy, that is also written so that anyone can understand it, buy Schopenhauer. If you want dense nonsense which says nothing...then this is the book for you.
If someone wants to offer me a significant grant, I’ll write a book that undermines this book, statement by statement. But because this is merely a review, I’ll just deconstruct some of the book’s first few statements… but believe me, the rest of this tract is just more of the same.
“1. The world is everything that is the case. 1.1 The world is the totality of facts, not of things.”
Firstly, this is a blatant contradiction. If one defines the world as the entire cosmos (as the totality of all existents), as Wittgenstein seems to do, then one cannot then exclude things, or existents, from the world.
Secondly, Wittenstein doesn’t grok the distinction between ontology and epistemology. Facts are mentally identified truths about existents. If there were no humans to identify facts about the world, the world, the metaphysically given, would still exist.
“1.13 The facts in logical space are the world."
There is no “logical space.” Space exists, but it it is neither logical nor illogical; it just is. Logic, which is practiced only by humans is the art of non-contradictory identification of the facts of reality. And, again, facts aren’t the world; they are identified truths about the world.
“The world divides into facts.”
The world (or cosmos) does not divide into facts; it just is. Man identifies facts about parts of the whole, but this doesn’t divide the whole, or world.
“1.21 Any one can either be the case or not be the case, and everything else remain the same.”
As soon as you have a one (of anything), it is the case, an identifiable existent.
“What is the case, the fact, is the existence of atomic facts. 2.01 An atomic fact is a combination of objects (entities, things). 2.011 It is essential to a thing that it can be a constituent part of an atomic fact.”
Firstly, Wittgenstein, again, contradicts himself. He earlier stated that objects, or things, are not part of the world, but now he states that “atomic facts” are a combination of objects. Secondly, facts are not combinations of objects; they are mentally identified truths about objects. Moreover, there are no “atomic facts”; there are just facts. Hence, it is not essential to a thing that it can be part of an atomic fact. Further, it is not even essential to a thing that it can be part of a fact. Facts are only essential to humans who want to determine truths about objects.
I could continue to deconstruct Wittgenstein ad infinitum, but because I have better things to do with my time, I’ll stop now and summarize my take on this tract: With all due disrespect, it should be retitled “Trashcan Illogico- Philosophicus.”