This log was inspired by "How to Read Wittgenstein" and "Ludwig Wittgenstein: the duty of genius" by Ray Monk. It is based on reading Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein translated by D. F. Pears & B. F. McGuinness (Routledge and Kegan Paul:1963)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Elemental Propositions.

We now discuss all possible forms of elemental propositions a priori. An elemental proposition consists of names. However, because we cannot state all the names with different meanings, we cannot state the composition of an elemental proposition.

Our fundamental principle is that deciding anything at all by logic must be straightforward. (If we find ourselves looking to experience for an answer, we are definitely on the wrong track.)

What one needs to understand the logic of something is not how that something is, but rather, that it is. But that is not an experience. Logic is prior to every experience, the experience that something is so. It is prior to 'How?' not prior to 'What?' And if this were not so, how could we apply logic? We might put it in this way: If logic could exist even if there were no world, how then could logic exist given that there is a world?

According to Russell, there are simple relations between different numbers of things (individuals). But between what numbers? And how is this supposed to be decided? By experience? (There is no pre-eminent number.)

Any specific form we use has to be completely arbitrary. For example, one should be able to say a priori whether the sign for a 27-termed relation will be needed order to signify something. But may we even ask such a question? Can one set up the form of a sign unless one knows what it is for? Does it make sense to ask: What must be for something to be the case?

It is clear that, apart from its special logical form, we have a concept of an elemental proposition. But when one can create symbols using a system, the system is what is logically important and not the individual symbols. How, then, can the forms in logic be something one can invent? Rather, one must deal with what enables one to invent them. The forms of elemental propositions cannot have a hierarchy. We can foresee only what we ourselves construct.

Empirical reality is limited by the entirety of objects. This limit appears again in the entirety of elemental propositions. Hierarchies are independent of reality, and necessarily so. If purely logical grounds tell us that elemental propositions must exist, then all that is required to know that is to understand them in their unanalyzed form.

In the event, all the sentences of our everyday language are entirely, logically ordered just as they are. That most simple thing that we now formulate is not a likeness of the truth, but in itself the whole truth. (Our problems are not abstract, but perhaps the most concrete that there are.)

Logic is applied to decide what elemental propositions there are, but logic cannot anticipate what it will be applied to. It is clear that logic must not clash with its application, but must be in touch with it. In any case, logic and its application must not overlap. Since one cannot state elemental propositions a priori, then trying to state them anyway makes no sense.

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