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He continues to influence current philosophical thought in topics as diverse as logic and language, perception and intention, ethics and religion, aesthetics and culture. In more recent scholarship, this division has been questioned: some interpreters have claimed a unity between all stages of his thought, while others talk of a more nuanced division, adding stages such as the middle Wittgenstein and the third Wittgenstein. Still, it is commonly acknowledged that the early Wittgenstein is epitomized in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
By showing the application of modern logic to metaphysics, via language, he provided new insights into the relations between world, thought and language and thereby into the nature of philosophy. It is the later Wittgenstein, mostly recognized in the Philosophical Investigations , who took the more revolutionary step in critiquing all of traditional philosophy including its climax in his own early work.
The nature of his new philosophy is heralded as anti-systematic through and through, yet still conducive to genuine philosophical understanding of traditional problems. Wittgenstein was born on April 26, in Vienna, Austria, to a wealthy industrial family, well-situated in intellectual and cultural Viennese circles. In he began his studies in aeronautical engineering at Manchester University where his interest in the philosophy of pure mathematics led him to Frege.
Wittgenstein was idiosyncratic in his habits and way of life, yet profoundly acute in his philosophical sensitivity. During his years in Cambridge, from to , Wittgenstein conducted several conversations on philosophy and the foundations of logic with Russell, with whom he had an emotional and intense relationship, as well as with Moore and Keynes. He retreated to isolation in Norway, for months at a time, in order to ponder these philosophical problems and to work out their solutions. In he returned to Austria and in , at the start of World War I — , joined the Austrian army. He was taken captive in and spent the remaining months of the war at a prison camp.
It was during the war that he wrote the notes and drafts of his first important work, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. After the war the book was published in German and translated into English. It was only in that he returned to Cambridge to resume his philosophical vocation, after having been exposed to discussions on the philosophy of mathematics and science with members of the Vienna Circle, whose conception of logical empiricism was indebted to his Tractatus account of logic as tautologous, and his philosophy as concerned with logical syntax.
During these first years in Cambridge his conception of philosophy and its problems underwent dramatic changes that are recorded in several volumes of conversations, lecture notes, and letters e. In the s and s Wittgenstein conducted seminars at Cambridge, developing most of the ideas that he intended to publish in his second book, Philosophical Investigations.
In he prepared the final manuscript of the Philosophical Investigations , but, at the last minute, withdrew it from publication and only authorized its posthumous publication. For a few more years he continued his philosophical work, but this is marked by a rich development of, rather than a turn away from, his second phase. He traveled during this period to the United States and Ireland, and returned to Cambridge, where he was diagnosed with cancer. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was first published in German in and then translated—by C. Ogden, with F.
It was later re-translated by D. Pears and B. It is constructed around seven basic propositions, numbered by the natural numbers 1—7, with all other paragraphs in the text numbered by decimal expansions so that, e. The world is represented by thought, which is a proposition with sense, since they all—world, thought, and proposition—share the same logical form.
Hence, the thought and the proposition can be pictures of the facts. Starting with a seeming metaphysics, Wittgenstein sees the world as consisting of facts 1 , rather than the traditional, atomistic conception of a world made up of objects.
Facts are existent states of affairs 2 and states of affairs, in turn, are combinations of objects. They may have various properties and may hold diverse relations to one another.
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Objects combine with one another according to their logical, internal properties. Thus, states of affairs, being comprised of objects in combination, are inherently complex. The states of affairs which do exist could have been otherwise. This means that states of affairs are either actual existent or possible.
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It is the totality of states of affairs—actual and possible—that makes up the whole of reality. The world is precisely those states of affairs which do exist. Pictures are made up of elements that together constitute the picture. Each element represents an object, and the combination of elements in the picture represents the combination of objects in a state of affairs. The logical structure of the picture, whether in thought or in language, is isomorphic with the logical structure of the state of affairs which it pictures.
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This leads to an understanding of what the picture can picture; but also what it cannot—its own pictorial form. Logical analysis, in the spirit of Frege and Russell, guides the work, with Wittgenstein using logical calculus to carry out the construction of his system. First, the structure of the proposition must conform to the constraints of logical form, and second, the elements of the proposition must have reference bedeutung. These conditions have far-reaching implications.
The analysis must culminate with a name being a primitive symbol for a simple object.
Moreover, logic itself gives us the structure and limits of what can be said at all. This bi-polarity of propositions enables the composition of more complex propositions from atomic ones by using truth-functional operators 5. He delves even deeper by then providing the general form of a truth-function 6. Having developed this analysis of world-thought-language, and relying on the one general form of the proposition, Wittgenstein can now assert that all meaningful propositions are of equal value.
Subsequently, he ends the journey with the admonition concerning what can or cannot and what should or should not be said 7 , leaving outside the realm of the sayable propositions of ethics, aesthetics, and metaphysics.
It follows that only factual states of affairs which can be pictured can be represented by meaningful propositions. This means that what can be said are only propositions of natural science and leaves out of the realm of sense a daunting number of statements which are made and used in language.