Chapter

Wittgenstein on Identity

Robert J. Fogelin

in Philosophical Interpretations

Published in print April 1992 | ISBN: 9780195071627
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833221 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019507162X.003.0013
Wittgenstein on Identity

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Throughout his career, Wittgenstein harbored distrust for identity statements. In the Tractatus Logico‐Philosophicus, he banned a sign for identity from his system, declaring that “to say of two things that they are identical is nonsense, and to say of one thing that it is identical with itself is to say nothing at all.” His worry during the Tractarian period was that the use of an identity sign allowed the formulation of existence statements, e.g., that the world contains at least one thing. Later in his career he rejected F. P. Ramsay's attempt to introduce an extensionalized version of identity into logic. In his later period, he ridiculed the use of the law of identity as a paradigm of sameness.

Keywords: existence statements; identity; identity statements; Ramsey; sameness; Tractatus; Wittgenstein

Chapter.  5437 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy

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