Negative Elementary Propositions

Robert J. Fogelin

in Philosophical Interpretations

Published in print April 1992 | ISBN: 9780195071627
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833221 | DOI:
Negative Elementary Propositions

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Contrary to explicit statements in the text of the Tractatus Logico‐Philosophicus, this essay argues that the notion of a negative elementary proposition makes sense within the Tractarian system. The suggestion depends upon separating two strains in Wittgenstein's account of propositional meaning: the picture theory of meaning, and the truth‐functional account of meaning. A proposition could be considered elementary if it contained only one elementary proposition or one elementary picture. In this approach, if p is an elementary proposition, then so is not‐p. Though this change would involve substantial revisions of the Tractatus, it squares with Wittgenstein's fundamental view that logical constants are not representatives.

Keywords: elementary propositions; logical constants; picture theory of meaning; Tractatus; truth‐functional analysis; Wittgenstein

Chapter.  3268 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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