Logic and Language

David G. Stern

in Wittgenstein on Mind and Language

Published in print March 1995 | ISBN: 9780195080001
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786145 | DOI:
 Logic and Language

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An analysis of the sources of Wittgenstein’s picture theory — which include not only his moment of insight on reading a magazine story about the use of models in a traffic court, but also the work of Russell, Hertz, and Boltzmann — provides the basis for an exploration of Wittgenstein’s articulation of a pictorial conception of representation in his wartime notebooks and its crystallization in the Tractatus. A discussion of Wittgenstein’s later criticism of the picture theory and his notion of a “philosophical picture” illustrates the fundamental reversal in his transition to his later conception of philosophy: instead of taking literal pictures as a guide to the nature of meaning, he came to regard philosophical theories as akin to expressing an aesthetic preference for a certain style of representation. Wittgenstein’s treatment of factual language in the picture theory is related to his Tractarian approach to logical form, and the role of the show/say distinction in his early conception of logic and language. Particular attention is given to the difficulties generated by the idea that the conditions for the possibility of a given domain of discourse cannot be described in language, but must be shown by the form of words in question.

Keywords: Wittgenstein; Russell; Tractatus; picture theory; grammar; logical form; show/say distinction

Chapter.  10171 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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