The Method of the Tractatus

James Conant

in From Frege to Wittgenstein

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780195133264
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833580 | DOI:
The Method of the Tractatus

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Two standard readings of Wittgenstein's Tractatus have shaped the ways in which contemporary philosophers think about nonsense. These readings might be termed the “positivist reading” and the “ineffability reading”, respectively. In this paper, I argue (1) that these two mutually opposed readings of the Tractatus presuppose a common conception of nonsense, one which the Tractatus itself sought to undermine; (2) that the sources of Wittgenstein's own conception are to be found in the work of Frege; (3) that, once we trace this conception back to its sources, we will be in a better position to see what sort of criticism (of Frege and others) the Tractatus seeks to advance; and (4) that, once we see this, we will be in a better position to understand the relation between Wittgenstein's early and later work.

Keywords: Carnap; elucidation; Frege; ineffability; nonsense; positivism; Tractatus; Wittgenstein

Chapter.  55715 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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