Chapter

The <i>Tractatus</i> and the Unity of the Proposition

Stewart Candlish and Nic Damnjanovic

in Wittgenstein's Early Philosophy

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199691524
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742262 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691524.003.0004
The Tractatus and the Unity of the Proposition

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One of the central problems Wittgenstein faced in the work which led to the Tractatus was the ancient one of explaining the unity of the proposition. Roughly, the problem is this: if a proposition has constituents, then what is it about a proposition that distinguishes it both from a mere list of its constituents, and from another proposition with the same constituents, so that it represents the world as being a certain way? While this problem has often been ignored, it has recently re-emerged in contemporary philosophy of language. This chapter considers Wittgenstein's dissatisfaction with the approaches to the problem offered by Frege and by Russell, and provides an account of his own solution. In order to evaluate the solution the chapter distinguishes several aspects of the problem of the unity of the proposition and suggests the relevance of Wittgenstein's position to some contemporary views.

Keywords: Wittgenstein; Tractatus; propositions; unity

Chapter.  14132 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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