What Can You Do with the General Propositional Form?

Cora Diamond

in Wittgenstein's Early Philosophy

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199691524
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742262 | DOI:
What Can You Do with the General Propositional Form?

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Peter Sullivan has argued, about Wittgenstein's Tractatus, that there is no way in which the variable which is supposed to give the general form of proposition can be constructed, and that, even if it could be constructed, there is no obvious way in which it can be put to use. The chapter focuses on the second claim, and argues that there is a straightforward sort of use for the variable, but that such a use cannot be seen unless we abandon a familiar way of interpreting Wittgenstein's remarks about how propositions can occur in other propositions. Among the good reasons for abandoning that interpretation is that we shall also be able to give a satisfying interpretation of Wittgenstein's deeply puzzling remarks about belief. The chapter explains how a different interpretation of the remarks about propositional occurrence fits in with central ideas of the Tractatus. It also demonstrates how Wittgenstein understood the activity of philosophical clarification of our thoughts, by providing some examples of how such clarification works.

Keywords: Wittgenstein; Tractatus; form; proposition; variable; belief

Chapter.  19460 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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