Wittgenstein and Frege

Wolfgang Kienzler

in The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199287505
Published online January 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Wittgenstein and Frege

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  • History of Western Philosophy



In the Preface to Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein acknowledges his debt to ‘the great works of Gottlob Frege’; and even during the years in which he resigned from doing philosophy Wittgenstein directed others to read Frege, even when he himself did not continue to do so. This article describes Wittgenstein and Frege's personal relationship and examines how much we know about the extent to which Wittgenstein studied Frege's work. It gives a systematic account of Frege's most basic approach and compares it to some suggestions by Cora Diamond. Frege's mature logical system is organized around the basic distinction between function and object. Wittgenstein's fundamental insight that the language of logic and mathematics works in a totally different way from the language of empirical statements organizes his Tractatus. Frege, on the other hand, develops a model where all statements, whether they be empirical, logical, or mathematical, are fashioned on one and the same basic pattern, namely, that of function and argument, supplemented by sense and reference.

Keywords: Ludwig Wittgenstein; Gottlob Frege; Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; philosophy; Cora Diamond; function; object; logic; mathematics; argument

Article.  14916 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; History of Western Philosophy

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