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WirrGENSTEIN -EINE NEUBEWERTUNG I TowARDS ARE-EvALUATION

Schriftenreihe der Wittgenstein-Gesellschaft

Herausgeber I Board of editors

ELISABETH LEINFELLNER,
RUDOLF HALLER, ADOLF HüBNER, WERNER LEINFELLNER, PAUL WEINGARTNER

Volume 19/ I
Band 19/ I
WUtgenstein - Towards a Re-Evaluation

Proceedings of
the 14th International Wittgenstein-Symposi um
Centenary Celebration

13th to 2Qth August 1989


Kirchberg am Wechsel (Austria)

Editors
RuooLF HALLERand JOHANNES BRANDL

Springer-Verlag Wien GmbH 1990


Wittgenstein- Eine Neubewertung

Akten des
14. Internationalen Wittgenstein-Symposiums
Feier des 100. Geburtstages

13. bis 20. August 1989


Kirchberg am Wechsel (Österreich)

Herausgeber
RuooLF HALLER und JoHANNES BRANDL

Springer-Verlag Wien GmbH 1990


Wir danken dem österreich ischen Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft und
Forschung und der KuIturabteilung des Amtes der Niederösterreichischen Landes-
regierung für die finanzielle Unterstützung bei der Drucklegung dieses Werkes.

CIP·Titelaufnahme der Deutschen Bibliothek


WittgeDsteiD - eiDe NeubewertuDg: Akten des 14.
Internationalen Wiltgenstein·Symposiums, Feier des 100.
G.eburtstages, 13. bis 20. August 1989, Kirchberg am Wechsel
(Österreich) I Hrsg. Rudolf Haller und Johannes Brand!.
(Schriftenreihe der Wittgenstein·Gesellschaft ; Bd. 19)
Parallelt.: Wittgenstein - towards a re·evaluation
ISBN 978-3-209-01122-0 ISBN 978-3-662-30086-2 (eBook)
DOI 10.1007/978-3-662-30086-2
NE: Haller, Rudolf [Hrsg.); Internationales Wittgenstein·Symposium
< 14, 1989, Kirchberg, Wechsel>; PT; Österreichische Ludwig·
Wittgenstein·Gesellschaft: Schriftenreihe der Wittgenstein.
Gesellschaft
1 (1990)

Copyright © 1990 by Springer-Verlag Wien

Ursprünglich erschienen bei in Vienna 1990

No part of the material protected by this copyright notice may be


reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
inc\uding photocopying, recording or by any informational storage and
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Umschlagbild: "Wittgenstein" (Ölgemälde von Hannes Scheucher, 1989)


Inhaltsverzeichnis
Table of Contents

R. HALLER I J. BRANDL: Vorwort I Preface .................................................................. 9

I.
Eröffnungsansprache I Opening Address
R. HALLER: Über Wittgenstein ....................................................................................... 13

2.
H. ISHIGURO: Can the World Impose Logical Structure on Language? ..................... 21
E. ZEMACH: The Tractatus Theory of Objects .............................................................. 35
M.V. WEDIN: What Objects Could not Be ..................................................................... 51
H. HOCHBERG: Truth, Facts, and Possibilities in the Correspondence
Theories of Wittgenstein, Moore, and Russell ........................................................... 64
P. SULLIV AN: The Inexpressibility of Form .................................................................. 77
N. GAR VER: The Metaphysics of the Tractatus ............................................................ 84

3.
H. BURKHARDT: Wittgensteins Monadologie .............................................................. 95
B. WOLNIEWICZ: The Essence of Logical Atomism:
Hume and Wittgenstein .............................................................................................. 106
J. SEBESTIK: The Archeology of the Tractatus: Bolzano and Wittgenstein ............ 112
P. SIMONS: Frege and Wittgenstein, Truth and Negation ........................................... 119
St. KÖRNER: On Wittgenstein's Conceptions of Logic and
Philosophical Grammar .............................................................................................. 130
H. WANG: Philosophy Through Mathematics and Logic ............................................ 142
4.
J. HINTIKKA: Wittgenstein as a Philosopher of Immediate Experience ................... 155
T. WILLIAMSON: Necessary ldentity and Necessary Existence ............................... 168
A. SOULEZ: Necessity and Contingency in Wittgenstein 's Thought ......................... 176
J. PERZANOWSKI: Towards Post-Tractatus Ontology .............................................. 185
R. EGIDI: Wittgensteins Frage nach dem Sinn ............................................................. 200
R.L. ARRINGTON: The Grammar of Grammar ........................................................... 210

5.
St. TOULMIN: Wittgenstein and the Death of Philosophy .......................................... 221
D. BIRNBACHER: Wittgenstein und die "Grundfrage der Metaphysik" ................... 228
R. BUBNER: Wittgenstein als meditativer Denker ....................................................... 239
I. VALENT: The Speculative Style of Wittgenstein's Thought .................................. 247

7
C. RADFORD: Wittgenstein and Philosophy ................................................................ 253
H. VISSER: The Art of Philosophical Discovery .......................................................... 261
H. HRACHOVEC: Wittgenstein als Ruhestifter ........................................................... 268

6.
K.E. TRAN0Y: Wittgenstein- Ethics, and the 'Wonderful Life' .............................. 273
H. JENSEN: Is Wittgenstein's Ethical Theory a Kind of Error Theory? .................... 280
A. GARGANI: Intentionalität, Ethik und Philosophisches Schreiben in
Wittgensteins Werk ..................................................................................................... 291
L. TARCA: Silence in Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy: An Enigma ......................... 303
K. WUCHTERL: Religion bei Wittgenstein und Levinas ............................................ 313
K.S. JOHANNESSEN: Art, Philosophy andIntransitive Understanding ................... 323

Abkürzungen der Titel von Willgensteins Schriften I


Abbreviations of the Titles of Willgenstein 's Writings ..................................................... 334

Liste und Index der Autoren I


List and Index of Authors ................................................................................................... 335

8
Vorwort

An läßlich der I 00. Wiederkehr des Geburtstages von Ludwig Wittgenstein, dem wohl
bedeutendsten Philosophen unseres Jahrhunderts und Namensgeber der veranstaltenden
Gesellschaft, wurde das 14. Internationale Symposium in Kirchberg gänzlich unter die
programmatische Perspektive einer Neubewertung seiner Philosophie gestellt. Dem
Anlasse entsprechend war dieses Symposium das weitaus größte aller bisherigen mit
nahezu 600 Teilnehmern und 230 Vorträgen. Nur 138 davon konnten in die Akten des
14. Symposiums aufgenommen werden, dietrotzdieser Auswahl über 1000 Seiten stark
wurden. Wegen dieses außerordentlichen Umfangs ist es nötig, die Akten diesmal auf drei
Bände aufzuteilen.
Der erste Band enthält eingeladene Vorträge, gegliedert nach fünf Themenschwer-
punkten:
Zur Philosophie der Traktatperiode
Zur Philosophie von Logik und Mathematik
Zur Übergangsperiode der Dreißigerjahre
Zur Aufgabe der Philosophie
Zur Ethik und Religion.
Freilich wäre es eine Übertreibung zu behaupten, daß alle Beiträge im vollen Wortsin-
ne eine Neubewertung von Wittgensteins Philosophie veranschaulichen. Aber der Ten-
denz nach exemplifizieren die gesammelten Texte den Stand der gegenwärtigen Wittgen-
stein-Interpretation sehr deutlich. Waren in den ersten Jahren nach seinem Tode und der
Publikation der nachgelassenen Schriften die Bemühungen zunächst auf die sprachphi-
losophischen Aspekte der Philosophischen Untersuchungen, das Privatsprachenproblem
und den Neuerungen nach der Traktatperiode gerichtet, so zeigten sich seit den Siehziger-
jahren Tendenzen zur Vereinheitlichung. So entstand in den letzten Jahren ein zuneh-
mend differenzierteres Bild sowohl der Entwicklung von Wittgensteins Philosophie als
auch der Rolle von Logik, Bedeutung und Bezug sprachlicher Zeichen im Gesamtkonte.M
der Lebensformen. Viel zu spät wurde die gewaltige Masse von Wittgensteins Philoso-
phie des Geistes, seine Klassifikation psychischer Phänomene, bemerkt und damit der
Blick auf das Werk als Ganzes gelenkt. So hat man heute tatsächlich den Eindruck, daß
nichts notwendiger ist als eine Neubewertung. Angesichts der schier unüberschaubaren
Literatur über Wittgenstein, die sich nur mehr nach umfangreichen Bibliographien
recherchieren läßt, bedarf die Forschung einer Zäsur, einer Art von Atemholen, um sich
des Materials zu bemächtigen, oder viel wichtiger, einer Sichtweise, die dem Verständnis
seiner häufig zu den gleichen Fragen zurückkehrenden unermüdlichen Arbeit angemes-
sen ist.
Eine solche Zäsur spiegelt sich in den drei Bänden der Akten des Festsymposiums. Es
kann nicht die Aufgabe der Herausgeber sein, vorauszusagen, welche Ansätze für die
künftige Forschung die fruchtbaren sein und welche sich als ein nicht gangbarer Weg
erweisen werden. Eines aber läßt sich mit Sicherheit sagen: daß die gewaltige Denkarbeit
Wittgensteins zu einem Prüfstein der philosophischen Arbeit in diesem Jahrhundert
geworden ist, wie das in der Vergangenheit nur den allerbedeutendsten Philosophen in der
Geschichte - man denke an Platon, Descartes oder Kant - gelungen ist.

9
Die Herausgeber danken an erster Stelle den Autoren für ihre Beiträge, dem Präsiden-
ten der Österreichischen Wittgenstein-Gesellschaft, Herrn Dr. Adolf Hübner, und seinem
Team in Kirchberg für die außerordentlich mühevolle und gelungene Organisation eines
Symposiums, das den intimen und belebenden Rahmen des lieblichen Tales beinahe
sprengte. Zu danken haben wir auch dem Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft und
Forschung, das dem Anlaß entsprechend als Mitveranstalter des Zentenar-Symposiums
auftrat und sowohl die Veranstaltung wie die Herausgabe der Arbeiten finanziell unter-
stützte.
Was die Herstellung der Akten anbetrifft, so danken wir allen Kräften, die die
Schreibarbeiten, den Satz und die Korrekturen bewältigt haben, und nicht zuletzt Herrn
Erich Pehm, dem Philosophie-Lektor des Verlages Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky für seinen
Einsatz.

Johannes Brand! Rudolf Haller

10
Preface

On the occasion ofthe I OOth anniversary ofthe birth ofLudwig Willgenstein -the most
famous philosopher of this century and the thinker from whom the organizing society
takes its name -the 14th International Symposium in Kirchberg was devoted exclusively
to a re-evaluation of Willgenstein 's thought. As befits the occasion, the symposium was
by far the largest so far, with 600 participants and 230 lectures. Only 138 papers found
space in these Proceedings, which in spite ofthis restriction still make up more than 1000
pages. Thus it was necessary to split up their publication into three volumes.
Volume I contains invited papers, grouped according to five main topics:
- the philosophy of the Tractatus-period
- philosophy of logic and mathematics
- the transitory period of the thirties
- the task of philosophy
- ethics and religion.
It would be an exaggeration to claim that each contribution achieves a genuine re-
evaluation of Willgenstein 's philosophy. In the main, however, the papers document very
clearly the present status of Willgenstein-scholarship. Whereas in the first years after his
death, much effort was directed to the understanding of semantical aspects of the
Phi/osophical/m•estigations, to the private-language problern and to the changes since
the Tractatus-period, in the seventies there made itself feit a tendency towards a unified
view. Since then there has evolved a more and more differentiated picture, relating not
only to the development of Willgenstein's thought but also to the roJe of logic, meaning
and reference within the general context of his thinking on forms of life. Only very
recently has allention been directed to the enormous quantity of Willgenstein 's work on
the philosophy of mind, to his classification of psychic phenomena, and thus to Willgen-
stein's work as a whole. Today,then,the impression prevails that a re-evaluation is what
is most required. In view of the unsurveyable mass of Iiterature on Wittgenstein, which
can be investigated only with the guidance of extensive bibliographies, research on his
work may benefit from the sort of 'breathing-space' which such re-evaluation offers. This
will enable us to take firmer hold of the existing material, and notless important, to gain
an overview adequate to the understanding of Wittgenstein's unceasing work on those
problems which were for him of such persistent importance.
lt is a 'breathing-space' of this sort that is represented by the three volumes of these
Centenary Proceedings. It goes beyond the task of the editors to predict which approaches
will be fruitful in the future and which will Iead nowhere. One thing can, however, be
asserted with confidence: that Willgenstein 's enormous intellectual effort is a touchstone
of the philosophy of our present century - of the sortthat has been achieved in the past
only by such prominent philosophers as Plato, Descartes or Kant.
The editors are grateful, in the first place, to the authors for their contributions, to the
President ofthe Austrian Ludwig Willgenstein Society, Dr. Adolf Hübner, and to his team
in Kirchberg for their extremely painstaking and successful organization of a symposium
which attimes almostthreatened to burstthe seams of this intimate and charming valley.
We also have to thank the Austrian Ministry of Science for taking the occasion to act as

II
co-organizer of the Centenary-Symposium and for providing financial support for both
the conference and its Proceedings.
We are indebted to all those who were involved in the successive stages ofproduction
of the volumes, and last but not least to Erich Pehm, philosophy reader in the publishing
house of Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, for his constant support.

Johannes Brand! Rudolf Haller

12
Über Wittgenstein

RUDOLF HALLER
Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz

Der Sinn der Menschen für Lob und Dankbarkeit, die Lust zu feiern und schließlich die
Gewohnheit bringen es mit sich, daß die bloße Tatsache eines bestimmten Abstandes von
Jahren nach Geburt von Menschen (wie dann auch von menschlichen Werken) ausreicht,
um ihrer in besonderer Weise zu gedenken. So bei den Lebenden wie den Toten. Als
Wittgenstein 1949 sechzig Jahre alt wird, gibt es keine Feier, keine Festschrift, keine
Notiz in der Presse, schon gar nicht in Österreich. Ganz abgesehen davon, daß er zu
diesem Zeitpunkt tatsächlich in Wien war- er weilte am Krankenbett seiner Schwester
Hermine - denn in Österreich hätte man gemeinhin doch nicht gewußt, wen man da zu
ehren hätte.
Ein Vierteljahrhundert nach seinem Tode, im Jahre 1976, hat dann die von Adolf und
Lore Hübner zusammen mit Bürgern von Kirchberg gegründete Österreichische Wittgen-
stein-Gesellschaft zum erstenmal eine Tagung im kleinen Rahmen veranstaltet, bei der
keine geringe Zahl von Schülern Wittgensteins aus der Zeit seiner Tätigkeit als Volks-
schullehrer in Trattenbach und Ottertal teilnahmen und einige von uns Österreichischen
Philosophen zum erstenmal hierher fanden. Damals habe ich mir erlaubt zu sagen, daß
Wittgenstein selbst unter keinen Umständen bereit gewesen wäre, sich loben oder gar
huldigen zu lassen, denn wie kaum ein anderer war er allergisch gegen jede Art von
Selbstgefälligeit und oberflächlicher "Großsprecherei". Das hat ihn schon an der Schlick
dedizierten Programmschrift des Wiener Kreises gestört, und umsomehr hätte es ihn
abgestoßen, selbst das Ziel auch gut gemeinter Übertreibung zu werden. "Alles Rituelle
(quasi Hohepriesterische) ist steng zu vermeiden, weil es gleich in Fäulnis übergeht." 1 Das,
was verdirbt, ist die Unaufrichtigkeit, oder, wie Rush Rhees, der uns die Stelle mitteilt,
richtig bemerkt, daß man etwas will, was man nicht ist. 2
Sich über sich selbst zu belügen, sich über die eigene Unechtheit belügen, muß
einen schlimmen Einfluß auf den Stil haben .... Wer sich selbst nicht kennen will,
der schreibt eine Art Betrug.
Wer in sich selbst nicht heruntersteigen will, weil es zu schmerzhaft ist, bleibt
natürlich auch beim Schreiben an der Oberfläche. 3

Das war Wittgensteins Ergebnis 1938. Und das war die Perspektive, in der er seinen
Schülern oft abriet, akademische Philosophen zu werden, und ihnen auftrug, äußerlich
und innerlich "anständig" zu bleiben.
Die Bemerkung, daß eine Schwäche des Charakters einen Einfluß auf den Stil haben
müsse, daß die Art der Selbstbeurteilung sich auch im Schreiben niederschlägt und Betrug
hier, Betrug dort entspricht, macht mehr als deutlich, daß Wittgenstein die Versuchungen
kannte, die einem beim Schreiben und Lehren begegnen und daß er ihnen mehr als unser-
einer, oder mehr als die meisten, ein geschärftes Mißtrauen entgegenstellte.
Brian McGuinness hat in seiner großartigen und einfühlsamen Biographie des Lebens
Wittgensteins verständlich machen können, wie die Geschmacks- und Gewissensbildung
des jungen Denkers geprägt wurde von der kulturellen Umgebung. Und zu dieser gehörten
jedenfalls auch Kar! Kraus und Adolf Loos, zwei Kämpfer gegen die Unaufrichtigkeit
ihrer Zeit; der eine gegen sie im Gebrauch des Wortes, der andere gegen die Unaufr-
ichtigkeit im Gebrauch des Malerischen in der Architektur: Klarheit wurde so zu einer

13
nicht nur philosophischen Forderung, der Stil zu einer moralischen Kategorie, die über
Worte, Geräte oder Bauten hinausreicht.
Wittgenstein war zwar tief beeindruckt von den Arbeiten der bei den, rechnete sie unter
jene wenigen, denen er zugestand, eine Gedankenbewegung in ihm ausgelöst zu haben,
aber er wahrte auch seinen kritischen Abstand zu ihnen, so wie zu sich selbst und seiner
eigenen Arbeit. Die Idee, in der Library of Living Philosophers selbst zu erscheinen, wäre
ihm greulich erschienen. Allein, daß Moore es für sich zugelassen hatte, "wurde von
Wittgenstein heftig mißbilligt." 4
In vielen Briefen klagt er darüber, daß er zu dumm zur Arbeit sei und zur Zeit seiner
Professur in Cambridge sagt er beim abschiednehmenden Vorübergehen zu seinem
jahrelangen Wohnungsnachbarn im Trinity-College, der gerade seine Sachen packte:
"Ich werde immer dümmer und dümmer." Das war ein Zeichen der Distanz zur eigenen
Arbeit- sonst wäre es kein ernstzunehmender Ausruf. Verbohrt in seine Gedankenbewe-
gungen, in das stete Ausprobieren, seine Grundgedanken auszubauen, ständig seine
eigenen Texte ummodelnd leidet er unter jenen häufig auftretenden Intervallen, in denen
die Arbeit nicht gut voranging oder überhaupt stockte:

Mein Schreibebuch behalte bei Dir, wenn es geht. Ich kann jetzt nicht daran
denken, weiter zu schreiben. Meine Kräfte reichen kaum hin um meine Schularbeit
notdürftig zu verrichten. Ja ich bin so müde und matt und mein Gehirn ist so krank,
daß ich nicht weiß, wie es weiter gehen soll. (Herbst 1924 an L. Hänsel)
Seit etlichen Wochen gelingt es mir nicht, zu arbeiten ... (22. 6. 40 an Malcolm)
Im Augenblick komme ich mir gerade sehr dumm vor. Ich sollte arbeiten, aber ich
tu's nicht. (15. 12. 45)
Mein Verstand fühlt sich oft sehr erschöpft, warum weiß ich nicht. (21. 2. 4 7 an von
Wright)

Die ganze Arbeit galt schließlich dem Buch. Das Buch, in dem die Methoden der
Philosophie, denen Wittgensteins Arbeit nach 1929 galt, gezeigt werden sollten: das war
das vornehmliehe Ziel der Arbeit. Und doch hat er - ganz gegen die akademischen
Gepflogenheiten und auch entgegen der Eitelkeit des Autoren-Daseins- nichts veröffent-
licht. Aber es verhielt sich nicht so, daß Wittgenstein nicht publizieren wollte, seine Arbeit
nicht anerkannt sehen wollte! Sobald der Traktat fertig war, war ihm nichts wichtiger als
ihn sogleich zu veröffentlichen. Und im August 1945 hofft er, daß- "wenn alles gut geht"
-er sein Buch, d. h. die "Philosophischen Untersuchungen", bis Weihnachten veröffent-
lichen werde.
Das Buch kam nicht zum Abschluß und blieb auch bei seiner posthumen Veröffentli-
chung ein Torso - zu Teilen ein vollendeter Torso, unter anderen Aspekten eine
unvollendete Reihe von Bemerkungen und Beispielen zur Philosophie des Geistes, der
Bewußtseinszustände und erkenntnismäßigen Einstellungen, der Wahrnehmung von
Gestalten, zu Fragen der Logik und Mathematik und vieler anderer neuer Themen, die von
der Philosophie der zweiten Jahrhunderthälfte sogleich aufgenommen wurden. Es ist
nicht leicht zu sagen, was der tiefere Grund dieser Unabgeschlossenheit war, wenn man
davon ausgeht, daß ihm die Veröffentlichung ein Anliegen bedeutete, er auf sein geistiges
Eigentum ein betontes Gewicht legte und Wittgenstein eine unangemessene Darstellung
seiner Gedanken erst recht perhorreszierte. Mir möchte scheinen, daß sich die beste
Erklärung aus dem erklärten Ziel einer übersichtlichen Darstellung selbst ergibt, für
deren Gelingen keine Regel aufzuzeigen ist, weil es keine feste Regel für das Anlegen
eines Albums gibt.

14
In diesem Album war nun der gewichtigste Teil eine gewissenhafte Sammlung von
Beispielen und Argumenten, um darzutun, daß unsere philosophische Sprachauffassung,
und auchjene des jungen Wittgenstein selbst, einer Kritik nicht standhält; daß die Sprache
nicht an einem Ideal einer Hieroglyphik oder Begriffsschrift orientiert sein kann, so daß
ihren Zeichen immer ein Bezeichnetes korrespondiere, sondern daß die Sprache vielmehr
als ein Instrumentarium des menschlichen Handeins aufzufassen ist, verwoben mit den
übrigen Handlungsweisen, die den Menschen ausmachen. Und so wurde die Theorie des
Satzes, die im Zentrum des Traktats stand, umgemodelt und ausgedehnt zu einer Unter-
suchung der Sprachspiele, wie auch ihrer Einbettung in die Lebensformen der Menschen.
Daß das Bezeichnete letztlich nicht die einfache Substanz ist - der Gegenstand des
Traktats-, sondern das, was die Anwendung ausmacht und die Bedeutung der Worte
durch den Regelbrauch bestimmt werden: das war die wesentliche Änderung.
Der Autor der Logisch-philosophischen Abhandlung, der einst mit unverhohlenem
Stolz verkündet hatte, daß die von ihm entdeckten Wahrheiten unantastbar wären, weist
nun auf seine eigenen früheren Fehler hin.
Das war zugleich ein erster Schritt zur Neubewertung des Traktatus, denn fehlerhafte
Ansichten oder Argumente bloßzustellen, ändert nicht die Aussagen, die sohin kritisiert
wurden, sondern vornehmlich das Bild, das man sich von dem Zusammenhang gemacht
hat, in dem sie vorkommen. Natürlich können auch Aussagen, die als unrichtig kritisiert
werden nur wahr oder falsch sein, und wenn falsch, dann eben falsch. Und weil
Wittgenstein selbst fehlerhafte Annahmen seines Jugendwerkes unterstrichen hatte, und
im Vorwort zu den Philosophischen Untersuchungen kühl feststellt, daß er im Traktat
"schwere Irrtümer" erkennen mußte, hat man bald die erste große Übertreibung in den
Interpretationen des Wittgensteinschen Werkes in die Welt gesetzt: das Abstandnehmen
von einzelnen Thesen als einen Bruch der Persönlichkeitsentwicklung, wie der philoso-
phischen Überzeugungen gedeutet. Die Übertreibungskünstler unter den philosophi-
schen Interpreten schnitten sein Werk in zwei Teile, in einen WITTGENSTEIN I und
einen WITTGENSTEIN II und man ging so weit zu behaupten, daß der letztere das Werk
des ersteren vernichtet habe. So lesen wiretwa bei Stegmüller, derdarin Pitcherfolgt, "die
tödliche Rücksichtslosigkeit, mit der er seine ganze frühere Philosophie zerstörte", sei ein
"philosophie-geschichtlich einmaliges Ereignis". 5
Ohne die Kenntnis der Schriften, die zwischen den beiden Werken, der Logisch-phi-
losophischen Abhandlung und den Philosophischen Untersuchungen verfaßt wurden, war
es noch irgendwie verständlich, daß man das letztere nicht mit dem ersteren in Einklang
bringen konnte. Aber bald nach deren Erscheinen wurde man gewahr, daß die Schizophre-
nie-These des gespaltenen Wittgenstein die Wirklichkeit nicht trifft, daß also eher von der
Einheit des gesamten Werkes auszugehen ist, als davon, daß das spätere das frühere
aufhebt. Ich gebe zu; auch hier begegnet man einer doppelten Gefahr, weil entweder der
philosophische Autor selbst, oder der Interpret bestrebt sein kann, das, was im Zuge der
Zeit und Veränderung an Gedanken auseinandertriftet, unbedingt in einem Zusammen-
hang zu halten, sei es aus Gründen der Systematik oder der Harmonie. Wittgenstein selbst
hat keinen solchen Anspruch erhoben: so bleibt alle Last des Aufweisens der Interpreta-
tion vorbehalten. Sie muß zeigen, worin der Zusammenhang besteht oder begründet ist
und warum die "tödliche Rücksichtslosigkeit" - wenn sie tödlich sein soll - nicht zur
"Zerstörung" der Philosophie des Traktats führt. So sind viele den Bemühungen von
Anthony Kenny und, im deutschen Sprachraum, von Rüdiger Bubner gefolgt und haben
versucht, eine Darstellung zu fördern, die weniger auf die Diskontinuität denn auf die
Harmonie und fortgesetzte Entwicklung ausgerichtet blieb. Meine eigene Arbeit zielte in
die gleiche Richtung. 6

15
Die Einheit wird getragen von einer Unterscheidung, die Willgenstein zwar zunächst
seiner Theorie des Satzes und des Satzsinnes entnimmt, dann jedoch auf die allbewegende
Frage nach dem Sinn des Lebens und der Welt ausdehnt.
Ich glaube, man kann die Begründung dieser Einheit nicht besser veranschaulichen, als
durch den Hinweis auf die Tatsache, daß Willgenstein wie alle großen Philosophen
versucht hat, die Prinzipien unseres Denkensund Handeins zu begreifen und zu verdeut-
lichen. Aber wie auf vielen anderen Gebieten war er auch in der Durchführung dieser
Aufgabe so radikal wie originell. Die Lösung, die er vorschlug und, wie ich glaube,
niemals mehr wesentlich veränderte oder gar aufgab, stammt aus der Zeit der Traktatpe-
riode und besagt, wie er Russell mitteilte, daß das Kardinalproblem, das sich in verschie-
dene Problemgruppen aufspalten ließe, die Frage sei, was sich in Sätzen ausdrücken läßt
und was sich in Sätzen nicht ausdrücken läßt, sondern nur gezeigt werden kann. 7
Das Programm der Untersuchung dessen, was sich sagen läßt, wodurch sich auch die
Grenze zu jenem Bereich abzeichnet, wo keine der wahr-falsch Dichotomie unterworfene
Rede mehr möglich ist, enthält nicht nur eine Theorie der Abbildungsmöglichkeit von
Weltstücken durch die Sprache, sondern auch eine solche des Unsagbaren, dessen,
worüber eine bestreitbare Rede nicht möglich ist. Dabei verhält es sich keineswegs so, daß
Willgenstein eine Position des Jenseits von Gut und Böse vertreten und darum die ethi-
sche Kategorie als unaussprechbar ansah. Vielmehr räumt er ihr genau jene eine, die sie
tatsächlich innehat: Es gibt von Grund auf darum Uneinigkeit auf dem Gebiete der Ethik,
da die Werte, die zur Grundlage unserer Urteile dienen, Lebenswerte des Einzelnen sind
und keine Brücke zu den Urteilen, die wahr oder falsch sein können, existiert. Für die
sinnvollen Sätze des Traktats gab es ein Kriterium, denn ihr Sinn ist durch die Möglichkeit
der Anwendung aufzuweisen. Die Sätze zeigen, wie es sich verhält, wenn sie wahr sind,
und wie es sich nicht verhält, wenn sie falsch sind. Im Fall derethischen Sätze können wir
nicht wissen, wann sie Sinn haben, weil die Gegenstände, für die die Namen stehen, nicht
zugänglich sind, selbst wenn es sie gibt. Es ist übrigens bemerkenswert, daß Willgenstein
den religiösen Glauben auf ähnliche Weise dem Kriterium des Wahr/Falsch-Seins
entzieht. Selbst wenn "die historischen Berichte der Evangelien, im historischen Sinne,
erweislich falsch" wären, verlöre der Glaube "nichts dadurch", weil das historische
Beweisspiel den Glauben gar nicht angeht." 8
Als man im Wiener Kreis den Traktat las, war die Aufnahmebereitsschaft für eine
Deutung des Traktats als eines Werkes, das eine Kritik der praktischen mit der theoreti-
schen Vernunft als eine Kritik der Sprache vortrug, nicht voll gegeben. Man erkannte
jedoch einen wesentlichen Zug der Verwandtschaft mit den eigenen Zielen. Daß nämlich
alle Metaphysik als sinnlos ausgeschlossen werden könne, entsprach der Überzeugung
derer, die zunächst an einer Philosophie der Wissenschaften interessiert waren und keine
überflüssigen Fragen behandeln wollten. Für sie waren die durch Mach, Poincare, Russell
und Einstein gestellten Probleme zu lösen, nicht Fragen der Ethik und schon gar nicht
solche der Mystik. Darum blieb ihnen der Blick auf eine Gesamtdeutung des Traktats, in
der dem Teil, der das Unsagbare behandelt, der Primat zugesprochen wird, verschlossen,
ebenso verschlossen wie Russell, der seine "intellektuelle Unbehaglichkeit" gegenüber
dieser Sicht schon im Vorwort deutlich einbekannt hatte. 9
Wittgenstein jedoch, so sehr er sich in die Diskussion der Wiener Philosophen
einmischen wollte und durch Waismann dort vertreten wurde, hatte selbst keine beson-
dere Anstrengung unternommen, ihnen den anderen Grundgedanken des Traktats zu er-
läutern, der seiner eigenen Metaphysik- wenn man so sagen darf- entstammte. Nämlich,
daß das, was sich nicht ausdrücken läßt, darum nicht nichts ist. Er nennt den Versuch, es
doch auszudrücken, in einem Gespräch bei Schlick, 10 ein Anrennen gegen die Grenzen der

16
Sprache, eben gegen jene Grenzen, deren Bestimmung Aufgabe des Traktats war. Und er
meint dabei, daß die Tendenz des Anrennens doch auf etwas hindeute. Somit war Neurath,
der diese Voraussetzung als prototypisch metaphysisch verwarf, gerechtfertigt, von einer
"doppelsprachigen ldealistik" zu sprechen, denn, so wie -neben dem empirischen -ein
philosophisches "Ich" angenommen wird, so auch- neben dem Bedeuten des Gegenstandes
-ein Hinweisen auf Etwas, für das es keine Identifikationskriterien und keine Möglichkeit
der Erkenntnis gibt. Eben diese Auseinandersetzung macht deutlich, was Wittgenstein
wußte, daß ein Streit darüber sinnlos ist, weil er nicht, und zwar grundsätzlich nicht
entscheidbar, ja nicht einmal verstehbar wäre. Wittgensteins radikale Aussperrung der
Rede darüber scheint eine unbefriedigende Lösung, weil sie dem elementaren Bedürfnis
widerspricht, mehr über unsere Einstellungen und unser Handeln zu erfahren, als die
Aussagen über Tatsachen mitteilen. Aber, daß die Lösung dem entspricht, was von
Beginn an seine tiefste philosophische Überzeugung war, daranhabe ich keinen Zweifel.
Seine Auffassung vom Geschäft des Philosophen hat sich nämlich ebenso wenig
gewandelt: immer blieb ihm die Philosophie zuallererst Kritik der Sprache nach dem
Traktatwort, daß alle Philosophie Sprachkritik ist. Und wenn er Lichtenberg zustimmt,
daß die Berichtigung des Sprachgebrauchs auch Berichtigung der allgemeinsten Philoso-
phie sei, die in der Sprache niedergelegt ist, so könnte es doch so aussehen, als würde die
Distanzierung von Mauthner ab den Dreißigerjahren zurückgenommen, als würde ein
skeptisches Vorurteil, das Mauthners Unternehmen begleitet, in Willgensteins Untersu-
chungen Eingang gefunden haben. Aber der Schein trügt: Denn, wenn Willgensteins
Untersuchung des Sprachgebrauchs sich auf den Einzelfall konzentriert, so nicht, weil er
eine Erkenntnis der Beziehung zwischen Sprache und Welt ausschließt. Vielmehr erfüllt
gerade die Einführung des Sprachspielbegriffes das Verlangen, das, was dem Wort
entspricht, in der Welt abzugrenzen. Denn, wie bereits im Traktat, bleibt auch in den
späteren Phasen eine Grenzziehung von Außen unmöglich: "Die Selbstverständlichkeit
der Welt drückt sich eben darin aus, daß die Sprache nur sie bedeutet, und nur sie bedeuten
kann.", heißt es bereits im großen Typoskript aus der Mitte der Dreißigerjahre. Und die
Begründung ist klar: Weil die Wörter ihre Bedeutung allein im Umgang mit der Welt
erhalten, müssen die abweichenden Bedeutungen auch in einer der Welt zugewandten
Weise verwendet werden, will man sie wirklich verstehen. Es ist "keine Sprache denkbar,
die nicht diese Welt darstellt." 11 D. h., daß auch jede mögliche und unmmögliche Welt
"die Art ihres Bedeutens von der Welt erhält". Aber auch die hyperphysischen Welten der
Metaphysik werden mit dem gleichen Instrumentarium beschrieben. Darum fordert
Wittgenstein die Rückversicherung auf dem Gebiet der .. normalen Grammatik", oder wie
er später sagt, die Rückführung der Wörter von ihrer metaphysischen auf die alltägliche
Verwendung. Die Unaussprechlichkeil der Beziehung Sprache und Welt als Ganzes hat,
darin wird man Hintikka zustimmen, eben in der Selbstverständlichkeit dieser Urtatsache
ihren Grund.
Es ist nicht zuletzt das Problem des Verstehens, das auf diese Weise mit der Frage nach
dem Gebrauch verkuppelt wird. Wenn wir nicht den Hintergrund der Verwendungsweise
von Worten kennen, sind wir nicht in der Lage sie zu verstehen, denn auch das Ganze der
Sprache ist als ein nach Regeln geleitetes Spiel aufgefaßt und bestimmt so das Verständ-
nis der einzelnen Spielarten. Aber auch die Regelhaftigkeit ist nur ein Brauch und aus
diesem läßt sich wohl Regelmäßigkeit, nicht aber Notwendigkeit ablesen. Bloße Regel-
mäßigkeit bestimmt nicht den zukünftigen Ereignisverlauf, so wenig wie die Handlungen
oder die Bewußtseinszustände der Menschen durch eine Regel, der sie gemeinhin folgen,
vorausbestimmt sind.
Es ist erstaunlich, wie lange es dauerte, bis die Interpreten Willgensteins eher Hume

17
als Kant zur Beleuchtung des Problems herangezogen haben, des Problems, das Wittgen-
stein mit dem der Bedeutung verbindet. Denn eine nicht fernliegende Frage war wohl, wie
der Benützer einer Sprache sicher sein kann, daß die Wörter, die er verwendet, um etwas
auszudrücken, richtig verstanden werden können. Und eine Gedankenlinie führt eben zu
jenem Regelbrauch, 12 der den Benützer eines sprachlichen Ausdrucks rechtfertigt, seiner
Anwendung zu vertrauen, wie man eben der Anwendung einer Methode oder Technik des
Handeins vertraut, die bisher vorbildlich und erfolgreich gehandhabt wurde. "Wie ist die
Anwendung einer Regel fixiert?" fragt Wittgenstein oder "Wie kommt es, daß wir alle sie
übereinstimmend so und nicht anders anwenden?" Seine Antwort ist ziemlich klar:
"Durch Abrichtung, Drill und die Formen unseres Lebens." 13 Dadurch also ergibt sich
die Übereinstimmung im Handeln. Und er spricht aus, was in all seinen Schriften
mitgedacht werden muß: "Wir reden und handeln. Das ist in allem, was ich sage, schon
vorausgesetzt. " 14 Wie sogleich auffällt, wählt er zu Recht nicht die Cartesische Sicht und
spricht nicht von sich selbst, sondern von uns: Wir, die Gemeinschaft der sprechenden
und handelnden Lebewesen, das ist es, was in allseinen Untersuchungen vorausgesetzt
wird. Indem wir die gleichen Wörter verwenden wie die übrigen Mitglieder der Sprach-
gemeinschaft, sind wir im Konsortium der Richter, die den richtigen Gebrauch bewahren.
"Die Bedeutung des Wortes kennen" - so heißt es in der XIX. Vorlesung über die
Grundlagen der Mathematik aus dem Jahre 1939 -, "heißt, es auf dieselbe Weise
verwenden wie die anderen. ,Auf die richtige Weise' -das heißt gar nichts." 15 Es ist diese
Form gemeinsamen Handelns, die der Fliege den Ausweg aus dem Fliegenglas verständ-
lich macht. Eben auf dem Boden des Handelns, nämlich der gemeinsamen Handlungs-
weise, die uns Menschen ausmacht, finden auch die Mißverständnisse einen Halt, um
Verstehen- Sich-Verstehen- zu ermöglichen. Hinter die Praxis des Handeins zurückge-
hen zu wollen, gewissermaßen eine transzendentale Begründung zu verlangen, heißt
etwas zu begehren, was nicht einlösbar ist: So machen wir es eben- so handeln wir- das
sind die letzten Pfeiler der Empirie wie unserer Rechtfertigung. Immer wieder betont der
britische Philosoph aus Wien, daß alles Begründen, Beweisen, Rechtfertigen ein Ende hat
und uns kein Ausweg offen steht, sozusagen hinter die Sprache zu gelangen.
Kein Wunder sonach, daß dem Problem der Privatsprache die allergrößte Aufmerk-
samkeit gewidmet ist. Denn, ist sie möglich, bleibt die res cogitans autonom und der Weg
über das Ego hinaus zu den anderen das Rätsel. Somit gäbe es eine Basis dafür, mit mir
selbst zu verkehren und das "Gespräch der Seele mit sich selbst" (Platon) zu beginnen.
Aber, wenn die anderen auch die Richter sind und nicht nur ich selbst, dann werden die
einem Typus von Verwendung widerstreitenden Fälle der Verwendung erst recht gleich
gewichtig. Denn mein eigenes System von Vorurteilen könnte mich im Grunde genauso
in die Irre führen. Hier sind natürlich nur die philosophischenVorurteilevon Belang, von
denen Wittgenstein immer wieder das eine hervorhebt, das uns veranlaßt, die Verschie-
denheit und Variation der Bedeutungen zugunsten der Einheit und Gemeinsamkeit zu
vernachlässigen. Der Relativismus, den manche in ihm entdecken wollen, hat mit diesem
Kampf gegen das Vorurteil zu tun. Indem das Beispiel einen Rang erhält, wie das
Experiment in den empirischen Wissenschaften, dient es, sei es gefunden oder erfunden,
zur Veranschaulichung und Abgrenzung von Ähnlichkeit und Verschiedenheit der Be-
deutung eines Wortes. Es wäre völlig falsch anzunehmen, daß Wittgenstein einer
Petrifizierung der gewöhnlichen Sprache das Wort reden wollte. Wenn er an die Einfüh-
rung verschiedener Notationen für Wahrheitsfunktionen erinnert, so will er genau das
Gegenteil zeigen: denn eben durch diese sollte ja deutlich werden, was logische Sätze
sind.
Und ebenso falsch wäre es, seine Insistenz, die Lebensform als Deutungshintergrund

18
der menschlichen Rede zu nützen, als ein Beharren auf einem Common-sense-Standpunkt
aufzufassen. Der Common-sense löst keine philosophischen Fragen: er weist sie eher
zurück und bleibt stumm.
Daß es noch immer nahezu unüberwindbare Schwierigkeiten bereitet, Wittgensteins
wiederholte Betonung ernst zu nehmen, daß die Philosophie nicht erklärt, sondern bloß
beschreibt, keine Theorie aufstellt, sondern Fragen stellt und auflöst, nimmt wunder.
Denn: was hat man von Wittgenstein verstanden, wenn man nicht begreift, warum er dies
betont? Hat er selbst sein Verfahren, die Art und Weise zu philosophieren, mißverstan-
den? Sind vielleicht nur die Probleme und Fragen, die er stellt und die oft spärlichen
Antworten das Interessante, nicht aber das, was er über das Geschäft der Philosophie zu
sagen hat? Viele denken so.
Zugegeben, es ist die äußerste Schwierigkeit, der wir bei der Bewertung des weiten
Feldes seiner philosophischen Pflugarbeit begegnen. Aber die erste Überlegung müßte
einem doch sagen: Wäre es nicht eine kaum begreifbare Schwäche, nicht beurteilen zu
können, was man mit dem Werk von zwanzig Jahren bezweckt? Kann man ein solches
Sich-selbst-Mißverstehen überhaupt ernsthaft erwägen?
Oder ist es nicht viel mehr die Schwierigkeit, das Ungewohnte, aus unserer Kenntnis
der Philosophie nicht so ohne weiteres Bestimmbare zurückzudrängen gegenüber dem,
was sich uns aus seinem Denken mit der Tradition verbindet?
Ist, so müßte man schließlich fragen, das Beschreiben nicht selbst begrifflich und
theoretisch geprägt? Und ist Wittgenstein vielleicht das Opfer einer obsolet gewordenen
Dichotomie?
Ich denke, nein. Und wenn auch hier nicht der Ort ist, dies auszuführen, so möchte ich
doch wenigstens andeuten, welches Bild ich für geeignet halte, die für einen Philosophen
verblüffende Maxime des "Denk' nicht, schau" zu begreifen.
Ganz spät, inmitten der Bemerkungen über die Philosophie der Psychologie, findet
sich - von den Herausgebern nicht in den gedruckten Text aufgenommen - folgende
Stelle, die ich- mit hunderten anderen- von Joachim Schulte überlassen bekam:
"Nichts ist schwerer, als den Begriffen vorurteilsfrei gegenüberzustehen: Denn das
Vorurteil ist ein System, - also eine Form des Verständnisses, wenn auch nicht das
richtige. Vorurteilsfrei sein heißt aber: das Gewicht nicht irgendwo abstellen, sondern in
der Schwebe halten." 16
Ich glaube, es gibt kein besseres Bild für Wittgensteins Verfahren als dieses: die
Gewichte in Schwebe halten, sie nicht irgendwo abstellen entsprechend einer Meinung,
einer Theorie, sie nicht abstellen, bevor wir unsereVorurteileüberprüft und ausgeschaltet
haben. Der Methoden, die eingesetzt werden können, um diesen Zweck zu erreichen, gibt
es mehrere und Wittgenstein selbst exerziert viele vor, um den Beispielsrahmen der
Erfahrung zu ergänzen, um auf die Unterschiede im Gebrauch der Wörter und im
Regelbrauch hinzuweisen, um schließlich immer wieder der Versuchung zu widerstehen,
zu verallgemeinern, wo nur eine Klasse von Beispielen die Allgemeinheit trägt und die
übrigen vernachlässigt wurden.
Ich will auch nicht leugnen, daß das In-Schwebe-Halten ein Topos früher Skepsis war
und man unter verschiedenen Aspekten die Antwort Wittgensteins auf selbstgestellte
Fragen vermißt. Aber wer dieses bekrittelt und jenes übertreibt, übersieht, daß mit der
Devise von der Auflösung der Fragen ernst gemacht werden soll. Wohl haben die
Einwände, die Wittgenstein oft ausprobiert, nicht selten einen skeptischen oder relativi-
stischen Anklang, so wie auch sein Beharren auf äußeren Kriterien für innere Vorgänge
einen behavioristischen Anklang hat, aber entgegen unserem Bedürfnis nach Einordnung
dürfen wir Wittgenstein nicht dort festlegen, wo sein Gewicht nicht abgestellt, eine

19
Entscheidung für eine philosophische Behauptung nicht gefällt wurde.
Ich glaube, Wittgensteins eindrucksvollste Leistung ist, gezeigt zu haben, daß das
Philosophieren im wahrsten Sinn des Wortes neu und immer wieder neu begonnen werden
kann. Er hat als erster Philosoph - nach den Vorsokratikern - und dann wieder nach
Descartes, den Ballast, den erdrückenden Ballast der eigenen Geschichte beiseitegerückt
und uns an unsere eigene Kindheit gemahnt, wo wir die Sprache, die wir sprechen und mit
der wir uns verständigen, gelernt haben. Und so kann er mit Recht an diese Lebenserfah-
rung appellieren und an das Können, das wir demonstrieren. Ja, er räumt auch noch sein
eigenes Fregesches Vorurteil beiseite, daß eine gereinigte logische Sprache die Fehler
eher vermiede, die wir in unserer, die ja auch die Sprache des Logikers ist, begehen. Sein
"Zurück auf den rauhen Boden der Sprache" war und ist ein Ruf der Befreiung. Daß uns
eine neue Sichtweise eröffnet wird, die jener unserer Kindheit einen höheren Wert
verleiht, als alle davor, schenkt uns einen unbeschwerteren Blick, auch wenn die
philosophische Arbeit dadurch nicht leichter wird und geworden ist.
Es liegt an uns weiterzugehen, wo er stehengeblieben ist.

Anmerkungen

1 L. Wittgenstein, Ms. 109, p. 208 f.


2 R. Rhees, "Wittgenstein über Sprache und Ritus", in: Wittgensteins geistige Erscheinung,
Schriften: Beiheft 3, Hg. von H. J. Heringer u. M. Nedo, Frankfurt 1979, p. 64.
3 R. Rhees (ed.), "Postscript" in: Reco/lections of Wittgenstein, 1984, p. 174; vgl. R. Haller,

"Philosophieren- ,Arbeit an einem selbst?'", in P. Kruntorad (Hg.), A. E. I. 0. U., Wien


1985, p. 70 ff.
4 N. Malcolm, Erinnerungen an Wittgenstein, Frankfurt 1987, p. 148.

5 W. Stegmüller, Hauptströmungen der Gegenwartsphilosophie, 4. Aufl. 1969, p. 562; G.

Pitcher, Die Philosophie Wittgensteins ( 1964 ), dt. E. v. Savigny 1967.


6 Vgl. A. Kenny, Wittgenstein ( 1973 ), dt. Frankfurt 1974, pp. 255-271; R. Bubner, "Die Ein-

heit in Willgensteins Wandlungen", in: Philosophische Rundschau 15 ( 1968). Siehe meine


Wittgenstein-Aufsätze in: Studien zur Österreichischen Philosophie, Bd. I, Amsterdam 1979.
7 L. Wittgenstein, Briefan B. Russell v. 19. 8. 1919.

8 Vgl. L. Wittgenstein, Vermischte Bemerkungen (Werkausgabe Bd 8, p. 495).

9 B. Russell, "Introduction": L. Wittgenstein, Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung. Kritische

Edition. Hg. von B. McGuinness und J. Schulte, Frankfurt 1989, p. 285.


10 (Hg.) Brian McGuinness, Wittgenstein und der Wiener Kreis, Schriften 3, p. 68 f., p. 92 f.

11 L. Wittgenstein, "Philosophie", 91, aus dem sog. "Big Typescript" (ed.) H. Nyman, in:

Revue lnt. de Philosophie (1989). p.199.


12 Vgl. R. Haller, "Regelbrauch und Übereinkunft", in Dialectica, 41(1987), p. 117-128.

11 L. Wittgenstein, Manuskript 160, p. 51, zit. b. G. P. Baker & P. M. S. Hacker, Wittgenstein,

Ru/es, Grammar and Necessity, Oxford 1988, p. 255.


14 L. Wittgenstein, Bemerkungen über die Grundlagen der Mathematik, VI, 17, p. 321.

15 L. Wittgenstein, Vorlesungen über die Grundlagen der Mathematik, Cambridge 1939. (Hg.)

J.C. Diamond, dt. J. Schulte (Schriften 7), p. 220.


16 Steht im Ms nach Teil II, 115 der BPP, von Wright, 136, Bd. Q 21.12.1947.

***

20
Can the World lmpose Logical Structure on Language?

HIDE ISHIGURO
Keio University, Tokyo

1. The problern
I would like to discuss a particular version of realism about logic which, some
philosophers have recently claimed, characterizes the Tractatus and contrasts it with the
later thoughts of Wittgenstein. My aim is not to argue whether there are two Wittgen-
steins, the earlier realist and the later, or whether there is one continuous Wittgenstein
with common philosophical interests and with some fixed and some gradually evolving
views. Although it will become clear that I maintain the lauer view, it seems to methat
there has been enough Wittgensteinian exegesis done before, and during, this centennial
year and there is therefore no need forme to add to it. 1 What I want to discuss is rather,
whether the versions of realism about logic described by these commentators is coherent
or clear at all, and, therefore whether it is clear what it is that one is ascribing to early
Wittgenstein. I will suggest a different reading of his view about logic and the world.
Obviously I believe, as Wittgenstein clearly did, in his early as weil as later period, that
there is a world in which we find ourselves. The truth or falsity of what we say about the
world depends on how things are. Thus, in the mostgenerat sense of 'realism' I consider
Tractatus to be realist and believe myself to be in agreement with it. It is also true that
Tractatus appears to assert what we now call a 'referential theory' of meaning for names.
Only sentences have sense (Sinn) 3.3, and constituent expressions have no sense on their
own. 2 Some expressions however have reference (Bedeutung) in the context of a sen-
tence, and certainly names do. "Der Name bedeutet den Gegenstand. Der Gegenstand ist
seine Bedeutung" 3.203. There is then a direct relation between name and object which
is not mediated by sense (i.e. Sinn in the way Frege understood it). 3 And since objects form
the substance of this world, (although also of any imagined world), there is a direct
relation between these names and the substance of the world.
To return to the main topic, even though it is clear that Wittgenstein of the Tractatus
wasarealist in the sense given above, it is not easy to understand a certain type of realism
about logical structure that is read into the philosophy of language of early Wittgenstein.
By logical structure I do not mean the structure of logical inference (which is an
interesting problernthat also concerned Wittgenstein, especially in his later works), but
the structure of logical syntax. (Although the two have a very close link as weshall see.)
This realism concerning logical syntax says, very roughly, that the objects, which con-
stitute independently existing reality, impose structure and grammar on our language and
thoughts. At first glance this may seem tobe a comprehensible doctrine, but upon further
examination it is far from clear that it is. Let me begin by citing two versions of such a
claim that can be found in two interesting and influential books that have appeared
recently.
David Pears writes in his The False Prison that the theory advanced in the Tractatus
belongs to a type that has had a long vogue, which is "that the world imposes a fixed
structure on our thought". 4 How does the world 'impose' the structure? Pears explains that
the Tractarian view is "approximately Aristotelian". Logic is immanent in the language
with which we speak about the world from the very beginning. Unlike a Platonic view
which seeks for the source ofthe truths of logic in the unchanging world of forms, it treats
logic instead as "a peculiar extract from the results of exploring the one and only world

21
of facts". 5 This almost suggests that we Iook for traces of logical truths in the world as we
Iook for the traces of contingent truths, e.g. the warming of the atmosphere. But when we
explore the world, don 't we already have a language which has its Iogic? In what way
would any fact we discover in the world change our mind about the structure or logic of
our language and thoughts? After exploring the world we may come to decide that the
world is warming up orthat it is not. We may discover that this is connected with the use
of aerosol containers. What kinds of facts in the world give particular information about
logic to us? Is it clues about the way we think that the exploration in the world is supposed
to give us? But there is no discussion of the makings of the human mind or of its
relationship to things in the world in any of Wittgenstein's early works.
In other passages of The False Prison, what is suggested is some direct influence of
reality on the logical syntax of language. Professor Pears writes of the Tractatus, "Attach
a name to an object, and the intrinsic nature of the object will immediately take over
complete control and determine the correct use ofthe name on lateroccasions". 6 How could
an object in the real world determine the correct use of a name of it?
NormanMaleolm has also written that, according to his interpretation ofthe Tractatus,
"its theory of language presupposes such conceptions as that there is a fixed form of the
world, that there aresimple objects, and so on", 7 which, as it stands, I agree with. But I
fail to understand what kind of presuppostion is being implied, when Professor Maleolm
also writes that "The form of the world and objects are independent of language and
thought" 8 , and moreover that the name of an object "has that particular syntax because of
the nature ofthe object for which it deputizes", and that "the syntax ofthe name is derived
from the object" 9 (my italics). In what way can the rules of language be derived from the
nature of things in the world? Who does the deriving? In what way can the world impose
itself on the structure of thought? Theseare my questions today. (Tobe fair, it must be
remarked that neither Norman Maleolm nor David Pears seem to think that, strictly
speaking, the theory they ascribe to the Tractatus is at all defensible. They believe that
Wittgenstein made a dramatic change in his views on the matter in his later years,
precisely because the early positionwas so wrong. Yetitappears that they believe that the
view they ascribe to early Wittgenstein makes sense, whereas I am not clear whether it
does. On the other hand, I think that the Tractatus view is quite different but not absurd,
and merits being taken seriously, despite the fact that there are auxiliary assumptions that
cause difficulties, and there are other related but separable theses that are wrong, as
Wittgenstein hirnself came to remark.
Moreover the Tractatus does not suggest that there is any influence ofthe actual world
on our logic. Quite the contrary. As Professor Pears himselfwrites at some length,Wittgenstein
seems to be committed to the autonomy of Logic. "Logic must take care of itself' (Die
Logik muß für sich selber sorgen. 5.4 73). Wittgenstein 's position on this problern is
actually quite uncompromising. Anything thinkable, possible or actual, can only be given
logically coherently, but "lt is clear", he says, that" logic has nothing to do with whether
the world is like this or not." (Es ist aber klar, daß die Logik nichts mit der Frage zu
schaffen hat, ob unsere Welt wirklich so ist, oder nicht. 6.1233). If there is any relation
between the world and logic of one moulding the other, the direction seems to be the
reverse. It is not the essence of things in the world that shapes logic, it is the logical form
of propositions that gives the essence of the world. "To give the essence of proposition
means to give the essence of all description, therefore the essence of the world" (My
italics. Das Wesen des Satzes angeben, heißt, das Wesen aller Beschreibung angeben, also
das Wesen der Welt. 5.4711 ). We must first try to see ifwe can make sense of such a claim
before we turn it upside down.

22
2. Logical Syntax
How does one individuate syntax? If "Augustine" and "Ockham" are both proper
names of human beings, then in the sentence "Augustine is converted" or "Ockham is
excommunicated" we would normally think of the names as playing the same syntactical
role. They have the same syntax. Obviously they do not contribute in the same way to the
truth conditions of the sentences in which they occur, because they designate different
human beings. Their semantic rules are different. But unless we allow words that des-
ignate different things, or words that ascribe different properties to have the same syntax,
then every non-synonymous word would have a different syntax, and syntax would
become a thin concept. When the names follow the same grammatical rules in sentence
construction and support the deduction of sentences of the same form, we normally
consider them to have the same syntax.
What does Norman Maleolm understand by the syntax of a name? In his discussion of
McGuiness, Maleolm writes, "I presume that by the semantic role of a name he means its
logical syntax. " 10 This is surely an idiosyncratic way of understanding the relation
between semantics and syntax. Don 't "Augustine" and "Ockham" have the same syntax
in the sentences quoted earlier? If I insert "England" in the place of "Ockham" in the
above sentence, doesn 't the inserted name play the same syntactical role as the name it
replaced, despite the fact that it is the name of a country? Equating syntax and semantics
would also render incomprehensible Wittgenstein 's claim that "in logical syntax the
reference (Bedeutung) of a sign ought never to play a role: it must admit of being
established without mention being thereby made of the reference of a sign." 3.33.
Wittgenstein thought that numerals like "3" did not designate objects, since numbers
were not abstract objects but powers of operations. In such a case the syntax of numerals
may be fundamentally different from that of other names. If this is so it is not because
numerals and personal names stand for different kind of objects but rather because the
lauer stand for things and the former do not. (We will see later why Wittgenstein did not
think, as Frege did, that if we think of such abstract things as powers of operations, we are
nevertheless thinking of objects, albeit abstract objects.)
"Syntax" is not an expression that Wittgenstein uses on its own in the Tractatus. He
speaks of logical syntactic application (logisch-syntaktische Verwendung 3.327) and
"logical syntax" ( 3.325, 3.33, 3.334, 3.344 and 6.124 ). From the passagesthat follow,
it seems clear that what he means by logical syntax has, for example, to do with whether
a sign expresses a first-order function (i.e. a function that takes names as arguments), a
second-order function, or whether it is a name. One could call it the problern of the kind
of semantic role the signs play. Butthis has to do with roles identified in very general
ways. lt is very important, as Maleolm hirnself mentions, that descriptions of logical
syntax refer to a class of expressions and are abstract in character. I would add that more
important is the fact that it has to do with classes of expressions in the context of sentences.
As Norman Maleolm points out, a typical account of logical syntax in the sense under-
stood by Wittgenstein is Russell 's formal analysis of definite descriptions. 11 By under-
standing how adefinite description like "The king of France" is to be analysed when it
occurs in a sentence, we arenot able to understand who the particular person is who is the
king of France, if indeed there is one, at a given moment. Grasping the logical syntax of
a name in no way teils us the identity of the object that the name designates. This is a
question of particular conventional assignment, and is a question of semantics.
There is indeed a specially close connection between syntax and semantics in Wittgenstein,
since he was weil aware that there is no fool proof formal characteristic of a sentence of
naturallanguage that teils us that it is well-formed, and shows us what its logical syntax

23
is. "Frege says every well-formed, sentence must have sense, and I say: every possible
proposition is well-formed, and if it has no sense, this can only be because we have given
no reference (Bedeutung) to some of its constituent parts." (5.4733) We see the logical
syntax only by grasping the semantics, which in turn is often revealed through the patterns
of inference. For example, no purely formalfeatureteils us that "Socrates is identical."
is ill-formed. Only by understanding the semantics of "is identical", do we realise that it
is ofthe form "x is identical with y", and hence that since wehavenot given any reference
to "is identical" as a property word, the sentence is ill-formed. (Ibid.) If we do understand
a sentence then we understand how each word in it signifies (bezeichnet), i.e. we
understand the semantic role of each ofthem, andin doing this we grasp the logical syntax
of each expression.
This does not imply, however, that words that have different meaning (Bedeutung) and
hence have different semantic roles always have different syntax, orthat every different
name has a different syntax just because each names a different object, as Maleolm seems
to suggest. Certainly I do not subscribe to the view (which he ascribes to me) that "when
the logical syntax of a name is settled, then the object that corresponds to the name will
be settled." To understand that an expression is used as a name is already to grasp its
logical syntax, i.e., that it stands for an object of some kind. In addition, as we will see
later, every proposition is given in a logical space, and therefore to understand a propo-
sition involves understanding the internal properties of the objects it is about, i.e., the
necessary features that any object ofthat kind must have. "A spatial object must lie in
infinite space, a speck in a visual field must have colour, a tone must have pitch ... ".
(2.0131) The logical syntax governing the set of propositions about objects of each kind
will reflect these features. But understanding this will not settle the identity of the
particular object: it will not tell us which physical point, or which colour, or which tone
it is. Thus Maleolm and others are quite right to criticize anyone (if there were such a
person) who claims that settling the syntax gives one the identity of the object.
Let us come to the positive thesis that is asserted by those who ascribe a realistic (and
moreover a factual or Aristotelean) basis to logical syntax. Let us think what it could be
for a name to have its syntax because ofthe nature of the object which it deputises. Syntax
is a convention.lt is constituted by rules ofuse that are conventionally determined. Syntax
which govern expressions do not spontaneously become one way or another because of
the nature of objects which the expressions designate or express. Syntax has no natural
existence, it comes into existence only because of rule following activities of human
beings. The very same colour of the sun may be what corresponds to the attributive
adjective in "the red sun is sinking fast", or the verbin "The sky reddens more and more",
or the noun in "The redness of the sky is changing" although these words have different
syntax.
Think for the moment of the syntax of names, which is what Maleolm discusses. Let
us suppose that the names of two kinds of objects, a shape and a particle, have different
logical syntax. Surely neither shape nor particle can bring about the rules of syntax of any
language. Could the claim then be that, because of the nature of objects, human beings are
made to choose syntax of a certain kind, or find themselves using language with such a
syntax? What is at issue cannot be a causal hypothesis about the mental habits of language
users, which is not only completely alien to what Wittgenstein thought was his philo-
sophical problem, it assumes an implausible causal link between natural properties of
things and the human ability to talk about them in certain ways. In addition, in the
Philosophical Remarks written in 1930, the first work which he wrote after he came back
to philosophy, Wittgenstein goes out of the way to pointout the incoherence of claiming

24
that grammatical conventions are derived from the nature of things. And the passage is
clearly not a critique ofthe Tractarian view but as is clear from the lines from the Tractatus
quoted earlier, it is a development of what was already claimed in it.

If I were able to describe the point of grammatical conventions by saying that they
are made necessary by (say) certain properties of colours, then that would make the
conventions superfluous, since in that case I would have been able to say precisely
that which the conventions exclude me saying. Conversely if the conventions were
necessary, i.e., if certain combinations of words had tobe excluded as nonsensical,
then for that very reason I cannot refer to a property of colours that make the
conventions necessary, since it would then be conceivable that the colours should
not have this property, and that would be expressable only by violating the con-
vention. (Philosophical Remarks I ,4)

Wittgenstein's point is surely that if the properlies of objects from which the logical
syntax are said to "derive" are describable independently of the logical syntax, then the
conventions of logical syntax are redundant or unnecessary. On the other hand, if the
properties cannot be described independently of the logical syntax, the latter being
conceived as necessary, then we cannot at the same time claim that it comes from a
particular set of properlies of objects. The reason being that in that case, we would be
supposing that had the properties of the objects been different (which being a contingent
fact is thinkable), we would not have the logical syntax we do have, contradicting the
supposition that it is necessary.
Now it is perfectly true that if human beings did not choose logical syntax with certain
features, they would fail to talk about things of certain kinds (whether actual or possible).
'A' and 'B' would not be names of colours if the comparative "is darker than" could not
meaningfully stand between them. That this is so is not just up to our decision, as colours
are not fictions and they stand in the relation of darker or lighter to each other. It would
be however misleading to describe this fact as the language having these syntactical
features because of the nature of colours. Having these syntactical features is a consequence
of the semantic features, a consequence of the fact that this piece of arbitrari ly chosen sign
has a fixed significant use, and this constitutes the language 's beingabout colours. If we
successfully talk about colours in the world and communicate about the regularities ofthis
particular kind of external phenomena, our talk will be true or false because of the way
the nature of colours is. But language must have a certain syntax in ordertothink or say
anything true or false at all.

3. Syntax and Objects


Debate has been pursued about the objects spoken of by the early Wittgenstein, both
in the Tractatus andin the Notebooks. The features he ascribed to them, such as their being
simple and fixed and independent of what is the case have given them an aura of mystery.
The fact that Wittgenstein criticized some of the assumptions implicit in his early talk of
objects has led commentators to make them them into things that are farthest removed
from the objects discussed in the Philosophicallnvestigations. Our concern here is to
show how the notion of object is defined by logical syntax and how this dependence of
the Tractarian notion of objects on syntax of expressions that stand for them stems to a
great extent from Frege 's notion of object ( when Frege distinguished objects from
concepts). This is so despite the fact that Wittgenstein disagreed with Frege about many
points conceming the prob lern. For both of them objects are what are designated by the
arguments of first-order propositional functions. They are what the propositions are

25
about. ('Thus a proposJtiOn "fa" shows that in its sense the object a occurs, two
propositions "fa" and "ga" that they are about the same object' Tractatus 4.1211.) As
Wittgenstein wrote in the appendix of his Philosophica/ Grammarin 1931, critically re-
flecting on the notions of object and concepts used by Frege and Russell (and his early
self), "or one can say: concept and object are the same as predicate and subject. The
subject-predicate form is one ofthe forms of expression that occur in human languages .... " 13
It is, as we would say, a syntactical form.
That is why it is not right to ask questions of the kind, "Is an object a physical thing or
a sense data?" any more than to ask "Is a subject of a proposition a physical thing or a sense
data?" Obviously it could be either! It is also just as wrong to ask, "Is an object a particular
or a universal?" as it is mistaken to ask "Is a subject a particular or a universal?". As Frege
indicated in his famous avowal "Der Begriff Pferd ist kein Begriff' 1\ the consequence
of our using concept and object as categories corresponding to logical syntax isthat when
we talkorthink about a universal, the universal is an object, no less so than when we talk
about a particular the particular is an object. Abstract objects are objects nevertheless.
When we think about them they are the objects that constitute the subject matter of our
thought. 15
The Tractarian object, then, like Frege 's is a correlate of the propositional context of the
singular term expressing the thought about it. It is, in this sense, a category dependent on
logical syntax. One may weil query, as some have done, whether the notion of such a syntax-
dependent object is ultimately coherent. But as Dummett,Wright and others have argued,
there is no doubt that the Fregean "Gegenstand" is such a category, and so, I insist, is the
"Gegenstand" in the Tractatus. Being an object is, as 4.126 says, a formal concept, tobe
carefully distinguished from proper concepts. What kindofthing it is cannot be expressed
by a (propositional) function of our (object) language. It is not a kindofthing at all.
Though Frege already pointed out that the logical syntax of sentences can be different
from their apparent syntactical form, 16 Wittgenstein believed objects depend even less on
the surface syntax of sentences. This does not however make objects into metaphysical
entities identifiable independently of language, but merely make them depend on a
presumed reallogical syntax of the language we use, which we grasp only by understand-
ing the truth condition of sentences and by giving them the right logical analysis.
Tractatus, like Russell, not only makes a very clear distinction between names and
definite descriptions, but takes ordinary names of our common language, nottobe playing
the Iogical syntax of singular terms i.e., arguments of first order propositional functions.
At one point, Wittgenstein, like Russell, assumed that things that can satisfy a definite
description and therefore correspond to a variable bound by adefinite description cannot,
in Iogical rigour be named. They are logically speaking, complexes, and "a complex can
only be given by its description". (3.24) He seems to have assumed also the converse that
because "a name cannot be analysed further by any definition"(3.26) and "is a primitive
sign" (Ibid .. ), objects that have (logically proper) names, cannot be denoted by definite
description. "Objects I can only name" (3.221 ).
This pair of assumptions, which I think are clearly mistaken, were ones about which
he already had doubts in the period ofhis Notebooks ofl914-l5, and which he was to reject
later. Moreover they co-exist in the Tractatus with what I think is the following correct
view: namely that although, in principle, objects can be variously described by fully
generalized propositions, and we can introduce names for them after we pick them up (in
a given context) by such quantified general propositions (5.526); this does not make
names into abbreviations of definite descriptions, or show they have definite descriptions
as their sense. This is clearly the case with ordinary names. The fact that I pick out the

26
bright white star above me on a Summer night by a general description "the star which
shines above the Church spire", and learn to call it Vega, does not make "Vega" an
abbreviation of this general description. So long as we do not adhere to the view that the
sense ofnames can be given by definite descriptions, we can coherently both claim a) that
everything can be described by general propositions, and b) that names are simple and
cannot be further analysed. To claim both need not Iead one to the (mistaken) view that
simple symbols stand for simple entities, orthat a simple semantic relation can only hold
between simple signs and simple objects. It is nevertheless easy to see why Wittgenstein
had difficulties finding an example of an object, given that he held the view that objects
can only be named. It was the aposteriori difficulty in finding something that could not
be given by a definite description.
The mistake, common to Russell and Wittgenstein, that a simple semantic relation can
hold only between simple signs and simple objects appears to come from their unwarran-
ted beliefthat a theory of description type analysis of logical complexes breaks down the
kind of entities one is talking about. Suppose the name 'Piccadilly' was a concealed
definite description, as Russe II suggested. For example, suppose "' Piccadilly' is crowded"
is to be analysed as "There is an x such that x runs between Hyde Park Corner and
Piccadilly Circus, and is f ..... , and no other y different from x runs between Hyde Park
Corner and Piccadilly Circus, and is f ..... , and x is crowded" The x still ranges over
streets, the very kind of entity that was named 'Piccadilly'. The constituents of the new
proposition have not changed into buildings or into bricks or pavements. Logical analysis
does not correspond to any breaking down of entities.
Not surprisingly when Russell tries to show the breaking down of complexes into
constituent simples, he therefore does not use his standard examples of logical analysis,
i.e. his favourite examples of definite descriptions or contextual definitions.(e.g. the King
of France or the differential d/dx). He uses physical objects and sense data of them, since
as we know from Berkeley, it is possible, although wrong, to believe in this case that the
logical analysis ofthe description corresponds to the breaking down ofthe complex object
into simples which "make it up". It is not convincing to us that what appear tobe names
of things could be abbreviations for descriptions giving particular sequences of sense
data, since no two persons have the same sequence of sense data of the same object.
Moreover, since there is no trace at all in the Tractatus of any such claim, we will just
remind ourselves that the Tractatus gives no example of breaking down of entities.
Wittgenstein writes that "A proposition about a complex standsinan internal relation
to a proposition about its constituent part" 3.24., but although this is true if "complex"
means fact, it is false, as Wittgenstein acknowledged later, if"complex" means a complex
thing. The fact that Wittgenstein was thinking of a Russellian definite description analysis
seems indubitable from the next paragraph, where he says "the proposition in which there
is mention of a complex, if this does not exist, becomes not nonsense but simply false",
and this is a possible position to adopt. But since an object denoted by a definite de-
scription is not made up of the properties or objects referred to in the definite description,
it simply is not true that "Every Statement about complexes can be analysed into a
Statement about their constituent parts, and into those propositions which completely
describe the complexes" (2.020 I). The word 'France' is a constituent of the description
'The King ofFrance', but Franceis hardly a constituent of anyone who happenstobe king
ofFrance.
The confusing use of"complex" which is neither about language nor about a thing but
about a hybrid, surely comes from Russell's "denoting complex" of his early version of
definite descriptions in the Principles of Mathematics.

27
4. Existence external to language and independent of language
If objects are categories merely corresponding to the logical syntax of sentences, would
it stop them from being anything "extra-linguistic"? Well, unless we are talking or
thinking about words, objects aren't linguistic entities. The proposition "Red is brighter
than blue" is about colours, the proposition "Rimbaud left France" about a human being
and a country, not about words. Wittgenstein claimed that even when we think about
words or propositions, we cannot think about the proposition with which we are thinking.
("No proposition can say anything about itself because the propositional sign cannot be
contained in itself', Tractatus 3.332.) Whether we agree with Wittgenstein or not, it is
evident that in most cases, what our thoughts are about, i.e., the objects, are extra-
linguistic. We can have true or false thoughts about them. And our thoughts by themselves
don't make the thoughts true.
Are Wittgenstein's objects then independent of language as the above defenders of
realism concerning logic claim? No, if one understands 'independent' in the mostnatural
way. Here, it seems to methat there is after all an important difference between Tractarian
objects and those of Frege, from which they descended. For Frege, every concept, i.e.,
what is referred to (bedeutet) by any propositional function, had, in principle, a universal
domain. Given a concept one can ask of any object whether it falls under the concept or
not. This suggests, that objects that belong to the universal domain can be individuated
independently of any concept, or perhaps more correctly, every object has already a
unique basic sortal under which it falls, such that the universe is a set of all such objects
and of sets of them.
Wittgenstein, on the other band, never believed in a universal domain. He believed
rather that every function sign (and hence any propositional function sign) "already
contains the inverse-irnage (Urbild) of its argument". (3.333) I take this to mean that every
propositional function sign, or predicate expression has adefinite domain of argument. 17
This implies also that no object can be individuated outside of some such domain.
Above all, Wittgenstein's objects of his early period were reached through logical
analysis of complex propositions, and how they are individuated can only be grasped after
an analysis of something linguistically given. "But it also seems certain", he writes in the
Notebooks ofMay 24, 1915, "that we do not infer the existence of simple objects from the
existence of particular simple objects, but rather know them- by description, as it were
- as the end-product of analysis, by means of a process that leads to them". If any object
with its criteria of individuation is attained in this way, then they arenot independent of
language in the following sense. Objects cannot be individuated by some language-free
method such as pointing without complementary verbal accompaniment. What kind of
thing the object is has to be given verbally, rather than through some raw direct experi-
ence. The difference between the early and the later Wittgenstein lies not in the early
Wittgenstein's positing of a language-independent realm of objects. lt lies rather in the
later Wittgenstein' s objects' being dependent on more than just language.
Quite independently of Wittgenstein, I fail to understand what kind of link between the
world and logical syntax is being asserted when it is claimed that the logical behaviour
of an expression is one way or another "because" of the nature of objects in reality. lt is
even more difficult to understand what it is for the world to force the particular kind of
logic we have on us. When David Pears says that "the ultimate structure of reality forces
us to speak a language that generates tautologies", what does he mean? Could we even
imagine how different a world would have been that "forced" on us a logic that did not
use tautologies? Could there be a language with logical connectives, which could not
produce a molecular proposition which would be true for all interpretations of its

28
component elementary propositions? There is even a prior simplerquestion. How does the
world force the use of one kind of language rather than another, or the use of any language,
for that matter?
What Wittgenstein intends to say is surely quite different. He claims : "it is clear that
something about the world must be indicated by the fact that certain combination of
symbols- whose essence involves the possession of a determinate character- are tauto-
logies" 6.124. This sentence is a continuation of a passage in which Wittgenstein claims
that propositions of logic have no subject matter, that they represent the scaffolding ofthe
world, that "they presuppose that names have reference (Bedeutung) and elementary
propositions sense; and that is their connection with the world" (my italics). In other
words there are no logical objects, logical properties, or logical structure that the
propositions of logic are about, and which can be found in the world as tables, colours or
structures of machines can be. The only connection propositions of logic have with the
world isthat the former show various schema of elementary propositions linked by logical
connectives that are always true, and it is presupposed that these elementary propositions
have things in the world as their subject matter. Wittgenstein is saying that what these
tautologies, i.e. propositions of logic, indicate about the world can at most be only that.
By expressing these tautologies we arenot expressing anything about logic that we find
in the world or anything we could extract from exploring facts. He concludes the very long
passage with the following sentences "In logic the nature of the essentially necessary
signs speaks for itself. If we know the logical syntax of any sign-language, then we have
already been given all the propositions of logic". This can surely not be expressedas the
view that the ultimate structure of reality forces us to speak a language that generates
tautologies. On the contrary, it says that the logical syntax of any sign-language commits
us to all the tautologies that comes with it.

5. The Mirrar Analogy


It may be thought that Wittgenstein' s mirror analogy says that as any object reflected
in a mirror forces the mirror imagetobe of a certain shape, (given of course the properties
ofthe surface ofthe mirror), the world forces our language to have a certain logical syntax.
Analogies are always difficult to assess, especially philosophical analogies; but it seems
to me that the mirror analogy in the Tractatus seems particularly difficult to interprete.
Norman Maleolm has written, for example, in his explanation of the Tractatus that
"language can have sense only if it mirrors the fixed form of the world, which consists of
the objects" a thought that has been echoed in many other works on the Tractatus. On the
surface Malcolm's passage suggests that we can identify a fixed form of the world
independently of language, and then explain our language 's having sense by the fact that
it mirrors this unchanging form of the world. The verb "mirrors" is presumably to be
understood as meaning share the form of the world as a result of some influence from it.
This seems tobe a conflation of what Kant called "Transcendental Realism", an attempt
to explain the univeral features of our experience by the nature of things as they are in
themselves, and psychologism or the confusing of the empirical origin of our ideas with
the objective characterisation ofthem. 19 The first goes against 5.4 71 quoted earlier where
Wittgenstein claims that to give the essence of proposition is to give the essence of the
world, and the second goes against his disavowal of any interest in epistemology.
It is clear, however, when the mirror analogy is introduced in 4.121, that the mirror is
language (die Sprache) and, hence, each proposition, and what is mirrored is logical form,
which language and reality share. 5.511 unequivocally says that logic is the mirror, the
point being, I take it, that we see reality only as it is mirrored, as it is mirrored in logical

29
space. Now if this were an empirical hypothesis, and if it were being claimed that the
notion of mirror had been obtained by reflecting on the relation between language and the
world, then it would be an unjustified claim. If one cannot identify the mirrar and mirrored
objects separately, one has no way of grasping what is shared or what is not shared by the
two. Wittgenstein, however, is using the notion of mirrar which we have obtained from
our experiences in the world, where we do identify mirrors and things mirrored independ-
ently of the mirrar image. He then uses this notion of mirrar image to express something
which is not a contingent empirical fact, but something which is presumed to be
unsayable. In short, he is using "mirror", as a, strictly speaking, illegitimate metaphor.
I take it that what he is expressing by this metaphor is the very same fact which he
declared early on in 1.13, i.e., that facts in logical space are the world. He makes this point
clear in 2.013 "Everything is, as it werein a space of possible state of affairs. I canthink
of this space as empty, but not of the thing without the space." This should not, I would
suggest, be taken to mean that there may be objects without there being any state-of-
affairs or any world. 20 What it is saying is rather that no fact is necessary and that any fact
might have not obtained: the logical space might have been empty. (Recall that for
Wittgenstein a proposition and its denial do not determine the same logical space. "The
denying proposition determines a logical place other than does the proposition de-
nied."4.0641-b) He is also saying that, nevertheless, we cannot think of any object except
in terms of some possible fact that could be true or false of it. Objects are given in the
logical space of facts. The mirror metaphor then, in no way supports the view that logical
syntax is derived from, or is caused by the nature of objects which exist independently of
language.
There is however one very difficult aspect of the view expressed by the Tractatus
which, it seems to me, makes reality impinge on our thought and language in a rather direct
way. This is the problern of the possible plurality of objects of the same kind. Tractatus
denies the identity of indiscernibles. Wittgenstein objects to Russell's definition of "="
(i.e., that "a=b" iff a has all and only the properties that b has). Wittgenstein believes that
even if the proposition that two objects have all their properties in common is never true,
it has sense, whereas it won 't if we adopt Russen 's definition. (5.5302) This means that
logically speaking it is always possible to have multiple objects with identical properties.
How can we then determine which ofthese objects we are referring to? Do we have to use
indexical means to individuate things spatio-temporally as Strawson and Tugendhat have
suggested?
Such a view would make spatio-temporal objects which are at least material (whatever
else they may also be) the only basic kind of objects. This may well be true, but there is
no evidence that the Tractatus defended that view and, there are much indications in it to
the contrary. Logical analysis Ieads to states of affairs of objects of quite different
categories, each with its set of distinct internal properties. Depending on what kind of
object it is, its principle of individuation would be different. lt may be space-time
location, it may not be.
1t is, at the same time, quite clear that Wittgenstein believed that there is, in principle,
a plurality of objects of every kind. He suggests, for example, that the identity of an object
should be expressed not by using the sign for identity, but by having only one name for
each object, and that the [numerical] difference of objects should be expressed by the
difference of signs that stand for them: not only in the case of names or constants but in
the case of variables. 21 The difference of the signs for the variable and of the constants are
to show the difference of objects signified. This may lead us to one primitive fact about
the external world, one fact which indicates its language independent character. It is the

30
following: however far we analyse our propositions and particularise our description of
things by the use of generat terms, there is always a possibility of having more than one
thing that falls under the description. We may not be able to distinguish them by further
use of generat terms (even if in principle they could be).
Would we ever be in a position to claim that there are a plurality of instantiations even
if we cannot distinguish between them? I once thought that Wittgenstein would be led to
hold the position that if one cannot distinguish between different instantiations, there
would be no point in claiming that there be more than one. I now think that I was probably
wrong. We may be able to grasp the plurality of instantiations of these predicates without
being able to distinguish between them. We may just be able to show their numerical
difference by our choice of different variable signs. The plurality of objects of a given
kind could be a primitive fact which cannot be explained further by generat terms. Of
course if things can be individuated there must be a criterion of individuation. We may
grasp it in understanding what kind of object it isthat we are concerned with, and yet may
not be able to articulate the criterion.
Apart from making the negative point of denying the identity of indiscernibh:s,
Wittgenstein does not develope the point in any detailed positive way in the Tractatus. Could
we grasp the criterion of individuation of objects of some kind without beingable to have
enough information to apply it? Much more has to be said to make the idea precise, but
it is a problern that is troubling and not yet clarified.

6. Conc/usion
What can we conclude from the preceding reflections? Logical propositions have no
subject matter that can be found in the world. They indicate what follows from the
language which we have, and whatever link there is to the world is established at the Ievel
of contingent elementary propositions, or if not, at the Ievel of seeming elementary
propositions which can be logically analysed further. Our language gives the essence of
description, and hence of whatever is describable, of which the world is one. The structure
of language cannot be given naturalistic explanations. We cannot, using our language,
refer to a property of an object, and say that the logical syntax of the language we use to
speak of the object derives from it.
We have seen that 'object' is a logical category for Wittgenstein: it comes to us only
through the logical syntax of propositions, and we cannot prejudge or proclaim that there
is a common criterion of individuation for all objects of whatever sort. It makes no sense
to ask whether all objects are physical points or whether all objects share the same
criterion of individuation. Westart with all our varied and complex thoughts and written
or spoken propositions, already given with their logical syntax, and project an end-point
of their analysis. There is a good possibility that there are as many kinds of simple objects
as there are categories of complex facts. The less we preclude, the more chance there is
that we can explain the source of the sense of the multifarious thoughts and propositions
we have. In addition to there being objects of various categories, we can in principle,
Witttgenstein suggests, understand what it is for there to be multiple objects of a given
sort, even when we cannot as a matter of fact distinguish bertween them. This may
indicate the independence of the world from language in one particular sense, but much
more has to be said about this.
As far as logical syntax is concerned, we can be realists only in the following sense.
The truth or falsity of our thoughts about the world comes from how the world is. This
means that since thoughts, i.e., propositions with sense, have logical syntax, any true
description of how the world is comes with logical syntax. The states of affairs we find

31
in the real world, then, are structured following the logical syntax of thoughts.
Unlike the logical syntax of contingent propositions, logical propositions or tauto-
logies have no corresponding facts in the world, and hence their logical structure has no
counterpart in the world. They cannot therefore derive from any structure in the world. On
the contrary, it is Wittgenstein's view that they arise entirely from the logical properties
of symbols. (6.124)
Now the Tractatus may be wrong about this. For example, whether we adopt classic
negation and disjunction or whether we adopt intuitionistic negation and disjunction may
be related to how the world is. Dummett has argued as such in his discussions of
dispositional properties such as courage. Whereas the Tractatus obviously thought that
those logical connectives were necessarily to be understood in a classical way, i.e., in a
way in which the principle of excluded middle reigns. Certainly, how we understand the
logical connectives would affect what would be a tautology.
Yet even if how the world is were to affect our choice of the reading of logical
connectives like disjunction and negation, and hence of the structure of tautologies, it is
not the case that we are "forced by one and the only world to use a language that generates
tautologies' 22 • It makes no sense to say that had the world been that way, we would not
have used logical connectives whereas the world being this way we do. Wittgenstein is
surely right to claim that tautologies follow from the nature ofthese symbols themselves
i.e., the logical connectives. 23

Notes

1 Perhaps I should say that ofthe exegetic works on the Tractatus recently published, it is Peter
Carruther's Semanti es ofthe Tractatus which defends a reading of the relevant passages of
the Tractatus closest to my own. Naturally there are some interpretations of Dr. Carruthers
with which I find myself in disagreement, the most important one being his introduction of
the concept of 'ideolect' to characterize both Frege 's and Wittgenstein 's semantics.
2 They have, of course, meaningful use, (sinnvollen Gebrauch) 3.326 i.e., they have a use to
make sentences with sense, but use in the Tractatus is not by itself sense: sense is something
that a sentence has in virtue of its saying something.
3 I should perhaps mention here that as I have argued in "Die Beziehung zwischen Welt und
Sprache" in Wittgenstein in Focus, ed. McGuinness and Haller, 1989, I believe it is important
to understand that Wittgenstein has inherited Frege 's distinction of"Sinn" and "Bedeutung"
in his early works. We cannot otherwise understand the systematic distinction he makes of
the use ofthe two words. We would also fail to understand completely what his disagreement
with Frege is, when he says against him that only sentences [and not constituent words] have
sense (3.3), and also that sentences do not have reference. The relation of the extension and
intension of words is a complex one. But surely the fact that two people disagree about the
extension of a word does not by itself prove that they understand different things by the
word. Two people may understand exactly the same thing by "reliable" and may disagree as
to who is reliable and who is not.
4 David Pears, The Fa/se Prison,Vol. 2, p. 206.
5 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 24.
6 Ibid., p. 10.
7 Norman Malcolm, Nothing is Hidden, p. 24.
8 lbid., p. 20.

32
9 Ibid,. p. 27.
10 lbid., p. 31.
II Ibid., p. 26.
12 What Wittgenstein says here implies something very close to what Gareth Evans was to

develope half a century later as "lnterpretational Semantics" in his Variety of Reference


Chapt. I.
11 Philosophica/ Grammar, Appendix 2 "Concept and Object, Property and Substrate".
14 Frege, "Über Begriff und Gegenstand", in Nachgelassene Schriften, Bd.I.

15 As I have argued in "Die Beziehung zwischen Welt und Sprache' in Wittgenstein in F ocus

edit. by R. Hallerand J. Schulte, Amsterdam, 1989, this means that in the proposition "This
colour is darker than that colour", the colours, i.e., the properlies one is talking about, are
objects, but the relational property of one being darker than the other which is ascribed to
the colours is not an object in the context of this proposition. Whereas in the proposition
"One being darker than the other is a transitive relation" the relation of being darker than
is an object, but the relational property of being a transitive relation is not.
16 This is weil documented and discussed in Chapter I of Henrik Yisser, Logic·a/ Analysis and

Ontological Reconstruction, Doctorat thesis presented to the Catholic University of Brabant,


April 1987 ,which I was shown in this Kirchberg conference. See especially p. 22.
17 "Urbild" which is usually translated "prototype", surely is used here in the mathematical

sense of "inverse image". I was helped in clarifying my reading of this passage by discus-
sions with Professor Scheibe.
18 David Pears, The Fa/se Prison, Yol. I, p. 28.

19 This combination is called "Noumenalism" by Graham Bird in his Kant' s Theory of K now-

/edge, 1962.
20 Maleolm suggests this in p. 23-24 of his work quoted above.

21 J. Hintikka has constructed in 1959 a logic corresponding to this demand of the Tractatus.

22 David Pears, The Fa/se Prison, p. 30.


21 I would like to thank Leigh Cauman of Columbia University for helping me clarify my Eng-

lish. I would also like to share with readers some remarks on this paper made by Norm an
Maleolm of whose death on August 5th., 1990, I have Iearnt with great sadness. I had sent
a copy ofthis to him late last year. I received a reply dated Feb. I, 1990, in which he responds
to some of the things I have said. I feel that I should make some of the relevant passages
public, since NormanMaleolm is no Ionger here to rebut me with his pensive expression and
occasional grin.

February I. I990
Dear Hide:

I thank youfor sending me a copy ofyour paper on the Tractatus. Your paper is very acute.
I agree with your finding it incomprehensible that.for example. the syntax of a name shou/d
be derivedfrom the nature of the object for which it deputizes (p. 3)- although I stillthink
that this is the view of the Tractatus.
Speaking ofPears and myse/fyou say, on the one hand, that they do not seem tothinkthat
the position of the Tractatus is defensible; but. on the other hand, it appears that they believe
that the view they ascribe to the Tractatus makes sense. (p. 3) I won't say anything about
Pears, since I have not read his book. But certainly I myselfdid not hold both that the position
of the Tractatus 'is not defensible' and yet 'makes sense'. I think I made it c/ear that I
believed that this position is mistaken. I would say that it 'makes sense' only in this way-
that.for example. the notion that there is a fixed form of the world, a fixed totality of /ogicai
possihilities, is highly attractive to the thinking of many philosophers and /ogicians.
Of course that fixed form of the world is comp/etely a priori. The actua/ wor/d is not. I

33
certainly agree with you that the Tractatus 'does not suggest that there is any influence of
the actual world on our /ogic' (p. 3). You criticise mefor having an idiosyncratic view of
the re/ation between semantics and syntax. (p.4) Actually,l have no view at al/, since I have
never understood the term 'semantics' or the expression 'the semantic rote ofa name' .I was
only trying to figure out what McGuinness meant by this /atter expression. I know that
'semantics' is supposed to have something vaguely to do with 'meaning' .lfound McGuinness' s
remarks veryobscure, and had to try to interpret them: and I may have gone wrong. He said
that 'Use determines reference in the Tractatus'; and he also seemed to want to say that
'reference is defined solely in terms of semantic rote'. I took him to be holding that which
object a particular name designates is to be found out so/ely by seeing how that name is
employed in sentences. Now how a name is employed in sentences,l would have thought was
the 'logical syntax' ofthe name. So it looked to methat by 'the semantic rote' of a name,
McGuinness meant its 'logical syntax' .I may have guessedwrong: which can happen when
the obscurity of the language used forces one to guess.
I am not going to reply to your paper in detai/.1 agree with most ofit, to the extent that
I understand it. Certainly I agree with your criticisms of the so-cal/ed 'real ist' position.
On the other hand, I continue to believe that the Tractatus did hold a kind of realist
position, towit: That there are objects which constitute the substance ofthe world; that the
propositions of any /anguage simply depict these possible combinations of simple objects;
that the existence ofthe objects and ofthefixedform ofthe wor/d is prior to any experience
ofhow the actual world is.
Now, according to the Tractatus, none of these things can be said. lt appears that the
Tractatus is a deeply ambiguous book.l suspect that it is a deeply inconsistent book. Butthis
may only indicate that I have failed to understand it.
[ ... ]
Love from us.
Yours,
Norman

***

34
The Tractatus Theory of Objects

EDDY M. ZEMACH
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

I: Overview
In this article I offer a new interpretation of the Tractatus' theory of Objects 1 • I maintain,
first, that in the Tractatus there is a detailed model of the Objects; second, that that model
plays a crucial role in the Tractatus, including its logic; third, that the said model is free
of contradiction. Each one of these claims, and especially the third, may so und surprising.
There is a general agreement among Wittgenstein scholars that the theory of Objects in
the Tractatus has been a failure. Wittgenstein hirnself has later said so, so perhaps we
too may dismiss it off band. Furthermore, Wittgenstein thought that the argument for the
existence of simples does not depend on what thesesimples are 2 ; so some writers (e.g.,
Hacker 3 , Winch4 ) concluded that one need not know what the Objects are to understand
the Tractatus. Others (IshiguroS, McGuinness 6 ) hold that Objects are values of dummy
names or bound variables in fully analyzed propositions, so it does not matter what they
may be 7 • I maintain the opposite view: to understand the Tractatus one must know what
is an Object's (1) content; (2)form (internal properties); and (3) external properties. One
must also understand how the Tractatus' answers the hardest objection (the problern of
color incompatibility) to that model.
Let me start with abrief overview. The Tractatus is based on radical empiricism. "The
world is my world" (5.62) 8 ; it is what I experience in life (5.621); a world is what may
appear to an observer (5.62-3). Scientific realism is false (6.371-2); laws of nature and
unobservable (constructed by science) entities are not in the world (6.343 - 6.35);
Statements that seem tobe about them are indirect descriptions of observables (6.343-
6.3431). The basic states of affairs (Sachverhalte) 9 are therefore phenomenal and con-
tingent (5.634 ). Since they consist of immediately linked Objects only (2.01, 2.0272), the
Objects must be basic phenomenal properties. The form of an Object determines with
which Objects it can be linked; a color-property can immediately link with a location-
property, but not, e.g., with a smell-property (there can be no red fragrance) 10 • Different
kinds of observers (say, humans vs. Martians) can recognize different Objects; they apply
the same logic to their different elementary propositions (5.557). We, who sense things
by color, place, time, etc., know only those Objects whose forms are our sense modalities:
spatiality, temporality, coloredness, etc. (2.0 131, 2.0251 ). The content (Inhalt) of an Object
is a simple observable property, e.g., Being-of-hue-i, Being-later-than, Being-next-to,
etc. 11 A Sachverhalt is a chain of objects that stand in a determinate relation to one another
(2.031). That relation is the structure of the Sachverhalt (2.032). If a and c are Ia and do
(sound qualities) and b the quality, later-than, then a-b-c, the state of affairs of Ia being
later than do, is distinct from the state of affairs c-b-a, of do being later than la. 12 The same
elementary propositions can be expressed (less perspicuously) by using the letter 'F' to
indicate the above manner of configuration, thus: "F(a, b, c)". Astate of affairs either
exists, or does not exist. The totality of all states of affairs is called, 'reality', (2.06 ff.),
and the totality of existing states of affairs (facts) is the world (1.1 ff.).
Objects constitute all possible worlds (2.027 ff.), i.e., all the situations that any observer
can perceive, and their forms are all possible elementary (those that cannot be reduced to
others) modes of sentience. Thus "Objects contain the possibility of all situations"
(2.014). "Empirical reality is limited by the totality of Objects" (5.5561), but one 's world

35
is limited by the Objects one can know. That is why the Iimits of one's language are the
Iimits of one 's world 13 : one 's language is based on a particular set of Elementarsaetze, i.e.,
those that consist of the names of the Objects one is acquainted with. As phenomenal
properties Objects are the unalterable elements (2.027, 2.0271) of all observable manifolds,
the substance (2.201) that is present in any world, as such (2.013, 2.022, 2.023).

II: Polemies
All prevalent readings of the Tractarus either construe all objects as particulars, or eise
as falling into two ontological categories- some are particulars and some are properties.
I shall argue, however, that no Objects can be particulars. First, Iet us consider the view
of Anseambe and Copi, followed by many others 14 , that all Objects are particulars. A
well-known problern for that view are the many texts in which Wittgenstein uses
phenomenal properties as examples of Objects, before the Tractatus 1S, in the Tractatus
(e.g., 2.0 13, 2.0251 ), and after the Tractatus, when he explains it 16 , and when he attacks
it 17 • That evidence may perhaps be dodged, but there are three decisive philosophical
objections tothat view, which I think cannot be met. First, if all Objects are particulars,
where do qualitative differences come from? States of affairs consist of Objects only
(2.0 I) and Objects are "colorless" (2.0232): they have no material properties (2.0231 ). So
how do properties such as being red, or extended, come into being? A heap of featureless
particulars is featureless, too. Such properlies do not come from the Object'sform, for
form only determines in what Sachverhalte an object can occur (2.0213, 2.0214). If
(despite 2.025 and 3.31) the Object's content is not taken into account, a Sachverhalt can
only be a mere concatenation of bare particulars. How can such concatenations be
qualitatively distinct from each other? Copi and Anseambe answer that material
properlies come from external relations between the Objects in a Sachverhalt. Butthat
requires that Objects be packed into some space-like "containers", which already have
material properties. Only then can an external relation between Objects in such a
"container" (e.g., a being above b) make up the state of affairs, a is above b. The
"containers" mustexist independently ofthe Objects that group and re-group in them. But
that contradicts the basic tenet of the Tractatus that a world consists only of facts, which
consist of immediately combined Objects, and nothing eise. (Facts are in Logical Space,
but, as we shall see, that is not some additional being; it is an arrangement of the Objects
themselves.)
The sameproblern faces other varieties ofthat view. Klemke writes: "What, then, are
(Wittgensteinian) Objects? They are metaphysical Objects- Objects which can never be
apprehended by any experience, but which nevertheless are rea1." 18 How can such things
produce the material properlies of the world? The answer is, "by configuration". But
Objects, being simple and unalterable, cannot have the material properlies that normal
objects acquire and loose. Thus a state of affairs such as a is on b can be generated by
combining the bare particulars a and b only if they are placed in space. If space is not
provided, how can the configuration ofnonspatial particulars produce spatial properties?
That problern applies to all properties, and it necessitates the postulation of entities to
supplement the ontology of Objects. But again, the Tractatus' pointisthat Sachverhalte
consist only of Objects. Goddard and Judge admit that material properlies cannot emerge
from congeries of propertyless objects, but argue that the Tractatus does not construct
facts; it only analyses the given facts, showing that they must contain simples. But then
the mystery remains: if facts cannot be constructed out of immediately linked simples 19 ,
there must exist something eise that goes into them; but that the Tractatus denies.
The second objection which faces that view is simpler, but no less destructive. Objects

36
are supposed to link into each other; but that is not possible if they are particulars.
Particulars that bang into each other, or stand in some other merely physical relation, are
not thereby made into a whole, that is distinct from any other whole. Wholes that are
bound by the elements sharing some physical property are easy to construct; any bunch
of items can be grouped into a whole in that way. Such a set of particulars is arbitrary cut
offfrom others; it has no logical status. Any particular stands in some relation to any other
particular; why then should one kind of physical relation, rather than the other, be
constitutive of a Sachverhalt? Obviously, the entire approach is wrong, for in the
Tractatus, grouping Objects into Sachverhalte is not conventional. The linking must
therefore be logical (and yet it must distinguish one possible world from another); but no
linking of particulars can be logical.
The third, and most devastating, objection to the view that Objects are particulars isthat
there is no way for particulars to constitute afact. A fact (an existing state of affairs) is
a truth-maker of one elementary proposition. A complex of objects, on the other hand,
makes true an infinite number of propositions. Ishiguro is well aware ofthat difficulty,
but she takes it to show that Wittgenstein was wrong. She says: "Wittgenstein ... failed
to distinguish between facts and complex objects ... . There are facts that are true of
complex objects, but the object, however complex it may be, is not a fact." 20 But what
Ishiguro has shown is not that Wittgenstein was confused, but that the constituents of
states of affairs cannot be particulars. They must be properties, for only a combination
of elementary properlies (e.g., Is-Red and Is-at-P) can make true exactly one elementary
proposition.
Ishiguro's own view, i.e., that Objects are instances of single properties, is truly ingenuous
and the closest of all the particularistic interpretations to the view I advocate. But then
why should a particular instantiation of a property be eternal and exist necessarily (be the
substance of all possible worlds)? We can conceive of a world in which some particular
instance of color (e.g., this wall 's whiteness) does not exist; but then two possible worlds
may have entirely different instances of white (and that goes for all Objects). Ishiguro
further holds that an object is whatever satisfies a predicate in a fully analyzed proposi-
tion. But, as Pears rightly asks, "how on this interpretation did Wittgenstein think that the
predicative expressions constituting the propositional contexts got their meaning?" 21
McGuinness answers that "thinking the sense into the proposition is nothing other than
so using the words of the sentence that their logical behavior is that of the desired
proposition" 22 • But even the later view of Wittgenstein cannot be reduced to such blunt
meaning-is-use formula 23 ; in the Tractatus, it is entirely out of place. The use of a sign
is necessarily finite, and hence cannot determine a unique referent for it 24 • Instead of the
definiteness of sense insisted on in the Tractatus, each sentence would be ambiguous
between infinitely many admissible interpretations. Wittgenstein does indeed say that a
useless sign is meaningless (3.328), but that proposition should be understood in its
context. There, the sign 's mode of signification (3.322) is identified by the syntactic roJe
it plays (e.g., the sign 'green' is two distinct symbols, for it has two distinct logico-
syntactical employments: as a proper name and as an adjective). A sign that combines
with others in one way is one symbol; a sign that combines with others in several
syntactically distinct ways is a different symbol (3.262, 3.323); a sign that does not
combine with others at all is no symbol. Thus 3.328 says in the formal mode of speech
what 2.011 and 2.0122 say in the material mode: it is essential for an Object that it can
combine with others.
The interpretation that some Objects are properties and some are particulars, first
suggested by Stenius 25 , has some external evidence ( Desmond Lee 's notes) and is common
now. But how can it be reconciled with 3.1432 (a basic point which already appears in

37
"Notes on Logic" 26 )? Wittgenstein says in 3.1432 that in "aRb" only 'a' and 'b', and not
'R', stand for Objects. Stenius answersthat what names an Object is not 'R' itselfbut what
he calls "The 'R'-from-to relation" i.e., the spatial relation between the letters 'a', 'b', and
'R' 27 • But I cannot see how that makes any difference; on Stenius' view the said relation
is a third name of an Objects, on a par with 'a' and 'b'; that is what Wittgenstein explicitly
denies. The Tractatus is adamant on that point; only individual variables name objects:
"the variable name 'x' is the proper sign for the pseudo-concept object" (4.1272). The
extemal relations between Objects, the 'bestimmte Art und Weise' (2.031) in which they
combine, are not Objects; relations between signs are not names of Objects.
While 3.1432 does say that in "aRb" the Ietter 'R' does not denote an Object, it does
not say that relationsarenot Objects. Anscombe and Seilars were wrong, as Hacker 28 and
Pears 29 noted, to read a nominalistic manifesto into it. What 3.1432 says isthat by flanking
'R' with 'a' and 'b' the complex sign "aRb" shows that a and b (which I taketobe phe-
nomenal properties, that may include relations) are combined in a certain way, so as to
constitute the state of affairs, that aRb.
Stenius cannot explain how there can be various modes of configuration of Objects in
a Sachverhalt, for ifObjects include both properlies and particulars, there is only one way
for them to link, i.e., by exemplification. J. and M. Hintikka 30 , who adopt Stenius' view,
offer a solution. Objects can be immediately linked and yet link in several determinate
ways (2.023), for they are patterned after Frege's "saturated" objects immediately
combining with "unsaturated" functions. Thus the object a can immediately link with the
monadic property F (which according tothat view is also an Object) to make the state of
affairs, Fa, but it can also link in another way with the dyadic property G and the Object
b to make the state of affairs aFb. The idea is brilliant, but it sits poorly with the text, for
on the Hintikka reading there is only one way for a property to link with other Objects,
depending on its n-adicity. Again, the structure of a Sachverhalt (i.e., the way the Objects
combine in it) determines its material properlies (2.0272, 2.032, 2.0231 ); on the Hintikka
view that structure would be reduced to the n-adicity of the Sachverhalt (its being diadic,
triadic, etc.); but such a formal feature of the Sachverhalt cannot be what is responsible
for all the richness of material properlies of the world. Finally, a picture represents the
structure of a Sachverhalt (2.15 ff., 4.014 ), but its n-adicity is an internal property that can
only be shown and cannot be represented (4.1211-21 ). Thus, structure must be other than
n-adicity, and the said interpretation is wrong.
A combination of a regular particular and a property cannot be a state of affairs, for it
is simply too rich. Let 'a' name Alan and 'F' name the property, Being Tall. The
concatenation of Alan and Being Tall is a whole that contains, with Alan, all of Alan's
properties. Hence it cannot be the state of affairs, Alan-Being-Tall. If Alan is black,
whatever includes him includes his being black, too. But a Sachverhalt makes true exactly
one elementary proposition; say, "Alan is tall" and not "Alan is black and tall". Hence it
cannot contain any particulars; only a concatenation of properlies can correspond to
exactly one Elementarsatz. Thus the particulars of any Stenius-like interpretation of the
Tractatus must be bare. Such an ontology needs a metaphysical "glue", the exemplifica-
tion relation, to bind bare particulars with properties. There is, however, no reason to
burden the Tractatus with that hopeless position, especially since the Tractatus never mentions
that exemplification morass in which other ontologies have drowned.

38
III. The Model
The above problems dissipate if Objects are basic phenomenal properties. Particulars
(whether material or phenomenal) aredivisible and hence are complex rather than simple;
they change and cease to exist, and they have material properties and not mere formal
ones. Basic properties, on the other band, aresimple and indivisible, they neither change
nor cease to exist, and have only formal properties (i.e., what states of affairs they can
occur in).
Like all properties, Objects are unalterable (das Bestehende; 2.024), etemal (2.023,
2.027), and independent of what is actually the case (2.024). A property has a specific
content (2.025) yet it is "colorless" (2.0232): properties arenot in space or time, and have
no color or sound; the property Being-in-Place-i is not itself in place i, and the property,
Being-of-Color-i, is not red. Properties are the substance out of which everything in the
world consists (besteht; 2.024), but in themselves, when considered as such, out of any
state of affairs, they arenot in the world (they are, however, its form; as weshall see, as
pure multiplicity they make logic possible). Thus only states of affairs, concatenations
of properties, can be said to exist or not to exist, but a property as such cannot even be
meaningfully said to exist. That is why Objects cannot be said either to exist or not to
exist; "Blue exists", says Wittgenstein, is nonsense 31 , but the elementary proposition which
says that Blue is concatenated with other properties, thereby making up a certain (blue)
state of affairs, is meaningful: it is either true or false. The identification of Objects with
properties explains why no Object on its own can be conceived (be in a world): what is
at some place must also be at some time and have some color; whatever has a color must
be in some place and at some time, etc. Nothing can be determined, say, in coloronly and
in no other way. Objects must combine in ordertobe in the world: nothing can exist that
is determined in one aspect only. That is why a name cannot occur by itself. A lone object
cannot exist (2.0122), and "only in the nexus of a proposition does a name have reference"
(3.3). The description of Objects exactly fits the logic of phenomenal properties, and thus
the objections 32 to that construal are answered.
In Waismann's summary of the Tractatus the Objects are plainly and unambiguously
described as basic phenomenal properties. An Object is called there 'an element', and is
clearly identified as a property, a feature (Zug):
In a state of affairs its elements are concatenated. Astate of affairs is a combination
of elements.
That a state of affairs is complex means that it has something - a feature - in
common with other states of affairs.
Every state of affairs is complex.
A state of affairs can be analyzed in only one way.
What can exist or not exist is a configuration of elements.
Elements are what is unalterable, subsistent in the world; states of affairs are
changing and unstable. 33
The above summary shows that the usual opinion, that in the Vienna circle Wittgen-
stein' s Objects were understood to be sense-data, is incorrect. A state of affairs may, for
example, be a concatenation of the properlies Being-in-Place-i, Being-of-Shape-j, and
Being-of-Color-k, but not of sense data. Sensedataare complex particulars that have size,
color, location, time, etc. A sense datum contains an enormous multitude of states of
affairs, which may exist and then cease to exist. Again, each sense-datum, having many
properties, would make true not a single elementary proposition but a whole host of them.
Thus sense data arenot Objects; Objects, the elements, are basic phenomenal properties.

39
In "Some Remarks on Logical Form" Wittgenstein gives this example of an elementary
proposition: "RPT", he says, describing the state of affairs of there being some Red in P
at T. It allegesthat the state of affairs, wherein the following three Objects: R, P, T, are
linked, exists. This example shows what a Sachverhalt is, and how an Elementarsatz
portrays it by naming its constituent Objects. If"RPT" (for a reason that will soon become
evident, I shall write, "Ci-Pi- Ti") is true, then the said three Objects form this chain:

Basic phenomenal properties come in "families"; the "family" that an Object belongs
to is its form. Spatiality is the form of Objects whose content is a determination of the
location of a state of affairs (Being-in-Place-i, Being-in-Place-j, etc.); coloredness is the
form of Objects that determine its color (Red, Blue, etc.); and so on for the other
properties. These, then, are the forms of Objects (2.0251 ). 4.123 to 4.126 expand and
exploit that idea: since the contents of Objects of the same form are internally related,
Objects of the same family (Objects having the same form) stand in internal relations to
each other. Thus, if one Object is Brightness i, and another Brightness j, then eo ipso they
stand to each other in the internal relation, Brighter-Than. Thus we can order possible
states of affairs in various dimensions (color, space, time, etc.). However, we can stop
at any stage of ordering, getting a sequence of Objects ordered on the given dimension.
In that way formal concepts, such as that of the number series, are generated (4.1252).
No other interpretation that I know of can explain how the same Objects can (a)
combine immediately, "fit into each other like the links of a chain" (2.03) and also (b)
"stand in a determinate relation to one another" (2.031, 3.14) which (c) may vary from one
Sachverhalt to another (2.0272). In the present model this is obvious. Take the following
five Objects: Ti (whose content is Being-at-Time-i), Pi (whose content is Being-of-Pitch-
i), Pj (whose content is Being-of-Pitch-j), Li (whose content is Being-of-Loudness-i ), and
Lj (whose content is Being-of-Loudness-j ). These Objects can immediately combine in
two distinct ways to make two states of affairs. If Ti links with Pi and Li on the one hand
side and with Pj and Lj on the other hand side, then this is a state of affairs in which asound
of pitch i and loudness i is simultaneous with asound of pitch j and loudness j. But if Ti
links with Pi and Lj on the one hand side and with Pj and Li on the other, then asound of
pitch i and loudness j is simultaneous with asound of pitch j and loudness i. That is why
a proposition is not "a medley of words"; it must be "articulated" (3.141) to show how the
Objects are connected. That the Objects are configurated in two different ways is
expressed by two different Elementarsaetze: The sentence '(Li-Pi)-Ti-(Lj-Pj)' shows one
state of affairs; '(Li-Pj)-Ti-(Lj-Pi)' shows another. We can picture these two states of
affairs:

40
Again, thesepropositions may also be written, less perspicuously, thus: "F(Li,Pi,Ti,Lj,Pj)"
and "G(Li,Pi,Ti,Lj,Pj)", using predicate letters to indicate the Objects' manner of
configuration.This is the point ofthe chain metaphor: links in a chain need no glue to link
them; they "fit into one another" (2.03). But not every link needs tobe attached to every
other. Configuration is, which link is attached to which; the same objects in different
chains may be configurated in a different manner. Given a set of Objects, their forms Iimit
the number of ways in which they may combine, butthat number is still usually larger than
one. 34
How did Wittgenstein arrive at this metaphysical model? One source of influence,
Husserl's Rigorous Science of Phenomenology (an investigation of how objects of the
various sense modalities can combine) has already been mentioned. But the principal
insight came, I think, from Ramsey and Frege. Ramsey has shown that names and
predicates are interchangeable; any proposition can be given a form in which only
predicates (names of properties) and bound variables occur. He did not, however,
conclude that the truth-makers of these (and hence of all) propositions can therefore be
concatenations of properties. Like Russen he thought that there need be some metaphys-
ical peg to bang these properties on, but instead ofRussell's bare particulars he took it to
be the co-instantiation relation. That solution is unsatisfactory, because it is open to the
notorious third-man argument. Now, in Frege's notion of function, Wittgenstein has
found a way to avoid that problem. Frege needs no exemplification relation, or any other
metaphysical glue, to attach bis functions to objects, because a function is ontologically
unsaturated; it is an entity whose being is completed by an object. What canthat mean?
One may interpret it thus: functions do not exist in the world. Only ontologically complete
entities exist, and hence the incomplete is not in any world, although it is the substance
of all possible worlds. That of course is not Frege' s own conclusion (he has never asked
what is it for an entity to be "unsaturated"), but one can see how bis ideas would lead a
metaphysician to adopt it. So then, given Frege's ontologically-deficient functions, one
can use Ramsey's technique to overcome the object/property duality, and have the
functions reach saturation by combining with each other rather than with items of another
ontological category. Thus Wittgenstein manages to do away with both Ramsey's co-
exemplification and with Frege's objects. In the world he has only the truth-makers of
propositions, i.e., facts, but using Ramsey's method he can show how each fact is made
out of properties in immediate combination (a Ia Frege). The terminology reflects the
extent of simplification achieved: since functions are the only building blocks, replacing
the old substances, one may call them, 'Objects', ins 35 • That ontology has an epistemic
aspect too: it incorporates Russell's empiricism. According to Russell, we are directly
acquainted with properties. A directly-known property is then an object in the epistemo-
logical sense: a Gegenstand. Since particulars arenot needed (cf. Ramsey) the problema-
tic Russellian notion of acquaintance with privileged particulars is scrapped. The unified
model is hailed by declaring the three terms, 'Sache', 'Ding', and 'Gegenstand'
interchangeable (2.01); they all denote the simple (and hence extra-mundane) one-
property entities whose ontological incompleteness makes them combine into specific
states of affairs, thereby making world and language possible.

IV: The Problem ofColor lncompatibility


The best known, and most serious, objection to the present view is this: Objects come
in families; they are logically related: being at one place is incompatible with being at
other places, being at one time rules out being at other times, being of one color excludes
being of other colors, etc. So if 'a is red' or 'a is at Ti' are true, other propositions ('a is

41
blue', 'a is at Tj') cannot be true. Yet "one elementary proposition cannot be deduced
from another" (5.134). "There is no possible way of making an inference from the
existence of one situation to the existence of another, entirely different Situation" (5.135);
"it is a sign of a proposition's being elementary that there can be no elementary
proposition contradicting it" (4.211), for each state of affairs "can be the case or not the
case while everything else remains the same" (1.21). One may therefore conclude thatno
phenomenal property can be a Tractatus Object. That conclusion, I submit, is wrong;
Wittgenstein was well aware of this objection, and has answered it in the Tractatus in an
entirely satisfactory way. He has shown that conjunctions or disjunctions of empirically
basic propositions are a priori true or false because they are made logically true or false
by Stipulation.
Let "Ci-Pi-Ti" be an Elementarsatz saying that there is a state of affairs of the color i,
at place i, at time i. Substitute for the name of the Object Pi (whose content is, Being-in-
Place-i) the name of another Object, the incompatible property Pj, whose content is, Being-
in-Place-j. Now, given that "Ci-Pi-Ti" is true, need "Ci-Pj-Ti" be false? Of course not.
There is no reason why both propositions cannot be true: there being a red spot in this
place now does not preclude there also being a red spot in another place now. The same
goes for "Ci-Pi-Ti" and "Ci-Pi-Tj": these propositions are perfectly compatible although
the property, Being-at-Ti is incompatible with the property, Being-at-Tj; there being a red
spot here at this time does not preclude there also being a red spot here at another time.
In these cases propositions of the same logical form have incompatible predicates in the
same logical place, yet arenot logically incompatible with each other. So far, then, there
is no problern for the Tractatus.
The fact that this is not always the case, that usually by replacing in a given proposition
one predicate for an incompatible one does create a proposition that is incompatible with
the first, is highly noteworthy. Take again the sentence "Ci-Pi-Ti" and replace 'Ci' by a
name of an incompatible property Cj. You get the sentence, "Cj-Pi-Ti" which is in-
compatible with the first; there being a red spot here now does preclude there also being
a blue spot here now. As Wittgenstein says, "the simultaneous presence of two colours
in the same place in the visual field is impossible" (6.3751). A thing can stretch in space
and time, and thus be both in Pi at Ti, and in Pj at Tj, and still be the same thing. But it
cannot stretch in the same way in the color continuum: if this place is now red, it cannot
be of some other color too; that "is ruled out by the logic of colour" (ibid.) Why? Why
are these states incompatible? Is it because unlike spatial and temporal properties, color
properties arenot elementary? No. The fact that at time i, (a) "Color i at Place i" does
not contradict (b) "Color i at Place j", but does contradict (c) "Color j at Place i" indicates
what is our convention, which properties define things, and which merely qualify them.
In 6.3751 Wittgenstein shows how that convention works. He compares the color
incompatibility to the impossibility ofthe same particle having two velocities, and shows
that the latter is clearly conventional. 36 Hisargumentruns as follows. Suppose that at time
Ti we seem to detect some particle bothin place Pi and also in place Pj: it seems tobe in
two places at once. The possibility of such an occurrence is ruled out a priori. The
particle, we say, cannot have two distinct velocities and hence be at two distinct places
at the same time; that option is ruled out. Instead, we say that it is not one particle, but two
distinct although qualitatively similar particles, one in Pi and the other at Pj, for "particles
that areindifferent places cannot be identical" (6.3751). That conclusion is not based on
observation but on an a priori convention conceming what counts as the same thing; so
what seems a synthetic truth is actually an explicit logical contradiction due to stipulation.
A similar Stipulation explains the color incompatibility. The analogy is not spelled out

42
in 6.3751, but it is evident from the previous case. Our criterion of identity is spatio-
temporal; no other kind of property has that status. It is an a priori rule we have made,
a convention, not a metaphysical necessity, that the attribution of any other property is
relativized to time and place only. Another conceptual scheme (call it, 'Chroma') may
give color the same status, considering it to be a veritable dimension of the world, and
measure distances by chromatic as weil as by spatiotemporal separation. In our scheme
"Ti-Pi-Ci & Ti-Pi-Cj" is analytically false, for the same spatiotemporal area cannot have
two different colors; in Chroma, however, it is not, for if the same thing can stretch
between Ci and Cj just as it can stretch between Pi and Pj, the proposition "Ti-Pi-Ci & Ti-
Pi-Cj" can be accepted as true without conflicting with any observation at all. The logic
of color that outlaws the above proposition is stipulated a priori and is not an empirical
fact. We do not use Chroma; that decision is wise and our world picture is simpler for it;
yet it is a conceptual decision, i.e., a convention. In principle, however, any family of
observable properties might have assumed the roJe that we give to spatiotemporal
determinations. We consider the conjunction of the following two states

1 1
m (blue) m (red)
e e

space space

impossible, but a conjunction of the following two states

c c
0 1 0 1
I (Ti) (Tj)
0 0
r r

space space

entirely unobjectionable. But another system (call it, 'Chroma*') may legislate differently
and treat these states in the opposite way, considering the first unproblematic and the
second logically impossible. A certain world's physics may find it simpler and more
profitable to use Chroma* rather than our present system.
That is how I understand 6.3751: why is it impossible for two colors tobe in the same
place? Not because they are incompatible; add a dimension and the problern is gone. In
four-space, a particle can have incompatible spatial properties (we call that, motion); in
five-space it can have incompatible spatiotemporal properties; etc. Only a conjunction
of incompatible spatiotemporal attributions with a stipulation that the world is a spatio-
temporal four-space would be selfcontradictory. The same is true of the incompatibility
of color. That "the Statement that a point in the visual field has two different colors at the
sametime is a contradiction" (6.3751) is due to explicit stipulation, that only space and
time aretobe treated as the dimensions of the visual field. The impossibility is logical,

43
for it is implied by our rule for identifying things: we stipulate that a difference in spatio-
temporal route amounts to nonidentity, but difference in color does not 17 •
My interpretation is supported by the context of 6.3751, which gives other examples
of conventionality of our conceptual scheme: 6.341-3 claims that Newton' s mechanics is
made true by definition, etc. In another adjacent proposition, 6.36111, Wittgenstein
shows how the same technique of adding a dimension can be used to solve Kant 's problern
of the right-left asymmetry. Other interpretations, which do not see that Wittgenstein 's
solution to the problern of color incompatibility problern lies in the conventionality ofthe
number and identity of the dimensions we wish to recognize, also fail to understand why
6.36111 was incorporated in the Tractatus. Given the above interpretation of 6.3751, one
can see that 6.36111 addresses a similar question, and gives it the very same solution.
There too an apparent synthetic a priori truth (the right-left asymmetry) is shown tobe in
fact analytic, following from an explicit Stipulation of the dimensionality of the world.
"All that is required isthat we should construct a system of signs with a particular number
of dimensions" (5.475). Let me briefly add, that such conventionalism concerning
dimensionality was prevalent at the time of the composition of the Tractatus, due to the
influence of the new theory of relativity, especially under its (then dominant) non-
realistic interpretations.

V: LogiL·al Space
The notion of Logical Space in the Tractatus is a part of its theory of Objects. Pro-
positions, we are told, present a putative fact in logical space ( 1.13, 2.202, 2.11 ); what
does that mean? Logical space mirrors reality; it shows its structure by presenting facts
as located in a multidimensional (Hilbert-like) space. Each Sachverhaltisapoint in that
space (2.11, 3.4, 3.42), forms of Objects are its dimensions, and situations (Sachlagen)
are areas (of internally related Sachverhalte) in it; overlap between these areas shows the
logical relations between the corresponding propositions (4.463). In that way logical
space presents reality (all possible state of affairs) as a structured whole, making relations
between states of affairs, Objects (Coordinates of states of affairs) and situations (logical
constructions out of states of affairs) apparent (3.41 ).
The Objects' forms provide for internal relations between the states of affairs 18 • These
forms also serve as the pictorial forms of propositions, enabling any Sachverhalt to depict
any other that has the sameform (2.17, 2.171) and cardinality (2.13, 4.0311) by matehing
their Objects. Each property-space is one dimension of logical space; thus Iogical form,
the form of all items in Iogical space, is the form of reality (2.18).
Since Objects are properties, an Object can be represented as a notch on some
"dimension", i.e., the continuum of properties of its "family". The property, Occurs-at-
2-PM, is inconceivable unless there also areproperlies such as, Occurs-at-1-PM, Occurs-
at-3-PM, etc. The same goes for place-determining properties: the existence of one
implies the existence of infinitely many others: "A spatial object must be situated in
infinite space". A color-property must be "surrounded by colour space"; "Tones must
have some pitch, objects ofthe sense oftouch some degree ofhardness, and soon" (2.0131 ).
What is common to each such family ofproperties isaform (Color, Hardness, Pitch, etc.);
these forms are dimensions of Logical Space. Suppose that there are only three kinds of
Objects, and hence three forms of Objects: spatiality, temporality, and coloredness
(2.051 ); in that case logical space has 3+2 dimensions: the three dimensions of Objects,
the dimension of combinations of the Objects in a Sachverhalt, and the dimension of
(truth-functional) combinations of Sachverhalte into Sachlagen. The following drawing
illustrates the position of one Sachverhalt in logical space:

44
spatiality
coloredness

1
(p: Ci-Pi-Ti)

" - - - - - - - - - - - temporality

Each point in that logical space is a Sachlage; each Sachlage has five dimensions, and
the objects are its coordinates in three of these dimensions. For example, the elementary
proposition "p", i.e., "Ci-Pi- Ti", is true iff the corresponding point in Logical space is not
empty, i.e., if there is a fact that "fills" the point designated by these coordinates;
otherwise, it is false. Yet even if that proposition is false it is not senseless, for even if
the point Ci-Pi-Ti is not filled by a fact, there is such a point in logical space. We know
it must be there, for we know other Objects of the kinds C. P, and T (e.g. Cj, Pj, and Tj).
Thus, a point in logical space is like an argument-place (2.0 131 ): an argument in it will
have a determined value in each dimension. Thus logical space is not a physical
"container"; a place in logical space indicates (I) what are the properlies of the fact that
fills it, (2) how they are linked, and (3) what are its relations to adjacent points in logical
space (its internal relations). Of special interest in logic isthat when all the Sachverhalte
are given, then all the combinations of their truth-grounds are given, too. That is to say,
using the above example, that once we know which points are filled in the four-
dimensional cross-section that includes allSachverhalte, we can figure out which points
are filled in the entire logical space. "A proposition can determine only one place in
logical space: nevertheless the whole of logical space must already be given by it.
(Otherwise negation, logical sum, logical product, would introduce more and more new
elements-in coordination." (3.42)
No object can be thought of on its own (2.0 121 ): an Object is a facet of a Sachverhalt,
its coordinate in some dimension. We represent a state of affairs as a point in logical space
and the Objects as its coordinates; when a state of affairs is given, each Object has a
specific value. It is distinguished from any other, not only by its form (the dimension on
which it determines "where" that state of affairs is), but by its content, which is expressed
in states of affairs and only in them. An object all by itself, notasapart of a state of affairs,
is indistinguishable from any other object that has its form. That point is crucial. One
argument against the view that Objects are properlies is that a property is inherently
distinguished from all other properties; e.g., Being-Blue, as such, differs from Being-Red.
But "If two objects have the same logical form, the only distinction between them, apart
from their external properties, isthat they are different" (2.0233 ). So it seems as if either
Objects arenot properties or eise Wittgenstein was confused. Hacker, whose account on
Objects is otherwise one of the best, opts for the second alternative. Objects aresuchthat
"The only difference between them isthat they differ. Thus a shade of red, for example,
seems nottobe distinguished from another shade of red (or blue) by any of its internal
features." But, Hacker adds, "this is incorrect, since they will enjoy distinct internal
relations" 39 ; "Objects (such as two shades of blue) stand in internal relations (e.g. of
lighter and darker)" 40 • Wittgenstein was confused; "Undoubtedly he had not thought the
matter through" 41 • But Hacker's reasoning is faulty. If I know the properties Being-Red
and Being-Blue as such, not as ingredients of states of affairs, then indeed I know that they

45
are different, butthat is all, for their internal relations are entirely isomorphic. I know that
Red is n degrees warmer than Blue; but then Blue is n degrees colder than Red. Again,
I know that Warmth and Coldness differ; but how do they differ? That cannot be
determined by their internal relations. Thus any two Objects, e.g., those whose contents
are Being-Di and Being-Dj, are as such undistinguishable properties on dimension D.
They stand apart on that dimension, but that is a feature both have: they cannot be
distinguished by it.
Some philosophers (e.g., Ishiguro and Tugendhat) interpret 2.0233, 2.02331, and
5.5302 as a rejection of Leibniz's Law, for it says there that it is meaningful to say of two
distinct Objects that they share all their properties, even if it is impossible for us to
indicate one of them as distinguished from the other. But that interpretation too is
incorrect. The internal properties of an Object, its nature, which determines in which
states of affairs it can occur (2.0 123 ), is common to all the Objects of the same form. A
state of affairs that may be Red may be also Blue, and one that cannot be Blue cannot be
Red either. Now it is possible (even if, as 5.5302 says, it is never actual) that two such
Objects will also have the same external properties, i.e., will occur in exactly isomorphic
states of affairs. They still have very different (as different as blue is different from red)
contents, but those contents make themselves apparent not in the Objects themselves (Red
is not red, etc.) but only in the states of affairs in which they occur. Thus it is possible
for two distinct Objects of the same form to share their external relations too, if they
appear in exactly the same kind of structures. Thus distinct Objects may yet be
indistinguishable, but since they have different contents, Leibniz's law is not flouted.
This point is crucial, for Wittgenstein is not a formalist: he requires that there be a
multiplicity in order for logic tobe possible (5.5521: "if there would be a logic even if
there were no world, how then could there be a logic given that there is a world?").
Without a multiplicity of objects logic would make no sense. Logic is independent of
what the multiple items are, but not of their existence (5.552, 6.13). Which world exists
is immaterial to logic; therefore it is only the substance, i.e., the Objects, that it must
presuppose (an axiom of existence would be nonsense). An Object does double duty in
the Tractatus: combined with others, it gives the world a content; in itself, it is a sheer
featureless item, as needed for logic. Given the Objects, there is a logic and a world.
Since all possible situations are ordered in logical space, it may be thought that each
Sachlage must have every kind ofproperty. That, however, is absurd; asound must have
some pitch and some timber, but it need not have a certain smell. Some may take it as an
argument against the present interpretation, or, as Pears does, against the Tractatus itself.
Pears rightly notes that in this case "some of the co-ordinate lines must be scrubbed out",
but he thinks it is an insuperable difficulty, a "conflict between the separatism and the
holism of the Tractatus" 42 • But 2.013 clearly allows that some spaces may be empty ('a
space' in 2.013 is a property-space: sound, color, time, etc.; i.e, a dimension of logical
space). Some planes in logical space can be empty, i.e., a Sachverhaltmay have the value,
zero, for some coordinates.
VI: Limits of Analysis.
2.0211 says: "If the world had no substance, then whether a proposition had sense
would depend on whether another were true". Russell's explanation is (roughly) that,
according to Wittgenstein, a sentence that mentions a nonexistent has no sense. Thus, had
all entities been complex, "Fa" would have a sense only if it were true that a exists, being
the entity consisting of some G-Iy linked band c. But the lauer proposition itself would
have a sense only if others ("b exists, being the entity ... ") were true, and so on and so forth.
Hence some names must name simples.
46
Ishiguro and Pears 43 reject Russell 's interpretation because they think it conflicts with
3.24, which says that "a proposition that mentions a complex will not be nonsensical, if
the complex does not exist, but merely false." Thus Russell must be entirely wrong:
inexistence does not result in senselessness. It seems to me, however, that Russen is
basically right: a fully analyzed elementary proposition that mentions nonexistents is
senseless. However 3.24 is not about elementary propositions. At this late stage the
Tractatus assumes that the world does have a substance, and therefore it is assumed that
the nonexistent complex, which 'a' purports to name, consists of simple elements. If that
complex is Pi-Qi-Ri, then the analysis of"Fa" is: "The G-ly linked Objects Pi, Qi, and Ri
are ... ". That proposition is false (not senseless) if these Objects arenot G-ly linked (or
not linked at all), for it mentions no nonexistent Thus "Fa" (not an elementary proposition)
has a sense even if a does not exist, for its full analysiswill mention neither a nor any other
nonexistent Now, suppose that the world has no substance: propositions mention only
complexes, which may or may not exist Then, if a is a complex, "Fa" has a sense only
if some propositionsuch as "a is the G-ly linked b, c, and d" is true. Butthatproposition
mentions b, c, and d, which by hypothesis are complexes; hence their having sense
depends on the truth ofyet another proposition, and so on ad infinitum. Since a proposition
cannot be true unless it has sense, the regress is vicious, resulting in the senselessness of
all propositions. I think this argument is valid, and compatible with 3.24.
One reservation concerning the Iimits of analysis is due. I have argued that the
Tractatus Objects are phenomenal properties, and its Sachverhalte perceptible basic states
of affairs. Yet that does not imply that anyone can teil by introspection what states of
affairs and properties are phenomenally basic; one cannot Iist them off the cuff. It is one
thing to experience, and quite another to be able to give a conclusive account on the
ultimate ingredients of one's experience. Phenomenal psychology is a science, and there
is no reason to believe that our knowledge of it is already complete. Wittgenstein held
(5.554-5) that an adequate analysis of our own phenomenal experience may result in
elementary propositions that we do not now know, naming Objects to whose existence we
are currently not alert. We may discover, he told members ofthe Vienna Circle 44 that "the
logical structure of elementary propositions" is "tremendously complex"; descriptions of
experience may turn out to be no less complex than descriptions in physics. I think that
what Wittgenstein had in mind was an investigation resulting in an analysis similar to the
analysis of color into hue, brightness and saturation, which highlights observable, yet
previously unnoticed, or unsystematized, ingredients of phenomenal color. That kind of
research interested him throughout his life.
It is not, however, as ifwe have no idea what an adequate description of ourexperience
can turn out to be. Though perhaps not entirely adequate, the concepts we now use to
describe our experience (color, place, time, sound, etc.) cannot be overthrown or totally
obliterated; they may only be further analyzable. We do, therefore, have a fairly good
notion of what Objects, and Sachverhalte, are. Wittgenstein does not hesitate to use
current phenomenal concepts to describe Sachverhalte and their Objects. Saying that
space, time, and color are forms of Objects (2.0251 ), that a shade of blue is an Object
(4.123) 45 , that descriptions of color boundaries in the visual field are Elementarsaetze 46 ,
is not a merefar;on de par/er. These examples should be taken seriously and literally, even
if in the final analysis other, more basic, phenomenal concepts may replace these notions
of folk psychology.

47
Notes

1 I shall write 'Objects' with a capital '0' to denote Tractatus objects.


2 See 5.5562 and Notebooks 17. 6. 15: "It does not go against our feeling that we cannot
analyse PROPOSITIONS so far as to mention the elements by name; no, we feel that the
WORLD must consist of elements." The Tractatus' argument for the existence of simp-
les will be discussed later on in this paper.
3 P.M. S. Hacker, "Laying the Ghost of the Tractatus", Review of Metaphysics, 29: 96-116

(1975).
4 P. Winch, "Im Anfang war die Tat", I. Block (ed.), Perspectives on the Philosophy of

Wittgenstein, MIT, 1981, pp. 159-178: "Names and objects, however, are presented as a
purely Iogical requirement, something that just has tobe accepted. We cannot ask any
questions about them, since to do so we should have to use those very names in our
questions" (171 ).
5 H. Ishiguro, "Use and Reference of Names", in P. Winch (ed.), Studies in the Philosophy

of Wittgenstein, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969, pp. 20-50.


6 B. McGuinness, "The So-Called Realism of the Tractatus", in I. Block (ed.) Perspectives

on the Phi/osophy of Wittgenstein, MIT, 1981, pp. 60-73.


7 R.M. McDonough, in The Argument ofthe Tractatus (SUNY press, 1986) holds a similar

position, for somewhat different arguments. Other interpreters (e. g., H.O. Mounce, Witt-
genstein' s Tractatus, University of Chicago, 1981, p. 20) give Wittgenstein 's argument for
simples but say nothing about what they are and how they can have the various roles given
them in the Tractatus.
" All numbered propositions not otherwise identified are from the Tractatus. The Pears-
McGuinness translation is used throughout this paper.
9 Letter to Russell, 19. 8. 19: "Sachverhalt is, what corresponds to an Elementarsatz if it is

true. Tatsache is what corresponds to the logical product of elementary props when this
product is true."
10 The idea, that we can know a priori how the elements that constitute all possible worlds

may be linked (e.g., that color may modify a spatial extension but not, say, a so und) lies
at the core of Husserl 's "rigorous science" of phenomenology, proposed in his Logical
lnvestigations and the first book of Ideas (both published before world war I). It is high-
Iy plausible that Wittgenstein knew (or at least knew of) these ideas of Husserl.
11 That statement is not quite accurate, as I explain at the very end of the paper.

12 Note that both these Sachverhalte comsist of the same Objects; what makes them distinct

states of affairs is the different configuration of the Objects.


11 Hintikka's reading of "die Sprache, die allein ich verstehe" as "the only language I

understand" (rather than, "the language which only I understand") is doubtlessly right
(see Mind 67:88-91, 1958). The only Ianguage that I can understand is the language con-
sisting of the names of those Objects (phenomenal properties) that I know. That is why
the Iimits ofthat Ianguage are the Iimits of my world (although not, of course, of reality,
which includes all possible combinations of all Objects).
14 Including, for many years, the present author. A detailed and, I must say, heroic, attempt

to defend that view is to be found in L. Goddard and B. Judge, The Metaphysics of Witt-
genstein' s Tractatus, 1982 (monograph series of the Australasian Journal of Philosophy).
15 Notebooks 16.6.15: "Relations and properties, etc., are objects too."

16 See his explanation of what the objects are in Desmond Lee, Wittgenstein' s Leerures

Cambridge 1930-2 (Biackwell 1980) p. 120, or in WVC pp. 41-43. In the Iatter discus-
sion Wittgenstein says that objects need not be denoted by nouns. A phenomenal des-
cripion that uses only place-predicates and color-predicates is possible, and if that des-
cription is the ultimate one, then the objects are the properlies referred to be these predi-
cates (i.e., color and Iocation determinations).
48
17 Philosophical Remarks (Blackwell, 1975) par. 57, Philosophical Grammar (Blackwell
1974) p. 211, Philosophicallnvestigations I, par. 38-60.
18 E. D. Klemke, "The Ontology of Wittgenstein 's Tractatus", in E.D. Klemke (ed.), Essays

on Wittgenstein, University of Illinois, 1971, p. 117. A similar view is advocated in


J. Griffin, Wittgenstein' s Logical Atomism, Blackwell, 1964.
19 Goddard and Judge liken Objects to dimensionless points, and states of affairs to width-
less linesegments.
20 Op. cit., p. 37.

21 David Pears, The Fa/se Prison, Oxford, 1987, I, 10 I.


22 Op. cit. p. 70 (interpreting 3.11 ).

23 See my "Wittgenstein on Meaning", Grazer Philosophische Studien 33/34: 415-435

(1989).
24 A somewhat similar objection is used by Norman Maleolm in Nothing is Hidden: Witt-

genstein' s Criticism of his Early Thought (Blackwell, 1986) pp. 28-35.


25 E. Stenius, Wittgenstein' s Tractatus, Blackwell, 1960.
26 L. Wittgenstein, Notebooks, 1914-1916 (Blackwell, 1961) p. 98.

27 E. Stenius, "The Picture Theory and Wittgenstein Later Attitude to it", in I. Block, Op.

Cit., pp. 110-139. On p. 116 Stenius says: "We may say that the symbols (the symbol-
izing elements) occurring in the sentence 'aRb' are 'a', 'b', and the 'R'-from-to relation."
28 P.M.S. Hacker, Jnsight and Illusion, Revised Edition, Oxford 1986, pp. 68-69.

29 David Pears, The Fa/se Prison (Oxford, 1987) I, 138-40.

30 J. and M. Hintikka,Jnvestigating Wittgenstein, Blackwell 1986.

31 See Philosophic·allnvestigations I 50-51.


32 For such objections see J. Bogen, Wittgenstein' s Philosophy of Language, Humanities

1972, pp. 55-74. Since Bogendenies that the Objects are phenomenal properties, he must
claim that the simples discussed in Philosophical Jnvestigations (which include colors)
are not those of the Tractatus (pp. 74-101). Yet Wittgenstein explicitly says that what
his discussion of simples in the lnvestigations applies to the Objects of the Tractatus
(PI I, 46).
33 Wirtgenstein and the Vienna Circle, p. 234.

34 Wittgenstein 's 1929 modification of the Tractatus view is a logical development of this

analysis. Instead of expressing the fact that a lasts for five years by a single proposition
("a for 5 years") he maps it onto every proposition of the form "a for i years"; only those
propositions in which i<5 or i=5 come out true. Thus any internal relation is expressed
by a system of propositions (WVC pp. 41-3, 73-81 ). In Questions On Wittgenstein (Neb-
raska, 1986, pp. 32-3) R. Haller argues, very convincingly, that this development of the
Tractatus notion of internal relations has led to Wittgenstein 's post-1930 notion of a lan-
guage-game.
35 That kind of conceptual move was very much "in the air" when the Tractatus was

written, partly due to the influence of Einstein's relativity theory. An ambitious attempt
to replace the traditional object-based ontology by reducing all substances to functions
was undertaken in Ernst Cassirer's celebrated Substance and Function ( 1921) whose first
part, Substanzbegriff und Funktionsbegriff, has already appeared in 1910. A similar (but
less thorough-going) reduction of particles to characteristics has been offered by H. Herz, whose
influence on Wittgenstein is widely discussed.
36 One of the most incredible misinterpretations of the Tractatus (see, e.g., Pears, op. cit.,

p. 83) is that in 6.3751 Wittgenstein advocates reducing color concepts to wave-length


concepts. That reading not only makes nonsense out of 6.3751; it also runs against
everything that Wittgenstein does in the Tractatus.
37 In "Some Remarks on Logical Form" Wittgenstein offers another solution: he incorporates

the meaning-rule into logic itself by giving a special truth-table for color-talk. That move
can be seen as the beginning ofthe new trend in Wittgenstein 's thinking, which breaksdown
49
the singleuni versallogic into many specialized language games, each complete with its own
logic (grammar).
38 Which, by 4.031, is a sense of a proposition.
39 Jnsight and Illusion, p. 71.
40 Jbid., p. 69.
41 lbid., p. 72.
42 Pears, p. 134.
43 Ishiguro, op. cit., pp. 42-4; Pears, ibid., p. 78, and Pears, "The Logical Independence of
Elementary Propositions", I. Block, op. cit., pp. 74-84.
44 WVC, 22.12.1929.
45 In 4.123 'object', 'property' and 'relation' are said to have a "shifting use"; that was inter-
preted by some writers to show that colors are not truly Objects. But that is wrong; colors
are used as examples of Objects elsewhere in the Tractatus and in later works, e.g.,
Philosophicallnvestigations I, 48-51. Rather, the "shifting use" isthat the example, which
deals with internal relations and properlies of objects, also applies, mutatis mutandis, to the
internal relations of states of affairs (discussed in the preceding propositions).
46 Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle (Blackwell, 1979) 2 Jan 1930.

***

50
What Objects Could Not Be

MICHAEL V. WEDIN
University of California, Davis

When it comes to Wittgenstein 's Tractatus about the only thing anyone agrees on is
that there is almost nothing everyone agrees on. This is notoriously true of Tractarian
objects. Opinions on the subject are nearly as numerous as commentators. Some, perhaps
embarrassed by such riches, discount the notion itself as incoherent. 1 I am cautiously less
pessimistic. I believe that something can be said about what TLP objects arenot and that
this, in turn, provides a clue as to what they might be. What objects might be, I shall
suggest toward the end of the paper, are universals or properties of a certain sort. What
they cannot be, I shall argue at the outset, are particulars of any sort.
Wittgenstein is overly protective of his objects. We are given neither examples nor
explicit descriptions. Indeed, it is as if he wished to shield them from public scrutiny. So
claims as to their identity must be generated from less hidden doctrines of TLP. Two recent
commentators adopt this strategy in arguing that TLP objects are particulars of a certain
sort. Because this result is at variance with the view to be proposed here, we are advised
to take a close Iook at their arguments. They arealso of considerable interest in their own
right. The argument I shall first Iook at is due to Hide Ishiguro; 2 the second is a more recent
argument of David Pears. 3

The lnstantiation Argument


On Ishiguro's account, TLP objects are "necessarily instantiations of certain irreduc-
ible properties." For convenience I shall denominate this IRR. IRR would appear to make
TLP objects particulars- not particulars of an ordinary sort but something more exotic.
Still, I shall argue, particulars all the same. IRR is forced on Wittgenstein, says Ishiguro,
by two other views he held in TLP:

And it is the combination of the view that the identity of objects referred to by a
Name can be determined only by settling the use of the Name, with his view that
all elementary propositions must be logically independent of one another that Ieads
him [Wittgenstein] to this position.

The Primary Thesis, as I shall call the first of these views, is meant to deny that the
reference, or meaning, of a TLP name could be established by ostension or definition.
This, I believe, is correct. I also accept the Primary Thesis insofar as it expresses the
content of passages such as 3.3
Only propositions have sense; only in the context of a proposition does a name have
meaning.

The second view, the mutual independence of elementary propositions (which I shall
sometimes refer to as MI), is one of the notorious cruxes of TLP. So there can hardly be
doubt about its attribution to Wittgenstein. 4
Equally clear isthat TLP nowhere gives an example of an object. Moreover, the formal
conditions it does give for objects (e.g., simplicity, eternality, colorlessness) settle Iittle.
U se must be made of other doctrines. In this spirit, Ishiguro asserts that the Primary Thesis
and MI jointly entail IRR. What, in fact, the structure of her argument appears able to
support is something slightly different, namely, that the Primary Thesis itself entails IRR
and that IRR puts forward the only view of TLP objects that squares with MI. Since I

51
believe that there isanother view that satisfies MI and since I shall try to persuade you that
IRR actually conflicts with MI, we need to Iook at the argument from the Primary Thesis
to IRR. I shall call this the Instantiation Argument.
The place to begin is with Wittgenstein's insistence that the meaning of ordinary
propositions is given by analysis into their truth-functional components and, ultimately,
into propositions that arenot further analyzable. The usual view isthat these terminating
propositions are concatenations of names for simple objects only. Theseare the elemen-
tary propositions of TLP .
Ishiguro grants that the semantic program ofTLP requires that there be objects and that
it be possible to arrive at their names. This is, after all, explicit at 3.23. But, she says, this
does not necessitate that logical analysisend with propositions containing names only as
opposed to equivalent existential Statements. Implicit here is the assumption that for
every proposition containing names only there is an equivalent existential generalization.
This assumption, what I call the Equivalence Assumption ("EQUIV" for short), is used
to develop and defend the thesis that TLP names are mere "dummy names," and this in turn
is used to establish IRR. So what does the Instantiation Argument Iook like?
First, EQUIV's textual credentials are taken tobe established by 5.526:
We can describe the world completely by means of fully generalized propositions,
that is to say, without first correlating any name with a particular object. Then, in
order to arrive at the customary mode of expression, we simply need to add, after
an expression like, "There is one and only one x suchthat ... ", the words, 'and that
x is a'.

On the basis of the first sentence of this passage, then, Ishiguro attributes (p. 43) the
following thesis to Wittgenstein:
I. For every elementary proposition, there is a fully generalized proposition that
is equivalent to it.
Point I is then said tobe elaborated at 5.47, where Wittgenstein asserts.
2. 'fa' says the same thing as '(3x).fx.x=a'.

Ishiguro extracts two claims from 2. The first is


2'. In 2 a is merely identified as an object which isf,
and the second is
2". To say '(3x).fx.x=a' comes to the same as 'an object is f'.

Because it is false that "(3x).fx.x=a," rather than "(3x).fx," is equivalent to "An object
is f," the phrase "comes to the same as" in 2" must somehow license the equivalence.
Ishiguro recognizes that 'fa' always says something more than '(3x).fx', when 'a' "is an
ordinary proper name" (p. 43). But names occurring in elementary propositions are
different. For these, she claims, the equivalence holds. So apparently, the equivalence is
to be seen as holding, given contextual information, that is, given certain assumptions
about the peculiar way the name 'a' functions in 2. Thus, 2" is said tobe assertible because
of
2A. Where 'a' is a name and 'fa' is elementary, the object a "has no contingent
properties which would enable one to identify it by adefinite description."

52
Here, 'a' occurs as what Ishiguro calls a dummy name. That is, in 2 we simply use
'(3x).fx.x=a' to introduce the name 'a', saying no more than that there is something that
isf and that this thing is tobe called 'a'. Prior to its introduction the question of 'a' s having
reference or meaning cannot arise because this is just how 'a' gets its meaning in the first
place. This brings us to
3. Todetermine the significance of a name 'a' is to introduce 'a' via the context
'(3x).fx.x=a'.

In recommending 3, Ishiguro appeals to cases such as "Let a be the center of circle C."
So dummy names are names by stipulation only. Finally, 3 is held to entail

4. An object can be introduced only as instantiating some property


and this, in turn, is held to entail

5. Properties and relations ascribed to objects in elementary propositions cannot be


identified extensionally as the class of objects which have the property.

As far as I can determine (and I confess to not understanding all moves in the
argument), 4 and 5 are supposed to establish IRR, that is, they are supposed to show that
TLP objects are necessarily instantiations of certain properties. Notice, incidentally, that
the argument does not appear to rely on the mutual independence of elementary propo-
sitions. So, as mentioned above, it is best to regard the Primary Thesis and MI as
independent routes to IRR. Does the Instantiation Argument succeed?

Problems with the lnstantiation Argument


In my view the argument just sketched is beset by a number of interesting problems.
Step 3, which is critical to the result in 4, is alleged to get its punch from EQUIV. Perhaps,
the idea isthat if we can describe the world completely in fully general propositions, then
adding the conjunct "x=a" can 't complete the description.
What we are to make of this suggestion? Granted, 5.526 says that we could describe
the world in completely general propositions. But this provides no grounds for thinking
that such a description would be the only or the most satisfactory way of describing the
world. A complete description may, for example, fail tobe a perspicuous description.
Further, considered just in its own right, the possibility in question at 5.526 has no special
bearing on elementary propositions. This is because non-elementary propositions must
also provide complete descriptions of the world. Otherwise, there would be no guarantee
their analysis will ultimately yield a set of elementary propositions that completely
describe the world at its basic Ievel. The semantic program of TLP demands nothing less
(4.26, for example).
Indeed, it is not even clear that Wittgenstein means 5.526 to apply at the Ievel of
elementary propositions, for he characterizes addition of the conjunct "x=a" ("und dies
x ist a") as restoring the ordinary mode of speech (gewöhnliche Ausdruck weise). If so,
then 'a' will be an ordinary name and, insofar as it is based on 5.526, EQUIV will not
concern TLP names at all.
5.47, introduced in 2 above, might appear to strengthen Ishiguro's case. There
Wittgenstein remarks that an elementary proposition already contains alllogical opera-
tions because, he says, '"fa' says the same thing as '(3x).fx.x=a'." I am not convinced.
For, intuitively, the passage appears to give some independent standing to the elementary
proposition itself. The fact that 'fa' already contains alllogical operations casts doubt on

53
the purely stipulative interpretation of 'fa' offered in 2'.
Now, I suppose one could hold that 'fa' contains alllogical operations by dint of its
having been stipulated that one of the xs that is f is a. But this is surely an odd way of
construing Wittgenstein's talk of the operations as "already contained."
Furthermore, we need to ask, again, what force to give the phrase "says the same thing
as." I might, for example, say something like this, if I wished to persuade an audience of
undergraduate rhetoric majors of the virtues of a canonical analysis of a certain ordinary
language sentence. (What comes to mind here are initial reactions to Russell's theory of
descriptions.) Altematively, I might wish to encourage in a formalistically inclined
philosopher the suspicion that in certain cirumstances there is something odd or mislead-
ing about the formal idiom, perhaps, that it promises to put in order what is already quite
satisfactory. In the case at hand, I believe Wittgenstein intends the lauer. At 5.441, for
example, he repeats the claim that '(3x).fx.x=a' says the same thing as 'fa' but here it
serves to illustrate the "vanishing of the apparent logical constants." So Wittgenstein
appears to back away from the existential idiom. Why would he distance hirnself from
'(3x).fx.x=a'? The answer, I think, is clear. In a correct symbolism there is no room for
the identity sign (5.533); hence, as 5.534 says, in such a symbol system '(3x).x=a' cannot
even be expressed. By the same token, neither can '(3x).fx.x=a' be expressed. If tobe an
elementary proposition is tobe a proposition expressed in correct notation, then '(3x).fx.x=a'
and its ilk cannot express elementary propositions. 5
Of course, Ishiguro does not explicitly say that '(3x).fx.x=a' is an elementary propo-
sition (about these she actually says surprisingly little). They arerather her candidates
for 3.263 's elucidations (Erläuterungen) that explain the meanings of TLP names. 6 But she
does require that analysis of non-elementary propositions terminate. From the point of
view of TLP, the natural way of putting her point would be to say that the terminating
propositions are the elementary propositions and that these can be either concatenations
of names or equivalent existential propositions. It is, however, not open to Ishiguro to say
this because, if anything is clear in TLP, it is that elementary propositions are not to
contain logical constants. This is because there is nothing logical constants represent. In
4.0312 Wittgenstein reports this as his "fundamental idea" and links it with the point that
the possibility of propositions depends on the "principle that objects are represented by
signs." Hence, Iogical constants do not belong in those ultimate propositions that picture
states of affairs simply by representing objects in certain configurations. Thus, whatever
analysis terminates in, it must terminate in propositions that command this sort of Spartan
representational capability. If this is so, then Ishiguro' s interpretation must be wrong. For
she suggests that it makes no difference whether analysis terminates in propositions
containing just TLP names or in certain existential propositions. It seems to me to make
all the difference in the world. Because '(3x).fx.x=a' is taken to stipulate the reference
of 'a', it is not a terminating proposition. So, presumably, the proposition that halts
analysis is '(3x).fx'. But this is not equivalent to 'fa' and, in any case, what would this
proposition represent? Certainly, not an elementary state of affairs. Moreover, this is not
the proposition that 5.4 7 reports "says the same" as 'fa'. " 7 So Ishiguro 's interpretation of
EQUIV must be rejected.
The above paragraph notwithstanding, it would not help to take '(3x).fx.x=a' as the
terminating proposition. Let us put aside the damaging point that it is compound (it
contains an explicit conjunction). Because it occurs as a dummy name, 'a' must get
whatever semantical force it has from the stipulation that it designate an x that is f. But
in 'fa' it purports to designate a single thing. This should Iead us to suspect that when
Wittgenstein says that 'fa' says the same thing as '(3x).fx.x=a' the second occurrence of
'a' is not a dummy occurrence.

54
Finally, Ishiguro's view has the consequence that TLP names arenot semantically
primative. Of course, there isasense in which this is correct. As 4.026 remarks, it is with
propositions that we make ourselves understood and it is only in the context of a
proposition that a name has meaning (3.3). But this does not save Ishirguro's view
because, where 'a' is a TLP name, the proposition orpropositions in which 'a' occurs must
be elementary propositions. Yet '(3x).fx.x=a' is not elementary. In any case, for non-
sentential expressions, it is the meaning of the symbol 'f' that is presupposed on
Ishiguro 's account and so it, rather than 'a', will be the semantically primative expression.
This does not strike me as a desirable result.

Troubles with lnstantiations as Objects


The Instantiation Argument fails to establish IRR. So it will have to be defended by
Ishiguro' s second line of argument. This is that the mutual independence of elementary
propositions (MI) requires that TLP objects be instantiations of certain irreducible
properties (IRR). This claim is certainly intriguing, for it promises to derive a substantive
thesis about TLP objects from a centrat doctrine of TLP. U nfortunately, more is promised
than can be delivered. lndeed, it seems to me that MI may actually exclude IRR for the
reason that the mutual independence of elementary propositions is incompatible with any
view that takes TLP objects tobe particulars. Let me first sketch aprimafacie argument
for this incompatibility and then see whether IRR is vulnerable to it.
Elementary propositions are simply concatenations of names of objects. Correspond-
ing to such concatenations are states of affairs. These are configurations of objects. An
elementary proposition is true just in case the appropriate state of affairs exists (besteht);
otherwise, it is false. Thus, the mutual logical independence of elementary propositions
turns on the mutual ontological independence of configurations of objects. So the
question is what objects must be Iike in order for their configurations to exhibit this
independence.
Can such objects be particulars? I think not. To see this, Iet A, Band C be TLP objects
suited to configure with one another and Iet 'A', 'B ', 'C' be their names. Suppose, then,
that we have 'AB' and 'AC' as elementary propositions or parts of elementary proposi-
tions. If A, B and C are particulars, then it seems that these configurations will be
configurations at given spatiallocations. But, now, it is easy to construct an elementary
proposition incompatible with, say, 'AB'. For Iet 'AB' be taken to represent A 's configuring
with B at, say, s 1 and Iet 'AC' represent A 's configuring with C at s 2 or, depending on the
nature of the objects, with A 's configuring with C at s 1 as weil. Now, of course, s 1 and s 2
might besuch as to allow for both configurations. This shows just that a particular could
be a constituent of more than one configuration. Butthis is not enough to save MI because
MI requires mutual logical independence for all elementary propositions. So if TLP
objects are particulars, we can easily construct a proposition that is incompatible with a
given elementary proposition. In short, MI is routinely violated.
The argumentjust sketched, which I shall call the Violation Argument, certainly holds
for ordinary particulars or anything eise similarly individuated. It holds also for 'internal
objects' such as sense data because, for example, the color patch appearing at a given
place in my visual field cannot also appear at a different such place. (Wittgenstein says
as much at 6.3751.) Does the argument also tell against obects as instantiations of
irreducible properties, that is, against IRR?
A corollary ofthe Instantiation Argumentisthat TLP objects themselves must be thought
of as items that have properties. If the fact that TLP objects are instantiations, or even
instances, of irreducible properties entails that they are particulars, then IRR would

55
appear to run afoul of MI. So either such instantiations are not particulars or certain
particulars manage somehow to survive the constraints imposed by the requirement of
mutual independence.
1t should be said at the outset that Ishiguro is unambiguous in asserting that TLP objects
cannot be ordinary spatio-temporal objects. As she puts it, "the objects Names refer to
are entities which have a criterion of identity quite different from those according to
which we normally identify and distinguish spatio-temporal objects." Hereis the criterion:
CR. o is aTLP object ~ (i) o is independentofwhatis the case & (ii) o is aconstituent
of every world, w, real or imaginary.

Ordinary objects, and anything relevantly like them, fail to satisfy (ii). Instantiations
of irreducible properties, on the other band, are held to satisfy both conditions. Ishiguro
explains this as follows (p. 48):
But what is it for elementary propositions in which Names occur tobe logically
independent of each other? If an object A is identified as the reference of 'A' in
'FA', (Tl) this is so independently ofthe existence or non-existence of any other
atomic state of affairs involving A; (T2) independently of whether we are to treat
Aas the instantiation of any other properties at all. (T3) This could not be the case
where 'A' is the name of any particular individual. A then is not an object in any
extensional sense. If we think of a world different from our own in which the same
atomic state of affairs holds as in ours, then one can say ... that this imaginary
world and ours have the same objects.
I confess that I do not understand this argument. Right off, there is a problern with T 1.
It purports to say something about the mutual independence of elementary propositions,
namely, that 'FA' is not incompatible with some other elementary proposition, say, 'GA'.
But the fact that A can be independently identified in the context of a certain proposition,
say 'FA', does not entail that the proposition itself is logically independent of others.
Indeed, so far there is no reason tothink 'FA' will be independent of 'GA'. What T2 and
T3 wish to show is that objects that instantiate more than one property do not satisfy (ii).
Ishiguro has already argued (p. 47) that because we can imagine a world at which this
object doesn't instantiate both such properties, such objects would not be common to all
possible worlds. 8 So here she means to conclude that only objects that necessarily
instantiate their properties will do.
I still fail to see how this preserves MI. For the moment I will not quarrel with
Ishiguro' s claim that her instantiations satisfy (ii); nor with the claim that they satisfy (i).
The difficulty isthat an object can satisfy (i) and (ii) and yet be suchthat a configuration
containing the object conflicts with MI. lt seems to methat Ishiguro's instantiations are
just such objects. For whatever else they may be, they are instantiations- even if of a non-
standard sort. Thus, at the same world, we can construct a proposition incompatible with
an elementary proposition mentioning an instantiation, i. For instantiations must be in-
stantiations at someplace or other. Thus, i's occurrence in a configuration at s 1 could, by
the Violation Argument, exclude, and be excluded by, its occurrence in a configuration
at some other place, s 2 • Consequently, from the perspective of MI, Ishiguro's instantia-
tions are little better off than ordinary objects. The properties instantiated at different
words are what are common. By definition the instantiations are not and, hence, they
cannot be the objects of TLP. 9

56
On the Alleged lnnocence of Simple Particulars
David Pears has recently offered a proof of what he calls "the innocence of certain
particulars, the simple ones. " 10 Something is innocent if it does not generate a conflict with
MI. So Pears' claim isthat if TLP objects are simple particulars, then configurations of
such objects can exist or not exist independently of one another. Here is the argument.
Let 'p' mention a complex C, where C = the broom, and Iet 'q' be the proposition 'aRß'
(e.g., the proposition that the brush is attached to the stick). In the idiom of TLP, 'q' is part
of 'p 's sense. That is, 'q' is gotten by analysis from 'p'. Now it is obvious that a
proposition mentioning C, say '<I>C', could be a priori incompatible with another pro-
position of the same Ievel, say '\jiC', for the complex C and D might both contain the
constituent a.
Nevertheless, says Pears, "neither a nor ß can provide a priori incompatibilities be-
tween any propositions in which one of them is mentioned and any other proposition of
the same Ievel for ex hypothesi a and ß have no parts." Hence, any propositions that do
no more than mention simple particulars will be mutually independent of any other such
propositions. More explicitly, Pears appears tobe recommending that while

6. (<I>D & <I>C)

is false, we are still free to hold

7. (aRß & aRy)

because of

8. (x)(p)(p' )(x isasimple particular & x is mentioned in p & p' is of the same Ievel
as p ~ p and p' are mutually independent)

and 8 because of

8a. x is a simple particular ~ x has no parts

and
8b. x has no parts ~ x cannot itself generate a priori any sort of incompatibility.

So the argument claims to show that a core thesis of TLP requires that its objects be
simple particulars. But are these objects as innocent as Pears would have us believe? A
first point of worry is that, as it stands, 7 appears to be true only by Juck. Pears seems
sensitive to this when he remarks (p. 81) that "perhaps the relation R, attachment, can take
the blame for that" (namely, for the compatibility of 'aRß' and 'aRy'). In particular, 7's
truth cannot rest on 8. This is because 8 is subject to the Violation Argument. For, surely,
we can construct a same Ievel proposition, say, 'aRö', that is incompatible with 'aRß'.
Perhaps, this might be thought due to the fact that, by virtue of mentioning R, the
propositions in question do not consist just of names. Suppose, then, that p and p' range
over propositions that contain names only. Does this help? I think not. The trouble
emerges with 8b. First, it is not clear what we are to understand there by the notion of
generation. Because it is not a proposition, a cannot, on its own, generate anything that
has properlies such as compatibility and incompatibility. So the idea must be that, because
it is without parts, a cannot contribute to the incompatibility of any proposition mentio-
ning it. So Iet us grant that a itself does not generate an incompatibility. From this it
simply does not follow that a proposition which mentions a cannot be incompatible with

57
another proposition of the same Ievel. And if having parts is necessary for one thing to
display incompatibility with another, then this is satisfied by the proposition that men-
tions a.- unless one were to embrace the fantastic idea that because a. has no parts neither
does any proposition mentioning it.
MI is a principle about elementary propositions or states of affairs, not names or
objects. It may require that objects be simple because names are primative signs that
signify simple objects. But what it cannot require, at least not if the Violation Argument
ofthe previous section is correct, isthat these be simple particulars. Consequently, Pears'
simple particulars are no more innocent than Ishiguro's instantiations of irreducible
properties.

What Objects Just Might Be


Admilledly, it is easier to say what TLP objects could not be than to say what they are.
Indeed, some have suggested that everything falls under the first and nothing under the
second heading. Nonetheless, something positive can be said on the subject.
Elementary propositions are mutually independent with respect to truth and falsity.
States of affairs are mutually independent with respect to existence and non-existence.
Thus, from the existence or non-existence of one configuration of objects we can infer
nothingabout the existence or non-existence of another configuration. So we can ask what
sort of objects make up such configurations? Contra Ishiguro and Pears, who ask the same
question, we have argued that objects could not be particulars. Intuitively, this seems
correct. TLP objects are the meanings of names (as 3.203 asserts) and they provide for
determinateness of sense (as 3.23 requires). It is difficult to see how particulars of any
stripe could manage this. Such a role is heller suited for something like universals or
properties.
The same result is recommended by MI itself. To see this, Iet ·ABC' be an elementary
proposition and ABC is its truth-making configuration. MI requires that the truth of •ABC'
not entail the truth, or falsity, of another elementary proposition. But if the constituents
of elementary configurations are particulars, then by the Violation Argument we can
construct an incompatible proposition •ABO'. But if TLP objects cannot be particulars,
might they, perhaps, be universals? For, where A is a universal, nothing prevents its
occurrence in both ABC and ABD. Thus, we can assure that 'ABC' and 'ABO' will be
mutually independent. 11
More needs to be said about the nature of these non-particular items. Let me begin by
enlisting something that is quite clear in TLP. This is Willgenstein's fundamental di-
stinction between objects, on the one hand, and facts, states of affairs, and complexes, on
the other. In part, this reflects the conviction that objects are the fundamental and simple
entities. But the deliberateness with which Willgenstein draws the dichotomy suggests,
further, that he rejected the possiblity that there might be different types of objects. In
January 1913, for example, he wrote to Russell, "There cannot be different types of
things! In other words, whatever can be symbolized by a proper name must belong to one
type."l2
It is, I think, possible that Willgenstein arrived at this view by reflecting on and
rejecting a Fregean analysis of the proposition into expressions for objects and expres-
sions for concepts 13 because such an analysis divides the world into two irreducibly
different types of entities. Notice that the general principle underlying Willgenstein's
comment to Russell is that two things designated by the same type of symbol must
themselves be things of the same type. At least this is so in a correct symbolism. In TLP
the correct way to symbolize an elementary proposition is with an appropriate concate-

58
nation of names. There is not the slightest hint that these names come in different types.
By the same token, then, TLP objects are not to come in different types.
Willgenstein rejects the Fregean distinction between concept and object. But he needs
to preserve the unsaturatedness associated with the former in order to account for the
manner in which objects configure, namely, as links in a chain. Let me suggest how
Willgenstein might have conceived of this. Begin with the fact that he joins Frege and
Russe II in holding (3.318) that a proposition is a function of the expressions contained in
it and, thus, that an elementary proposition is a function of the names it contains (4.24).
It is natural to introduce the notion of a propositional function here and to say that it is
what yields a proposition when completed by an object. I do not think that Willgenstein
would quarre( with this. Werehe to hesitate over the point, it would have less to do with
propositional functions, the TLP seems reasonably comfortable with the notion, than with
the tendency to regard objects as thingsofadifferent kind from propositional functions.
In particular, to see them as complete entities.
My claim isthat TLP objects must be repeatable properties, that is, they must be items
capable of occurring in distinct states of affairs without prejudice to the ontological
independence of the states of affairs they occur in. They must also be capable, on their
own, of configuring in such states of affairs. In Willgenstein's suggestive idiom, they fit
Iogether like links in a chain. My suggestionisthat we may think of these objects as a kind
of propositional function or, at least, as an analogue of them (perhaps, Fregean senses
come closest). 14
Let me explain this. TLP objects are the constituents, indeed, the only constituents, of
elementary situations. Perhaps, then, we can bring the two notions together in the
following definition.

=
CON. An object o is a constituent of elementary situation p for some objects,
o 1 ••• on & a propositional function F, the result of applying F to o,o 1 , • • • ,on
is p.

We get the more familiar view. if we add the requirement that functions not be objects.
But notice that, as far as CON itself is concerned, F can be an object. In this case, we get
something close to the view of TLP. But F still might be a different kind of object. So to
get the TLP view we allow that any object in an elementary configuration may be thought
of as F, since any object can be thought of as providing the finallink in an elementary state
of affairs. It is because any object can be thought of as a function that TLP objects are
intrinsically incomplete entities, a sort of propositional function whose arguments are just
other such functions. 1 ~
It seems to me most natural to say that such entities are not suited for independent
existence. This is a mark in our favor. Just as a name has meaning only in the context of
a proposition, or propositions, containing it, so an object exists (besteht) only in the
context of a configuration. or configurations, containing it. Only, that is, in the context
of a Sachverhalt. And this, in effect, is the message of 2.0122: "Things are independent
insofar as they can occur in all possihle situations, butthisform of independence isaform
of connexion with states of affairs, a form of dependence." So objects are independent of
what is the case but not of what is possibly the case.
It is for this reason, also, that such objects are beller suited than particulars to provide
meanings for words. For to understand a word 'w' is to understand its possible uses in
sentences of the language. In TLP this is to understand the contribution · w' makes to the
truth conditions of any sentence in which it occurs. And this is just to understand the
configurations in which the object signified by 'w' can occur (2.0123 and, especially,

59
4.431 ). This hardly makes sense if objects are particulars. It makes moresense if they are
universals of the sort suggested here. For, in this case, not to know an object's
combinatorial possibilities is simply not to understand the language. Perhaps, Willgen-
stein has this in mind at 5.4732 when he says, "We cannot give a sign the wrong sense."

A Problem and a Solution: The Big Typescript


I have argued that TLP objects are best thought of as universals of a certain sort. This
had the advantage of allowing them to occur in more than one elementary configuration
and, hence, of satisfying the requirements for the mutual independence of elementary
propositions. But the view has a troublesome consequence. If objects are, ultimately, the
ground of determinateness of sense, it is reasonable to suppose that they enjoy some kind
of determinateness themselves. 16 But now it appears that two elementary propositions
could violate MI. To appreciate the problern Iet us, again, take 'ABC' and 'ABO' as stock
elementary propositions. Because of mutual independence it must be possible for their
corresponding configurations to exist jointly. So for each configuration we can associate
some place. (Otherwise, the configurations can hardly yield the world as we know it.) Let
this be indicated by ABC@s 1 , and so on. 17 By our earlier argument, if they are configura-
tions of particulars, ABC@s 1 and ABD@s 2 could violate MI. Not, however, if they are
configurations of universals. But MI requires something stronger, namely, that elemen-
tary configurations be compatible at the same place. Suppose, in other words, that MI
requires that ABC@s 1 and ABD@s 1 be ontologically independent.
For the sake of discussion we may think of C and D as analogous to color universals.
But now it appears that MI is violated. For how can we associate both blue and red, for
example, with the single place s 1? Thus, insofar as TLP objects are determinate, universals
appear, after all, tobe only slightly better candidates than particulars.
There is, I believe, a solution to this problern in TLP- one that argues for the candidacy
of universals. It involves taking very seriously the claim that objects are simple. This
proved of little help when objects were taken to be particulars. But if objects are
universals, nothing rules out the mutual existence of ABC@s 1 and ABD@s 1 so long as we
do not take this to mean that at s 1 there are two incompatible visual properties. As 6.3751
says, "the simultaneous presence of two colours at the same place in the visual field is
impossible." But what is possible is the presence, at a determinate place in the visual field,
of a secondary color, such as purple, that results from the simultaneous underlying
presence of two primary colors at that place. So if TLP objects are analogous to primary
colors, then ABC@s 1 and ABD@s 1 will be ontologically independent.
It seems to me that this solution only makes sense on the assumption that there really
are simple objects and that they really do make up the substance of the world. 1x The
assumption is, of course, a centrat player in the early pages of TLP. 19 But is there direct
evidence that the Wittgenstein of TLP thought of properties in this way?
This brings us to The Big Typescript, in particular to a section entitled "Farben und
Farbenmischung." The section begins with the following worry (p. 474):

If "f(x)" says that x is now at a determinate place, then 'f(a) & f(b)' will be a
contradiction. But why do I call 'f(a) & f(b)' a contradiction since the form of a
contradiction is p & non-p?

Intuitively, 'f(a) & f(b)' is a contradiction because it asserts that two different colors can
occupy the same place at the same time. So, perhaps, says Wittgenstein, there is an
underlying rule that explains why the sentence is contradictory. He suggests: fa = (fa &
non(fb)). In this case, 'non-fb' would follow from 'fa' so 'f(a) & f(b)' would have the form

60
of a contradiction after all.
Now Wittgenstein says,
I believed, when I wrote the "Abhandlung" (and also even later), thatfa = fa & non-
fb was possible only if fa is the logical product of non-fb and some other sentence
... and was ofthe opinion that fa (for example, a color assertion) could be analyzed
into such a product.
Further, in extending this analysis to color assertions, he held them to be logical
products whose factors were the ingredients making up the color (not, he is careful to add,
the pigment or color stuff). Thus, let two colors, a and b, resolve into constituents as
follows:
9. a = (r & s & t)
and
10. b = (r & s & t & u).
As they stand the propositions 'f(a)' and 'f(b)' arenot incompatible because 'f(r & s &
t)' and 'f(r & s & t & u)' are not incompatible, even where 'f' means 'occurs at a
determinate place at a determinate time'. lndeed, the second would appear to entail the
first.
According to The Big Typescript, 'f(a)'and 'f(b)' are incompatible only ifwe add to 9
and 10 a completeness condition, S, which, in effect, reads " ... and there are no more
colors:"
9*. a = (r & s & t & S) .
and
10*. b = (r & s & t & u & S),
Here is how Wittgenstein puts the point.

Naturally it must also be said that these are all the ingredients and the closing
observation S brings it about that r & s & t stands in contradiction with r & s & t
&u.

Two observations are in order. The first is that neither 'fa' and 'fb' are elementary.
Perhaps, 'fr' or 'fs' will be elementary or, at least, analogous to what is elementary, if9
gives constituents that arenot further analyzable. The second isthat 'S' can hardly be a
constituent of an elementary proposition. Thus, elementary propositions lack the feature
that appears to be required for incompatibility. Assertions of two different colors are
compatible insofar as they give the underlying constituents of non-simple colors. As The
Big Typescript says (p. 475), "the assertion 'here is red and blue' ought to mean that the
color of this place is a mixedcolor out of red and blue." This is precisely what was required
by our view that TLP objects are certain kinds ofuniversals. Moreover, at this point in The
Big Typescript Wittgenstein is reporting on a partially hidden assumption of views held
explicitly in TLP. And the targeted assumption is precisely the "troublesome conse-
quence" invited by the claim that the objects of Wittgenstein' s TLP are universals of the
sort we have proposed. Thus, what initially loomed as a threat to our view turns out to
confirm it. 20

61
Notes

1 For example, P. M. S. Hacker, "Laying the Ghost of the Tractatus," Review of Metaphysics
29 (1975) 96-116.
2 In "Use and Reference of Names," in Studies in the Philosophy ofWittgenstein, ed. Peter

Winch (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969), pp. 20-50.


3 Mainly contained in "The Logical Independence ofEiementary Propositions," in Perspectives

on the Philosophy of Wittgenstein, ed. Irving Block (Oxford: Blackwell, 1981), pp. 74-
84, the argument is reaffirmed in The False Prison, vol. I (Oxford, 1987), pp.I09-IIO.
4 Although some believe MI is not centrat to TLP, for example, Gate, Negation and Non-

Being, (Oxford, 1976), especially pp. 88-105, I do not understand the appeal of this view.
5 Care is called for here. If 'fa' really does say the same as '(3x).fx.x=a', then, perhaps, we

ought to say that the lauer can be expressed, namely, by 'fa'. But it is still the case that
'(3x).fx.x=a' will not occur as a sentence in a correct symbolism.
6 The elucidations are just propositions that contain the names. Rather than Ishiguro's tech-

nical stipulative propositions, I take elucidations tobe those propositions, generally, in


which the name occurs. Here I am in agreement with McGuinness, "The So-called Realism
of the Tractatus," in Perspectives on the Philosophy ofWittgenstein, ed. Irving Block (Ox-
ford: Blackwell, 1981 ). I am, however, Iess certain that this forces a non-realist interpreta-
tion ofTLP objects. Some might choose to remain non-realist about objects, but real ist about
facts. Unfortunately, it is hard to see how one can be arealist about facts without being a
real ist about objects. For when 2.0 says that a fact is just the existence or bestehen of Situa-
tions (Sachverhalten), it must be the bestehen (or not) that provides the ontological punch
needed for realism, that is, that guarantees the existence (or not) of factsapart from our Ian-
guage or beliefs. But if bestehen carries such weight here, then surely it will carry it just a
few lines Iater at 2.027 where objects are said tobe das Bestehende.
7 The proposition Ishiguro needs is 5.532l's "(3x).fx:~(3x,y). fx. fy." Butthis is tantamount

to in troduction of a name by the definite description, "the f." This seems to counter the spirit,
if not the Ietter, of 3.26 - 3.263 's sundering of names and descriptions.
8 That she means this by the final sentence ofT3 is clear from her claim on p. 47 that "no

spatio- temporal object of this world identified in the normal way could be a constituent of
any other imagined world."
9 Curiously, Ishiguro as much as admits this (48): "there are instantiations ofthe same pred-

icate in the different worlds."


10 See references in note 3.

11 Kluge argues that because objects cannot be particulars, they must be universals ("Objects

as Uni versals," Dialogue 12 ( 1973) 64-77). However, the argument is importantly different
from that given here. It depends on the claim that particulars cannot be constituents of distinct
configura tions at one and the same time. Thus, mutual independence holds, because TLP
objects cannot be confined to single configurations or states of affairs. Unfortunately, this
argument is in danger of begging the question because particulars are simply defined (p. 71)
as entities that cannot occur in more than one configuration. But, as the Violation Argument
makes clear, this not is required to impugn the candidacy of particulars as TLP objects.
12 Quoted in McGuinness (1988), p. 164.
13 See McGuinness, ibid., pp. 164-65, for useful remarks on this.
14 The caveat is to head off the thought that they are linguistic entities. Nor are they quite what

Russell had in mind by propositional functions.


15 It is, perhaps, worth mentioning that this does not violate Wittgenstein 's prohibition (at

5.251) against functions taking themselves as arguments. No more than a link in a chain
would be thought to link with itself.

62
16 This requirement makes it difficult to see how the names could be dummy names.
Pears (1987) appears to voice a similar worry, pp. 109-111.
17 For now I take no position on whether a place indicator ought tobe included in the elemen-

tary proposition itself or occur as part of the meta-analysis of such propositions.


18 Otherwise, what propositions are the elementary ones would appear tobe an entirely relative

matter, even if relative to a given language.


19 At 2.0211 it is also explicitly linked to MI: If the world had no substance, then whether a

proposition has sense would depend on whether another proposition was true.
20 This paper has benefited from the comments of a number of symposium participants, par-

ticularly, Ray Bradley, Eddy Zemach, Hide Ishiguro, Jack Canfield, Newton Garver and
Jaakko Hintikka. I am especially grateful to Michael Jubien for criticisms of an earlier
version of the paper.

***

63
Truth, Facts, and Possibilities in the Correspondence Theories of
Wittgenstein, Moore, and Russell

HERBERT HOCHBERG
University of Texas at Austin

Wittgenstein, in the Tractatus, Russell, in 1918-19, and Moore, in 191 O-ll, advocated
a variant of a correspondence theory of truth that reveals basic problems faced by
correspondence theories. To speak of a theory of truth is to speak of an ontological ac-
count or assay that specifies a ground of truth or truth maker. It isnot to speak of the mere
introduction of a truth predicate into a schema in such a way as to avoidparadoxes or
mirnie the apparent univocal use of the phrase 'is true' in ordinary speech, while
specifying a mechanism for handling molecular and quantified formulae. To offer a
philosophical theory of truth is not merely to specify the truth condition for an atomic
formula, 'Fa' for example, by a transcription such as 'a has F' or 'a belongs to the class
ofthingsthat are F' or 'rt has f', where 'rt' and 'f' are metalinguistic correlates of 'a' and
'F'. This is not to deny that such concerns playaroJe in settingout a theory of truth; it is
only to insist that to provide a philosophical account or analysis requires that one specify
what a ground of truth is.
Since such analyses of truth explicitly set forth what a truth condition is taken to be,
they do not reiterate 'a has F' in reply to the request for the specification of the truth
condition for 'Fa'. Thus, proponents of such theories recognize that the ontological
import of 'a has F' must be made explicit. In this paper we will consider two versions of
a correspondence theory of truth. One is the theory held, though not as explicitly as
historians might wish, by Wittgenstein in the Tractatus, by Russell in the logical atomism
lectures and in the 1919 paper on propositions, and implicitly advocated by Moore in
lectures of 191 O-ll. This theory, in one form or another, appeals to possible facts (or non-
existent facts, or negative facts), and I will refer to it as 'the possibility theory'. On the
possibility theory, a logically proper name, say 'a', of a schema is taken to represent an
object and a primitive predicate, say 'F', is taken to represent a property. Here, this will
be taken tobe unproblematic as will the question of whether or not Wittgenstein was such
a realist about properties.
On the possibility theory, an atomic sentence, 'Fa', is taken to represent a possibility
or situation, irrespective of whether such a situation obtains, for the possibilities of such
a theory may or may not obtain (exist, be actual). Some passages of the Tractatus point
to Wittgenstein 's holding such a view. 1 One of the most striking is the well-known:

4. 022 A proposition shows its sense.


A proposition shows how things stand if it is true.
And it says that they do so stand.

What Wittgenstein takes to be shown is the represented situation; what he takes to be


stated is that it obtains or exists. Placing brackets, [ ], around the sentence as a concise
expression for 'the possibility that a is F', we can express what 'Fa' shows and what it
states by:

(l) 'Fa' represents [Fa] and [Fa] obtains.

Possibilities are then of two kinds: some are actual (obtain, exist, positive,+), while
others are mere possibilities (non-obtaining, non-existent,-). One version of such a view

64
recognizes a two-fold use of the term 'possibility'. An existent or realized possibility is
an actual or atomic fact, while a non-existent or unrealized possibility is a mere possibility
or possible fact. One thus recognizes both actual (existent) and merely possible (non-
existent) facts. An alternative view construes possibilities or situations by analogy with
Aristotle's prime matter and recognizes two forms (or modes or ways) in which such
possibilities exist: positive and negative. While all facts are then actual, some are positive,
others are negative. Possible facts are not, then, entities distinct from actual facts. If a
possible world is then construed as a set of facts, at least one of which is possible, it
follows that there are no possible worlds, on this second alternative, since there are no
possible facts.
On the first alternative, if one recognized sets as entitites, possible worlds would be
entities, since possible facts are entities. Possibilities or situations, on the second
alternative, are simply constituents of existent facts, positive or negative facts, as
Aristotle 's primematter is taken tobe a constituent of entities, but not itself an entity. On
both alternatives, the sentences 'Fa' and '--.Fa' represent the same possibility, while the
positive sentence asserts of such a possibility that it exists (or isapositive fact) and the
negative sentence asserts that it does not (or isanegative fact). Hence, both sentences, in
one sense, represent the same situation, but make different assertions about it. However,
some passages in the Tractatus suggest that Wittgenstein took an atomic sentence and its
negation to represent different possibilities, which may then exist or not. 2
On such a reading, one would recognize both positive and negative possibilities, each
of which could either exist or be a mere possibility. This complicated alternative, as weil
as other variations, will be ignored. I will construe the possibility theory of the Tractatus
in its siruplest form, the second alternative cited above. An atomic sentence will be taken
to represent a possibility, which will then exist as a positive fact or as a negative fact.
The possibility theory was implicitly set forth by G. E. Moore in connection with his
development of an early version of what has come tobe known as Tarski's Convention-
T. Like Tarski, Moore took his version to be a criterion to be satisfied by purported
theories of truth. Moore proceeded to argue that coherence theories of truth were refuted,
since they could not satisfy the criterion, while a correspondence theory must be correct
since only such a theory could satisfy the criterion. Moore 's line of argument is of more
than historical interest, for it not only provides an argument for a correspondence theory,
it helps reveal two fundamental problems that a viable correspondence theory must
resolve.
Moore developed his argument over the years between 1910 and 1927. In his 1925-26
lectures on truth and propositions, he set forth, most explicitly, an early version of
Convention-T:

There is one fundamental fact, extremely obvious but constantly overlooked,


which is such that no answer to this question can be right, unless it is consistent
with it. And it is because only a correspondence-theory as to what truth is, is
consistent with it, that I say some such theory must be right; & because all
coherence & pragmatist theories wh. are answers to this question are inconsistent
with it, that I say they are certainly wrong.
The fact is this. For all values of p, where p is a prop. in our sense ( l) p is true if
& only if p; or to put it in another way; (2) in orderthat p should be true, it is both
a necessary & sufficient condition that p; or finally (3) p is true both emails & is
entailed by p. Put in ways ( l) and (2) it sounds rather queer, but if you take any
particular prop., no matter what you take, it is at once obvious both what it means
& that it is true.

65
E. g. (I) It is true that the sun is !arger than the moon if & only if the sun is !arger
than the moon.
(2) in orderthat it should be true that the sun is !arger than the moon, it is both a
necessary & a sufficient condition that the sun should be !arger than the moon. 3

To get at Moore' s argument, Iet •S' abbreviate the sentence 'the sun is !arger than the
moon' and Iet 'P' designate the proposition, where we can construe the proposition as
eitherthe sentence itself or as what is expressed by or corre/ated with or meant by the sentence.
To restriet the context and avoid extraneous issues Iet us also understand P tobe an atomic
sentence or proposition. Mooretakes a coherence theory to hold that Pis true only ifthere
is a specific 'many membered class' of propositions C, suchthat P coheres with C. This
involves recognizing a coherence relation obtaining between P and the set C (or a sub-set
of C, or a conjunction of the members of C, etc.). Then, if 'T' is a suitable truth predicate,
the coherence theory claims:

(D I) T(P) = P coheres with C,


if we replace Moore's conditional by a biconditional. Doing this merely ignores his
concern with versions of a coherence theory that impose additional conditions on P being
true and does not affect his argument. Moore argues that (D I) will not allow us to derive
the statement that would satisfy Convention-T: what has come tobe called the T -sentence:

(Tl) T(P) =S.


lf we add C (the members of C) to the assumptions or axioms of the schema (or take C to
consist of logical truths), then (Tl) may be obtained, with coheres with taken as is entailed
hy. But, doing this would raise an obvious problern concering C. For, if Cis added to the
assumptions, then we take C (the members of C) tobe true in a different and basic sense.
(Pointing out that C isT in that C entails C is besides the point). If coheres with is taken
as basic or simply as is consistent with (or probabilifies, in some sense), (Tl) is not
obtainable on the basis of (0 I). To obtain (Tl), without taking coheres with in terms of
entailment, one would have to assume

(AI) P coheres with C =S


(or something equivalent or stronger). One might think that (AI) is trivial, since 'T' is
defined in terms of 'coheres with'. One way of seeing the significance of Convention-T
is to realize that (AI) is not trivial and does not follow from (D I).
To see why Moore believes that only a correspondence theory satisfies Convention-T,
and to understand his version of such a theory, we must consider some ofhis earlier works.
In lectures of 1910-11, which were later published as Some Main Problems of Philosophy,
as weil as in his 1925-261ecture notes, Mooretakes a sentence like 'the sun is !arger than
the moon' to be connected with both a belief and a fact. For our purposes here, we can
replace his use of 'belief' by 'proposition'. The fact represented is the one whose
existence makes the proposition (belief) true. The relation between the two, when the fact
exists, isthat of directly proven by, a relation Mooretakestobe basic. To express his view,
we will use a sentence inside angle braces, < >, to form a sign that represents the
proposition or, alternatively, the sentence, if one construes such an expression, in a more
Tarskian vein, as a metalinguistic term designating the sentence. The sentence, by itself,
will be taken to represent a situation. The obtaining of the situation furnishes the ground
or basis for the sentence being true and, hence, can be said to be the sentence' s truth

66
ground. We can then express Moore's correspondence theory in terms of a generalized
version of (Tl):
(D2) T < ... > =... ,
where any atomic sentence may replace both occurrences of the dots and where the
occurrences of the same sentence, within and without the braces, are used to express the
connection between an atomic proposition (sentence) and a situation or possibility. When
such a situation exists (obtains, is actual, is a fact), the relation directly proven by holds
between it and the proposition. The existence of such a Situation is the truth ground for
the sentence on the right side of the biconditional and, hence, for the left side of the
biconditional as weil.
Convention-T is then trivially satisfied by <S> as weil as by every atomic sentence of
the schema, since the general definition of 'T', for the atomic sentences of the schema,
will be given by a pattern like (D2), with the interpretation we have just given to that
pattern. Putting matters as we just have, no predicate of such a schema represents Moore' s
relation of directly proven by.lt is expressed by the use ofthe braces and the dual roJe of
atomic sentences: to represent a situation and tostatethat the situation obtains, along the
lines of our earlier reading of the Tractatus in terms of (I) above.
Staying more closely to the text of Moore 's 1925-26lectures, and his earlier discussion
in Some Main Problems of Philosophy, we would not have (D2), but:

(D3) T< ... > =(3q)(< ... > is directly proven by q),
with 'q' as a variableranging over existent states of affairs or facts. (D3), however, can
be read in two quite different ways. On one reading it can be taken to be an alternative
formulation of (D2), with the interpretation we have given to the latter. On a second
reading, it can be taken tobe an attempt to avoid referring to situations in the specification
of truth conditions for atomic sentences. This would treat it as a less explicit variant of
the alternative correspondence theory we shall discuss later. lt is clear, I believe, that
Moore would not explicitly recognize non-existent facts or situations. The question is
whether the correspondence theory he develops is able to avoid them. In any case, as we
shall discuss the alternative correspondence theory shortly, I am here taking (D3) tobe
an alternative formulation of the theory employing (D2), a variant of the possibility
theory. (D3) poses a problern for Moore's correspondence theory in that (D3) does not
enable us to obtain:
(T2) T <S> =S,
without an additional assumption, reminiscent of (A 1), the assumption required by a
coherence theory. In the specific case of 'S', it would be:
(A2) (3q)(<S> is directly proven by q) =S.
But, Moore does not think of (A2) as an assumption. Rather, in spite of his taking the
relation is directly proven by tobe basic, he thinks that (A2) expresses the way in which
a correspondence theorist understands that relation. In notes from 1919, Moore wrote:
The sentences
"That this is scarlet is a fact"
"That this is scarlet is true"

67
"The prop. that this is scarlet is true"
"This is scarlet"
are all equiva/ent in meaning; i.e. if what is meant by any one of them is true, so
is what is meant by any other. 4

Moore takes the sentence 'That this is scarlet is a fact' to mean that the proposition
expressed by 'This is scarlet' is directly proven by a fact. Hence, his taking the first and
the last ofhis four sentencestobe equivalent amounts to adopting a version of (A2), while
the equivalence of the first and the second (or third) is expressed by the equivalence in
(03). And, finally, a T-sentence is asserted by the declared equivalence ofthe second (or
third) with the fourth of Moore's sentences. Since this last equivalence is a direct
consequence of the first two, we can even take Moore's equivalences tobe a way of
presenting Convention-T in the 1919 notes and asserting that the correspondence theory
satisfies it.
Moore's assertion of such equivalences is also clear from a published, but concise,
Statement of his version of Convention-T that appeared in the 1927 paper "Facts and
Propositions." There, Moore, writing about the difference between the assertion of a
statement and the assertion that the statement is true, says: " ... I admit that 'it is true that
p' can be properly used in such a way that it means no more than 'p'. But I hold that there
isanother usage of it, such that, in this usage, 'it is true that p' always means something
different from p, although something which is equivalent to it, i.e., both entails and is
entailed by it. " 5 And Moore continues with a short statement that amounts to a conjunction
of (03) and (A2): " ... one of the meanings of 'it is true that p' is a meaning in which this
means 'if anyone were to believe that p, then the fact (ofmy first kind) in question would
correspond to a fact.' To say this is, I hold, equivalent to saying 'p' - each proposition
entails the other .... " 6
In the same article, given the context ofhis discussion employing 'judges truly' rather
than •is true', he also asserts that what is, in effect, a conditional combining the left side
of (03) and the right side of (A2), and hence is half of a T-sentence, is a tautology: " ... for
it is equally true that 'S is judging truly that p, and p' is a tautology, and 'S is judging truly
that p, but not-p' a contradiction. 7 The fact that Moore uses 'and' instead of 'if-then' is,
from the context, clearly a slip. It is a minor error that C. Lewy reports that Moore "later
acknowledged, but did not correct." 8 Since his discussion is put in terms of 'judging truly
that p', ratherthan 'the proposition p is true', it is clearwhy he would employ aconditional
rather than a biconditional. 9
Overlooking the differences imposed by speaking of judgments and beliefs, instead of
propositions, Moore is saying that the correspondence theory entails equivalences, like
those expressed by (T2), i.e. T-sentences, for every proposition. As Moore thinks of it, the
proposition <S>, the proposition that <S> is true, and the proposition that <S> is directly
proven by a fact are mutually equivalent; and he takes his correspondence theory oftruth
to amount to the assertion of such equivalences. Thus, Moore can take his version of a
correspondence theory to satisfy Convention-T, since he does not take that theory tobe
expressed merely by (03), but, rather, by conjunctions like that formed from (03) and
(A2).
For Moore, the fact that the correspondence theory asserts (A2) does not mean that a
coherence theorist can make a corresponding move and claim that propositions like (AI)
follow from the understanding of 'coheres with'. For, there is a crucial difference. In the
case of (A2), the right side of the biconditional is true when the represented situation
exists or obtains, when there is a fact corresponding to <S>. And, this is what the left side

68
of (A2) states. On the coherence theory, the right side of (A 1), the sentence 'S', cannot
be taken in an analogous way. The sentence 'S' can only be taken tobe correlated with
a proposition. Hence, such a theory must simply assume (Al), in an ad hoc fashion, or
acknowledge that (Al) can be false.
There is a problern faced by Moore's correspondence theory and Wittgenstein's
version of the possibility theory formulated in (1). We can get at it by focusing on Some
Main Problems of Philosophy, where Moore took propositions (beliefs) to refer to facts
and spoke of a basic reference relation between beliefs and both existent and non-existent
facts. 10 His discussion of this relation implicitly adopts a pattem that
(D4) T<S> =(<S> represents S & S),
makes explicit. In (D4), the sentence 'S' is understood to represent a situation when it
occurs without braces. As in the more explicit formulation of (1), in (D4) the first clause
of the conjunction states that the proposition <S> represents the situation S, while the
second clause is used to assert that the situation obtains or exists. But, taking such things
to be stated relies on our understanding that atomic sentences represent situations or
possibilities, which may or may not obtain. In short, it requires the adoption of the
possibility theory.
Using (D4), interpreted in accordance with the possibility theory attributed to the
Tractatus, we can derive (T2). Clearly, we have 'T<S> ::J S; and, understanding that
<S> represents S
is a theorem (or logical truth or linguistic truth or true by the rules) of a suitable schema,
we also have 'S ::J T<S>'. This is what was implicit in the use ofthe sentence 'S' within
and without brackets in (D2).
The points just considered bring out two themes that are implicit in a correspondence
theory of the kind held by Moore, Russen and Wittgenstein. First, given that the three
apparent alternatives, (D2), (D3), and (D4), properly understood, are reany different
ways of expressing the same view, such a theory holds that atomic sentences represent
situations, which may obtain or not. This illustrates that a theory of truth, like the
correspondence theory, is not stated simply by means of definitional patterns for a truth
predicate. Rather, the correspondence theory is expressed by means of Statementsmade
about pattems like (D4) and about the sentences of a purportedly perspicuous schema.
Second, a correspondence theory like the possibility theory makes use of two senses of
the term 'correspond'.
In one sense, an atomic sentence (proposition) may be said to correspond to a situation
irrespective of its truth or falsity, and, hence, irrespective of whether the Situation obtains
or exists. In a second sense, an atomic sentence is said to correspond to a fact, which is
to say, a situation that obtains or exists. Hence, the existence of the fact is the condition
of its truth. This double sense of 'corresponds' is what Wittgenstein expressed by bis use
of 'shows' and 'says' in 4.022, what Russen expressed by speaking of positive and
negative facts in "On Propositions" of 1919, and what Moore implicitly adhered to by
speaking of existent and non-existent facts in Some M ain Problems of P hilosophy. lt also
points to an ambiguous notion of a 'truth condition' employed by such correspondence
theories. In one sense, a condition of truth is the situation that the atomic sentence or
proposition represents, irrespective of the latter's truth value. In another sense the truth
condition is the obtaining of such a situation, the existence of a fact. To avoid the inherent
ambiguity involved, we can use the suggestive phrase 'truth ground' or 'truth maker' for
this latter sense of 'truth condition'.

69
Moore 's argument, as it has been reconstructed here, isthat if one adopts Convention-
T as a criterion for a theory oftruth, a coherence theory must be rejected. Moore supported
his appeal to such a criterion by arguing that T -sentences express necessary truths, logical
equivalences reflecting mutual entailments. Since such equivalences could not be estab-
lished on the basis of a coherence theory, the coherence theorist must acknowledge the
possibility that they are false. But, since they are necessary or logical truths, it is not
possible that T -sentences are false. Hence Moore argues that coherence theories are
refuted. By contrast, his correspondence theory accounts forT -sentences being necessary
truths, since the appropriate T -sentences are consequences of such a theory.
The line of argument just presented provides one interpretation of Moore' s attempt to
use his early version of Convention-T to refute coherence theories and argue for a
correspondence theory. There is a second line of argument that I believe to be implicit in
Moore 's discussion. On a correspondence theory, the condition for <S> being true is the
existence of a fact. On a coherence theory, the truth condition is said to be the coherence
of <S> with C. But, to Moore, this raises a question as to what a truth condition is on a
coherence theory. The expression 'coheres with' appears tobe a relational predicate, but
the coherence theorist cannot take '<S> coheres with C' to represent the fact that the
coherence relation holds between <S> and C without abandoning the theory. Thus, such
a theorist is forced to hold that the ground of truth for the proposition <S> is the truth of
the further proposition that <S> coheres with C, and not the existence of a fact. But,
according to the coherence theory, such a claim must be taken to mean that the truth condition
for <S> is given by the statement:
<<S> coheres with C> coheres with C*.
where C and C* are possibly the same. Whether or not they are the same, a vicious regress
threatens, since the truth ground for a proposition (sentence) is always the truth of another
proposition (sentence). For Moore, a correspondence theory of truth differs in a crucial
way, in that the condition of truth for a proposition (sentence) is not the truth of another
proposition, but the existence of a fact. Thus, a correspondence theory, unlike a coherence
theory, can take <S> tobe true without generating an unending series of truth grounds for
<S>.
The essential feature of a correspondence theory is its recognition of truth conditions
that are not propositions or sets of propositions. It is the existence of a fact that is the
ground of truth, on such a theory. A coherence theory grounds the truth of <S> in the
coherence of <S> with C, but such a theory cannot take the coherence of <S> with C to
be the truth ground of <S>. For, to do so is to accept afact, that <S> coheres with C, as
the ground oftruth. Just as <S> cannot be taken tobe true in virtue of a fact, the proposition
<<S>coheres with C> cannot be taken to be true on the condition that there is a fact - the
fact that <S> coheres with C. It must be understood to be true on the condition that it, in
turn, coheres with some set of propositions, C*, and so on ad infinitum. To specify the
truth ground, in a way that is compatible with his theory, the coherence theorist must take
the truth ground, for a proposition stating that a coherence relation obtains, to be a further
true proposition, one in which the first proposition is itself the term of a purported
coherence relation. This initiates the regress.
Given the formal or logical status of claims of the form '< ... > represents ... ', (D4)
ensures that the requisite T-sentences are obtainable for every atomic sentence. Butan
obvious problern is raised by the atomic sentence 'S' being used in two ways in (D4). In
the first conjunct it occurs as a term ofthe predicate 'represents', and stands for a situation
irrespective of questions of truth or falsity. In the second conjunct it functions as a

70
sentence and not as a term of a relation. It is used there to assert that the situation, which
it represents, exists or obtains, and, hence, the obtaining of the Situation is the ground of
its truth. The right side of the biconditional, interpreted the way it is, anchors the atomic
sentence to a non-linguistic item, and thereby blocks one way in which such a regress
might begin. Since the left conjunct of (D4) is treated as an analytic truth no question
arises about that conjunct being correlated to a situation or fact. The right conjunct is true
if the situation represented obtains. Hence, since we give the truth condition for a
conjunction by giving the truth conditions for its conjuncts, in the standard way, no
regress can be initiated. If one took conjunctions to represent conjunctive situations,
which could obtain or not, then a kind of regress of truth conditions could begin. lt is not
clear that it would be a vicious regress, as in the case of the coherence theory, or simply,
like the Fregean generation of infinitely many senses from the sense of a single proper
name, a case of having to acknowledge a further entity at any given stage. For, while it
would be embarassing tobe forced to recognize an infinite number of facts, connected to
each atomic sentence, one could hold that the existence of each member of such a
sequence is entailed by the obtaining of the first situation involved, that represented by
<S>. But, in the case ofthe coherence theory one does not merely conclude that there must
be a further true proposition. Rather, since the coherence theorist must always appeal to
a true proposition, as the truth maker for another, purportedly true, proposition, such a
theorist always fails to answer the original question. For the answer simply raises exactly
the same kind of question - a question about what constitutes the truth of a proposition.
One might claim that the statement that a fact exists itself initiates an infinite sequence
of facts. But, we can safely hold that a fact 's existing or obtaining is notafurther fact that
may or may not obtain, and so on ad infinitum. There is nothing in a correspondence
theorist's account of truth that forces him to hold that there is such a series of facts. By
contrast, the coherence theorist is forced to accept an unending regress of coherence
relations.
The two-fold use of atomic sentences in (D4 ), to represent possibilities and to assert
that such possibilities obtain, poses a basicproblern for the possibility theory. Though I
believe Wittgenstein held to such a possibility theory, it appears to violate one of his
cardinal pronouncements: that sentences arenot names. For, atomic sentences function,
in a manner, as names of situations, though not as logically proper names in Russell's
sense. We do not avoid the problern by explicitly using a predicate for exists (or obtains),
as in (I) above, and altering (D4) to :
(D5) T<Fa> =(<Fa> represents [Fa] & [Fa] obtains).
For, while both clauses now employ the sign '[Fa]', we still use atomic sentences in two
ways- with and without the predicate 'obtains'. Moreover, as Wittgenstein once observed,
such a predicate (assertion sign) is pointless. In keeping with that observation, we can Iet
it suffice for certain thingstobe shown by or said about a schema and not said within it.
Whether (D5), or (D4), involves the correspondence theorist in an infinite regress or
sequence of possibilities and facts is a question we shall take up later. Here we can note
a problern that is connected with the earlier discussion of Moore' s Convention-T. If the
correspondence theorist employs (05), in place of (04 ), he cannot derive the requisite T-
sentence unless he adds something reminiscent of (AI) and (A2), '[Fa] obtains =Fa'.
The possibility theory faces yet a further problern in that it not only uses atomic
sentences in a two-fold manner, it employs a two-fold sense of 'represents'. When he
takes 'a' to represent a specific object, a correspondence theorist sets forth an interpre-
tation that is clearly stipulative and which merely coordinates two things that we have,

71
independently of the coordination procedure. But, when he takes 'Fa' to represent a
situation - a complex - he does not merely coordinate two complexes but does something
quite different. This may be overlooked due to the ambiguity of the phrase 'truth
condition' that we noted earlier: the sense in which a possibility furnishes a truth
condition and the sense in which the existent fact is the condition for, or ground of, truth.
The connection between the sentence and the situation is not a mere matter of affixing a
Iabel or coordinating two things, for the sentence represents what it does in virtue of the
representative roles of its constituent terms and of predicative juxtaposition. One can take
atomic sentences to represent as names do only if one thinks in terms of existent facts,
rather than possibilities, and ignores the structure of the sentence. But such a use of atomic
sentences is useless for dealing with our present problems. The possibility theorist
overlooks the different uses of 'represent' that he employs by appealing to a primitive
representational relation. He postulates that an atomic sentence represents a situation and
assumes that he is entitled to speak of such sentences representing something as he speaks
of simple signs representing existent objects and properties. The failure to explicate the
difference between the sense in which complexes and simples are represented points to
an obvious weakness of such a theory. In spite of such problems, the possibility theory has
an undoubted strength. It is not an ostrich ontology, for it squarely faces the ontological
problems posed by truth and predication. The question is whether one can resolve such
problems without recognizing possibilites in any ontological guise.
We noted earlier that Moore' s use of (D3) could be construed as an attempt to formulate
truth conditions while appealing only to existent factsandnot to situations or non-existent
facts. But Moore's discussion, whatever his intent, implicitly takes (D2), (D3), and (D4)
to be different ways of expressing the same view. Russen, by contrast, had explicitly
attempted to avoid possibilities as early as 1905 in "On Denoting." This was one of the
tasks he thought his theory of descriptions accomplished. In "On Denoting" he cited three
puzzles his theory of descriptions was to resolve. Two of these have been discussed
endlessly for more than three quarters of a century - definite descriptions of non-existent
objects like the present King ofFrance and descriptions in intentional contexts. The third
has been virtuany ignored, but it is directed at our problern. Russen is concerned with the
problern posed by speaking of the non-existence of 'the relation' when a sentence like
'aRb' is false. 11 What he means, as is clear from the context, is the non-existence of the
obtaining of the relation. He is not speaking of the existence or non-existence of the
relation R, but of the fact that a stands in R tob. What Russen is proposing isthat his theory
of descriptions solves the problern of non-obtaining possibilities as it supposedly solves
the problern of how to talk about non-existent kings.
Russen's misleading formulation, speaking of 'the relation' as not existing, has not
only hidden his meaning from readers, it has hidden a critical problern his view faces. Let
us formulate a description with a sentential variable ranging over existent facts, and let
us continue to discuss the simple case of 'Fa' to avoid the complications that relational
statements introduce. We want to say that the fact that a is F does not exist. Using 'p' as
a sentential variable ranging over existent facts, we have a description of the form
'(jp)( ... p ... )'. But what is to supply the context and replace the dots? One might suggest
something like '(i p)(p =Fa)' or '(i p)(p is a being F)'. But, then, we still face the problern
of non-obtaining situations by using the atomic sentence within the description - Fa or a
being F. Russen's speaking of 'the relation' rather than 'the obtaining of a relation' may
have led him to overlook such an obvious problem.
Russen returned to the problern in 1913 in the Theory of Knowledge manuscript. His
discussion is complicated by his preoccupation with relations and the problems posed by

72
relational order. Thus, I will modify it to avoid these complications and also to correct
what I taketobe a problern in his account. 12 Let me introduce a relation of containment
or of whole-part, C, that holds between a fact (existent) and a constituent of the fact. A
fact, like a being F, will be taken tobe composed of a particular, a, a property, F, and a
logical form, 0x, and tobe denoted by the description: ( i p)(pCa & pCF & pC0x). We now
specify the truth condition for 'Fa' by:

(2) T<Fa> = E!(j p)(pCa & pCF & pC0x).

Thus we specify the truth condition for 'Fa' without presupposing that 'Fa' represents
something; just as we speak about the present King of France without presupposing that
we denote something. The claim that (2) provides a viable specification of the truth
ground for atomic sentences without recognizing situations is the claim of the alternative
correspondence theory I mentioned at the outset: the theory proposed by Russell in 1905
and, again, in 1912-3.
One might object that such a theory merely postpones the problem. For the statement
to the right ofthe biconditional itself expresses a possibility which can be realized or not.
There are a number of replies to this objection. First, it is not at all clear that existential
Statements require existential facts as their truth grounds. Just as the atomic facts that
ground the truth of 'Fa' and 'Ga' may be taken to ground the truth of 'Fa & Ga', without
the recognition of a further conjunctive fact, so such facts may be taken to ground the truth
of '(3x)Fx' and '(3x)Gx' without further existential facts. Second, to raise such an
objection is to implicitly assume that where we have a fact, we have a further fact, namely
that the first fact is a fact. This assumption one can reject out ofhand. The fact that grounds
the truth of an atomic sentence, say 'Fa', grounds the truth of each member of the series
of sentences 'It is a fact that a is F', 'lt is a fact that it is a fact that a is F', etc., just as it
grounds the truth of each member of the series, 'Fa', '"Fa' is true", etc. No further facts
are needed in either case. Since this is so we do not have corresponding possibilities. This
is not to deny that there need not have been such a fact. But the sense of possibility that
is involved here does not force one either to take 'E!(jp)(pCa & pCF & pC0x)' to
represent a possible existential fact or to take '(i p)(pCa & pCF & pC0x)' to denote a
situation. All one need do is note that 'E!(jp)(pCa & pCF & pC0x)' is not an analytic
Statement. Third, the crucial point to note isthat the description '(i p)(pCa & pCF &
pC0x)' can, on Russell 's theory of descriptions, be taken tobe a contextually meaningful
sign without heing taken to denote anything. On the possibility theory atomic sentences
are taken, explicitly or implicitly, to represent situations.
An obvious question arises about the negations of atomic sentences - what are their
truth grounds? lf we employ:

T<-.Fa> = E!(jp)(pCa & pCF & pC-.0x)

we acknowledge a new logical form, a form for negative predication. One then, in a clear
sense, recognizes negative facts, actual though they may be. The obvious alternative is

(3) T<-.Fa> = -.E!(jp)(pCa & pCF & pC0x).

But, do we now recognize the fact that there is no fact that (jp)(pCa & pCF & pC0x)
exists? We can safely say 'no' for two reasons. First, to accept such a fact should Iead one
to hold that in the case of 'Fa' being true, there would be the fact that there is a fact that
(jp)(pCa & pCF & pC0x) exists. This we have already rejected as pointless. Second, we
have accepted a set or collection of atomic facts. What is held is that no member of the

73
set is suchthat it stands in C to a, F, and 0x. It is crucial that we acknowledge sets. The
use of the quantifier and variable introduces, or implicitly refers to a domain, which is a
set or class. Where we make use of such signs we recognize, implicitly or explicitly, a set
of elements over which the variable 'ranges'. The domain for the sentential variable is the
set of (existent) atomic facts. Given the set, and hence its elements as entities, we have
sufficient truth grounds for all true atomic sentences, as well as all true negations of
atomic sentences.
A further question can be raised about the clauses, like 'pCa', that occur in the
descriptions used on the present theory. While the problern of non-existent possibilities
may not arise over the existential statements used in (2) and (3), they do seem to arise in
connection with such constituent clauses of those statements. The question is whether
facts and Situations are presupposed by the use of such clauses. While there is clearly no
such problern in connection with the use of variables, one might think, as Russell did, that
the use of variables presupposes the recognition of constants and the occurrence of
constants in Statements. Thus, just as Russell thought that the use of 'Fx' and '(3x)Fx'
presupposed the subject- predicate form and basic subject and predicate terms, so the use
of 'p' with quantifiers might be taken to presuppose the use of constants that can replace
'p' in 'pCa'. We would then face problems conceming the facts and situations such
Statements represented. There are two lines of reply .
First, one can deny that we do presuppose such constants in the case of complexes. This
is what enables us to distinguish between the sense in which atomic sentences represent
and the sense in which names and primitive predicates represent. To say that an atomic
sentence 'Fa' represents is to say either that we have the sentence (2) for it or, simply, that
(jp)(pCa & pCF & pC0x) exists, i. e. that it is true. By contrast, to speak ofrepresentation
in the case of names and predicates is to speak of a fundamental intentional relation.
Recall that the possibility theory appealed to such a relation in two very different cases:
the case of simple terms and the case of atomic sentences. Second, assume we admit
constants as simple names of existent facts and introduce such a name, 'k', for (jp)(pCa
& pCF & pC0x), given that there is such a fact. 'k' would still not represent a possible
state of affairs or situation. For, the purported situation would be that a given fact, k,
contains the object a. But, that k contains a is no more a possible fact or fact than that a
is a member of 1a, b, c I is a fact or situation. By using some signs rather than others, one
can formulate statements that arenot formal truths or falsehoods, such as 'kCa', butthat
does not mean that such a statement, being true, signifies a fact, that k and a stand in the
relation C, anymore than 'a is a member of ll' signifies the fact that a and the class stand
in the membership relation, where we Iet 'l.l' name the class I a, b, c I. (One might also
insist that 'k' is really a disguised description and that 'kCa' is elliptical for '(jp)(pCa &
pCF & pC0x) Ca', which is merely 'E! (jp)(pCa & pCF & pC0x)' on Russell's theory
of descriptions.)
As already indicated, on the present version of a correspondence theory, as on the
possibility theory, molecular statements do not require molecular facts. Quantified
Statements, however, raise other questions. Consider, an existential quantification such
as '(3y)Fy', we can use:

=
(i) T<(3 y)Fy> (3 y)(3 p)(pCy & pCF & pC0x)
=
(ii) T<(3 y)Fy> (3 p)(pCa & pCF & pC(3 x)0x)

or
(iii) T<(3 y)Fy> =(3 p)(pCF & pC0x)
74
to specify its truth condition.The firstalternative raises a question about the ontological
significance ofusing individual quantifiers. The second introduces a further logical form,
along the lines of Russe II 's notion of logical form in 1912-13. While such forms might be
necessary for other purposes, analyzing belief contexts for example, here they amount to
the recognition of existential facts in a clear-cut sense. Thus, the third alternative seems
preferable in that it neither raises a problern nor introduces any further entity. Given (iii),
it is clear that

T<-.(3 y)F y> = -,(3 p)(pCF & pC0x).

will take care of '-,(3 y)Fy'. Thus, two quantified contexts can be dealt with without any
apparent extensions of the theory 's ontology. In the case of '(x)Fx' such a theory has only
two alternatives:

(iv) T<(x)Fx> = (x)(3 p)(pCx & pCF & pC0x)

and

(v) T<(x)Fx> = (3 p)(pCF & pC(x)0x).

To adopt (v) is not only to recognize an additionallogical form expressed by means of


the quantifier sign '(x)', but to recognize what Russe II called a general fact, since the fact
that grounds the truth of the generality contains the form (x)0x as a constituent. The case
of (iv), like (i), is not so clear. Since we recognize both the set of objects as weil as the
set of existent atomic facts, one may argue that no further entity is required. The use of
the quantifiers in the Statement ofthe truth condition for '(x)Fx' in (iv) is not held to avoid
ontological commitments, in the sense in which philosophers who speak of 'semantic
ascent' claim to avoid such commitments. Wehave recognized domains or sets, a set of
objects and of facts. Hence, one may argue that no general fact is acknowledged by the
use ofthe universal quantifier in (iv). One may then reject Russe II 's well-known argument
claiming that in addition to all the atomic facts, containing a particular object and the
property F, there isafurther fact- that the objects in such facts are all the objects orthat
the atomic facts are all the facts. Given that we have the sets of atomic facts and of objects,
we have all the objects and all the atomic facts. To put it another way, when we have a set
we have all its members. The very concept of a set involves the notion of generality, as
Wittgenstein once argued that the concept of a variable involves the idea of generality. Be
that as it may, however one treats '(x)Fx', the case of '-, (x)Fx' follows easily as:
(vi) T <-. (x)Fx> = -, (x)(3p )(pCx & pCF & pC0x)
(vii) T<-.(x)Fx> = -,(3p)(pCF & pC(x)0x)

or

(viii) T<-.(x)Fx> = (3p)(pCF & pC-,(x)0x).


One who accepts (iv) and the argument for it will clearly adopt (vi) for the same reasons.
With (v), one faces the choice of (vii) or (viii), and, again, it is clear that (viii) involves
a further extension of one' s ontology by recognizing not merely general facts, but general
negative facts.
While the Russellian theory we have developed, in cantrast to Wittgenstein's possi-
bility theory, avoids situations and the equivocal use of the notion of representation, it
faces a prob lern. Setting out the truth conditions for atomic sentences as we have does not
allow for the derivation of the T-sentences. Hence, the theory does not satisfy Moore's

75
and Tarski's condition for a satisfactory theory. To do this one must add:

E!(jp)(pCa & pCF & pC0x) =Fa

or something along such lines, for the case of 'Fa'. This is precisely what the coherence
theory has to do. What is interesting is that the possibility theory can trivially satisfy
Convention-T by the two-fold use of atomic sentences we discussed earlier. While
avoiding such a double use of sentences and the consequent equivocal use of 'represents',
the present version of a correspondence theory also avoids situations. Whether its failure
to satisfy Convention-T is a defect of the theory or whether the common failure of such
a theory and coherence theories to satisfy Convention-T sugggests that the convention is
irrelevant for philosophical theories of truth is a matter for further discussion.

Notes

1 For example, 2.06, 2.202, 2.22, 4.031, the first two paragraphs of 4.0621, 4.061, 4.1.
2 For example, 2.11, 2.20 I, the last paragraph of 4.0621.
3 G.E. Moore, Leerures on Philosophy ed. C. Lewy (Allen & Unwin/London, 1966), p. 3.

4 G.E. Moore, Commonp/ace Book, ed. C. Lewy (Allen & Unwin/London, 1962), p. 3.

~ G.E. Moore,"Facts and Propositions," reprinted in G.E. Moore Philosophica/ Papers (Allen
& Unwin/London, 1959), p. 82.
6 Moore (1959), p. 83.

7 Moore ( 1959), p. 78.

8 Moore ( 1959), p. 78.

9 Moore seeks to avoid propositional entities by focusing on judgments and beliefs. But, he

has propositions in the form of belief Uudgment) types. On this matter see H. Hochberg,
Thought, Fact, and Reference: The Origin and Ontology of Logh·a/ Atomism (University of
Minnesota Press/Minneapolis, 1978), pp. 53-70.
10 G.E. Moore, Some Main Problems of Philosophy (Allen & Unwin/ 1953), pp.267-9.

11 B.A.W. Russell, "On Denoting,"reprinted inLogicand Knowledge,ed. R. Marsh (Macmillan/

New York, 1971) pp. 48, 53-4.


12 Fora discussion of Russell's analysis of order and the role it plays in his analysis of belief

contexts see H. Hochberg "Descriptions, Situations, and Russell's Extensional Analysis of


Intentionality," Philosophy and Phenomenologica/ Research, Vol. xlix, No. 4 (1989).

***

76
The Inexpressibility of Form

PETER M. SULLIVAN
Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

§ 1 lntroduction

This paper sets out to show that the 1ogical form of Janguage cannot be expressed by
means of language. In the background is a view of Wittgenstein's original argument to
that effect, the argument presented in sections 4.126-4.12721 of the Tractatus. I have no
space to defend that view here, but a sketch of it may help to Jocate my remarks.
I see Wittgenstein 's argument as primarily concemed with three theses. The first is the
thesis of inexpressibility just mentioned, and stated at TLP 4.12. The second is a thesis
of inseparability, developed at TLP 3.3ff, on which the first is based. What the insepara-
bility thesis says are inseparable are the Jogical type of an expression and the formal
articulation of the propositional context in which it occurs. So this thesis might be put:
only in the context of a proposition is a sign a symbol. Two corollaries of it are: first, that
to recognize an expression as being of a certain logical type is to recognize the context in
which it figures as exemplifying an appropriate logical form; and second, that to attempt
to ascribe to an expression or its referent any formal concept is implicitly to attempt to
describe the formal articulation of a proposition or state of affairs. lt is because this last
thing cannot be done that form is inexpressible. The third thesis, on the basis of which
- as I read Wittgenstein- he holds that that last thing cannot be done, isthat a proposition
is a fact [TLP 3.14].
As I said, I cannot here argue for this interpretation. I mention it simply to indicate why
I shall be starting a paper on the inexpressibility of form by looking at the proposition-
as-fact thesis. What I will argue here isthat the proposition-as-fact thesis is wrong [§4];
but further, and perhaps more surprisingly, that it is wrong in a way that shows why the
inexpressibility thesis is correct [§§5&6]. As a preliminary tothat the next two sections
aim, firstly, to indicate the roJe ofthe propositions-as-fact thesis in the Tractatus [§2]; and
secondly, to elucidate the remarks in which this thesis is presented [§3].

§2 The role of the proposition-as-fact thesis

Tractatus 4.221 teils us that an elementary proposition consists of names "in immedi-
ate combination". The thought here is close to Frege's. In 'Socrates taught Plato' the
connection between the two proper names is mediated by the relational symbol 'x taught
y'; without it they will not "hold together". 1 But of the relational symbol and the names,
the three significant elements of this proposition, we could say that they stand in
immediate combination. Wittgenstein's claim, then, is that the names figuring in an
elementary proposition Jogically adhere one with another in some such unmediated way.
Wittgenstein continues: "The question arises here how the propositional bond comes
to be" [TLP 4.221]. Frege had, or thought he had, the categories in which to respond to
this question. He could answer, for instance, that in 'Socrates taught Plato' the bond
comes about through the completion of a relational symbol by two names. What makes
that an answer is this: though there are propositions in which a relation is expressed
between a relation and two objects- such as 'Socrates taught no-one besides Plato'- no
proposition comprising only a relational symbol completed by two namesexpresses such
a relation. A proposition of this kind gives expression only to the unmediated, logical

77
connection between a relation and the objects it relates. By contrast Wittgenstein
confessed hirnself- and so left us - completely in the dark about the forms exemplified
in elementary propositions. So when the question of the propositional bond arises in the
context of the Tractatus, only the most generalized and schematic kind of answer can be
given. This is the answer Wittgenstein gives at TLP 3.14. That a proposition has the
complexity of a fact is his answer to the ancient problern of propositional unity: it is his
account of how the elements of a proposition come tobe in immediate combination, rather
than remaining a mere Iist or "class of names" [TLP 3.142].
To see how the proposition-as-fact thesis could aspire to this role we must attend
briefly to the distinction between fact and complex which it invokes. People have sought
to contrast fact and complex in various ways. It is for instance common to remark that,
although a fact may concern some time or place, it is itself, in contrast to a complex,
neither datable nor locatable. Or again, whereas a complex is, speaking very generally,
something of the samekindas its constituents, this is not true of facts. Whilst not denying
either of these we need to emphasize here a further contrast, which concerns the sense in
which the constituents of a fact or complex may be thought to be intrinsic to it.
The constituents of a complex are objects standing in relations to one another. That
they so stand is a fact, which may be expressed by a proposition describing the complex.
We may perhaps recognize asensein which the obtaining of such a fact, the holding of
such a relation between the constituents of the complex, is an 'internal' feature of the
complex; in that, if that fact did not obtain, the complex would not exist. Butthis will be
true of many facts, expressed by many descriptions of the complex, and the complex is
indifferent between them. Accordingly, if we do recognize such a sense, we must
recognize too that it is quite different from that in which the particular relation which any
description of the complex asserts to hold between its proper constituents is 'internal' to
the fact this description expresses. None of these relations is intrinsic to the complex, as
each is to one of the facts in virtue of whose obtaining the complex exists. So when we
speak of the elements of a fact - but not when we speak of the elements of a complex -
the relation whose obtaining is that fact will be amongst them.
The elements of a complex stand in material relations: their connection, like that of
the names in 'Socrates taught Plato', is mediated by such a relation. But what kind of
connection obtains between the elements of a fact, say, the fact that the cigarette tin is next
to the ashtray? These elements - the cigarette tin, the ashtray, and the relation next to -
may of course be connected by a material relation; for instance, by the relation x alone Ry,
ifthe cigarette tin alone is next to the ashtray. But ifthey are so related, then by a repetition
of the previous argument, this material relation will be an element of the fact that it is so.
So the supposition that connection between the elements of a fact is mediated by a material
relation straightaway takes us from an account ofthat fact to another. We must then hold
that the elements of a factarein immediate combination. The elements of the fact that the
cigarette tin is next to the ashtray combine immediately, because this fact is the holding
of a relation between two objects.
The parallel between this conclusion and the Fregean account of 'Socrates taught
Plato' is striking. It can, moreover, be pressed: a fact whose only elements are a relation
and two objects is distinct from any fact that those elements stand in such and such a
material relation. So Wittgenstein 's proposition-as-fact thesis represents an alternative
to the Fregean account of propositional unity which, at least to first appearances, retains
its strength.

78
§3 A point of detail concerning the statement of the thesis
An insufficiently remarked feature of Wittgenstein' s presentation of the proposition-
as-fact thesis is his use oftwo non-interchangeable constructions. Wittgenstein first states,
at TLP 3.14:
The propositional sign consists in this: that in it its elements, the words, are
combined in adefinite way. ( ... dass sich seine Elemente ... auf bestimmte Art und
Weise zu einander verhalten.)

In illustration of the thesis he then offers the much quoted 3.1432

Instead of"The complex sign 'aRb' says that a stands in the relation R tob", what
we should rather say is: That 'a' stands in a certain relation to 'b' says that aRb.
( ... dass 'a' in einer gewissen Beziehung zu 'b' steht, sagt, dass aRb.)

The relationship between these passages is as follows. In' aRb', the elements, or words,
'a', 'R' and 'b' are combined in adefinite way: in such a way that 'R' can be seentobe
the index 2 of a relational symbol 'xRy' completed by two names. Because ofthis combination
'a' stands in a certain relation to 'b': that relation in which any two names stand when
they complete this relational symbol. To combine names with the index of a relational
symbol is thus to establish a relation between these names.
It is essential to preserve the distinction between these constructions. For neglect of
it may Iead one to imagine that TLP 3.1432 offers a model ofthe functioning of elementary
propositions, and so encourage the view that an elementary proposition consisting of n
namesexpresses an n-adic relation between the referents ofthose names. This is, in effect,
to think of an elementary proposition as just like an everyday proposition with the
predicate missed out. Many commentators have presented cogent arguments against this
view, which might be called the 'model' interpretation. But more important for present
purposes than any of those arguments is that the model interpretation offers no sense in
which names are in immediate combination: its model of the proposition is precisely as
a complex.
If my exposition of these two remarks is correct, then to say that the elements of a
proposition are "combined in adefinite way" is to make what is neither straightforwardly
a remark about signs nor yet about symbols. Signs, or "words", are what TLP 3.14 is
declaredly about. But signs can be said to "combine" precisely when this combination is
indicative of the immediate, logical connection of symbols. Analogous points will then
apply to Wittgenstein 's more general but parallel remarks about pictures at TLP 2.14 &
2.141. But we run into trouble when we try in this light to make sense of the succeeding
remark:

That the elements of the picture are combined in adefinite way represents that the
things are so combined. [TLP 2.15]

For at the world end of the picturing relationship there is no distinction analogous to that
between sign and symboltobe drawn, so that what 'combination' might there amount to
is moot. I only mention this difficulty now; we will later have a clearer view of it.

§4 An argument against the proposition-as-fact thesis


Michael Dummett presented the following powerful argument against the proposition-
as-fact thesis: 3

79
( 1) if a proposition is to represent in the way that a fact about a diagram does, then there
must be something that plays the roJe of the diagram;
(2) this can be none other than the proposition-as-complex-object; but
(3) there will be various facts about the diagram (proposition-as-complex-object),
each with as good a claim as any other to represent what the diagram (proposition) says;
(4) a proposition, by contrast, says just one thing, and anyone who understands it
knows what this is; therefore
(5) "we are forced to conclude that the sentence does not represent as a diagram does,
but in a different way altogether".

Comments that Dummett makes elsewhere on the picture theory 4 strongly suggest that he
had in mind the rejected 'model' interpretation when presenting this argument. And
certainly it is against the background of the model interpretation, and the analogy with
maps and architects' modelsthat it suggests, that stage (3) ofDummett's argument is most
obviously true. So what we need to ask is whether that part of the argument has force
against the alternative interpretation of the proposition-as-fact thesis sketched in §3
above.
Rejection of the model interpretation removes the apparent support that premise (3)
receives from what might be called 'accidental facts' - facts brought about by the
particular, inessential way in which we bring it about that the representing fact obtains.
But it stillleaves room for non-accidental facts: that is, facts which are consequences of
the representing fact. So we must ask how thesestand in regard to (3).
Consider the proposition 'aRb', in which the representing factisthat 'a' is written
immediately to the left of, and •b' immediately to the right of, •R', or in other words that

(a) 'a' stands in the 'R' relation to 'b'. (For short: 'a"R"b')
Consequences of this fact are that
(b) 'a' is to the left of 'Rb'
(c) 'b' is to the right of 'aR'
but also that
(d) For some n, n is to the left of 'Rb'
(e) For some n and some m, n*m and n'R'm
(f) For some S. 'a' S'b'
etc ...

Certainly we cannot bring it about that the representing fact (a) obtains without also
bringing it about that (d) following, existential generalizations ofit, obtain. Ifthese non-
accidental facts are admitted to verify stage (3) of the argument, then its conclusion is
proved, in the specific form that the proposition-as-fact thesis obscures the distinction
between what a proposition says and what it implies. But how can we resist so admitting
them?
We might try denying that these other facts have an equa/ claim to represent, in that
their obtaining is dependent on the obtaining ofthe representing fact: (b)-(f), etc, are true
in virtue of the truth of (a). But no-one persuaded by the argument would be impressed
by this observation. For it is the point of the argument that in bringing it about that a
representing fact obtains we thereby bring it about that other representing facts obtain.
The dependence this response points to is precisely what Dummett's argument trades on.
The argument might here take one of several turns; but any plausible response will
eventually amount, I think, to this: we should accept that 'aRb' is not one propositional

80
sign but many. That is, since representing facts prove too numerous tobe identified with
what we took to be propositional signs, we must identify propositional signs with
representing facts.
It might be objected that to respond in this way only shifts the prob lern: to the question,
what this propositional sign says, there is now a clear answer; but to achieve it we have
made it unanswerable, which propositional sign any demonstrated expression is. Witt-
genstein 's remarks about the ambiguous cube at TLP 5.5423 perhaps contain the
beginnings of an answer to this objection. If it is right that to perceive a complex thing
is to perceive that a certain fact obtains, then the question, which propositional sign this
is, has an answer as soon as 'this' has a reference- just as the question, which corners
define the front face of Wittgenstein 's drawn cube, has an answer as soon as the cube is
looked at in a particular way.
But now this reply Ieads only to a morefundamental objection. lf to perceive 'aRh' in
different ways is to perceive different facts, and if distinct facts are distinct propositional
signs, then there can be no room for the notion of perceiving a propositional sign in
different ways. And this makes plain that the only response to the problern posed by (d)
following catches (b) and (c) in its net too. In consequence, that a has the complex
property of being R to h, orthat hissuchthat a is R to it, is not something that can be said
by the propositional sign saying that aRh. Moregenerally, this evasion of the threat from
stage (3) of Dummett's argument involves commitment to (4) in such a strong interpre-
tation that the possibility of alternative analyses of propositions is ruled out. And with
that too goes any hope for an account of our understanding of generality, of inferences
based on it, and of the produclive formation of concepts. 5

§5 Diagnosis of the error of the proposition-as-fact thesis


A complex can be looked at in different ways. Even if it is true that we cannot perceive
a complex without perceiving it in some way, it does not follow that there is some way
in which any complex must be perceived. Similarly, a complex may be described in
different ways. Facts on the other hand coordinate with descriptions, so we cannot say
that a fact may be perceived ordescribed in different ways. Different descriptions (iftrue)
express different facts.
Considered simply as a thing, a proposition is a complex like any other. It may be
described in many ways, and there is no ground for regarding the articulation of any such
description as intrinsic to the thing described. But considered as a bearer of a determinate
sense a proposition does indeed have an intrinsic articulation: to understand the proposi-
tion involves appreciation of the structure through which its sense is expressed. In this
we recognize an affinity between proposition and fact, and of course this affinity is not
accidental: a proposition is the expression of a fact. But at the sametime it is essential
that a proposition may be conceived in different ways, ways provided for but distinct from
the fundamental articulation recognition of which understanding demands. It is against
this requirement that we offend if we force that recognized affinity into a statement of
identity.
Recall again TLP 2.15, the remark in which we first sensed trouble with the proposi-
tion-as-fact thesis at the close of §3:

That the elements of the picture are combined in adefinite way, represents that the
things are so combined.
The intention ofthe passage is clear: a fact is represented by a fact, and this representing
relation between the two consists in the coordination of the elements of the representing
fact and the fact represented. But now what are these elements? How this question is

81
answered will depend on whether priority is accorded to the representing or to the
represented fact. And neither answer is satisfactory.
If we are guided by the represented fact, say the fact that aRb, we must say that its
elements are the objects a, band the relation xRy; and so the coordinate elements of the
representing factwill be the symbols 'a', 'b', and 'xRy'. In that case, 'combination'
cannot be given the meaning sketched in §3 - that of an arrangement of signs indicative
of an immediate, logical connection of symbols- but must be regarded as an attempt to
express this logical connection itself. But now, by the argument of §2, if it were a fact that
these symbols are so combined, or connected, then this fact would have as elements the
symbols and the relation of combination that obtains between them. And so the
representing fact, the proposition, is distorted into the shape of a complex of which its
constituent symbols are parts.
If, on the other hand, we are guided by the representation rather than by what is
represented, weshall say that its elements are the signs 'a', 'R' and 'b'; and their 'combination'
can be understood in the manner of §3. But now what can it mean to say that "the things
are so combined"? The fact that aRb can be seen as a combination of things in this sense
only if it is conceived as a complex whose constituents are a, band the relation xRy.
And so we see that the proposition-as-fact thesis, which aims to capture the sense in
which a proposition differs from a mere complex, the sense, that is, in which the
significant elements of a proposition are in immediate combination, ironically betrays its
own intentions. The insight behind this thesis is that the formal articulation of the
proposition gives expression to the formal articulation of what is symbolized: that
"propositions describe reality by its intemal properties" [TLP 4.023]. Butthat a propo-
sition has such and such a formal articulation is not a fact. Or, perhaps better, the formal
articulation of the proposition does not consist in the fact that it is so articulated. And so
the confusion which belies that insight may be expressed thus: as the holding of a material
relation between objects constitutes the fact that they are so related, so the holding of a
formal relation of immediate combination between the elements of a proposition consti-
tutes the fact that they are so combined. 6 1t is now plain that this seeming analogy is a false
one.

§6 Derivation of the inexpressibility thesis

In the terminology just introduced, the reason for the failure of the proposition-as-fact
thesis might be put like this: the obtaining of a formal relation, unlike that of a material
relation, does not constitute the fact that elements are so related.
But now from this conclusion Wittgenstein 's thesis of the inexpressibility of form is
derivable by a simple modus tol/ens. Propositions coordinate with facts: whatever can
be expressed by a (true) proposition is a fact. The obtaining of a formal relation is not a
fact. So the obtaining of a formal relation cannot be expressed by a proposition. It is
noteworthy that this argument does not rest on any doctrinaire restriction on the notion
of a fact, or on what kind of propositions may be admitted as expressing facts. (lt does not
presume, for instance, that only bi-polar propositions are genuine propositions, or
genuinely express facts.)
Given that I have derived this conclusion from the denial of a key Tractarian thesis,
how can I possibly present it as realizing Wittgenstein's intentions? Firstly, because the
thesis denied is, as we saw, a distortion of the insight Wittgenstein sought through it to
express. Secondly, because like Wittgenstein's original the argument turns fundamental-
ly on the 'inseparability thesis' mentioned in §I. Essentialappeal is made to this when

82
tbe inexpressibility of formal relations is equated witb tbe inexpressibility of form in
general. And tbirdly, because tbis argument clarifies tbe central tbesis:
Tbat wbicb expresses itself in language, we cannot express by means of language.
[TLP 4.121)

Tbe formal relation between tbe elements of a proposition is par excellence sometbing
tbat "expresses itself in language": it is wbat makes tbe proposition, and so finds ex-
pression in its being a proposition.
Tbe same will be true of formal concepts. Tbe symbol for a relation, for instance,
contains tbe form, orprototype, ofits arguments [cf. TLP 3.333]; it is a symbol oftbe form
F(x,y). Being oftbis form, tbe symbol for a relation at once gives expression to tbe formal
concept relation and to tbe logical connection between a relation and tbe objects it relates.
And it is tbe only expression oftbis connection. For were it not so, tben we could after
all say, "Tbe proposition 'aRb' consists in tbe fact tbat tbe relation 'xRy' relates 'a' and
'b'". But we bave seen tbat it is an illusion tbat wbat follows 'tbe fact tbat' bere states
a fact. It is an illusion, tberefore, tbat tbe verb 'relates', as it occurs bere, expresses a
relation; an illusion, finally, tbat tbe word 'relation' presents a (formal) concept appli-
cable to one of tbe terms ofthat relation. "A formal concept is already given"- and can
only be given - "witb an object tbat falls under it" [TLP 4.12721].

Notes

1 Frege, "Über Begriff und Gegenstand", p. 205; translated in Collected Papers, ed. B. McGuin-
ness (Oxford/New York 1984) p. 193.
2 This use of 'index' derives ultimate1y from TLP 5. 02, via P. Long, "Are predicates and re1ation
expression incomplete?", Philosophical Review Vol. 78 (1969), p. 93.
3 M. Dummett, "Frege and Wittgenstein", in Perspectives on the Philosophy ofWittgenstein, ed.
I. Block (Oxford 1981) pp. 37-38.
4 See, for instance, bis Frege: Philosophy ofLanguage (London 1981) p. 247.
5 On tbese matters see Frege, Begriffsschrift§ 9, Grundlagen § 88; M. Dummett, The Interpreta-
tion of Frege' s Philosophy (London 1981) chapter 16.
6 The terminology of 'formal relations', as weil as much ofthe thought that surrounds it, is derived
from P. Long, "Formal Relations", Philosophical Quaterly Vol. 32 (1982).

***

83
The Metaphysics of the Tractatus

NEWTON GARVER
State University of New York, Buffalo

The most striking feature of the metaphysics of the Tractatus is a kind of dualism. The
world is one irreducible reality and its substance isanother sort ofthing altogether. The
world is the totality of facts, not of things, and serves as the metaphysical grounding for
truth. The substance of the world is composed of objects, not facts, and serves as the
metaphysical grounding for meaning. The metaphysical dichotomy has a direct conse-
quence with respect to human expression, or what we can picture to ourselves: Facts can
be explicitly expressed or stated, and therefore the world can be described. Objects, on the
other hand, cannot be expressed or said but can only be shown, and therefore the substance
of the world cannot be described. The "correct method in philosophy" (6.53) therefore
also reflects the dualism: It consists not only of the very famous silence with respect to
the substance and Iimits of the world (7), but also of saying what can be said, namely
factual propositions which describe the world. There is also a direct consequence with
respect to ethics: Happiness consists in being in harmony with the world, which is a
difficult challenge for each of us because of the stubbornness of facts. Happiness could
not possibly consist of simply being in harmony with the substance of the world, however;
since the substance of this world is the same as the substance of any possible world, the
substance of the world conforms as weil to our wishes and fantasies as it does to facts, and
there is no more ethical challenge to conforming to the substance of the world than there
is to being satisfied with fantasies.
Dualism is intrinsically unsatisfactory (since it seems to exclude the kind of perspicu-
ous overview at which philosophers always aim), and has rarely been mentioned in
connection with the Tractatus. One may therefore hope that the dualism is only apparent,
and that one ofthe two aspects is really in the final analysis subordinate to the other. Such
reductive interpretation began with the first publication of the Tractatus and has become
standard. At the very birth of the Tractatus Russell conceived of it as form of logical
atomism, with the objects serving as the atoms. So deeply ingrained did this conception
become that when James Griffin published his fine expository book Witt[?enstein" s
Lo[?ical Atomism, he did not even bother to defend this characterization of the work, nor
to say explicitly what the atoms are. More recently both Pears and Maleolm have echoed
Russe II and Griffin by characterizing the metaphysics of TLP exclusively in terms of the
objects. While there are very substantial differences among these four readings of the
Tractatus, they are alike in attributing to young Ludwig a monistic metaphysical realism,
in which the objects are the only ultimate and irreducible elements of reality. This is,
furthermore, not the only monistic reading ofthe Tractatus. McGuinness has written several
articles challenging the "so-called realism" of the Tractatus, and in a recent one ( 1985)
he explicitly extends his claim of non-realism from the objects to the facts - and hence
to the world. His conception seems also monistic: roughly, that if objects are not real,
facts cannot be either. I shall endeavor to show the shortcomings of all these monistic
readings of the work.
At first glance there is no denying the dualism. It is there in the very first pages, it is
deeply motivated by the main theme of the book (about the possibility of language, esp.
in regard to the meaning and truth ofpropositions), it has a prominent place in the closing

84
paragraphs, and a metaphysical difference betweenfact and possibility is essential to the
ethical views Wittgenstein expressed in the Notebooks. I believe that it cannot be
explained away, but constitutes instead a critical and much neglected aspect of the
Tractatus. At the sametime I am not sure that this unbridgeable duality need be seen as
a genuine metaphysical dualism, since there are not two sorts of reality involved. In this
paper I wish to discuss in some detail its textual basis, its integral role in the main theme
of the work, its implication for the current dispute about the alleged realism of the objects
of the Tractatus, and what it suggests about the continuity of Wittgenstein's thought.

II
Wittgenstein's dualism is the result of bis attempting to come to terms with more
obvious dichotomies that pertain to the primary subject-matter ofthe Tractatus, namely,
how propositions are possible, or how it is possible for us to say things. With respect to
this primary subject- matter the difficult problern (as Wittgenstein bad learned from Frege
and Russell) is to keep in mind that propositions can just as well be false as true.
Wittgenstein begins bis account of propositions with a discussion of "pictures" in 2.1:
"We make pictures of facts for ourselves." He quickly makes clear that what the picture
presents is only a possibility, and that there is therefore always the possibility of falsity:
A picture represents a possible situation in logical space. (2.202)
What a picture represents is its sense. (2.221)
The agreement or disagreement of its sense with reality constitutes its truth or
falsity. (2.222)
In order to tell whether a picture is true or false we must compare it with reality.
(2.223)
It is impossible to tell from the picture alone whether it is true or false. (2.224)
Whatever other problems there may be about the nature of pictures, it is clear from
these passages that it belongs to the essence of a picture to leave open the possibility of
falsity as well as truth. One may no doubt show things directly and absolutely, but no
account of saying something can dispense with the true/false dichotomy.
There arefurther dichotomies in these passages. One isthat between reality [Wirklichkeit]
and possibility. Reality is fairly easy to understand. In 2.063 Wittgenstein says, "The sum
total of reality is the world." Since the world has previously been identified as consisting
ofthe totality offacts- in 2.06 he says that this would include negative as well as positive
facts-, we see thatfacts, reality, and world stand together on one side ofthe dichotomy.
This conforms well with common sense: each of these words refers in ordinary discourse
to something that exists and stands pat, as it is, whether we like it or not- i.e. what we need
to accept and come to terms with.
Reality comprises both truth and falsity. Contrasted with reality is possibility. A
picture represents a possibility of truth or falsity. The actual truth or falsity itself is
determined by reality, and that leaves open the question of what it is that makes it possible
for the picture to be either true or false. There is some indication of an answer to this
question contained in the above passages, where the possible situation represented by a
picture is identifed with its sense. But what is the relation between possibility and reality?
One suggestion might be that possibilities are themselves facts. If this were the case,
then we could avoid a metaphysical dualism, for we need acknow ledge nothing other than
the domain of facts, the actual world. We do often think along this line, regarding
possibilities as objective realities, which we are obliged to acknowledge and with which
we are obliged to come to terms as much as with any other facts. Wittgenstein's initial

85
emphasis on the world as the totality of facts might Iead us to expect that he would follow
this line of thought. Yet he does not. Nothing is more important for understanding the
Tractatus than to realize, as McGuinness ( 1990) puts it, that possibilities are entirely different
from facts. The main reason for this isthat the sense of a proposition is something entirely
different from its truth. The sense of a picture or proposition must be entirely definite
even though its truth be unknown. If the truth of a picture is fixed by its relation to reality,
the world, its sense must be fixed by relation to something eise- although notanother kind
of reality, for reality is already a totality of what is real. Wittgenstein gets out of the
dilemma looming here by making the sense of pictures depend on their relation to the
substance of the world. More particularly, the sense of a picture or elementary proposi-
tion depends on the correlation ofits constituent names with objects (3.202-3.22, 5.4733),
the totality of objects making up the substance of the world (2.021 ).
So sense and possibility do not depend on the world of fact but rather on the objects
which make up the substance ofthe world. Wittgenstein presents his argument in concise
form:
Objects make up the substance of the world. That is why they cannot be composite.
Ifthe world had no substance, then whether a proposition had sense would depend
on whether another proposition was true.
In that case we could not sketch any picture of the world (true or false ). (2.021-
2.0212)
While this argument is by no means entirely convincing- esp. since Wittgenstein later
(P/242) rejects its conclusion without rejecting its major premise -, it shows irrefutably
that Wittgenstein at this time accepted the substance of the world as something different
from the world itself, because of what he perceived as the necessity of grounding sense
in something other than truth. It is not at all clear that the substance of the world
constitutes another reality than that of the world, but it is at least something different.
The Tractarian conception of the role of substance in providing an account of other
possible worlds, or possible facts other than those which are real, is made clear in the next
passages (2.022-2.023):
It is obvious that an imagined world, however different it may be from the real one,
must have something - a form - in common with it.
Objects are just what constitute this unalterable form.
The cogency of this point is not immeditately clear, in part because the notion of an
"imagined world" occurs in only one other (unrelated) passage (6.1233) in the Tractatus.
Perhaps some unexamined phenomenological idea underlies the standing of such an
"imagined world." Throughout the Tractatus, however, Wittgenstein focuses on language
rather than on phenomenology. In the context of language, an "imagined world" is one
that is represented in pictures or propositions, and its status is therefore the same as that
of the sense (not the truth) of pictures or propositions. The unalterable form, on this view,
would simply be that which makes it possible for pictures to have sense. Since objects
serve this purpose by being the correlates of names in elementary propositions, the final
sentence above then becomes just as obvious as Wittgenstein takes it to be.
The standard monistic interpretations proceed by construing states of affairs (Sachverhalte)
as concatenations of objects (2.01, 2.03; cf. 4.22), and facts as existing states of affairs
(2.04 ). The idea isthat the transitivity in these relations then allows a reader to conclude
that objects are the ultimate constituents of reality, since they are the constituents of
existing states of affairs. The relation between the world and its substance - between

86
reality and possibility - is then that the latter is the basis for the former, and hence the
ultimate foundation of what is real. This is a very powerful but nonetheless mistaken line
of thought, as can be seen from the fact that it leaves existence (i.e. reality) wholly un-
explained. It fails to take into account (a) that objects Iack independent standing, and (b)
that states of affairs are possibilities rather than realities.
(a) For objects- or anything eise-tobe the ultimate constituents of reality they must
have independent standing. If they are dependent on something eise, that something eise
will have a morefundamental sort of reality- the something eise will be that in terms of
which the objects are exp1ained and/or identified. Tractarian objects fail this test. They
cannot be concei ved independently oftheir role as constituents of Sachverhalten. Wittgenstein
makes this dependence clear first in his initial discussion of objects and later in his
discussion the the simple signs whose meaning is objects:

It is essential tothingsthat they should be possible constituents in states of affairs.


(2.011)
If I can imagine objects combined in states of affairs, I cannot imagine them
excluded from the possibility of such combination.
Thingsareindependent in sofaras they can occur in all possible situations, but this
form of independence is a form of connexion with states of affairs, a form of
dependence. (lt is impossible for words to appear in two different roles: by
themselves, and in propositions.) (2.0 121-2.0 122)
Only propositions have sense; only in the nexus of a proposition does a name have
meaning. (3.3)
It is only in the nexus of an elementary proposition that a name occurs in a
proposition. (4.23)

Since names represent objects in propositions (3.22), the dependent status of names in
propositions must reflect a simi1arly dependent status of objects in states of affairs, as is
in any case indicated by the first two of these passages. Those two passages have not
always seemed decisive - Pears ( 1987) has a long discussion which concludes by
dismissing the Straightforward reading I give them here, and Maleolm ( 1986) is equally
unimpressed. But Wittgenstein makes clear that we do not learn language through
1earning name-object connections, and thereby buttresses the dependent status he has
assigned to names and objects:
The meanings ofprimitive signs can be explained by elucidations. Elucidations are
propositions that contain the primitive signs. So they can only be understood if the
meanings of those signs are a1ready fami1iar. (3.263)
If objects are given, then at the same time a/1 objects are given. (5.524)
We can describe the wor1d comp1etely by means offully genera1ized propositions,
i.e. without first corre1ating any name with a particu1ar object. (5.526)

The first of these remarks has been much discussed, and I do not propose to offer any
light on the mysterious workings of these elucidations; I cite the remark to show that
1earning name-object correlations is not what Wittgenstein had in mind as the primary
way of learning names. The other two remarks, 1ess frequent1y cited, are more decisive
in rebutting the suggestion that the meanings of names are learned by rote or by one-one
corre1ation. The objects which come to mind as obvious1y conforming to 5.524 are
cardina1 numbers: It is c1ear that I cannot learn the meaning of the numeral "37" without
learning other numbers, and that if I learn the numbers I effectively learn all of them. It
is equally clear that none of this learning consists in learning name-object correlations of
the 'Fido' -Fido sort. In such a system names have a role but no obvious priority. The final

87
remark suggests that 1earning the meanings of names might not be necessary at all - a
rather surprising comment in view of what Wittgenstein has said ear1ier. Perhaps the
context would need to be further examined, but we cannot avoid the implication that the
meaning of names is not abso1ute1y u1timate for an account of either 1anguage or reality.
(b) There has been much ink spilled discussing whether states of affairs (Sacherverhalte)
are atomic facts or atomic circumstances (i.e. possibilities). B1ack ( 1964) takes note ofthe
controversy, marshalls arguments on each side, and concludes that Sacherverhalte are
atomic facts. lt is impossible here to deal adequately with this issue and its !arge literature,
but Black's realist account of states of affairs cannot be right. lt may well be that
Wittgenstein sometimes thought of states of affairs as facts, and it is certain that anyone
determined to avoid a dua1istic reading ofthe Tractatus is bound to do so. lt is inescapable,
however, that some states of affairs do not exist and therefore cannot be facts. The fact
in this case is the nonexistence of the state of affairs. When the state of affairs exists, the
fact is not the state of affairs as such but rather the existence of the state of affairs (2).
Although Wittgenstein somewhat confuses matters by speaking (2.04-2.05) of existing
states of affairs as facts ( rather than the existence of those states of affairs), he does this
on1y twice, otherwise speaking on1y of the existence and nonexistence of states of affairs
as facts. This standard way of speaking is certainly one that perspicuous1y represents
states of affairs as possibi1ities - as they must be, since they are represented in false
statements and descriptions of imaginary wor1ds, and since we must be able to understand
propositions without yet knowing whether they are true or fa1se. Admitted1y we run into
some rather heavy going with the language of 2.0124 and 2.0 13, where Wittgenstein
speaks of "possible states of affairs" and must be understood to refer to a sort of "possib1e
possibilities." States of affairs, however, are combinations of objects; they be1ong to the
domain of substance rather than that of reality; they are the sense of propositions, and have
nothing to do with truth. lt is the existence and nonexistence of states of affairs, not they
themselves, that are facts and hence elements of reality.
The dua1ism of the opening pages is thus confirmed by further consideration of key
ideas, and also helps to read the text more fluently.
III
I must treat four remaining themes ofWittgenstein's ear1y work more briefly. They are
the opposition between the ego and the wor1d, the ethica1 point of the work, the dramatic
closing words ofthe Tractatus, and its hidden Kantianism. Even a briefreference to these
further themes will demoostrate that an appreciation of the metaphysics of the Tractatus
is not a matter whose import is confined to the first few pages ofthat work. The sharp
opposition between fact and reality on the one hand and sense and possibi1ity on the other
is not expressed in quite the same way in Wittgenstein 's other writings. That is part1y
because Wittgenstein 's ideas were never fixed and sett1ed, but it also part1y because other
matters were at issue than the questions about language and meaning that dominate the
Tractatus.
In TLP 6.373 Wittgenstein says, "The world is independent of my will." This remark
is one of the few that he culled from the Notebooks entries that begin in July 1916. These
entries are interesting partly for the light they throw on the Tractatus, partly for their focus
on ethics and the meaning of 1ife, and partly for their alternating stress on some all-
embracing rea1ity and on some inescapable dichotomy. Both overall unity and its
impossibi1ity seem to have import for ethics, or for the meaning of life. Thus he
characterizes will (21. VII.16) as "first and foremost the bearer of good and evil." This
remark has overtones of Kant, fi1tered no doubt through Schopenhauer. If the world

88
referred to in the quoted remark is reality (as it ought tobe, since the remark was retained
in the TLP), then good and evil are not real - although they continue to have vast
importance for humans, just as Jinguistic meaning does.
Many of the remarks in the section of Notebooks speak about happiness. Consider, for
example, the following:
And in this sense Dostoievsky is right when he says that the man who is happy is
fulfilling the purpose of existence. (6. VII.l6)
A man who is happy must have no fear. Not even in the face of death.
Only a man who Jives not in time but in the present is happy.
In order to live happily I must be in agreement with the world. And that is what
"being happy" means. (8. VII.16)
It seems one can't say anything more than: Live happily! (29.VII.16)
I keep coming back to this: simply that the happy Jife is good, the unhappy bad.
And if I now ask myself: But why should I live happily, then this of itself seems
a tautological question; it seems that the happy life is justified of itself, that it is the
only right life.
Butthis is really in some sense deeply mysterious! It is clear that ethics cannot be
expressed!
But we could say: The happy life seems in some sense more harmonious than the
unhappy. But in what sense??
What is the objective mark of the happy, harmonious life? Here it is again clear
that there can be no such mark that can be described.
This mark cannot be a physical one but only a metaphysical one, a transeendental
one. (30. VII.I6)
These ideas have obvious affinities with the work of Spinoza and Schopenhauer, and
well-known roots in the latter, who is one of the few persans mentioned in these pages of
the Notebooks. In this context I can neither trace out these affinities nor consider the merit
ofthese ethical ideas. Our focus is on Wittgenstein 's metaphysics, and we therefore need
to note the metaphysical dualism. Here Wittgenstein invokes a transeendental realm to
provide the mark of happiness- rejecting thereby the two obvious alternatives, that there
is no such thing, and that it is a matter of fact. That is to say, we see here as in the case
of language, that something of overwhelming importance to us as humans does not belong
to the world of factual reality: its objective mark, its criterion, is transeendentaL
Sometimes the transeendental matters are given a religious twist, as on 8. Vll.l6, when
he writes, "To believe in God means to see that the facts of the world are not the end of
the matter." But on the same day he reverts to a secular formulation: "There are two
godheads: the world and my independent 1." Another opposition to the world, one
intimately connected with good and evil as weil as with human agency, is will, which is
discussed in many other remarks besides the one quoted above which was culled for the
TLP. Throughout these variations in the way that the fundamental dualities are charac-
terized, there are two invariants: the world of fact is the one genuine reality, and the
stupendaus matters which oppose rather than fit into that reality are vital to human life.
In his letters to Engelmann and Ficker Wittgenstein stressed the ethical import of his
work, and to Ficker he intimated that it was what was unstated in the Tractatus. That work
itself ends with a famous remark about leaving things unsaid, based on a distinction
between what can be said and what cannot be said. It is not often noticed that this final
remark, taken in conjunction with what is said in 6.53 about the correct method in
philosophy, is an exact parallel to the metaphysical dichotomy with which the book opens:
About the world we can and should talk, about the substance ofthe world (as weil as some
other things) we cannot and must not.

89
These considerations suggest that Wittgenstein was Kantian in the main Iines of his
thought. Kantianism was attributed to Wittgenstein by Stenius in 1960, and the idea has
been discussed off and on since. Most recently Pears ( 1987) has been forceful in insisting
on the Kantian character of Wittgenstein's Tractatus. Pears begins (p. 20) his detailed
exegesis of the early work with the words, "When Wittgenstein 's philosophy is put in a
Kantian frame, most of its main lines stand out clearly." Later (pp. 94-96) he makes
illuminating use of Wittgenstein 's Kantianism in his discussion of Wittgenstein 's indif-
ference to certain problems about sense-data and solipsism. I am much indebted to Pears
for this encouragement to think of Wittgenstein as having Kantian roots - or perhaps
better, as being in the critical tradition. 1 I differ from him both in holding that the Iater
work is even more successfully Kantian, and also in giving a Kantian interpretation to the
metaphysics of the Tractatus.
With respect to the dichotomies that dominate the metaphysics of the Tractatus and
Wittgenstein 's early work in general, the first thing to say isthat there is only one reality,
the reality ofthe factual world. Set against this reality arethingsvital to our human efforts
to come to terms with reality: meanings (Gegenstände), sense (Sachverhalte), signifi-
cance, good and evil, will, happiness, beauty, and so on. Thesethingsare transcendental,
since they do not belong to the world of fact; but they are not real. Wittgenstein's
Tractatus is not, as Pears concludes (p. 9), "a clear paradigm of uncritical realism." On
the contrary: it is a thoroughly critical metaphysics combining factual realism with
transeendental nonrealism.

IV

Pears ( 1987) characterizes TLP as a kind of atomism, in which the "atoms" are objects
rather than atomic facts (Sachverhalte). A substantial part of his argument for this reading
consists of rebutting two alternative conceptions of objects, which he views as opposite
extremes.
Againstone alternative, which identifies the metaphysical elements of TLP with those
ofRussell's logical atomism, Pears' arguments are entirely persuasive. Particularly fine
are the considerations he advances to show that Wittgenstein's starting point, unlike
Russell 's, was Kantian rather than empiricist. While the point is not original, it has special
authority because of Pears' detailed exposition of points where Russell 's influence was
decisive and his Straightforward exposition of relevant aspects of Kantianism. Pears'
rebuttal ofthisalternative is magisterial and definitive.
Histreatment of the other alternative is less successful, and his defense of the alleged
realism of simple objects therefore unconvincing. The other alternative is a position first
sketched by Ishiguro ( 1969) and more recently elaborated and extended by McGuinness
( 1981, 1985). The central point of this alternative is that the meaning of names (simple
signs) cannot be determined independently of or prior to their use in propositions, but only
through such use. Though there must be objects whenever names have meaning, these
objects do not have objective or metaphysical reality, nor do they fix the meanings of
names prior to and independently of the use of names in sentences. They are not the
ultimate constituents of the world because they do not even belong to the world. They
belong instead to language, i.e. to our practice of making pictures offacts. They are among
the presuppositions of language. Therefore they do not have the reality of facts, of the
world.
The argument for this alternative rests partly on texts and partly on exegesis, as does
Pears' rebuttal. Neither case is entirely convincing. Pears neglects the subordinate roJe
given to objects and to names in TLP; McGuinness shows an unconvincing disdain for the

90
elements of realism which Pears stresses, particularly in his 1985 paper.
What Pears most neg1ects- and Maleolm (1986), too- is TLP 1-1.1:
The world is all that is the case. The world is the totality of facts, not of things.
Pears says instead that "the Tractatus begins with an account of objects" (p. 111; see
also pp. 7, 9, 13), which he refers to as its "opening ontology" (p. 112). Presumab1y he
does not regard 1-1.1 as presenting an ontology, but it is difficult to see why not. Black
calls this ontology of facts a great metaphysical innovation on Wittgenstein's part.
Certainly the wording in 1-1.1 straightforwardly expresses a metaphysical realism whose
elements are facts rather than objects. It takes an extraordinary subtlety - intellectual
contortion, I should say - not to read this as an ontology.
Pears makes the further point that the account of objects in the 2.0s precedes
Wittgenstein 's introduction of pictures in 2.1. This point has no merit whatever. Taken in
conjunction with Wittgenstein's explanation of the numbering scheme, the relative
numbering counts for Ishiguro and McGuinness rather than for Maleolm and Pears.
Wittgenstein says, "The decimal numbers assigned to the individual propositions indicate
the logical importance ofthe propositions, the stress laid on them in my expositions" (TLP
p. 7). Since pictures are introduced in a remark with only one decimal, they have a greater
"logical importance" than have objects, the account of which is given in remarks with an
apparently supernumerary decimal place. The reason why the subordinate remarks
numbered 2.0s occur before 2.1 is no doubt the one offered long ago by Stenius, viz. that
the rhythm ofTLP has subordinate remarks both before and after main remarks, the former
to pave the way, the latter to elaborate. Certainly, as all parties agree, the ontology of
simple objects is indissolubly connected with our making pictures of facts. It is not,
however, the primary ontology of TLP.
The subordinate status of objects, as indicated by the numbering scheme, (both that the
ontology of facts is presented first and also that the ontology of objects is presented with
an extra decimal), is connected with their metaphysical dependence discussed above.
Ordinarily we can imagine that a table or an automobile might cease to exist and
everything eise remain the same, or that another apple or pencil should exist. Wittgen-
stein 's objects do not have such independent possibilities of existence. Their status is
instead like that of things we do not consider "objects" at all-like colors or numbers, for
examp1e. With numbers and colors, as with Wittgenstein's objects, if I am familiar one
I must be familiar with the whole range: they do not have the possibility of existing
independent of one another.
Pears neglects these phenomena, and his defence of an atomistic reading of TLP
therefore fails. The Subordination of objects to facts and the dependent status of objects
are incompatible with the atomistic reading of TLP given by Maleolm and Pears. Atoms
which constitute the ultimate reality of a contingent world would have to be both
independent and simple. Russell's atomism, basedonsense data, satisfies this require-
ment. In TLP states of affairs are independent - each can exist or not exist while
everything eise remains the same (2.062, 5.134-5.135) 2 - but not simple. Objects are
simple but not independent. Therefore there are rio Tractarian atoms.
A second difficulty in Pears' rebutta1 of lshiguro and McGuinness is his treatment of
possibility. Taking objects as realleads him to speak of the "real possibilities" inherent
in each object (1 03, 111 ). The first trouble hereisthat an "unreal possibility" can only be
an impossibility. To speak of "real possibilities" in a metaphysical or absolute sense is
therefore sheer non sense. A deeper problern is, as McGuinness ( 1990) has said, that a
possibility is something entirely different from a fact, and it is facts that constitute reality.

91
To speak of "real possibilities" inevitably confounds fact and possibility and thereby
betrays one of the basic dualities of TLP. 3
Missing from Pears' discussion oflshiguro and McGuinness istherich appreciation of
Wittgenstein's Kantian starting-point, which he so effectively employs elsewhere. Kant
repeatedly invokes dichotomies - a priori/aposteriori, passive/spontaneous, analytic/
synthetic, phenomenal/noumenal, intuition/concept, and so on. In TLP the first striking
duality is between facts and objects- two different kinds of entity. This is a metaphyscal
duality, a dualism. It is connected with another duality that is, like the first one, both
obvious and problematical, that between the world ( l, 1.1) and our making pictures of the
world (2.1 ). It is true that Wittgenstein says that the pictures are facts, and hence part of
the world. But they are facts only as signs, not as symbols. Since sense is unsayable, their
sense is notamatter of fact- and we make pictures for ourselves because they have sense.
Since we make pictures, our making ofthem introduces an element of intentionality or will
that cannot be reduced to fact or idea. 4 It isthislauer feature of pictures that is essential
to them, that determines their truth-possibilities. Insofar as a picture is a fact it is so only
as a combination of signs, not as a determination oftruth-possibilities. However problem-
atic, this duality between fact and picture, between the world and laguage, is a centrat
feature of TLP.
Another relevant duality isthat between meaning and truth. All pictures have meaning
but only some are true. Lying behind this duality is the possibility of false propositions,
which Frege and Russell rightly emphasized. If there were no false propositions, and no
possibility of them, then perhaps meaning could be assimilated to truth, pictures to facts,
and language to the world. But some propositions are false, and it is important that any
picture can be false. The duality oftruth and falsity can thus be seen as holding the others
fast and preventing the subtleties and complications from leading toward monistic
assimilations. The human agency which creates propositions (meaning) is fallible; its
products have no necessary connection with truth, which is determined by reality (facts)
rather than by human agency.
This brief sketch of these rather Kantian dichotomies have a rather straightforward
application to the metaphysics of TLP. The work begins with an explicit common-sense
realism. 5 The world of facts is there, independent of will and idea. About the reality of
the world there are no grounds for doubt: the world is not inferred, but stands there as our
starting-point. McGuinness ( 1985) therefore surely draws his argument against the
alleged realism of TLP too far when he extends it to impugn the reality of facts - as he
hirnself would perhaps agree, since he has more recently (McGuinness 1990) emphasized
that possibilities are entirely different from facts. Thefacts would be the same whether
we picture them to ourselves or not. We do, however, make pictures offacts for ourselves,
for one another (TLP 2.1 ). Our pictures, our propositions, contain something which is not
just "there" and which therefore does not belong to reality, namely, that which invests our
words with sense and connotes possibility. For although our picturings and our utterances
are facts (TLP 2.141 ), their sense is not. For young Ludwig this means that objects and
states of affairs belong to an entirely different realm from that of facts- and, since there
is no reality other than that offacts, that they arenot real at all (although they are humanly
indispensable). It follows, contrary to Pears, Malcolm, and Wolniewicz that neither
Gegenstände nor Sachverhalte can possibly be "atoms" out of which facts are con-
structed.6
Since there is only one reality in the Tractatus, one could perhaps say that it is after all
monistic rather than dualistic. Fine. Just remember that Sachverhalte and Gegenstände,
though not real, are indispensable. Their status is therefore not unlike that which Kant

92
assigns to the forms of intuition and categories of the understanding, "transcendental
ideality." So long as one recognizes the overwhelming importance of these things, the
absolute indispensability to us, and that they are not of the order of factual reality nor
reducible to that order - then one can say what one chooses about whether this is
"monism" or "dualism." In any case it is not a variety of atomism at all.

Not es

1 Fora fuller discussion of the extent and Iimits of Wittgenstein's Kantianism, seeGarver
(1990a, 1990b).
On this ground B. Wolniewicz ( 1990) quite plausibly regards Sachverhalte as Wittgenstein 's
logical atoms.
' Maleolm also makes the error of regarding possibilities as parts of reality, treating them
throughout his book as belanging to the same domain as facts.
4 Pears ( 1987) seems to deny this when he says (p. 6) that Willgenstein 's metaphysics "has

nothing to do with agency."


5 Ishiguro endorses this point, as she made clear in her contribution to the 14th International

Wittgenstein Symposium (lshiguro 1989b; see also 1989a). Her understanding of TLP is
thus substantially different from that expressed by McGuinness (1985).
" This conclusion might seem so very plausible in view of Wittgenstein's general aim, the texts
cited, and common-sense distinctions like that between reality and possibility, that one may
overlook how difficult it has been to achieve. It would be hard to exaggerate the importance
of Ishiguro's essay in 1969. Until that time the discussion of the metaphysics of TLP was
largely confined to whether its objects were universals or particulars, the presupposition
being that they were of course atoms of some sort and therefore elements of reality. This pre-
supposition stemmed from Russell's "Introduction" to TLP, and was surely a main reason
for Wittgenstein 's dislike ofthat "Introduction." The presupposition went largely unchal-
lenged until Ishiguro's essay. The main question then became whether Gegenstände have
any kind ofreality at all. Pears and Maleolm continue to insist that they do. Ishiguro's neg-
ative answer has since been endorsed and elaborated by Rhees, Kenny, McGuinness,
Schulte, and most recently Ishiguro herself.

References

Garver, Newton, "Wittgenstein and the Critical Tradition," Hist. Phi!. Q. ( 1990a).
Garver, Newton, "Wittgenstein und die kritische Tradition," in Wittxensreins Einfluß auf die
Gexenwart, A. Haselbach I F. Wallner, eds. (Vienna, 1990b).
Griffin, James, Wittgenstein' s Loxical Atomism (London, 1963 ).
Ishiguro, Hide, "The Use and Mention of Names," in Studies in the Philosophy ofWittgen-
stein, P. Winch, ed. (London, 1969).
Ishiguro, Hide, "Die Beziehung zwischen Welt und Sprache: Bemerkungen im Ausgang von
Willgensteins Tractatus," in Wittgenstein in Focus, B. McGuinness/R. Haller, eds. (Atlan-
ta, 1989a).
Ishiguro, Hide, "Can the World Impose a Structure on Language?" 14th International Willgen-
stein Symposium (1989b).
Kenny, Anthony, Wittgenstein (Cambridge Mass., 1973 ).
Kenny, Anthony, The Legacy of Wittgenstein (Oxford, 1984 ).
Malcolm, Norman, Nothingis Hidden (lthaca, 1986).

93
McGuinness, Brian, "The So-called Realism of Wittgenstein 's Tractatus," in Perspectives on
the Philosophy of Wittgenstein, I. Block, ed. (Oxford, 1981 ).
McGuinness, Brian, "Language and Reality in the Tractatus," Teoria Vl2 (1985).
McGuinness, Brian, "Die 'Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung': Rezeption und Mißverständ-
nisse," in Wirtgensteins Einfluss auf die Gegenwart, A. Haselbach I F. Wallner, eds. (Vien-
na, 1990).
Pears, David F., The Fa/se Prison, Vol. I (Oxford, 1987).
Rhees, Rush, Discussions ofWittgenstein (New York, 1970).
Schulte, Joachim, Wittgenstein: Eine Einführung (Stuttgart, 1989).
Stenius, Erik, Wittgenstein' s Tractatus (Oxford I Ithaca, 1960).
Wolniewicz, B., "The Essence of Logical Atomism," Wirtgenstein- Towards a Re-Evaluation,
Vol. I, R. Haller I J. Brand), eds. (Vienna, 1990).

***

94
Wittgensteins Monadologie

HANS BURKHARDT
Universität Erlangen

Mit dem provozierenden Titel Wittgensteins Monadologie soll daraufhingewiesen werden,


daß es in diesem Vortrag um einen Vergleich zwischen der Leibnizschen Monadologie
und dem Wittgensteinschen Tractatus geht. Das Verbindende und Trennende dieser
beiden wichtigen systematischen Werke der neuzeitlichen Ontologie und Metaphysik soll
herausgearbeitet und dargestellt werden.
Dabei stützt sich die Analyse auf die im Jahre 1714, also zwei Jahre vor seinem Tode
verfaßte Monadologie' von Leibniz und die aus dem gleichen Jahr stammende Schrift
Principes de Ia Nature et de Ia Grace.fondes en raison. 2 Es handelt sich um Schriften des
reifen Leibniz, die seine Metaphysik in kurzer und prägnanter Form enthalten. Der
Tractatus hingegen ist ein Jugendwerk Wittgensteins, das 1918 entstand und 1921
publiziert wurde. 3
Vergleiche bieten sich an bei der mereologischen Struktur, beim Weltbegriff, bei
Analyse und Synthese, bei der Suche nach einfachsten Gegenständen oder Begriffen und
ihrer Bezeichnung, beim Problem der gegenseitigen Abbildung der Gegenstände oder
Sachverhalte in der Welt, beim Ich, bei der Kausalität und in der Modalstruktur.
In diesem Vortrag werde ich mich auf Vergleiche zwischen Monadologie und Trac-
tatus hinsichtlich der Mereologie, der Suche nach den einfachsten Gegenständen und
ihrer Bezeichnung, des Ich und der Kausalität beschränken.

I. Die Mereologie

Es gibt bei Leibniz eine ganze Reihe von Analysen, die die Mereologie oder die Teil-
Ganzes-Struktur betreffen. Diese Analysen finden sich in Werken aller seiner Lebenspha-
sen. Schon in der Dissertatio de Arte Combinatoria von 1666, also im Alter von 20 Jahren,
unterscheidet er zwei Arten von Variation, die der Komplexion - ihr entsprechen die
Kombinationen- und die der Lage (variatio ordinis), ihr entsprechen die Permutationen.
Die Variation der Komplexion oder Kombination behandelt die Teil-Ganzes-Relation
und die Variation der Permutation das Verhältnis der Teile zueinander. 4 Generell unter-
sucht Leibniz nur erstere, also die Teil-Ganzes-Relation und vernachlässigt die Bezie-
hung der Teile zueinander. Eine Ausnahme bildet die Monadologie, wo er im §7 erklärt,
daß es eine innere Bewegung der Monaden durch Veränderung der Teile nicht geben
könne, wie dies bei zusammengesetzten Dingen geschieht, denn die Monaden haben
keine Teile. 5
Man kann drei Hauptaspekte der Leibnilsehen Analysen bezüglich der Teil-Ganzes-
Theorie unterscheiden. Erstens kennt Leibniz, wie schon die Tradition vor ihm, drei Arten
von Ganzen, das tot um essentiale, das totum integrale und das aggregatum. Im ersten Falle
ist kein Teil abtrennbar, im zweiten Falle sind manche Teile abtrennbar und manche Teile
nicht, und im dritten Falle sind alle Teile abtrennbar. Beispiele für das totum essentiale
sind alle Substanzen, d.h. alles, was aus Materie und Form besteht und damit eine
hylemorphistische Struktur hat, aber auch geometrische Gebilde wie ein Dreieck oder ein
Kreis. Beispiele für das totum integrale sind lebende Substanzen, aber auch Artefakte,
wie Computer oder Autos. Aggregate sind keine echten Ganzen, denn jeder Teil kann für
sich bestehen, wie ein Sandkorn aus einem Sandhaufen oder ein Strich aus einer
Strichliste. 6 Besonders schön und eingehend werden diese Ganzen in der Logica Ham-

95
burgensis von Jungius klassifiziert und beschrieben. 7
Der zweite Aspekt der Leibnizschen Mereologie sind seine Überlegungen zur Vererb-
barkeit von Eigenschaften und zwar sowohl vom Ganzen auf seine Teile als auch von den
Teilen zum Ganzen. Diese Metaeigenschaften der absteigenden oder aufsteigenden
Vererbbarkeit, die in unserem Jahrhundert vor allem von Nelson Goodman untersucht
wurden und die dieser ,dissective' oder ,expansive' nennt, spielen in der Leibnizschen
Metaphysik eine wichtige und bisher wenig beachtete Rolle. Leibniz hat dafür eindrucks-
volle Beispiele. So unterscheidet er z.B. in der Theodizee zwischen einem totum quan-
titativum und einem totum qualitativum. Beim totum quantitativum werden die Eigen-
schaften vom Ganzen auf seine Teile vererbt, so ist z.B. jeder Teil einer kürzesten Strecke
auch wieder die kürzeste Verbindung zwischen den entsprechenden Punkten, während
nichtjeder Teil eines schönen Gesichtes seinerseits wieder schön sein muß. Dies gilt auch
für die Eigenschaft ,das beste sein'. Die Eigenschaft ist nicht abwärts vererb bar, d.h. vom
Ganzen auf die Teile oder dissective, denn in der besten aller möglichen Welten muß nicht
jeder Teil der beste sein. Es kann durchaus vorkommen, daß ein Teil der besten aller
möglichen Welten schlechter ist als ein Teil einer vergleichbaren anderen möglichen
Welt. Wären alle Teile die besten, so würde dies das Minimaxprinzip verletzen und die
Welt wäre zu uniform.x
Der dritte für uns wohl wichtigste Aspekt der Leibnizschen Mereologie ist die
mereologische Struktur der Monadologie. Obwohl Leibniz ganz deutlich und völlig
unverblümt am Anfang der Monadologie erklärt, daß die Monaden zwar mereologisch
einfach sind, dafür aber in Bezug auf die Substanz-Akzidens- Relation äußerst komplex,
hat noch kaum ein Leibnizforscher daraus Konsequenzen gezogen. 9 Erst heute gibt es
einige Ansätze zu einer Analyse dieser Art. Der erste stammt von Peter Simons und der
zweite von Wolfgang Degen und mir. 10

Die ersten drei Paragraphen der Monadologie lauten:

§I. Die Monade, von der hier die Rede sein soll, ist nichts anderes als eine einfache
Substanz, die als Element in das Zusammengesetzte eingeht. Sie ist einfach, d.h.
sie hat keine Teile.
§2. Einfache Substanzen muß es aber geben, da es zusammengesetzte gibt; denn
das Zusammengesetzte ist nichts anderes als eine Anhäufung, ein Aggregat der
Einfachen.
§3. Nun kann es da, wo gar keine Teile vorhanden sind, weder Ausdehnung noch
Gestalt noch auch eine mögliche Teilbarkeit geben. Die Monaden sind also die
wahrhaften Atome der Natur und, mit einem Wort, die Elemente der Dinge.''

Man kann die mereologische Struktur der Monadologie unter Verwendung der Rela-
tion J.l (x J.l y bedeutet: x ist echter Teil von y) mit Hilfe von zwei Definitionen und sieben
Axiomen darstellen. Diese zwei Definitionen und sieben Axiome lauten im einzelnen: 12

Def. 1 Mon (a): H -,Ex x J.l a


Def. 2 Disj. (a,b): H -,Ex (x J.l a & x J.l b)
Komp. (c) : H Ex,y (x J.l y & y J.l c & Disj (x,y) & x :1:- y
Axiom I: Ex Komp (x)
Axiom 2: (Starke Fundiertheit): Für alle Gegenstände gilt, daß es von ihnen aus
keine endlich absteigende Folge gibt.
(Schwache Fundiertheit): Es gibt mindestens einen Gegenstand, von
dem aus es keine endlich absteigende Folge gibt.
Axiom 3: x J.l y & y J.l z ~ x J.l z Die Transitivität von J.l

96
Axiom 4: -,x ll x Die Nichtreflexivität von !l
Axiom 5: (Unendlichkeit der Anzahl der Monaden): Es gibt unendlich viele
Monaden.
Axiom 6: Jeder Gegenstand ist entweder selbst eine Monade oder aus Monaden
zusammengesetzt.
Axiom 7: Jede nichtleere Menge von Entitäten hat eine mereologiscche Summe.

Es gibt in der Monadologie eine Reihe sehr interessanter mereologischer Bemerkun-


gen, so z.B. die, daß sich natürliche und artifizielle Maschinen in der Vererbbarkeil der
Eigenschaft ,Maschine sein' vom Ganzen auf die Teile unterscheiden. Bei natürlichen
Maschinen oder organischen Körpern ist jeder Teil wiederum eine Maschine, doch bei
künstlichen Maschinen sind die Teile gewöhnlich keine Maschinen. 13 Leibniz wendet sich
auch ganz klar gegen eine essentialistische mereologische Deutung und spricht im §6
seiner Principes davon, daß die Tiere bestimmte Teile austauschen können:

Die Tiere wechseln nur einzelne Teile, nehmen diese an, geben jene auf, und was
bei der Ernährung nach und nach und an kleinen, unsinnlichen Teilen, aber
kontinuierlich vonstatten geht, das tritt plötzlich und deutlich erkennbar, dafür
aber selten, bei der Empfängnis und beim Tode ein, bei denen sie mit einem Male
viel erwerben oder verlieren. 14

Folgt man dem Tractatus, so kann man feststellen, daß es zwei Arten von Entitäten
gibt: Gegenstände und Sachverhalte. Die Welt ist aus bestehenden Sachverhalten oder
Tatsachen zusammengesetzt, und diese Sachverhalte werden aus Gegenständen gebildet
oder zusammengesetzt. Die Teile der Welt sind also Sachverhalte, und die Teile der
Sachverhalte sind Gegenstände. In einem erst kürzlich von Allan Janik veröffentlichten
Brief von Frege an Wittgenstein vom 28. VI. 1919, offensichtlich als Reaktion auf die
Zusendung des Tractatus, schreibt Frege:

Sie schreiben: "Es ist für das Ding wesentlich, der Bestandteil eines Sachverhalts
sein zu können". Kann nun ein Ding auch Bestandteil einer Tatsache sein? Der Teil
des Teils ist Teil des Ganzen. Wenn ein Ding Bestandteil einer Tatsache ist und
jede Tatsache Teil der Welt ist, so ist auch das Ding Teil der Welt. Zum besseren
Verständnisse wünsche ich Beispiele, schon, um zu sehen, was sprachlich der
Tatsache, dem Sachverhalte, der Sachlage entspricht, wie sprachlich eine Tatsa-
che, ein bestehender und etwa ein nicht-bestehender Sachverhalt bezeichnet wird
und wie das Bestehen eines Sachverhalts und also die dem Sachverhalte entspre-
chende Tatsache bezeichnet wird, ob sich dabei ein wesentlicher Unterschied
zwischen einem Sachverhalte und der Tatsache ergibt. Ein Beispiel möchte ich
haben dafür, daß der Vesuv Bestandteil eines Sachverhalts ist. Dann müssen, wie
es scheint, auch Bestandteile des Vesuvs Bestandteile dieser Tatsache sein; die
Tatsache wird also auch aus erstarrten Laven bestehen. Das will mir nicht recht
scheinen. 15

Es ist für Mereologen natürlich hocherfreulich, daß Frege gerade die Teil-Ganzes-
Relation als Ausgangspunkt für seine Kritik am Tractatus nimmt. Offensichtlich, und
Frege hat hier völlig recht, ist die Eigenschaft ,Teil-sein' im Tractatus nicht transitiv:
Gegenstände sind zwar Teile von Sachverhalten, aber nicht Teile der Welt, obwohl die
Sachverhalte mereologisch die Welt ausmachen.
Da wiederum nach Wittgenstein aus Sachverhalten keine anderen Sachverhalte folgen
dürfen, können Sachverhalte nicht Teile von anderen Sachverhalten sein, also z.B. darf
der Sachverhalt ,die ersten fünf Seiten dieses Buches liegen auf dem Tisch' nicht ein

97
Teilsachverhalt des Sachverhalts ,das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch' sein.
Was Frege nicht in den Kopf will, ist auch noch ein anderes mereologisches Problem:
wenn Gegenstände Teile von Sachverhalten sind, dann sind auch Teile von Gegenständen
Teile von Sachverhalten, also z.B. die Laven oder Lavamassen des Vesuv. So auch z.B.
der Sachverhalt, daß der Vesuv im Jahre 79 nach Christus ausgebrochen ist. 16 Frege hat
sich im Gegensatz zu Wittgenstein und einigen Vertretern der Brentanoschule, wie z.B.
Stumpf und Reinach, niemals zu einem realistischen Sachverhaltsbegriff durchgerungen.
Man hat den Eindruck, daß Wittgenstein im Tractatus zwar interessante mereologische
Probleme aufwirft, sie aber keineswegs löst, ja, an deren Lösung nicht ernstlich interes-
siert zu sein scheint.

2. Die Suche nach einfachsten Gegenständen


Es gibt ein grundlegendes Problem, das Voraussetzung jeglicher mereologischer Be-
tätigung ist, und das auch beide Denker verbindet. Es ist die Suche nach einfachsten
Gegenständen. Für Leibniz ist das Ergebnis schon bekannt. Die Monaden sind einfachste
Gegenstände, aber nicht in Bezug auf jede Analyse, sondern nur in Bezug auf die Teil-
Ganzes-Analyse. Bezüglich anderer Analysen, also z.B. Substanz-Akzidens, sind die
Monaden sogar äußerst, d.h. unendlich komplex. Dies drückt er in der Monadologie ganz
deutlich aus. Er schreibt dort im §8:

Trotzdem müssen die Monaden doch irgendwelche Eigentümlichkeiten haben, da


sie sonst nicht einmal Wesen sein würden. Denn wenn die einfachen Substanzen
sich nicht in ihren Eigenschaften unterscheiden, so gäbe es überhaupt kein Mittel,
irgendwelche Veränderungen in den Dingen festzustellen. 17

Diese Eigenschaften der geistigen Monaden sind die Perzeptionen und die Apperzep-
tionen, wobei erstere die Welt, d.h. die Gesamtheit der anderen Monaden samt ihrer
Eigenschaften, und die letzteren die Monade selbst widerspiegeln. Abgeleitet vom
aristotelischen nous poietikos und nous pathetikos, repräsentieren sie Wahrnehmung und
Denken und stehen als Perzeption für alle passiven und als Apperzeption für alle aktiven
Eigenschaften, oder auch für Erleiden und Handeln. In Gestalt dieser Eigenschaften
verfügt Leibniz über eine Komplexität, die es ihm erlaubt, die Gegenstände in der Welt
adäquat zu analysieren. 18
Leibniz verlagert deshalb auch seinen Atomismus auf die begriffliche Ebene, d.h. er ist
von Anfang an Begriffsatomist und bleibt dies auch in dem Sinne als er immer der Ansicht
ist, daß es einfache Begriffe gibt, wir sie aber nicht kennen. Für uns bleiben nur die
notiones quoad nos primae und dies sind vor allem die einfachen Sinnesqualitäten wie rot,
blau, scharf, bitter usw. Dazu kommen auch noch die ästhetischen Urteile. Beides wird
durch Hinzeigen, d.h. durch ostensive Definition eingeführt. Für Leibniz ist diese
kombinatorische Begriffstheorie sehr wichtig, denn er ist Term- oder Begriffslogiker und
kein Aussagenlogiker. 19
Wittgenstein ist in einer anderen historischen Situation. Beeinflußt vom Atomismus
Russells, sucht er wirklich nach einfachsten Gegenständen, und bekanntlich gibt es für
diese Einfachheit im Tractatus vier Deutungen, auf die ich hier nicht näher eingehen will,
nämlich: physikalische, phänomenale, begriffliche oder logische und strukturelle. Es
scheint, daß ihn diese Suche nach einfachsten Gegenständen schon am Ende des Tractatus
nicht mehr interessierte. 20
Ein wichtiger und grundlegender Unterschied zwischen den Leibnizschen Monaden
und den Wittgensteinschen Gegenständen im Tractatus besteht darin, daß diese Gegen-

98
stände nicht nur mereologisch einfach sind wie die Monaden, sondern auch eigenschafts-
los sind, d.h. auch primitiv oder unbestimmt bezüglich der Gegenstand-Eigenschaft-
Relation sind. Sie haben nur eine Fähigkeit, zur Verkettung und damit auch die Fähigkeit,
in Sachverhalte einzugehen. 21
Beachtet man diesen Unterschied, dann wird auch klar, warum Wittgenstein Schwie-
rigkeiten mit dem Leibnizprinzip hat. Nach diesem Prinzip sind zwei Gegenstände
identisch, wenn sie alle Eigenschaften gemeinsam haben. Da die Gegenstände keine
Eigenschaften haben, hat dieses Prinzip keine Grundlage.
Die Wittgensteinsche Analyse läßt ein anderes Identitätskriterium vermuten: Da die
einfachen Gegenstände die Fähigkeit haben, sich zu Sachverhalten zu verketten, könnte
man die Identitätzweier Gegenstände durch das gemeinsame Vorkommen in denselben
Sachverhalten ausdrücken. Danach würde gelten: A=B wenn in allen und nur in den
Sachverhalten, in denen A vorkommt, auch B vorkommt. Das genügt noch nicht, denn A
und B könnten an verschiedenen Stellen in denselben Sachverhalten auftreten: A und B
müssen also immer an derselben Stelle in den Sachverhalten auftreten. Das setzt wieder-
um voraus, daß zwei Gegenstände nicht an derselben Stelle auftreten können. 22
Es ist frappierend, daß Wittgenstein in den Philosophischen Untersuchungen zu ganz
ähnlichen Ergebnissen wie Leibniz kommt. Zu den einfachen Sinnesqualitäten wie rot,
blau, scharf oder bitter, und den ästhetischen Urteilen, die auch für Leibniz notiones quoad
nos primae, d.h. für uns primitive sind, kommen bei Wittgenstein auch noch die ethischen
Urteile. 23 Er erklärt dort auch, daß einfachste Teile immer relativ zur Analyse sind. 24 Dem
würde auch Leibniz zustimmen, denn wenn er jeden Teil eines Lebewesens als Maschi-
nerie bezeichnet, dann hat er wohl so etwas wie eine Zelle im Auge und nicht die letzten
anorganischen Bestandteile unseres Organismus.
Ein Leibnizscher Gedanke, den Wittgenstein aufnimmt, genauso wie schon vor ihm
Husserl und Frege, ist der, daß man die einfachsten Gegenstände oder Begriffe mit
Zeichen versieht und somit zu einer Characteristica universalisoder zu einer Begriffs-
schrift kommt, die die Voraussetzung für eine lingua rationalissein soll, also für eine
Sprache, in der es keine Zweideutigkeiten mehr gibt, in der z.B. ein Ausdruck wie A=B
oder die materiale Identität nicht auftreten kann. 25 Es gibt nur formale ldentitäten. Wittgenstein
führt also, wie Frege und Husserl, das Leibnizprogramm fort. Das ist wohl mit ein
Beweggrund für die Suche nach einfachsten Gegenständen. 26
3. Das Ich
Im §4 der Principes schreibt Leibniz, daß man unterscheiden muß zwischen der
Perzeption oder dem inneren Zustand der Monade, sofern er die äußeren Dinge darstellt,
und der Apperzeption, die das Selbstbewußtsein oder die reflexive Erkenntnis dieses
inneren Zustandes ist. Dies letztere ist keineswegs allen Seelen, ja nicht einmal derselben
Seele zu allen Zeiten gegebenY
Außer der Fremdrepräsentation durch die Perzeption gibt es für Leibniz offensichtlich
auch die Selbstrepräsentation durch die Apperzeption. Dabei kann sich die Apperzeption
sowohl auf Perzeptionen als auch auf Apperzeptionen beziehen. Wie Leibniz im §38 des
Discours de Metaphysique ausführt, hat das Fehlen der Selbstrepräsentation gravierende
Folgen. Man weiß nicht, was man ist und was man tut. Man stellt keine Überlegungen an
und entdeckt auch keine notwendigen oder universellen Wahrheiten. 28
Es ist auch wichtig zu betonen, daß es für Leibniz, wie er im Discours de Metaphysique
und in einem Brief an Sophie Charlotte aus dem Jahre 1702 ausführt, ein einheitsstiften-
des Ich gibt, das die Einheit der kognitiven und nicht-kognitiven Akte garantiert. Die
Existenz der intelligiblen Dinge und des Ich, das denkt, ist unvergleichlich viel sicherer

99
als die Existenz der wahrnehmbaren Dinge. Die Konzeption des Seins und der Wahrheit
findet sich viel mehr in diesem Ich als in den äußeren Sinnen und in der Perzeption der
äußeren Gegenstände. Im Discours de Meraphysique betont Leibniz, daß die vernünftige
Seele ein Bewußtsein dessen hat, was sie ist, und das vielsagende Wort "Ich" aussprechen
kann, das Leibniz mit einem großen "M" schreibt, denn er schreibt "Moi". Sie hat Dauer
und Bestand nicht nur im metaphysischen, sondern auch im moralischen Sinne und
garantiert die Identität der Person. 29
Auch in der Monadologie und in den Principes spricht Leibniz vom Ich. So schreibt er
im §30 der Monadologie, daß wir uns durch die Erkenntnis der notwendigen Wahrheiten
und durch die Abstraktionen, die sich hieran knüpfen, zu den reflexiven Akten erheben,
vermöge deren wir den Gedanken unseres Ich fassen und dies oder jenes als uns zugehörig
betrachten können. Und indem wir in dieser Weise an uns selbst denken, fassen wir damit
zugleich den Gedanken des Seins, der Substanz, des Einfachen und Zusammengesetzten,
des Immateriellen, ja Gottes selbst, indem wir uns vorstellen, daß das, was in uns
eingeschränkt vorhanden, in ihm ohne Schranken enthalten ist. Diese reflexiven Akte
liefern somit die hauptsächlichsten Gegenstände unserer Vernunfterkenntnis. 30
Das Ich bei Leibniz ist offensichtlich von der Existenz reflexiver geistiger Akte oder
von Apperzeptionen abhängig. Perzeptionen reichen nicht aus. Das Ich ist in der Welt und
garantiert die Einheit aller psychischen Akte des entsprechenden Subjektes. Ein Ich gibt
es nur dort, wo es Reflexion gibt, es setzt also neben einer psychischen Basisebene auch
eine Reflexionsebene voraus.
Man darf nicht den Fehler machen und die Leibnizsche Theorie von den Perzeptionen
und Apperzeptionen und damit auch vom Ich für psychologisch oder gar für psychologis-
tisch halten. Es handelt sich um eine metaphysische Theorie, und Leibniz verwendet nur
deshalb Termini wie "Perzeption" und "Apperzeption", weil die Monaden geistige
Substanzen sind. Perzeptionen und Apperzeptionen können individuelle Eigenschaften
aller Art sein. Die Abbildung der Welt durch Perzeptionen und die Abbildung der inneren
Struktur der Monaden durch Apperzeptionen sind ontologische Theorien und keine
psychologischen oder erkenntnistheoretischen. Sie sind allerdings so grundlegend, daß
sie auch psychologische oder erkenntnistheoretische Deutungen zulassen oder minde-
stens die Grundlage für solche Deutungen darstellen. 31
Die Überlegungen zum Ich bei Wittgenstein stehen in einem ganz anderen historischen
Kontext. Sie sind geprägt durch die Tradition Leibniz, Kant, Schopenhauer, Weininger
einerseits und durch Hume, Mach und Mauthner andererseits.
Was uns hier interessiert, sind die Schwierigkeiten, die Wittgenstein mit dem Ich in
mereologischer Hinsicht hat. Da es in dem Sinne einfach ist, als es keine Teile hat - eine
zusammengesetzte Seele wäre nämlich keine Seele mehr- schreibt er im Tractatus 5.5421,
gehört es eigentlich zu den einfachen Gegenständen, die in Sachverhalten vorkommen
können. Doch das weist Wittgenstein zurück. "Das Ich ist kein Gegenstand" behauptet
Wittgenstein kategorisch in den Tagebüchern. 32 Es kann dann wohl auch nicht Teil eines
Sachverhalts sein.
Die Einfachheit und Teillosigkeit führt dazu, daß es auch kein Sachverhalt sein kann,
denn Sachverhalte sind komplex, und bestehende Sachverhalte bilden sich gegenseitig in
der Welt ab.
Die Konsequenz, die Wittgenstein zieht, besteht darin, daß das Ich ein Grenzbegriff ist.
Da es weder ein Gegenstand noch ein Sachverhalt ist, kann es nicht in der Welt sein. Da
es offensichtlich auch nicht außerhalb der Welt ist, ist es für Wittgenstein ein Grenzbe-
griff. Schon in den Tagebüchern steht, daß das Subjekt kein Teil der Welt ist, und im
Tractatus wird es in 5.632 ganz deutlich wiederholt: Das Subjekt gehört nicht zur Welt,
sondern es ist eine Grenze der Welt. 33

100
Der Terminus "Ich" tritt bei Wittgenstein, wie schon in der Tradition, im Zusammen-
hang und manchmal sogar synonym mit anderen Termini auf, nämlich mit "Subjekt" und
"Seele". Wie die Tradition seit Plato denkt Wittgenstein, daß die Seele keine Teile hat.
Doch im Gegensatz zur Tradition und vor allem zu Leibniz bringt er sie nicht in
Zusammenhang mit reflexiven psychischen Akten, denn er will gerade nichtpsychologisch
vom Ich reden: 34

5.641 Es gibt also wirklich einen Sinn, in welchem in der Philosophie nicht-
psychologisch vom Ich die Rede sein kann.
Das Ich tritt in die Philosophie dadurch ein, daß "die Welt meine Welt ist".
Das philosophische Ich ist nicht der Mensch, nicht der menschliche Körper, oder
die menschliche Seele, von der die Psychologie handelt, sondern das metaphysi-
sche Subjekt, die Grenze, nicht ein Teil der Welt.

Wittgenstein unterscheidet also zwischen einem psychologischen Ich und einem phi-
losophischen oder metaphysischen Ich, eine Unterscheidung, die an die Kantische
Trennung von empirischem und transzendentalem oder noumenalem Subjekt erinnert.
Ersteres kann auch als ,Seele' bezeichnet werden und wäre dann ein Gegenstand der
Psychologie, also einer Wissenschaft und nicht der Philosophie. Das psychologische Ich
kann durchaus Teil der Welt sein. Das philosophische Ich, das er auch als ,metaphysi-
sches Subjekt' bezeichnet, soll hingegen nicht Gegenstand einer Wissenschaft sein und
kann deshalb auch nicht in der Welt sein, sondern befindet sich an der Grenze der Welt
und damit auch nicht außerhalb der Welt. Es zeigt sich in bestimmten Situationen.JS
Was ihn wiederum mit Leibniz und der philosophischen Tradition seit Anaximenes
verbindet, ist die Idee vom Mikrokosmos. Die Welt ist meine Welt, weil ich als
Mikrokosmos den ganzen Makrokosmos widerspiegele. Wittgenstein hat dies von Scho-
penhauer und Weininger geerbt, und dieser Terminus hat für ihn, anders als für Leibniz,
sicher einen idealistischen import, denn er ist für ihn mit dem Problem des Solipsismus
verbunden. Wittgenstein steht hier offensichtlich Descartes näher als Leibniz. Er beruft
sich später auch auf ihn. 36
Im Gegensatz zur Leibnizschen Monadologie oder überhaupt zum Leibnizschen Sy-
stem enthält der Tractatus keine Reflexionsebene, und zwar weder im psychologischen
noch im metaphysischen Sinne. Alles befindet sich auf einer, und zwar auf der ersten
Stufe, es gibt keine übergeordnete Ebene der Reflexion. Es gibt keine höheren Sachver-
halte.

4. Die Kausalität
Neben den beiden Relationen Substanz-Akzidens und Teil-Ganzes ist für Leibniz die
Kausalität das wichtigste Ingredienz der Metaphysik, und zwar sowohl die causa efficiens,
also die Relation Ursache-Wirkung, als auch die causafinalis, also die Relation Mittel-
Zweck. Für Leibniz ist letztere die wichtigere. Er zeigt dies an einem eindrucksvollen
Beispiel im Discours de Metaphysique. 31
Die Leibnizsche Konzeption von der causa efficiens ist insofern kompliziert, als es
keine direkte Einwirkung der Monaden aufeinander gibt. Kausalität gibt es nur innerhalb
der Monaden, d.h. beim Übergang von einem Zustand von einer Monade zu einem
anderen. D.h., das Gesetz der Serie, das den Ablauf dieser Zustände regelt, hat eine
kausale Struktur. 38
Es gibt in der Leibnizschen Monadologie als Ersatz für die direkte Einwirkung der
Monaden aufeinander eine indirekte, und die geschieht durch die Perzeption. Da jede

101
Monade als Mikrokosmos die ganze Welt oder die Gesamtheit aller anderen Monaden
samt ihrer Eigenschaften, d.h. ihrer Perzeptionen, widerspiegelt, bildet sie auch die
kausalen Beziehungen zwischen den einzelnen Zuständen aller Monaden ab. Dadurch
wird auch die Leibnizsche These, nach der es keine denominatio extrinseca ohne eine
denominatio intrinseca oder, wie man heute sagen würde, keine äußere Relation ohne
eine innere Relation geben darf und kann, wahr gemacht. Und dies ist dem Willgenstein-
schen Denken im Tractatus sehr nahe, denn die Fähigkeit der einfachen Gegenstände,
sich zu Sachverhalten zu verketten, läßt auf eine innere Struktur oder innere Relationen
schließen. 'q
Für Willgenstein gibt es in der Welt keine kausalen Beziehungen, keinen Kausalnexus,
für ihn ist die Kausalität ein Aberglaube: Tractatus 5.136, 6.1361: "Einen Kausalnexus,
der einen solchen Schluß rechtfertigt, gibt es nicht" ... Der Glaube an den Kausalnexus ist
ein Aberglaube." Es gibt also keine Einwirkung der Gegenstände aufeinander.
Die einzige Relation, die er anerkennt, ist die der logischen Folgerung oder die der
logischen Notwendigkeit: .. Einen Zwang, nach dem eines geschehen müßte. weil etwas
anderes geschehen ist, gibt es nicht. Es gibt nur eine logische Notwendigkeit." ( Tractatus
6.37) Es darf weder ein Ereignis aus einem anderen folgen. wie z.B. die Sonnenfinsternis
aus einer bestimmten Konstellation von Sonne, Mond und Erde. Noch darf gar aus einer
Handlung etwas folgen, also weder ein Ereignis noch eine andere Handlung: "Also muß
diese Frage nach den Folgen einer Handlung belanglos sein. Zum Mindesten dürfen diese
Folgen nicht Ereignisse sein." ( Tractatus 6.422) 411
Man kann an dieser Analyse gut sehen, daß der Tractatus auch in dieser Hinsicht rudimentär
ist. Es gibt nicht einmal eine indirekte oder abgebildete Kausalität wie in der Monadolo~ie
und in dieser Hinsicht auch keine Interaktion von innerer und äußerer Relation.

5. Zusammenfassung
Beim Vergleich von Monado/o~ie und Tractatus kommt man zu folgenden Ergebnis-
sen:
I. Die Monado/o~ie hat eine gut darstellbare mereologische Struktur. Die mereologi-
sche Struktur des Tractatus ist rudimentär. Es gilt nicht einmal die Transitivität von Jl. wie
schon Frege festgestellt hat.
2. Die Welt besteht bei Leibniz aus unendlich vielen Monaden samt ihrer Perzeptionen
und Apperzeptionen, bei Willgenstein ist sie Gesamtheit aller bestehenden Sachverhalte
oder von Tatsachen, in die die Gegenstände als Teile eingehen.
3. Die Leibnizschen Monaden sind mereologisch primitiv, d.h. sie haben keine Teile.
Sie sind jedoch in Bezug auf ihre Eigenschaften äußerst komplex. Die Gegenstände im
Tractatus sind einfach in Bezug auf beide Analysen.
4. Die Leibnizschen Monaden bilden sich gegenseitig mit Hilfe ihrer Perzeptionen ab.
Laut Tractatus bilden sich die Sachverhalte in der Welt ebenfalls gegenseitig ab. In der
Monadologie gibt es eine Hierarchie je nach der Klarheit der Abbildung, die höheren
Monaden spiegeln die Welt weniger konfus wider als die niedrigeren. Willgenstein kennt
keine höheren Sachverhalte. Es gibt keine Hierarchie von Sachverhalten. Sie befinden
sich alle auf einer Ebene.
5. Das Leibnizsche Ich hängt von der Existenz von Apperzeptionen ab. Ohne sie gibt
es kein Ich. Es garantiert die Einheit der kognitiven und nicht-kognitiven Akte und macht
auch die Erkenntnis von allgemeinen oder notwendigen Aussagen möglich. Leibniz'
Auffassung vom Ich ist nicht psychologisch oder gar psychologistisch, sondern metaphy-
sisch. Willgenstein unterscheidet im Tractatus zwischen einem psychologischen und
einem metaphysischen Ich. Das psychologische Ich kann in der Welt und damit auch

102
Gegenstand psychologischer Forschung sein. Das metaphysische oder philosophische
Ich ist weder in der Welt noch außerhalb der Welt, sondern an der Grenze der Welt. Es
zeigt sich in bestimmten Situationen.
6. In der Leibnizschen Welt gibt es Kausalität nur in einem abgeleiteten Sinne, nämlich
über die Perzeptionen zwischen den Monaden; nur zwischen den einzelnen Zuständen der
Monaden bestehen kausale Beziehungen. Für Wittgenstein gibt es überhaupt keine
Kausalität. Kausalität ist ein Aberglaube. Es gibt nur logische Notwendigkeit und
logische Unmöglichkeit. Die Gegenstände und Sachverhalte befinden sich außerdem im
logischen Raum und nicht im wirklichen.
7. Wenn man die verschiedenen ontologischen Ebenen von Monadologie und Tractatus
vergleicht, dann kann man folgendes feststellen: In der Monadologie haben wir als
Basisebene die geistigen Monaden, die sich dann auf der zweiten Ebene zu zusammen-
gesetzten Gegenständen oder individuellen Substanzen, die aus geistigen und körperli-
chen bestehen, also zu echten Ganzen einerseits und zu Aggregaten, d.h. zu Haufen
andererseits verbinden. Die dritte Ebene ist die der Phänomene, die durch Perzeptionen
von Monaden oder Aggregaten entstehen.
Im Tractatus haben wir nur zwei Ebenen: als Basis fungieren die Gegenstände, die sich
zu Sachverhalten verbinden. Diese Sachverhalte bilden die zweite und auch schon letzte
Ebene. Aus ihnen besteht die Welt. 41 Es gibt weder eine psychologische noch eine
metaphysische Reflexionsebene. 42

Anmerkungen

1 GP VI 607-23; Leibniz 19661, Band II 435-56


GP VI 598-606; Leibniz 1966 3 , Band II 423-34
J im letzten Band von Ostwaids Annalen der Naturphilosophie
4 A VI,I 168-230; cf. Burkhardt 1980 275ff, insbesondere 280; cf. Burkhardt 1989 173

j Monadologie § 7 GP VI 607-8
6 cf. Burkhardt 1989 174-76

7 Jungius 1638 279-82; Burkhardt 1990

" Theodizee GP VI 245; Goodman 1951 48-49, cf. Burkhardt 1989 177-78
9 Monadologie § 8 und § 13 GP VI 608; Leibniz 1966-', Band II 436-38

10 Simons 1987 319-20; Burkhardt und Degen in Vorbereitung

11 Monadologie GP VI 607

12 cf. Burkhardt und Degen in Vorbereitung

u Monadologie § 64 GP VI 618
14 Principes § 6 GP VI 601

1j Janik 1989 20

16 ibid.

17 Monadologie § 8 GP VI 608

18 Monadologie § 14 GP VI 608-9

19 cf. Burkhardt 1980 164f; 170f

20 Tractatus 2.02; cf. Hintikka und Hintikka 1986b 55f

21 cf. Tractatus 2.0141: "Die Möglichkeit seines Vorkommens in Sachverhalten ist die Form

des Gegenstandes." cf. Haller 1989 356


22 cf. Haller 1989 356

2) Philosophische Untersuchungen § 77 329; cf. Sluga 1986 413

103
24 Philosophische Untersuchungen § 47 312f
25 cf. Burkhardt 1980 186f
26 cf. Frege 1879, 1964 XI-XII, 1967 143

27 Principes § 4 599-600
28 DM § 38 GP IV 459-60; NE A VI, VI 434; cf. Chisholm 1979 40f

29 DM § 38 GP IV 459-60; Brief an Sophie Charlotte von 1702 GP VI 488-89; 493-94; 502-3

30 Monadologie § 30 GP VI 612

31 cf. Burkhardt 1988 124ff

32 Tagebücher 173 (7.8.1916); cf. ibid (11.8.1916): "Jedem Gegenstand stehe ich objektiv gegen-

über. Dem Ich nicht". cf. Sluga 1986 413; cf. 5.542; cf. 5.5421
33 Tagebücher 172 (2.8.1916); cf. Sluga 1986 413-14; cf. Haller 1989 357

34 cf. Sluga 1986 413; cf. Haller 1989 357

35 cf. Haller 1989 354, 357-58


36 cf. Meyer 1900 I f: .. Der Mikrokosmos spiegelt den Makrokosmos schon deshalb wider, weil der

Makrokosmos aus dem Nichts und der Mikrokosmos aus dem Makrokosmos geschaffen wurde.";
cf. Haller 1989 353, 358; cf. Sluga 1986 413-14
37 DM § 19 GP IV 445-46

3" DM§ 14 GP IV 440: "On pourroit donc dire en quelque fa~on, et dans un bon sens, quoyque

eloigne de I' usage, qu' une substance particuliere n' agit jamais sur une autre substance particu-
Iiere et n' en patit non plus, si on considere que ce qui arrive achacune n' est qu' une suite de son
idee ou notion complete toute seule, puisque cette idee enferme deja tous !es predicats ou
evenemens, et exprime tout I' univers". cf. § 13, § 28, § 32; Monadologie § II GP VI 608
39 Monadologie § II GP VI 608

40 Tractatus 6.37; 6.422; 5.136; 6.1361; 6.36311; cf. Burkhardt 1985 540-41

41 cf. Tractatus 2.04: "Die Gesamtheit der bestehenden Sachverhalte ist die Welt".

42 cf. Haller 1989 358: "Aber Wirtgenstein gibt in diesen Kontexten keinen Hinweis, wie das Ich

sich auf sich selbst beziehen könnte. In der Tat hat diese Problematik im Traktat gar keinen Ort
gefunden."

Bibliographie

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Burkhardt, Hans 1985 "Modaltheorie Wittgensteins". In: Philosophie des Geistes. Philosophie der
Psychologie. Akten des 9. Int. Willgenstein Symposiums, Kirchberg/Wechsel, Hölder-Pichler-
Tempsky, Wien 537-43
Burkhardt, Hans 1988 "Die Leibnizsche Erkenntnistheorie". In: Leibniz, Tradition und Aktualität,
V. Int. Leibniz-Kongreß, Hannover 124-31
Burkhardt, Hans 1989 "The part-whole relation in the metaphysics of Leibniz". In: Leibnizian
lnquiries. A Group of Essays, University Press of America, Lanham, New York, London 171-81
Burkhardt, Hans 1990 "Jungius, Leibniz und die Logica Nova". In: Praktische Logik. Traditionen
und Tendenzen, hrsg. von P. Klein, Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 57-83
Burkhardt, Hans und Degen, Wolfgang, in Vorbereitung: "Mereology in Leibniz's Logic and Philo-
sophy". Topoi
Goodman, Nelson 1951 The Structure of Appearance. Harvard University Press, Cambridge
Haller, Rudolf 1989 "Bemerkungen zur Egologie Wittgensteins". In: Grazer Philosophische Stu-
dien, Vol 33/34, 353-73
Hintikka, Jaakko und Hintikka, Merrill 8. 1986a "Wittgenstein's Annus Mirabilis 1929". In: Die
Aufgabe der Philosophie der Gegenwart. Akten des 10. Int. Willgenstein Symposiums, Kirch-
berg/Wechsel, Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, Wien 437-47
Hintikka, Jaakko und Hintikka, Merrill 8. 1986b lnvestigating Wittgenstein, Blackwell, Oxford
Frege, Gottlob 1879 Begriffsschrift, einer der arithmetischen nachgebildeten Formelsprache des
reinen Denkens, Halle (Nachdruck Hildesheim 1964)

104
Frege, Gottlob 1967 Kleine Schriften, hrsg. von Ignacio Angelelli, Darmstadt
Husserl, Edmund 1968 Logische Untersuchungen, Tübingen
Jungius, Joachim 1638 Logica Hamburgensis (Nachdruck Harnburg 1957)
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm 1923f, 1938f, 1950f Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe. Herausgeg. von
der Deutschen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, Akademie Verlag, Berlin
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm 1875-90 Die philosophischen Schriften. Hrsg, von C.I. Gerhardt,
Berlin (Nachdruck, Hildesheim 1965)
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm 1959f Philosophische Schriften. Hrsg. und übersetzt von Wolf von
Engelhardt und H.H. Holz, Darmstadt
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm 1904 Hauptschriften zur Grundlegung der Philosophie. übersetzt von
A. Buchenau. Hrsg. von Ernst Cassirer, Meiner, Harnburg
Mates, Benson 1986 The Philosophy of Leibniz. Metaphysics and Language. Oxford University
Press, New York, Oxford
Meyer, Adolf 1900 Wesen und Geschichte der Theorie vom Mikrokosmos und Makrokosmos. Diss.,
Bern
Simons, Peter 1987 Parts, Oxford University Press, Oxford
Sluga, Hans 1986 "Wittgensteins Blaues Buch". In: Die Aufgaben der Philosophie der Gegenwart.
Akten des 10. Int. Wittgenstein Symposiums, Kirchberg/Wechsel, Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky,
Wien 411-16
Smith, Barry (Ed.) 1982 Partsand Moments. Studies in Logic and Formal Ontology. Philosophia,
München
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1960 Schriften, Tractatus Logico-philosophicus, Tagebücher 1914-16,
Philosophische Untersuchungen. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main

***

105
The Essence of Logical Atomism: Horne and Wittgenstein

BoousLAW WoLNIEWicz
University of Warsaw

1. Preamble
In philosophy Wittgenstein' s Tractatus is the book of the century, in contradistinction
also to his Philosophical lnvestigations which are a pathetic flop. The ideas of the
Tractatus are clear and grand, admitting of all kind of development and opening wide
fields of logico-philosophical inquiry. The confused and inconclusive ramblings of the
Philosophical Investigations are a blind alley leading nowhere.
How do we explain such a striking difference in philosophic quality ? One point seems
clear enough. The Tractatus was sailing before the rising wind of mathematical logic,
anticipating in various respects its further course. The Philosophical Investigations try to
navigate without wind or motor, which is impossible. Philosophy not feeding on science
must be barren, a standstill with the pretence of motion.

2. Logical Atomism
Just as a small sample ofthe theoretic potentialities ofthe Tractatus let us consider one
of its main doctrines: that of logical atomism. It is a metaphysical doctrine, its principal
tenet being this: the world consists of a plurality oflogical atoms. Whatever they are, these
atoms are marked by two ontological characteristics: they are simple, and they are
mutually independent. Thus all hinges on how that simplicity and that independence are
tobe understood, with different explications yielding different brands oflogical atomism.
In the history of philosophy there are just two paragons oflogical atomism: Wittgenstein' s
Tractatus (1922) and Hume's Treatise of Human Nature (1739). Both were the work of
young men- having finished his, Hume was 28, Wittgenstein was 29- and both had been
repudiated by their authors eventually. (Possibly in the XIV 1h century a third paragonwas
Niebolas of Autrecourt, "the medieval Hume", but this is disputable.)
In Hume the logical atoms are "simple perceptions", in Wittgenstein they are "atomic
situations" (Sachverhalte). What matters here, however, is not the imagery and associa-
tions called forth by these terms, but a comparison of the formal properties each system
ascribes to them. Such comparison is a tricky thing, as tricky at least as comparing
fractions in arithmetic. For both systems have tobe brought down somehow to a common
denominator.

3. Logical Hermeneuries
Metaphysical systems are sets of propositions. Let H and W be the two systems in
question. Selecting some of their theses A c H and B c W for comparison, we stick to the
following hermeneutic principle: the comparison should be based on some specified
theory T applicable to the universe of discourse of those systems. Otherwise it will be idle
talk.
The theory Twill be couched in some language L(T), and the theses betonging to the
sets A and B must be translated into it. This should be donein accordance with some stated
rules oftranslationdl: A~L(T) and d2: B~L(T). Ifthe equivalence d/a ~ d2 (ß) follows
from T, we call this a concordance between the systems in question. (If d 1(a) = d2 (ß), the
concordance is trivial. Otherwise it may need a lot of deduction.)

106
4. Elements
Looking for the least common denominator of H and W - i.e. for the weakest theory
T admitting their comparison and establishing of concordances- we start with an arbitrary
partial ordering (SE,~). We call its members elementary situations, reading the formula
x ~ y as "x is part of y" or "x holds in y". Elementary situations are to constitute the
reference of elementary conjunctions, the latter being just arbitrary conjunctions of
elementary propositions in Wittgenstein's sense.
Our theory T consists of further stipulations on the partial ordering SE. Here they are:
(1) SE is non-degenerate. (l.e., it has at least two members.)
(2) SE is bounded. (l.e., it has a greatest element A. (Iambda), its unit, and a smallest
one o (omicron), its zero. The unit is the impossible situation, the zero is the empty
one.
(3) SE is ajoin-semilattice. (l.e., for any x,y E SEthereis also their join z = x v y.!)
(4) SE is atomistic. (1. e., there is in SE a subset SA of atoms, or minimal elements
above o, and each x E SE is the join of some of them: x = sup A. with A c SA.)
(5) SE isfinitely atomic. (l.e., except for the unit, each elemet of SE contains just a
finite nurober of atoms.)
(6) SE is sectionally complemented. (l.e., if x ~ y, then there is an x' suchthat x v x'=y,
and they have just the empty situation in common.)
Note that by (4) and (5) SE is a lattice. Moreover, the unit beingjoin-reducible by (6),
SE isfinitely atomistic, i.e. x = sup A, for some AE Fin(SA), and for all x E SE (As usual,
sup A is the supremum of A, and Fin Ais the collection of allfinite subsets of A including
the empty one.)

5. Atomicity
As for simplicity, logical atoms are simply the atoms of the semilattice SE. They are
Wittgenstein's Sachverhalte: atomic situationsnot decomposable into smaller ones. As
he says in the Tractatus:
4.2211 - Even if the wor1d were infinite1y complex - with each fact consisting of
an infinity of atomic situations, and each ofthem composed of an infinity of objects
still there shou1d be objects and atomic situations.
In Hume the elements of the partial ordering SE are perceptions, i.e. "impressions" and
"ideas". Their ordering and its atomicity are implied at many p1aces of his Treatise, but
most clearly in the following noteworthy passage (T:27, i.e., page 27 of the Selby-Bigge
edition):
The idea, which we form of any finite quality, is not infinite1y divisible; [... ] by
proper distinctions and separations we may run up this idea to inferior ones, which
will be perfectly simple and indivisible. In rejecting the infinite capacity of the
mind, we suppose it may arrive at an end in the division of its ideas. [... ] 'Tis
therefore certain, that the imagination reaches a minimum, and may raise up to
itself an idea, of which it cannot conceive any sub-division, and which cannot be
diminished without a total annihilation. [... ] 'Tis the same case with the impres-
sions of the senses as with the ideas of the imagination.

This is to say: if in the ordering SE we go down below the atoms, we arrive at the empty
situation; or in Hume's parlance at "total annihilation". The simplicity of logical atoms
is the easy part of the story of logical atomism; the hard one is their independence. To tell
it we need the concept of the logical space connected with a semilattice SE.

107
6. Logical Space
Let X be an arbitrary set of elementary situations. We say X is consistent if sup A :t:"A.,
for any A E Fin X. Using the Axiom of Choice it may be shown that SE contains maximal
consistent sets, and that each consistent set is included in some maximal one.
Maximal consistent sets of elementary situations are possible worlds. Following Los
we callthem also realizations. The totality R of realizations is the logic·al space connected
with SE.
Realizations coincide with the maximal ideals of the semilattice SE. Moreover, if SE
is finitely atomistic, its maximal ideals correspond one-one to maximal consistent sets of
its atoms.
The concept of a realization is present both in Hume and in Wittgenstein. In the
Tractatus they appear under the name of "truth-possiblities of elementary propositions"
( Wahrheitsmöglichkeiten der Elementarsätze).ln Hume they are possihle minds, defined
as "heaps or collections of different perceptions" (T:207). Tobe sure, he does not assume
them tobe maximal, butthis is a gap in his system. And it brings him soon in difficulties
about "personal identity", i.e .. about how to account for the unity of the mind.

7. lndependence in Hume
Both Hume and Willgenstein assume explicitly that their logical atoms are mutually
independent in some sense. In Hume that is the import of the following remarkable
principle of his (T:634 ):

(H) "Whatever is distinct, is separable."

This, however, may be taken either as referring to single perceptions, or to whole sets
of them. Consider the first option first.
For single perceptions Iet "distinct" mean just "different", and define their separa-
bility as follows: for any x,y E SE,
Sep(x.y) iff V ((x ER and yt. R) or (xt. Rand ye R)).
ReR

This is the weakest form of separability definable in our terms. (lt corresponds to a
T 0 -space in topology, i.e., to a highly cohesive one.) Hume's principle may be now pul
down as follows:
(H') V (x :t:y ~ Sep(x,y)).
x,y E SE

Does (H') mean that the atoms of SE are mutually independent? Not at all, for some of
them may be incompatihle: x v y ="A.. But Humean independence is easily defined forthem
now: they are independent if they are compatible and separable. l.e., we set for any
x,y E SA:
lndph(x.y) iff x v y :1: "A. and Sep(x,y).
Observe that in Hume not all the atoms are independent in that Humean sense, for
according to him there are also contrary perceptions. (That "contrariety" being - as he
puts it - one of the three "philosophical relations" which "depend solely upon ideas"
(T:70) thus being "susceptible of certainty and demonstration" (T: 463/464 ).) Of course,
he is quick to add "no real objects are contrary" (T:247), i.e .. no two impressions capable
of entering one mind.

108
8. Independent Sets of Atoms
Under the second option Hume 's principle applies to sets ofperception. "Distinct" now
means "disjoint": AnB = 0, and for any A,B c SE we define their separability as follows:
Sep(A,B) iff 3 (Ac Rand B n R = 0) and
RER

3 (A n R = 0 and B c R)
RER
Note that if Ais not consistent, then --,Sep(A,B), for any B c SE.
For sets of atomic perceptions Hume 's principle takes now the following form:
(H") V (A,B consistent ==>(An R = 0 ==> Sep(A,B)) ).
A, B c SA
For an arbitrary set of atoms we define now the notion of an independent set as- so to
say- a "comprehensively separable" one. l.e., for any X c SA we set;
lndph(X) iff V(A n B = 0 ==> Sep(A,B)).
A,B c X
Note that consistency of X follows just by substituting X/A, 0/B.
By that definition we get from (H") immediately the thesis: any consistent set of
atomic perceptions is independent. I.e.,
(H'") V (X is consistent ==> Indph(X) ).
Note that the empty set is both consistent and self-separable, i.e. Sep(0,0), hence
Indph(0).
Now Iet Ro E R be the designated realization; i.e., Ro is the real world. With regard to
the set of all its atoms At(R) = R" n SA the foregoing thesis implies that
(H" ")
This is the Humean form of the thesis of logical atomism.
(Note that if x is incomparable with y- i.e. if neither x$;y, nor y$;x - then we have by
(H'):

3 (x E R and y ~ R) and 3 (x ~ R and y E R)


RER RER

for any x,y E SE. Indeed, --,x $; y iff x v y :t y. Hence by (H') y E Rand x v y ~ R, or
conversely. But it cannot be "conversely" as R is an ideal. Thus x v y ~ R. Hence either
x ~ R, or y ~ R. The latter is again impossible as y E R, and so we get eventually: x ~ R
and y E R, for some R ER. The same goes for the conjunct --,y $; x. QED.

9. Wittgenstein's Atomism
In the Tractatus the principle of logical atomism is stated right at the outset:
1.2 The world splits into facts.
(W) 1.21 Anything may be the case or not, the rest staying the same.
For thesis 1.21 Iet us adopt the following reading: "anything" = "any set of atomic
situations holding in a given world" = any A c At(R), for a given R E R; "is the case" =
"holds in R" =Ac R; "is not the case" ="An R = 0 (and notjust A ~ R which would yield
a weaker variant of logical atomism).

109
Under such reading thesis 1.21 takes the following form:
(W') V V 3 (A n R' = 0 and (At(R) - A) c R ').
ReR Ac At(R) R'e R

10. Wittgensteinian Independence


To define a Wittgensteinian notion of independence it is apposite to make use of a
concept the study of which was started in 1971 by Dana Scott, and then since 1971
elaborated by Shoesmith and Smiley (and others). It is the concept of "entailment",
conceived originally as a relation between sets of proposition. (Scott hirnself called it
"conditional assertion", Shoesmith and Smiley call it "multiple conclusion"; anyhow its
spiritual father is Gentzen.) We shall take sets of elementary situations for its terms. Its
definition is simple then: A entails B (symbolically: Al- B) if any maximal ideal of SE
containing A intersects B. l.e., for any A,B c SE we set:

A I- B iff V (A c R :::=) B n R ::1:- 0).


ReR

And A I>' B is to say that A does not entail B, i.e., A c R and B n R = 0, for some
RE R.
Note the following properties of I-: I A.} I- B, for any B c SE; A I- 0 iff A is incon-
sistent; 01- B iff o E B; and if Ac A' , B c B' then AI- B implies A' I- B'. (Very appropriately
Shoesmith and Smiley call the last property dilution.)
For atoms we define now a W-independent set asonein which no subset is entailed by
the rest. l.e., for any X c SA we set;

Indpw(X) iff -,3 (X -A)I-A.


AcR

Note the following: Indpw(0), as 0 I- 0; -,lndpw( I A.} ), as I A.} I- 0; and -,lndpw( I 0} ),


as 01- lo}.
Setting X =At(R), for an arbitrary R 11: R, we see that the definiens is equivalent to (W').
Hence we get the Wittgensteinian thesis of logical atomism:
(W")

This is equivalent to the Humean one (H''' '). In fact both concepts of independence-
Indph defined by separability, and Indpw defined by non-entailment- are equivalent, at
least for atoms. l.e., we have:

V (lndph(X) iff Indpw(X)).


XcSA

Call an entailment A I- B trivial if A n B ::1:- 0. Then we might say that a set of atoms
is W-independent if and only if it is free of non-trivial entailments.
Wittgenstein's principle of logical atomism (W') is all right as it states only this: any
consistent set of atoms is W-independent. But Wittgenstein wanted to have more, namely
this: any set of atoms is consistent. And then he deduced correctly from both that any set
of atoms is W-independent, which was overdoing the job. Hume was more wary in that
respect.

110
11. Von Neumann lndependence
A concept well-known in lattice theory isthat of a set independent in the sense of von
Neumann (cf., e.g., G. Grätzer, General Lattice Theory, 1978, p. 166 n). Take an arbitrary
lattice with zero. Any set X of its elements such that o e: X is said to be independent in
that sense - to be written 'IndpvN(X)' - if this holds
'r;/ sup A A sup B = sup (A n B).
A,B E Fin X
Note that sup (An B) ~ sup A" sup B holds generally, so just the opposite inequality
is operative here.
On the relation of vN-independence to the Humean one the following theorem holds:
Let SE be a non-degenerate lattice, bounded and atomistic.
Then for any set of atoms X c SA: Indph(X) ~ IndpvN(X).
But not conversely.
Indeed, take any X c SA suchthat lndph(X) and suppose sup A" sup B :t- sup (An B)
for some A,B E Fin X. Observe that atomistic lattices are characterized by the following
implication: x :t- y ~ At(x) :t- At(y), for any of their elements. Thus, in view of our
supposition: At(sup A " sup B) :t- At(sup (An B)). But At (sup (An B)) c At (supA "
sup B) holds generally. Hence there is an atom s E SA suchthat s E At(sup A), s E At(sup
B), and s e: At(sup (An B)). By the last s e: An B, i.e. s e: A or s e: B.
Thus we are left with three cases: s E (A-B), or s E (B-A) or s E (X -(Au B)),
each tobe shown as leading to a contradiction. (As the first two are perfectly symmetric,
actually one of them will do .)
Suppose s E (A-B). By Humean independence, B c Rand (A-B) n R =0, for some
RE R. Hence sup BE R, as Bis finite and R is an ideal. But s ~ sup B, so s E R. Consequently,
(A-B) n R :t- 0 contradicting the foregoing.
So suppose s E (X- (Au B)). By Humean independence, Au Be Rand (X- (Au B))
n R = 0, for some R E R. Hence A c R, and so sup A E R, as A is finite. But s ~ sup
A, so s E R. Consequently (X -(Au B)) n R :t- 0, for some RE R, again contradicting
the foregoing. QED.
Thus Indph ~ IndpvN for atoms. But the converse does not hold. For take a set X =
{s 1, S2 I, where s 1 ,s 2 are two incompatible atoms. lt is easily verified then that Indp vN(X)
holds, but lndph(X) does not, as X is not consistent.

***

111
The Archeology of the Tractatus:
Bolzano and Wittgenstein

JAN SEBESTIK
C. N. R. S., Paris

l. Introduction: the Austrian heritage


The Tractatus is intimately related to the logic ofFrege and Russell. However, as recent
studies have shown, it is also a product of Austrian philosophical and cultural tradition.
Contrary to German transcendentalism and subjectivism which begin with Kant, Austrian
philosophy is rooted in Aristotle, in scholasticism and in Leibniz. Of the two great
Austrians of the 19th century, Bolzano and Brentano, the former is the heir of Leibniz and
Aristotle while the latter draws his inspiration from Aristotle and the scholastics.
Nevertheless, severallinks connect Wittgenstein and Kant. One is an extended analogy
betwen Kant's conception of space and the treatment of logical space by Wittgenstein 1•
Another consists of one of the general ideas underlying both Kant's and Wittgenstein's
project of defining the Iimits, of knowledge or of language, from within. However,
differences between the two prevail over such similarities. First, the rote of formallogic
in Kant's system is insignificant and his semantics (doctrine of sense and denotation) are
quite rudimentary. Second, Wittgenstein deliberately ignores the core of Kantian philos-
ophy, namely the transeendental machinery, and replaces it with logical semantics which
constitute the main body ofhis theories and takes over the rote oftranscendental analytics.
This strategy of Wittgenstein is simply a repetition of the original ploy devised by
Bolzano, in a different context and with more powerful means.
The Leibnizian logical heritage was of particularly flourishing growth in 19th century
Austria. The earliest studies ofLeibniz's logic can all be traced back to Bolzano and his
friends and pupils. Ferdinand Exner, professor of philosophy at the Charles University in
Prague and a friend of Bolzano, wrote an extensive memoire on Leibniz's universal
science. Robert Zimmermann, a pupil of Bolzano's (a close friend of the Zimmermann
family), compared Leibniz's and Herbart's monadologies. Another of Bolzano's pupils,
Franz Kvet, wrote the first book describing Leibniz's logic. Even Herbart, the only
German philosopher who became popular in Austria, was a Leibnizian; he played a rote
somewhat similar tothat of Kant's in Germany. He was introduced to Austria by Exner
precisely, and became the official Austrian philosopher thanks to Zimmermann.
Austrian opposition to Kant can be explained in two ways: first, Bolzano's refutation
of Kant's fundamental theories, combined with the creation of a new logical and
philosophical system. Bolzano and later Brentano therefore provided an adequate replay
to Kant's problems. As a result, Austrian philosophy developed doctrines which could
resist Kant's destructive criticism. Second a political motivation, which was instigated by
the official Austrian opposition to Kant as a protestant and Prussian thinker. He was
moreover suspected of having ideological sympathies with the spirit of the French
revolution. In addition, Bolzano's religious, moraland social doctrines were heldtobe
sufficiently subversive for their author to be expelled from the Charles University in
1820. The official procedures started against Bolzano were indeed the major reason why
his name remained unknown in Austrian philosophy up till the end of the 19th century,
though some of his doctrines had been diffused throughout Austria, and especially in
Bohemia.
Frege likewise is much closer to the Austrian tradition than to the tradition of German
idealism. Considered a fringe philosopher and all but neglected in Germany, he was

112
nevertheless taken seriously in Austria by pupils of Brentano. Benno Kerry, in an
important series of articles, undertook the first thorough examination of the doctrines of
Frege, and made camparisans of the philosophy of mathematics and logic of Kant,
Bolzano and Frege. Frege hirnself contributed to the Festschrift Ludwig Boltzmann. The
importance of Frege's account of Husserl's Philosophie der Arithmetik is weil attested.
Today, we arealso better informed about the close personal ties between Wittgenstein and
Frege. Russe II, at this time was struggling with the doctrine of inexistent and impossible
objects put forward by Twardowski and Meinong, both pupils of Brentano.
In the case of Bolzano, a comparison with Wittgenstein coversnot only some specific
points, but also the style of their philosophies and the roJe of logic in the construction of
the system. I see three main points of comparison:

I. For Bolzano, formal logic is the central discipline of philosophy: a logical system
once set up becomes an instrument for all philosophical analysis.
2. Bolzano refutes Kant's transeendental argument the function of which is assumed
by a logico-semantical theory which is developed in two different ways:
a) a theory of meaning or sense based on abstract intensional entities, propositions
(Sätze an sich) and ideas-in-themselves (Vorstellungen an sich). The grammatical forms
of ordinary language have tobe elucidated and amended in order to comply with canonic
forms obtained by the logical analysis of language.
b) a theory of reference or denotation, more precisely the logic of classes and the logic
of extensional relations between propositions (extensional because defined solely in
terms of the truth values of the propositions considered). Particularly important in this
respect is the elucidation of fundamentallogical notions: validity, contravalidity, logical
consequence (deducibility) and its link with probability.
3. Bolzano' s theory of representation (Vorstellung) is not properly speaking a picture
theory. According to Bolzano, pictures (Bilder) arenot ideas; they can at most accompany
some ideas. No properly functional relationship, no Abbildung, is established between
propositions and the world. On the one hand, Sätze an sich arenot Sachverhalte, because
noSachverhalte correspond to false propositions. On the other hand, the structure of the
propositions, which is derived from the structure of the statements of ordinary language,
does not correspond exactly to the structure of objects. The system of all true propositions
yields a complete description an sich of the world and of the properties of things within
it, but Bolzano refutes the idea of morphism between the propositions and the world. It
is nevertheless on the grounds of Bolzanian theories that the first (Polish- )Austrian
picture theory was born. In Twardowski 's Zur Lehre vom Inhalt und Gegenstand der
Vorstellungen ( 1894 ), where the author attemps a synthesis between Bolzano 's logic and
Brentano 's descriptive psychology, a functional relationship (Abbildung) is established
between objects and ideas. According to Twardowski, an idea (Vorstellung) consists in
an act whose content mirrors (bildet ab) an object. As a judgement consists in an act the
content (assertion or denial ofthe existence of an object) of which mirrors "that which was
judged", the reader anticipates a similar correspondence between situations and judge-
ments. However, because "that which was judged" is not a situation or a state of affairs,
but the represented object itself, Twardowski 's picture theory falls short of its goal.
Nevertheless, in a Ietter to Meinong of 1897 (published only in 1965), he recognised
Sachverhalte, states of affairs, as special objects of the judgements. With this, a decisive
step to a coherent pictures theory was thus undertaken. Three years later, Husserl will put
on a par objects (referents of ideas) and states of affairs (referents of judgements) in both
5th and 6th of his Logical investigations 2 •

113
2. Bolzano and Wittgenstein: the ressemblances
1) Certain strong ressemblances in terminology. Wittgenstein uses in German the term
Satz and not the German term Urteil employed currently by German philosophers and
logicians since Kant. Wittgenstein shifts the meaning ofFregean Gedanke by identifying
it with sinnvoller Satz. It is true, the Russellian term "proposition" also fostered the
replacement of the traditional Urteil by Satz. Another term used by Wittgenstein is,
however, specifically Bolzanian: the term Teil or Bestandteil, designating a constituent
of a proposition in the general sense. A constituent is any meaningful part of a proposition.
Constituents of propositions include proper names, predicates and other abstract terms as
weil as logical and grammatical particles, and even whole propositions.
2) Other similarities between Wittgenstein and Bolzano are the following. Wittgen-
stein treats the concept of series ("Reihe") in a way similar to Bolzano 's in the Paradoxes
oftheInfinite. In fact, the Bolzanian treatment of series with explicit reference to Bolzano
already appeared in Russell's Principles of Mathematics 3 •
For Bolzano, as for Wittgenstein, the concept of space is of a purely conceptual nature.
Space is a system of places, given and not constructed stepwise. Geometry, consequently,
is a purely conceptual science.
Several specifically Bolzanian doctrines are echoed in the Tractatus: unicity of the
analysis of a proposition (3.25), existence ofthe generat form of a propositon (though the
Bolzanian form is very far from the Wittgensteinian generat form). Even the operation N
(forming the conjunction of the negations of given propositions, 5.502) is already found
in Bolzano's logical system. Among others, Bolzanodefines the relation (called by him
total exclusion) between the class of given propositions and the class of their negations.
The idea that all necessity is logical is also Bolzanian. For Bolzano a proposition is
necessary if it does not contradict a conceptual truth (truth which does not contain
intuitions).
Bolzano also raises the problern of a separation of logical and non-logical elements (in
terms of ideas-in-themselves) and admits that the line of demarcation is not absolute.

3. Bolzano' s semantica/ method


Surprisingly, the aphorism 3.315 of the Tractatus exhibits certain terminological and
stylistic idiosyncrasies which differ considerably from the Fregean-Russellian treatment
of the subject:
If we turn a constituent (einen Bestandteil) of a proposition into a variable, there
is a class of propositions all of which are va1ues of the resulting variable
proposition. In general, this class too will be dependent on the meaning that our
arbitrary conventions have given to parts of the original proposition. But if all the
signs in it that have arbitrarily determined meanings are turned into variables, we
shall still get a class of this kind (so gibt es nun noch immer eine solche Klasse).
This one, however, is not dependent on any convention, but solely on the nature of
the proposition. It corresponds to a logical form - a logical prototype."
(Trans I. Pears-McGuinness)

Neither in Frege nor in Russell do we find expressions like "to turn a constituent of a
proposition into a variable"; there are no such things as "variable propositions". The
section 3.315 is at odds not only with Frege's and Russell's logic, but also with
Wittgensteins's own treatment of the subject. Here, an archaic layer appears, exactly as
a primitive rock emerges suddenly out ofrecent sediments to the light of the day.

ll4
The passage will become much clearer when we compare 3.315 with the first draft of
the text:
If, in a given judgement, for example "this man is learned", we consider the idea
"this" as variable, in such a way that it represents now this man, now that man etc.,
we obtain, depending on the case that the represented man is or is not learned, both
true propositions and false propositions.
This passage is not taken from an unknown notebook of the young Wittgenstein -
though it might weil be found there - but from the textbook for Austrian secondary
schools Philosophische Propädeutik written by Robert Zimmermann, already referred to,
and published in 1853 4 •
In the passage by Wittgenstein, "variable proposition" does not mean propositional
variable 5 (because there is no need to turn a constituent of a proposition into a variable in
order to obtain a propositional variable), but a proposition containing a variable constit-
uent, i.e. what Bolzano calls a propositional form ("Satzform").
The resulting class ofpropositions will depend on the constituents which have already
been turned into variables. In "this man is learned", we may (according to Zimmermann)
turn into variables "this", "man" or "learned", and the resulting classes of propositions
will depend on the arbitrary choice of the variable constituent. However, our choice is
limited: only non logical constituents may be turned into variables. When we turn into
variables a/1 constituents of a proposition except the logical ones, we obtain one class only,
which does not depend on any convention concerning the choice of variable constituents.
Such a class corresponds to the logical form of the proposition. Here, Zimmermann,
simply paraphrases and summarizes the method of variation of Bolzano.
The passage 3.315 of the Tractatus is in fact an excellent description of Bolzano's
method. In order to define the fundamental concepts of logic such as validity, and set forth
his system of the relations between propositions, Bolzano devised a special semantical
method comparable to Tarski's semantics. The first step of Bolzano's method provides
validity. It consists in Operating substitutions in a proposition in which some constituents
have been "turned to variables". (This is a cumbersome way of speaking of propositional
forms and the substitution of ideas in them 6 ). By this procedure, Bolzano obtains three
classes of propositions, classified according to the truth values of the propositions
contained in each class:
- either all propositions of the resulting class are true (Bolzano then calls the
proposition itself valid or tautologous),
- or all propositions of the resulting class are false (and the proposition itself is
contravalid),
- or the resulting class contains both true and false propositions.
I believe Bolzano tobe the first logician to classify propositions as tautologies (valid
propositions), contravalid propositions, and others. Before Bolzano, only special cases of
contradictions were taken into consideration in reductio ad absurdum proofs.

4. Logical consequence and probability


By means of his substitutional method (method of variation of ideas), Bolzano
constructs a system of logical relations, the most important of which are compatibility,
contradiction, deducibility (" Ableitbarkeit") or logical consequence, and equivalence 7• To
characterize validity, Bolzano considers simply the truth values of the propositions
generated by a substitution of ideas for "variable ideas". In order to define logical

115
relations, he needs to compare truth values of propositions obtained by substitution within
propositions betonging to two different classes. Compatibility between two classes A and
M (relative to the chosen "variable ideas"), for example, is defined in terms of the
existence of a sequence of ideas which, substituted for "variable ideas" in both A and M,
make all propositions of both classes true.

Deducihility (consequence) will be similarly defined:


a proposition M is a consequence of the premisses A,B,C, ... if all (admissible)
substitutions of ideas for variable constituents, that make the premisses true, also
make the conclusion M true.

In general, Bolzano defines deducibility between two classes of propositions as a


relation between the premisses and the conclusions.
Wittgenstein 's notion of consequence (folgen) is defined in 5.11 in terms of truth-
grounds ("Wahrheitsgründe"), the truth-grounds of a proposition being "the truth-
possiblities of its truth-arguments that make it true" (5.1 0 I). As Wittgenstein introduces
his definition of folgen immediately after the truth-tables of the 16 possible truth-
functions, and since all complex propositions are truth-functionally composed, his notion
must refer primarily to propositional consequence, whereas Bolzano's deducibility is a
generat consequence relation between analysed propositions.
Let's Iook closer at Bolzano's deducibility relation. For Bolzano (and contrary to our
own notion of consequence), deducibility is a special case of compatibility: the premisses
of a logical consequence must be compatible (then, by definition, they are compatible
with the conclusion). Further, Bolzano specifies that the premisses are contained in the
conclusion, an idea which Wittgenstein takes over in 5.12, 5.121 and 5.122.
The idea of "being contained" becomes clearer if we refer back to the original
Bolzanian conception of logic. To construct his system, Bolzano explores the idea of
verifying substitution: a substitution which makes true all propositions obtained from the
given proposition. In the case of the consequence relation for example, all substitutions
that verify the premisses must also verify the conclusions, or alternatively, as Bolzano
sometimes says, that the system of ideas which verifies the premisses is contained in the
system of ideas which verifies the conclusions.
Due to the compatibility clause in the definition of the consequence relation, the latter
appears as a special case of probability. For Bolzano, probability is a logic·al relation between
propositions. The degree ofprohahility ("Grad der Wahrscheinlichkeit") of a proposition
M relatively to the hypotheses A,B,C, ... is defined as the number of cases in which
A,B,C, ... , M are all true, divided by the number of cases in which only the premisses
A,B,C, ... are true. Similarly, in 5.15 Wittgenstein defines the measure ofprohahility ("Maß
der Wahrscheinlichkeit") in terms of truth-grounds and of the fraction Wrs/Wr which
measures the probability which the proposition r (= Bolzano 's hypothesis) gives tos. And
Wittgenstein repeats Bolzano (and Zimmermann) in 5.152: "If p follows from q, then the
proposition 'q' gives to the proposition 'p' the probability I. The certainty of logical
inference is a limiting case of probability". Here, Wittgenstein switches from logical
terminology ("truth-possiblities", "truth-grounds", "tautology", "contradiction") to epistemic
terminology ("certainty"). Wittgenstein 's conception, like Bolzano 's presupposes, the
compatihility ofthe premisses. In Bolzanian terms, and using Wittgenstein 's symbols, the
degree of probability that the proposition 'r' gives to the proposition 's' can be either 0
(in this case, sandrare incompatible), or greater than 0 and smaller than I (s is probable
with respect to r), or 1 (s is the logical consequence of r).

116
5. lnfluence of Bolzano on Wirtgenstein
Bolzano is the invisible star of Austrian philosophy. Political reasons, and to some
extent also stylistic and doctrinal reasons resulted in ob Iiteration of his doctrines for more
than half of a century. Confined to semi-clandestinity, surrounded by a small circle of
devoted friends, while yet, with few exceptions, lacking contacts with a stimulating
scientific and philosophical milieu, Bolzano lived to produce his mature works, the
Wissenschafts/ehre, the Grössenlehre and the Paradoxes oftheInfinite in a sort of in-
tellectual vacuum.
Nevertheless, from time to time some references to Bolzano appear during the second
half of the 19th century. After the death of Bolzano, Zimmermann published a notice on
his scientific and philosophical work in the Sitzungsberichte ( 1849) of the recently
founded Imperial Academy of Science in Vienna. Mathematicians 1ike Hanke!, Weier-
strass, Cantor and Dedekind from time to time mentioned Bo1zano. In 1881, on the
occasion ofthe centenary ofhis birth, his works were recollected and made available once
again. The 2nd edition (1870) of J. E. Erdmann's wellknown Grundriss der Geschichte
der Philosophie contains a whole chapter on Bolzano. But it was on1y after 1885 that his
doctrines became an object of philosophical discussion among Brentano's pupils, due
perhaps to Brentano's critical remarks on Bolzano's conception oflogica1 objects and his
theory of the continuum. I have already mentioned the series of articles in which Benno
Kerry discussed Kant, Bolzano and Frege. Other important works followed: those of
Twardowski, Meinong and Husserl. In 1913, Twardowski 's pupil Lukasiewicz discussed
Bolzano's logic of probability in detail. Husserl in particular, one ofthebest specia1ists
of Bolzano' s Wissenschaftslehre, contributed to the reviva1 of Bolzanian logical theories
through hisLogische Untersuchungen ( 1900). Husserl on many points follows or develops
Bolzano's teachings, even when he does not mention him. Bolzano's most important
works were reprinted again from 1905 onwards. The British historian of mathematics
Philip E. Jourdain, a friend of Bertrand Russell's, edited the Rein analytischer Beweis in
this year. In 1914, Alois Höfler published a reprint of the two first volumes of the
Wissenschafts/ehre, andin 1922 the Paradoxes ofthe Infinite, Bolzano's most famous
book, including important notes by Hans Hahn (the original edition dates from 1851 ). In
1908, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Bolzano's death, a special issue of the
review Deutsche Arbeit was devoted to Bolzano, and in the following year, Hugo
Bergmann, a pupil of both Brentano's and Marty's, published the first monograph on
Bolzano's philosophy, a work which is still eminently readable. Heinrich Gomperz
mentioned Bolzano several times in his Weltanschauungslehre. In 1917 the first article
on Bolzano appeared in English, in The Monist. A couple ofyears later, its author, Dorothy
Wrinch, a student of Bertrand Russell' s, was one of the very first readers of the yet
unpublished Tractatus. On three occasions, Bolzano's doctrines served as weapons in
different controversies against Frege: by Kerry, by Husserl and by Korseit who, in a series
of articles, took over the controversy contained in the private correspondence between
Hilbert and Frege. Bolzano, though rarely a subject of serious study and often misunder-
stood at that, was nevertheless not completely absent from the Austrian and German
philosophical scene. lt is thus fairly plausible that an inquiring young man such as
Wittgenstein might have heard about Bolzano and even perhaps read some of his works.
As we saw, another source of Bolzano's influence is perhaps more important. His
logical doctrines pervaded Austri an philosophy in an unexpected way, through the
intermediairy of the first edition of Zimmermann 's very influential textbook, which was
often imitated, and was translated into Hungarian and Italian. On a couple of pages,
Zimmermann summarizes the essential of Bolzano's logic: the method of variation, the

117
fundamental logical concepts including validity, deduciblity, and the link between
deducibility and probability. Zimmermann' s textbook also accounts for the high Ievel of
Austria's "logical culture" from Bolzano up till Wittgenstein. During the second half of
the 19th century, Zimmermann, through his official capacity as professor at the Univer-
sity of Vienna, controlled all Austri an philosophy.
As a result of our comparison, it appears that Wittgenstein's Tractatus should be un-
derstood not only in terms ofFrege's and Russell 's logic, but also against the background
of the logical doctrines of Bolzano. As we have seen, some fundamental features of
Bolzano's logic found their way into the Tractatus: the method ofvariation explained by
Wittgenstein in Bolzanian terminology, the tripartition of all propositions into valid,
contravalid and neutral, the definition of the logical consequence, and especially the link
established between logical consequence and probability. More than that: Wittgenstein's
Tractatus accomplishes an itinerary in many respects paralleltothat of Bolzano 's, the net
result of which is a similar global organization in both systems. Wittgenstein, however,
having initially followed the path explored by Bolzano, after completing the Tractatus,
turned to other investigations which take up problems put forward by certain pupils of
another great Austrian, Brentano.

Notes

1 Cf. the contribution of Donna M. Summerfield to this symposium: "The Tractatus and Kantian
Epistemology" in: Wirtgenstein- Towards a Re-Evaluation ed. R. Haller I J. Brand!, Vol III,
Vienna 1990.
2 See Barry Smith, "Kasimir Twardowski: An Essayon the Borderlines of Ontology, Psychology and
Logic", in K. Szaniawski (ed.), The Vienna Circ/e and the Lvov-Warsaw Schoo/, 1989, 314-
73, especially pp. 334-8.
3 2nd edition (1937), § 189, p. 201.
4 Robert Zimmermann, Philosophische Propädeutik, Istedition Wien 1853. Eduard Winter
published the second part of Zimmermann 's Propädeutik, Formale Logik, confronted with
the corresponding passages of Bolzano's Wissenschafts/ehre: Robert Zimmermanns Phi-
losophische Propädeutik und die Vorlagen aus der Wissenschaftslehre Bernard Bolzanos,
Öst. Akad. der Wiss., Phii.-Hist. Kl., Sitzungsberichte, 299. Bd, 5. Abh. (Wien, 1975). As
Zimmermann was accused of having simply plagiarized Bolzano, he suppressed the exp1a-
nation of Bolzano'sn logical notions in the second edition of his textbook. See also the con-
tribution of R. Haller to the Bolzano Workshop (Fiorence, 1987, cf. note 7) comparing the
two editions of Zimmermann's textbook.
5 Though "all variables can be construed as propositional variables", 3.314.
6 Bolzano 's variable ideas are constant, fixed ideas "considered as variable", i.e. they are at
the same time place-markers reserved for admissible Substitutions. But Bolzano uses also
equivalently genuine sentential forms like "x is wise", obtained by replacing an idea by an
indeterminate Ietter.
7 For an analysis of Bolzano's method, see my "Construction of Bolzano's logical system",
read at Bolzano' s Wissenschafts/ehre: 1837-1987, an International Workshop", Firenze,
September 1987 (publication forthcoming).

***

118
Frege and Wittgenstein, Truth and Negation

PETER M. SIMONS
Universität Salzburg

"Propositions are not names."


Wittgenstein, Notes on Logic.

1. Introduction
The Preface to the Tractatus mentions Wittgenstein's two main intenectual debts in the
famous words, "I am indebted to Frege' s great works and to the writings of my friend Mr.
Bertrand Russen for much of the stimulation of my thought." (TLP, p. 3) The evaluative
nuance is unmistakable. Wittgenstein's personal debt toRussenwas of course inestim-
able, and I would judge his intenectual debt to Russen was also greater than to Frege. To
chart the intricacies of the relationship between the views of Russen and those of
Wittgenstein would require a monograph. The influences and interactions in the case of
Frege are of more manageable extent, though they also penetrate Wittgenstein's whole
conception of logic. I shan talk about two things only: firstly, the personal relationship
between Wittgenstein and Frege, especiany in the light of the recently discovered
correspondence, and secondly, Wittgenstein's criticism of Frege's theory of truth and
negation, which is the core ofhis attack on Frege's conception oflogic. There are many
other aspects of Wittgenstein' s views on Frege which I shan not touch, but I think those
I mention are among the most important.
Despite Wittgenstein's appreciation, and the fact that he had (and showed) more
respect for Frege than for any other thinker, a glance at his references to Frege from the
"Notes on Logic" to the Tractatus shows that most are critical, and Wittgenstein's phi-
losophy oflogic, which, for an the more exotic ramifications ofhis philosophy, is still the
pivot on which everything in the Tractatus turns, is whony opposed to that of Frege.
Russen's influence is by contrast more positive, more multifarious, and perhaps more
superficial.

2. The Personal Relationship


Wittgenstein visited Frege in Jena, probably in the Summer of 1911, before he met
Russen. It is somewhat surprising that he should have sought out Frege, who was then still
little known and less regarded. Perhaps the appendix to Russen's The Principles of
Mathematics directed him to Frege, perhaps Samuel Alexander, the Professor of Philo-
sophy at Manchester, knew ofFrege and suggested him to Wittgenstein. (Cf. McG 75) 1
It was at Frege' s suggestion that Wittgenstein went to study with Russen in Cambridge
(McG 74 ). Wittgenstein visited Frege several times again to discuss logic. A letter to
Russen of 26 December 1912 relates, "I had a long discussion with Frege about our theory
of symbolism of which, I think, he roughly understood the general outline. He said he
would think the matter over." (NB 121, LRKM 17). One gets the impression that Wittgenstein
did most of the talking: an astanishing thought if true, given that Frege was sixty-four
years old,Wittgenstein only twenty-three at the time. Wittgenstein had quickly overcome
his junior status- he recaned that at their first meeting Frege "wiped the floor" with him
(cf. McG 83)- and afterintensive work with Russen was giving Frege food for thought.
Their "lengthy conversations" figurein a 1etter from Frege to Jourdain of January 1914,
(FPMC 81) andin aletterof 1919 Fregerecalled to Wittgenstein their"long conversations",
in which "I got to know you as a man like myself seeking the truth", though he adds

119
significantly, "partly along different paths." (FBLW 21).
Wittgenstein and Frege did not see each other during the war, despite invitations from
Wittgenstein for Frege to visit him in Vienna, but they wrote each other regular postcards
via the military post, and letters when Wittgenstein was on leave in Vienna. Frege praises
Wittgenstein's military versatility, expressing wonderment that he can work while on
active service; he reacts with pleasure when Wittgenstein reports completing his work,
and with astonishment when Wittgenstein claims he owes Frege a great debt. It seems that
Wittgenstein went sofaras to express his gratitude in monetary form (cf. FBLW 16, 30).
Then comes the moment of truth. Just before Christmas 1918 a copy of the Tractatus
typescript was sent to Frege from Vienna. Frege took a long time to ans wer; Wittgenstein
sent him at least two cards from Monte Cassino, one asking for his judgement, before
Frege replied. After excusing himself, rather feebly, for the delay, Frege sets forth his
reaction. He finds the treatise hard to understand, having started it (inadvisedly, as we now
know) at the beginning, and getting bogged down in difficulties from the start. He
complains that Wittgenstein fails to make his meaning clear or justify his assertions,
which are simply setdown one after another. The four long letters in which Frege gives
his reactions hardly budge from this incomprehension. He lectures Wittgenstein like a
schoolmaster on definitions, identity, and how to write clearly, suggesting he break the
work up into parts, each dealing with a single problem. The clash of their attitudes to
philosophy and ways of doing it could not be more evident. All the same Frege is anxious
not to offend Wittgenstein, saying he writes with the best intentions and urging Wittgen-
stein to maintain their friendship. Wittgenstein asked Frege to help in trying to get the
work published in the Beiträge zur Philosophie des Deutschen Idealismus, the journal
which published Frege's "Der Gedanke". Frege was sympathetic and asked his Jena
colleague Bruno Bauch to put in a word to the editor Hoffmann to Iook at the work. But
Frege anticipated that no journal would sacrifice a whole number to a single work, and that
from an unknown author. The fate ofOstwald 's Annalen der Naturphilosophie, whichceased
publication immediately after publishing the Tractatus, suggests his apprehensions were
not unjustified. In a Ietter to Ficker of October 1919 Wittgenstein complained that the
editor wanted him to "mutilate the work from beginning to end" (BLF 33), which suggests
that maybe Frege had passed on his own ideas on how the work might be "improved".
In view of Frege's inability to penetrate the work, one can understand why Wittgen-
stein wrote to Russell in exasperation, "I am in correspondence with Frege. He does not
understand a single word ofmy work and I am quite exhausted from giving what are purely
explanations." (LRKM 76). Frege comes briefly to grips with Wittgenstein's actual
thoughts only once. He was puzzled about the relation of an object to a state of affairs of
which it is a constituent. Is it not just the plain part-whole relation? In view of the
transitivity of part-whole, if Vesuvius is part of a state of affairs, then it would seem that
this fact- (Frege did not distinguish facts from states of affairs) -also consists of so-
lidified Iava. One is reminded ofFrege 's similar riposte to Russell years earlier that surely
the proposition that Mont Blanc is more than 4000 metres high cannot contain the
mountain itselfwith all its snowfields- as, forRussell, it did. (Cf. FWB 245,250-1; FPMC
163, 169). Frege used the example of Vesuvius and its solidified Iava in an unsent draft
of the previously mentioned Ietter to Jourdain (FWB 127; FPMC 79), not long after one
of the "long conversations" with Wittgenstein. So even this objection may have been a
variant of one which, as McGuinness suggests, Frege had put to Wittgenstein before the
war (McG 164 ). A related point about transitivity isthat ifthe world is the sumofall facts,
and facts are composed of things, is not the world composed of things? The implicit
contradiction with TLP 1.1 is evident. It would be easy to dismiss Freges point as

120
involving simple inability to grasp the intricacies ofWittgenstein's ontology, in particu-
lar confusing a fact about something with a complex of which it is apart. In fact Frege's
critical instinct is sound, since Wittgenstein gives no clear account ofhow the constituent-
of relation and the one-of-a-totality relation aretobe distinguished from special cases of
part-whole. Frege's remarks were to remain in Wittgenstein's mind tobe recalled when
he began to criticize the Tractatus himself. In "Complex and Fact", written 30 J une 1931
(PR 350), he says

To say that a red circle is composed of redness and circularity, or is a complex with
these constituents, is a misuse of these words and is misleading. (Frege knew this
and told me.) (PR 302, PG 200)

and

The part is smaller than the whole: applied to fact and constituent [Wittgenstein
adds the English word after 'Bestandteil'] that would yield an absurdity. (PR 303,
PG 201)

This is an instance of a phenomenon noted by Gershon Weiler in connection with


Wittgenstein 's reaction to Mauthner: a view Wittgenstein decisively rejected in his early
philosophy remained with him and came to be accepted after he had changed his mind. 2
Frege's "Der Gedanke", which he sent to Wittgenstein in 1919, was the first of a series
of articles on logic, of which only three were published. Theseries was probably the kind
of thing Frege had in mind as an example of how to break the Tractatus up into man-
ageable problems. The criticisms of idealism in "Der Gedanke" did not satisfy Wittgenstein,
who feit idealism 's attractions much more than Frege, and he wrote a critical Ietter
(probably on 19 March 1920) to Frege, who replied on 30 April, "Of course I am not
offended at your frankness. But I should like to know which deeper reasons for idealism
you mean that I am supposed not to have grasped." (FBLW 24). Frege rather pedantically
suggests Wittgenstein go through the work sentence by sentence until he comes to the one
he disagrees with, then write and teils him what his reasons are. Despite professing not
to take offence, Frege 's tone is slightly testy: "Take my sentences whole, as they stand,
without imputing to me an intention which is perhaps foreign to me." (lbid.) He is at his
most blunt in the ensuing remarks on the Tractatus: "Now as regards your own work, I
take exception to the very first sentence. It's not that I take it tobe false, but because the
sense is unclear to me." (Ibid.)
This is the last Ietter of which we have knowledge. What happened to the relationship
after 1920 is not clear from the correspondence recently recovered, or from Heinrich
Scholz's Iist of the correspondence he had collected in Münster, which ends in 1919.
(FWB 268). Did Frege and Wittgenstein remain on good personal terms, despite their
doctrinal differences? Did Wittgenstein, who cherished the Grundgesetze above all other
logical works, exercise morerestraint than usual out ofhis respect for Frege? Did he return
to Jena after the war? (A visit planned in December 1919 was cancelled: cf. McG 291.)
Frege seems to have been genuinely interested and sympathetic towards Wittgenstein and
his work, but it is clear that the Tractatus came as a shock and a disappointment to him.
It is sad for us that Frege 's reactions hardly pass beyond distaste for the work' s form and
style, though psychologically it is unsurprising. It might seem unlikely that Frege, by then
over seventy, should have been influenced by anything in the Tractatus, but there is a
short passagein "Gedankengefüge", published in 1923, where Frege pointsout that while
conjunction as a function is unsaturated, the printed word 'and' is not:

121
As a mere thing, of course, the group of letters 'and' is no more unsaturated than
any other thing. It may be called unsaturated in respect of its employment as a
symbol meant to express a sense [... ]. It is really in the realm of sense that
unsaturatedness is found, and it is transferred from there to the symbol. (FKS 381,
FCP 393).

This may be a response to TLP 3.143:

Although a propositional sign is a fact, this is obscured by the usual form of


expression in writing or print.
For in a printed proposition, for example, no essential difference is apparent
between a propositional sign and a word.
(That is what made it possible for Frege to call a proposition a composite name.)

3. Truth, Propositions, and Names


There is no doubt which ofFrege 's views most exercised Wittgenstein: the doctrine that
propositions are names of truth-values. Frege seems to have tried to criticize Frege 's
views from the very start (cf. McG 83), but the earliest concrete evidence we have of
Wittgenstein criticizing Frege comes from a Ietter, now lost, dated 29 November 1913,
whose content Scholz describes as "important arguments against Frege 's theory of truth.
In particular against the stipulation of reference for functions". (FWB 266). This must
refer to the now notorious § I 0 of Grundgesetze, where Frege confronts the difficulty that
his axioms do not fully determine the identity of courses of values, as indicated by the
possibility of permuting objects while the axioms remain true. He advocates stipulating
the values of functions for courses of values as arguments. He also notes that it is possible
to take any two courses of values be the True and the False, and in fact stipulates that the
True be the course of values of the horizontal stroke function (which takes the True to
itself and every other object to the False), and the False be the course of values ofthat
function which takes the False to the True and every other object to the False.
Wittgenstein 's criticism ofFrege 's theory of truth appears in the Tractatus at 4.431:
A proposition is the expression of its truth-conditions.
(Thus Frege was quite correct to preface them to the explanation of the signs of his
conceptual notation. But the explanation of the concept of truth that Frege gives is
mistaken: if 'the True' and 'the False' were really objects, and were the arguments
in -p etc., then according to Frege's specification the sense of '-p' would be by no
means specified.)

In § 32 of Grundgesetze Frege says

Every [correctly formed) name of a truth-value expresses a sense, a Thought. Namely,


by our stipulations it is determined under what conditions the name designates the
True. The sense ofthis name- the thought- is the thought that these conditions are
fulfilled. (GGA 50, BLA 89-90.)

In § 6 Frege had introduced the negation function --.-- ~ as follows:

The value of the function ...., ~


shall be the False for every argument for which the value of the function
-~
is the True, and shall be the True for all other arguments.

122
Accordingly we have in --.- ~
a function whose value is always a truth-value; it is a concept, under which all
objects fall except the True. (GGA 10, BLA 39).
I continue in the words of Elizabeth Anscombe:

so in '-p' we have a proposition determined as expressing the result of completing


with the argument 'p' a function whose value for given arguments is given; but
where is the sense of '-p'? '-p' appears to be defined in effect as that proposition
whose reference is the true in certain circumstances and the false in others. But on
Frege' s own principles you do not specify a sense by specifying a reference; and
so, Wittgenstein says, according to Frege 's own principles, the sense of '-p' is not
determined (IWT 107).

Anscombe's account is plausible but I do not think it quite captures the nub of
Wittgenstein 's criticism. This encompasses in its target the fact that for Frege sentences
name objects, while the objection that giving a reference does not fix a sense is more
general than that. Now given that Wittgenstein is as usual not exactly forthcoming about
why Frege 's specifications leave the sense ofnegation indefinite, I cannot be sure that the
account I shall now give is what he had in mind any more than the account Anscombe
gives. But no matter: it is in the area and teils against Frege. Frege is saying the sense of
a proposition is the thought "the condition that ( ... ) is fulfilled", where he has laid it down
that

A signifies the True iff ( ... )

so to give truth-conditions just is to give conditions for signifying (designating) the True.
Applied to Frege's explanation of negation we have

'--.- p' signifies the True iff p -:;: the True

Now as this example makes clear, giving the conditions under which something
signifies the True does not suffice even to determine its reference. For what if it does not
signify the True? In the above case, what if p is identical with the True? Frege has to add
an extra condition: "then '...,. p' signifies the False". There are infinitely many functions
which agree with negation except on their value for the True as argument. So Frege 's
account of sense for propositions ought at least to add that a proposition is something
whose default reference is the False if it is not the True. I think this requirement for a
further stipulation is already unacceptable to Wittgenstein, irrespective of whether it
suffices to determine sense. Foraproposition it should go without saying that if it is not
true, it is false, whereas in giving the meaning of his functional signs in Grundgesetze
Frege has to say, for those which are concepts (horizontal, negation, identity, conditional,
universal quantifiers) when they signify the True, and that when they do not, they signify
the False. It is because the true and the False are two objects among others that Frege needs
to say this. Is it then objectionable that Frege tries to give the sense through giving the
reference conditions? After all, is not the way to give the sense of adefinite description
to specify the condition which an object must satisfy tobe the unique designatum of the
description? It is notable that in the Grundgesetze Frege's primitive signs allstand for
functions, whereas in his informal explanations of what these signs mean he makes
copious use of the objects the True and the False, introduced right at the beginning in§ 2.
So the understanding of the horizontal function is given in § 5 b

123
-A
is the True if Ais the True, whereas it is the False when Ais not the True. (GGA 9, BLA
38).
This would not matter if we knew which objects the True and the False were. But we
do not, as the permutation argument in§ 10 makes quite clear. Apart from the stipulatory
aspect- which would clearly not be to Wittgenstein's taste- does Frege's Stipulation in
§ 10 enable us to clear up the difficulty? The answer is "No", because the True is taken
tobe the course of values €(- E), the course of values ofthat function which takes the True
to the True and an other objects to the False, and this is indeterminate both because ofthe
indeterminacy of "the course of values of' and because ofthat of the reference of 'the
True' and 'the False'. If we do not know which objects the True and the False are to start
with, the stipulations in § 10 will not help us to determine them, because the functions in
terms of which they are stipulated are themselves only determined when the truth-values
are determined. Hence it is because ofthe indeterminacy ofthe objects True and False that
truth- and falsehood-conditions in Frege fail to give the sense of propositions, and not
because True and False are referents of propositions.
Would this criticism be avoided if we provided wen-defined and wen-known objects
tobe the truth-values, as do those who take 1 for the True and 0 for the False, or, to fonow
a suggestion of Cresswen, take Big Ben for the True and Walter Scott for the False? 3 Certainly
there are odd consequences. That the True is accurate to within a second a month, orthat
the False was the author of Waverley would be the sort of absurd consequences Frege
would have taken delight in pointing out: for him, the truth-values could not be
empiricany given contingent objects. But even ifwe accept the more usual identifications,
there are odd consequences. And none of this could plausibly serve as an explanation of
the concept of truth, as Wittgenstein requires.
lt is probably notthe ideaofpropositions having aBedeutung as wen as aSinn to which
Wittgenstein objects. Admittedly in the Tractatus he uses the term Bedeutung exclusively
for names. Earlier on however, he was prepared to say that "The meaning of a proposition
is the fact which actuany corresponds to it." ("Notes on Logic", NB 94; cf. also in the
"Notes dictated to G.E. Moore in Norway", where he uses the German word "Bedeutung"
NB 112). Nota great deal seems to turn on the question whether we make the Bedeutung
of at least an atomic sentence the fact that makes it true or false, as the case may be, or
whether we deny Bedeutung to sentences altogether. In either case they behave semanti-
cany very unlike names. I suggest Wittgenstein objects to the truth-value-as-referent
analysis of truth because it fails to account for why it should go without saying that a
proposition that is not true is false, why propositions are not just names for this orthat but
are bipolar in a way which naming can never be. At TLP 6.111, Wittgenstein objects to
the earlier Moore-Russen theory of truth and falsity as being properties of propositions
like redness and whiteness are properties of roses, precisely because it makes truth and
falsity just two properties among others, and then we must ask why it happens that there
are no further alternatives. If a name does not name a certain object, but does name
something, it is still open what it does name. And why should it appear obvious that a
proposition can only name one of two objects, and not three or more? (I shan come back
to this later.)
That propositions are not names is one of Wittgenstein' s earliest thoughts on Frege. In
the "Notes on Logic", written in the Autumn of 1913 (McG 104) andin many respects the
purest expression of Wittgenstein' s opposition to Frege, we find "Propositions are not
names" (NB 98), and "Frege said 'propositions are names'; Russen said 'propositions
correspond to complexes'. Both are false; and especially false is the statement 'proposi-

124
tions are names of complexes'." (NB 97). It is notasmall or trifling criticism. IfWittgenstein
is correct, Frege 's accounts of naming, truth, negation and the other logical constants, and
functions, are all wrong and have to be rejected. Further, all of those many semantic
theories which follow in Frege's and Carnap's footsteps by taking truth-values tobe
objects such as I and 0 and sentences to have truth-values as their referents or extensions
areprima facie subject to the same criticism.
In the fight for logicians' hearts and minds, Frege and Russell have been much more
successful than Wittgenstein. It is not hard to see why. They actually produced logical
systems, whereas Wittgenstein issued pronouncements and sketches without condescen-
ding to do the actual work of constructing a system. His main logical achievement was to
sketch (cf. TLP 6.1203) a decision procedure for tautologies in propositional calculus.
(Note that it is not the familiar truth-table method: what Iook Iike truth tables in the
Tractatus are notations for connectives.) Elsewhere, where Wittgenstein's remarks are
sufficiently precise to admit of exact reconstruction, they turn out to be inadequate: the
misfortunes of the Operator N offer an illustration. This is of a piece with Wittgenstein' s
disdainful attitude to the philosophical relevance of results of mathematicallogic in the
Philosophic·allnvestil?ations (PI§ 124), one which is unfortunately endorsed by Gordon
Baker, for whom the undecidability of first-order predicate logic is supposed to have
nothinl? to do with Wittgenstein 's philosophical motivation for his logical reforms, 4 as if
philosophical motivations could not include the idea that there should be a method for
showing all logical truths to be tautologies.
Nevertheless, if Wittgenstein was not a great, or even an especially good logician, his
remarks on the philosophy of logic always bear examination, and if he is right about truth-
values, this aspect of the dominant subsequent tradition is misguided. But despite all the
attempts I have made myself or come across in others to get over the conviction that
Wittgenstein is completely right that propositions are toto caelo different from names, it
is doubtful whether they amount to anything more than working around the conviction
rather than justifying it from without. But let's see if the conviction can be transmitted.

4. Nef?ation and Duality


If we understand a proposition we also understand its negation, since we know how
things do not stand if it is false. This point is emphasized by Elizabeth Anscombe in her
lntroduction to Wittf?enstein' s Tractatus. She draws a picture of stick-men fencing, like
that in the Notehooks (7), and pointsout that the picture can be used to say that this is how
things are but also the same picture can be used to say how things are not (IWT 65 ff.)
Wittgenstein makes a more general point in§ 23 ofthe Philosophic·allnvestigations when
introducing the idea of a picture of a boxer serving as a proposition-radical which can
remain the same in various kinds of speech acts. Restricted to negation, the point is
already present in TLP 4.0621:

But it is important that the signs 'p' and '-p' can say the same thing. For it shows
that nothing in reality corresponds to the sign '-'.[ ... ]
The propositions 'p' and '-p' have opposite sense, but there corresponds to them
one and the same reality.

This reality isthat represented by 'p' ifthis is true, and that represented by '-p' if 'p'
is false. That the negation sign corresponds to nothing in reality recalls Wittgenstein' s
Grundf?edanke (4.0312): the logical constants arenot representatives. In Frege, negation
and the other connectives are functions, special ones admittedly, but functions nonethe-
less, defined for all objects as arguments: for instance, the conditional is so defined that

125
it signifies the False if the antecedent is the True and the consequent is something other
than the True, and it signifies the True otherwise.
The fact that the negation sign is written as a tilde in front of a sentence Ietter makes
it Iook like the function sign in 'cos(x)', butthat it does not work that way is supposed to
be seen by the fact that we can use the negative sentence to signify the positive fact and
vice versa. Wittgenstein cast around for ways of notating negation which suppress this
tendency to make it Iook like a function sign. In the "Notes on Logic" we find the ab
notation. Every proposition is written connected to two poles, marked by 'a' for true and
'b' forfalse, so we have 'a-p-b' instead of 'p', and 'b-a-p-b-a' instead of '-p'. In any chain
of applications of negation the proposition resulting is discovered by finding whether the
outermost a connects to the a or the b pole of the innermost proposition. Thus
a-b-a-p-b-a-b
is the same proposition as a-p-b, i.e. two negations cancel out. Wittgenstein's explan-
ations of this notation (NB 94) were characteristically cryptic, and Russell, who had
difficulty in following them, asked whether if 'a-p-b' was the symbol for p, 'b-p-a' was
the symbol for -p. (NB 124-5, LRKM 33-5) Nota stupid question, despite Wittgenstein 's
curt reaction. In the Notes dictated to Moore, Wittgenstein says that a-b-a-p-b-a-b is the
same symbol as a-p-b (NB 114), which indicates that 'symbol' does not have its usual
meaning. Herewe have two signs corresponding to one symbol. In the Tractatus itselfthe
notation (with 'W' replacing 'a' and 'F' replacing 'b') appears briefly at 6.1203, where
it is said how to use it to recognize tautologies. In the Tractatus Wittgenstein by and large
prefers the truth-table notation, in which the sign for negation is

or the shorter ' (-T)(p )'.


'-fu'
T
F
F
T

The most ingenious suggestion for writing negation so that it does not remind us of a
function isthat of Ramsey, in which what is negated is written upside down. 5 This is very
close to Russell 's thought that one might switch the left-right orientation ofthe poles from
a-p-b to b-p-a: there again repeating the operation gives us back what we started with,
whereas in Wittgenstein 's notation each reversal of pol es leaves a trace as a pair of letters.
So although Wittgenstein says that only the connection from the outermost to the innermost
matters, his notation does not show it, and is thus closer to the --p notation than to that
ofRamsey.
Unlike Russell, Wittgenstein never offers us any arguments for rejecting Frege's
theory ofsense and reference. One aspect ofFrege's theory, relevant formathematics and
logic, is that two expressions with the same reference have different senses if they differ
in the computational route taken in determining their reference in terms ofthat of their
parts (this is part of what is meant by saying that the sense is a way of determining the
reference). This is why 'J2.( I+ I )0 ' and '1.(2 3 +I 0 )' have different senses, despite containing
the same parts the same number of times and having the same reference. In choosing to
ignore the route and identify propositions with the same elementary arguments and the
same truth-conditions, Wittgenstein is simply electing to overlook the computational
route. Butthis is precisely how a-b-a-p-b-a-b and a-p-b differ. Similar remarks apply to
the other notations, including Ramsey's, where negationqua operation is not the resu/t
of inverting but the act of inverting. This is not an argument against the view that --p is
a different proposition from p in Frege's sense: it reflects a decision to use the term
'proposition' in a different way. This does not dispose of the entitlement to choose

126
'proposition' to have a meaning reflecting the computational sense. In that case it is no
Ionger "scarcely credible" (TLP 5.43) that infinitely many other propositions --p, ----p,
etc. should follow from p.
A more general illustration of Wittgenstein's idea that negation is not the expression
of a function is provided by duality, which consists in, as Quine puts it, "a thoroughgoing
interchange of 'T' and '.l'."6 Arthur Prior envisaged once a language called Unglish,
which is exactly like English except that a sentence which is true in English is false in
Unglish and vice versa. 7 On that basis one can work out how words of Unglish are
translated into English: names remain invariant, predicates translate to their contradictories,
sentential operators and quantifiers go to their duals - conjunction to disjunction,
necessity to possibility, universal quantifier to existential etc. To say in Unglish that John
loves Mary, one says "John does not Iove Mary", while to say he does not Iove her one
says "John loves Mary". Negation, like assertion, is self-dual. Clearly such a language is
possible, hence, goes the argument, nothing corresponds to negation in reality. (I have
heard the argument in this form from Peter Geach, but it parallels what Wittgenstein said
about negation.)
The argumentisanon sequitur. The existence of duality, or of signs whose meaning
can alternatively be conveyed by their omission, does not show Wittgenstein is right
against Frege. It would be a perfectly acceptable notation in arithmetic to write '12' for
-12 and '-12' for 12 etc., and still use the minus sign as the sign for the function taking
a nurober to its partner with opposite sign. The difference in notation would show up in
the truth ofthe equations written '1.1 = -1 ', '-1.-1 = -1 ', and '-1.1 = 1.' This shows that
Wittgenstein' s argument about being able to use '-p' for p is not sufficient to demonstrate
that '-~' does not signify a function in the way that '-~' signifies a function in arithmetic.
That we feel the parallel between arithmetical and sentential negation is not perfect is due
to the view that the latter does not signify a function from objects to objects. But to say
this is to presuppose Wittgenstein' s position and so cannot very well be used to argue for
it.
A Fregean analysis of the relationship between a language and its "dual" is also
perfectly straightforward. Duality can be defined in Frege's terms as the result of
switching the truth-values: any name of a truth-value under the new interpretation names
the other truth-value. In Frege's language the horizontal and negation functions arenot
self-dual because of their effect on third objects: the self-dual functions closest to them
are the identity function and the function which switches the truth-values only (both
leaving third objects alone). Likewise the dual of a predicate (a function into the truth-
values) is not always its contradictory. But the operation of dualizing is neither concep-
tually nor technically difficult.
Consideration of duality rather than just negation nevertheless seems on the face of it
to provide a tougher argument than negation alone. The arithmetic case is not one of
duality: to get duality we should need arithmetic modulo 2, which is algebraically
indistinguishable from propositional calculus. But here we see why the term "duality" is
appropriate: the semantic values an expression can take are limited to two. Frege hirnself
told Jourdain (FWB 122; FPMC 192) that the term "calculus of judgements" is less
appropriate than "calculus of truth-values". This is why, from a mathematical point of
view, it does not matter what the truth-values are, as long as there are just two of them.
In fact Frege is less than just to his own artfulness. What Iooks like the propositional or
truth-value fragment of Frege's logic is no such thing: the ubiquitous horizontals in
Frege's symbolic language ensure that anything other than a truth-value is quickly
"neutralized", but any proper name, not just one of a truth-value, may be slotted in. This

127
shows up in the need to specify the values of functions for arguments whose value is not
the True. Although Frege 's logic is classical in thesensethat it recognizes only two truth-
values, the "propositional" fragment bears some resemblance to three-valued systems, taking
"object which is not a truth-value" as the third value, and the horizontal as akin to
Bochvar's functorof strong orextemal assertion. 8 But still propositions and names get the
same general kind of semantic value: there is no radical type-difference between them, as
Wittgenstein insists there is on a proper understanding of propositions.
I cannot help feeling that Wittgenstein's considerations and those of Ramsey, Ans-
combe, and Geach are only convincing to someone who is already disposed to accept
Wittgenstein 's view of truth and falsity. Someone who denies that negation is classical,
such as an intuitionist, or a proponent of many-valued logics, will simply find them
question-begging. Ramsey's inversion notation for negation will only be acceptable to
someone for whom the law of double negation elimination holds. The metaphor of
propositions as bipolar (as distinct from, say, tri- or quadripolar, or as not "polar" at all)
is again only attractive for a classical logician. In sum then, while Wittgenstein 's
examples, considerations and metaphors help to round out the logical Weltanschauung of
a classical bivalent logician, they are not arguments for this position. Nor I think, had
Frege been able to penetrate to the essence of Wittgenstein 's alternative picture, would
he have feit compelled to abandon his own different view. The core of Wittgenstein's
conception of truth and the logical constants, which opposes it to that of Frege, is the
picture theory ofmeaning and truth. Wittgenstein does not present arguments forthis view
and against Frege's non-correspondence theory of truth; he simply invites us to see it is
right. If we do not already agree, Wittgenstein takes no trouble to persuade us- arguing
for hispositionswas anathema to him (cf. McG 104). Russell at least knew of Wittgen-
stein 's distaste for giving reasons, but this feature estranged Wittgenstein 's work completely
from Frege: "You setdown your sentence next to one another mostly without justifying
them, or at least without justifying them sufficiently", he chides in his first Ietter on the
Tractatus (FBLW 19). Recall Wittgenstein's pessimistic opening of the Preface to the
Tractatus, that only someone who has had his thoughts or similar ones will be able to
understand him. Frege also took exception to this remark (FBLW 21 ). But on the issue
whether propositions name truth-values Russe II has little better to offer. In a passage from
The Principles of Mathematics that Wittgenstein must have known weil, Russe II says a
propos ofFrege 's theory of truth that "Direct inspection seems to show that the relation
of a proposition to the true or the false is quite different from that of (say), "the present
Kingof England" to Edward VII."~ But beyond direct inspection, Russe II too has nothing
better to offer than confused arguments based on misunderstanding Frege's theory of
assertion and assumption. Nevertheless Russell and Wittgenstein are surely right. Being
true or false is radically different from designating an object. But if you don 't see it, how
can we convince you?
A more Straightforward if less fundamental place for Wittgenstein to have attacked
Frege's theory of truth would have been on its account, or rather failure to give one, of
contingency. Wittgenstein's theory oftruth is admirable in the unambiguous roJe it gives
the language-independent way thingsstand to one another in determining truth-values of
contingent propositions. Frege has no such account. 10 If "John loves Mary" signifies the
True, the reference of "~ loves ~" is a function taking the pair <John,Mary> to the true.
While it is contingent that the sense of the word "loves" is just the sense it is, this
contingency concerns the English language and not the state of John's feelings for Mary.
Given that, for Frege, sense determines reference, the sense of "loves" determines which
function "~ loves ~" signifies, and therefore which truth-value "John loves Mary" signifies.

128
To accommodate contingency, as indeed Frege could have donein the Grundlagen of 1884,
where different concepts may have the same extension (later ruled out by Grundgesetz V),
or allowing John 's feelings for Mary to contribute to determining the reference of"loves",
would entail completely revising Frege's theory of truth. And the point can be made
independently of whether one inclines to take propositions as names of truth-values: this
they could be, but their truth or falsity would not consist in their naming these truth-
values, and that is enough to show that Frege 's theory is wrong. 11

Not es

1 Most references are given in the text. Except for the Tractatus, references are to page num-
bers. In addition to the standard abbreviations for Wittgenstein 's works, the following ab-
breviations are used:
BLA: G. Frege, The Basic Laws of Arithmetic. Exposition of the System. (Berkeley/Los
Angeles, 1964).
BLF: L.Wittgenstein, Briefe an Ludwig von Ficker (Salzburg, 1969).
FBLW: G. Frege, "Briefe an Ludwig Wittgenstein", in Willgenstein in Focus -Im Brenn-
punkt: Wittgenstein, ed. B. McGuinness and R. Haller(= Gra:er Philosophische Studien,
Vol 33/34) (Amsterdam/Atlanta, 1989), pp. 5-33.
FCP: G. Frege, Collected Papers on Mathematics, Logic, and Phi/osophy (Oxford, 1984).
FKS: G. Frege. Kleine Schriften (Darrnstadt, 1967).
FPMC: G. Frege, Philosophical and Mathematica/ Correspondence (Oxford, 1980).
FWB: G. Frege, Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel (Hamburg, 1976).
GGA: G. Frege, Grundgeset:e der Arithmetik. vol. I. (Jena. 1893).
IWT: G.E.M. Anscombe, An lntroduction to Wittgenstein' s Tractatus (London, 1959).
McG: B.F. McGuinness, Wittgenstein: A Life. Young Ludwig /889-1921 (London, 1988).
G. Weiler; Mauthner' s Critique of Language {Cambridge, 1970), p. 304.
1 M. Cresswell, Logics and Languages (London. 1973), p. 18.

• G. Baker, Wittgenstein, Frege and the Vienna Circle (Oxford, 1988), p. 73.
~ F.P. Ramsey, Foundations (London. 1978), p .48.
• W.V.O. Quine, Methods ofLogic (London, 3rd ed. 1974), p. 67.
7 I am embarrassed at being unable to find where Prior introduces Unglish.

• Cf. N. Rescher, Many-Valued Logic (New York, 1969), p. 30.


q B. Russe II, The Princ·iples of Mathematics (London, 1903 ). p. 504.
111 On this point I take G. Bakerand P.M.S. Hacker, Frege: Logica/ E.H"O\'ations (Oxford,
1984) tobe essentially right against M. Dummett, "An Unsuccessful Dig", Philosophica/
Quarterf.v 34 ( 1984), 377-40 I, cf. pp. 394-6. Willgenstein 's philosophy of logic differs
from that ofFrege not least in the very prominent position it affords to contingency.
11 I wish to thank Dr. Walter Methlagl of the Brenner Archive in Innsbruck for allowing me

access to Frege 's letters to Wittgenstein.

***

129
On Wittgenstein 's Conceptions of Logic and Philosophical Grammar

STEPHAN KöRNER
University of Bristol and Yale University

The main aim of this essay is to show that Wittgenstein 's general conception of logic,
as expressed in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, and his later conception of philoso-
phical grammar can be reconciled with each other, provided that his earlier and his later
views are modified in the light of certain specific criticisms. These criticisms are based
on two grounds. One is Wittgenstein's early neglect of important differences between
various philosophical activities and the methods employed in them, in particular between
the roles of description and of reconstruction in philosophical analysis. The other is an
incompleteness in his later description of ordinary language and of its Connections with
the specialist languages of mathematics and the sciences. An important example is his
account of the nature of continuity, which Leibniz regarded as one of the two Iabyrinths
of the human mind.
The essay begins with a brief characterization of various philosophical methods,
exemplified in the history of philosophy and in the Tractatus (§ l ). After considering the
logical theory ofthe Tractatus and Wittgenstein 's early doubts about it (§2), some aspects
of his later description of ordinary language are critically discussed. These are his
accounts of inexact concepts and their boundaries ( §3 ), of the principle of non-contradic-
tion and of necessary propositions (§4 ). There follows a critique of Wittgenstein 's view
of the relation between empirical phenomena, as described in ordinary language, and as
represented by mathematical propositions (§5). The concluding remarks indicate how
Wittgenstein' s early conception of logic and his later conception of grammar can be
reconciled (§6).

§ 1 Some preliminary distinctions between various philosophical methods


Since the attempted reconciliation ofWittgenstein 's early account oflogic and his later
account of philosophical grammar depends to a considerable extent on the distinction
between various philosophical activities and methods, it seems advisable to begin with a
brief characterization of them and to do so independently of their employment by
Wittgenstein. 1 A natural starting point - at least for our purpose - is the distinction
between two kinds of philosophical analysis or clarification, which are frequently
confused with each other and may be called "exhibition-analysis" and "replacement-
analysis". They are exemplified- though not clearly distinguished- in Socrates' 'tEXVll
jlatEU'tt!crf andin the writings of some twentieth century positivists.
Exhibition-analysis consists in making indicative or normative propositions which are
more or less implicitly accepted by apersonor group of persons fully explicit. Examples
are the exhibition of the acceptance by some scientists of the indicative principle that
every true proposition corresponds to a mind-independent fact; or of the acceptance by
some mathematicians of the normative principle that inexact concepts must not be
employed in mathematical reasoning. An exhibition-analysis may weil show that the
exhibited proposition is in some way defective, e.g. by violating some logical principle
or by being inconsistent with some non-logical principle which its acceptor is unwilling
to abandon. That an exhibition-analysis is in this way disappointing, as was e.g. the
discovery of Russe II' s paradox to Frege, has nothing to do with its correctness or
incorrectness. This, of course, does not mean that a philosopher who is wholly committed
to pure description, may not mistake a reconstruction for a pure description.

130
However, an exhibition-analysis which results in a defective proposition may be- and
often is - the reason for its modification or reconstruction. An important, systematic
version of such a reconstruction is replacement-analysis. Areplacement-analysis presup-
poses a criterion of soundness, which the analyzed proposition, briefly the analysandum,
does not satisfy, as weil as a replacement-relation, which must hold between the
analysandum and the proposition or concept by which it is replaced, briefly the ana/ysans.
The criterion of soundness may be logical consistency or consistency with some non-
logical principle e.g. the principle of causality or the belief in human immortality. The
replacement-relation may be abilateral implication or some weaker relation between the
analysans and the analysandum. The general task of a replacement-analysis may be
formulated as follows: Given an analysandum which by an accepted criterion of sound-
ness is unsound, to replace it by an analysans which is sound and stands in the accepted
replacement-relation to the analysandum. An example is Russell 's replacement of the
original Fregean class-concept, which is judged unsound because its application may
yield a contradiction, by the class-concept of Principia Mathematica which is sound and
interchangeable with the Fregean concept in internally consistent mathematical reason-
ing.
While exhibition-analysis is self-sufficient, replacement-analysis depends on a prior
acceptance of criteria of soundness. It is an anthropological fact that while certain criteria
of soundness, e.g. some version of the principle of non-contradiction, are accepted by
(almost) allhuman beings, there is disagreement about others. This disagreement finds to
some extent expression in the different ontological, epistemological and moral theories
propounded in metaphysics and ethics. In the present context it is not necessary to attempt
a detailed characterization of the genus metaphysics or the genus morality and a classi-
fication ofthese genera into species. Such a characterization includes inter alia the useful
Kantian distinction between immanent metaphysics, which comprises supreme principles
accepted in thinking about empirical phenomena and transcendent metaphysics, which
comprises speculative assumptions about a mind-independent reality. That replacement-
analysis, unlike exhibition-analysis, requires a prior criterion of soundness, is one of the
main reasons, why conflating the two kinds of analysis may Iead to grave errors. For by
giving it the appearance of exhibition-analysis, one creates the illusion of an autonomy
which it does not possess.
It is- not only for the purpose ofthis essay-also important to avoid another confusion,
namely the conflation of replacement-analysis with idealization. For the sake of brevity,
the nature of idealization can be explained by means of a typical example from applied
geometry. It consists in the relation which holds between the concept of an empirically
given triangle (the basis of the idealization) and the concept of a Euclidean triangle (the
result of the idealization) which "is applied to empirical triangles", i.e. which in certain
contexts and for certain purposes only is identified with the concept of an empirical
triangle. This conditional identification of the empirical and the Euclidean concept of a
triangle is obviously quite different from the false judgement that the two concepts are
identical. It is also quite different from a replacement-analysis. What distinguishes the
two is that in the case of a replacement-analysis the ana/ysandum is unconditionally re-
placed by the analysans, whereas in the case of an idealization the conditional identi-
fication of its basis and its result amounts at most to a conditional replacement of the
former by the latter. 2
There are philosophers who are convinced that reality or, at least, some features of it
can only be apprehended non-conceptually, that is to say through an experience which
does not involve the application of concepts. Some of them nevertheless regard a certain
philosophical use of concepts as a guide towards a non-conceptual apprehension of

131
reality. Thus Nicolaus Cusanus tries to make his reader take a road which Ieads through
sense-perception, imagination and ratio, i.e. discursive conceptual thinking, governed by
the law ofnon-contradiction, to what he regards as the highest form ofknowledge, namely
intellectus, which is characterized by the inapplicability of this law and the coincidence
of opposites. 3 Wittgenstein too believed throughout his early and his late philosophy in the
possibility and overriding importance of a non-conceptual apprehension of reality. While
this belief constitutes an important aspect of his work, it is for our present purpose
sufficient to mention it without further discussion.

§ 2 Some remarks on the logical theory of the Tractatus and Wittgenstein' s early
doubts about it
Many of the dogmatic statements which make up the Tractatus propound a purely
speculative or a transcendent metaphysics. Among them are the theses that the world
consists of simple objects and that thesesimple objects stand to each other in relationships
-Sachverhalte, i.e. thing-relationships- constitutive of elementary facts. The ontological
status of the simple objects remains a matter of exegetic controversy. Thus it is
controversial whether in the Tractatus Wittgenstein regarded them as uninterpreted
phenomena of immediate experience, whether he left the question of their nature open to
a priori arguments or speculation; or whether he disapproved of any attempt at answering
this question. The facts are depicted by elementary or atomic propositions, which are
logically independent of each other and are truth-functional components of compound
(i.e. non-elementary) propositions. The theses, whose wholly or largely speculative
character is agreed by most commentators, including the later Wittgenstein, imply or,
more precisely, suggest a logical theory of which the following features are particularly
relevant to our task. One is a principle of exactness to the effect that for every concept and
every object, the concept definitely either applies or does not apply to the object - a
requirement which excludes border-line cases, i.e. objects to which the concept is with
equal correctness either applied or refused (though not both applied and refused). Another
is the principle that every proposition which is logically necessary is a tautology and that
every proposition which is mathematically correct is an equation (see e.g. T 6.22).
A system of tautologies and equations is clearly a subsystem ofFrege 's, Russell' s and
other versions of the classical predicate logic. Yet while Frege and Russell were fully
aware of the fact that their logical theories were not the result of an exhibition-analysis
of commonsense thinking, expressed in ordinary language, but of a replacement-analysis
or an idealization, Wittgenstein held that the logical theory of the Tractatus represented
an exhibition-analysis of its underlying logic since, as he puts it, ordinary language cannot
express "anything that 'contradicts' logic" (T 3.032).
It is here not necessary to provide a detailed comparison between the logical theories
ofFrege and Russell on the one hand, and of the Tractatus on the other. 4 Some obvious
differences follow from Frege 's and Russell's rejection of the thesis that all universally
quantified propositions are conjunctions and all existentially quantified propositions
disjunctions; and from their closely related admission of infinite domains of individuals.
As against this, the principle of exactness is a most important common feature of all three
theories.
Although Wittgenstein in his later work rejected the principle of exactness as conflict-
ing with the "grammar" of ordinary language, his first doubts about the logical theory of
the Tractatus concerned the thesis that elementary propositions are logically independent
of each other. The source ofthe doubt was not a metaphysical speculation about the nature
of simple objects and their relations, but a reflection about the structure of continuous

132
empirical phenomena. It is contained in a paper which was published in 1929 and which
he later described as "weak". 5 In this paper Wittgenstein emphasizes the need to investigate
"the forms of space and time with the whole manifold of spacial and temporal objects, as
colours, sounds etc., etc., with their gradations, continuous transitions, and combinations
in various propositions, an of which we cannot seize by our ordinary means of expres-
sion". (op. cit. p. 165) The investigation is "in a certain sense a posteriori" and does not
consist "in conjecturing a priori possibilities" (op. cit. p. 163 )" as, he seems to imply, was
an too frequently done in the Tractatus.
In Opposition to this work Willgenstein puts forward the fonowing theses among
others: (I) Any "statement which allributes a degree to a quality cannot be further
analyzed". (op. cit. p. 168). Thus to assert that a surface has a certain colour, e.g. of
redness, is to assert an elementary proposition. (2) "Atomic propositions, although they
cannot contradict, may exclude each other". (loc.cit.) This admission of the logical
dependence of some atomic propositions upon others- e .g. the exclusion of the statement
that the colour "red" is at a certain time in a certain place of our visual field, by the
statement that the colour "blue" is at the same time in the same place - implies the
rejection of the theory of truth-functions. For according to this theory any two atomic
propositions are logicany independent. (3) For the correct analysis of actual phenomena,
especiany continuous transitions, "numbers (rational and irrational) must enter into the
structure of the atomic propositions themselves". (op. cit. p. 165)
The exegetic question, as to which aspect of the 1929-paper Willgenstein considered
"weak", has naturany received a fair amount of allention and different answers from his
fonowers and commentators. Rather than taking sides in these controversies, I shalllimit
myself to pointing out what seems to me the main weakness of the paper. lt is the failure
to distinguish between empirical continua, as discussed e.g. by Aristotle or Brentano6 and
mathematical continua, as conceived by Cantor or Dedekind and explained in standard
textbooks of the differential and integral calculus. While in his later work Willgenstein
rejects such a conflation of empirical and mathematical continua and, more generally, of
empirical and mathematical concepts, he does not, as will be argued, provide a satisfac-
tory account ofthe logical or "grammatical" rules which govern theseparate and the joint
use of these concepts. 7

§ 3 Wittgenstein' s later exhibition-analysis: inexact concepts and their boundaries


As has been pointed out earlier, one ofWittgenstein's objections to the logical theories
of Frege and Russell is that they modify rather than describe the logic of ordinary
thinking, expressed in ordinary language. He later came to see that the logical theory of
the Tractatus is open to the same objection and must be abandoned in favour of what he
idiosyncratically called "grammar". The grammarian's task in hissense ofthe word is to
describe the rules which- explicitly or implicitly- govern various activities involving the
use of language. lt includes, but is not exhausted by, the exhibition of the rules which
govern the distinction between sense and nonsense in logic and mathematics - a distinc-
tion the correct drawing of which was one of the tasks which Willgenstein according to
his later views had failed to achieve in the Tractatus (See e.g. PI, § 496). A reason for
this failure was his unquestioning acceptance of the principle of exactness. (See above,
§ 2). Yet, as Willgenstein rightly insisted, the frequent use of concepts whose range of
application is not precisely demarcated, is typical of ordinary language. It is, moreover,
sometimes a means to the achievement of valuable purposes and may, e.g. in the judicial
process, even be unavoidable.
The inexact concepts which are of special interest to Wittgenstein are, as is almost

133
generally agreed, family-resemblance concepts, the correct application of which is based
on similarities which "overlap and crisscross in the same way" as do "the various
resemblances between members of a family: build, features, colour of eyes, gait,
temperament etco, etco"o (PI§ 67) Family-resemblance concepts can be- and normally are
- used without any need for drawing a precise line between their positive instances, ioeo
cases to which they are correctly assigned and incorrectly refused, and their negative
instances, ioeo cases to which they are incorrectly assigned and correctly refused, and
without any need to eliminate border-line caseso This, as Wittgenstein made quite clear,
does not mean that one cannot demarcate a precise boundary for special purposeso (See
PI§ 69)0 What he seems to overlook isthat there are inexact concepts the correct use of
which requires the drawing of precise boundaries and, hence, the elimination of border-
line cases; and that there are inexact concepts the correct use of whichforbids the drawing
of precise boundarieso
Thus the correct use of inexact concepts in the judicial process requires that border-line
cases be turned into positive or negative caseso This can be achieved in various wayso One
is to perform two and sometimes three successive steps in applying an inexact concept
such as 'x is a person capable of criminal intent' The first step is to acknowledge that the
0

case under consideration is a border-line caseo The second is to make a positive or negative
decisiono The third step, which is not always taken, consists in the judge 's regarding a
previous positive or negative decision about a border-line case- whether taken by hirnself
or some other judge- as a precedent. Other ways of eliminating border-line cases consist
in the acceptance of additional rules, such as rebuttable or unrebuttable legal presump-
tions or legal fictionso H
Examples of concepts the correct use of which requires the preservation of border-line
cases are the general concept of an empirical continuum, as weil as its various specieso The
concept of an empirical continuum differs radically from the concept of a mathematical
continuum, in particular from its standard versiono According to it a mathematical
continuum is a non-denumerably infinite set of objects, all of which are instances of an
exact concept (eoJ?o 'x is a point on a Euclidean line-segment') and stand in certain exact
ordering relations to each other (eogo the ordering relations holding between the points
which constitute a Euclidean line-segment)o As against this, the concepts needed to
characterize an empirical continuum (eogo of perceptually given spatial regions, temporal
intervals, sizes, colours) include irremediably inexact concepts and apply to finite sets of
objectso
Tobe somewhat more specific, a concept, say P, characterizes an empirical continuum
(eogo of perceivable coloured objects) if, and only if, P can be partitioned into a finite
sequence of inexact concepts (e.g. of colour-concepts) P 10000000 P" satisfying the following
conditionso (I) Any two successive members ofthe sequence (P, and P.. ,. say 'x is a certain
shade of blue' and 'x is a certain shade of green') have no common positive instances, but
have some common border-line instanceso (2) These border-Iine cases form the positive
instances ofthe boundary-concept B(P,. P,.,> of P, and P,.,o (3) The boundary-concept is
an exact concept, the applicability of which depends on the applicability of the concepts
bounded by it, i.e. P, and P,.,o (4) Neither P, or P,.,• nor the boundary-concept B(P,. P,.,>
can be further partitioned into a sequence of inexact concepts, satisfying the conditions
(I)- (3 )o The fourth condition is based on the obvious fact that our powers of perceptual
discrimination are limited (eog. that in a colour continuum we can distinguish only a
Iimited, finite number of different colours)o An empirically continuous sequence of
concepts, such as P 1ooooß(P,.P,.,) 000 P" may stand in a one-to-one correspondence with an
empirically continuous sequence of perceivable objects, such as 0 1ooooooooh( 0 ,.0 ,.,}0000 "0

134
This is the case if ( 1) every object instantiates the corresponding concept and (2) no object
is divisible into two or more perceivable objects, each of which instantiates the same
concept. Examples are sequences of objects forming a continuous spectrum of colour,
size, sound, shape etc. 9
In reporting on his discussions with Wittgenstein during 1938, Rush Rhees makes it
quite clear that at that time Wittgenstein no Ionger conflated the empirical and the
mathematical concepts of continuity. By then he had come to the conclusion that, in the
words ofRush Rhees, the usage ofthe word "continuity" resembles "not one game played
according to strict rules, but an activity approaching sometimes this game, sometimes
that, moving irregularly (floating about) between them ... " and that describing various sets
of rules is "like describing facial characteristics of a population by giving half a dozen
photographs of characteristic types. " 10 This account is, it will be argued, open to two
serious objections. It is first of all mistaken in describing the combined usage of the
mathematical and the empirical concept of continuity as an irregular floating about
between two language-games. For, as will be shown, the rules which regulate theseparate
usage of the two concepts and, more generally, of mathematical concepts and their
empirical counterparts, can be clearly described, as can their relationship to each other
when they are jointly used in the application of pure mathematics to empirical phenomena.
A second objection concerns Wittgenstein' s failure to clarify the roJe played by common
boundaries in the structure of empirical continua - a task the importance of which was
recognized by Aristotle and Brentano. 11

§ 4 Wittgenstein' s laterexhihition-analysis: logical principles and specific determinations


of conceptual meaning
If one regards the employment of inexact concepts, such as family-resemblance
concepts or of inexact concepts used in characterizing empirical continua as unavoidable,
then the abandonment of the requirement of exactness is likely to Iead to an explicit
revision of any logical theory, based on its acceptance. In Wittgenstein 's words, "the more
closely we examine actuallanguage, the stronger becomes the conflict between it and our
requirement. (For the crystalline purity of logic was not a result ofthe investigation: it was
a requirement)" (PI § 107). The revision will inter alia affect two kinds of grammatical
rules, namely universal rules which govern the meaningful (as distinct from the nonsensical)
use of all concepts, and specific rules which govern the meaningful use of some concepts.
The former include what are normally called "principles of logic", the lauer include
definitions of various kinds, entailments, analytic propositions and - according to some
philosophers - the propositions of mathematics.
The acknowledgement of irremediably inexact concepts calls in particular for a fairly
obvious revision of the principle of non-contradiction which can be formulated as
follows. For any object and any concept, it is logically impossible (meaningless,
nonsensical, "ungrammatical") that the object is both, a positive and a negative instance
of the concept- even though, if the object is a border-line case of the concept, the object
may be turned into either a positive or a negative case ofthe concept (where the disjunction
is exclusive). The principle, so formulated, protects many a human praxis which involves
the use of inexact concepts from losing its point. Thus, as has been pointed out earlier, the
use of inexact concepts in the judicial process would become pointless if a judge faced
with e.g. a border-line case ofa person's criminal responsibility for acertain action would
be permitted to decide that the person is and is not responsible for the action. To avoid
misunderstandings, it should be noted that a violation of the principle of non-contradic-
tion, as here understood, does not by itself imply that every proposition is true - an

135
implication which holds in the logical theory ofthe Tractatus andin most logical theories,
used explicitly by mathematical logicians and implicitly by most mathematicians.
Wittgenstein is not satisfied with a revision ofthe principle ofnon-contradiction on the
lines of our modest proposal. He accuses mathematicians and philosophers of grossly
misunderstanding the rote of contradiction in human thinking because of a "superstitious
fear and aws" in the face of it. ( R.F.M., I App I § 17) and aims at "changing the attitude
to contradiction". (op. cit. II § 82) by drawing attention to its possible usefulness. He
rightly distinguishes between "the use of a mathematical technique" and "philosophising
against contradiction in mathematics". (op. cit. III §55) Yet some of his arguments seem
to be directed against non-existing opponents, while ohters are too obscure to allow for
a clear reaction. Thus it is (at least forme) impossible to think of mathematicians or
philosophers who would not readily agree with Wittgenstein thatthere are situations- e.g.
in the teaching of logic- where one might "want to produce a contradiction" and "take
pride in succeeding". (op. cit. II § 81) It is also most unlikely that any ofthem would deny
that contradictions may sometimes most effectively and satisfyingly be used for aesthetic
purposes. Who, among them would, for example, accuse Goethe of making a mistake in
saying that "alles Drängen, alles Ringen ist ewige Ruh in Gott dem Herrn" ? 12
A rather obscure defence of contradiction is contained in Wittgenstein 's Statement that
one may weil conceive of"a technique of language" in which contradiction was a regular
instrument, employed for example "by saying of an object in motion that it existed and
did not exist in a certain place" and, more generally, in "expressing change by contradic-
tion." (op. cit. V§ 8) The Statement calls for a characterization of border-line cases which
differs from the available accounts of both, mathematical and empirical continua. It
differs from the former since these are given in terms of exact concepts and infinite
domains of objects. It differs from the latter since these acknowledge some version of the
principle of non-contradiction which is suitable for dealing with border-line cases.
Merely to call for a characterization of continua by means of contradictions is not to
provide it. And a non-existent characterization cannot be usefully discussed. (In the
discussions with Rush Rhees contradiction is not used as a regular instrument for
describing the grammar of "continuity".)
The principle of non-contradiction is, of course, not the only logical principle which
has to be revised when a transition is made from admitting only exact concepts to
admitting exact and inexact ones. The extent and nature of the transition depend on the
Iogic of exact concepts which is its starting point. Thus, if an acceptor ofFrege 's logic or
the Iogic of the Tractatus is converted to the view that there are irremediably inexact
concepts, he is Iikely to accept a revised principle of excluded middle which asserts that
for every object and every concept it is logically impossible (meaningless, nonsensical,
"ungrammatical") thatthe object is not a positive, a negative or a neutral instance of the
concept. If, as against this, a traditional intuitionist undergoes such a conversion, he is
Iikely to continue in his rejection of the principle of excluded middle in its unrevised or
revised form since its acceptance would imply his abandonment of the requirement of
constructibility .n While Wittgenstein obviously does not objectto a Iogical pluralism, he
does not raise the question of its limits. 14
Wittgenstein 's views about specific rules of grammar are on the whole less controver-
sialthan his views aboutthe principles of logic. The exception is his account of mathema-
tical propositions, which will be discussed below (in§ 5). The simplest rules of grammar
in Wittgenstein 's sense are probably analytic propositions, i.e. propositions the negations
of which are logically impossible (meaningless, nonsensical, "ungrammatical"). Among
his examples are the following: "Every rod has a length", "Every body has extension"

136
(P ./. §§ 251, 252), "My sensations are private" (op. cit. § 246), "The class of lions is no
lion", "The class of classes is a class" (R.F.M. I§ 29). Analytic propositions, like other
rules of grammar, do not express empirical facts, but provide the means for expressing
them or for facilitating their expression. The universal and the specific rules of grammar,
accepted by apersonor group ofpersons constitute the conceptual system or "language"
of the person or group of persons. That alternative and even mutually incompatible
conceptual systems can be and have been used, is evident from the history of phi1osophy
and science and from anthropology. If acknowledging the possibility of choosing between
different conceptual systems constitutes conventionalism, then it is important to note that
it is limited by the requirement that the chosen system be capable of expressing empirical
facts. This Iimitation is recognized by Wittgenstein who holds that "if things were quite
different from what they actually are .... our language games would loose their point." (PI
§ 142). Hisconventionalism thus conforms to Poincan!'s slogan: "Conventions oui: arbitraires
non", though Poincare is, I think, moredefinite in describing the limited arbitrariness of
scientific and mathematical conventions which form the main topic ofhis investigations. 15

§ 5 Wittgenstein 's later exhibition-analysis: the "grammar" of mathematics and its


relation to ordinary language
As is almost generally agreed by his commentators, Wittgenstein 's later philosophy of
mathematics includes the following theses among others. First, there are no mathematical
facts and, hence, no mathematical objects. Second, mathematical propositions are- like
analytic propositions contrary to their appearance- normative. They are a species of rules
which regulate the manner in which empirical facts and objects are described and the
manner in which different descriptions of empirical objects and facts are related to each
other. (see e.g. R.M.F. V § 40 and R.M.F. II § 28). Third, concepts which occur in
mathematical propositions must also occur in non-mathematical propositions, since
without such extramathematical occurrence they would be meaningless. (See R.M.F. IV
§ 2 and 88). Although, as I shall argue, these theses are mistaken, they may appear
plausible, so long as, in the words of Paul Bernays, one restricts mathematics to the
"purposes of house-keeping", in particular to simple, finite arithmetic. 16
Consider, for example, the following Wittgensteinian account of the propositions
"There are four apples on this table", "Two apples had been added to the two apples which
were previously on this table" and "2 + 2 = 4". The first two propositions are empirical
and the facts described by them are partly expressed by means of arithmetical concepts.
The third proposition is an arithmetical proposition, which justifies the empirical state-
ment that the two empirical propositions are related in a certain manner, namely that they
refer to the same number of apples. Against this account a pure mathematician might
object that it confuses and conflates two different kinds of concept, namely arithmetical
concepts defined, say, by Peano's axioms, and commonsense numerical concepts which
inter alia are defined much more vaguely. If this objection is rejected as too pedantic, our
pure mathematician might draw attention to the difference between Euclidean and
empirical triangles.
Once we turn from the uses of simple arithmetic and Euclidean geometry to the
differential and integral calculus and its uses in the sciences, the contrast can hardly be
overlooked. At the very beginnings of this branch of mathematics it was acknowledged
by Leibniz, Newton and their critic Berkeley that the notion of a very small quantity -
whether empirical or mathematical - is radically different from the notion of an infini-
tesimal quantity. The difference was later clearly expressed in the standard analysis of
Cauchy and Weierstrass and more recently in the non-standard analysis of Abraham

137
Robinson. For our present purpose it is not necessary to go into details, if we recall the
preceding discussion (in § 3) of mathematical and empirical continua. (Aitematively it
may be sufficient to note that infinitesimals, unlike arbitrary small quantities, are not
subject to the principle of Archimedes.)
If one acknowledges the difference between the description of an empirical fact and the
representation of this fact by mathematical means (such as the differential calculus,
Euclidean geometry, or, as I am prepared to argue, even pure arithmetic), then the
following account of the application of pure mathematics to empirical phenomena seems
worth tobe taken seriously . 17 It can- independently of any specific purpose which it may
be intended to serve - be characterized by the following steps: (I) Empirical description
in ordinary language, i.e. description of an empirical fact by applying empirical concepts
to empirical objects. (2) Mathematical idealization, i.e. using a mathematical theory to
represent the mathematical counterpart ofthis fact by applying mathematical concepts to
mathematical objects. (3) Intra-mathematical deduction, i.e. using the mathematical
theory to derive from the given mathematical representation another in which the same
or different mathematical concepts are applied to the same or different mathematical
objects. (4) Deidealization, i.e. transforming the derived mathematical representation
into an empirical description (expressed in ordinary language ). For the sake of those who
are ignorant of the mathematicaltheory, or for other reasons, a further step may be taken,
namely (5) the elimination of the mathematical reasoning. It consists in stating that the
original empirical Statement resulting from the first step and the derived empirical
statement resulting from the fourth step stand in a certain relation to each other, e.g. that
the former necessitates or probabilifies the lauer. The relation is, of course, proved by the
mathematicaltheory only on condition that the idealizations and deidealizations involved
in its application are justified by the context in which and by the purpose for which the
theory is being applied.
The above account of the application of pure mathematics to empirical phenomena
gives rise to two Wittgensteinian objections, both ofwhich seem unconvincing to me. One
of them is the "accusation" of my defending a version of Platonism, since I admit the
existence of mathematical objects. However, idealizations need not be Platonic Forms,
but may be no more than useful fictions. Moreover, the usefulness and use of a certain set
of idealizations does not exclude the usefulness and use of an incompatible alternative for
a different or even for the same purpose. Lastly, since Wittgenstein regards the mathema-
tician as an inventor and not a discoverer (R.F.M. I§ 167), it is difficult to see why the
invention of objects which is permitted to the painter or poet should be forbidden to the
creative mathematician.
Another connected objection concerns the separation of pure mathematics, as charac-
terized in the third of the above steps, from its application to empirical phenomena, as
characterized in the other steps. The objection arises from Wittgenstein 's thesis that
mathematical theories cannot be meaningful unless they arealso employed outside math-
ematics. Yet many mathematical theories were invented without specific reference to any
empirical phenomena. Of these theories some were later used in scientific theories, while
others are still without any application. A fairly recent example of the former are non-
commutative algebras which have found an application in quantum mechanics. An
example of the lauer is "non-naive" set theory (as opposed to "naive" set theory, which
inter alia is used in computer science.) That this theory has so far not been applied to
empirical phenomena, does not prevent it from giving intellectual and aesthetic satisfac-
tion to many mathematicians. A mathematical theory which so far has no application may
be compared to a literary fiction, while a mathematicaltheory which only after having

138
been invented, has found an application, may be compared to a novel which, though
originally a work of pure fantasy, has- even to its author's surprise- tumed outtobe a
roman a c/ef.

§ 6 On reconciling Wittgenstein' s early conception of logic and his later conception of


philosophical grammar
What has been said about the relation between commonsense or "ordinary" thinking
and mathematical theories applies afortiori also to the relation between ordinary thinking
and scientific theories which are expressed by means of mathematical theories. For a
mathematically formulated scientific theory involves all the idealizations of the mathe-
matical theory in which it is "embedded". To these mathematical idealizations are added
"scientific idealizations". Thus Newtonian dynamics involves the mathematical idealiza-
tion of empirically continuous into mathematically continuous change. And it involves
the further scientific idealization of commonsense material objects into constellations of
ultimate particles which are fully characterized by the concepts of momentum and
position and by being subject to the Newtonian laws of motion.
What is common to all mathematical theories employed in scientific disciplines is their
being embedded in logical theories, all of which have certain features in common, which
they do not share with the logic or grammar of ordinary language. Among them is, as
Wittgenstein came to see and to emphasize, the Fregean principle of exactness. Although
this principle is arguably not the only common feature of the logical theories employed
in mathematics, it is for our present purpose sufficient to distinguish a generic concept of
"mathematical logic" from a generic concept of "ordinary logic" by defining the former
as incorporating the principle and the latteras not incorporating it. Among the species of
mathematical logic, as here defined, are the logical theories of Frege, of Russell and
Whitehead and of the author of the Tractatus.
The upshot of the preceding remarks isthat any application of a mathematical or math-
ematically formulated scientific theory to empirical phenomena involves an idealization
of propositions (concepts and objects) the meaningful use of which is governed by
ordinary logic into propositions the meaningful use of which is governed by mathematical
logic. More briefly, it involves an idealization of ordinary into mathematicallogic. It is
important to recall (see § I) that an idealization does not amount to a replacement ofthat
which is idealized. What it does, is to add to the originally accepted rules further rules,
namely of idealization and deidealization in certain contexts and for certain purposes. It
should also be noted that in drawing attention to this connection between Wittgenstein's
"old town" and its mathematical and scientific "suburbs" (see PI§ 18) one is pursuing
exhibition- and not replacement-analysis.
When Wittgenstein developed the logical theory of the Tractatus, he regarded hirnself
as producing an exhibition-analysis of the one and only logic which underlies common-
sense thinking, as expressed in ordinary language, as weil as in mathematical and
scientific thinking. He later rejected this theory as the result of an unrecognized replace-
ment-analysis, based on metaphysical requirements (PI § 107) or confusions and as
incompatible with his conviction that the description of ordinary language is the only
legitimate philosophical method. Yet, since the application of pure mathematics to
empirical phenomena does not amount to a replacement of empirical by mathematical
concepts, (but to their joint use through idealization and deidealization), it also does not
amount to a replacement of ordinary by mathematical logic. In oder to reconcile
Wittgenstein's early conception of logic with his later conception of philosophical

139
grammar, one has to interpret the mathematicallogic of the Tractatus as resulting neither
from amistaken exhibition-analysis nor from a replacement-analysis, but as the result of
an extended exhibition-analysis which shows that, and how, the mathematicallogic ofthe
Tractatus can, as an idealization of ordinary logic, be connected with it in certain contexts
and for certain purposes. This does not mean that the mathematicallogic of the Tractatus
cannot be considered independently of its employment in mathematical or scientific
theories, that it cannot be compared with other systems of mathematical logic such as
intuitionist logic; orthat it is nonsensical or, at least, unreasonable to argue for or against
its acceptance on aesthetic or speculative grounds. It also does not exclude the possibility
that a mathematical logic, such as the logic of the Tractatus, or the mathematical and
scientific theories embedded in it, should affect the conceptual net of ordinary language,
as happened in the transition from pre-Newtonian to post-Newtonian ways of thinking.
In conclusion I wish to make it quite clear that I am aware of many difficulties
connected with the exegesis of Wittgenstein' s thought, as weil as of serious disagree-
ments between some highly competent commentators, who have spent much more time
on its study than I. If- rightly or wrongly - I seem to have misinterpreted it, I can only
hope that the theses which I have discussed are by themselves of philosophical interest
and that my criticisms of them are worth considering.

Not es

1 Foramore detailed treatment see my Fundamental Questions ofPhilosophy (Brighton, 1969)


eh. 2 and Metaphysics: lts Structure and Function (Cambridge, 1984) Pt I and Pt II ch.I2.
Foramore detailed discussion see e.g. "Über Idealisierung im Theoretischen und Prakti-
schen Denken" in Traditionen und Perspektiven der analytischen Philosophie, ed. by W.L.
Gombocz et al. (Vienna, 1989) pp. 343-358.
' e.g. De Docta lgnorantia ed. by R. Klibansky, (Hamburg, 1977).
4 For such a comparison see e.g. P.M.S. Hacker lnsight and lllusion 2nd edition (Oxford, 1986)

eh. II.
5 See "Some Remarks on Logical Form" in Arist. Soc. Suppt. Vol. IX (London, 1929) and a

Ietter in Mind vol XLII, (London, 1933) pp. 415, 16.


6 See book VI of Aristotle's Physics and Brentano's Raum, Zeit und Kontinuum (Hamburg,

1976).
7 For his Iater views on continuity see in particular "On Continuity: Wittgenstein 's ldeas

1938" in Discussions of Wittgenstein by Rush Rhees, (London, 1970)


8 For a more detailed discussion and comparison of Wittgenstein 's and the legal theorists'

approach to inexact concepts see my "Über Sprachspiele und rechtliche Institutionen" in


Proc. ofthe 5th International Wittgenstein Symposium ed. by E. Morscherand R. Stranzinger
(Vienna, 1981 ).
9 For more detailed discussions see my Experience and Theory (London, 1966) and J .P. Cleave,

"Quasi-Boolean Algebras, Empirical Continuity and Three-Valued Logic" in Zeitschr.f.


Math. Logik und Grundlagen der Mathematik vol 22 (1978) pp. 481-500.
10 See Rush Rhees op. cit. in note 7.

11 See the former's discussion of crUVEXrlO" and the Iatter's discussion of 'Grenze' in the works

quoted in note 6.
12 See the motto of Spengler's Untergang des Abendlandes, which Wittgenstein much ad-

mired.

140
u See e.g. A. Heyting, lntuitionism- An lntroduction (Amsterdam, 1956).
14 Fora diseussion of this question see op. cit. in note I, eh 5.
15 See e.g. eh. 5 of La Science et L' Hypothese and eh. 3 of Science et Methode.

16 See P. Bernays "Comments on Ludwig Wittgenstein 's Remarks on the F oundations of Math-

ematics in Ratio vol II (Frankfurt, 1959).


17 Fordetails see e.g. my "On Seientifie Information, Explanation and Progress" in Proc. ofthe

VII. Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science ed. by Ruth Mareus et a/.
(Amsterdam, 1986).

***

141
Philosophy Through Mathematics and Logic

HAO WANG
RockefeBer University, New York

All over the world philosophy is commonly taken to be centrally concerned with
fundamental considerations about life and society. From such a perspective, mathematics
and logic are very remote from philosophy indeed. Yet within the European tradition they
have often occupied a conspicuous position in the pursuit of philosophy, beginning with
the surprising devotion to 'pure thought' (or, in Husserl's words, the 'passion to know')
displayed in Greek philosophy. Given this devotion (or 'passion'), the interest in
mathematics and logic is not so hard to understand, since they are concerned with the
'clean' (in the sense of being abstract or idealized) and fundamental (in the sense of being
universal) aspect of knowledge and reality. Indeed, according to a suggestive caricature,
the spirit of Greek philosophical thought is said to be 'unworldly ,' whereas that of the
Chinese is said tobe 'worldly' and that of the Indian 'other worldly.'
It is remarkable how central a place in the 20th century philosophy is occupied by the
work (and its influence) of philosophers who began from a concern with the philosophy
of mathematics, combined (at the same time or a bit later) with a study of logic (in one
sense or another) and its foundations. Notably we have Frege ( 1848-1925), Husserl
(1859-1938), Russell (1872-1970), Wittgenstein (briefly W, 1889-1951 ), Ramsey (1902-
1930), and Gödel ( 1906-1978). Of these W was the only one who did not start with a
professional training in mathematics or do any mathematical research (in the familiar
sense). He was also the only one who was centrally concerned with the importance of
considerations about language for philosophy.
Mathematics is a peculiar kind of human activity. It is universal, contracts wide rang es
of particular cases into brief abstractions, possesses a special kind of certainty, is
exceptionally precise, is to a great extent independent of ordinary language, concerns
itselfwith the 'purely conceptual' (being less infected by the 'empirical ') aspect ofthings,
etc. Philosophy either shares or aspires to these features, but is less self-contained and has
to reflect on a broad range of human experience. It seems reasonable to say that
philosophy is like mathematics in looking for the universal by means of pure thought (but
by reflecting on heterogeneous bodies of data or at least by concentrating on a notoriously
elusive ahistorical 'central core of human thinking'). To that extent an aptitude for
mathematics may be helpful to the pursuit of (certain types of) philosophy. Such a belief
need not, however, imply that some actual training in mathematics is a necessary
preparation for philosophy. Moreover, it seems clear that too much mathematics not only
diverts efforts away from philosophy but may also hamper the cultivation of a balanced
perspective. In addition, doing mathematics and reflecting on its nature are distinct kinds
of activity.
In any case, given all the peculiar features of mathematics, a preoccupation with
mathematics and its 'foundations' undoubtedly lends certain special colorings to one's
(general) philosophy, in one way or another. (What the parents do certainly influences
their children, say, in their choice of vocations, but the influence works in manv ways,
often beyond our capacity to comprehend.) Mathematics being so pecul iar, it is necessary,
for one who goes from the philosophy of mathematics to develop a general philosophy,
to exercise great caution in resisting the temptation to say, without careful differentiation,
either that what is true of mathematics is true elsewhere, or vice versa. At the same time,
philosophy of mathematics is instructive for both other parts of philosophy and for

142
philosophy as a whole in exhibiting many issues in a sharper form; if developed and used
with appropriate care, it could perhaps function as effectively as the idealization of
frictionless motion does in mechanics.
In contrast with mathematics, the range oflogic (or the use ofthe term 'logic') is much
less weil defined (in any uniform manner), and logic in one sense or another has more
often been taken tobe the soul of philosophy (a sort of 'first philosophy'). For instance,
'transcendentallogic' occupies the center of Kant's philosophy, and 'logic' is the trunk
(if not the whole) of Hegel's philosophy. Frege's attempt to reduce arithmetic to
(mathematical) logic Ieads to or suggests conceptions of (mathematical or formal or
otherwise) logic that make all of mathematics (not only 'arithmetic' in Frege's broad
sense of including both number theory and analysis) apart of logic. For instance, Gödel
is quite explicit in taking mathematics as a (proper) part of (formal) logic. (lt is likely that
Leibniz has a similar conception of logic.) I am under the impression that the conception
of (informal) logic in the later work of W is even more inclusive. [For instance, 'and
"physical object" is a logical concept. (Like color, quantity, ... )' (On certainty, 36). 'And
everything descriptive of a language-game is part of logic' (56).]
The shift of attention from mathematics to logic implies some contribution, from our
understanding of mathematics, to the determination of our conception of logic. But what
the contribution is depends on how much ofthe content of mathematics we take seriously.
For example, W regards the logical principle of excluded middle as apart of the essence
of 'propositions' (in his own restrictive sense), Brouwer rejects it on the basis of what he
takestobe the real mathematical content of certain propositions, and Gödel restores it by
acknowledging a broad range of 'real mathematics.'
As we, in determining our conception of logic, take seriously into consideration more
of the content of mathematics, we face a harder task in trying to capture logic as a
comprehensive framework (or understructure ofhuman thinking), and thereby as a central
part of philosophy. In striving to derive benefit from more of the Substantive and better
defined content of mathematics (say, than W does), we are led to see certain inadequacies
in the accounts of mathematics according to 'tough-minded' conceptions of logic and
philosophy such as those of early and later W, which are widely respected in the
philosophical community. At the same time, a more adequate conception of logic or
philosophy that tries to 'do fuller justice to mathematics' seems to need a !arger space to
accommodate not only the specificities of mathematics but also those of other human
activities.
In other words, if philosophy is to capture more of the content of mathematics, it is
natural to expect philosophy to be enlarged to leave room for this as weil as more of the
content of other human pursuits. We have then a choice in deciding how much of the
additional space is tobe assigned to the part of philosophy that is to constitute logic. Kant
and Hege I seem to have chosen to assign a Iot ofthis to (transcendental in the case ofKant)
logic, so that mathematics is either excluded from logic (in the case of Kant) or makes up
an insignificant singularity within logic (in the case of Hegel). If the part of philosophy
having to do with mathematics is tobe included in logic, as Leibniz, Frege (excluding
geometry and previous to hislast years), and Gödel seem to do, then logic becomes a sort
of •generalization' of mathematics and typically we have altemati ve choices in generalizing
something.
In my opinion, the generalization chosen by Leibniz, Frege, and Gödel is by way of
taking mathematics (or arithmetic in Frege's case) and logic tobe dealing withformal (in
the sense of 'universally applicable ') concepts. lt is in terms of this idea that I would like
to contend in this essay the availability of a natural and widely accepted (among

143
mathematicallogicians) remedy of the failure ofFrege 's particular manner of executing
his logicist pro gram. Given this natural remedy, it seems natural to adhere, as Gödel does,
to the conception of logic as dealing with (certain) formal concepts. Moreover, logic in
this sense being a part of philosophy, we are led to a conception of philosophy different
from W's conception(s).

I. Frege' s conception of logic as the study of formal concepts


In the preface to his Begriffsschrift ( 1879) Frege says of arithmetic and the logical -
'we divide all proofs which require a proof into two kinds: the proof of the first kind can
proceed purely logically, while that of the second kind must be supported by empirical
facts .... Now, while considering the question to which of these two kinds do judgments
of arithmetic belang, I had first to test how far one could get in arithmetic by means of
logical deductions alone, supported only by the laws of thought, which transcend all
particulars' (Bynum, pp. 103-104,- namely Conceptual Notation and Related Articles,
translated and edited with a biography and introduction by T. W. Bynum, Oxford, 1972).
Clearly we may consider a truth a logical one if it can be proved 'purely logically' and
requires no 'support' of empirical facts.
It seems to methat this very definition oflogical truth suggests (certainly to Frege) both
a rich domain of logic and the 'reducibility' of arithmetic to logic, given our common
beliefthat mathematical concepts 'transcend all particulars.' Indeed, this line of thought
ties logic to the formal in the sense of comprehensi ve applicability, so that arithmetic may
be said tobelang to logic (in this sense), even without a proof ofits 'reducibility' to logic.
In other words, by (this) definition (of logic), arithmetic is apart of logic. Indeed, Frege
seems to assert this explicitly a few years later.
This wasdonein his 1885 paper 'On formal theories of arithmetic.' (See On the Foundations
ofGeometry and Formal Theories of Arithmetic, translated with an introduction by E.-H.
Kluge, Yale U. Press, 1971, pp. 141-153.) In it Frege attempts to refuteformal theories
that view arithmetic as a manipulation of meaningless (numerical) symbols, commonly
associated with '(mathematical) nominalism.' At the same time, he is in favor of aformal
theory that recognizes the 'logical or formal nature of arithmetic' in the sense of its
'comprehensive applicability' (Kluge, pp. 141-142; Bynum, p. 32). If we include also his
ideaof 'gapless proofs' (see Bynum, p. 104) as a formulation ofthe ideal offormal systems
(in thesensethat proofs in them are mechanically checkable), we may say that a fruitful
central concern ofFrege 's was withformal theories in three distinct senses. According to
him, 'no sharp boundary can be drawn between logic and arithmetic. Considered from a
scientific point of view, both tagether constitute a single science' (Kluge, p. 142 and
Bynum, p. 32). It is clear from the context that for Frege this 'single science' is logic.
In this paper Frege states his thesis of logicism in these words: 'all arithmetic
propositions can be derived from definitions alone using purely logical means.' He goes
on to state what I taketobe the most fascinating and pregnant argument for it: 'Of all the
arguments that speak for this view, I here want to adduce only one that is based on the
comprehensive applicability of arithmetical theories. As a matter fact, we can count
everything that is an object of thought. ... From this we may undoubtedly gather at least
this much, that the basic propositions on which arithmetic is based ... must extend to
everything that can be thought. And surely one is correct to include such extremely
general propositions within logic' (Kluge, pp. 141-142 and Bynum, p. 32). Frege then
proceeds to deduce three 'conclusions from this logical or formal nature of arithmetic'
(my italics).
The major significance ofthis argument has to do, in the first place, with the traditional

144
(at least since Leibniz) association of the logical with the formal (in the sense of being
universally applicable}, as an orthodox characterization of logic. Given the fact that
mathematics is formal in this sense, it seems to follow directly that mathematics is apart
of Iogic. This inference indeed appears tobe what Frege is making. More explicitly, we
are inclined to recognize as true
(I) logic studies · all' (see below) formal concepts, and
(2) mathematical concepts are formal.
Given (I) and (2), we have (3) mathematics is apart of logic.
From this perspective, the reason why we ordinarily fail to take (3) for granted is our
habit of associating directly with logic only certain formal concepts. lf. however, we
accept (I), as Frege seems to do, then the program of logicism is no Ionger an attempt to
prove the known truth (3) but rather to reduce one part of logic to another part, or show
that certain formal concepts can he defined (and need not be taken tobe primitive concepts
of logic that 'must be admitted tobe incapable of further analysis,' as Frege says on Kluge,
p. 143 ). But then Frege 's program of logicism becomes an issue of 'economy' and it
appears surprising that he should take it to be so important. One possible interpretation
of his attitude is that he believes logic to be transparent or self-evident (more than
mathematics). For him it requires no 'intuition,' being concerned only with 'analytic'
propositions in what he takestobe the Kantian sense. (I do not know Frege's work weil
enough tobe sure of this but expect that there is evidence from Frege 's sayings to support
my interpretation, which may in any case be taken as a 'thesis', to be supported or
questioned.)
One conclusion Frege draws from the argument quoted above 'is this, that there is no
such thing as a peculiarly arithmetic mode of inference that cannot be reduced to the
general modes of inference in logic.' Hiselaboration of this conclusion adds more content
to his initial argument. 'lf such a reduction were not possible for a given mode of
inference, the question would immediately arise, what conceptual basis we have for
taking it tobe correct. In the case of arithmetic, it cannot be spatial intuition, ... Nor. likewise,
can it be physical observation, ... We therefore have no choice but to acknowledge the
purely logical nature of arithmetic modes of inference. Together with this admission,
there arises the task of bringing this nature to light wherever it cannot be recognized
immediately, which is frequently the case in the writings of mathematicians' (pp. 142-
143 ). The last Statement suggests that the interest of the program of logicism is to 'bring
to light' the purely logical nature of arithmetic. Wehave here an ambiguity because the
example Frege gives in this connection is essentially the set-theoretic definition of the set
of natural numbers (as the intersection of all sets that include I and the successor of every
member of them). Given (I) and (2}, it would seem sufficient to dispense with such a
definition and state the axioms of arithmetic directly as of a 'pure]y logical nature.' It
seems that Frege is using in place of (I) a weaker statement ( 1'), to the effect that logic
studies formal concepts such as the concept of concept, etc. that are customarily taken to
be in logic.
Frege does say something like this, although in the context of a somewhat secondary
consideration. 'Thus, for example, I have replaced the expression "set'' (Menge), which
is frequently used by mathematicians, with the expression "concept" (Begriff) which is
customary in logic. Nor is this merely an irrelevant change in terminology, but rather is
important for understanding the true state of affairs. The word "set'' easily evokes the
thought of a heap of things in space' (p. 144 ). We have here a mixture of several issues
of unequal importance. The tendency to confuse sets with heaps is a minor issue of
careless usage that need not detain us. The 'replacement' of sets by concepts is a more

145
serious matter. Frege is not denying here that the concept of set is a formal concept and
therefore belongs to the realm of logic. lndeed, we can offer reasons for considering it a
formal concept that are parallel to Frege 's reasons for taking the concepts of arithmetic
tobe formal concepts. Hispreference of concepts over sets is rather based on the historical
reason that it is customary to include the concept of concept (or the expression 'concept')
in Iogic. (Fora related Observation, see p. viii ofthe first volume of Grundgesetze.) This
is certainly the case as a matter of fact; in particular, for instance, Gödeltakes logic tobe,
in the first place, the theory of ('pure') concepts.
Frege's replacement of set by concept depends on his taking every settobe derived
from some concept, as its extension. Later on (for instance, both in 1893 and 1895) he
changed the word set (Menge) to class (Klasse). Since, however, the distinction and
relation between set, class, and concept is at the heart of the differences between Frege
and Cantor, I shall retum to a discussion of the matter in the next section. Meanwhile, Iet
me conclude this section with a few unsettled questions on the idea of taking logic tobe
the study of the formal. One difficulty is to determine the range of formal concepts.
For example, in the Sophist (254-255) Plato Iooks for 'classes' that 'have universal
communion with all' and comes up with six of them: rest. motion, nonbeing. same, and
other.
Aristotle is concemed with the place of 'unity' and 'being' that are even moregenerat
than his categories. He considers the question whether they are the highest •genera • or
something eise, without giving adefinite answer one way orthe other, in Metaphysics 998bl4
to 999a23 (compare also I 059b21 to I 060a I). There were in medieval philosophy
discussions on 'transcendentals. • These 'refer to any idea (concept, notion) that applies
to all existence of whatever kind. The Iist includes res (Thing), ens (Being), aliquid
(Something). unum (One, Unity. Whole), verum (True), bonum (Good, Perfect). These
ideas were believed to go beyond (transcend) Aristotle 's categories because it was
believed they could not be subsumed underthem • (P. A. Angeles. Dictionary ofPhilosophy.
1981, last entry on p. 296). If these 'transcendentals • are all taken tobe 'formal concepts, •
we may feel that notallformal concepts belang to logic, bonum being an obvious exception
according to our ordinary conception of Iogic.
Leibniz believes that (the concept of) number is a 'transcendental' in this sense (see
Frege's quotation from and references to Leibniz in section 24 of Foundations of Arith-
metic, brietly FA). and Frege agrees with him. Related ideas are expressed by Husserl in
terms of 'formal' concepts, notably in section 13 of ldeas and section 24 of Formaland
Transeendental Logic.
From these few historical fragments, we see both the philosophical significance of
formal (in the sense of universally applicable) concepts, and the need tobe more specific
in order to characterize logic as the study of all and only what is formal (in this generat
sense). One way to specify the fundamental sense of formal in its relation to logic is by
way of the simultaneaus choice of a (fundamental) ontology.
What seems to me a natural choice (that appears, moreover, to agree with the intentions
ofFrege and Gödel) is to begin with the following 'axioms' or 'postulates':

(A) All that exists (all that there is, isabeingor an entity or a 'thing') is either
an object or a concept.
( B) Sets are objects.
(C) Logic is concerned with 'pure' (or 'nonempirical') concepts and objects.

Even ifno (other) object exists, we still have the sets studied in set theory (as conceived
on the basis of the empty set in the familiar manner), which make up the 'pure· objects.

146
There is then the problern of specifying the 'pure' concepts in an analogous manner. For
instance, a preliminary attempt at such a specification might be along the line suggested
on pp. 309-310 ofmy Reflections on Kurt Gödel. In this way, we may envisage a first order
theory that uses as primitive concepts (I) (the concept of) concept, (2) object, (3) set, (4)
falling under (for the relation between a 'being,' i.e. an object or a concept, and a concept),
and (5) belonging to (for the relation between an object and a set). The theory leaves room
for the inclusion of concepts and objects that are not 'pure,' but says nothing about them
explicitly.
Whereas the conception thus sketched seems to me close to what Gödel takes to be
logic, one could question whether it can also be claimed tobe a 'natural' development of
Frege's intentions. When Frege hirnself explicitly discusses 'logic' (for instance, in his
Posthumaus Writings, briefly PW, pp. 1-8, 126-151, 185-196), he considers not only (a)
negation, combining (of contents), generality, object, concept, etc., but also (b) truth,
thought, sense, reference (or meaning), judging, asserting, etc. Indeed, according to
Dummett, what Frege calls 'logic' corresponds more to 'the philosophy of thought (in Frege 's
sense)' or 'the theory of meaning,' or 'the philosophy of language' or etc. (See his The
Interpretation of Frege' s Philosophy, 1981, Chapter 3; more specifically, pp. 37-39.)
A natural response to Dummett's interpretation is to say that the categories under (b),
also considered by Frege, have to do with 'metalogic' or the 'foundations of logic.' Since
Frege is discussing the nature of logic, it is not surprising that he considers also these
categories. Logic itself for Frege, I believe, studies the categories under (a).
Dummett concludes his extended discussion on what he takestobe Frege's 'logic' by
saying (on p. 54), 'An explicit adherence to the fundamental tenet of [language-)
analytical philosophy thus cannot be claimed for Frege; but what can be claimed is that
his philosophy of thought and language Ieads almost inexorably in that direction.'
We see here that Dummett first substitutes 'his philosophy of thought and language'
for what he takes to be what Frege understands by 'logic' and then singlesout a direction
as the 'almost inexorable' development of it. In my opinion, as far as 'logic' is concerned,
the conception of logic just sketched has a better claim to this title. This is not to deny that
Frege's work on the 'foundations oflogic' may have led to otherdevelopments. But I wish
to stress that a 'natural' development of Frege's conception of logic 'Ieads almost
inexorably' to a direction in philosophy quite different from the language-centered
tendency typified by the work of W.
2. A natural remedy of Frege' s notions of set and concept
Setsand concepts are very different, classes are parasitic on concepts in thesensethat
the term 'class' is nothing but a shorthand introduced by the condition: the entities falling
under a given concept (its 'range of instances ')form a class that may or may not be a set.
Every set is an object, but concepts and 'proper classes' (namely classes that arenot sets)
arenot objects. 'Extensions' are objects, so that ifthe range of a concept isaproper class,
the concept has no 'extension.'- Theseare beliefs expressed by Gödel and shared by me
and, I think, by many other people.
In contrast, Frege seems not to distinguish between sets and classes, but to take sets or
classes as derivative from concepts in the sense that they are nothing but extensions of
concepts. If we do distinguish sets from classes, we see that Frege implicitly accepts four
principles:
(C) Every concept has a set as its extension.
(CK) Every concept has a class as its range of instances.
(S) Every set is the extension of some concept.
(KC) Every class is the 'range of instances' of some concept.

147
The current view isthat (CK) and (KC) are trivially true (true by the 'definition' ofwhat
a class is), that (S) may be true, and that (C) is definitely false and the source of the
contradictions. The really interesting principles are (S) and (C).
(S) is not taken to be obvious by everyone. For example, Gödel regards (S) as a
plausible conjecture that, he believes, will probably be proved when we know more about
the concept of set and the concept of concept. From (S), we getan alternative proofthat
set theory belongs to logic, but the conclusion is true independently of whether (S) is in
fact true, if we adopt the conception of logic considered in this essay. In any case,
according to our present understanding of set theory, (S) is harmless.
As I just said, sets and concepts are very different. For instance, the concept of concept
is a concept, but we do not have the set of all sets. If we consider only concepts that have
(sets as) extensions, it seems natural to define the 'extension' of a concept A of concepts
to be the collection of the extensions of all the concepts that fall under A. In that case,
under the assumption (S), the concept of all concepts that have (sets as) extensions has no
(set as) extension, because its 'extension' would be the collection of all sets, which is no
Ionger a set.
Frege usually speaks of 'Klasse' (class, instead of 'Menge,' set) in considering the
'extension of a concept.' For example, toward the end of section 161 (Grundgesetze, vol.
2), he proposes to use 'Klasse' for 'Begriffsumfang' for brevity; 'Klasse' is the term in
the 'Nachwort' too. We can indeed say that the collection of all entities falling under any
concept is a 'class.' In the Nachwort he suggests both of the two possibilities: (a) 'there
are cases in which to an unexceptional concept no class corresponds as its extension'
(which is true if we stipulate, as I did, that an 'extension' must be an object, or replace
'class' by 'set'); (b) 'to deny that classes are objects in the full sense' (which is true by
the definition proposed above but leaves out the interesting case of classes that are sets)
or 'regarding classes (and hence numbers) as improper objects.' Briefly, Frege conflates
sets and classes, thereby mistaking the obvious but trivial principles (CK) and (KC) for
the false principle (C) and the strong principle or conjecture (S).
Frege is explicit in taking concepts as more basic than classes. For instance, at the end
of his 1895 review of Schröder, he says, 'I do, in fact, maintain that the concept is prior
to its extension; and I regard as futile the attempt to take the extension of a concept as a
class, and make it rest, not on the concept, but on single objects .... The concept thus takes
Iogical precedence over its extension' (Kleine Schriften, pp. 209-210). What is at stake
is, I believe, that, as the development along Cantor's tradition has revealed more and more
clearly, we do have certain 'intuitions' about sets that are separable from seeing them
merely as extensions of concepts- even if we take (S) tobe true. Setsare extensional and
concepts are intensional; both are 'primitive' concepts for us.
Cantor is explicit in denying the principle (C). According to Frege (FA, section 72), n
is a nurober if there exists a concept F suchthat n is the extension of the concept 'equal
to the concept F' (i.e., the concept under which fall all and only concepts H suchthat there
exists a one-to-one correlation between entities falling underFand those falling under H).
In his review ofthe book, Cantor observes (Works, p. 440): 'The author comes ... to take
what the schoollogic calls the "extension of a concept" as the foundation of the concept
of number. He entirely overlooks the fact that in general the "extension of a concept" is
something quantitatively completely undetermined. Only in certain cases is the "exten-
sion of a concept" quantitatively determined, then it certainly has, if finite, a definite
[natural] number, and, if infinite, adefinite cardinality (power). For such a quantitative
determination of the "extension of a concept," however, the concepts "number" and
"cardinality" must previously be given already from somewhere eise. To undertake to
base the latter concepts on the concept "extension of a concept" is a reversal ofthe correct

148
[order].' The word 'quantitative' in this context is, I believe, related to Gödel's idea that
a concept has an extension only if the collection of all the entities falling under it is a set
(a 'one,' an object), and not merely a class (a 'many ,' a multiplicity).
If the 'extension of a concept' is taken as a class, then the problern isthat in general a
class is not an object. If it is taken as a set, then the problern is as Cantor says. Frege
perceives a difficulty with the concept of class as a primitive and tries to avoid this by the
verbal principle (KC), taking it to be the strong (S). In the 1912 paper of Jourdain (item
S 149 on p. 258 of Bynum, p. 251 ), Frege says, 'The difficulties which are bound up with
the use of classes vanish if we only deal with objects, concepts, and relations, and this is
possible in the fundamental part of logic. The [concept] of class, namely, is something
derived, whereas in the [concept of] concept - as I understand the word - we have
something primitive.' This is correct as it stands, but the underlying difficulty is his not
recognizing the concept of set as a primitive.
Ifwe take sets instead of classes, we can also derive sets from concepts by (S). But there
are several problems (at least for Frege). There is the problern about restricting (C).
Unless we are able to deal directly with sets too, it is hard to see how to make the
restriction. Indeed, it is primarily through our knowledge of sets that we (at present) learn
whether a ('pure') concept has an extension. In any case, the problern of dealing with
numbers is not fully satisfactorily settled by taking them tobe certain particular sets; this
is a major reason why Frege is not satisfied with (CK) and postulates (C).
It is undeniable, I think, that Frege was centrally concerned with the foundations of
mathematics and its relation to logic (and the concept of analyticity) even though his
exceptional devotion to and talent for clarity and precision yielded also fundamental
contributions to the philosophy of language (or the theory of meaning). Up to June 1902
when Russell informed him ofthe paradoxes, Frege had believed with good reason to have
worked out quite thoroughly the fundamentals of a pretty transparent logical foundation
of mathematics. Everything seemed to be in its proper place and the rich wealth of
mathematics (excluding geometry) all seemed tobe derivable from fairly evident logical
principles; qualitative difficulties seemed to have been reduced to quantitative complex-
ities (of long chains of definitions and proofs). The paradoxes undermined the grandtotal
edifice but did not affect many of the solid substructures (such as his formulation of first
order logic, his conceptual notation and its philosophical underpinings, major compo-
nents of his conception of logic, etc.) that are of independent value and useful for other
purposes too.
The paradoxes clearly called for a closer Iook at the content of set theory (and, in
Frege 's case, also the relation between sets and concepts). Cantor had by then developed
rather substantive ideas in set theory as an independent branch ofmathematics, and Frege
was (to some extent at least) familiar with Cantor's work. However, Frege apparently did
not think this type of work relevant to the paradoxes. For example, as far as I know, he
never commented on Zermelo 's axiom system of 1908. As late as 1924 (or 1925 ), Frege
spoke of the 'illusion' that 'the extension of the concept a' appears to designate an object,
and went on to say, 'From this has arisen the paradoxes of set theory which have dealt the
death blow to set theory itself' (PW, p. 269).
Cantor's famous proofthat every set has apower set (the set of all its subsets) with more
members than it, already makes it implausible that there can be a universal set (of all sets),
since its power set would be !arger. Russell's paradoxes were more directly relevant to
Frege's conception ofset (which, by the way, does give each set its power set too) because
they do not depend on the principle that every set has a power set. More generally,
Cantor's work suggests a way of going from simpler (infinite) sets to !arger and more

149
complex ones. Hence, there is a feeling that the process of extension is 'founded' (in the
sense of going upward from some simple base) and open ended. Crudely speaking, Cantor
studied set theory from 'inside,' whereas Frege did this from 'outside.'
In any case, an alternative development of Frege's logic is to reject the principle (C)
and adopt the concept of set as revealed in the work of Cantor, Zermelo, Gödel, Paul J.
Cohen, and others (including the 'professional' set theorists since the early 1960s). This
is the by now familiar 'iterative' concept ofset (adopting an 'extensional' viewpoint and
using the idea of 'Iimitation of size' ). lt has gradually attracted the attention of philoso-
phers of mathematics; for instance, one-quarter of the second edition of Philosophy of
Mathematics- Selec·ted Readings (briefly, BP, edited by P. Benacerraf and H. Putnam,
Cambridge, 1983) is devoted to it. -In contrast to what Russell calls the 'zigzag theory'
and the 'no class [set] theory' (compare note 8, BP, p. 452), this concept of set tends to
favor Platonism or realism in mathematics and to put a greater distance between
mathematics and language considerations. In particular, it is very remote from W's
approaches (whether early or late) to philosophy.
I can see at least two reasons why Frege did not consider the work on set theory
important for his program of logicism. In the first place, abandoning the principle (C)
would prevent him from the desired conclusion that the number of a concept F (according
to his definition quoted above) is an object, since the concept 'equal to F' is precisely of
the kind that do not have sets as rang es (and therefore have no 'extensions' ). In the second
place, Frege seems to follow Kant in associating the distinction between synthetic and
analytic with needing and not needing 'intuition '; hence, since the axioms of the iterative
concept of set, in contrast to Frege's own contradictory (sometimes called 'naive')
conception, are found by an appeal to 'intuitions,' it is of no help to salvaging his thesis
that arithmetic truths are 'analytic' (according to his conception).
These two reasons arenatural for him, given hisbeliefthat his definition of number and
his conception of analyticity are the right ones. Ciearly an alternative course is to examine
whether they are indeed right. For example, we may take the (formal) concept of number
to be arrived at in some other manner (in particular, as a primitive concept) and see his
definition as giving certain true properlies of numbers; in that case, their having these
properlies need not prevent numbers from being 'objects.' Frege 's conception of analyticity
seems to coexist uneasily with his Platonism (such as expounded in his paper 'Thoughts,'
Mind, vol. 65, 1965, pp. 289-311) to the extent that his notion of 'grasping a thought'
appears to involve some sort of 'intuition' and that he pays litt1e attention to the task of
finding out truths about primitive concepts. Given his inclination toward P1atonism, one
would expect there tobe a Iot of rich and not easily or fully detectable relations between
concepts so that many ofthe 'analytic' propositions describing these re1ations would not
be transparent or obvious at first. This ambivalence in his conceptions of 'thoughts' and
analyticity contains the seeds ofboth a linguistic turnthat rejects the former and a realistic
turn that transforms the latter to suit the former.
According to Frege, the problern whether a proposition is analytic is 'that offinding the
proof of the proposition and following it up right back to the primitive truths. If, in
carrying out this process, we come only on generallogical laws and on definitions, then
the truth is an analytic one' (FA, section 3 ). These 'generallogical laws' are concerned
with the (primitive) logical concepts. If all 'arithmetic' (in Frege's broad sense) propo-
sitions are provable in this manner, their broad range and rich content must arise out of
a combination of long chains of deductions and definitions with the intrinsic power of the
'generallogicallaws.' If, however, we can determine precisely the range of these laws in
such a way that their content is entirely clear to us, then we would expect tobe able to say

150
a good deal about mathematics just by examining closely these basic laws. In particular,
we should be able to see that they are consistent and complete. Moreover, we may even
expect it possible to findadefinite method of deciding whether any particular proposition
is provable from these laws.
From this perspective, I can see Hilbert's program (ofprooftheory) as a natural further
development of Frege's conjecture that mathematics is derivable from transparent
'general logicallaws.' Gödel's results on the incompletability of mathematics and the
nonexistence of 'obvious' consistency proofs, as weil as the related conclusions of the
undecidability of significant mathematical theories, may, therefore, be seen as a refuta-
tion of one component ofFrege 's pro gram, namely the beliefthat the generallogicallaws
are analytic in thesensethat we can see them tobe true without an appeal to our 'intuition'
ofthe logical concepts involved. These new discoveries do not refute the othercomponent
that mathematics is apart of 'logic' as the study of 'formal' concepts.
Frege hirnself abandoned his logicism toward the end of his life by an appeal to
geometrical intuition. 'The more I have thought the matter over, the more convinced I
have become that arithmetic and geometry have developed on the same basis - a
geometrical one in fact-so that mathematics in its entirety is really geometry' (PW,
p.277). 'I have had to abandon the view that arithmetic does not need to appeal to intuition
either in its proofs, understanding by intuition the geometrical source of knowledge'
(p.278).
These statements imply that (I) Frege no Ionger considered mathematical truths to be
analytic (as he understood 'analyticity'), and (2) he gave up the idea that mathematics
studies 'formal' (in the sense of universally applicable) concepts, since, as he hirnself
observed, geometry is applicable only to what is spatial. In contrast, the position
represented by Gödel retains both ( l) and (2). Wehave here a concrete illustration ofwhat
I mean by contending that there arealternative developments to remedy the contradictions
in Frege's conception of logic.

3. To and from the foundations of mathematics


Clearly a strong (initial) concern with the foundations of mathematics is not essential
to the pursuit of philosophy. But for those who, for one reason or another, happen to have
seriously reflected on the foundations of mathematics, the fruits of such reflections
undoubtedly play an important part in their own philosophical views and,less directly, in
the philosophies influenced by them. Undoubtedly the different roads leading to their
concern with the philosophy of mathematics affect the character of these philosophies, as
weil as the accounts of mathematics within them. In order to understand the different
positions, it seems to me helpful to consider (l) these (different) roads to a study of the
nature of mathematics, (2) thence to different generat philosophies, and (3) thence back
to different accounts of mathematics.
Frege, W, and Gödel came to an interest in the foundations of mathematics from very
different routes. For instance, Frege's father was the founder and director of a private
girls' school, his mother was a teacher and later principal ofthe school. The first Uournal)
publication by Frege (in 1874) was a review of 'H. Seeger's The Elements of Arithmetic,
which was meant to explain to students the fundamentals of arithmetic. Frege's main
criticisms are that the basic laws of arithmetic are left unproved and the fundamental
concepts are poorly defined' (Bynum, p. 9). It is plausible that the experience of reviewing
this book, combined with the involvement ofhis parents with school education, may have
stimulated Frege to attempt asound and precise exposition ofthe 'elements of arithmetic.'
But the crucial impetus must have been certain attractive ideas he found upon his closer

151
examination of logic and its relation to mathematics. At any rate, during the next five
years he was able, though burdened by a heavy teaching Ioad, to complete and publish his
short but important book Conceptual Notation (1879).
Frege teils us explicitly how he got interested in the foundations of mathematics and
therewith in (mathematical) logic. 'I started from mathematics. The most pressing need,
it seemed to me, was to provide this science with a better foundation .... The logical
imperfections of language stood in the way of such investigations. I tried to overcome
these obstacles with my conceptual notation. In this way I was led from mathematics to
logic' (PW, p. 253).
In the case ofW we have some gaps in our knowledge ofhis early interest. The puzzling
interest in the philosophy of mathematics (seeing that W was never a mathematician nor,
as far as known, led to it as a subgoal) apparently began as early as 1908, followed soon
by a study of Russell and Frege (see R. Rhees, Recollections ofW, p. 214, for a report of
W's being led to Russell's Principles of Mathematics from regular discussions of 'the
foundations of mathematics' early in Manchester). Once W got onto Russell and Frege,
it is comparatively easy to imagine that he could detect in logic (or rather its nature),
something truly fundamental, even a path leading toward one sort of 'businesslike' (see
Rhees, p. II 0) comprehensive perspicuity ('Übersicht'). More puzzling is his initial
concern with the foundations of mathematics.
It is perhaps not so hard to see the nature of mathematics as a !arge and challenging
topic, particularly for one who sturlies engineering but has wider interests and aspirations.
How can something so remote and so precise be so useful in an area so down to earth and
so messy? A more likely (or an additional) avenuewas through W's interest in the work
of Hertz and Boltzmann on what we would now call the philosophy (or foundations) of
physics, which naturally Ieads to a puzzle over the 'unreasonable effectiveness of
mathematics.' For instance, Hertz observes 'One cannot escape the feeling that these
mathematical formulae have an independent existence and an intelligence of their own,
that they are wiser than we are, wiser even than their discoverers, that we get moreout of
them than was originally put into them.' (For this and related quotations from other
physicists, see pp. 449-450 of Mark Steiner's paper in Journal of Philosophy, vol. 86,
1989, pp. 449-480.)
Since, however, W could not initially see in the topic promises to be businesslike or a
gate to comprehensive perspicuity, presumably it was just one of several things (another
being apparently psychology) that W explored at the time. As he studied moreofFrege
and Russe II, he could, not surprisingly, detect both a pervasive significance and a
seriousness in their Substantive work on logic and its philosophy (derived from a concern
with the nature of mathematics), and then he gradually reached the decision to make a
devoted attempt to find out whether he was capable of doing good work in this important
area. Apparently it was only in 1912 that W found his vocation in the sense of locating the
foundations of logic as a central philosophical problern and of acquiring a confidence in
his own ability to deal effectively with it. One thing led to another. On 2 August 1916, he
was writing, 'My work has extended from the foundations of logic to the nature of the
world' (Notebooks 1914-1916, bottom ofp. 79). By then he was close to completing his
only philosophical work over which he was fully satisfied for an extended period of time.
Early W seems to have shifted his concentration rather speedily from the foundations
of mathematics to those of logic. The situation is different in the later work of W. From
1929 to 1944 he seems to have devoted more than half of his efforts to investigating the
philosophy of mathematics. This concern, moreover, appears tobe intimately connected
with W's meticulous attention to language in his later work. Most of us are inclined to

!52
think that language is least likely to mislead in the case of mathematics. (Compare, for
instance, Frege's observation on p. 270 ofhis PW and Brouwer's on p. 6 ofhis Col/ected
Works, I, as weil as the attitudes of Husserl, Russell, and Gödel.) W's view is quite
different. An observation of his in 1929 is particularly revealing: 'There is no religious
denomination in which the misuse of metaphyical expressions has been responsible for
so much sin as it has in mathematics' (Culture and Value, p. I).
lt is likely that W was stimulated by Brouwer toreturn to philosophy because he began
to feel that the treatment of mathematics (especially the issue of the infinite) in the
Tractatus was most conspicuously inadequate. He came also to believe, I conjecture, that
mathematics Ieads to the most deeply hidden and the (philosophically) mostfundamental
misuses of language, which are, therefore, the harrlest to eradicate and the most harmful.
Hence, it is challenging and important to clarify the foundations of mathematics. It was
(I am speculating) largely in striving for this clarification that W developed his new
'method' that defines a whole (new) conception of philosophy.
By confining attention to everyday or elementary mathematics, as W does most of the
time, one enjoys the advantage of concentrating on the more fundamental issues, at least
in the sense of being more widely sharable concerns. Similarly, by singling out what is
taken tobe a comprehensive framework (for mathematics) and examining its semantic
underpinnings, as Frege seems to do, one is able to arrive at idealized distinctions,
conceptions, and explications that serve as a basis for moregenerat considerations. At the
same time, attending closely also to the 'mathematical substance' of the fundamental
concepts such as number, set, proof, truth, and computability, we can attain clarifications
of a greater measure of precision and get hold of philosophically significant perceptions
that are missed by limiting ourselves to reflections on the sort of datum selected by Frege
and W.
For instance, the contradiction in Frege's conception oflogic is, as I explained before,
resolvable by the further development of foundational studies. If, as is commonly
acknowledged, Frege's single-minded concentration on the philosophy of logic and
mathematics had yielded fruits gradually and surprisingly seentobe ofbroad philosophi-
cal importance, there is no reason to deny that thesefurther advances in that area possess
the same kind of quality (and promise). Whether or not it is justified from a large
perspective to attach to work of this type so much weight within philosophy is a harder
issue to settle.
It is generally agreed that W's work occupies acentral position in what Tugendhat aptly
calls 'language-analytical (sprachanalytische) philosophy.' In my opinion, this type of
philosophy is quite unsuccessful in the task of understanding mathematics as it is.
For example, in 'the generat form of a proposition' (the Tractatus, 6), W implicitly
assumes the concept of set, and in 6.031, he states, contrary to mathematics as it is, that
'The theory of classes [set theory] is completely superfluous in mathematics.' (For a
discussion ofthese two points, compare p. 91 and pp. 89-90 of my Beyond Analytic Philosophy,
1985; in particular, I show there that the assertion 6.031 could be validified by using W's
erroneous assumption of assimilating the infinite case to the finite one ). In his later work,
W fails to make sense either of the concept of a mathematical 'conjecture' or of the
mathematical practice of recognizing that a same 'proposition system' can be associated
with different 'proof systems '; he seems to take calculations and algorithms as the only
real substance of mathematics and to call everything eise (misleading) 'prose.' (These ideas
are stated more explicitly in Philosophica/ Remarks and Philosophical Grammar; they
remain as a less explicit part of his later work.) Another favorite idea of his (which
conflicts with ordinary mathematical usage) isthat a proof produces a new concept and

153
changes the meaning of the proposition thus proved.
Whether or not W's account of mathematics (as it is) is adequate is a comparatively
definite as weil as crucial issue according to W's own conception of philosophy (that is
to 'leave everything as it is'). Given the important place occupied by such an account in
W's philosophy, a natural question is, for those who find it inadequate, how this
inadequacy affects W's whole (conception of) philosophy. A related question is whether
and how a more adequate account of mathematics would or could Iead to a more
satisfactory (conception of) philosophy than W's.
In preparing this essay I have tried to take into consideration certain comments by
Sydney Morgenbesser and Palle Yourgrau on a previous version.

***

154
Wittgenstein as a Philosopher of Immediate Experience

JAAKKO HINTIKKA
Boston University

Wittgenstein is reported to have uttered: "You can say of my philosophy that it is


'phenomenology'. " 1 Yet the really interesting thing is not that Wittgenstein should have
said this, but the question: What precisely did he mean by his delphic Statement? One
thing he most certainly was not doing is to try to locate his own thought on the map of
twentieth-century philosophical movements. About organized philosophical schools
Wittgenstein could not have cared less. And even before we can properly ask what
Wittgenstein meant by phenomenology, we must make it clear to ourselves in what sense
Husserl's philosophy, the fountainhead of the movement known by the name, is really
phenomenology.
Recently, Husserlian phenomenology has been studied in an interesting way as a
certain kind of meaning theory, principally by Dagfinn F0llesdal and his associates, but
also by others, for instance by J .N. Mohanty. 2 The briefest way to characterize this ap-
proach is to use the same comparison between Frege and Husserl from which F0llesdal
actually started in developing this interpretation. For Frege, a linguistic expression refers
to its Bedeutung by means of its meaning (or sense, Sinn). For Husserl, an act likewise
pertains to its object by courtesy of a meaning entity employed in it, sometimes called by
Husserl the noema ofthe act and sometimes "the meant as such". Thus Husserl's meaning
theory can be thought of as a kind of generalization of a Frege-type semantics from
linguistic meaning to all intentional human thought acts, referred to by Husserl simply as
acts.
One does not have to disagree with this view on Husserl in order to maintain that it is
not the whole story ofHusserlian phenomenology. F0llesdal has said that phenomenology
is a study of noemata. What has to be added is what kind of study it is.
And Husserl in fact makes it clear what the answer to this question is. Phenomenology
studies how our conceptual world, the world of noemata, is grounded on our immediate
experience. The famous phenomenological reductions serve precisely to bring us to a
point where we can capture this basic layer of our experience. In order to express this facet
of Husserlian phenomenology by means of comparisons with analytic philosophers,
Frege is in fact the worst object of comparison. The reason is that for Frege meaning
entities (Sinne) arenot reduced to anything or grounded in any thing eise. They were for
Frege self-sufficient denizens of an objective Platonic realm of abstract objects. They can
only be captured by thought; they do not figure in what is given to us in immediate
experience. 3 A much better analogy obtains between Husserl and Russell, who tried to
reduce the entire population of objects of description to the immediately known objects
of experience, that is, to the objects of acquaintance, as he called them. 4 In this analogy,
the phenomenological reductions correspond roughly to Russell's famous "reduction to
acquaintance". Russell's "objects of acquaintance" did not include only individuals
(particulars), but entities of any logical type. 5 In this respect, Wittgenstein followed him
closely in his early thought, with one crucial exception. 6 Wittgenstein initially tried to
consider logical forms as objects of acquaintance, but rejected the idea. Consequently, he
was sharply critical when Russell tried the same idea in 1913 in his posthumously ( 1984)
published book Theory of Knowledge. 7
An important kinship between Husserl and the early British realists lies in the nature
of their enterprise. A reliance on immediate experience was as characteristic of G.E.

!55
Moore as it was characteristic of Russell. It does not mean only, or even primarily,
epistemological emphasis on immediate knowledge (knowledge by acquaintance). It
means looking for the ultimate sources of our concepts in what is immediately "given" to
us. Russell's and Moore's question is: What experiences must one have in order to
understand our language, to have the concepts we in fact have? 8 This question pertains,
among other things, to the ontology presupposed in our language, that is, to the ultimate
entities (simple objects) that are needed to understand our language. This reliance on
immediate experience does not mean that one's conceptual world is subjective- Russell
and Moore were confirmed realists- but it does mean that one's semantics and even one 's
ontology are in a certain sense egocentric.
In Russe II, we are in fact close to Wittgenstein 's ideas. For the philosophy of the
Tractatus is to a considerable extent but a further development of Russell' s theory of
acquaintance. The crucial difference isthat Wittgenstein rejected lock, stock, and barret
Russell's 1913 idea that logical forms are among the objects of acquaintance. Instead of
using Russell's idea, Wittgenstein 's scheme is based on the assumption that all logical
forms are obtained as combinations of the logical forms of simple objects, each of which
is given to me in my immediate experience. No further "logical glue" is needed to build
complex forms from them. 9 This is an important aspect of Wittgenstein's so-called
"picture theory".
Wittgenstein once expressed in a compact form his agreement with the most generat
idea of the realistic philosophy of his Cambridge friends as follows:
Sense-data are the source of our concepts.
(Wittgenstein's Lectures, Camhridge 1930-32, p. 81.)
Thus for the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus there really are no meaning entities, no
Fregean "senses". Each irreducible symbol represents whatever it represents, not with the
help of a meaning entity associated with it, but by standing for an object of immediate
experience. And propositions have their meanings, not because they have propositional
contents (Frege 's "Gedanken") associated with them, but by courtesy of their form, i.e.,
by courtesy of the way they are built out of simple symbols (names). Thus Wittgenstein
has no use for Fregean Sinne or Husserlian noemata. The similarity between Wittgenstein
and Husserl lies in the fact that both are philosophers of immediate experience, even
though Wittgenstein apparently had not heard of Husserl when he wrote his Tractatus and
did not yet use the term "phenomenology". It does not lie in their respective meaning
theories.
A couple of corollaries to Wittgenstein 's early phenomenology are worth registering
here. First, a simple phenomenological object is for him characterized essentially by its
possibilities of being combined with other objects. Hence, as Wittgenstein later put it,

Physics differs from phenomenology in that it tries to set up laws.


Phenomenology sets up only possibilities.
(Phi!. Remarks, sec. 1.)

Second, these possibilities of combination are for Wittgenstein the subject matter of
logic. Hence for the early Wittgenstein logic and phenomenology are to all practical
purposes assimilated to each other. Of course, in his later philosophy Wittgenstein prefers
other terms, such as "grammar", to "logic": 10

Isn 't the theory of harmony (in music) at least partly


phenomenology and therefore grammar?
(Phi!. Remarks, sec. 4.)

156
The world of the Tractatus is thus built out of objects given to each of us in immediate
experience, i.e., phenomenological objects. Together with them, their logical forms are
given. And it is these logical formsthat constitute the logic ofthe Tractatus. Hence logic
is in a sense for the young Wittgenstein a matter of experience, i.e., phenomenology (even
though Wittgenstein did not use this term at the time).
The "experience" we need in order to understand logic is not that something or
other is the state of things, butthat something is; butthat just is not an experience.
Logic is prior to any experience- experience that something is so. It is prior to the
How, not prior to the What.
This quote from Tractatus 5.552 illuminates the peculiar relation of logic and pheno-
menology (experience) in the Tractatus.
Another important observation concerning Wittgenstein's phenomenology isthat it,
Iike Husserlian phenomenology, ought to be distinguished sharply from all forms of
phenomenalism. Not only do the two have a different emphasis; Wittgenstein 's phenome-
nology is almost an antithesis of phenomenalism. 11 What phenomenalism maintains is
that what is given to us in immediate experience are not real objects, but impressions of
them. What Wittgenstein maintained is that immediate experience gives us those very
objects out of which the world consists. For one thing, if this were not the case, the
Wittgensteinian near-identification of logic and phenomenology would become impos-
sible.
In this respect, Wittgenstein is not far removed from Husserl or Russell. Admittedly,
closer questions concerning the nature of the simple objects tend to make them Iook like
phenomenalistic entities. This threatening slide to phenomenalism or idealism does not
disprove the basic antagonism between phenomenology and phenomenalism, however.
A subtle further corollary to Wittgenstein 's phenomenology is the (largely tacit)
treatment of time in his early thought. 12 Since the only phenomenological reality is the
present moment, the world ofthe Tractatus is essentially timeless. It is precisely this idea
that later began to worry Wittgenstein and eventually led him to a new position.

If the phenomenological language thus isolates the visual space and what takes
place in it from everything eise, what does it do to time? Is the time of visual
phenomena the time of our physicalistic way of speaking?
(Phi/. Remarks, sec. 75.)

Wittgenstein's interest in the phenomenology of time is reminiscent of Husserl's


intensive preoccupation with the "Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins".
Speaking in generat terms, the language of the Tractatus is a phenomenological lan-
guage. Of course, this does not make it a phenomenalistic language or make it subjective
as little as Husserlian phenomenology was intended tobe phenomenalistic or subjective.
Wittgenstein, Iike Husserl, was trying to get "zu den Sachen".
Attempts have been made to compare Wittgenstein's later philosophy with phenome-
nology.U In reality, the most striking similarities are found between Wittgenstein's early
philosophy and Husserlian phenomenology.
In Wittgenstein's subsequent thoughts, several striking changes took place in his
relation to phenomenology. The first and foremost was documented in lnvestigating
Wittgenstein. 14 As was shown there, Wittgenstein's thinking took a radically new turn in
October 1929. He came to reject totally the possibility of phenomenologicallanguages.

157
The assumption that a phenomenological language is possible and that only it
would say what we mustexpress in philosophy is- I believe- absurd. We must get
along with ordinary language and merely understand it better.
(MS 107, p. 176, dated October 22, 1929.)

Much of Wittgenstein' s later philosophy consists of his attempts to so Ive the problems
that were thrust upon him by his change of the language paradigm. 15
In this change, a significant roJe was played by Wittgenstein 's realization that
verification processes take place in physical time. For at this time (c. 1929) Wittgenstein
saw in the way a proposition is verified its whole meaning. 16 For this reason, what a
proposition could express (mean) must itself be physicalistic.
It might now seem that Wittgenstein 's adoption of physicalistic languages, and
physicalistic languages only, in October 1929 meant an end to his phenomenology. In
reality, it did not. Here we come to the most characteristic feature of Wittgenstein's
relation to phenomenology (and perhaps the most characteristic feature of his entire later
philosophy). The change in Wittgenstein 's concept of language was precisely and only
that: a change of language. It did not change Wittgenstein' s conception of reality, which
remained for him a phenomenological reality. As he expressed his point in his Lectures,
Cambridge 1930-32, p. 82, for him

The world we live in is the world of sense-data, but the world we talk about is the
world of physical objects.

We can say even more. Not only did the world remain for Wittgenstein a world of
experience. Immediate experience remained the alpha and the omega ofhis philosophical
work. Immediately after having declared phenomenologicallanguages impossible Witt-
genstein writes:

That is, if we so to speak describe the class of languages which serve their purpose,
then in so doing we have shown what is essential to them and given an immediate
representation of immediate experience.
Each time I say that, instead of such and such a representation you could also use
this other one, we take a further step towards the goal of grasping the essence of
what is represented.
A recognition of what is essential and what inessential in our language if it is to
represent, a recognition of which parts of our language are wheels turning idly,
amounts to the construction of a phenomenological language.

There are no signs of a change of mind on Wittgenstein 's part in this regard in his later
writings, either. Within a couple of months of his death Wittgenstein wrote:

There is no such thing as phenomenology, but indeed there are phenomenological


problems.
(Remarks on Co/our I, sec. 53.)

"Phenomenological problems" are what occupied Wittgenstein in his later writings,


too, directly (as in the Remarks on Co/our) or indirectly. One of the reasons why there
could not be any systematic theory of phenomenology is that for him there could not be
any phenomenological Ianguage in which it could be expressed.

There is other strong evidence that Wittgenstein never gave up hisbelief in the reality

158
of our internal phenomenological world. For instance, at one point (see MS 173, pp. 72-
73) he wrote:
There are internal and external concepts, internal and external ways of looking at
people. There are even internal and external facts - as there are e.g. physical and
mathematical facts. But they do no stand next to each other like different kinds of
plants. For what I had said sounds as if one had said: all these different facts occur
in nature. And what's wrong about that?
Wittgenstein's answer is:
The internal is not only connected with the external by experience, but also
logically.
Admittedly, in his later philosophy Wittgenstein dealt with a number of quasi-
psychological concepts which at first sight refer to internal experience but in reality turn
out not to do so, for instance concepts Iike expectation. But Wittgenstein 's treatment of
such concepts does not vitiate hisbelief in the reality of the phenomenological realm. If
it had no reality Wittgenstein could not have maintained that propositional-attitude verbs
do not describe happenings in that world. 17
Thus we have reached the first main result of this paper. Throughout his philosophical
career Wittgenstein remained fundamentally a philosopher of immediate experience.
This is undoubtedly what he meant when he allowed that his philosophy could be called
"phenomenology". Whether or not you choose to follow Wittgenstein's terminology is
Iargely a matter of philosophical taste.
The nature ofWittgenstein 's phenomenology is perhaps best shown by what he hirnself
wrote under this heading. The only conventionally organized book Willgenstein ever
wrote is MS 213, known as "The Big Typescript". One of its chapters is entitled
"Phänomenologie".lt cannot be reviewed herein its entirety, but a few indications of its
contents may be instructive. 18
The sense in which this chapter deals with phenomenology is fairly obvious. In it,
Wittgenstein is concerned with what is given to us in immediate experience, for instance
with visual space in contradistinction to physical space, with colors, etc. The givenness
of such experience is taken to imply that one cannot penetrate such phenomena any
deeper, since they are precisely what is given to us.
There is nevertheless a difference between what Wittgenstein is doing and what a
phenomenological philosopher like Husserl typically emphasizes. Wittgenstein is not
discussing at all how we impose a structure on the given. Rather, he is looking for the
ultimate constituents of the phenomena, i.e., of our immediate experience. This turn of
Wittgenstein's thought is very instructive to compare with the Tractatus, where he pos-
tulated (I have argued) precisely such phenomenological atoms as his simple objects. In
fact, two of the most important explicitly named kinds of simple objects play a roJe in
Wittgenstein's discussion in MS 213, viz. points in visual space and colors. In otherways,
too, Wittgenstein's remarks are reminiscent ofhis struggle with the ultimate constituents
of our experience in the pre-Tractatus years. For instance, his most important early
problern is in MS 213 devoted an entire section entitled "minima visibilia".
In view of Wittgenstein's near-identification of phenomenology and logic or "gram-
mar", it is not surprising that much of what he discusses under the heading of phenome-
nology is addressed to the question concerning the nature of objects, especially objects
of perception. Indeed, Wittgenstein begins his chapter with a discussion of the nature of
objects, in effect arguing (against his earlier self) that phenomenological"objects" do not
merit the term, which has its proper use in a physicalistic language. Here we can see

159
especially clearly both the change and the continuity of Wittgenstein's thought when it
comes to phenomenology.
The phenomenological character of Wittgenstein's thought has several remarkable
consequences. For one thing, it throws sharp light on Wittgenstein 's discussion of internal
experiences in his ill-named "private language argument. 19 Since these private expe-
riences are part ofthe phenomenological world in which we live according to Wittgenstein,
he was not in the least casting a shadow on their reality, importance, or knowability. What
he was doing is to show how we can talk about them in a physicalistic language which we
cannot escape and whose words refer in the first place to physical objects, events,
properties, etc. One is almost tempted to say that the so-called "private language
argument" is the inverse ofthe phenomenological reductions. Instead ofbeing a reduction
of the public world to the world of the phenomenologically given, it is a reduction of a
phenomenological language to a physicalistic one.
The reality of one' s inner life for the late Wittgenstein in turn throws interesting light
on Wittgenstein's idea of language-game, especially on those language-games that are
connected with one's inner experiences. These language-games are for Wittgenstein the
rock bottom of semantics, 20 but they are not the rock bottom of reality. They merely serve
to express our experiences and bring them to the public arena, so to speak. They are not
the end-all and be-all of Wittgenstein 's philosophical efforts; this pride of place is still
reserved to the experiences themselves. In later Wittgenstein, language-games are a
means of describing, naming, and communicating our experiences; they do not replace
experience as the focal point of his philosophy. 21
This virtually reverses one widespread way of looking at Wittgenstein' s later philoso-
phy, according to which the crucial and important things in philosophy (andin life) are
the sundry "games people play" (in a wide sense of the word "game", of course). If I am
right, this perspective into Wittgenstein 's philosophy is but an optical illusion.
The significance of this result extends way beyond Wittgenstein's philosophy of
language and/or his philosophy of psychology. It has drastic consequences among other
things for the interpretation of Wittgenstein's philosophy of religion and of his aesthe-
tics. 22 This is not the occasion to discuss the details of Wittgenstein 's thoughts on either
of these two subjects. It is important, however, to indicate what the issues are.
In interpreting Wittgenstein' s fragmentary philosophy of religion, more than perhaps
any other part of his philosophy, there is a prima facie temptation to emphasize the role
of language-games as the focal point of Wittgenstein 's later philosophy. The result is a
construal of Wittgenstein 's philosophy of religion as being ritualistic in emphasis. 23 The
essence of religion lies, according to this misinterpretation, in religious practices, such as
worshipping, rituals, praying, etc. In reality, the focal point of Wittgenstein 's interest in
religion lies elsewhere, viz. in religious experience. 24
Likewise in his aesthetics Wittgenstein was not an institutionalist, even though he was
keenly aware of the importance of the historical and social context of an artist' s work. It
is easytobe misled in this department by Wittgenstein's criticism ofthe general aesthetic
experiences philosophers had postulated, such as the alleged experience of beauty. 25 It is
nevertheless a characteristic of Wittgenstein 's remarks on aesthetics that he is concerned
with, and indeed emphasizes, the significance of the experience of specific aesthetic
qualities, such as precision, coherence, balance, rhythm, etc. 26 In his aesthetics, as in his
philosophy of religion, Wittgenstein was in the last analysis a phenomenologist.
In view of all these important similarities and points of contact between Wittgenstein
and Husserl, can we simply Iabel Wittgenstein a phenomenologist and be done with the
subject? It turnsout that we cannot do so, for there are important differences between their
respective views. These differences are located at a somewhat surprising spot, however.

160
As a first approximation, it can be said that what separates Wittgenstein and Husserl are
their different conceptions of logic. As phenomenologists, Wittgenstein and Husserl
agreed on the phenomena but differed with respect to logic. As a consequence, it would
be highly misleading simply to call Wittgenstein a phenomenologist. Later, it will be seen
that there are even deeper differences separating the two.
A formulation of the issues that separated Wittgenstein and Husserl was offered by
Wittgenstein hirnself in the only published passage where he discusses Husserl at any
length. It occurs in Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle _27 At first sight, it might
seem that Wittgenstein was merely echoing Schlick's criticism of Husserl, for like
Schlick Wittgenstein criticizes Husserl's conception of phenomenological Statements as
being synthetic a priori. Wittgenstein 's own explanations are worth quoting.

If I say 'I have not got stomach-ache,' then this presupposes the possibility of a
state of stomach-ache. My present state and the state of stomach-ache are in the
same logical space as it were. (Just as when I say 'I have no money.' This statement
presupposes the possibility that I do have money. It indicates the zero point of
money-space.) The negative proposition presupposes the positive one and vice versa.
Now Iet us take the statement, 'An object is not red and green at the same time.'
Is all I want to say by this that I have not yet seen such an object? Obviously not.
What I mean is, 'I cannot seesuch an object,' 'Red and green cannot be in the same
place.' Here I would ask, What does the word 'can' mean here? The word 'can' is
obviously a grammatical (logical) concept, notamaterial one.
Now suppose the statement 'An object cannot be both red and green' were a
synthetic judgement and the word 'cannot' meant logical impossibility. Since a
proposition is the negation of its negation, there must also exist the proposition 'An
object can be red and green.' This proposition would also be synthetic. As a
synthetic proposition it has sense, and this means that the state of things represen-
ted by it can obtain. If 'cannot' means logical impossibility, we therefore reach the
consequence that the impossible is possible.
Here there remained only one way out for Husserl- to declare that there was a third
possibility. To that I would reply that it is indeed possible to make up words, but
I cannot associate a thought with them.

Wittgenstein 's rejection of synthetic propositions a priori is based on his conceptions


of all conceptual truths as so many logical truths and of all logical truths as so many
tautologies. For this reason, the conceptual and hence a priori truths that Husserl was
proposing in his phenomenology as synthetic ones struck him as absurd.
The difference between Wittgenstein and Husserl which is illustrated by our latest
quotation manifests itself in many ways in the ideas of the two men. In Wittgenstein, his
rejection of synthetic truths aprioriwas part and parcel of his deep-seated beliefthat the
truths of logic are, if not literally tautologies in the sense of truth-function theory (as in
the Tractatus), then analytic in some other sense and hence self-explanatory and self-
justifying. In contrast, for Husserl even some truths of logic were in the need of a
foundation (viz. those that he called ideal truths). 2H He even criticized Kant for not pro-
viding us with a justification of such a priori truths of logic.
More can be said here, however. The quoted statement was made by Wittgenstein as
early as in 1929. It still echoes in many ways the views ofthe Tractatus. It represents views
that differ from Husserl 's not just with respect to some particular thesis in the philosophy
of logic, but with respect to the entire question as to how our conceptual world is
constituted. For Wittgenstein, what is given to us in immediate experience are the basic
building-blocks of our world, the simple objects. They do not comprise only particulars,

161
but they can be of any logical type. (Indeed, Wittgenstein holds that their types cannot be
anticipated prior to actual experience.) 29 Each of them determines completely its possi-
bilities of being combined with other objects. Each is conceptually speaking a discrete
unit. It is in this sense that for Wittgenstein "sense data are the source of our concepts".
No synthetic logic is needed, for all conceptual questions are determined in the last
instance by the possibilities of combination among simple objects. These possibilities (or
impossibilities) are part and parcel of the nature of the objects given to us in experience.
We do not create them, nor can we change them.
For instance, the colors "red" and "green" were for Wittgenstein simple objects. The
impossibility of a point's being both red and green is based on the intrinsic properties of
the two objects.
In contrast, for Husserl experience does not come to us already stmctured into entities
of different logica\ types. What Husserl calls sense-data or, more frequently, hyletic data
are not conceptually discrete objects but amorphous raw material on which the human
mind imposes a form in its constitutive activities. 30 It is not clear to what extent these
"informing" (form-giving) activities of the human mind (more accurately, of the trans-
cendental ego) are predetermined by the hyletic data but it is clear that they are not
completely determined. This contribution ofthe constituting ego is the source of synthetic
truths a priori for Husserl.
Husserl's view of the formative (constitutive) activity of human intentional mind has
recently been described by Dagfinn F0llesdal as follows: 31

We structure what we see, and we can do so in different ways. The impulses that
reach us from the outside are insufficient to uniquely determine which object we
experience, something more gets added .... According to Husserl, all our experien-
ce could in principle be structured in different ways.

In contrast to this kind of idea, in the Tractatus it is precisely the objects that provide
the fixed structure that is given to us in experience. 32 If for Willgenstein sense-data are the
source of our concepts, for Husserl it is the constitution that is the source of our concepts
and our conceptual truths.
Thus the disagreement between Husserl and Wittgenstein concerning the status of
logical truth has in reality a much deeper significance. The "logic" (conceptual structure)
of our language reflects the processes by means of which we conceptualize reality. And
this process is fundamentally different for Husserl and for the author of the Tractatus, for
whom our language (and the conceptual system embodied in language) is merely a
reflection of reality, not a structure imposed by us on the world.
But if this is the watershed between Wittgenstein's phenomenology and the genuine
article, the difference between him and Husserl seems to become, like the status of the
King of Saxony for Talleyrand, a matter of dating. For Wittgenstein's views were
changing in the relevant respects even at the time he made his quoted pronouncement to
the Vienna Circle members. He expressed them by speaking ofthe connection of different
propositions with reality rather than in terms of the constitution of the world. They are
nevertheless relevant also to the latter subject. In the same way as the search of simple
objects was in the Tractatus a phenomenological problem, in the same way the search of
the missing links between complex propositions and experience was for Willgenstein
essentially a matter of world-constitution.
In Wittgenstein 's later philosophy, the ways in which symbols are combined with each
other so as to form complex propositions arenot determined by the logical forms of given

162
discrete objects. They involve calculus-like human activities. 33 As a consequence,
propositions cannot be compared with reality one by one, but only holistically, in the form
of entire systems of propositions. 34 The linksthat connect the members of such a system
are not ingredients of prefabricated logical forms of given objects, but certain human
activities, which Wittgenstein Iater called "language-games". Even if this may not align
Wittgenstein 's views completely with Husserl 's, it certainly brings them much closer to
the characteristic doctrines of Husserlian phenomenology. Some of Wittgenstein 's later
Statements come even verbally close to retractions of his earlier criticism of synthetic
truths a priori.
Does this mean that Wittgenstein 's later "phenomenology" converged to the historicai-
Iy genuine article? No, it does not, for deeper differences still prevailed between
Wittgenstein and Husserl. For Wittgenstein there are plenty of phenomenological prob-
lems, but there is not, and cannot be, any such theory as phenomenology. Why not? There
is a deep double reason. Even if the study of the semantics ("grammar", as Wittgenstein
would have put it) of our language does the same job as the construction of a phenome-
nological language, phenomenology is impossible as a systematic study because it is not
expressible in language. Hence there cannot be any body of results codifiable in language
that could be called "phenomenology".
In maintaining this ineffability ofphenomenology, Wittgenstein had a narrower reason
and a broader one. Both are in fact pretty broad. The more specific one is the impossibility
of phenomenologicallanguages which Wittgenstein believed in after October 22, 1929.
It has been studied before, and needs few words here. 35
It is nevertheless important to realize that the impossibility of phenomenological
languages was not a rock-bottom idea of Wittgenstein 's and that he did not always have
fully convincing reasons for it. Hence it can scarcely be Wittgenstein 's last word here. 36
A still deeper reason is Wittgenstein 's fundamental belief in what has been called the
idea of language as the universal mediumandin his consequent belief in the ineffability
of semantics. This conviction of Wittgenstein's has been diagnosed and discussed in
chapter I of lnvestigating Wittgenstein. 37 It is one ofWittgenstein's deepest, and deepest-
seated, philosophical convictions.
Indeed, the idea of Ianguage as the universal medium is such a deep idea, and such a
ill-understood idea, that I cannot do justice to it here. A few explanations will have to
suffice.
This assumption amounts to maintaining the universality of one 's actual home language,
Wittgenstein's "only language I understand" (Tractatus 5.62). Since this language or,
rather, the language is inescapable, one cannot step outside it, as one would have to do if
one were to speak of the meaning relations which relate it to the world it can be used to
convey information about. Hence allsemanlies is ineffable if the thesis of language as the
universal medium is true.
This conclusion applies to Wittgensteinian phenomenology with vengeance. From the
nature of phenomenology as a general meaning theory (theory of intentionality) it follows
that phenomenology is inexpressible, if one believes in language as the universal medium.
Since we have shown that this universality of language indeed was Wittgenstein 's belief,
it is no wonder that there could not for him exist any codified theory of phenomenology.
There is no phenomenology, and the specific phenomenological problems there are must
be handled by means of a public physicalistic language.
This deeper reason for the impossibility of phenomenology is in fact lurkingjust under
the surface of the passage I quoted from Wittgenstein 's conversazione with Schlick and
other members of the Vienna Circle. For one reason why logic is either ineffable or empty

163
(and hence empty in so far it is expressible) is the very samegeneralbelief in Wittgenstein,
the ineffability of everything that pertains to language-world relations or depends on
them. I have earlier called (together with Merrill B. Hintikka) Wittgenstein "a semantieist
without semantics". 38 The point isthat Wittgenstein's belief in the inexpressibility of
semantics did not prevent him from entertaining all sorts of semantical views. In the same
way, Wittgenstein was a phenomenologist without phenomenology, in thesensethat he
believed that he could not explicitly say anything about or in phenomenology, even
though he could convey to his reader or hearer all sorts of phenomenological problems and
ideas.
Wittgenstein was not always successful, however, in his attempts to show rather than
to say what his phenomenology was like. For instance, many readers of the Tractatus have
missed the fact that Wittgenstein's inconclusive search of simple objects was but an
exercise in phenomenology, a quest of phenomenological simples, and instead misinter-
preted it as a symptom of Wittgenstein 's indecision as to the status (phenomenological vs.
physical) of his simple objects. 39
The contrast between Wittgenstein and Husserl is made especially sharp by the fact that
the father of twentieth-century phenomenology did believe in the expressibility of
meaning theory, at least of his own. This fact needs a moreextensive documentation than
I can give it here. 1t will be argued for by Martin Kusch in his recent book. 40
Thus the deepest disagreement between Wittgenstein and Husserl turns out to be but
the very same contrast between the conception of language as the universal medium and
the conception of language as calculus which has elsewhere played an extraordinary roJe
in twentieth-century philosophy but which has in its full generality received but scant
attention on the part of the philosophical community.
The significance of this contrast is perhaps shown by a number of supplementary
considerations. It has been shown by Martin Kusch in some detail that the great issue that
divided Heidegger from Husserl isthat Heidegger gave up Husserl's unarticulated belief
in language as calculus and replaced it by faith in our conceptual system as the universal
medium of thinking- a view which he later gradually developed into a view which could
be referred to as the assumption of language as the universal medium or as a Haus des
Seins, as Heidegger hirnself expressed it. 41 Many puzzling features of Heidegger's work
are made understandable by this insight, including his indirect and sometimes tautologi-
cal-sounding way of expressing himself, for instance in such formulas as "die Sprache
spricht" or "das Nichts nichtet". Didn 't Wittgenstein also hold that alllogical truths are
tautologies? In a certain sense, Heidegger is merely practicing here what Wittgenstein
preached.
lf this interpretation of Heidegger is correct, Wittgenstein anticipated it, however
briefly. Around the same time as his criticism of Husserl on the synthetic a priori,
Wittgenstein had this to say of Heidegger:
Tobe sure, I can imagine what Heidegger means by being and anxiety. Man feels
the urge to run up against the Iimits of language. Think for example of the
astonishment that anything at all exists. This astonishment cannot be expressed in
the form of a question, and there is also no answer whatsoever. Anything we might
say is a priori bound to be mere nonsense. Nevertheless we do run up against the
Iimits of language. Kierkegaard too saw that there is this running up against
something and he referred to it in a fairly similar way (as running up against
paradox). This running up against the Iimits of language is ethics.
This passage shows several highly interesting things. It shows Wittgenstein ascribing

164
to Heidegger the same idea ofthe ineffability of semanti es which we have ascribed to him
and which Wittgenstein expresses by speaking of the Iimits of language. Most important-
Iy, it shows to what extraordinary extent Wittgenstein's own deepest views- including
only his views on ethics and religion- are connected with his idea of the ineffability of
meaning and the givenness of the basic ingredients of our experience. Since this way of
thinking was foreign to Husserl, I reluctantly end up with emphasizing certain specific
similarities between Wittgenstein and Heidegger rather than those between Wittgenstein
and Husserl.

Not es

1 Reported by M. O'C. Drury in "Conversations with Wittgenstein", in Rush Rhees, editor,


Ludwig Wittgenstein: Personal Recol/ections, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1981, pp. 112-189,
especially p. 131.
See, e.g., the papers by F01Iesdal and his associates reprinted in Huber! L. Dreyfus, editor,
Husser/: lntentionality and Cognitive Science, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1982. Fora presen-
tation and interesting development of F01Iesdal' s ideas, seealso David W. Smith and Ronald
Mclntyre, Husserl and lntentionality, D. Reidel, Dordrecht, 1982. Cf. also J.N. Mohanty,
Edmund Husser/' s Theory of Meaning, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1976.
3 Cf. here Leila Haaparanta, Frege' s Doctrine of Being (Acta Philosophica Fennica vol. 39)

Societas Philosophica Fennica, Helsinki 1985, especially pp. I 02-107.


4 See in the first place Bertrand Russell, "Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by

Description", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, N .S., vol. II (191 0 - II ), pp. 108 -
128; Our Knowledge ofthe Externat World, Allen and Unwin, London, 1914; "On the Nature
of Acquaintance", The Monist, vol. 24 ( 1914 ), pp. 1-16, 161-187, 435-453. Cf. also Jaakko
Hintikka, "Knowledge by Acquaintance, Individuation by Acquaintance", in David Pears,
editor, Bertrand Russell: A Collection ofCritical Essays. Doubleday, Garden City, N. Y.,
1972, pp. 52-70.
5 This fact is amply in evidence in Russell's writings published in the period in question (see

note 4 above), but it is even morepatent in Bertrand Russsell, Theory of Knowledge: The
1913 Manuscript (E.R. Eames, editor), Allen and Unwin, London, 1984 (vol. 7 of Collect-
ed Papers of Bertrand Russell).
6 Cf. here Merrill B. Hintikka and Jaakko Hintikka,lnvestigating Wittgenstein, Basil Black-

well, Oxford, 1986, eh. 2.


7 Forthis development see David Pears, "The Relation Between Wittgenstein' s Picture The-

ory and Russell's Theories of Judgment", Phi/osophica/ Review, vol. 86 (1977), pp. 177-
196; "Wittgenstein 's Picture Theory and Russell's Theory of Judgment", in Hai Berghel et
al., editors, Wittgenstein, Vienna Circle. and Critica/ Rationalism, Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky,
Vienna, 1979, pp.IOI-107; Kenneth Blackwell, "The Early Wittgenstein and the Middle
Russell", in I. Block, editor, Perspectives on the Philosophy ofWittgenstein, Basil Black-
well, Oxford, 1981, pp. 1-30; and lnvestigating Wittgenstein, op. cit., eh. 3.
8 Cf., e.g., David Pears, Bertrand Russell and the British Tradition in Philosophy, Collins/

Fontana, London, second ed., 1972, pp. 71-87,97-115.


9 Cf.lnvestigating Wittgenstein, op. cit., pp. 102-109.

1°For the force ofWittgenstein 's term, see lnvestigating Wirtgenstein op. cit., eh. I, especially

pp. 11-13.
11 This pointwas not emphasized sufficiently clearly in lnvestigating Wittgenstein, which has

led David Pears to misinterpret the book as claiming that Wittgenstein represented tradition-

165
al phenomenalism in his Tractatus; see David Pears, The Fa/se Prison, Vol I, Clarendon
Press, Oxford, 1987, esp. p. 65.
12 This subject needs more allention. Willgenstein says very lillle about time in the Tractatus.

Hence his views have tobe gathered from comparisons with Russe II, with Philosophical Re-
marks (secs. 48-56, 6775), The Brown Book (pp. I 04-1 09), etc. A comparison with Russe II
might start from his construction of space in Our Knowledge ofthe Externat World and from
Theory of Knowledge, Part I, eh. 6.
I) See here in the first place Nicholas Gier, Wittgenstein and Phenomenology, SUNY Press,

Albany. 1981; Herbert Spiegelberg, "The Puzzle of Willgenstein 's Phänomenologie


( 1929-?)" (with supplement 1979). in Herben Spiegelberg, TheC ontext ofthe Phenomeno/ogical
Mm·ement, Nijhoff, The Hague, 1981, pp. 202-228; Herbert Spiegelberg, "Willgenstein
Calls His Philosophy 'Phenomenology' .: One More Supplement to the 'The Puzzle of
Willgenstein's Phänomenologie,'"Journa/ ofthe British Societyfor Phenomeno/ogy, vol.
13 ( 1982). pp. 296-299; Harry P. Reeder. Language and Experience: Descriptions ofLiring
Language in Hussser/ and Wittgenstein, Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology,
Washington. D.C., 1984.
14 Op. cit., chs. 6-7. See also Jaakko Hintikka and Merrill B. Hintikka, "Willgenstein 's annus

mirabi/is 1929", in Elisabeth Leinfellner et al., editors, The Tasks ofContemporary Philo-
sophy, Proceedings of the Tenth International Wittgenstein Symposium, Hölder-Pichler-
Tempsky, Vienna, 1986, pp. 437-447.
'~ See lm·estigating Wittgenstein, op. cit., chs. 8-10.
,. Witness. e.g., statements like the following:
Verification is not just one indication of truth but the sense of a proposition.
(MS 107, p. 143 quoted in lnrestigating Wittgenstein, p. 165.)
I must really compare reality with a proposition. (MS 107, p. 153, ibid.)
17 Cf. lnrestigating Wittgenstein, op. cit.. eh. I I. especially sec. I 0.

'" MS 213 is organized like an ordinary book. The relevant chapter is entitled "Phänomenologie"
and its section titles are:
94. Phänomenologie ist Grammatik
95. Kann man in die Eigenschaften des Gesichtsraumes tiefer eindringen? etwa durch
Experimente?
96. Gesichtsraum im Gegensatz zum Euklidischen Raum
97. Das sehende Subjekt und der Gesichtsraum
98. Der Gesichtsraum mit einem Bild (ebenen Bild) verglichen
99. Minima Visibilia
I 00. Farben und Farbenmischung
19 Cf. here lm·estigating Wittgenstein, op. cit., eh. I 0.

211 Cf. Phi/. lm·estigations I, sec. 654.

21 In Phi/. lnl'estigations I, sec. 244, Willgenstein writes:

How do words refer to sensations? - There doesn 't seem to be any problern here;
don't we talk about sensations every day, and give them names? But how is the con-
nexion between the name and the thing name set up? The question is the same as: how
does a human being learn the meaning for names of sensations?- ofthe word "pain"
for example.
Much of the rest of the "private language argument" can be viewed simply as Willgen-
stein 's explanation as to how it isthat we can conceptually speaking do allthese neatthings,
viz. toset up connections between sensations and their names. The reason why this is a prob-
lern according to Willgenstein in the first place is that he acknowledges only physicalistic
languagcs in which we could be possibly speak of sensations.
22 See here especially Ludwig Willgenstein, (C. Barrell. editor), Lectures and Com·ersations

on Aesthetics, Psycho/ogy and Re/igious Belief. Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1966, and Re-

166
marks on Frazers Golden Bough (Rush Rhees, editor), Brynmill, Refford, 1979, Willgenstein 's
philosophy of religion has been discussed, with further references to the literature, in Fergus
Kerr, Theology after Wittgenstein, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1986, andin Reijo Työrinoja,
Uskon kielioppi (The Grammar of Faith; in Finnish), Suomen teologisen kirjallisuusseuran
julkaisuja, vol. 141 ), Helsinki, 1984.
23 Cf. e.g., Kerr, op. cit. pp. 156-160 (section entitled "A Ceremonious Anima!); Työrinoja,

op. cit., sec. 5.4.


24 It is not aceidentat that Wittgenstein read and re-read William James, including The Va-

rieties of Religious Experience.


2 ~ See here, e.g., Wittgenstein, Leeruresand Conversations, op. cit., p. 3:

It is remarkable that in reallife, when aesthetic judgements are made, aesthetic adjec-
tives such as "beautiful", "fine", etc., play hardly any role at all.
26 Op. cit., pp. 3,8 etc., for instance (p. 8):

Cf. the famous address of Buffon.- a terrific man-onstyle in writing; making ever
so many distinctions which I only understand vaguely but which he didn 't mean vaguely-
all kinds of nuances like "grand", "charming", "nice".
27 Ed. by Brian McGuinness, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1979. (See here pp. 67-68.)

28 Cf. here Leila Haaparanta, "How Is Logic as Science Possible? An lntroduction to Husserl's

Phenomenology" (forthcoming).
29 Cf. here Tractatus 5.54-5.5571; and cf. lnvestigating Wittgenstein, op. cit., pp. 73, 79-80.

·1°Cf. here Edmund Husser!,Jdeas, especially sections 55, 80, 86, 97, 117, 149-153, and Robert

Sokolowski, The Formation ofHusserl' s Concept ofConstitution, Nijhoff, The Hague, 1970.
11 "Husserl on Evidence and Justification" (forthcoming, presented at the 1987 Annual Meet-

ing of the IIP in Stockholm).


32 See, e.g., Tractatus 2.022-2.023:

It is obvious that an imagined world, however different it may be from the real one,
must have something- a form in common with it.
Objects are just what constitutes this unalterable form.
33 See here Jaakko Hintikka, "'Die Wende der Philosophie': Wittgenstein's New Logic of

1928", in Philosophy of Law, Politics and Society- Proceedings of the Twelfth Internatio-
nal Wittgenstein Symposium, Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, Vienna, 1988, pp. 380-396.
34 Cf. Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle, op. cit., pp. 63-65 .

.H Cf. Jnvestigating Wittgenstein, op. cit., chapters 6-7,10.


36 Cf. op. cit., pp. 241-242.
37 Op. cit., note 6 above.

·18 Op. cit., pp. 2-3.


39 Cf. op. cit., pp. 77-80.

40 Martin Kusch, Language as Calculus vs. Language as Universal Medium: A Study in Hus-

serl, Heidegger and Gadamer, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1989. Cf. also
Martin Kusch, "Language is the Universal Medium ... ": Gadamer' s PhilosophyofLanguage,
Oulun yliopiston historian Iailoksen julkaisuja, no. I (1987), Oulu, Finland, 1987. (See
especially sec. 9.)
41 Cf. Kusch, op. cit., chapters on Heidegger. Also Heidegger: " ... das tautologische Denken.

Das ist der ursprüngliche Sinn der Phänomenologie."

***

167
Necessary Identity and Necessary Existence

TIMOTHY WILLIAMSON
University College, Oxford
0. lntroduction

Queen Anne is dead. That sentence expresses a truth; it does so because its subject term
refers to someone - Queen Anne - who satisfies its predicate, and therefore- if death is
the end of existence- no Ionger exists. But then what is left for 'Queen Anne' to refer to?
The puzzle is olderthan the news. It is not specifically a puzzle about time. We can refer
to what could have existed but does not, never has and never will. For instance,let Nemo
be the possible person who would have resulted from the union of a sperm cell S and an
ovum 0. 'Nemo would have had red hair ifhe had been born' may express a truth; but what
is there for 'Nemo' to refer to?
Perhaps we can even refer to what could not have existed. Let Nemo* be the possible
person who would have resulted from the union of sperm cell S and some ovum 0* other
than 0. Nemo and Nemo* seem individually possible but not jointly compossible; they
could not both have existed. If the existence of a set requires the existence of its members,
the set I Nemo, Nemo* I could not have existed. Nevertheless, 'I Nemo, Nemo* I is a set'
seems to express a truth; but what is there for 'I Nemo, Nemo* I' to refer to? 1
On one decreasingly unpopular response to the puzzles, there is more than exists. Ifthe
term 'object' is used for whatever is, there are non-existent objects. Queen Anne, Nemo
and I Nemo, Nemo* I may all be cases in point. Contingencies such as death and failure
to be born are obstacles to existence, but not to objecthood. Indeed, objecthood is not
obviously subject to contingency at all. To view objecthood as contingent would be to risk
reinstating puzzles about reference, to non-objects rather than non-existents. We thus
have some reason to investigate the necessity of objecthood, the principle that all
objecthood is necessary objecthood. On the face of it, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
endorses the principle. The puzzles about reference to the non-existent may cast a more
flauering light on the passages in which it does so.
This paper explores the analogy between the necessity of objecthood and the necessity
of identity, the principle that all identity is necessary identity. It also suggests that
existence is narrower than objecthood only in a sense of 'existence' of no special interest
to logic. In the sense in which the word expresses a logically salient predicate of
individuals, this paper offers a tentative defence of the necessity of existence, the
principle that all existence is necessary existence.

I. The Non-Contingency ofObjecthood


Amongst the many striking claims in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus are these:
It is obvious that an imagined world, however different it may be from the real
one, must have something - a form - in common with it. (2.022)

Objects are just what constitute this unalterable form. (2.023)

Objects are what is unalterable and subsistent; their configuration is what is


changing and unstable. (2.0271)

Textual exegesis might succeed in making these claims less striking, for example by
showing that Wittgenstein never intended them to apply to objects in the ordinary sense

168
of the term. The aim of this paper is different: to explore the prospects for an idea that a
naive reader might find in the quoted words. The idea isthat if something is an object in
one possible situation it is an object in any possible situation, where 'object' is understood
in the broadest sense of 'thing' (compare 2.01 ), anything that is, and the possibilities are
metaphysica1 rather than epistemic; in particular, if something is an object at one time it
is an object at any time. This principle will be called the non-contingency of objecthood.
I do not ask whether it is true to Wittgenstein's intentions, but whether it is true.
Is there any reason to accept the non-contingency of objecthood? I shall offer an
argument by analogy in its favour. It is not obligatory to be persuaded by such an
argument; perhaps it is obligatory not to be. Indeed, I am not wholly persuaded by it
myself. What I do urge is that the non-contingency of objecthood is an intriguing
metaphysical principle, and not obviously false.
The analogy on offer is between objecthood and identity, 'I am' and 'I am TW'. For we
have good reason to believe the non-contingency of identity, the principle that if x and y
are identical in one possible situation they are identical in any possible situation; in
particular, ifthey are identical at one time they are identical at any time. To the extent that
we have traced an analogy between objecthood and identity, we may be led to wonder if
the non-contingency of identity has an analogue for objecthood.
Three doubts about this strategy deserve to be mentioned at once.
(a) Ruth Barcan Marcus gave a proof, upheld by Kripke 's semantics, that if x and y are
identical, they are necessarily identical; does it not make the analogy pointless? 2 Foreither
there is a corresponding proof about objecthood or there is not. If there is, we can use it
directly and not bother with the analogy. If there is not, that is itself so pertinent a point
of disanalogy that the non-contingency of objecthood gains no support. The trouble with
this objection is that it ignores the difference between having a proof and knowing that
you have one. An analogue of the Barcan proof will indeed be given, but it employs
principles of Jogic whose validity is in question. It can be hard to know a law of logic for
what it is, when apparent counter-examples to it are produced. The proof of the non-
contingency of identity has itself been challenged, but its logic remains far Iess contro-
versial than that in the corresponding proof about objecthood. 3 One function of the
analogy is to transfer credit from the former proof to the latter, without bankrupting the
former.
(b) One might expect the self-identity of x to fail if x was not an object; is it not therefore
circular to argue from the non-contingency of identity to the non-contingency of
objecthood, since whoever rejects the Jatter will reject the former too? However, the
possibility of non-objecthood requires at most a small modification to the non-contingen-
cy of identity, not wholesale rejection. The modified principle would say that if x and y
are identical in one possible situation, they are identical in any possible situation in which
either is an object. This principle remains significant; for example, it sharply constrains
the scope for contingency in the relation between this statue and this clay. Without
circularity one can therefore use the restricted non-contingency of identity to support the
non-contingency of objecthood and thence, by a bootstrapping operation, the unrestricted
non-contingency of identity.
(c) Pace the Tractatus, identity is ascribed by means of a first-level predicate; the
analogy therefore makes little sense unless objecthood is so too: but might it not be denied
that objecthood can be predicated of individuals for just the reasons it has been denied that
existence can be? "If there were such a thing as this objecthood of individuals that we talk
of, it would be absolutely impossible for it not to apply, and that is the characteristic of
a mistake. " 4 Sucharguments risk proving too much. Any open sentence yields a predicate;
any tautologous open sentence yields a tautologous predicate, for example 'is suchthat

169
it is self-identical if it is self-identical '; it is absolutely impossible for such a predicate not
to apply, and yet there is no mistake. In the same way, the predicate 'is an object' applies
to all objects. 5 Since existence and identity are ascribed by means of a one-place and a
two-place predicate respectively, there isaminimal sense in which existence is a property
and identity a relation. It is not implied that existence is the kind of property sharing of
which constitutes a genuine similarity.
Both identity and objecthood seem to have the kind of topic-neutrality characteristic
of logical constants. What eise have they in common? It willbebest to start with the case
of identity.
As Kripke says, identity is nothing but the smallest reflexive relation. 6 From that flow
the standard logical axioms about it, reflexivity and the indiscernibility of identicals, that
identicals have allproperlies in common. For Iet P be a property, and R the relation x has
to y just in case if x has P then y has P. R isareflexive relation; since identity is the smallest
reflexive relation, it is included in R. Thus if x and y are identical, x has R to y, so if x has
P then y has P; QED. Reflexivity and the indiscemibility of identicals characterize
identity uniquely, in the sense that any two relations obeying them are necessarily
equivalent- provided that the indiscernibility of identicals is applied to all properties, not
just to those which happen to be expressible in the fixed vocabulary of some language. 7
For Iet two relations, =1 and =2 , obey reflexivity and the indiscernibility of identicals.
Suppose that x has =1 to y; x has =2 to x by reflexivity for =2' so x has the property of being
suchthat x has = 2 to it, so y hasthat property by the indiscernibility of identicals for = 1,
so x has = 2 to y. Conversely, if x has = 2 to y then x has = 1 to y. Thus = 1 and = 2 are necessarily
equivalent; it follows on a reasonable view of relations that they are the same relation. R
Since identity is uniquely characterized by its logical laws, it is not surprising that it
should be regarded as a logical constant. Similarly, the phrase 'smallest reflexive relation'
fits at most one relation; it could be formalized as a definition of identity in higher-order
logic.
The necessity of identity follows quickly from reflexivity and the indiscernibility of
identicals. One could put the point like this: necessary identity is a reflexive relation;
since identity is the smallest reflexive relation, it entails necessary identity (perhaps with
a proviso about non-objecthood). Why is necessary identity a reflexive relation? The
characterization of identity must be understood as saying that it is necessarily the smallest
reflexive relation, for otherwise it would not distinguish identity from the relation which
x has to y just in case x=y and Wirtgenstein went to Ire land. Given that identity is necessarily
reflexive, it follows that necessarily if x is an object then x=x, the appropriately restricted
sense in which necessary identity is a reflexive relation. 9
The preceding remarks ride roughshod over much that is controversial. The indiscern-
ibility of identicals itself has been challenged. Somewhat more plausibly, doubts have
been raised about the use of a formula with free variables in the scope of a modal operator
to define a property or relation. For example, the argument for the necessity of identity
appealed to the relation of necessary identity, that is, a relation which x has to y just in case
it is necessary that if x exists then x=y. At least two kinds of doubt are possible. Are such
formulae intelligible at all? Even ifthey are, do they express relations? David Wiggins has
elaborated the proof in response to such doubters. 10 That may be needed to persuade them;
it does not follow that it is required by logic. Our success in understanding quantification
into modal contexts suggests that 'necessarily x=y' makes sense as it stands, and fur-
thermore that there is no real difference between the readings 'necessarily x and y aresuch
that they are identical' and 'x and y aresuchthat necessarily they are identical'; variables
do not have scope.

170
Restrietions aside, the necessity of identity says that identities are necessary identities
or, equivalently, that possible non-identities are non-identities. The non-contingency of
identity is to be understood as conjoining that with the necessity of non-identity: non-
identities are necessary non-identities or, equivalently, possible identities are identities.
The necessity of non-identity can be derived from the necessity of identity in the
quantified modal system S5, but not in some weaker systems. 11 The proofuses the Brouwerian
principle that what is possibly necessary is the case, which might be questioned. However,
it does not follow that if one rejects that thesis for some kind of necessity, one should also
reject the corresponding form of the necessity of non-identity. For even if 'it is necessary
that' does not satisfy the S5 system, the operator 'it is actually necessary that' does satisfy
it; since the rationale for the necessity of identity holds good for the lauer, one can
therefore show that non-identities are actually necessary; it follows that they are necessary. 12
Thus the non-contingency of identity has the same basis as the necessity of identity, and
does not depend on a questionable modal reduction axiom.
A parallel account of objecthood can now be displayed. Just as identity is equivalent
to having the same properties, so on this account objecthood is equivalent to having some
property. For what has a property is an object; conversely, objecthood is itself a property
in a broad sense of 'property', so any object has a property.
If identity is the smallest reflexive relation, objecthood is the largest property. The
analogy is slightly closer if one compares objecthood with non-identity, the largest
irreflexive relation, and non-objecthood, the smallest property, with identity, but the
analogy between objecthood and identity is close enough. Just as the description of
identity yields reflexivity and the indiscernibility of identicals, so the description of
objecthood yields a logicallaw, the objecthood principle that if x is F then x is an object.
Just as identity is uniquely characterized by its logical laws, so objecthood is uniquely
characterized by the objecthood principle. For suppose that properties E 1 and E 2 obey it.
If x has E 1 then it has E 2 by the objecthood principle for E 2; conversely, if x has E 2 then
it has E 1 by the objecthood principle for E 1• Thus E 1 and E 2 are necessarily equivalent; it
follows on a reasonable view of properties that they are the same property 13 • Since objecthood
is uniquely characterized by its logical law, it has some claimtobe a logical constant.
Similarly, the phrase 'largest property' fits at most one property; it could be formalized
as a definition in higher-order logic (although one could also use a tautologous predicate
in first-order logic).
There is a quick argument from the objecthood principle to one half of the non-
contingency of objecthood, the necessity of non-objecthood: if x is not an object then it
is necessary that xisnot an object or, equivalently, if it is possible that x is an object then
x is an object. For in the schema 'If x is F, x is an object' one can replace 'F' by 'possibly
an object'. In other words, since objecthood is the largest property, it is as Iarge as the
property ofpossible objecthood. Just as one can argue from the necessity ofidentity to the
necessity of non-identity, so one can argue from the necessity of non-objecthood to the
necessity of objecthood, the other half of its non-contingency (here again objecthood
corresponds more closely to non-identity, and non-objecthood to identity). The necessity
of objecthood says that if x is an object then it is necessary that x is an object or,
equivalently, that if it is possible that x is not an object then x is not an object. For if it is
possible that x is not an object, it is possibly necessary that x is not an object by the
necessity of non-objecthood, so x is not an object by the Brouwerian principle that what
is possibly necessary is the case. Use of the principle for a given kind of necessity can be
avoided in the same way as before. Thus the non-contingency of objecthood has the same
basis as the necessity of non-objecthood, and does not depend on a questionable modal
reduction axiom.

171
The purported proof ofthe necessity ofnon-objecthood is formally trivial. What should
be made of it? Someone might try to defuse the result by arguing that, contrary to
appearances, 'Whatever can be an object is an object' says nothing controversial. The idea
would be that one can quantify only over objects, so that the principle only means
'Whatever object can be an object is an object'- which no one should deny. However, it
is intended in a stronger sense than that, with a corresponding reading of the objecthood
principle from which it was derived. The strong reading can be represented as: it is
necessary that for every object x it is necessary that if it is possible that x is an object then
x is an object. Since a necessity operator intervenes between the quantifier and the
conditional, the principle is not trivial; it would be false if 'philatelist' replaced 'object',
since a philatelist could have been a possible philatelist who was not a philatelist. The
non-contingency of objecthood attributes a special feature to the concept of an object.
The purported proof treats possible objecthood as a property. An objector might
distinguish two readings of 'it is possible that x is an object' as 'x is suchthat it is possible
that it is an object' and 'it is possible that xissuchthat it is an object', claiming that only
the former attributes a property to x. On this view the objecthood principle is compatible
with the contingency of objecthood. For although 'x is an object' follows from 'x is such
that it is possible that it is an object', the latter does not follow from 'it is possible that x
is suchthat it is an object' . 14 Thus if x bad not been an object, it would not have been such
that anything; there would have been only the unactualized possibility of its being such
that something. However, it has already been suggested that scope distinctions for a
variable with respect to a modal operator are distinctions without a difference. Of course,
one could simply stipulate that the formula 'x is such that A' means the same as 'x is an
object and A', and object that on this reading it would beg the question to infer 'x is such
that it is possible that it is an object' from 'it is possible that xissuchthat it is an object'.
However, that would not meet the difficulty, for a broad sense of 'property' may nev-
ertheless be available to characterize objecthood in which 'it is possible that x is suchthat
it is an object' attributes a property to x and thereby entails its objecthood. That broad
sense of 'property' obviously needs clarification; one might start with the notion of a
potential semantic value for an open sentence with one free variable.
The proof of the non-contingency of non-objecthood may thus be valid. The result is
no doubt an odd one. What sort of thing, for example, is the object Nemo? A possible
person but a non-person, since it (or he) never thinks and has no location in space or time.
Nemo is a nobody. However, the metaphysical Strangeness ofthe view does not amount
to a reductio ad absurdum; it is not self-contradictory and we can learn to live with it.
Nemo may be no stranger than the null set.
Suppose that objecthood is non-contingent; so what? Why does it matter, since the
intended property is utterly tautologous? Well, non-contingency does make the property
trivial in a way, but only in the way that the non-contingency of identity makes it a trivial
relation. The fundamentals of logic are like that. The trivial property of objecthood
defines the domain for unrestricted quantification, so that 'Something is F' means 'Some
object [which may or may not exist] is F'. The non-contingency of objecthood then gives
a fixed domain from one possible situation to another, so that sentences of the forms
'Everything is F' and 'Something is F' can be seen in the Tractarian way as infinite
conjunctions and disjunctions. The view also simplifies quantified modal logic, by
validating the Barcan formula and its converse: everything is necessarily G if and only if
necessarily everything is G. Of course, it remains convenient for many purposes to restriet
the quantifier; it is not generally true that every Fis necessarily G if and only if necessarily
every Fis G. 15 In what follows, the quantifiers will range over all objects (whether or not
they exist) unless otherwise specified.

172
Two possible misconceptions about the non-contingency of objecthood should be
mentioned.
(a) The doctrine is not a form of Meinongianism, if the latter entails that. apart from
a few special cases, definite descriptions denote objects. For the non-contingency of
objecthood is entirely compatible with the view that a definite description denotes no
object unless it is uniquely satisfied and whether a definite description is uniquely
satisfied is usually a contingent matter. No doubt some person could have been the
assassin of G. E. Moore; it in no way follows that some possible personwas the assassin
of G. E. Moore. The non-contingency of objecthood allows one to treat 'the assassin of
G. E. Moore' as non-denoting for the standard reason: G. E. Moore was not assassinated.
(b) The non-contingency of objecthood is also notaform of possibilism. if the latter
entails that objects are possible existents in some narrow sense of 'exist'. For the non-
contingency of objecthood is entirely compatible with the view that there is such an object
as the set I Nemo. Nemo* I which is incapable of existing in any narrow sense of 'exist'.
Any object is a possible object. of course. just as every philatelist is a possible philatelist,
butthere is nothing distinctively possibilist aboutthat.

2. Ohjecthood and Existence


The defence of the non-contingency of objecthood seems to require a distinction
between objecthood and existence. For otherwise it would amountto the non-contingency
of existence. the principle that if something exists in one possible situation it exists in any
possible situation: in particular, if something exists at one time it exists at any time. The
non-contingency of existence, read in the natural way. is evidently false: I did not exist
before my parents met, and if they had never met I should not have existed at alt. Just such
facts were taken for granted in describing the puzzles about reference to the non-existent.
For many kinds of object there is a perfectly good, everyday sense of 'exist' in which
existence requires spatial location. A mountain (even a golden one) exists only when it
does so somewhere. Since there are no objects which space necessarily contains, whatever
it contains is in that sense an example of the contingency of existence. In this sense of
'exist'. defenders of the non-contingency of objecthood must ungrudgingly accept that
there are non-existent objects. They should regard such existence as a property which
some objects Iack and others have. albeil contingently and temporarily. From a logical
point of view it is a property like any other, requiring no specialtreatment. lf we like we
can restriet our quantifiers to existents. but we can also restriet them to philatelists.
On the above view. existence is not a logical notion. There is indeed a logical notion
expressed by 'there is'. but it is not equivalent to 'there exists'. just as it is not equivalent
to 'there Jives'; it is not the existential quantifier, but something more general. Wehave
fallen into the habil of using 'there is' and 'there exists · interchangeably. but rigour
demands their separation. A careless defender of the non-contingency of objecthood
might weil say 'There exist non-existent objects'. but we would know that he meant only
that there are non-existent objects.
Once it is admitted that we sometimes use 'there exists • where 'there is • would be more
accurate. one may wonder how widespread the phenomenon is. 'There is a prime number
between 18 and 22' might be more accurate than 'There exists a prime number between
18 and 22'; what point would be served by grouping numbers with Iiving people as
existents and contrasting them with possible people such as Nemo? Perhaps numbers are
some of the non-existent objects. Again, it is linguistically unnatural to speak of events
existing. rather than occurring; that might be because events are other non-existent
objects. This view would not undermine quantification over numbers and events.

173
If the existential quantifier is not a notion of logic, no more is existence as a predicate
of individuals; if it were, it could be combined with 'there is' to define the existential
quantifier in purely Iogical terms. Yet existence is often classed with identity as a logical
constant. Many systems, especially of free logic, give them both privileged treatment; the
formal semanlies fixes them as the interpretations of distinguished predicates, the only
ones subject to special axioms, while the interpretation of all other predicates is allowed
to vary. 16 If 'existence' is being used carelessly to mean objecthood, the special treatment
is justified; objecthood has already been argued to have a strong claim to be a logical
constant, for the same reasons as identity. If 'exist' is being used in the everyday sense,
no reason has been found to regard it as logically special.
The argument of the preceding paragraphs is simplistic in at least one respect. lt gives
absolute priority to a certain everyday sense of 'exist', treating others as sloppy and
inaccurate. Why should logic not have evolved its own sense of the term, in which 'there
is' and 'there exists' are synonymous, and existence is nothing more than objecthood? Or,
more likely, why should the two notionsnot be confused in our use of 'exist'? 17 That would
help to explain our puzzlement at the paradoxes of reference to the non-existent. Queen
Anne no Ionger exists in the non-logical sense; one can refer only to what exists in the
logical sense, that is, only to objects; since we are not in the habit of separating the two
senses, we wonder how 'Queen Anne' can refer to Queen Anne.
The discernment of logical and non-logical senses for 'exist' has a precedent in the case
of identity. Apparent counter-examples to the necessity of identity trade on confusions
between the logical 'is' of identity and the non-logical 'is' of constitution or coincidence:
'this clay is this statue', 'this road from A toBisthat road from Y to Z for several miles'. 18
Identity is not equivalent merely to being in the same place, and existence (in the logical
sense of objecthood) is not equivalent merely to being in some place. Rather, identity is
equivalent to having the same properties, and existence (as objecthood) is equivalent to
having some properlies (in a broad sense of 'property').
Other fallacious objections to the non-contingency of existence parallel fallacious
objections to the necessity of identity. For instance, it may be pointed out that it is possible
for the man on the moon in 1989 to exist, even though no such man in fact exists, just as
it may be pointed out that I am the man reading this paper even though I might not have
been. The purported counter-examples fail because the definite descriptions are not rigid
designators.

3. Conclusion
There isasense of 'existence' in which existence is contingent, but no reason tothink
that any such sense is of interest to logic. 'Existence' can also mean objecthood, andin
that sense is of interest to logic; but then the non-contingency of existence is a plausible
doctrine. However, the word 'existence' is not worth quarreling over. What counts is the
idea that it is a non-contingent matter what objects there are, just as it is a non-contingent
matter what objects are what. Any statement about the number of objects is either a
necessary truth or a necessary falsehood. 19
A way has been suggested in which objects might constitute the unalterable form ofthe
world. It is no doubt at some distance from Wittgenstein 's way, not least because it seems
to contradict other Tractatus doctrines. But it is the mark of a limited mind that one can
reject some of its ideas only by rejecting them all.

174
Notes

1 I am indebted in these paragraphs and elsewhere to Nathan Salmon, "Existence", in Philo-


so phica/ Perspectives I: Metaphysics, ed. James Tomberlin (Atascadero, 1987).
2 Ruth Barcan Marcus, "The identity of individuals in a strict functional calculus of second

order", Journal of Symbolic Logic, Vol. 12 ( 1947): Sau! Kripke, Naming and Necessity
(Oxford, 1980), pp. 3-5.
3 Allan Gibbard, "Contingent identity", Journal of Phi/osophica/ Logic, Vol. 4 ( 1975).

4 Compare Russell's reply to the question after Lecture V of "The philosophy of logical

atomism", at p. 99 of the reprint in Russel/' s Logica/ Atomism, ed. David Pears (London,
1972).
5 Some arguments used in defence of existence as a predicate, such as those in John Mackie,

"The riddle of existence", Aristotelian Society, Sup. Vol. 50 ( 1976), arealso applicable to
the case of objecthood.
6 Kripke ( 1980), p. I 08n.

7 For more on this style of argument see Timothy Williamson, "Equivocation and Existence",

Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. 88 (1987 /8), at pp. 111-14.


8 Strict1y speaking the argument assumes that = and = obey reflexivity and the identity of in-
1 2
discernibles in the sense of necessarily satisfying them, otherwise =1 and =2 wou1d not have
been shown to be necessarily equivalent. That is permissible, for strictly speaking identity
should be characterized as necessarily the smallest reflexive relation, that is, the relation
which is necessarily reflexive and at leastassmall as any reflexive re1ation. Without the
modal gloss, no relation is uniquely singled out.
9 A reflexive relation is here understood as one that any object (existent or not) has to itself.

10 David Wiggins, Sameness and Substance (Oxford, 1980), at pp. 109-11 and 214-15.

11 G.E. Hughes and M.J. Cresswell, An lntroduction to Modal Logic (London, 1968), at p. 190.

12 See Nathan Salmon, "The logic of what might have been", Philosophica/ Review, Vol. 98

( 1989), at p. 30.
13 Strictly speaking the argument assumes that E and E obey the objecthood principle in the
1 2
sense ofnecessarily satisfying it, otherwise they would not have been shown tobe necessar-
ily equivalent. That is permissible, for strictly speaking objecthood shou1d be characterized
as necessarily the 1argest property, that is, the property which is necessarily at least as !arge
as any property. Without the modal gloss, no property is uniquely singled out. A parallel
argument about existence is discussed at pp. 115-17 of Williamson ( 1987/8).
14 Compare Robert Stalnaker, "Complex predicates", Monist, Vol. 60 (1977).

15 See Saul Kripke, "Semantical considerations on modallogic", Acta Philosophic·a Fennica,

Vol. 16 (1963), reprinted in Reference and Modality, ed. Leonard Linsky (Oxford, 1971),
where the relevant passage is at pp. 67-8.
16 A similar case is Joseph Almog, "Logic and the world", Journal of Philosophica/ Logic, Vol.

18 ( 1989). The non-contingency of objecthood may provide a theoretical justification for


the claim that structural traits of the world areessential to it, without which Almog suggests
we arenot entitled to assume that 1ogical truths are necessary. Of course, some candidates
for contingent logical truths remain, such as those of the form" A if and only if actually A",
but these are perhaps less deeply contingent.
17 Williamson (1987/8), at pp. 117-22.

18 See Wiggins (1980) at pp. 27-36 on the need for such distinctions.

19 The conclusion resembles one ofRamsey's. For recent discussion ofhis argumentsseeAllen

Hazen, "A fallacy in Ramsey", Mind, Vol. 95 (1986), and Almog (1989). On the present
view, the number of existents remains a contingent matter, in a sense.

***

175
Necessity and Contingency in Wittgenstein's Thought

ANTONIA SouLEZ
Universite de Paris

Is there a logic of empirical reality? No member of the Vienna Circle would have
answered positively to such a question; and Wittgenstein, who of course was apart, less
than the others. My point here is, in a way, to show the internal reasons of this
impossiblitiy especially in Wittgenstein's thought rather than just accept the common-
place that logical empiricists in a stricter or looser sense defined themselves as opposed
to any kind of mysterious link between logic and reality. One can legitimately doubt that
these reasons are the same as the ones other Viennese philosophers would have advocated.
Yet has the question even asensein the context ofhis philosophy? Clearly, Wittgenstein's
rather odd "empiricism" Ieads one to question the respective status of necessity and
possibility before answering the question whether contingency proper can fit into a
logical framework or not.
Let us go back to Aristotle's famous example ofthe sea battle in the 9th chapter of De
lnterpretatione.
"lt is necessary, Aristotle says, that there will be a sea-battle tomorrow or not, but it is
not necessary that there should be a seabattle tomorrow, nor that it should not happen. But
for it to come about or not is necessary." Since the German theologian and historian of
logic Heinrich Scholz ( 1884-1956), the contemporary reader of these lines knows that this
restriction formulated by Aristotle takes place within his own logical system and means
that the model of bivalence the Greek philosopher was the first one to state explicitly,
finds its own Iimitation in the inapplicability ofthe excluded-middle principle to the case
of contingent future events. In short, we find the germs of a non-Aristotelian logic in
Aristotle's logic.
As a matter of fact, Aristotle in histime had to solve two problems: find a way out to
escape from the paralysing dilemma of Diodorus' sophism (from the Megaric school)
which Ieads to a fatalist logic of reality leaving no room for possible events; and
consequently, save action by assigning to the human being the capacity of generating
future events in sofaras man, rather than a Statement, is a "principle of future things". In
a fatalistic logic there would be no point in deliberating about a future action in order to
decide whether, given a specific aim, it is good or not to perform it. According to the
argument that "it was tobe" (G. Ryle's title ofhis first Tarner Lecture) 1 the human being
wastes his time when he tri es to act in a thoughtful and rational way. At this point, one
could say that the rise of a modal approach to possibility originally obeys ethical
requirements, at least in Aristotle 's thought. Another interesting aspect of the question is
that such a modal approach to possibility in the realm of action gives rise to an adverbial
kind of logic bearing on the system of unanalyzed sentences, while Aristotelian logic is
known to be mainly one of analyzed sentences, e.g. a logic of terms. Only at the cost of
such internal breaches inside the theory, could Aristotle make contingency an object of
science: "There is no science of demonstrative syllogisms, nor of indeterminate things,
but only of natural things, and one could say that discussions and equiries apply to things
which are contingent in the last sense of the word" (Prior Analyt. I, 13,32,b 18).
However, as already noticed, Aristotle's modal insight was indeed motivated by a
justification of action of an ethical kind. It could not therefore Iead to a developed science
of contingency grounded on a logical basis. It has been up to the modern reader to make
something logically consistent out of such anticipations. What Aristotle means to us, as

176
regards a modal approach to possibility, now belongs to the "true history of the logical
form of our modal sentences" (J. Hintikka, in Mode/sfor Modalities, 1969), even though
there is much to be learnt from the Aristotelian original delimitation of contingency as
being distinct from indeterminacy, and so tospeakhalf way between indeterminacy and
necessity proper.
As regards a reevaluation of the concept of possibility in Wittgenstein 's philosophy,
Aristotle 's study of the different meanings of "possible", "impossible" and "necessary"
and of their interrelations (in the De lnterpretatione, chapters 12,13 ), is far from being
irrelevant. Let me here refer again brietly to Hintikka's article entitled "Aristot1e's
Different Possiblities". 2
What led Aristotle to elicit the "homonymy" of possibility, is the following dilemma:
if necessity does not contain the possible, then it contains the non-possible (possible that
not...), but the possible that not. .. cannot be applied to necessity. If on the contrary
necessity contains the possible, it also contains the possible that not... and it does not make
any di fference to say of the same thing that it can be cut or not cut; necessity would be then
identical with the possibility of not being so and so, which is obviously false. Thus his
distinction between two senses of"possible": a necessary sense of"possible" (= "dynaton"),
ex. the fire can heat, and a contingent sense of "possible" ( = "endechomenon") as in the
case of something which can be cut as weil as not cut. So, my question here about the
meaning of an "empirical syntax" for Wittgenstein and in his own terms, amounts to
scrutinizing some ofhis possible comments in reaction to the Aristotelian assumption that
"the possible follows from necessity, but not always" (De lnt. 13,23,a 16). In other words,
does Wittgenstein 's semanti es of what is the case fit with an empirical view of possibility
in the contingent sense, e.g. in the sense in which, as Aristot1e says, "it is contingent that
p if and on1y if it is contingent that not-p" (Prior Anal., 13,32 a 36-38)?
In the Notebooks ( 18.10.14 ), Wittgenstein explains that a sentence cannot be con-
cerned with the logical structure of the world, by arguing that the logical structure of the
wor1d is prior to its possibility of meaning something in the wor1d. It is because the world
is "already" ("schon") logically structured that my sentence is "CAPABLE of making
SENSE" ("damit ein Satz SINN haben KANN") before any real confrontation with the
world teils us if it is true or false. This notion of propositional or sentential signification
is itself in the Tractatus a modal one, as already stressed by G.H.Von Wrigth. 1 It is this
very anticipatory character of the logical structure which enables us to make up an
"image" ("ein Bild") of the world "without saying what is the representation of what", in
short, "without mentioning any name" (cp. Tractatus, 5.526). Wittgenstein suggests that
his view echoes Kant's one about the "possibility of pure mathematics" (Notebooks, p.l5e).
But it is more accurate to construe this as an attempt to retranslate the Kantian answer to
the question how knowledge of empirical reality is possible, into a transcendental, yet formal,
pre-existing and unexplainable princip1e of corre1ation between two orders of structural
complexes: the sentences here and the facts there: there MUST be an "agreement"
between the picture and reality to make reality picturable, e.g. knowable through our
symbols. This prior agreement is necessary, while what it makes possible, namely, the
possibility of picturing the world, depends on it as the conditioned upon its condition.
Wittgenstein expresses the link between such a necessary agreement and the structural
possibility of factual cognition by saying that "Form is the possibility of structure"
(Tractatus, 2.033). The solution brought to the originally Kantian question lies in the
following internal principle: the relation of representation which makes possible the
representativity of the picture, also belongs to it (Tractatus, 2.1513).
So logic as playing a foundational rote deals with an underlying type of a priori

177
necessity. However, as regards our knowledge of what is the case, the comparability of
our sentences with a state of affairs which, on one hand, presupposes this formal-
transeendental condition, amounts to a series of possible operations of construction
(Tractatus, 5.556). Thus, in addition to the modal notion of"necessity", two different uses
of "possible" appear: (i) a firstsense in which, if the possibility of a state of affairs were
not already present, a sentence would be by no means comparable with any fact
whatsoever; and (ii) the physical possibility of building pictures of the world. One could
be tempted here to adduce this duplication of "possibility" into "Jogical possibility" and
"physical possibility", as an argument in favour of the thesis of the importance of
contingency in Wittgenstein's philosophy, even though, as G.H. von Wright notices,
contingency as a technical term never occurs in the Tractatus. Yet the recognition of
contingent possibility, besides logical possibility, is one thing, and a Iogical developed
concept of possibility physically speaking is still another.
Let us read Wittgenstein 's reply to Moritz Schlick on the 2nd of January 1930 at
Schlick 's house in a conversation about elementary sentences. 4 Restating a view already
expressed in the Tractatus (5.552), Wittgenstein clarifies what is tobe understood by the
empirical character of syntax. Because "logic is prior to every experience - that some-
thing is so" (loc.cit.), I have an anticipatory knowledge ofthe meaning of a sentence which
enables me to make myself a representation of what it means before its being confirmed
or refuted by experience. There is a kind of pre-comprehension of the validity of a rule,
a "schon bekannt" which exempts us from the task of expliciting the rule. If, for instance,
I understand the meaning of a colour statement, I thereby also understand that two
different colours cannot be in the same place. The implicit fore-knowledge ofthe rule, far
from being a kind of antepredicative understanding as in the German phenomenological
tradition, is the hermeneutical counterpart ofthe priority oflogic, in thesensethat that this
fact exists, independently from its being so and so, cannot be otherwise. The priority of
the "that" to the "how" things are, shares the logical character of the "Vor-Struktur" 5 of
understanding a rule. Such is the "empirical" character of syntax from which all
contingency is precluded, if by "empirical" we understand this logical priority of facts,
before our statements are confronted with the world.
This notion of a priori possibility refers to a relation offormal dependence ("eine Form
des Zusammenhangs"). Being intermediate between transeendental necessity and a posteriori
confrontation with experience, it is not so much the quality of a judgement or of a
Statement, than an unavoidable kind of relatedness which ties the conditioned to its
condition in an internal way. At this point, Wittgenstein clearly separates language from
the realm of Jogical determinacy. Our symbols which would not make sense without such
a "form of dependence", cannot describe it and serve only as the expressive "Mittel"
through which this form mirrors itself. 6 The transeendental dimension of condition es-
capes from our linguistic tools. Contrarily to Kant's view here,Janguage is not even able
to comprehend what it fails to determine. For Wittgenstein indeed, language cannot at the
same time serve as a means to communicate information about the world and apply to
itself in describing what makes such a communication possible. Meaning as a formal
possibility is totally determined. For the same reason, the capacity for a sentence to make
sense is formally ruled by logic, before it becomes true or false when confronted with
experience. There are therefore two ways of considering a sentence: according to its
logical dependency, it expresses the possibility of a pre-existing state of affairs, but
looking forward and expecting to meet facts, the same sentence is a preparatory apparatus,
a kind of sketch designing reality. This second aspect will be emphasized in Wittgenstein 's
writings marked by the grammatical turn of the early thirties.

178
This twofold orientation of a sentence is puzzling. It is as though the same sentence
stood at the crossroads of logical possiblity and temporal contingency. or to put it in
different terms. as though logical necessity which commands the possibility of a state of
affairs. found in language a kind of meeting point with the expectation of a still
undeterminate reality. A sentence stands like the meeting point of analready present state
and of a future expected one. This is the reason why Wittgenstein can extend the picture-
theory to investigations concerning sentential moves in time. As I have elsewhere
contended, the grammatical treatment of language as expectation pointing to an event like
a yardstick for measuring it, does not reveal to usanother Wittgenstein, at a second stage
of his thought. on the way to the Philosophicallnrestigations. It rather explores a side of
language the Tractatlls was not yet interested in. It is no Ionger a question of taking into
account the internal dependency which binds the possibility of meaning to a logical
community of form shared by language and reality. but rather of viewing a sentence as a
gesture leaning through the empty space in which expectation and the expected event are
commensurable, before reality once met confirms or refutes, fulfills up or, on the
contrary, disappoints my expectation. From this point of view, language appears as a
"controlled room" (Phi/os. Remarks § 31) in the realm of human operations aiming at
verifying a hypothesis. What is to be understood here is no Ionger the formal-transcen-
dental condition of making sense, but the link between an a priori possibility of meaning
and the a posteriori or physical possibility for a sentence to make sense when confronted
with the natural course of events. A sentence viewed as an expectation stands like a set
of instructions for building a scientific statement, but it does not cease to be a "logical
picture". The context is one of searching in the natural world, and the expectation itself
could therefore portray the attitude of the scientist as weilasthat of the ordinary man. If
we had to specify what these sections about expectation. intention etc ... are about, in these
opening remarks of the Philosophical Remarks. one could say that they elicit the logical
reasons why "if there were no connection between expectation and reality, you would
expect a nonsense" (Phi/os. Remarks, § 33 ). They give physical research its legitimacy
on the "phenomenological" ground of the condition of possiblity of phenomena ("prior
to experience", see § 97 of the Phi/os. lm·est.), and justifies the use of searching proce-
dures in the physical space of contingency. The logical tie between the expectation and
the expected makes searching meaningful without allowing a fatalistic explanation ofthe
future event as "pre-formed".
Forthis reason Wittgenstein here rejoins Aristotle 's criticism of Diodorus' "domina-
tor" argument that truth of future things is as immutable as truth of the past things (see Ed.
Zeller's reconstruction ofthe argument after Epictetus) 7 on the basis that "We cannot infer
the events of the future from those of the present. Belief in the causal nexus is
superstition" (5.1361 ). Moreover it is because it is impossible to know "actions that still
lie in the future", that, as regards therefore not only physical events but also human action,
there is "freedom of the will" (see following proposition in the Tractatus). In a lecture
delivered in Cambridge around 1945-46 (or 47?) on "Freedom of the will" (after notes by
Yorick Smythies)K, Wittgenstein argues against the idea of "compulsion" according to
which something in nature would "compel things to go as they do". He comes even closer
to Aristotle when mentioning the fact that it would render deliberation and calculation of
choice impossible (see also Tractatus 5.1362); and this, he says. should not be understood
as meaning that, were I not ignorant of the coming events. I would not be able to
deliberate, since observation of regurality in nature is not a sufficient argument for
inferring my knowledge of the "inevitability" of such or such future event. Predicting is
not guessing events written in a book. As Ryle states it, some years later, "only

179
conclusions can be Iogically inevitable, given the premisses": an avalanche is "practically
inavoidable", yet not "logically inevitable" ("lt was to be"). Thus it is clear that
Wittgenstein's denial of the existence of Iogical necessity in physical events turns into
fully aknowledging contingency proper in the world, in such a way that the modality of
"inevitability" (as distinguished from "inavoidability") shifts from empirical facts to
Statements to which it reveals itself as exclusively ascribable. When Willgenstein
therefore declares that "fatalism is a peculiar way of looking at things" ("On Freedom of
the Will"), he means that fatalism as regards future events, amounts to transforming the
content of a prophesy expressed in language into a law of nature, while observable
regularity in nature allows no more than hypothesis, and certainly no prognosis whatso-
ever. In other words a logical plea for "inevitability" can paradoxically give the agent in
the world a better chance for making free decision.
lt is therefore nothingtobe surprised if such a peculiar consideration about events and
actions results into stressing the notion of "one 's direction of attention", for instance the
scientist's. Hence Wittgenstein 's key-word of "expectation". We have here a kind of
hermeneutical approach to everyday or scientific anticipation clothed in a linguistic garb
and expressing the representation of an event in the natural world by using a sentence of
the form "I expect that p". Such a sentence behaves like a question to which the occurring
event incarnates a fulfilling reply in terms of truth if it does not stand for an experiential
denial of it. lt is important to understand that, in case of a denial which a posteriori reveals
the falsity of my sentence, it was logically speaking, fully Iegitimale to expect the
expected event, were such an expectation tobe disappointed in the future. This shows how
refutation can bring a logical support to the meaning of my search even though it denies
the truth of my anticipation.
Interesting enough is the debate this stance about a priori possibility of verification we
also find in Schlick 's writings, generated among some members of the Vienna Circle. For
Schlick, "possibility" is a logico-grammatical concept. 9 Despile the fact that we have an
a posteriori knowledge of the qualities or colours of such or such cloth, we know a priori
that a green cloth is not a red cloth, and we know it certainly not by virtue of a
"Wesenschau" of an Husserlian kind, but only by virtue of a Iogical-analytical incompat-
ibility between our concepts "green" and "red", the use of which obeys linguistic
constraints within a given ruled system. At this point, Schlick in "Verification and
Meaning" (1936) 10 recognizes his indebtness to Wittgenstein whose theory of internal
relations, he says, helps to understand the Iogical priority of meaning over the physical
possibility of verification.
lt is not surprising then, that, the same year 1936, Carnap in "Testability and
Meaning" 11 takes the opposite stance. Against Schlick 's principle of "verifiability" (e.g.
the a priori possibility for a sentence tobe verified), he argues that such a thesis is not a
true empirieist one. lt does not take into account natural contingency. At this period of his
own evolution, Carnap feels the need to liberalize his earlier concept of meaning as
verification. So Schlick's logical verifiability can only appear to him as a very rigid
principle which ignores experience as such. Placed in the context of the replacement of
the earlier principle of verification by the looser one of an uncompletable confirmation
by degree, Carnap's rejection of Schlick's logical possibility of verification implies a
misunderstanding or at least a confusion between his own earlier concept of verification
and Schlick 's and Wittgenstein 's logical view. The absoluteness of the verifiability
principle as a Iogical one for Schlick and Wittgenstein does not mean that they believed
in complete confirmation. Carnap 's argument mixes two orders of possiblity: a priori and
physical, that is to say, the logical ground of the capacity for meaning and the empirical

180
confrontation with the world.
Schlick as weil as Wittgenstein never denied that such a confrontation is endless
although they never abandoned the logical principle of verifiability. How could this be
possible? An answer to this question will. I hope, throw light upon the logical problern of
contingency.
Against a Carnapian conception of meaning, Schlick answers that the possibility of
verification cannot be of an empirical sort. It cannot be stated "post fest um". One has to
make sure in advance that such will be the case, before considering the empirical
circumstances. Of course, the empirical circumstances are all that is important to someone
who wants to know whether a statement is true or false. and such is the business of the
scientist. Nonetheless, they have no impact whatsoever on the meaning of sentences, in
which the philosopher is in turn mainly interested. Therefore, far from being determined
by natural laws, meaning and verifiability are completely independent from them. A
statement can be empirically falsified and recognized as physically impossible, and yet
logically possible. that is grammatically definable by application of fixed rules of our
language.
By "logically possible", one should not narrowly understand "formally possible"
according to rules for a correct use of language. The fact that the colour-concepts green
and red exclude each other belongs to the internal structure of reality the logical order of
which finds itself reflected into rigid interrelations. What is "logically possible" shows
itself through corresponding connections in formallogic, but is not reducible to them. So
the duplication of "possibility" into "logical possibility" and "physical possibility"
results from the distinction between "our" use of symbols in formal logic as a calculus,
and a higher kind of logic which is "the nature of natural and inevitable" (naturnotwendig)
necessity "speaking for itself' through signs ( see Tractatus. 6.124 ). In this last "trans-
cendental" sense of logic which I think Erik Stenius wrongly compares to Kant's
transcendentalism of theoretical Reason (chapter XI) 1 ~, it is no Ionger a question of "our"
free or conventional use of symbols, but rather of the "syntax" of intrinsic relations. It is
upon this "syntax" which, Kantian or not - I would rather deny it, but I don 't want to
discuss the point right now (see further below)- is not another language, that what is
"logically possible" or not logically possible really depends. This is what Schlick means
by "grammatically possible" as an expression synonymous with "logically possible".
In this "logical" sense of "verifiability", there are no intermediate degrees between
sense and nonsense. Between logical possibility and the impossibility of verification,
"tertium non datur", Schlick says. Either one has rules of verifiability or one has none.
In this same sense, logical verfiability is total or is not. There is no point in "liberalizing"
verifiability. That is why, while Carnap's meaning principle subjected to Neurathian and
Popperian criticisms, had to be gradually amended, verifiability could remain entirely
untouched and the definition of the meaning of a statement as the method of its
verification if understood as verifiability, needed not be revised. If Wittgenstein at a
period when he seems to shift from an apparently too rigid conception ofthe logical form,
or after him Schlick, obstinately kept maintaining such a hard principle in spite of the
numerous discussion that were raised by the "verificationist" criterion of meaning. it is
because, logically speaking, the procedure of applying rules to which such a method
amounts, is "already" contained in a given statement ("schon im Sat:: enthalten" which is
also the "Sat:: an sich'" point of view. as is shown in Tractatus 5.153), and by no means
because they doubted the incomplete character of verification empirically speaking. In
Willgenstein 's remarks or replies to Schlick in the years 1929-1932, the motto of "logical
possibility of verification" is tightly connected with a "phenomenological" (in the sense

181
defined above) conception ofthe anticipatory structure (tobe contrasted to "Vor Strukture"
in Heideggerian terms for reasons I cannot develop in this paper) u of the Iogical capacity
for a sentence to have a meaning before experience teils us if it is true or false. It is
logically speaking, by virtue of a pre-existing total connection of language with the given,
that if the meaning of my Statement cannot be verified at all, I have not been able either
to mean anything whatsoever by unering it (Conversation noted by Waisman, on the 18th
of December 1929). This purely "transcendental" argument means that if the picture we
make up of a fact, were not in advance connected with the world in which I live, my
expectation of obtaining a representation, true of false, of this fact would be totally
pointless, devoid of sense. In other words, it enables us to answer the question "what there
must BE in orderthat something can be the case?" (Tractatus, 5.5543).
Now, one can legitimately wonder whether such an a priori "possibility" is articulated
with experience in some way or another. To such a question Schlick answers by
distinguishing between two senses of ''experience". The word "experience, he says, is
"ambiguous". Firstly, it may be a "name for any so-called 'immediate data"'. Secondly,
it may be said of an "experienced traveller", meaning that this traveller "has not only seen
a great deal but also knows how to profit from it for his actions". It is in this second sense
that "verifiability must be declared to be independent of experience". Here Schlick
contrasts "experiential truth" (of a "natural" kind) with conventional determination of
meaning through linguistic definitions resting on the grammatical use of expressions.
Here, verifiability and expressibility are one and the same thing, and "there is no
antagonism between logic and experience".
It is difficult to attribute such a conventional view of the logical possibility of
verification to Wittgenstein. For Wittgenstein, logic is prior to "every experience" ("vor
jeder Erfahrung"), unless we agree to call "experience" the fact "that" something is the
case, regardless of its being so and so. His concept of logical necessity is a strong
"naturalistic" one, yet neither in Schlick's sense of natural sense data, nor in the
traditional sense of observable experience in the natural sciences. It relates to a logical
yes-or-no space of possibilities in which contingency finds no room. So, in order to grasp
the specifically Wittgensteinian modal concept of necessity without which we could
expect a nonsense when exploring the world and attempting to picture it, we have to
separate the form of sense from its content in a way which, only to a certain extent,
reminds us of the Kantian dinstinction between the form of the possible world of expe-
rience and its sensational content. I say "only to a certain extent" (I am expressing here
a reserve against Stenius's interpretation, see above) because the Wittgensteinian transi-
tion from the form to the content of the sense applies to language, not to the "concept" of
experience from the point of view of theoretical reason. Moreover, it is impossible, I
think, to equate the Wittgensteinian concept of "form of the sense of a sentence" with the
Kantian "form of a naturallaw" (despite Stenius' interesting comparative insight concerning
"causality" after Tractatus 6.3,6.31 ,6.32 ... ). The main obstacle to a Kantianization of the
concept of "form of possibility of experience" is the absence, in Wittgenstein 's thought,
of a transeendental synthesis as resulting from an act of reason 1\ that is of a cognitive
subjectivity. Nothingis more alien to Wittgenstein 's project than the idea of a subject, be
it a Kantian reason or an Husserlian intentionality, "sub specie logicae".
This is the point to which I intended to come at last. When Wittgenstein says that logic
in the higher sense must care for itself, he means that it can only show itself. Its reflexivity
challenges the human impossibility of representing it in a meaningfullanguage. Logic in
its formal-transeendental sense is irrepresentable. Where there is no discursive represen-
tativity possible, there is self-mirroring ofnecessity. The logical structure ofthe world is

182
all that exists, objectively speaking. "Nothing or the world", Wittgenstein says, and the
world the form of which shows itself, and on which "we" have no power. The logical
objectivism of the Tractarian ontology of facts implies a radical elimination of subjectiv-
ity, and, in such a system, where there is no subjectivity. Compare the use of "abbilden"
in the section 124 of Husser1's Ideen with Wittgenstein's one, you willbestruck by the
difference between an intentional conception of the 1ogic of depiction which allows an
intimate connection (factual a priori) between the subjective acts and the natural world,
subjectivity and contingency, and a conception which, on the contrary, desubjectivizes
depiction in so far as it rejects contingency out of its 1ogical frame. This short parallel
confirms us that, where there is no place for subjectivity ", there is no place either for
contingency, for contingent possibility.
This (once more) does not mean of coursethat Wittgenstein denies contingency. Far
from that as I myself shew above. It only means that Wittgenstein 's ontology of possible
states of affairs precludes a "logic of contingency". "Logic pervades the world" (5.61)
means that in the world filled up by logic. there is no room left for anything it mayornot
contain according to the circumstances. The occurence of an expected event (Ereignis) itself
corresponds to the predetermined structure of a possible state of affairs, as shown in
remark §34 of the Philosophic·al Remarks. Expectation of p is to the occurence of p what
a hollow shape is to the solid shape of a body. Whatever has been "my" expectation of p,
the event takes place where it had to take place. What happens is that the objective
structure of the anticipation of possibility rules out any kind of intentional process of
projecting meaning in an Heideggerian space of comprehension, that is any kind of pre-
comprehensive subjectivity.
Iwanted here to demonstrate that Wittgenstein 's logical objectivism makes difficult a
modallogic of contingency, because it precludes contingency Iogether with subjectivity
(an intentional as weil as a knowing subject) in sofaras meaning is notamattertobe even
questioned. lt is clear after the irreducible opposition between the reflexive capacity of
showing itself which is the privilege of logic and the human ability of representing facts
- see 4.1212: "What can show itself cannot be said"- that, as noted by H. von Wright in
his Wittgenstein 16 that something is a possibility (an impossibility, a necessity ... ) is
precisely what cannot be said.

Notes

1 repr. in Dilemmas, Cambridge 1953, pp. 15-35.


repr. in Aristotle, Modern Studies in Philosophy. A Collection of Critical Studies, ed. J.
Moravcsik. MacMillan & Co, 1967, pp. 34-50.
' in his Wittgenstein, Blackwell, 1983, see especially "Modal logic and the Tractatus" pp.183,
especially pp. 188-189.
• in Wittgenstein und der Wiener Kreis. Schriften lll. Suhrkamp 1980, pp. 73.
5 I borrow this expression from Heidegger's Sein und Zeit, 1927.
6 This is the case ofthe schema "(3x)fx" which Russell proposed to read "fx is possible", but

for Willgenstein it is not the right way to understand it. Against such a "statistical" (0.
Becker, 1952, conception of modality in terms of frequences of probability, Willgenstein
says that to know that "fa" and "(3x)fx" are true, presupposes the meaning of "fa" (see
5.525 a) because meaning is prior (4.064). Concerning this reduction ofmodal concepts to
the extensionallanguage of quantifyers, according to a concept Hintikka among many others

183
traces back to Aristotle (in Time and Necessity. Studies in Aristotle' s theory of modality.
Oxford 1973), see G.H. von Wright, note 3 above pp. 189-190.
7 cf. "Über den K"Vp!EVOV A.oyoa des Megarikers Diodorus" (Berlin, 1682), repr. in Kleine

Schriften, Berlin, 1910, Bd. I, pp. 252-262, after: Epicteti: Dissenations ah Arriano diRestae,
rec. Schenk!. Leipzig 1916 (edition Bude).
" Philosophical!m·estiRations 12, 2 April 1989. I thank Joseph Pearson from Northwestern
Uni1·ersity, Chicago, to have Iransmitted me a copy. lt helps to realize how much G. Ryle
is indebted to Willgenstein in these passages of Dilemmas.
9 About this Rylian distinction (and its German corrsponding one "Um·ermeidhare" I" Un-

\'ermeidliche") and the fact that modality here is relevant to Statements rather than events,
I refer to Hans Burkhardt's paper: "Modaltheorien Wittgensteins" in Philosophy of Mind,
Philosophy of Psychology. Proc. of the 9th lnt. Wittgenstein Symposium. publ. Wien, 1985,
Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, pp. 537-543. I thank him to have given me an opportunity to de-
velop Wittgenstein's rejection of a logic of future events, as clearly stated in 5.1361.
10 in Gesammelte Aufsät:e 1926-1936, Wien 1938, Gerold. As a good reader of Lewis,

M. Schlick seems to share with Willgenstein a modern kind ofDiodorean logical necessitarism
if restricted to the realm of statements and relations between Statements only, and in so far
as relation between statements is not confused with relation between events.
11 in Philosophy of Science part one publ. in II ( 1936) and part two in IV ( 1937). See especial-

ly 111, p. 423.
1' in Wittgenstein' s Tractatus. Oxford. 1960. Fora critical approach to Stenius · Kantian read-

ing of Wittgenstein, see my paper on Willgenstein and Kant: "Are the Iimits of understand-
ing the same ones as the Iimits of knowing?", read on the 5th of Sept. 1990 at the Co//. on
"Le Destin de Ia Philosophie Transcendentale" co-org. by F. Gil, J. Petitot and H. Wismann,
C erisy-La-Sal/e.
1' I have examined an aspect of this problern in my paper "Wittgenstein and Phenomenology
or: two languages for One Wittgenstein", in Gra:er Philosophische Studien, vol. 33/34, 1989,
p. 157.
1" see for instance W. Stegmüller: " ... mit der Verwerfung des Synthetischen Apriorismus fällt
für Willgenstein der Unterschied zwischen dem logisch Möglichen und dem theoretisch
Möglichen fort", in HauptströmunRen der Gegenwartsphilosophie. Stuttgart, 1976, p. 557.
I) The recognition of solipsism in 5.62 does not imply recognition of a subject but of a "truth
behind solipsism" although solipsism should not be stated as such.
1" quoted above, see 3.

***

184
Towards Post-Tractatus Ontology

JERZY PERZANOWSKI
Jagiellonian University of Krak6w

I. Surely, the above title is rather dark. Therefore, Iet me start with a few words of
clarification. "Post-Tractatus" means either after "Tractatus" or a natural prolognation of
the books' sequence: "Proto-Tractatus", "Tractatus", .... Hence the title of this paper
means either the task of developing ontology built up after "Tractatus" clues, by taking
its claims and lesson seriously, or clarification of the "Tractatus" text, by explaining
notions and providing its claims with well-grounded arguments, trying thus to develop,
step by step, a more advanced and better argumented version of Wittgenstein 's treatise.
As regards Tractarian ontology, realizations of the first task are still rather rare.
lnstead, most of investigators try to adapt ontology of the "Tractatus" to more common
and advanced frameworks, looking for its reconstruction. Quite a Iot of people, however,
have been involved in realization of the second task 1, producing jointly quite convincing
explication of Wittgenstein 's text and thus opening a way to the proper post-Tractatus
investigations.
2. In the present paper I outline my work going in this direction. lt emerges from
dissatisfaction with the standard, purely combinatorial interpretation of the Tractarian
ontology reducing its modalities to logical ones. Starting from analysis of some crucial
ontological and semantical puzzles of the "Tractatus" concerning chiefly Tractarian
modalities - in particular the Tractarian notion of a form (cf.[26J), by isolating and
formalizing ontological modalities (cf. [28), [321), I developed a general ontology of
analysis and synthesis, called combination ontology (cf. [28], [30],[34J).It indeed offers
a proper framework for Tractarian ontology, which- from its perspective- is quite similar
to that of Leibniz (both are particular combination ontologies of the same type!) as weil
as to several implicit ontologies of the modern science (cf., for example, J. Monod 's [23 J).
The paper is organized as follows: Istart with a general review of the ontology of the
Tractatus, putting emphasis on its modalities, particularly on its notion of the form. Semi-
formalization of the thesis 2.033, in which the form is defined as the possibility of the
structure, Ieads to isolation ofthe basic ontological modality- makinf? possible. The formal
theory of it. which is the crux of combination ontology, is outlined in the fourth chapter
of the paper. Finally, several applications of this general ontology to the starting
Tractarian ontology are given.

Tractarian Onto/of?y
3. Abrief account of the Tractatus ontology is as follows: The world is the totality of
facts. Factsare constituted by states of affairs consisting of things' connected together,
hence standing in relations to each other. Thingsare simples, the rest consists of complex
items (states of affairs, facts, situations, the world). Every complex has a structure, i.e. the
way things hang Iogether in the item, and the substance- formed by complex 's things,
usually treated as the collection of simples included in the item. lt also has a form,
intermediary between the substance and the structure, defined as the possibility of the
structure. As regards things, they have no structure; they have, however, both the
substance and the form. The substance of a thing includes the thing itself, whereas the
form of a thing is the possibility of its occuring in appropriate states of affairs (complex-
es).ln addition, things are unalterable, subsistent, necessary and stable; whereas complexes
are changeable, accidental and unstable.

185
Things constitute the foundation of the (onto )logical space- the space of all possible
states of affairs (more generally- complexes or configurations). Which configuration is
possible is determined by internal (essential) properties of thingsentering into a given
configuration. Indeed, by 2.012 the possiblity of a thing 's occurrence in a state of affairs
(configuration) must be written into the thing itself.
This formal substance-determination is basic and necessary. lt produces (determines)
all basic (or atomic) complexes and, further, the rest of complexes. Synthesis of atomic
configurations is thereby not accidental, for things are mutually dependent, but, on the
contrary, synthesis of non-atomic complexes is, to some extent, accidental, for states of
affairs (complexes) are independent of one another (2.061 ).

4. The above doctrine, in its combinatorial message (concerning what can he said) is
fairly clear. However, when we consider the mechanism of the ontological space itself
(which, according to Wittgenstein, can he only shown 1 ) we are immediately confronted
with the most obscure claims of the "Tractatus", explaining everything, in fine, by things'
form.
To make the long story short, the notion of form is the most basic ontological notion
of the 'Tractatus"; Tractarian investigations depend therefore on its clarification.

5. In the ontological part of the "Tractatus" the word "form" is used in the following
contexts: the form of an object (2.0 141 ), its logical form (2.0233 ), the form of a world
(imagined or real - 2.022, 2.025), the presumed form of a state of affairs (complex,
configuartion), and in the thesis 2.033, where the definition of the notion of "form" is
given:

2.033 The form is the possibility of the structure.

The structure of a state of affairs (or a complex) means here the determinate way in
which thinxs are connected in it (2.032).
Clearly, the crucial difficulty of the Tractarian idea of the form concerns the noun
possihility- used not only in the defintion 2.023 but also in many other places of the
"Tractatus". When we treat it as the logical, quantifier-like modality possihle we im-
mediately get into serious troubles. 4 We should, therefore, find a more reasonable in-
terpretation, sufficient to go through generalities as weil as details of the "Tractatus".

6. Tothis end Iet us start with the following formalization 5 of 2.033:

(I) Form(x) := P(Struct(y))

where "P" symbolizes the noun possihlity.


It is clear that in (I) we must use two different variables, say x and y; for the definition
2.033 is general, applicable to any item. Things, however, have form but not structure,
hence the form of a thing must be the possiblity of the structure of some complex (or
complexes), as indeed is explicitely stated in 2.0141.
Elimination of the definitional connective "is" from the formula (I) Ieads to the basic
ontological connection of the Tractarian ontology:

(2) MP(Form(x),Struct(y))

But reading (2) with the use of the starting noun possihility seems tobe quite unrea-
sonable. We must therefore paraphrase (I) in a more reasonable way. A very promising
formula is received by explaining 6 possihlity as making possible:

186
(3) The form of x is all this in x which makes the structure of y possi/J/e.

Certainly, (2) and (3) are more clear and convincing than respectively (1) and the
original thesis 2.033. In particular, they clucidate that possiblity should be treated as the
ontological modality, morefundamental than the logical ones.

7. The intended Tractarian meaning of (3) is as follows: The form of x is all this in x
(if x is a thing) or in things composing x (if x is a complex item) which makes the structure
of y possible. Taking into account 2.012-2.0141 the form of x is determined by the family
of all internal (essential) properlies of x (or things composing x). They determine the
possibility( -ties) of its (their) occurring in y. Thus, the form of x makes the configuration
y possible by co-ordining and joining together (some of) its components into one.
The form of x is connected both with the substance of x, i.e. the family of all things
included in it, and with its essence, i.e. the family of all internal properties of things
betonging to the substance of x. lt may be therefore understood eilher as this family or as
a projected composition built up according to internal properlies betonging to it.
Tractarian forms consist in Co-ordination, and its notion of possibility expresses rules
of combination. In consequence, the (onto )logical space of all possibilities is generated
by the substance, i.e. the family of all things, being external result of their forms.

8. With the above clues in mind we arefurther simplifying the formula (2), eilher to a
formula expressing the general, positive ontological connection "making possible"
between two items:
(4) MP(x,y)
read as: the item x makes the item y possible; or to a formula expressing substance-
dependence of this connection:
(5) MP(S(x),y)
read as: the substance of x makes the item y possible.
This motivates the importance of the investigation concerning ontological modalities,
particularly making possible and its derivates. A proper Post-Tractatus ontology must be
based on such a theory!

Tradition and Sources


9. lt is evident that the Tractarian ontology shows great resemblances with many
traditional ontologies, chiefly with Leibnizian ontology of analysis and synthesis. lt
resembles Leibniz's ontology, first of all, in the description of the universe by means of
the basic oppositions: simple-complex, necessary-accidental, unalterable-changeable,
stable-unstable. Both ontologies show also great similarity in their most characteristic
feature-in emphasizing the rote which element, i.e. things or monads, play in generating
complexes, particularly the basic rote of their form. "Tractatus" resembles Leibniz's
"Monadology" even in its sketch of the philosophy of psyche (cf. 5.541-5.641 ).
To catch these similarities it is sufficient to consider carefully the correspondence:
things-monads, complexes (configurations)-complexes, internal properties-monad 's qualities
or requisits, thing 's form-monad 's nature and interior, imagined worlds-possible worlds,
real world-real world, possibility-eminent existence and, in turn, compossibility, etc.

I 0. The Leibnizian connection ofthe Tractarian ontology is thus clear 7 , but rather difficult
in straight comparison. It can be easier to catch, however, when we compare it with some

187
fonowers of Leibniz.
The ontological thought of Leibniz was continued in at least three different ways: the
traditional, Aristotelian way of Ch. Wolff, the opposite way of implicit philosophy of
natural sciences (particularly chemistry, physics, modern biology, neurosciences and
quite recently- informatics ), and in the occupying an intermediary position thought of R.
Boscovich and young Kant. 8
Indeed, similarities between ontology of young Wittgenstein and the Leibnizian
ontology of young Kant are particularly striking9 • Let me quote Kant's ontological
framework of his theory of a world:
" ... The factors to be considered in the definition of a world are these:
I. Matter, in a transeendental sense, i.e., the parts of a world which are assumed
here tobe substances. (... )
II. Form, which consists in the Co-ordination, not in the subordination, of substan-
ces. For co-ordinates are mutuany related as complements forming a whole (... )
This form, as being essential to a world, is immutable and not liable to any
alteration. ( ... )
111. Wholeness (Universitas), that is, absolute totality of component parts .... "

Compare now the above triple with the Tractarian substance composed of simples
(substances), form and logical space!
Also, Kant's notion of possibility is similar tothat of the "Tractatus" (as explained
previously): " ... the notion of possibility comes from that of combination ... " 10 •
To resume, Kant has used the key idea of the "Tractatus" - its notion of form and
possiblity!

11. The Leibniz-Kant connection of the "Tractatus" is, I think, not historical but
essential. Being confronted with problems occupying Leibniz and Kant, Wittgenstein
simply came to similar solution clarifying, by the way, the old and distinguished
philosophical framework.
The role of intermediator has been taken by Russen who influenced Wittgenstein
chiefly by his preoccupation with the foundations of logic, particularly with the notion of
logical form. Russen should be considered as semi-Leibnizian thinker, particularly when
in 1912 he defined logic as the study of the form of complexes 11 and, in turn, he tried to
develop an appopriate theory of complexes and judgements. Remernher that the criticism
ofthis theory was, in fact, the starting point 12 for Wittgenstein's work on the "Tractatus".

12. Was Wittgenstein aware of the key role of the notion of form in his system?
Yes! He was confronted with the problern since the very beginning of work on the
"Tractatus". Clarification, however, came at the end. The key theses 2.033 and 2.0141
introducing respectively the general notion of the form and its particularization for things
arenottobe found in the "Prototractatus". They were introduced into the text in the last
period of Wittgenstein's work on the "Tractatus", when usuany the stress needed for
proper understanding of the text is added.
Wittgenstein was also aware that his possibilities resulted from rules of combination.
Cf. "Philosophical Investigations", 521: "Compare "logicany possible" with "chemicany
possible". One might perhaps can a combination chemicany possible if a formula with the
right valencies existed (e.g. H-0-0-0-H). Of course, such a combination need not exist;
but even the formula H0 2 cannot have less than no combination corresponding to it in
reality." (transl. by G.E.M. Anscombe).
The standard combinatorial (mosaic) interpretation ofthe Tractarian ontology consi-

188
ders complexes as configurations, not combinations, putting emphasis on their structures,
not forms. It tries to describe order of pieces forming a complex, leaving aside the
question of its unification and the problern of the sources of its particular ordering. The
formerproblern is rather algebraic, the lauer ones- much more philosophical.
But Wittgenstein was interested in philosophical questions! In his unpublished prefece
to "Philosophische Bemerkungen" he wrote:
" ... It doesn 't interest me to erect structures; rather, I am interestet in having the
foundation of possible structures transparent before me .... " 13

Indeed, in the "Tractatus" such foundation for the structure of a given complex is
provided by its substance and form.

Metaphilosophicallntermezzo
13. We are looking for the development of the basic clues of the Tractarian ontology.
In which way, however, should such research be done tobe critical, faithfull and fruitful?
The recipe, I believe, comes by comparing the ways of doing philosophy by the three
philosophers connected previously: Leibniz, Kant and Wittgenstein 14 •
Each of them follows, I think, the following scheme: First, the conceptual framework
is outlined, usually by means ofthe appropriate conceptual Oppositions (simple-complex,
unalterable-changeable, etc.). This framework is clarified by further conceptual investi-
gation establishing first claims and hypotheses. Next, the family of such claims is (should
be) logically ordered by means of an elementary logic and evaluated in the light of the
general principles and paradigms (like, e.g., Ockham Razor, etc.). Such process ends with
an appropriate theory (or theories). The Tractarian ontology can, in fact, be treated as the
sketch of such a theory.

14. The previous discussion, particularly in sections 3-8, outlined the conceptual
framework ofthe "Tractatus". To complete the picture Iet me Iist a few principles 15 which,
up to my view, govern the Tractarian ontology.
Notefirst that in the "Tractatus" Wittgenstein has accepted Frege 'sfunction-paradigm
principle which, in its ontological version, says that any essential connection in the
universe (hence also in the language) is function-type (or relation-type): a complex is
treated as determined by its components in a way given by a function.
The following principles should also be mentioned:
The grounding or actuality principle of Leibniz: What is possible must be, ontologi-
cally, grounded on what is real; the realm of possiblities has to be based on the realm of
facts, the world.
The principle of uniformity: All possibilities (possible worlds) are ontologically
equivalent. In other words, no possibility (possible world) is ontologically distinguished;
(onto)logical spaces generated seperately by two possible worlds are the same, they are
ontologically indistinguishable.
The principle of concreteness: A priori components should be eliminated. It implies,
i.a., that the notion of form should be defined in a way connecting it with ontological
concrets- things. Such definition is indeed provided by Wittgenstein in 2.033.
Chance and necessity principle of Democritus: Everything is a fruit of chance and
necessity; to be possible is necessary, to exist- contingent!
lndependence principle ofHume and Wittgenstein 16 : Simple complexes are (onto )logically
independent. The principle is the obvious reminiscence ofthe logical independence ofthe
atomic propositions in classicallogic.

189
I hope that the previous discussion, particularly the outlined idea of logical philosophy,
will elucidate the background of the generat ontology which is sketched in the next
chapter of the paper.

Combination Ontology, an Outfine

The ldea
15. Take universe OB - containing all objects under consideration. Usually such
universe is differentiated into pieces and organized in some way. Ask now: How is this
universe possible? What are the principles of its organization? In particular, try to
describe analysis, i.e. decomposition of wholes into pieces (parts), and synthesis, i.e. the
unification of pieces into one, components into wholes 17 •

16. The basic ideas of the combination ontology 18 are as follows: Given the funda-
mental ontological relation "simpler than" objects are ordered in a way indicating, for any
pair of objects, which object in it, if any at all, is simpler than the other one. Objects are
divided into two classes: simple objects, called e/ements, and non-simple objects, called
complexes. Complexes are combinations built up from simpler objects according to their
internal traits. Any object, a fortiori any element, is characterized in a way determining
all possible combinations in which it can be involved, and generating bonds fastening
together appropriate pieces into one.
Traits of the object constitute its form. The fundamental idea of the combination
ontology is that everything goes because of form, in particular- that synthesis is fully
determined by it.
The full collection of all possible combinations constitutes the ontological space, i.e.
the space of all possibilities.

17. The main task of the combination ontology is to describe the ontological space. To
this end we develop consecutively: first the generat theory of analysis and synthesis, i.e.
the external description of the space, next- the internal theory of synthesis, including the
theory of ontological modalities used to express forms of objects, and - in the last step-
elementologic, i.e. the theory of elements or the generat theory of substance.

The General Theory of Analysis and Synthesis, AS


18. The theory AStries to describe two aspects ofthe ontological universe: the down-
aspect, of decomposition, using the basic analytical relation "simpler than"- <, taken
together with its conjugate analysis operator a., and the up-aspect, of composition, using
the basic syntactical relation "a component of' together with the conjugate synthesis
operator cr. For simplicity we identify the basic relation of analysis with the basic relation
of synthesis: to be simpler than is equivalent to to be a component of.
The ontological universe can be represented as the quadruple containing objects
together with the relation < and the operators a., cr:
OU := <OB,<,a.,cr>

19. 8oth the principle of grounding and the rudimentary ontological intuition support
the following picture. The analysis starts from what is given, clearly apart of the (real)
world. By analysis we obtain simpler items including simples, if any. When the analysis
of each object ends with simples, the ontological universe is founded, like e.g. in the case
of Leibniz's ontology as weil as Wittgenstein's ontology.

190
Usually the analysis enlarges the starting collection. In the most natural cases the
universe of analysis is additionally enlarged by synthesis. In such a way the rest of Facts
and also pure possiblities are introduced. filling up the universe.
The above picture can be drawn as follows:

COMBINATIONS

ELEMENTS

20. The primitive notions of AS are:


x<y: x is simpler than y
a(x): the collection of all objects analysable from x. i.e. obtainable from x by the analysis
cr( x ): the collection of all objects synthetizable from the object x. or- after Willgenstein
- from the substance of x.
The following notions play the important role as weil:
SE(x):= Vy y<x
x is a superelement. if it is simpler than any object
E(x) := Vy (y<x-H=yvSE(y))
x is an element. if it is such that any object properly simpler than it must be
a superelement
C(x) .- -.E(x)
x is a complex, if it is not an element
S(x) .- ly<x: E(y)l
support, or substance of x, i.e. the family of allelementssimpler than x.
SE. S, C denote respectively the family of all superelements, elements and complexes.
S thereby denotes the substance.

21. The theory AS consideres questions concerning these notions and their derivatives.
lts main problern concerns the connection between analysis and synthesis. Is synthesis
reverse to analysis? If yes, in what sense and to what extent? Etc.

22. As example of the question of other sort Iet me take the problern of involvement:
Is each element involved, i.e. does it belong to some complex? The axiom ofim·ol\·ement
says - yes:
(I) VE(x) 3C(y)x<y
lt has very interesting conclusions, i.a. it co-implies pluralism:
(6) (I) and S~0 ---1 IUAI:;:::: 2, whereas (I) and SE~0 ---1 IUAI:;:::: 3
If any element is involved and there exists an element (a super-element) then the universe
includes at least two (three) objects.
In the latter case the universe must include at least one super-element, at least one
proper element and at least one complex- a very !?nostic conclusion!

191
The Theory of Ontological Modalities, OM
23. Ontological modalities are used for describing the generaland basic conditions for
some families of objects or complexes. They concern the possibility of what there is, or
what is possible, hence they are useful for delineation of the ontological space. Examples
are, i.a., Leibnizian compossibility, coexistence and eminent existence and the Tractarian
possibility.
Ontological modalities should be distinguished from Iogical ones. Logical modalities
are used for collection and comparison: possible, necessary, contingent, etc. They are
quantifier-like operators for survey of a given domain, e.g. the ontological space, whereas
ontological modalities serve to describe its organization and internal mechanism. There-
fore, ontological modalities are important for the internal description of a synthesis.

24. Which ontological modalities should be taken 19 as primitives?


In OM, looking for primitive modalities we try to formalize the rudimentary idea of the
three basic types of natural Connections between two objects: attraction, repulsion and
indifference. To express this idea we use three respective modal operators:
MP(x,y) := x makes y possible
MI(x,y) := x makes y impossible
ON(x,y) := x and y are ontologically neutral (indifferent)

25. The external description of synthesis, provided by AS, is given in terms of cr, whereas
its internal description - in terms of MP (and/or MI). Both descriptions are clearly
connected:
(S) MP(x,y)HyEcr(x)
x makes y possible if and only if y is synthetizable from x 20 •

26. Taking into account a Tractarian idea (5), cf. section 8, we can state the first axiom
of the Tractarian synthesis:
(TS) MP(x,y) H MP(S(x),y)
x makes y possible, if the substance of x, i.e. its elements, do this.
The axiom is certainly natural for complexes but, perhaps, not for elements. However,
if we Iimit it to complexes we can still enlarge it to elements by means of the formula
(7) E(y) ~ ::lz (z>yAC(Z)AMP(S(x),z))
Thus, x makes an element y possible means: x makes possible some complex containing
y, i.e. x makes y possible implicitely.

27. The language of OM falls faithfully with the ontological space OS, understood as
the domain of analysis and sythesis. It can be defined as <OB,<,a,cr,MP>.
The most remarkable facet ofthe OM-Ianguage is its expressive power, i.e. quite a rich
family of important ontological notions definable in it.

Ontological Properries and Particulars


Cons(x) .- MP(x,x) - COHERENCE or CONSISTENCY
x is coherent iff x makes itself possible
F(x) .- ::ly MP(y,x) - FOUNDATION
x is founded iff it is made possible by something
Fr(x) .- ::ly MP(x,y) - FRUITFULNESS
x is fruitful iff it makes something possible
There are several (at least seven!) reasonable ways to define ontological possibility.

192
We present here the most Tractarian one:
MS(x) := MP(S,x)
To be possible is to be made possible by the substance.
On the other hand, at least two notions of ontological necessity should be distinguished:
LG(x) .- Vy MP(y,x)- GENERAL NECESSITY
x is generally necessary iff it is made possible by everything
LO(x) .- MP(0,x) - ONTIC NECESSITY
x is onticly necessary if it is made possible ex nihilo
God, or centrat element of the ontological space is, after Leibniz, its creator (genera-
tor). It can be defined for any reasonable subdomain of the ontological space, starting
from the space itself:
G(x) .- Vy MP(x,y) -Generator of everything
GC(x) .- Cons(y) ~ MP(x,y)- Generator of coherent objects
GM(x) .- MS(y) ~ MP(x,y)- Generator of possible objects
etc.
By a situation we understand any possible complex:
ST(x) := C(x)&MS(x),
whereas by a possible world- as usual - any maximal situation:
W(x) := ST(x)&x is <-maximal.
Remark: At the present Ievel of purely ontological discussion we do not consider
metaphysical notions of a fact and the real world.

Ontological Connections
Such basic connection is making possible itself, in a richer space - also making im-
possible.
We can, above a11, define basic connections of Leibnizian ontology:
C(x,y) .- MP(x,y)AMP(y,x) -POSITIVE (STRONG) COMPOSSIBLITY
x and y are compossible iff each of them makes the other one possible
(:(x,y) .- --.MI(x,y)A--.MI(y,x) -NEGATIVE (WEAK) COMPOSSIBILITY 21
x and y are compossible iff none of them excludes the other one
E(x,y) .- 3z<x MP(z,y) -EMINENT EXISTENCE
y exists eminently in x iff there is something in x which makes y possible
R(x,y) .- Vz<x MP(z,y) - AL TERNA TIVITY
y is alternative to x iff everything in x makes y possible
RA(x,y) .- Vz<y MP(x,z) - AFFINITY
y shows affinity with x iff x makes everything in y possible
RH(x,y) .- Vz<xVu<y MP(z,u) - HOMOLOGY
x is homological to y iff everything in x makes everything in y possible.
Let me pointout that the definitions of alternativity and affinity encode the standard
alternativity relation in cannonical models of modallogic.
The ontological equivalence is defined in the usual way:
x-y .- Vz (MP(x,z) H MP(y,z))A Vz (MP(z,x) H MP(z,y))
x and y are ontologica/ly equivalent (are of the same type) iff they are
indistinguishable by means of MP, i.e. by means of their ontological
sources and products.
28. Such a rich family of concepts needs onto-logical work concerning logical
connections between them. Indeed, the language of combination ontology is strong
enough to develop, both axiomatica11y and semantica11y, rich and sophisticated ontological
theries. Below I will outline a few examples of this ontological paradise.

193
Most of axioms are introduced to answer the basic ontological questions.
Q I. Are both primitive ontological modalities connected or not?
lt is, in fact, the problern of ontological laws of excluded middle and consistency.
By the choice of our primitives the following axiom of ontological trichotomy
obviously holds:
(T) MP(x,y)vMI(x,y)vON(x,y)
The question of intensionality of the space can be decided by one of the following
axioms:
(FM) MP(x,y)vMI(x,y) - the axiom of full modalization
(NE) -..3x,y ON(x,y) - the axiom of non-extensionality
Next, answering the question of the relationship between two basic ontological moda-
Iities we should consider the ontological law of the excluded middle:
(EM) MP(x,y) H -,MI(x,y)
or one of the ontological Iaws of consistency:
(CON) MP(x,y)AMI(x,y) --t -,(Cons(x)ACons(y))
(CONS) -,(MP(x,y)AMP(y,x))
Note that (EM) implies equivalence of the two notions of compossibility introduced
previously.
Q2. Describe ontological equivalence classes.
The shortest answer is: they are equal to the segment of coherent objects which is a
part of a possible world, or a family of incoherent and mutually disconnected objects.
(8) lf x-y then the following formulas are equivalent:

Cons(x), Cons(y), Cons(x)ACons(y), MP(x,y), MP(y,x), C(x,y)

Note that in (8) we touch a really challenging question ofthe ontology of possible worlds.
Namely, we have at least two notions of possible worlds: the standard one- as a
<-maximal situation, and the Leibnizian one - as a maximal compossible collection.
Q3. When are these two notions equivalent?
As the last example we take the preservation problem:
Q4. Does making possible preserve ontological coherence?
A priori we have three positive answers, each of which yields a suitable axiom of
preservation:
(CR) MP(x,y)ACons(x)--tCons(y)
(CL) MP(x,y)ACons(y)--tCons(x)
(C) MP(x,y)--t(Cons(H-~Cons(y))

29. The important part of the combination ontology is the combination semantics. It is
also a fairly complex field of reasearch which now, due to Iack of space, must be omitted.
Forasketch of it cf. [28] and [31].

Elementologic, EL
30. Elementologic deals with elements, simple objects of analysis and the substance of
synthesis, trying to answer questions of elements' action mechanism, the problern of their
involvement.
The main problern concerning synthesis is the problern of its sources and mechanism,
including the problern of its rules and the problern of natural causes for combining
appropriate objects into one. In the case of founded and dynamic ontology the problern

194
is reduced to the analogous problems conceming the role of elements in the synthesis.
The Leibnizian answer of Wittgenstein says that everything goes because of the form
of elements, more accurately- by their intemal properties (traits). Each combination is
determined by the traits of elementsentering into it, by their forms, or using more general
terms - by the form of its substance.

31. Previously, in the theory OM we tried to investigate this idea expressed in terms of
the ontological modalities making possible and making impossible. Even if we find this
approach satisfactory we can still ask: Why does a given family of elements make the
appropriate combinations possible (or impossible)? Are there any intemal reasons for
their ontological connection?
It is indeed the very basic ontological question. The only reasonable way, up to the
present perspective, to investigate it is to develop a suitable theory of the elements' traits.
As a matter of fact this is the proper task of elementologic.
Following the classical clues of Descartes and Leibniz, the family of all traits (called
also determiners) of elements is treated as the family of all quasiperfections generated by
the family of all perfections.
Elementologic has thereby three parts: the theory of perfections, the theory of
quasiperfections, and the theory of the elements' order induced by an order between
determiners. For its sketch see [30].

32. Perfeetions are qualities which, above all, guarantee the existence of its (their)
subject(s) - the most perfect being(s). Hence, the theory of perfections is, in fact, a
refinement of the ontological arguments of Descartes-Leibniz type. At least two quite
convincing arguments can be given, formalizing two different Leibniz's defintions of a
perfection. The first says that a perfection is any positive, simple and absolute quality; the
second- that it is any quality increasing reality. The outline of these arguments can be
found in [33].

33. The stronger version of the ontological theorem says that there exists exactly one
object being the subject of a/1 perfections. Therefore, to mulitply elements we must
enlarge this starting collection of qualities.
The only way to enlarge the family of all perfections without adding a new item from
the outside is to close it with respect to the intemal operation of application. We canthink
that application of one perfection to the other one does not necessarily give perfection, but
a new quality, called quasiperfection which is their deterioration. The investigation ofthe
applicative algebras generated by perfections is the proper task of the second part of
elementologic.
Finally, orders between elements induced by applicative algebras of quasiperfections
are considered, particularly the hierarchy of the substance's generation by the most
perfect (i.e. central) element(s).

Combination Onto/ogy of the Tractatus. A few examples


34. Combination ontology is checked, like cars, in use. Below I will outline a few
examples of its applications to one ofthe most delicate and, primafacie, surprising claims
of the Tractatus- the theses 2.022 and 2.023 saying that any imagined world has the same
form, implicitely the same substance, as the real world. We can find reason for this claim
- it guarantees uniformity of the logical space: each possible world generates the same
logical space (cf. [26]). But what about consequences?

195
35. Recall that possible worlds, denoted by w, w', w 1... , are defined as the maximal
situations, i.e. <-maximal possible complexes. Let "r" denote the real world.
The thesis 2.022 can be written as:
(9) Form(w) = Form(r)
The theses 2.02-2.0231 motivate the claim that the form of the item is determined by
its substance:
( 10) S(x)=S(y)-+Form(x)=Form(y)
On the other hand, the form of a thing determines all combinations in which it can occur:
( 11) Form(x)=Form(y)-+OS(x)=OS(y)
where OS(x)- the onto1ogical subspace generated by x- is the family of all items made
possible by x.
In OM, OS(x) := {z:MP(x,z) }, i.e. OS(x)=MP(x), hence
( 12) Form(x)=Form(y)-+Vz(MP(x,z)HMP(y,z))
Each of the following three formulas can thereby be considered as expressing 2.022:
(W) S(w)=S(r), or simply S(w)=S
(W') Form(w)=Form(r)
(W") Vz (MP(w,z)HMP(r,z)), or OS(w)=OS(r)
In the founded ontology (W') - the closest, verbatim formulation of 2.022 is still
obscure. But its approximations (W), (W' ')- taken respectively in founded ontology and
the theory OM - are fairly clear.

36. Now we can pass to the discussion of the logical consequences of particular
Tractarian claims.
For example, take (W) and next ask which modallogic 22 is the logic of the Tractarian
ontological space treated as the relational frame. We remernher that the theory OM
supplies the formalization of the relational semantics for modallogics. In section 27 three
candidates for alternativity relation were defined, i.a. the relation R:
xRy .- Vz (z<x-+MP(z,y))
Wittgenstein's thesis (W) implies
(13) VzVw S(z)!:S(w)
Limiting considerations to spaces such that by adding new elements we always get
more complex items:
(14) S(x)I:S(y)-+x<y, we obtain
(15) wRw' H Vz MP(z,w'), hence
(16) wRw' H wRw
Therefore, the alternativity relation of the frame is full, if reflexive. The resulting
modallogic is thereby very close to Lewis' calculus S5, as a matter of fact it equals S5
modulo Gödel-Feys-von Wright's system TY

37. Finally, Iet me note that defining the alternativity relation by a very intuitive
condition saying that to be alternative means to belong to the appropriate subspace, i.e.
to be made possible:
xR 1y := ye OS(x)
and using the axiom (W") we immediately obtain that the relation R 1 is full: wR 1w' for
any w,w'; the modallogic of such frame is exactly S5!

lnstead of a Conclusion
38. The above considerations prove sufficiently, I think, suitability and adequacy of
applications of the formal apparatus of combination ontology to the Tractarian ontology

196
of the world.
Indeed, Posttractarian ontology is both generat and promising. It provides us, contrary
to the Tractarian metaphilosophy, with a way of speaking on Wittgenstein 's realm of
silence - items which can be only shown. But, as was argued before, they can also be
expressed, provided an appropriate modification of the conceptual frame is made.

Not es

1 Let me mention a few: pioneer works ofR. Carnap [S], A. Maslow [22], G. E. M. Anscombe
[I] and E. Stenius [39]; books by J. Griffin [ 13], B. Wolniewicz [46], [52], M. andJ. Hintikka
[14], D. Pears [25]; and the series of papers representing respectively: Warsaw lattice-
theoretical approach- R. Suszko [40], [41], [42], B. Wolniewicz [SO]. [SI]. [52], M.
Omyla [20], [21]; its Boolean version - G. J. Lockhorst [ 19]; set-theoretical approach - J.
Czermak [I 0], [ II], K. Mudersbach [24] and others; its combinatorial version- B. Skyrms
[38] and D. Armstrong [2]; mereological approach- P. Simons [37]; geometrical interpre-
tation- L. Goddard and B. Judge [ 12], etc. Papers dealing with Tractarian modalities should
also be mentioned. Most of them Iook for appropriate modallogics of the "Tractatus", e. g.
R. Carnap's [6], D. Kaplan's [ 18], B. Wolniewicz's [47], [48], G. H. von Wright's [53]. [54].
N.B. Cocchiarella's [8], [9], G. J. Lockhorst's [ 19]. and mine [27], [28].
From two Wittgenstein 's names for simples: things or objects I prefer the former, as the lat-
ter by its extreme generality is very useful to denote any item under consideration. There-
fore. in combination ontology we change terminology a bit: simple item is called "element",
complex- "combination" or still "complex", whereas "object" means both.
' What relieve faithful Wittgensteinians, in their eyes, from the duty of explaining the theory
of forms - the real kerne I of the tractarian ontology and semantics.
• Observed by F. Ramsey [35] at the very beginning of the Tractarian investigation but, sur-
prisingly enough, disregarded by most of Wittgenstein scholars.
~ Motivated in [ 26].
" Cf. [ 26]. The strongly modal character of the tractarian ontology was noticed quite frequant-
ly. Few authors, however, have emphasized the key rote of the notion of form in the system.
The closest interpretation to minewas given by J. Griffin [ 13] and, recently, by R.D. Bradley [4].
7 But it was unnoticed by gross of commentators. Why were so many people so blind? ls

Russellian bias against Leibniz's monadology- "philosophical fairly tales", so intluential


later and present even in a recent book of B. Mates 'The Philosophy of Leibniz", respon-
sible for this blindeness? Nevertheless, I am happy to observe that the opinion has been
changing rapidly during last years.
R Notice correspondence: early Kant - early Wittgenstein, later Kant - later Wittgenstein.
Even the story of philosophical development of Wittgenstein resembles that of Kant, with
Brouwer playing the role of Hume!.
9 I noticed these similarities- so impostant to recognition of the Leibnizian connection of the

"Tractatus"- quite recently, due to generous gift of A. Plantinga, who presented the Library
of my Institute with a set of books including Kant's [ 17]. Kant's development is the only
place known to me at the moment with the notion of the form similar to my interpretation
of the Tractarian one (cf. [26 ]), and with ontology outlined in a way similar to my combina-
tion ontology (cf. [28].[30],[31],[32],[33],[34]).
10 Quoted after [ 17], translated by John Handyside, revised by Lewis White Beck, and John

A. Reuseher respectively.
11 In his manuscript "What is logic?" ( 1912), cf. K. Blackwell [3]. Notice that logic means

here ontologic.

197
12 The story is now well-known and well-documented. Cf., for instance, K. Blackwell [3], T.
Iglesias [15] and D. Pears [25].
13 Quoted after A. Janik [16].

14 In the case of Wittgenstein despite his well-known metaphilosophical claims. I am looking

at the practice, not at comments conceming it.


15 For more extended discussion cf. [29].

16 Cf. theses 2.061 and 2.062. See also B.Wolniewicz [49] and [52].

17 Observe that the description of the combination structure is a particular problern connected

with the question of synthesis.


18 Fuller account can be found in [27], [30] andin my ontological treatise in progress [34].

19 Leibniz tried compossibility and eminent existence.

20 Hence MP is, so to say, the concatenation of e and o.

21 Suggested by Barry Smith.


22 For information conceming modallogics cf. [7] and [27].
23 Cf. [6], [18], [47], [48], [53], [8], [9], [19].

References

[I] Anscombe, G.E.M., An lntroduction to Wittgenstein' s Tractatus (London 1959), pp. 179.
[2] Armstrong, D.,"The Nature of Possibility" (1985).
[3] Blackwell, K., "The Early Wittgenstein and the Middle Russell" in: Perspectives on the
Philosophy of Wittgenstein (1981) p. 1-30.
[ 4] Bradley, R.D., "Wittgenstein 's Tractarian Essentialism", Australion Journal of Philoso-
phy, vol. 65 (1987)
[5] Carnap, R., Logische Syntax der Sprache (Wien 1934), pp. 274.
[6] Camap, R., "Modality and Quantification, The Journal of Symbolic Logic 11 ( 1946), 33-64.
[7] Chellas, B., Modal Logic (Cambridge 1980), pp. 295.
[8] Cocchiarella, N. B., "Logical Atomism and Modal Logic", Philosophia 4( 1974), 41-66.
[9] Cocchierella, N. B., "Logical Atomism, Nominalism, and Modal Logik, Synthese, 31
(1975), 23-62.
[10] Czermak, J. "The Reducibility ofa Logical Space with Many-Value Dimensions", in
Wirtgenstein and His Impact on Contemporary Thought, Proc. li. Wittgenstein Sympo-
sium, 1977. (Wien 1978), 171 -173.
[ II] Czermak, J., "Ein Mengentheoretisches Modell der Tractatus-Ontologie", in: Wittgen-
stein, the Vienna Circle, and Critical Rationalism, Proc. of the III. Wittgenstein Sym-
posium 1978 (Wien 1979), 162-164.
[ 12] Goddard, L., and Judge, B., The Metaphysics ofWittgenstein' s Tractatus ( 1982), pp. 72.
[13] Griffin, J., Wittgenstein's Logical Atomism. (Oxford 1964), pp. 164.
[14] Hintikka, M.B., Hintikka, J., lnvestigating Wittgenstein, (Oxford 1986), pp. 326.
[15] Iglesias, T., "Russell's Theory of Knowledge and Wittgenstein's Earliest Writings",
Synthese, 60 (1984), 285-332.
[ 16] Janik, A., "Wittgenstein: An Austrian Emigrant", in: Nyiri, J. C. ed., Austrian Philos-
ophy, Studiesand Texts ( 1981 ).
[17] Kant' s Latin Writings. Translations, Commentariesand Notes, by Beck, L.W., et al. New
York, 1986), pp. 251.
[18] Kaplan, D., Foundations oflntensional Logics (Mimeographed, 1964) pp. 182.
[ 19] Lokhorst, G .J ., "Ontology, Semantics and Philosophy of Mind in Wittgenstein 's Tratetalus,
A Formal Reconstruction", Erkenntnis (1988).
[20] Omyla, M, "The Logic ofSituations", in: Language and Ontology (Wien 1982), 195-198.
[21] Omyla, M., Zarys logiki niefregowskiej (An Outline of NonFregean Logic), Warazawa
1986, pp. 170.

198
[22] Maslow, A, A Study in Wittgenstein's Tractatus (1961), pp. 162.
[23] Monod, J., Le Hasard et Ia Necessite. Essai sur Ia Philosophie de Ia Biologie Moderne,
(Paris 1970)
[24] Mudersbach, K., "A Tentative Axiomatization of the Ontology of the Tractatus", in:
Wittgenstein and His Impact on Contemporary Thought, Proc. of the II. Wittgenstein
Symposium 1977 (Wien 1978), 159-161.
[25] Pears, D., The Fa/se Prison. A Study ofthe Development ofWittgenstein's Philosophy,
(Oxford 1987).
[26] Perzanowski, J., "Some Ontological and Semantical Puzzles ofWittgenstein' s Tractatus",
in: Aesthetics, Proc . VIII Wittgenstein Symposium 1983, (Wien 1984 ), 224-230.
[27] Perzanowski, J., "Some Observations on Modal Logics and the Tractatus", in: Philos-
ophy ofMind, Philosophy of Psychology, Proc. IX Wittgenstein Symposium 1984, (Wien
1985), 544-550.
[28] Perzanowski, J., Logiki modalne a filozofia (Modal Logics and Philosophy), Krakow
1989, p. 159.
[29] Perzanowski, J., "What is non-Fregean in theSemanlies ofWittgenstein's Tractatus and
Why?" (1989, submitted)
[30] Perzanowski, J. "Elements of Monadologie" (1988, submitted)
[31] Perzanowski, J ., "Combination Semantics. An Outline" (1989, submitted)
[32] Perzanowski, J., "Ontological modalities" (1988, submitted)
[33] Perzanowski, J ., "Leibnizian Ontological Arguments" ( 1988, submitted)
[34] Perzanowski, J., Rozprawa ontologiczna (Ontological Enquiry) in preparation.
[35] Ramsey, F. P., "Review ofTractatus, Mind 32 (1923), 465-478.
[36] Simons, P.M., "The Old Problem of Camplex and Fact", Teoria 2 (1985), 205-225.
[37] Simons, P.M.,"Tractatus Mereologico-Philosophicus?", Grazer Philosophische Studien
28 (1986), 165-186.
[38] Skyrms, B., "Tractarian Nominalism", Philosophical Studies 4 ( 1981 ), 199-206.
[39] Stenius, E., Wittgenstein' s ''Tractatus". A Critical Exposition of the Main Lines of
Thought, (Oxford 1960), pp. XI, 242.
[40] Suszko, R., "Ontologia w 'Traktacie' L. Wittgensteina", Studia Filozojiczne (1968), 97-120.
[41] Suszko, R., "Ontology in the 'Tractatus' of Wittgenstein", Notre Dame Journal of For-
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[ 42] Suszko, R., Abolition ofthe Fregean Axiom ( 1973, preprint). Also in: Logic Colloquium,
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[43] Wittgenstein, L. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (London 1922).
[44] Wittgenstein, L., Prototractatus (Ithaca 1971 ).
[45] Wittgenstein, L., Philosophicallnvestigations (Oxford 1958).
[46] Wolniewicz, B., Rzeczy i fakty. Wstep do pierwszej filozofii Wittgensteina (Things and
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Contemporary Philosophy in Scandinavia (1972), 17-26.
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***
199
Wittgensteins Frage nach dem Sinn

RosARIA Emm
Rom Universität "La Sapienza"

Die Schwierigkeiten, auf die Fragen zu antworten, welchen Sinn ein Satz hat, sieht
Wittgenstein analog zu denen, die um das Problem kreisen, welchen Satz man denn
eigentlich vor sich habe, wenn man sagt: "diese Abfolge von Wörtern ist ein Satz". Auf
diese Schwierigkeiten hat er in den Philosophischen Untersuchungen (PU) hingewiesen,
wenn er dazu auffordert, das Problem vom Sinn und das vom Satz miteinander zu
vergleichen:
Die Frage nach dem Sinn. Vergleiche,
"dieser Satz hat Sinn"- "Welchen?"
"Diese Wortreihe ist ein Satz"- "Welcher?" 1
Ich meine, es ist bestimmt der Mühe wert, auf diesen dunklen Vergleich näher
einzugehen.
Vor allem wird es klar, zumindest aus den vorausgehenden §§ 449-501, daß die
Schwierigkeiten, die zu der Frage nach dem Sinn führen, von dem irreführenden Ge-
brauch der beiden Ausdrücke "es hat Sinn" und "es hat keinen Sinn" herrühren, wie auch
von der Unmöglichkeit einer referentiellen, eindeutigen und kontextfreien Bestimmung
einer ganzen Reihe von Grundbegriffen wie Sprache, Welt, Objekt, Ich, usw. Diese
Begriffe sind ja, wie das ähnlich für den Sinn selber der Fall ist, objektiv nicht definierbar,
sondern sie lassen sich - abhängig vom jeweiligen Sprachspiel, in das sie eingefügt sind
- ganz unterschiedlich definieren. Wenn man diesen thematischen Hintergrund vor
Augen behält, fügt sich die Frage nach dem Sinn, di~ in d~n §§ 489~524 der PU immer
auftaucht, in das weit umfassendere Programm einer neuen Analyse des Satzes ein, mit
der Wittgenstein in den Philosophischen Bemerkungen (PB) 2 und in der Philosophischen
Grammatik (PG) 3 die zweite Phase seiner Philosophie eingeleitet und in den PU diese
ausgewiesen hatte als einen Versuch, die "große Frage", die im Mittelpunkt seines TLP
stand, erfolgreich zu lösen: worum es geht, ist die Mitbestimmung des Begriffs von der
allgemeinen Form des Satzes. 4
Die Frage nach dem Sinn, die im § 502 erwähnt wird, setzt demnach die Infragestellung
der Grundsätze der logizistischen Semantik voraus; unter diesem Blickwinkelliefert sie
einen, fast möchte man sagen, Zusatz zur Verneinung der Objektivität der Sinne, wie
diese dem Satz-Modell von Frege eignete, und somit auch zur grundlegenden Unterschei-
dung zwischen Sinn und Bedeutung. Gleichzeitig stellt diese Frage aber auch eine Ein-
führung in die alternative anti-psychologistische Strategie, also in die von Frege dar, wie
sie Wittgenstein in den PU entwirft. 5 In den Abschlußparagraphen vom I. Teil befaßt er
sich mit einer Thematik, die er schon in den§§ 142-242 behandelt hatte und die mit der
nicht-psychischen Natur des Meinensund des Verstehens zu tun hat. 6 Somit ist es also
möglich, hinter der Formulierung der Frage nach dem Sinn die Einheitlichkeit der
kritischen Ziele, wie sie Wittgenstein verfolgte, zu erkennen, wenn er gegen den Mythos
vom Logizismus und vom Psychologismus zu Felde zog oder gegen die Illusion, daß die
Ontologisierung der Sinne immun mache der psychologistischen Gefahr gegenüber, oder
besser, dem sogenannten "Mythos der inneren Prozesse" gegenüber. Eins ist sicher,
Wittgenstein weiß sich mit Frege einer Meinung darüber, daß lediglich eine nicht-
psychologistische Deutung des Sinnes in der Lage ist, eine adäquate Analyse der nicht-
extensionalen Kontexte zu garantieren; aber es steht auch gleichermaßen fest, daß das,

200
was ihn wirklich von Frege trennt, die Überzeugung ist, man müsse den Sinnen einen
ontologischen Zustand zubilligen, um jeglichen Psychologismus zu vermeiden.
Wie wir ja wissen, hatte Frege, als er den doppelseitigen Aspekt in einem Satz
unterschied, wie er das in seinem Aufsatz Über Sinn und Bedeutung 1 ausführte, unter anderem
die Lösung jener Probleme vor Augen, die mit der Struktur der nicht-extensionalen
Aussagen zu tun haben, die also keine Referenz besitzen, wie etwa z.B. die sogenannten
"ungeraden Reden", sowie die modalen und intentionalen Aussagen, wobei letztere in die
umfassendere Kategorie jener Sätze einzureihen sind, die psychologische Verben haben
wie "A glaubt I denkt I meint I zweifelt I weiß, daß p"; Sätze, die übrigens auch Russell
später berücksichtigen und für sie den Begriff "propositional attitudes" schaffen wird. 8
Gerade die Notwendigkeit, solche Klassen von Sätzen mit strengen logischen Werkzeu-
gen zu behandeln, wird es dann Frege nahelegen, die Sinne zu verdinglichen, d.h. den
Sätzen, die z.B. in den ungeraden Reden auftauchen, jene Funktion von Eigennamen zu
verleihen, die Wahrheitswerte als Referenten haben.
Indem Frege also in solchen Sätzen den jeweiligen Sinnen einen ontologischen
Zustand einräumt, gelingt es ihm zu zeigen, daß auch die nicht-extensionalen Aussagen
einen eigentlichen Erkenntniswert besitzen, also einen Inhalt, der unsere Kenntnisse
erweitert genau wie jene, für die man direkt einen Wahrheitswert ausmachen kann. 9 Auf
diese Weise glaubte er, die Erklärung der nicht-extensionalen Sätze der Herrschaft der
psychologischen Analyse entzogen und sie vielmehr der Jurisdiktion der Logik überant-
wortet zu haben. Die Unterscheidung zwischen Sinn und Bedeutung und die daraus
folgende Ontologisierung der Sinne gehören also, wenn man genauer hinsieht, zur
logizistischen Semantik, welche das Satz-Modell von Frege bildet, und bei welcher der
anti-psychologistische Ansatz offensichtlich nur als eine Konsequenz anzusehen ist. Es
ist also klar, daß die Abkehr von den zentralen Thesen der logizistischen Semantik- wie
wir sie bei Wittgenstein in den Werken der mittleren Phase seiner Philosophie feststellen
können- zwar nicht den Verzicht auf die anti-psychologistische Zielsetzung bedeutet,
aber doch zwangsläufig zu einer tiefgreifenden Veränderung der Strategie führt, die
Frege zur Verwirklichung dieses Zieles entwickelt hatte.
Im folgenden werden wir einige spezifische Themen näher untersuchen, die erklären
sollen, mit welchen strategischen Mitteln Willgenstein nach dem TLP ans Werk ging, und
die Entstehungsmomente in der Deutung des "Sinnes eines Satzes" näher erläutern, was
sich besonders in seinen PB und in seiner PG abzeichnet und in den späteren Schriften
ausführlicher behandelt werden wird. Wir werden also analysieren, erstens, wie in der
mittleren Phase im Denken Willgensteins die Frage nach dem Sinn als Vorschlag einer
eigentümlichen Analyse des Elementes der Intention und der Möglichkeit des Satzes
auftaucht, und wie sich, zweitens, die Ablehnung der Fregeschen Sinne im Zusammen-
hang mit den Argumenten, die den grammatikalischen und nicht-psychischen Charakter
des Meinensund des Verstehens bekräftigen, immer stärker bemerkbar macht.

I. Der Sinn als Möglichkeit und Intentionalität


Die Reflexion über den Sinn eines Satzes setzt bei Willgenstein schon mit dem
Entstehen seines Problemkreises 1929 ein und entwickelt sich vor allem in den PB weiter.
Bei diesen Beobachtungen, die der erste Teil dieses Werkes enthält 10 - und sie werden
dann zwischen 1929 und 1932 in Gesprächen wieder aufgenommen, wie sie von Wais-
mann festgehalten wurden 11 - fällt besonders auf, welche Wichtigkeit in der Sprachana-
lyse den "phänomenologischen Problemen" zukommt, aber vor allem wie völlig unbefrie-
digend die Lösung ist, die Willgenstein selber für diese Probleme in Aussicht gestellt
hatte 12 •

201
Mit den phänomenologischen Problemen- wie Wittgenstein in den späteren Bemer-
kungen über die Farben (BF) sagen wird 13 - setzt er grundlegend jene Schwierigkeiten
gleich, auf welche die wahrheitsfunktionale Logik stößt, wenn sie jene spezielle Klasse
von Sätzen analysiert, welche die Phänomene der unmittelbaren Erfahrung und damit die
Sätze beschreiben, die sich auf die Datensprache beziehen, auf die Sprache also, die
Wittgenstein "das Primäre" nennt. Das ist von dem "Sekundären" getrennt, d.h. von der
physikalischen Sprache, wo man Begriffe empirischer Natur findet 14 • Die erste Sprache,
also das "Primäre" enthält Ausdrücke, in denen psychologische Verben auftauchen, d.h.
jene Aussagen, die Wittgenstein schon in seinem TLP "Satzformen der Psychologie" 15
genannt hatte: "A glaubt I denkt I meint, daß p", sodann auch die Farbsätze sowie die
Hypothesen, die modalen und die Wahrscheinlichkeitsaussagen, welche die umfassende
Klasse der nicht-extensionalen Sätze ausmachen. In seinen PB entwickelt und diskutiert
Wittgenstein die Idee, wonach die Analyse der primären Sprache zur Aufgabe der
Phänomenologie gehört; aber erst in den BF findet Wittgenstein zu einer Defintion
derselben als einer Form von "Begriffsanalyse", die eine Art "Mittelding" zwischen der
Logik und den Erfahrungswissenschaften darstellen soll. 16
Die PB arbeiten umfassender und gegliedeter all das heraus, was Wittgenstein unter
"Phänomenologie" verstand, beantworten aber auch die Frage, auf welche Weise er
glaubte, der Phänomenologie die Aufgabe zuerteilen zu können, mit "neuen Begriffen"
das Problem vom Sinn gewisser Satztypen zu lösen. Es ist wichtig festzuhalten, daß die
drei grundlegenden Argumente, mit denen Wittgenstein an verschiedenen Stellen und in
verschiedenen Zusammenhängen seiner Schriften der Übergangsperiode die Idee von
einer Phänomenologie bekräftigte, in seinen letzten Schriften, trotz der Ausschaltung
gerade dieser Idee, überleben werden. Und indem die phänomenologischen Probleme in
seinen späten Untersuchungen zur philosophischen Psychologie mit einfließen, werden
sie es sein, welche die Umwandlung von den phänomenologischen Problemen in gram-
matikalische Probleme entscheidend mitbestimmen werden.
Das erste der Wittgensteinschen Argumente gründet auf der Unterscheidung zwischen
"phänomenologischer Sprache" und "physikalischer Sprache" 17, einer Unterscheidung,
auf welcher der Entwurf der in den PB enthaltenen "phänomenologischen Farbenlehre" 18
beruht; das zweite Argument betrifft die Aufgabe, die der Phänomenologie zukommt, die
"Möglichkeiten" festzusetzen im Gegensatz zur Physik, die statt dessen von "Gesetzen"
geprägt ist 19 ; und schließlich das dritte Argument, das aus dem zweiten folgt, und das
bestätigt, daß die Phänomenologie auf den "Sinn" der Sätze abzielt, im Gegensatz zur
Physik, die statt dessen "Wahrheits-" und "Falschheitswerte" behandelt. 20 In den PB werden
diese drei Argumente auf verschiedenste Art miteinander verknüpft und tauchen auch in
den Wittgensteinschen Unterrichtsmaterialien und Gesprächen aus den Jahren 1929 bis
1935 wieder auf. 21 Wir wissen, daß ein großer Teil der Ideen, die diese Argumente
vertreten sollten, schließlich verworfen wurde, nur kann das bei unserer Rekonstruktion
wirklich nicht das Interesse an dem ersten Wittgensteinschen Versuch schmälern, die
Sprache der inneren Erfahrung zu analysieren, aus der jegliche geheime Absprache mit
dem Psychologismus und dem Logizismus verbannt war.
Dieser Versuch führt zu jener Philosophie, die oft als die Wittgensteinsche Philosophie
der mittleren Phase bezeichnet wird: Einen ihrer Hauptpunkte stellt die Idee der Phäno-
menologie dar oder zumindest die Idee einer spezifischen Analyse all jener Aussagen,
deren Hindeutung eher auf "Sinn" abzielt als auf "Wahrheitswerte". Bekanntlich weicht
der in der Folgezeit in den PU von Wittgenstein unternommene Versuch, vor allem im
zweiten Teil diesesWerkesund in den dazugehörigen Schriften 22 , beträchtlich vom ersten
Versuch ab, was Umfang und subtilere Darstellung der Argumente anbelangt. Einer der

202
Unterschiede besteht genau darin, daß nun die Idee einer Phänomenologie und damit die
Illusion aufgegeben wird, der sich Wittgenstein eine Zeitlang hingegeben hatte, daß
nämlich der phänomenologischen Analyse eine Aufgabe in der anti-psychologistischen
Strategie, genauer gesagt, in der Bestimmung der Sinne mit Argumenten zufalle, die nicht
von Frege stammten.
Auch wenn es übertrieben klingt, daß sich gerade der Verzicht auf die Idee einer
Phänomenologie entscheidend auf den zweiten Versuch Wittgensteins auswirkt und
Spuren hinterläßt, die über eine bloße Änderung in der Wahl der Strategie hinausgehen,
so kann man doch nur schwer die Nützlichkeit einer solch genauen Untersuchung
leugnen, um das komplexe anti-psychologistische Projekt Wittgensteins zu klären. Im
besonderen müßte dieser zweite Versuch die Gründe ins rechte Licht rücken, die ihn dazu
drängten, sich von seinem ersten Versuch einer phänomenologischen Analyse der
Datensprache zu distanzieren, um einen neuen Versuch zu starten, der als wichtigsten
Punkt die Ablehnung der Fregeschen Unterscheidung zwischen Sinn und Bedeutung
konsequent weiterführt, d.h. hin zum Projekt einer anti-psychologistischen Behandlung
der psychologischen Begriffe und Sätze.
Die Analyse von "Absicht" und "Erwartung" - und hierbei können wir von intentio-
nalen Sätzen sprechen- wie Wittgenstein sie in den ersten Teilen der PB entwickelt 23 , sowie
die schon zitierte phänomenologische Farbenlehre, die er im selben Werk ausarbeitet,
sind ganz konkrete erläuternde Beispiele für eine neue Artanalyse, die für die Ausdrücke
erforderlich war, die sich der Behandlung durch die wahrheitsfunktionale Logik entzie-
hen. Die intentionalen Sätze, die wir zu der großen Vielfalt an Ausdrücken rechnen
können, die Frege in Über Sinn und Bedeutung eingehend geprüft hatte und Russell
"propositional attitudes" nannte, haben in der Tat nur eine scheinbare Affinität zu den
Molekularsätzen im TLP und sind auf jeden Fall nicht auf Elementarsätze zurückzufüh-
ren.
Hier soll nicht näher auf die Argumente eingegangen werden, mit denen Wittgenstein
sowohl in seinem Vortrag Some Remarks on Logica/ Form 24 im Hinblick auf gewisse
"Farbsätze", wie auch in den §§ 76-81 der PB im Hinblick auf die "Dispositionen", das
Fehlen dererforderlichen Eigenschaften der "Widerspruchslosigkeit" und der "Unabhän-
gigkeit" stützen sucht, die im TLP den Elementarsätzen zugestanden worden waren. Nur
die eine Behauptung Wittgensteins in seinen PB soll unterstrichen werden, wonach die
grammatikalischen Regeln, die den Gebrauch der logischen Konstanten bestimmen,
"eben nicht damit erschöpft sind, was ich- sagt Wittgenstein- im TLP gesagt habe" 25 •
Neben der wahrheitsfunktionalen Logik muß eine neue Artanalyse zu ihrem Recht
kommen, die sich für die nicht-extensionalen Sätze eignet, eine Analyse, die Wittgenstein
in jener Phase seiner Gedankenentwicklung "Phänomenologie", bisweilen aber auch
"Syntax" oder "Grammatik" nennt.
Die Unwirksamkeit der logischen Analyse im TLP allden Aussagen gegenüber, deren
Bedeutung nicht mittels eines Bezugs auf außersprachliche Tatsachen ausgedrückt wird,
sondern durch einen "inneren Zusammenhang" der Begriffe, die in diesen Aussagen
wiederkehren, wird in einem langen Gespräch vom Januar 1930 mit Schlick behandelt, in
dem die selbstkritischen Argumente Wittgensteins in bezug auf das im TLP vorgeschla-
genen Satzmodell zusammengefaßt werden:

Meine erste Annahme war die, daß wir bei der Analyse der Sätze schließlich auf
Sätze kommen müssen, die eine unmittelbare Verbindung von Gegenständen sind,
ohne Zuhilfenahme Jogischer Konstanten, denn "nicht", "und", "oder" und" wenn"
verbinden die Gegenstände sind. Daranhalte ich auchjetzt fest. Zweitens hatte ich
die Vorstellung, daß die Elementarsätze unabhängig voneinander sein müßten. Die

203
vollständige Weltbeschreibung wäre gleichsam ein Produkt von Elementarsätzen,
die teils positiv, teils negativ sind. Hierin habe ich mich geirrt[ ... ] Falsch war an
meiner Auffassung, daß ich glaubte, daß sich die Syntax der logischen Konstanten
aufstellen lasse, ohne auf den inneren Zusammenhang der Sätze zu achten. 26
Eine ähnliche Selbstkritik spiegelt sich in der Darlegung eines anderen Arguments
wider - eines Arguments, das immer wieder an ganz verschiedenen Stellen in den
Schriften der mittleren Phase auftaucht-, wonach die Sätze der Phänomenologie, da sie
nicht empirisch sind, nicht auf Wahrheit I Falschheit abzielen wie diejenigen der Physik,
sondern auf den Sinn. Es soll nicht unerwähnt bleiben, daß dieser Richtungswechsel hin
zum Problem vom Sinn einen weiteren Aspekt der Wittgensteinschen Reflexion in der
Übergangsperiode belegt, ich meine den Versuch, unter Einbeziehung der wahrheitsfunk-
tionalen Logik in die phänomenologische Analyse die Bildtheorie beizubehalten. Die
Phänomenologie soll den Sinn jener Sätze bestimmen, die weder wahr noch falsch sind,
die sich also nicht auf einen Sachverhalt, sondern auf die "Möglichkeit" eines Sachver-
halts beziehen und die demnach keine Ereignisse, sondern Modelle für Ereignisse
ausdrücken. In den PB bestätigt Wittgenstein:
Den Sinn eines Satzes verstehen, heißt, wissen, wie die Entscheidung herbeizufüh-
ren ist, ob er wahr oder falsch ist, 27
und zwar dort, wo der Sinn von der Kenntnis der Ziele, der Anwendung und des
satzbezogenen Wertesystems hergeleitet wird und nicht von einer Erfahrung, die festle-
gen könnte, ob er wahr oder falsch ist. Der Sinn ergibt sich aus dem Komplex der
Tätigkeiten, die mit dem "Verstehen eines Satzes" verbunden sind, nicht aber aus
denjenigen, welche die Wahrheit oder die Falschheit eines Satzes feststellen:
(Ob der Satz wahr oder falsch ist, wird durch die Erfahrung entschieden, aber nicht
sein Sinn). 28
In die Thematik des Sinnes fließt hier auch ein weiteres Thema ein, das schon die in
den PB angedeutete Analyse der "internen Beziehungen", der Auffassung von den
"externen Beziehungen", wie sie Russell für die Analyse der "propositional attitudes"
vorgebracht hatte, entgegensetzt. 29 Gerade weil erstere eine Sprache der inneren Erfah-
rung darstellen, haben die intentionalen Sätze, oder- wie Wittgenstein sagt- die ,,Sätze
der Phänomenologie", eine Bedeutung, die nicht mittels eines außersprachlichen Bezugs
erreicht wird, sondern sich aus einem inneren Zusammenhang ergibt, dessen Sinn "nur
den grammatikalisch korrekten Gebrauch gewisser Wörter voraussetzt". Ähnliches liest
man an einer Stelle des Waismannschen Buches:
Die Physik will Regelmäßigkeiten feststellen: sie geht nicht auf das, was möglich
ist. Darum gibt die Physik, auch wenn sie vollständig entwickelt ist, keine
Beschreibung der Struktur der phänomenologischen Sachverhalte. In der Phäno-
menologie handelt es sich immer um die Möglichkeit, d.h. um den Sinn, nicht um
Wahrheit und Falschheit. 30

Die mittlere Position zwischen Logik und Physik, die Wittgenstein der Phänomenolo-
gie zuweist, entzieht die Bestimmung von Sinn der Ontologisierung, wie sie Frege
vorgeschlagen hatte, und überantwortet sie vielmehr einer Analysedomäne, die substan-
tiell von der wahrheitsfunktionalen Logik unabhängig bleibt. Das Ausfindigmachen einer
solchen Domäne, die, wie wir sehen werden, den unwiderruflichen Verzicht auf die
Bildtheorie mit sich bringen wird, ist eine Aufgabe, der sich Wittgenstein in dem reifsten
seiner Werke der Übergangszeit, in der PG, widmen wird.

204
II. Die Flucht vor den Fregeschen Sinnen

Wenn die Konstruktion einer phänomenologischen Sprache zu Beginn als erster


Schritt auf eine Selbständigwerdung des Sinnes eines Satzes erscheinen konnte, der sich
damit von den Fesseln der wahrheitsfunktionalen Logik befreit, so wird sich erstere recht
bald als eine Zielsetzung erweisen, die nicht in der Lage ist, den Status sui generis der
nicht-extensionalen Sätze zu rechtfertigen. Im Kontext der PB passen die Miteinbezie-
hung des Sinnes in die Domäne der Möglichkeiten und seine Umwandlung von einem
wahrheitsfunktionalen Begriff in einen Modalbegriff durchaus noch zu dem allgemeinen
Programm des Werks, das ja die Integration der wahrheitsfunktionalen Logik in die
Phänomenologie anstrebt.
In diesem Zusammenhang kann man feststellen, daß die Auffassung von Sinn, die
Wittgenstein im Kontext mit dem phänomenologischen Programm ausarbeitet, verschie-
dene Berührungspunkte nicht nur mit dem Carnapschen Phänomenalismus, sondern auch
mit der Modalsemantik hat, wie er sie in Meaning and Necessity einführen wird' 1, wo Carnap
sich zum Ziel setzt, eine Methodologie zu schaffen, die geeignet ist, die Fregesche
Theorie von Sinn und Bedeutung zu vervollständigen. Diese Übereinstimmung liefert ein
weiteres Beweisargument für die immer wieder vertretene These, daß sich Wittgenstein
in den Schriften seiner Übergangszeit besonders intensiv mit den Lehrmeinungen der
Meister des "Wiener Kreises" auseinandergesetzt hat. Wichtig ist in diesem Zusammen-
hang festzuhalten, daß diese Berührungspunkte nur für die kurze Zeit im Schaffen
Wittgensteins nachweisbar sind, als er sich mit der Idee einer Phänomenologie trug, und
die nicht mehr für ihn bestanden, sobald er diese Idee aufgab und eine endgültige Flucht
vor den Sinnen unternahm. Dabei beschritt Wittgenstein den umgekehrten Weg wie
Carnap, der ja versuchte, die Sinne dadurch wieder zurückzugewinnen, daß er die
formalen Methoden der Extension und der Intension zum Gesetz erhob. ' 2
Wittgensteins Verzicht auf die Fregeschen Sinne setzt in der Tat in den PB ein, wenn
er erklärt, daß ihm die phänomenologische oder primäre Sprache nicht mehr als Ziel
vorschwebe, und daß er sie nicht länger für unerläßlich notwendig halte." Diese Tendenz
geht Hand in Hand mit einer weiteren und radikalen Wiederaufnahme der "Frage nach
dem Sinn", die, wie wir sehen werden, die Reduzierung der Phänomenologie auf reine
Grammatik miteinschließt sowie die Auffassung des nicht-psychischen Charakters der
"Bewußtseinszustände" ausdrückt. Allerdings bleibt diese Flucht, zumindest bis zu
seinen Schriften 1932, irgendwie von der Überzeugung gebremst, daß eine Satzanalyse,
und sei sie noch so neu, nie auf die Bildtheorie werde verzichten können, und daß die
Phänomenologie im Grunde nur das eine Ziel verfolge, die Logik der Wahrheitsfunktio-
nen mitzuintegrieren. Die Übertragung phänomenologischer Probleme auf grammatika-
lische Probleme wird alsfair accompli nur in einigen Texten der PG in Erscheinung treten,
die irgendwie "programmatisch" sind. Es genügt, an jene Stellen zu denken, in denen der
philosophischen Grammatik die Aufgabe zufällt, ,.zwischen Phänomenologischem und
Nicht-Phänomenologischem" zu unterscheiden, 14 oder auch an jenen ausschlaggebenden
Teil, den Wittgenstein in diesem Werk der grammatikalischen Deutung des "den Sinn
eines Satzes Verstehen" widmet."
Es wäre eine ziemlich komplexe Aufgabe, wenn man die Gründe klären wollte, warum
Wittgenstein die phänomenologische Thematik aufgegeben hat; wir können nur versu-
chen, einige dieser Gründe ausfindig zu machen. Wittgenstein sieht es als sehr plausibel
dafür an, daß die Phänomenologie, als Interdisziplin zwischen Logik und Physik, nicht
genügend Abstand von der Gefahr des Psychologismus garantiere. Erstere schufvielmehr
die neue "Mythologie" der inneren Erlebnisse, d.h. eine Sprache, deren Sätze eben keine

205
"externen", sondern "interne Relationen" darstellen, die keine referentielle Bedeutung
dafür haben, sondern einen inneren Zusammenhang, also einen Sinn ausdrücken. Es war
also nicht zu umgehen, daß der Verzicht auf die Bildtheorie eine Revision der Unterschei-
dung zwischen äußeren und inneren Beziehungen mit sich brachte sowie der Unterschei-
dung selber zwischen Sinn und Bedeutung.
Wittgenstein wird dann die Vergegenständlichung der inneren Beziehungen als eine
Klasse von Sätzen, die typisch sind für die Sprache der unmittelbaren Erfahrung: die
Datensprache, ablehnen und später dann als "Versuchung" jene Idee von einer Disziplin
charakterisieren, die dazu geeignet wäre, erstere zu analysieren. 36 Dieser phänomenolo-
gischen Versuchung sieht er nicht nur das Eingeständnis der Existenz einer phänomeno-
logischen, privaten und internen Sprache ausgesetzt, sondern auch die fruchtlosen
Versuche, wie sie die Erkenntnistheorie und die Psychologie seiner Zeit unternahmen, um
für die Probleme einer Analyse der Datensprache eine nicht-psychologistische Lösung zu
finden. Diese gewonnene Klarheit in bezug auf die unzureichende Analyse der internen
Beziehungen als Aufgabe der Phänomenologie ist einer der Gründe, wenn nicht sogar der
einzige, die es Wittgenstein nahelegten, so kurz nach den PB noch einmal ans Werk zu
gehen, um dieses Mal statt der Phänomenologie nun die philosophische Grammatik in den
Mittelpunkt seines Interesses zu rücken.
Auch wenn die PG eine Reihe von Themen aus den PB wiederaufnimmt, so ist doch
eine Verschiebung in den Ansätzen und den Lösungsmethoden nicht zu übersehen. Vor
allem wird die Idee einer Koexistenz, oder vielleicht sollte man besser sagen, eines
Kompromisses zwischen der Theorie der Intention und der Bildtheorie, aufgegeben, wie
das einige Abschnitte belegen, die ganz offensichtlich aus den PB übernommen und neu
bearbeitet wurden. Es handelt sich um die Bemerkungen über die Natur der intentionalen
Sätze und der Ausdrücke von Bewußtseinszuständen, die in der Kritik von der "irrefüh-
renden" Auffassung des Satzes als "Bild" gipfeln. Die PG scheint außerdem all die
Aussagen der PB zur äußersten Konsequenz zu bringen, wonach die grundlegende
Aufgabe darin besteht, den nicht eindeutigen Gebrauch der Strukturen der physikalischen
Sprache zu enthüllen, sowie nach "neuen Begriffen" Ausschau zu halten, die in der
Formulierung der nicht-extensionalen Kontexte auftauchen.
Die Analyse von "Verstehen", die Wittgenstein am Anfang der PG vorlegt, liefert die
Grundlage und bisweilen auch die Materialien, die dann in den PU verarbeitet werden, um
das anti-psychologistische Programm zu erstellen, angefangen von der nicht-mentalisti-
schen Analyse von Prozessen wie dem Meinen, Wollen, Glauben, dem Warten und dem
Hoffen. In den PB hatte Wittgenstein bereits folgendes klar eingeleitet:
Die ärgsten philosophischen Irrtümer entstehen immer, wenn man unsere gewöhn-
liche- physikalische- Sprache im Gebiet des unmittelbar Gegebenen anwenden
will. 37

Es geht also darum, diesen tief verwurzelten Glauben aufzugeben, daß die Analyse der
psychischen oder mentalen Vorgänge, die angeblich die Referenz der intentionalen
Aussagen darstellen, tatsächlich von einer phänomenologischen Sprache in derselben
Weise wiedergegeben werden kann, wie das bei der physikalischen Sprache mit der
Analyse der Tatsachen der Fall ist. Im besonderen muß hier die Idee einer Phänomeno-
logie als Analyse innerer Erfahrungen aufgegeben werden, bezogen auf eine Domäne von
Sätzen, die sich durch einen Status sui generis auszeichnen. Weiterhin muß man der
Versuchung wiederstehen, den Sinn der Ausdrücke, die keine direkte Referenz haben, zu
"mythologisieren" und die Existenz von mentalen Vorgängen als Objekte jener Ausdrük-
ke vorauszusetzen. Man muß nicht nur die Mythologie des Logizismus, sondern auch die

206
subtilere Mythologie des Psychologismus vermeiden. Auf diese Weise erreicht man mit
der Flucht vor den Fregeschen Sinnen, daß man eine doppelte Gefahr vermeidet, nämlich
die Ontologisierung der mathematischen Begriffe und Zahlen und die dazu parallel
verlaufende Ontologisierung der psychologischen Begriffe und der mentalen Zustände.
Der Sinn eines Satzes entspricht keinem objektiven Gedankeninhalt und kann somit
nicht vergegenständlicht werden. Er, der Sinn, bezeichnet nichts, d.h., nichts, was- weil
es nicht "physisch" daseinkann-nun unbedingt "psychisch" oder "geistig" sein müsse.
An einer Stelle der PG, die besonders dem § 502 der PU ähnelt, von dem wir ja
ausgegangen waren, stellt Wittgenstein folgendes fest:

Der Sinn eines Satzes ist nicht pneumatisch (wie der Gedanke es nicht ist), sondern
er ist das, was auf die Frage nach der Erklärung des Sinnes zur Antwort kommt.
Oder: der eine Sinn unterscheidet sich vom andern, wie die Erklärung des einen
von der Erklärung des andern. Also auch der Sinn des einen Satzes unterscheidet
sich vom Sinn des anderen, wie der eine Satz vom andern. Der Sinn des Satzes ist
keine Seele. 38

Hierbei handelt es sich um eine Stelle, die in einem umfassenderen Gedankenkreis


steht, in dem Wittgenstein mit seinem bild- und anspielungsreichen Stil zeigt, wie die
Ontologisierung der Sinne, wie sie Frege anstrebte, nicht nur unwirksam ist in der
Immunisierung gegen den Psychologismus, sondern im Grunde eine Methode darstellt,
die Ontologie zu verdoppeln, indem die Illusion einer phänomenologischen Sprache
begünstigt wird, die in der Lage ist, unmittelbare Erfahrungen darzustellen, um auf diese
Art den neuen Mythos der mentalen Vorgänge zu schaffen.
Der Sinn ist grundlegend ein grammatikalischer Begriff, der sich auf die Funktion
bezieht, die einem Wort im sprachlichen Kontext zufällt, in den dieses eingegliedert ist;
es ist also nicht etwas Objektives und Absolutes, sondern etwas Kontextabhängiges. Weit
entfernt, die Bedingungen für die Wahrheit I Falschheit eines Satzes festzulegen, ist der
Sinn grundlegend normativ, drückt also die Regeln aus, um einen Satz zu verstehen. Wie
Wittgenstein dann auch im selben Text klärt, heißt, den Sinn eines Satzes zu verstehen,
ihn in das sprachliche System einzugliedern, dem er angehört:

Einen Satz verstehen, heißt, eine Sprache zu verstehen.


Ein Satz ist ein Zeichen in einem System von Zeichen. Er ist eine Zeichen-
verbindung unter anderen möglichen und im Gegensatz zu anderen möglichen.
Gleichsam eine Zeigerstellung im Gegensatz zu anderen möglichen. 39

Die phänomenologische Analyse hat also länger keine Daseinsberechtigung, denn es


gibt nichts zu analysieren, die Phänomenologie ist nur Grammatik. Trotz der scheinbaren
Uniformität der satzmäßigen Struktur bei grammatikalischen Sätzen, die Regeln anbie-
ten, und Erfahrungs- oder physikalischen Sätzen, die Tatsachen beschreiben, besteht ein
großer kategorialer Unterschied. Genau aus diesem Grund stellt die Anwendung des
Modells der physikalischen Sprache auf die Datensprache einen der "ärgsten philosophi-
schen Irrtümer" dar. Um diese Irrtümer zu vermeiden, wird es notwendig sein, daß das
strenge anti-psychologistische Programm der PB kohärenterweise die Anti-Phänomeno-
logie der PG wird.
In diesem Sinne stellt dieses Werk nicht nur einen der interessantesten Texte dar, um
die Gründe dieser fortschreitenden Konzentrierung von Wittgensteins Interessen auf
philosophische Probleme der Psychologie aufzuzeigen, sondern ist zugleich auch eines
jener Dokumente des analytischen Denkens, die besonders eindrucksvoll an dem Kampf
gegen den Psychologismus teilhaben, der die ganze epistemologische Tradition von

207
Frege an charakterisiert. Die Ablehnung der Phänomenologie und die Flucht vor den
Sinnen, die Verwandlung der Intentionalität und Modalität in grammatikalische und
kontextabhängige Probleme, sind verschiedene Anwendungsarten von ein und derselben
kritischen Strategie, wie sie Wittgenstein vor- und durchführt, um das Fregesche anti-
psychologistische Ziel zu verwirklichen, ohne die Objektivität der Sinne zuzugeben.
Zum Schluß ist es vielleicht nicht unangebracht, an dieser Stelle zu bemerken, daß der
späte Wittgenstein in größter Entfernung von der Carnapschen Semantik der "möglichen
Welten" Front bezieht; was einem übrigens in diesem Zusammenhang auch einfällt, ist
die Entscheidung von Quine, die als "Flucht vor den Intensionen" bekannt ist. 40 Um die
Unwirksamkeit im Vorgehen Freges zu beweisen, der die Ontologie durch Verdingli-
chung der Sinne verdoppeln wollte, war ja auch Quine davon ausgegangen, das Vorhan-
densein der Unterscheidung in "analytisch" und "synthetisch" zu leugnen, wobei er
einigermaßen der Wittgensteinschen Linie folgte, nämlich den nicht-synthetischen Sät-
zen einen ontologischen Zustand abzuerkennen. Aber gerade diese Berufung auf Frege
beweist in diesem Fall wieder, wie ein und dasselbe strategische Verhalten bisweilen ganz
verschiedene Ziele vor Augen haben kann. Quine beseitigt die Sinne, wie sie Frege sah,
um sie zu "naturalisieren" und aus der Bedeutungslehre einen Zweig der Psychologie zu
machen, 41 Wittgenstein dagegen geht so vor, daß er die Sinne grundsätzlich der Psycho-
logie entzieht und sie der Grammatik überantwortet. Im ersten Fall kann man tatsächlich
von einer Abschwörung von den Fregeschen Ideen sprechen, im letzteren Fall nur von
einer zähen und tiefergehenden Bemühung, Frege darzustellen.

Anmerkungen

1 PU (Oxford 1953 ), § 502.


2 (Oxford 1964 ).
3 (Oxford 1969).
4 PU,§ 65.

5 Ebd., § 491-693.

6 Ebd., § 654-693.
7 "Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik", 100, 1892, S. 25-50.

8 Siehe An lnquiry into Meaning and Truth (London 1940), Kap. XI-XII.

9 Vgl. Über Sinn und Bedeutung, S. 50.

10 Siehe besonders Abschnitte I. und V.

11 Siehe Wittgenstein und der Wiener Kreis (WWK) (Oxford 1967), S. 63-68.

12 Siehe dazu PB, § 1.

13 (Berkeley, Los Angeles 1977), I, 53, S. 9.

14 PB,§§ 1, 11, 53, 57, 71. 74, 139, 147, 213; WWK, S. 45, 63.

15 TLP, 5.541.
16 BF, II, 3, S.15.

17 PB, §§ 1-2; 67-69.

18 Ebd., §§ 76-86 und 218-224. Siehe auch WWK, S. 63-67.


19 PB,§ 1; WWK, S. 63, 67.

20 Ebd., § 10-19, 43-44; WWK, S. 63.


21 Siehe dazu Moores Abhandlung Wittgenstein's Leerures /930-33, in: G.E. Moore, Philosophical

Papers (London 1959), S. 252-324.


22 Siehe Bemerkungen über die Philosophie der Psychologie (Oxford 1980) und Letzte

Schriften über die Philosophie der Psychologie (Oxford 1982).

208
23 §§ 20-38.
24 Aristotelian Society, Suppl. Vol. 9, (London 1929), S. 162-71.
25 PB, § 82.
26 WWK, S.74. Die Ungrammatikalität des ersten Satzes stammt aus Waismanns Original.

McGuinness, der Herausgeber, vermutet, daß am Satzende "nicht" statt "sind" gehört.
27 § 43.

28 § 23.
29 Siehe dazu §§ 20-38.

30 WWK, S.63; siehe auch PB,§ 60.

31 (Chicago 1947).

32 Ebd., Kap. I. und III.

33 PB,§ 1.
34 PG, S. 215.

35 Ebd., §§ 1-44.

36 BF, II, 3.

37 § 57.
38 PG, § 84.

39 Ebd., § 84.

40 Vgl. W.V.O. Quine, Word and Object (Cambridge, Mass. 1960), Kap. VI.
41 Vgl. W.V.O. Quine, Ontological Relativity and Other Essays (New York, London 1969),

Kap. 3.

***

209
The Grammar of Grammar

ROBERT L. ARRINGTON
Georgia State University, Atlanta

Wittgenstein's conception of the proper nature of philosophical activity is highly


problematic in both his early and later work. The purpose and Iimits he attributes to
philosophy frequently appear to be inconsistent with the substantive results of his own
practice of philosophizing. This is perhaps less so in the later thought, but there his
restriction of the roJe of philosophy to the therapeutic dismantling of confusion neverthe-
less seems at odds with the wonderfully rich and revealing descriptions of grammar he
provides.
One of the dominant interpretations of Wittgenstein 's later philosophical method, and
one which guided the direction of much "Wittgensteinian philosophy" for several decades
after his death, is that in fact this method allows for the possibility of constructive and
substantive philosophical inquiry- in the form of either descriptive metaphysics, linguis-
tic ontology, or conceptual geography. This view takes Wittgenstein 's own restriction of
the roJe of philosophy to therapy tobe merely idiosyncratic, a matter of his own peculiar
interests, an accident, or, at worst, an inconsistency. Abrieflook at some ofthe secondary
Iiterature will establish as much. Strawson, for instance, writes in his review of the
Philosophicallnvestigations:
Now, even if we begin with a therapeutic purpose, our interest might not exhaust
itself when that purpose is achieved; and there can be an investigation of the logic
of sets of concepts, which starts with no purpose other than that of unravelling and
ordering complexities for the sake of doing so. The desire to present the facts
systematically here becomes important in proportion as therapeutic aims become
secondary. 1

Strawson characterizes Wittgenstein 's attitude toward such a descriptive metaphysics


as an extreme aversion2, an attitude which is, after all, quite different from a belief in the
impossibility or absurdity ofthe project. This notion that the activity involved in therapy,
the description of language games, could theoretically be carried beyond the bounds of
the therapeutic enterprise is echoed by Warnock, who teils us that grammatical descrip-
tions need not be pursued further than seems necessary if the purpose of the therapy is to
be achieved, implying that they could be carried further. 3 Hacker, while insisting on the
importance for Wittgenstein of the negative task of dissolving metaphysical illusion,
nevertheless also Iooks beyond to a more positive conception of the new philosophical
method: "The fact that Wittgenstein found the primary point of achieving a surview in
dispelling a metaphysical illusion in no way debars others from seeking a comprehensive
surview of a segment of grammar which goes far and beyond what is necessary for purely
therapeutic purposes." 4 Hacker argues that Willgenstein's opposition to systematic phi-
losophy is simply his opposition to the use of scientific method in philosophy; the contrast
he wants to draw is between philosophy and science, not between systematic and
nonsystematic philosophy. 5 Tobe sure, Hacker thinks that the morepositive conception
of philosophy is one of describing the structure of our thought, not the structure of the
world. The important thing, however, isthat he sides with those who see in Willgenstein 's
method the possibility of a "comprehensive account" of grammar which gives us
knowledge, not just good mental health. Specht sees Straightforward ontological impli-
cations in Willgenstein 's later thought. He teils us that Wittgenstein "finds a new

210
methodologically assured approach to the problems of ontology," 6 and he goes on to
write: "A systematic ontology is conceivable also within a linguistic constitution theory
like Wittgenstein's. It would consist of a complete as possible investigation into and
explanation of the individual language-games in which the constitution of objects is
effected". 7 Specht asserts that Wittgenstein does not consider systematic study of lan-
guage for ontological purposes, implying that, but for his therapeutic interests, he could
have done so. And we are furthermore told that Wittgenstein, in his methodological
rejection of theory, expresses a demand that is inconsistent with the theory of language
he hirnself proposes. 8 Lastly, we can take note of Pears' characterization and explanation
ofWittgenstein 's method. Pears describes it as a method of adducing linguistic examples,
and he wants to know why Wittgenstein does not put the examples into classes and
generalize about them. His answer: "The reason why he believed it tobe useless to try to
generalize in philosophy was that the subject was too complex." 9 This leaves us won-
dering whether, ifGod read Wittgenstein and followed the method, He could pull offwhat
mere mortals cannot.
In the face of this impressive body of interpretive opinion, would it not be foolhardy
to suggest that the restriction of the roJe of philosophy to therapy was something
Wittgenstein considered necessary, something thatfollowsfrom other things he has to say
about language? I hope to show that in point offact this restriction is connected, indirectly
but nevertheless forcefully, to his notion of grammar. If we understand what grammar is,
we will see why there can be no linguistic ontology and no comprehensive surview ofthe
mind 's concepts. If we understand the grammar of grammar, we will see why philosophy
can be no more than therapy.

II
Let us begin by looking at the textual evidence that might incline one to think
constructive ontological orconceptual inquiry is possible within the confines ofWittgen-
stein 's later philosophy. There is, of course, the central statement that "Grammar teils us
what kind of object anything is" (PI, § 373). This is an elaboration of the even more
succinct "Essence is expressed by grammar" (PI, § 371 ). Earlier is the lnvestigations
Wittgenstein had written: "We feelas if we had to penetrate phenomena: our investiga-
tion, however, is directed not toward phenomena, but as one might say, towards the
'possibilities' ofphenomena. We remind ourselves, that is to say, ofthe kind ofstatement
that we make about phenomena" (PI,§ 90). Putting these thoughts together, it might seem
that, for Wittgenstein, to consider the kind of statement we make about something shows
us the kindofthing it is we are talking about. It reveals the essence ofthat kind of thing.
Such a revelation of essence shows us not how the world actually or contingently is- the
phenomena- but rather its possibilities and impossibilities. Wittgenstein is not explicit
in the lnvestigations about what he means by 'essence', but it is plausible to assume that
he has in mind the distinction developed in the Tractatus between internal and external
properties, essence being, if not equivalent to, at least similar to internal properties. It is
noteworthy that he is still speaking of internal properlies in the Remarks on the F oun-
dations of Mathematics, where he teils us that we regard a calculation as demonstrating
an "internal property (a property of the essence) of the structures" (RFM, p. 29). The
characteristic mark of these internal properlies is that "they persist always, unalterably,
in the whole that they constitute" (RFM, p. 30). Furthermore, the Statements that describe
internal properlies are non-temporalandtobe contrasied with empirical propositions that
describe the outcomes of experiments. It is tempting to construe such Statements as what
Wittgenstein increasingly comes to call "grammatical remarks."

211
This gives us an accessible and somewhat familiar picture. To grasp essences, to
describe them, would be to grasp the possibilities of phenomena by way of understanding
what properties an object or event must have in orderthat we may correctly call it an entity
of a certain type, that is to say, in orderthat we may apply a certain word to it. The State-
ment of the essence would be a priori. Its truth, however, would not be a matter of its
correspondence with nature. lnsofar as it is we, through our linguistic practices, who
parcel nature into kinds, the truth of a grammatical Statement of essence would depend
solely on the rules for the use of the words contained in it. Here we have a scenario for
what might be called linguistic ontology.
It is highly doubtful, however, that Wittgenstein accepted such a conception of
philosophy. Hedenies emphatically that there can be a description of essence (PR, pp. 84-
85). And all talk of essences is seen by him either as disguised talk of conventions which
are to guide the way we use words or eise as disguised ways of expressing contingent,
empirical judgments (RFM, p. 23; PI,§ 401; PG, pp. 52-53). Moreover, it is difficult to
see how, had he fully accepted the account just sketched, he could have resisted the
temptation to engage in linguistic ontology in his later philosophy. And yet, in the
lnvestigations, after defining his inquiry tobe a grammatical one Wittgenstein immedi-
ately links this inquiry, not to ontology, but to therapy, the removal of Iinguistic
confusion: "Such an investigation sheds light on our problern by clearing misunderstand-
ings away. Misunderstandings concerning the use of words, caused, among other things,
by certain analogies between the forms of expression in different regions of language"
(PI, § 90). This emphasis on the negative task of removing confusion is present in
Wittgenstein 's 1934-35 lectures, where, as Alice Ambrose reports, he "states he is
interested in language only insofar as it produces certain puzzles that we want to get rid
of. " 10 She continues, "He describes the actual use of a word only in order to remove certain
troubles." Such a view of his activity is consistent with his implied avowal in the
lnvestigations that he advances no theses in philosophy (PI,§ 128) and his assertion that
his descriptions of language get their "light," their "purpose," from the philosophical
problems (PI, § I 09), as if the only excuse for the philosophy is the problems, just as the
only excuse for medicine is the ailments of mankind. And the problems are to be
dissolved, not solved, just as mortal ailments are cured.
At the very least these attitudes and statements must Iead us to raise the question: in
what sense is therapy centrat for Wittgenstein? Is therapy just one among other philo-
sophical products of grammatical descriptions, or is it the whole point, the only conceivable
philosophical point, of those descriptions?

III
In order to answer this question, it will be necessary first of all to clarify the general
notion of grammar. Commentators have often remarked that this notion is ambiguous:
'grammar' may refer to certain characteristics of language, or it may refer to statements
made about those characteristics. When Wittgenstein speaks of the grammar of an ex-
pression or word, grammar appears to be something that is a property of that part of
language. When he teils us such things as that "grammar only describes and in no way
explains the use of signs" (PI,§ 596), he is obviously referring to statements made about
words, or made about the grammar ofthese words, that is to say, about grammarin the first
sense. To facilitate the discussion, I shall use the word 'grammar' to refer tothat which
is a property of a word or expression or sentence. I shall speak of statements made about
grammar as 'grammatical remarks'.
The distinction between grammar and grammatical remarks is not sufficient, however,

212
to deal with the various aspects of Wittgenstein 's treatment of the subject. We must also
distinguish two kinds of grammatical remarks: formal and informal. And we must further
introduce a higher Ievel grammatical claim, one which is made about grammatical
remarks themselves for the purpose of elucidating the grammar of these grammatical
remarks. I shall call this second-order grammatical statement a grammatical elucidation.
Grammatical remarks, it should be said, have their own grammar; grammatical elucida-
tions show us this second-order grammar. To appreciate fully Wittgenstein's concept of
grammar requires an elucidation of the nature of grammatical remarks, especially those
of the formal variety.
Let us now be more specific about grammar, grammatical remarks (formal and
informal), and grammatical elucidations. In the Brown Book (BBB, p. 135) Wittgenstein
equates grammar and use, andin the Philosophical Grammar there is an explicit equation
of use and meaning (p. 60); hence, as we might expect: "I want to say that the place of a
word in grammar is its meaning" (PG, p. 59). Grammar or use comprises (a) the logical
and syntactical connections and relations between a word and other words or expressions;
(b) the circumstances in which a word is properly used or the criteria that justify its use;
(c) the linguistic activity performed in uttering or writing the word, together with the non-
linguistic activities in which this performance is embedded; and (d) the purpose for which
the word is employed. As far as grammatical remarks are concerned, "Grammar describes
the use of words in the language" (PG, p. 60). Grammatical remarks, then, will be as
diverse as the multi-faceted nature of use or grammar; these remarks will display
syntactical and logical connections, conditions of application, verbal and nonverbal
activities, and the point or purpose of use.
Wittgenstein often emphasizes the purpose we have in using a word, indicating thereby
that this is one of the essential parameters of use: "Ask yourself: on what occasion, for
what purpose, do we say this?" (PI, §489). He says, for example, of a formalization of
logic: "The question, 'what was it useful for?' was a quite essential question" (RFM, p.
109). And he goes so far in the Philosophic·a/ Remarks (p. 59) as to equate sense and
meaning with purpose. It is the purpose of use which allows us to distinguish between the
essentialandinessential elements of a language-game (PI,§ 62, 564ff.), and it is in terms
of its purpose that a language-game meshes with our Jives (PG, pp. 65-66; RFM, p. 8.).
We can easily see why the purpose of an expression is so important, for if "words are
deeds" (PI, § 546), then surely the purposes of these deeds will be involved in the
specifications of the very identity of the deeds.
Next, Iet us Iook at the difference between formal and informal grammatical remarks.
Formal grammatical remarks are often in the material mode of speech and have the
character of universal Statements. 11 Quite a few of these formal Statements, but perhaps
not the number one might expect, occur in Wittgenstein's later philosophy, some
examples being: "Every rod has a length" (PI,§ 251 ), "Sensations are private" (PI,§ 248),
"Believing is not thinking" (PI,§ 574), and "White is lighter than black" (RFM, p. 30).
These formal remarks have the Iook of definitions that describe the real essences of the
kindsofthing designated by their definienda. But a slight variation in their form can Iead
us to think of them as fundamentally being rules for the use of words. Take, for instance,
the following: "We only say of a human being and what is Iike one that it thinks" (PI, §
360). This can easily be taken as a rule for the correct use of 'thinks'. lndeed, the account
oflinguistic ontology sketched above has no difficulty in interpreting allformal grammatical
remarks as both real definitions and rules of language, for it takes the essences of things
to be constituted by the rules of language. Supposedly, the task of Iinguistic ontology
would be to supply a complete system of such formal remarks.

213
In reading Wittgenstein, however, one cannot help but notice the very low proportion
offormal grammatical remarks to informal"grammatical notes" (PI,§ 232). The latterare
of protean form, but more often than not they give the impression of being neither
definitions nor rules. This is as one might expect, for if grammar includes the purpose or
point ofthe use ofwords, and this purpose, as Wittgenstein suggests in PI,§ 182, is often
not revealed by a formal definition, then the characterization of this purpose will be the
proper goal of informal grammatical remarks. These informal remarks will also be the
means by which we convey the logical relationships between expressions that are less
rigid and exact than the relationship of entailment- e.g., the relationship of "appropriate
response"- and which are therefore not the proper subject matter offormal definitions or
rules. Finally, Wittgenstein's insistence that many terms do not have a set of necessary
and sufficient conditions for their application and that there is no one thing common to
all the objects to which they apply, makes the usefulness of formal grammatical remarks
somewhat limited. With family resemblance concepts, informal grammatical remarks are
more appropriate, for they can convey the many different circumstances that justify the
use of a term or that constitute the contexts within which a linguistic act takes on its
identity. Given the nature of grammar, then, informal grammatical remarks have a natural
priority over formal grammatical remarks.
But in addition to their comparative and appropriate rarity, formal grammatical
remarks are also notable for occurring most often in contentious, problematic contexts.
Some are said tobe grammatical fictions (PI,§ 307) which are unfaithful to the grammar
of language, e.g., "Only I can know whether I am really in pain" (PI, § 246; seealso PI,
§§ 253, 316, and 317). But even those that pass muster in this respect have something
worrisome about them. In various ways Wittgenstein often will warn: "But that's only a
grammatical remark!"- e.g., PI, §§ 295, 251, 239, 360, 401, 482, 665, p. 222. It is as if
the possibility of misinterpretation and confusion is always present when a formal
grammatical remark parades before us. On the few occasions, then, when Wittgenstein's
investigations yield this kind of statement, they do so with a sense of uneasiness and
danger. We need to know why this is so.
If grammatical remarks are to describe grammar, and grammar contains as an essential
element the purpose of words and expressions, then, as we have seen, grammatical
remarks need to capture this purpose. What we now need to recognize isthat the essential
inclusion of purpose in grammar extends to the grammatical remarks themselves: They
too have a grammar and hence a purpose. As Wittgenstein concludes after one gram-
matical investigation: "And this is of course a grammatical remark about the use of the
word 'calculation'. And this grammar has ofcourse a point" (RFM, p. 164, emphasis added).
To understand grammatical remarks, themselves being word-deeds, we must grasp their
purpose or point, for their nature will be a function ofthat purpose. It will be the job of
grammatical elucidations to indicate the purpose of grammatical remarks, as weil as any
other significant feature oftheir grammar. It is my contention that once we understand the
grammar of grammatical remarks, once we possess grammatical elucidations, we will be
in a position to understand why formal remarks not only are occasionally inadequate
representations of first-level grammar but also are always highly misleading and liable to
philosophical perversity. Grammatical remarks, I hope to show, can go wrong precisely
by being out of connection with those purposes and contexts that give them life. When this
happens, grammatical remarks are "on holiday."

214
IV
Let us consider a particular example of a grammatical remark going "on holiday." This will
provide us as weil with an example of a grammatical elucidation.
Consider the case of someone informing us that "a man has consciousness, and ... a tree
or a stone does not" (PI,§ 418). Willgenstein wants us to see how strange that assertion
would be. He brings this out be asking, "Whom do I really inform, if I say 'I have
consciousness '?" and by pointing out that I might say this to someone who believed that
I was still in a faint. Is it the case, then, that the philosopher who teils us human beings
("a man") have consciousness is telling us that no human beings are in a faint? Hardly.
But what then is the point of his claim? Willgenstein 's question, "To whom would I say
this?", is a grammatical remark when directed at the ullerance of "I am conscious" and a
grammatical elucidation when directed at the ullerance of the grammatical remark "A
man has consciousness .... "The informal grammatical remark reveals the purpose (or
a purpose) behind "I am conscious" and hence explains its significance. The grammatical
elucidation in this case reveals the pointlessness, and hence the idleness and insignifi-
cance, of the formal grammatical remark. Similar things can be said about the grammati-
cal remark "White is lighter than black", for, as Wittgenstein writes: "Whom do we tel!
'White is lighter than black'? What information does it give?" (RFM, p. 31; seealso RFM, p. 61 ).
But, someone may protest, the grammatical remark to the effect that human beings are
conscious and trees and stones are not does indeed have a purpose. lts point is simply to
distinguish human beings from other kinds of things, and it achieves this goal by
indicating a property possessed by allhuman beings and by no stones, trees, etc. Are there
not, after all, philosophical purposes that our grammatical statements might serve as weil
as the more pedestrian, common or garden variety ones? Isn 't the cognitive grasp of
essence just such a purpose?
The suggestion that there may be a philosophical, essentialist purpose behind gram-
matical remarks soundplausible enough when presented in the abstract, but we can detect
the latent absurdity of the suggestion when we consider a concrete case. What could be
the purpose of distinguishing a human being from trees and stones by saying that the one
is, and the others are not, conscious? If the purpose is a cognitive one, it presupposes that
the speaker believes the audience to whom he addresses the grammatical remark is
ignorant of some information supplied by the remark. But who is not going to know that
human beings aredifferent from trees and stones? Certainly no philosophical audience.
If it is said that some people, and some philosophers (behaviorists), may not know that the
distinction is grounded in the fact of consciousness, then we need to reflect on the
following remark by Wittgenstein: '"Every rod has a length' ... Now can I imagine "every
rod having a length"? Weil, I simply imagine a rod" (PI, § 251 ). The kind of ignorance
one could have of rods which might prompt the grammatical remark is not ignorance of
their essential properlies but rather a total unfamiliarity with rods. Overcoming this kind
of ignorance requires, not the reception of generat truths about rods, but an introduction
to rods themselves, or perhaps an introductionfor the firsttime to the concept of rods, to
the use of the word ·rod'. Put another way, thinking or imagining that rods have length
is not something one can do over and above thinking about or imagining rods. lt is not that
one could think of rods and then be informed that they have length. Similarly, one could
not think of human beings without thinking of their having consciousness. One could not
distinguish human beings and trees and still need an enlightening remark like "A man has
consciousness and trees and stones do not." Finally, if it is said that many people are
ignorant of the definition of a word like 'human' even though they are perfectly capable
of using it correctly, then it is time to appropriate Willgenstein 's reminder that nothing

215
is hidden (PI, §§ 435, 126). Whatever it is that Ieads us to apply correctly the word
'human' is all there is to the meaning of that word; there is no hidden sense which is
uncovered by analysis and presented in an informative definition - a sense which we
formerly, in our mere state of knowing how, were not aware of. If we already know how
to use the word correctly, then our response to its definition would have to be that it was
obvious and trivial - hardly a response indicating the surmounting of ignorance. In
conclusion, then, we must question whether there could be any cognitive, informative
purpose motivating a grammatical remark. There is no opening for such a purpose, no
ignorance which the philosopher might combat by unfolding his superior knowledge.
There remains the possibility, however, that a different kind of purpose could stand
behind a formal grammatical remark, giving it status and substance as a definite act.
Indeed, we find Wittgenstein not only criticizing formal grammatical remarks (via
grammatical elucidations) but also hirnself asserting formal grammatical remarks, e.g.,
"only of a living human being and what resembles (behaves like) a living human being
can one say: it has sensations; it sees, is blind, hears, is deaf, is conscious or unconscious"
(PI, § 281 ). Why is this remark acceptable while "a man has consciousness and ... trees
and stones do not" is strange and idle? Is it not that Wittgenstein is imagining the former
to have a definite context and purpose, while the lauer is presented with no such
provisions? Of course, the lauer, idle remark could be provided with context and purpose
of the same sort as the former. What kind of purpose can activate a formal grammatical
remark and render it intelligible?
The answer seems to be this: grammatical remarks may intelligibly occur in a context
of teaching word use or in a context of therapy. Consider, for example, the grammatical
remark "Only you can know if you had that intention." Ofthis Wittgenstein writes: "One
might teil someone this when one was explaining the meaning of the word 'intention' to
him. For then it means: 'that is how we use it'" (PI,§ 247). Such teaching is not itself a
philosophical activity, although, as weshall see, Wittgenstein has some important things
to say about it. The distinctively philosophical purpose of grammatical remarks isthat of
therapy. There can be little doubt that when Wittgenstein writes that "the work of the
philosopher consists in assembling reminders for a particular purpose" (PI,§ 127), the
purpose he has in mind is that of dissolving a philosophical problern or dispelling a
metaphysical illusion. If we are to understand grammatical remarks we must see how they
operate in these two contexts that give them purpose and meaning.

V
There is much that Wittgenstein has to say about the roJe of grammatical remarks in the
context of teaching, but I shall restriet myself to a central point he makes about formal
grammatical remarks. When used as instruments of instruction, they function as prescriptive
guidelines for the formation of meaningful contingent judgments. Wittgenstein gives us
an example of such a guideline in the Blue Book: " ... 'The room has length' can be used
as a grammatical statement. It then says that a sentence ofthe form 'The room is _ feet
long' makes sense" (BBB, p. 30). A similar grammatical elucidation occurs in RFM, I, 28
(p. 12): "The proposition 'white is lighter than black' asserts that it makes sense to speak
of two objects, the Iighter one white and the other black, but not of two objects, the lighter
one black and the other white." These grammatical elucidations characterize their
respective grammatical remarks as remarks about sensible sentential forms. Such remarks
are permissions, encouragements, or commands to pupils to construct sentences satisfying
these forms. The teaching that employs these formal grammatical remarks is successful,
not when pupils come to appreciate their truth, but when they act in accordance with the

216
prescriptions and make empirical judgments incorporating the permissible forms.
Another example of a formal grammatical remark seen in its proper pedagogical roJe
is given in the Philosophical Remarks: "When a child learns 'Biue is a color, red is a color,
green, yellow - all are colors', it Iearns nothing new about the colors, but the meaning of
a variable in such propositions as: 'There are beautiful colors in that picture' etc. The first
propositionteils him the values of a variable" (PR, pp. 52-53). What Iooks like a cata-
1ogue of some elements oflogical space- colors- really is an instruction for filling in such
empirical Statements as "There is a beautiful _ _ color in that picture." The formal
grammatical remark functions as a device for instructing a person in permissible uses of words.
So interpreted, formal grammatical remarks are very similar to mathematical proposi-
tions as the 1atter are characterized by Wittgenstein. Mathematical propositions are not
themselves descriptions, but rather rules of description (RFM, p. 163), and as such they
arenot expressions of knowledge. As Wittgenstein puts it: "If you know a mathematical
proposition, that's not to say you yet know anything. l.e., the mathematical proposition
is only supposed to supply aframeworkfor a description" (RFM, p. 160, last emphasis
added). Similar remarks are made about the propositions of logic: " ... one needs to
remernher that the propositions of logic are so constructed as to have no application as
information in practice. So it could very weil be said that they were not propositions at
all" (RFM, p. 53). Mathematical, logical, and grammatical propositions arenot informative
descriptions, arenot known, arenot really even propositions. They teach us new concepts
in the same way as we are taught to count (RFM, p. 187): by getting us to do things. Such
concept formation takes us to the Iimits of empiricism, but "the Iimits of empiricism are
not assumptions unguaranteed, or intuitively known tobe correct; they are ways in which
we make comparisons andin which we act" (RFM, p. 176). lt is because we need to make
judgments and comparisons, and because we need to be taught the techniques for doing
these things, that grammatical remarks- mathematical, logical, and verbal- have a roJe,
and hence a point and a meaning, in the context of teaching.

VI
Let us now Iook at the roJe of grammatical remarks in the context of therapy.
Philosophical perplexity and philosophical problems develop when a philosopher loses
the ability to engage with facility and confidence in the ordinary use of words. He
becomes entangled in the rules (PI,§ 125) and does not know his way about (PI,§ 123).
The purpose of philosophical therapy is to return him to activity, to restore his mental,
linguistic soundness. For this purpose a perspicuous representation of grammar is
required, because the cause of his "sickness of mind" was a confusion of grammar. The
philosopher can be misled by analogies in the surface features of language and conse-
quently may attempt to use words in similar ways when they really have quite distinct
uses. He can be "misled by the similarity of their linguistic form into a false conception
of their grammar" (888, p. 16). The therapist may employ a number of techniques to
overcome this confusion: assembling an adequate diet of examples, arranging interme-
diate cases, constructing artificiallanguage games or moreprimitive language games, etc.
His goal is to restore a mastery of language which has momentarily been lost, an ability
which has been handicapped.
The confused philosopher differs from the student of language in that he does not need
to learn anything new. Rather, he needs tobe reminded of something with which he is
a1ready familiar but which, for some reason, he cannot see aright. He needs to have his
attitudes changed toward rules and uses of language he once understood perfectly weiL
The aim of philosophy is "to remove particular misunderstandings; not to produce a real

217
understanding for the first time" (PG, p. 115). It follows from this that the ro1e of the
therapist is not to produce definitions or rules which were implicit but unrecognized in the
former facile use of words and which, now come to awareness, constitute new-found
know1edge that will set things aright for the patient. Nor is the therapist to adduce any
truths, information, facts, or necessities that the naive, wholesome mind was not already
familiar with and that it did not already emp1oy in its accomplished use of words. The
therapist is not a super-teacher.
One peculiar form of grammatical confusion to which philosophers are especially
prone isthat of taking grammatical remarks themselves in the wrong way, namely, taking
them to be a form of empirical or scientific proposition. What Wittgenstein has to say
about the "privacy of sense data" is typical of his analysis in this regard: "Another form
of our metaphysical statement is this: 'A man's sense data areprivate to himself.' And this
way of expressing it is even more misleading because it still Iooks more like an
experimental proposition; the philosopher who says this may well think he is expressing
a kind of scientific truth" (BBB, p. 55). The confusion here is the same kind Wittgenstein
speaks about when he says of one metaphysician, "the danger is ... that he imagines he
has made a kind of scientific Statement about the 'nature ofthe future '" (BBB, p. 109). The
philosopher may also feel that his truths about the nature of things have a special status:
they reveal things that could not be otherwise. When we encounter a proposition that we
cannot conceive tobe false, we may be led tothinkthat it is a description of reality in one
of its most essential and necessary aspects.
To understand Wittgenstein 's treatment of these metaphysical illusions concerning
grammatical remarks, we must have before our minds the correct conception of (formal)
grammatical remarks and the relationship between empirical and grammatical proposi-
tions. One way of grasping this relationship is to investigate the ambivalent response we
have to a grammatical remark: '"This body has extension'. To this we might reply:
'Nonsense!' but are inclined to reply 'Of Course!' - Why is this?" (PI, § 252). The in-
terpretation given above of formal grammatical remarks as guidelines concerning sensi-
ble propositional forms helps to explain this ambivalence. "This body has extension" is
nonsense if taken as a description of the subject matter "this body." We could not refer
to "this body" unless we referred to something having extension- so the proposition is
perfectly useless as a description. But if "This body has extension" is taken to mean
"Sentences of the form 'this body is _ _ feet high, _ _ feet wide, and _ _ feet
deep' make sense," then it is not only significant but also, in a way, obviously correct.
Instantiations of this propositional form obviously yield perfectly respectable sentences.
To reject the generat propositional form would be to reject all of its possible instantia-
tions, which of course we do not want to do. We know in ordinary life and science that
"This body is 10 feet wide" is either true or false, and hence significant- that this is so
is obvious, what everyone knows, a thesis everyone would grant if it were expressed (PI,
§ 128).
In light of this understanding of the relationship between grammatical and empirical
propositions, Iet us now perform philosophical therapy on some of the metaphysicians
who fall victim to illusions resulting from misunderstandings of formal grammatical
remarks. These misunderstandings can generate two different forms of metaphysics, what
I shall call the revisionist and the conservative forms. The revisionist metaphysician treats
grammatical remarks as if they were contingent Statements which one could intelligibly
defend or take objection to, just as one can defend or take objection to an empirical
judgment. For instance, instead of granting that human beings are conscious, a behaviorist
may urge that we only know facts about how a person behaves, and he may support his

218
claim by arguing that behavior alone can be observed and alone is needed in order to
predict subsequent behavior. The behaviorist metaphysician thinks ofhimself as rejecting
a false universal proposition (BBB, p. 56) - "All human beings are conscious" - by
producing contrary evidence.
What needs to be done in order to show the behaviorist and other revisionist meta-
physicians that grammatical remarks are unobjectionable? Tothis end, one can offer them
grammatical elucidations. Specifically one can point out that the purpose of formal
grammatical remarks is to serve as guidelines concerning sensible propositional forms,
usually in a context of teaching. A revisionist like the behaviorist can then see that the
formal grammatical remark "A man is conscious" is only a license to employ such
particular, contingent Statements as "Mary was conscious until the very end" and "John
regained consciousness around 1:00 p.m." The word 'conscious' in the grammatical
remark can also be seen as a variable whose values are predicates like 'Iooks', 'feels',
'thinks', and 'complains'. Thus "A man is conscious" licenses us to form contingent
statements like "John is looking at Mary," "Mary feels indignant," "Harold thinks he is
brilliant," and "Portnoy complains." Insofar as the behaviorist is also willing to gram that
these and similar statements make sense, and insofar as he now sees that the grammatical
remark does not make some further statement of fact with which he can take issue and
show empirically tobe false, he can gram the grammatical remark as weil. It no Ionger has
a contentious status which stands in the way of his accepting it. In this manner his ability
is restored to use language in its normal way to talk about consciousness and its particular
manifestations. His capacity to use everyday language in the activities of everyday life
and science is repaired. Therapy consists in removing the obstacle to his normal
employment of words- this obstacle being the misinterpretation of grammatical remarks
as disputable (i.e., empirical) claims about the world (PI,§ 104).
At the other end of the metaphysical spectrum is the conservative. He thinks of
grammatical remarks as underpinning ordinary empirical judgments - as providing a
substructure of necessary truth which cannot be overturned. When he teils us, for instance,
that red and green cannot be in the same place simultaneously, he seeshirnself as asserting
a universally true proposition (PI,§ I 04). For him, correct grammatical remarks describe
the essences of things. He is, in short, our linguistic ontologist. He too needs to be
reminded that grammatical remarks are "about" words, not the world- words as physical
things, words of the common or garden variety. The illusion from which he suffers is that
of seeing formal grammatical remarks as informative theoretical Statements. This illusion
is made all the more compelling by the fact that the ontologist, correctly perceiving the
a priori character of grammatical remarks, thinks he has discovered the synthetic a priori.
But these Statements of grammar arenot bearers ofinformation about the way things must
be. As we have seen, they are but instructions or recipes for formulating empirical
propositions.
But is the conservative in any way disabled and in need of therapy? In the Blue Book
Wittgenstein suggests that his confused attitude toward grammatical remarks may indeed
stand in the way of one form of linguistic ability, that of changing the form of notation
when the need arises. Ontologically committed to ordinary language, his mind is held
rigid, and he fails to see that ordinary language is just one notation among many possible
others (BBB, p. 59). It does not occupy an essentially privileged position with regard to
describing the world, and to think so would possibly be to deny oneself access to other
empirical truths expressed by means of, or within the system of, a different grammar.
There is still another way in which the conservative may be said to be mentally
disturbed. Taking grammatical propositions as truths about the world, he is forced to

219
answer the various methodological questions which arise conceming the possibility of
these truths and a priori knowledge of them. He is forced to ca/1 into question the dis-
cipline which treats of these truths: philosophy. He cannot rest content with the empirical
dimension, thinking as he does that there are deeper matters to be known. He lives under
a mandate to seek these deeper principles. But how? By what means? Never satisfactorily
answered, these questions make the mandate to philosophical activity an uneasy one. The
effect of therapy- the overtuming of the misconception about the nature of grammatical
remarks- may be to allow us tostop calling philosophy into question and to cease its very
activity when we want to (PI,§ 133).
I have tried to show that the way in which formal grammatical remarks operate in the
contexts of teaching and therapy is not as information-bearing descriptions of essential
or conceptual truths but as practical guidelines for the use of words. To interpret
grammatical remarks as descriptions of essential or conceptual truths would be to create
the impression of having achieved greater generality in our knowledge of the world or of
the mind than we have in everyday life. But Willgenstein wams: " ... we cannot achieve
any greater generality in philosophy than in what we say in life and in science. Here too
(as in mathematics) we leave everything as it is" (PG, p. 121). If formal grammatical
remarks are practical instruments and guidelines employed in teaching and therapy, it is
doubtful that we should think of them as truths at all. If we do continue to speak of them
this way, we should always remember that they are no more than truths about the way we
are to talk. At best grammatical remarks are successful in the contexts of teaching and
therapy. At best they provide us with concepts with which we can empirically describe the
world. As guidelines for the construction of contingent propositions, it is appropriate to
say that we use them, but it is Pickwickian to say that we know them, except in the sense
in which we know recipes. To be sure, we also may misuse them, and thus generate the
need for philosophical therapy which restores our ability to speak sensibly and effectively.

Notes

1 P. F. Strawson, "Review of Philosophicallnvestigations," Mind, Vol. LXIII (1954), p. 78.


2 lbid.
3 G. J. Warnock, English Philosophy Since 1900 (London, 1958), p. 149.
4 P.M.S. Hacker, Jnsight and Illusion: Wittgenstein on Philosophy and the Metaphysics of

Experience (Oxford, 1972), p. 141. This passage has been removed from the Revised Edition
of lnsight and Illusion.
5 lbid., p. 140.

6 E. K. Specht, The Foundations ofWittgenstein' s Late Philosophy, trans. E. D. Walford (New

York, 1969), p. 186.


7 fbid.

8 lbid., pp. 189-190.


9 David Pears, Ludwig Wirtgenstein (New York, 1970), p. 190.

10 Alice Ambrose, "Wittgenstein on Universals," in K. T. Fann, ed., Ludwig Wittgenstein: The

Man and His Philosophy (New York, 1967), p. 343.


11 It should be obvious that my notion of formal grammatical remarks, as contrasted with informal

ones, is not the same as Camap' s notion of the formal mode of speech, as contrasted with the material
mode- see R. Camap, Logical Syntax ofLanguage (London and New York, 1937).As noted, what
I call formal grammatical remarks are most often in the material mode of speech.

220
Wittgenstein and the Death of Philosophy

STEPHEN TüULMIN
Northwestern University, Illinois

Those of us who were in Ludwig Wittgenstein 's classes during his last years at
Cambridge had no doubt how lucky we were, or how unique our experience was. To be
present in his sparsely furnished attic room at Trinity College was to watch a deeply
reflective man judge his own ideas by critical Standardsmore stringent than any we knew
existed; and no serious minded student could shirk the task of figuring out what demands
Wittgenstein was imposing on himself. He was no less impressive when "at leisure" -
though to use that phrase of Ludwig Wittgenstein sounds almost frivolous- e.g., on the
regular visits he paid G. E. Moore and his wife Dorothy in their house on Chesterton Road.
(In 1946-4 7, I lived in the converted garage at the bottom of their garden.) Then the
richness ofhis cultural background and the intensity ofhis concern- above all, with music
- shone out in conversations which, in many ways, deserved to be recorded almost as
much as his lectures.
The most striking thing about the Wittgenstein we knew then was his personal
commitment to ideas- both hispersonal commitment to ideas, and hispersonal commit-
ment to ideas. In the time before 1914, even the most intellectual of his Cambridge
contemporaries had seemed to him (as Maynard Keynes told us) "shallow and brittle"; and
this remained the case much later, in the 1940s. He was too aware of what is at stake in
the World of Ideas ever to toy with concepts in the way that Bertrand Russell (say) could
do. Coming from these Habsburg Lands, where the blood of heretics and intellectuals was
often spilled - Moritz Schlick 's, not least - Wittgenstein found the playfulness of the
Bloomsbury Circle morally unacceptable. In his personal and cultural attitudes he was,
and remained, a figure of the pre-1914 Habsburg world. With the abolition of the Dual
Monarchy and the fragmentation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, he feit even
moreout of place, in a world that seemed to have lost touch with the classical culture he
had leamed to Iove in his youth, at home, in the Alleegasse.
Faced with Wittgenstein's personal blend of moral seriousness and intellectual con-
centration, those of us in his final audiences were in no position to tell how far the
uniqueness of his classes was a product of his unusual personality, how far it was an
indication ofthe radical (even unparalleled) originality ofhis philosophy. We can hardly
be blamed for this inability. We came, not from Innsbruck or Linz, Baden or Grinzing,let
alone the Innere Stadt; but from Hampstead, Kansas, Australia, India or Palestine.
Without understanding more than we did about the cultural and intellectual debts of
"young Ludwig" (as Brian McGuinness calls him) to Central Europe generally, especially
the German language Kulturkreis, above all Vienna itself, we could not at first distinguish
the personal novelty of Wittgenstein 's philosophical thought from the highly unEnglish
features of his cultural inheritance.
By now, however, thirty five years and more after his death, with the publication of so
much of Wittgenstein's Nachlass, and the material in the first volume of McGuinness'
biography to hand, we can better sort out the personal and cultural aspects of Wittgen-
stein 's work, and so begin to assess its historical significance. This is the task to which
I here try to contribute, so my essay will consist of history as much as of philosophy; but,
in the reappraisal (Neubewertung) of Wittgenstein's work to which this meeting is
devoted, we must first see his ideas in a wider context. The result may be- as Rorty argues

221
- only an edifying aper~u on history, as I personally perceive it; but it need be none the
worse for that.
Let me begin by suggesting some of the reasons why, in bis own time, Wittgenstein' s
teachings seemed to bis hearers and readers to have bad no clear parallel in the history of
philosophy, and so faced them with the special challenges that come from radical novelty.
To pose one central question in particular:
What are we to mak:e of Wittgenstein's claim to have shown that all previous
philosophy was inherently fallacious- even dead- and that bis own methods were
(as he put it) the sole "legitimate heir" of the activity that bad earlier been called
"philosophy"?
Like the claim of modemist theologians that "God is Dead", apocalyptic claims that
Philosophy is Dead have become somewhat ironical. By 1970, some twenty years after
Wittgenstein's death, there were for good or ill more professional teachers and scholars
of philosophy in the world than at any earlier moment in human history. As with the
reported death of Mark Twain, this announcement of the Death of Philosophy was
therefore, by some standards, "highly exaggerated." True, it bad been (we shall see) a long
time since any ofWittgenstein' s forerunners bad made just this radical claim: all the same,
it was not entirely without earlier parallels, and we may learn something useful about both
the past and the future of philosophy, by identifying these forertinners and building them
into our genealogy of Wittgenstein's thought.
II
Let me start by defining the two Iandmarks from which my historical survey will
triangulate out. First: The traditional school of philosophers to whom Wittgenstein can
best be compared in bis general methodisthat of the Pyrrhonists, or "classical skeptics".
Others have drawn attention to this parallel. McGuinness does so toward the end of bis
first volume, but the parallel bad previously struck three other writers: one American,
Philip Hallie, in a book on Montaigne, another Norwegian, Ame Naess, in bis essays on
skepticism, a third Israeli, Avner Cohen, in a dissertation devoted to earlier writers,
ancient and modern, who declared Philosophy "Dead". So this comparison is at least
worth another Iook.
Let me begin by clarifying this point. Many 20th century writers are confused about the
relations between "modern" and "ancient" skepticism, and use the term "skeptical" to
refer to the kinds of views exemplified by (e.g.) Descartes' appeals to Systematic Doubt
or the destructive parts of Hume's Treatise of Human Nature. Now, the Greek philoso-
phers would never have recognized those views - often called "modern skepticism" - as
"skeptical" at all. Rather, they would have called them "dogmatic": more specifically
"negative dogmatism", for seeking to deny the things that either common people or other
philosophers assert. In Greek eyes, the true skeptic was one who resisted equally the urge
to assert general philosophical Statements, and to deny them: the core of Pyrrhonism, as
taught by Sextus Empiricus, was to spot those philosophical claims to "knowledge" (or
even "certainty") about matters that are too general, comprehensive and grandiose to fall
within the possible scope ofhuman demonstration, and then take care neither to assert nor
to deny them.
Second: When Wittgenstein talks about the urge to pose philosophical questions, and
insist on philosophical doctrines, as a "temptation"- one that may be natural, but should
be held at arm's length - the questions and doctrines that exemplify this point come
predominantly from the philosophy of the last 350 years: roughly, from the period that

222
begins with the work of Descartes. There are of course some clear exceptions. The
Philosophische Untersuchungen opens with a passage from Augustine, and later com-
ments on the ideas in Plato 's Theaetetus; but, by and !arge, we can gloss most of his points
effectively, using philosophical texts from no earlier than the year 1630.
In this respect, Wittgenstein 's "critique" of philosophy is like those of several other
20th century writers. John Dewey's Gifford Lectures, The Quest for Certainty- written
in 1929, in the aftermath of Werner Heisenberg's first papers on quantum mechanics-
attacks 17th century methods in epistemology for adopting too passive a view of
perception, and too rigidly separating the Observer from the Observed. Dewey calls on
20th century philosophers to reject not just the Quest for Certainity itself, but also the 17th
century model of the Mind as an Inner Theatre, and then restates the central concerns of
the theory of knowledge in more pragmatic terms. More recently, in Philosophy and the
Mirror of Nature, Richard Rorty too disowns the program for philosophical "theory"
current since Descartes on very similar grounds, as relying uncritically on a conception
we have by now good reason to reject: i.e. that of the Inner Mind as framing a repre-
sentation ofthe Outer World. Some may wish to add to this Iist of critics the names, among
others, of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger; but this is enough. My aim here is not
to find all the 20th century writers who agree with Wittgenstein 's criticisms of the
Cartesian tradition in philosophy.
Instead, Iet me raise a deeper historical question:

Why do so few of these critics cast their nets back before the year 1630, and ask
how far the questions and arguments of earlier philosophers are open to the
objection that Wittgenstein presses against their successors: viz., that they, too, are
tempted to overreach the Bounds of Language- an die Grenze der Sprache anzu-
rennen?

Putting my Iandmark points together, we can work our way toward an answer to that
question.
If recent critics of the philosophical tradition have concentrated on the period since
Descartes, that is no accident. Between 1590 and 1640, the intellectual preoccupations of
Western and Central Europe underwent a drastic shift. Until the late 16th century, the
European intellectual scene was marked by speculative vigor and tolerance for varied
opinions: these vanished in the mid 17th century and, by 1650, a new demand for doctrinal
certainty and proof was entrenched. Before 1600 (one may say) we arestill in the world
of the Renaissance Humanists, whose leading members, e.g. Erasmus and Calvin, were
of course Christians: by 1650, we are in the new world of Exact Science or (as its
advocates called it) the "New Mathematical and Experimental Natural Philosophy".
As an index of this shift of intellectual concerns, notice one thing. Before 1600,
Rhetoric was accepted as a topic of philosophical interest on a par with- not essentially
inferior to - Geometry or Formal Logic; the moral examination of specific Cases was
accepted as on a par with - not inferior to - the attempt to develop universal Ethical
Theories; the local and temporary concerns of ethnography and history as on a par with
- not inferior to - the universal, eternal concerns of physical theory; and the concrete,
timely problems of Law and Medicine as on a par with - not inferior to - the abstract,
timeless problems of Euclidean geometry and other formal systems.
Once the arguments ofRene Descartes' Discourse and Meditations had convinced mid
17th century intellectuals, the contrary conclusions were drawn - that the concern of
philosophy is with arguments, not arguing; with universal ethical principles, not par-
ticular moral cases; general, timeless and necessary matters of ahstract theory, not local,

223
transient and contingent matters of concrete practice or happenstance. From then on,
rhetoric, casuistry, ethnography, medicine and other subjects dealing with the chances
and changes of human encounters, were relegated to an intellectual scrap heap, as having
no serious significance for philosophy. After 1650- in a word- the dominant research
program focussed wholly on theoretical issues, and the issues of practica/ philosophy that
were discussed from Aristotle on, bothin antiquity andin medieval times, lost theirearlier
philosophical standing.
By contrast, just before that intellectual shift, the best selling text on philosophy
presented a case for a Pyrrhonism no less radical than that of Wittgenstein himself. This
text is the Apologie de Raimond Sebond, in which Michel de Montaigne expounds the
position of Sextus Empiricus as supporting two conclusions: (I) that we know nothing for
certain of a general kind about the world of experience, and (2) that all attempts at proving
the superiority of one abstract, general doctrine over its rivals are products of human
presumptuousness.
Unless we knew some one particular truth of experience for certain (Montaigne argues)
there could be no starting point from which to "prove" the certainty of any general
proposition. Only someone without a proper sense of human finitude, with exaggerated
ideas of what human thought and observation can achieve, could imagine anything eise.
So, fifty years before Descartes, Montaigne was already presenting a pure Pyrrhonism
undiluted by the negative dogmatism of Descartes' Systematic Doubt. Some scholars
have seen a close link between Montaigne and Descartes. A good time ago, in his book,
Descartes et Pascal, lecteurs de Montaigne, Leon Brunschvicg argued that the young
17th century philosophers were fascinated, and even bewitched, by Montaigne 's Essays;
that they weil understood the strength ofhis case for Pyrrhonism; butthat they could never
bring themselves to accept his position. Rather, the crucial moves within their own
arguments were designed to counter this Pyrrhonism, and so give their own starting points
the very certainty that Montaigne had regarded as out of the question.
Notice what this implies for our perspective on the history of Modem Philosophy. The
standard view ofthat history (at any rate, as current in the philosophy departments of
British and American universities) starts with Descartes' claim that the cogito is the
"certain" proposition about experience that is needed to ground any "certain" system of
theoretical knowledge; and accepts his claim to have reached the cogito by ignoring all
traditional or inherited knowledge, and focussing exclusively on the content of his
reflective consciousness.
Thus, the historians present Modem Philosophy as a great Chess Game in which
Descartes played White, and chose the opening gambit, while his successors - playing
Black- have had to respond tothat opening move; but (ifl am right) there is an alternative
way of viewing that history. What if one thinks of Montaigne, not Descartes, as having
played White? The challenge of the renaissance humanists to late 16th century Europe
was their modest refusal to make any dogmatic philosophical claims, or pretend that we
can "prove" conclusively the unprovable generalizations of philosophical theory. So,
what if we see the opening gambit of Modem Philosophy, not in Descartes' systematic
doubt, but rather in Montaigne 's restatement of skepticism in its classical, Pyrrhonist
form? Given this alternative starting point, Descartes is the first of many philosophers
who- as Black- have unsuccessfully tried to escape from Montaigne's Pyrrhonism;
while Wittgenstein is the 20th century author who makes it clear that Montaigne' s
position has never been answered, and the burden of proof still lies where he left it.
On this account, the story of Modem Philosophy is the exploration of one long dead
end, cul de sac, or Sackgasse. Written in the 1580s, before the religious wars were out of

224
hand, Montaigne 's Essays taught the virtue oftrusting everyday experience, and avoiding
the seductions of geometry and other temptations to dogmatism: in particular, they taught
the need to tolerate uncertainty, ambiguity, and the diversity ofhuman opinions. By the
l640s, the general course of European events had taken a turn for the worse: the urbane
tolerance of a Montaigne, or a Henry of Navarre, no Iongerstruck most people in Europe
as providing a secure enough basis for thinking about human life or society. At the nadir
of the Thirty Years War - which, from 1618 to 1648, encompassed all but the last two
years of Rene Descartes' career- philosophers in Europe found the quest for certainty and
the charms of dogmatism irresistible, for political as well as intellectual reasons, and
developed a research program for theoretical philosophy that acquired a life of its own.
It is the products ofthis 17th century rationaHst program that were finally tobe challenged
in our own century, by Ludwig Wittgenstein and others.
So, like a giant capital Omega, the history of philosophy in Modern Europe has come
back very close to its original starting point. As we reach 1990, philosophy is at very much
the point it was in 1630, when Descartes firstsetout to defeat Montaigne's Pyrrhonist
gambit, and find a certain truth tobe the indispensable foundation for Human Knowledge.
Critics of foundationalism agree that his attempt to provide a "certain" basis for
knowledge failed, as have all later attempts: the dream of an exclusively abstract,
universal, timeless, theoretical philosophy is still only a dream, and, like good Pyrrhon-
ists, we may hold it at arm's length. Despite everything that happened on the intellectual
scene after 1640, therefore, in philosophy Montaigne 's gambit stands; and Wittgenstein 's
subtle feeling for the deeper seductions that underlie foundationalism only reinforces it.

III
In other ways, of course, Wittgenstein and Montaigne were less alike. Personally, at
least, they were men of very different kinds. Montaigne enjoyed playing the recluse, in
his Tower near the Dordogne; but he had earlier been an effective magistrate and
diplomat, at ease both in the world of affairs and within himself: we cannot imagine him
agonizing, as Wittgenstein put it, over "logic and my sins." Ludwig's perfectionism, in
ethics and elsewhere, was more like the painful self criticism of the tormented 17th
century mathematician, Blaise Pascal, than it was like the tolerant urbanity of a 16th
century humanist, Erasmus or Montaigne. Wittgenstein might recognize that the 17th
century quest for "certainty" and "foundations" was fallacious; but in personal respects
he was drawn toward the rigorist ethical views of the Jansenists or Puritans.
Ironically, therefore, as a philosopher and as a man, Wittgenstein has, at this point,
rather different historical precursors. He handles general philosophy like apre Counter
Reformation humanist, demanding freedom from dogmatism and censoriousness; but his
moral attitude is that of a post Counter Reformation perfectionist, full of the zeal and
scrupulosity of the 1640s. Certainly, one can hardly doubt that he would have sided with
the Jansenist Blaise Pascal in his attacks on the Jesuit casuists, published anonymously
in the Lettres Provinciales.
All the same, the philosophy whose "death" Wittgenstein proclaimed was less the
entire tradition of philosophical thinking, from Thales on, than it was the new, purely
theoretical style in philosophy inaugurated by Descartes in the l630s, which remained
dominant in much of Europe and North America until well into our century- a stylethat
has been even moredominant in 20th century histories of philosophy. This is not the place
to ask in detail why this 17th century program had a striking success- rang bells with so
many European intellectuals - just when and where it did. (I discuss this question in a
forthcoming book.) Instead we may Iook at the other philosophical options that were open

225
before Rene Descartes, and still remain untouched by the critiques of Dewey, Rorty and
Wittgenstein, having lived on below the surface of the debate, to be reopened in recent
years.
Descartes' researchprogram- to recall- expelled from philosophy four fields of study
that earlier belonged within the subject: the oral (as opposed to the written), the particular
(as opposed to the universal), the local (as opposed to the general), the concrete or timely
(as opposed to the abstract and etemal). Verbal expressions of opinion (not formal
inferences) were a concem of Rhetoric rather than Logic; individual cases (not universal
principles) of Casuistry rather than Ethical Theory; local or transient conditions (not
generalities) a concem of Ethnography and History rather than the Theory of Human
Nature; concrete, timely dilemmas (not etemal abstractions) of Law and Medicine rather
than Natural Philosophy. In 17th century, these fields were pushed aside, and over the next
300 years it took pain, effort, and controversy, bit by bit to revive all that Descartes
banished from the philosophical realm.
Yet consider where we find ourselves now. Wittgenstein placed the final court of
appeal in conceptual discussions in the Lebensformen and actions of those involved.
Equally, John Searle and J. L. Austin encourage us to Iook at speech as an act, or
performance, and toset aside the idea of "propositions and arguments" existing in some
timeless Third World, in favor of a view of language use in which "utterances" have
meaning in the same contextual way as human actions. Though neither Austin nor Searle
puts the point in these terms, in effect they call in a rhetorical model of language to
balance the defects of the geometrical model.
Scholars like Michael Walzer, who seriously face moral issues about nuclear weapons
or nuclear warfare, revive in doing so medieval issues about Just and Unjust Wars: thus,
they take us back to a view of Ethics that is based more on the analysis of specific casus
conscientiae than on a general system of ethical axioms. Meanwhile, cultural anthropol-
ogists and social or intellectual historians- e.g., in Begriffsgeschichte-show us how the
central ideas of philosophy vary from place to place and from time to time; while writers
on medical ethics and the philosophy of law tackle contemporary issues that are no less
philosophical, just because they are concrete and practical. In all these respects, those of
us who continue to "philosophize" in the world as we find it, after the Death of
Cartesianism, are not left without occupation. Even after the corpse of foundationalism
has been buried, the less grandiose enterprises left over from the "practical philosophy"
of Aristotle - case ethics and rhetoric, history and jurisprudence - have present day
successors to keep us busy. As Mark Twain said of his own reported death, the Death of
Philosophy has indeed been exaggerated.
In one way or another, these modest philosophical enterprises are all practical,
pragmatic or pragmatist. This is not to lump them in with the Universal Pragmatics of Kar I
Otto Apel and Jürgen Habermas: despite a proper concem with praxis, this current
Frankfurt program is as prone to excess generalization as all its theoretical precursors.
What marks off "practical philosophy" is just its avoidance of all premature generalizing.
In practical philosophy, we never know in advance how far the results of reflective
analysis can be carried. We can decide this only in the light of practical experience, and
in the meantime we remain on guard against all dogmatic temptations to demand a priori,
"self evident" or "intrinsically clear and distinct" ideas.
That fact may make our inheritance from practical philosophy so very modest and
experiential that even Ludwig Wittgenstein would choose not to call it "philosophy". But
a reasonable and modest Pyrrhonism saves us from fussing about that: as I heard
Wittgenstein say half a dozen times about boundary drawing issues, "Have it your own

226
way!" What matters is that we recognize how many topics that were historically
constitutive of preCartesian (i.e. medieval and renaissance) practical philosophy have
surfaced in the last 20 years, and have again taken a place near the heart of philosophical
debate. That done, we may leave the purely theoretical philosophy, whose death sentence
Ludwig Wittgenstein was most anxious to pronounce, to wither on its rootless vine.

***

227
Wittgenstein und die "Grundfrage der Metaphysik"

DIETER HIRNBACHER
Universität Essen

I. Die "Grundfrage der Metaphysik" bei Wirtgenstein

Zu den zahlreichen Gemeinsamkeiten zwischen den beiden wohl profiHertesten Den-


kern der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts, Wittgenstein und Heidegger, 1 gehört die ei-
gentümliche Faszination, die die Tatsache auf sie ausübte, daß überhaupt etwas existiert.
In Satz 6.44 von Wittgensteins Tractatus heißt es: "Nicht wie die Welt ist, ist das Mystische,
sondern daß sie ist", ein Satz, dem als einzige Erläuterung beigegeben ist, daß das
"mystische" "Gefühl das Gefühl der Welt als begrenztes Ganzes" sei (6.45). 2 Rund zehn
Jahre später bezeichnet Wittgenstein in dem in Cambridge gehaltenen Vortrag über Ethik
sein "Existenz-Gefühl" als sein "Erlebnis par excellence" - als eines der Erlebnisse, in
dem er so etwas wie "absoluten" oder "ethischen" Wert zu erfahren vermag. Dieses
Erlebnis bestehe in dem Staunen, daß die Welt existiert: Er möchte, wie er sagt, "dann
Sätze gebrauchen wie "Wie erstaunlich, daß überhaupt etwas existiert" oder "Wie
erstaunlich, daß die Welt existieren soll"." 3 Das Sich-Verwundern über die Existenz der
Welt ist bei Wittgenstein- anders als bei Schopenhauer4 - allerdings nicht der Anfang der
Philosophie, sondern ihre äußerste Grenze. Es liegt jenseits der Grenzen der Sprache, läßt
sich strenggenommen gar nicht aussprechen.
In demselben Jahr, in dem Wittgenstein seinen ungewöhnlichen Ethik-Vortrag hält,
beendet Heidegger seine Freiburger Antrittsvorlesung mit der Frage aus Leibniz' "Ver-
nunftprinzipien der Natur und der Gnade": "Warum ist überhaupt Seiendes und nicht
vielmehr Nichts?" 5 Auch bei Heidegger wird die "Grundfrage der Metaphysik", wie er sie
nennt, mit der Aura des Mystischen umgeben, gewissermaßen als das Sanctissimum der
Metaphysik hingestellt, aber so gut wie nichts zu ihrer Klärung, geschweige denn zur
Prüfung etwaiger Antwortmöglichkeiten beigetragen. Sowohl in der Antrittsvorlesung
"Was ist Metaphysik?" wie auch in der "Einführung in die Metaphysik" aus den 30er
Jahren bleibt das Pathos, mit dem die Frage umgeben wird, leer. Zwischen der Bedeutung,
die der Frage zugeschrieben wird, und dem Maß der auf sie verwendeten philosophischen
Erörterung besteht ein eklatantes Mißverhältnis.
Anders als Heidegger gibt Wittgenstein jedoch immerhin einen Grund an, weswegen
er sich nicht näher auf die Klärung der "Grundfrage der Metaphysik" einläßt: Während
das der "Grundfrage" zugrundeliegende Erlebnis zutiefst bedeutsam sein soll, soll sich
die Frage, warum überhaupt etwas ist, gar nicht stellen lassen. Schon in Satz 6.5 des
Tractatus hatte es geheißen: "Zu einer Antwort, die man nicht aussprechen kann, kann
man auch die Frage nicht aussprechen. Das Rätsel gibt es nicht. Wenn sich eine Frage
überhaupt stellen läßt, so kann sie auch beantwortet werden." Wenn die "Grundfrage"
also nicht beantwortet werden kann- davon geht Wittgenstein aus -, kann sie auch nicht
gestellt werden. Unklar bleibt allerdings, wie die Aussage, daß die Frage "nicht gestellt
werden kann", näher zu verstehen ist. Soll die "Grundfrage" deshalb "nicht gestellt
werden können", weil sie "unsinnig" in dem Sinne ist, in dem dem Tractatus zufolge alle
philosophischen Sätze (einschließlich der Sätze des Tractatus selbst) unsinnig sind- und
deshalb wohl auch die philosophischen Fragen, auf die diese Sätze mögliche Antworten
sind? Dann aber wäre nicht zu sehen, warum es Wittgenstein für nötig hält, auf die
Unbeantwortbarkeit der "Grundfrage" eigens hinzuweisen. Schließlich ist nach der

228
Tractatus-Philosophie jede philosophische Frage unsinnig, gleichgültig, ob sie beant-
wortbar ist oder nicht. Daß Wittgenstein die Unbeantwortbarkeit der "Grundfrage"
überhaupt nennt, deutet darauf hin, daß diese für ihn ein spezifischer oder zumindest
zusätzlicher Grund ist, die "Grundfrage" als Scheinproblem zu verwerfen. Zuweilen
erweckt er den Eindruck, er meine, daß die Grundfrage nicht nur unbeantwortbar bleiben
müsse, sondern auch solle: Der kritische Intellekt solle nicht an das Geheimnisvolle der
"Grundfrage" rühren, solle das Gefühl, deren Ausdruck sie ist, nicht antasten. So schreibt
er am 9. 4. 1917 an Engelmann: "Wenn man sich nicht bemüht, das Unaussprechliche
auszusprechen, so geht nichts verloren." 6 Abernichts deutet daraufhin, daß sich Wittgensteins
Verdikt über die "Grundfrage" ausschließlich seiner Aversion gegen metaphysisches
Eindringen in emotionale Tabuzonen verdankt.
Wittgenstein läßt uns über die Hintergründe seines Verdikts über die "Grundfrage"
weitgehend im unklaren. Was sich finden läßt, sind Andeutungen und versteckte Hinwei-
se. Fügt man sie zusammen, ergeben sich drei Begründungslinien, auf die Wittgenstein
seine Verwerfung der "Grundfrage" hätte zurückführen können:
I. sein am Ende des Tractatus geäußerter allgemeiner semantischer Sinnlosigkeitsver-
dacht gegenüber metaphysischen Fragen (das Argument der semantischen Sinnlosigkeit);
2. seine Andeutung im Vortrag über Ethik, der sprachliche Ausdruck des Erstaunens
über die Existenz der Welt sei deshalb unsinnig, weil man sich die Welt nicht nicht-
existierend vorstellen könne (das Argument der Unvorstellbarkeif des Nichts); und
3. die im Tractatus nicht weiter erörterte, sondern vorausgesetzte These, daß die
"Grundfrage" notwendig unbeantwortbar sei (das Argument der notwendigen Unbeant-
wortharkeit).
Ich möchte diese drei Argumente im folgenden im einzelnen prüfen, indem ich frage,
ob sie auf die "Grundfrage der Metaphysik" zutreffen, und wenn ja, ob sie tatsächlich zu
zeigen imstande sind, was sie zu zeigen beanspruchen, nämlich daß die "Grundfrage der
Metaphysik" systematisch defekt, sinnlos oder in irgend anderer Weise unzulässig ist.

2. Das Argument der semantischen Sinnlosigkeit


Wittgenstein sieht in Satz 6.53 des Tractatus die Aufgabe der Philosophie darin, " ...
dann immer, wenn ein anderer etwas Metaphysisches sagen wollte, ihm nachzuweisen,
daß er gewissen Zeichen in seinen Sätzen keine Bedeutung gegeben hat." Können wir
Wittgenstein die Auffassung zuschreiben, die "Grundfrage" - sicherlich die "metaphy-
sischste" aller Fragen - sei wortwörtlich bedeutungslos, semantisch unbestimmt oder
konfus- weniger offensichtlich, aber letztlich nicht weniger konfus als die Frage, "ob das
Gute mehr oder weniger identisch sei als das Schöne?" 7
Diese Auffassung ist so wenig einleuchtend, daß ich davor zurückschrecke, sie
Wittgenstein zuzuschreiben. Es liegt vielmehr nahe, sie als eine hyperbolische Formulie-
rung zu werten, die nicht wortwörtlich genommen werden will. Ernsthaft scheint die
These der semantischen Sinnlosigkeit allerdings von Moritz Schlick, Wittgensteins
Hauptgesprächspartner im Wiener Kreis um 1930, vertreten worden zu sein. 8 In seinem
1935 in englischer Übersetzung veröffentlichten Aufsatz "Unbeantwortbare Fragen" stellt
Schlick das Prinzip auf, eine Frage sei immer dann sinnlos, wenn es logisch unmöglich
ist, eine Methode zu ihrer Beantwortung anzugeben. 9 Dieses "Sinnkriterium" für Fragen
ist Schlicks Sinnkriterium für Aussagen analog, nach dem eine Aussage nur dann sinnvoll
ist, wenn es logisch möglich ist, eine Methode zu ihrer Verifikation anzugeben. Offen-
sichtlich soll dieses Sinnkriteriumjedoch ausschließlich für Fragen gelten, die synthetischen
Aussagen entsprechen. Jedenfalls möchte ich Schlick nicht die Auffassung unterstellen,
auch mathematische und logische Fragen seien sinnlos, wenn sie unentscheidbar sind. Die
besondere Radikalität von Schlicks Sinnlosigkeitsthese besteht darin, daß unbeantwortbare

229
Fragen- zu denen er auch die nach dem "Rätsel des Universums" rechnet 10 - nicht nur in
einem spezifisch philosophischen, sondern in einem elementar semantischen Sinne
bedeutungslos sein sollen. Eine unbeantwortbare Frage ist eine "sinnlose Folge von
Wörtern mit einem Fragezeichen" 11 , die gar keine eigentliche Frage stellt. 12 In eine ähn-
liche Richtung weist Schlicks in demseibern Zusammenhang aufgestelltes Prinzip, daß
die Bedeutung einer Frage zu erklären darin bestehe, Vorschriften darüber anzugeben,
wie sie beantwortet werden soll. 13 Aus ihm folgt, daß falls sich solche Vorschriften nicht
angeben lassen, sich der Frage auch keine Bedeutung zuordnen läßt.
Aber nehmen wir an, die "Grundfrage" sei tatsächlich in dem Sinne unbeantwortbar,
daß es aus logischen Gründen unmöglich ist, einen Weg zu ihrer Beantwortung anzuge-
ben. Wäre dies ein hinreichender Grund für das Verdikt semantischer Sinnlosigkeit?
Offensichtlich nicht. Darüber hinaus wirft Schlicks Sinnkriterium das Problem auf, daß
es nur dann anwendbar ist, wenn die jeweils zu prüfende Frage verstanden ist: Die Frage,
ob eine Frage im Sinne Schlicks beantwortbar ist oder nicht, läßt sich erst dann
beantworten, wenn die Frage semantisch identifiziert ist. Es muß also mindestens eine
weitere Möglichkeit geben, einer Frage eine Bedeutung zuzuordnen. Das Kriterium der
Angebbarkeit einer Beantwortungsmethode kann nicht das einzige Kriterium sein, sinn-
volle und sinnlose Fragen gegeneinander abzugrenzen.
Das Argument der semantischen Sinnlosigkeit in der Form, in der es von Schlick
expliziert- und von Wittgenstein womöglich impliziert- wird, kann nicht zeigen, warum
sich die "Grundfrage" "nicht stellen läßt". Wenn das Verdikt über die "Grundfrage"
Bestand haben soll, muß es sich anderweitig begründen lassen.
Eine auf den ersten Blick weniger angreifbare Begründung für die Unzulässigkeil der
"Grundfrage" ist kürzlich von Robert Nozick angedeutet worden: Die Frage nach dem
Warum der Existenz überhaupt sei unzulässig, weil Erklärungen sinnvollerweise nur für
solche Tatsachen oder Ereignisse verlangt werden können, die vom "normalen" Lauf der
Dinge abweichen. Danach ist erklärungsbedürftig nur das, was sich nicht von selbst
versteht. Da jedoch nicht das Nichts, sondern die Existenz von etwas als das "Selbstver-
ständliche" oder "Natürliche" gelten müsse, erübrige sich die Frage nach dem Warum
dieser Existenz. Der "Grundfrage der Metaphysik" fehlt nach Nozick gewissermaßen die
lndikation. 14
Aber dieses Argument ist aus zwei Gründen wenig schlagkräftig. Erstens ist nicht klar,
warum die Existenz von etwas das Selbstverständlichere gegenüber dem reinen Nichts
sein soll. Die einzige von Nozick angegebene Begründung: daß es keine Erklärung der
Existenz aus dem Nichts geben könne, scheint dafür nicht hinreichend. Immerhin weist
Nozick selbst daraufhin, daß sich die Auffassungen darüber, was selbstverständlich und
was erklärungsbedürftig ist, wandeln. Für Aristoteles bedurfte jede Bewegung einer
Erklärung durch innere oder äußere Kräfte, während es für Newton "natürlich" war, daß
ein Körper auch im kräftefreien Raum seine Bewegung fortsetzt. Für Leibniz stellte sich
die "Grundfrage" u. a. gerade deshalb, weil für ihn nicht die Existenz von etwas, sondern
das Nichts "einfacher und leichter", also das "Natürlichere" war. 15 Darüber hinaus werden
in der physikalischen Kosmologie gegenwärtig Theorien diskutiert, nach denen die Welt
einen Anfang in der Zeit hatte. Unter der Voraussetzung der Möglichkeit einer leeren Zeit
wäre auch im Rahmen solcher Modelle die Nicht-Existenz der Welt das "Natürlichere"
und die Frage nach dem Warum des ersten Ereignisses durchaus nicht ohne "Indikation".
Zweitens stellt sich die grundsätzlichere Frage, ob das Fehlen einer "Indikation" im
erwähnten Sinn ausreicht, einer philosophischen Frage die Berechtigung abzusprechen.
Für die Philosophie, aber auch für die Grundlagenwissenschaften ist es charakteristisch,
Erklärungen auch für das im Alltagssinne nicht Erklärungsbedürftige zu suchen. Zumal
die "tiefsten" Fragen der Philosophie haben mit typischen Kinderfragen mehr gemeinsam

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als mit typischen Erwachsenenfragen. Selbst wenn die "Grundfrage der Metaphysik"
ohne "Indikation" wäre, bestünde kein Grund, sie deswegen für unzulässig zu halten.

3. Das Argument der Unvorstellbarkeif des Nichts


Im Vortrag über Ethik von 1929 schreibt Wittgenstein:

To say "1 wonder at such and such being the case" has only sense if I can imagine
it not to be the case. In this sense one can wonder at the existence of, say, a house
when one sees it and has not visited it for a long time and has imagined that it bad
been pulled down in the meantime. But it is nonsense to say that I wonder at the
existence of the world, because I cannot imagine it not existing. 17

Während ich die Frage stellen kann, warum es bestimmte Dinge oder Sachverhalte in
der Welt gibt, soll ich die entsprechende Frage nicht für die Gesamtheit der Dinge oder
Sachverhalte stellen können: Die Frage nach dem Warum der Existenz der Welt ist ein
"Mißbrauch der Sprache." 18
In ähnlicher Weise hat Bergsan in seiner "Evolution creatrice" seine These, bei der
Frage, warum etwas existiere, handele es sich um ein typisches Pseudoproblem, eine
"question depourvue de sens", mit der These der Unvorstellbarkeit des reinen Nichts
verknüpft. 19 Nach Bergson muß jeder Versuch, ein absolutes Nichts vorzustellen, not-
wendig scheitern. Wir könnten uns die Abwesenheit von etwas nur dadurch vorstellen,
daß wir etwas anderes an seinen Platz rücken lassen und das Abwesende in Erinnerung
behalten. Der Versuch, das reine Nichts vorzustellen, scheitere an dem unausbleiblichen
"Nachrücken" neuer Vorstellungen. 20 Es kann dahingestellt bleiben, ob man Bergsans
phänomenologischer These zustimmen kann, daß Vorstellungen nur substituiert, nicht
aber eliminiert werden können. Entscheidender ist die Frage, ob aus der Annahme, daß
sich ein reines Nichts nicht vorstellen läßt, folgt, daß man sich über die Existenz der Welt
nicht sinnvoll wundern oder die Frage nach demWarum derWeltnicht stellen kann. Auch
hier wiederum muß die Antwort klarerweise "nein" lauten. Die Unvorstellbarkeit des
Nichtbesteheus eines Sachverhalts ist keine Indikation dagegen, sondern vielmehr eine
Indikation dafür, die Frage nach dem Warum des Sachverhalts zu stellen und ihren
logischen Status zu bestimmen. Man denke hier etwa an die vom späteren Wittgenstein
diskutierte Farbaussage "Es gibt kein Rötlichgrün" 21 , bei der es gerade die Unvorstell-
barkeit eines Rötlichgrün ist, die die philosophische Frage nach dem Status derartiger
Farbaussagen aufwirft.

4. Das Argument der notwendigen Unbeantwortbarkeit: Vorklärungen


Der dritte bei Wittgenstein angedeutete Weg, die Unzulässigkeit der "Grundfrage"
aufzuweisen, ist der über die notwendige Unbeantwortbarkeit der "Grundfrage". Ist
dieser Weg erfolgversprechender? Daß eine Frage unbeantwortbar ist, ist nicht immer ein
Grund, diese Frage als "unzulässig" aus dem Kreis der "echten" Fragen auszuschließen.
Vielmehr kommt es darauf an, worauf die Unbeantwortbarkeit jeweils beruht. Zu
unterscheiden ist insbesondere zwischen der epistemischen und der logischen Unbeant-
wortbarkeit einer Frage. Epistemisch unbeantwortbar kann eine Frage dann heißen, wenn
das Fehlen einer Antwort auf einer wie immer gearteten Begrenztheit des Erkenntniszu-
gangs beruht, wobei diese Grenzen sowohl durch die Verhältnisse in der Welt, durch
anthropologische Beschränkungen als auch durch die begrenzte Verfügbarkeit relevanter
Erkenntnismethoden gezogen sind. Eine epistemisch unbeantwortbare Frage ist eine, auf
die nicht nur bisher keine Antwort gegeben worden ist, sondern auf die gegenwärtig keine

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Antwort gegeben werden kann. Dennoch ist die epistemische Unbeantwortbarkeit ihrem
Wesen nach relativ und vorläufig. Für eine epistemisch unbeantwortbare Frage läßt sich
eine Antwort nicht für alle Zukunft grundsätzlich ausschließen. Es ist nicht auszuschlie-
ßen, daß epistemische Grenzen, die unübersteigbar scheinen, sich doch am Ende überwin-
den lassen, oder sich neue, nicht antizipierbare Erkenntnismethoden etablieren, die
vorher für undenkbar gehaltene Zugänge eröffnen. Diese Relativität gilt selbst noch für
unbeantwortbare Fragen in dem starken Sinn, in dem Schlick den Begriff der Unbeant-
wortbarkeit verstanden hat, d. h. für Fragen, für die es logisch unmöglich ist, eine
Methode zu ihrer Beantwortung anzugeben. Daß es logisch unmöglich ist, eine Methode
der Beantwortung einer Frage anzugeben, schließt nicht aus, daß die richtige Antwort
irgendwann zufällig gefunden wird.
Eine Frage, die im epistemischen Sinne unbeantwortbar ist, kann nicht als "unsinnig"
verworfen werden. Es wäre abwegig, eine Frage zu verwerfen, für die sich, auch wenn es
für sie kein methodisches Beantwortungsverfahren gibt, eine richtige Antwort dennoch
jederzeit zufällig finden könnte.
Anders verhält es sich jedoch, wenn eine Frage aus logischen Gründen unbeantwortbar
ist, d. h. unbeantwortbar in dem Sinne, daß eine Antwort (und selbst eine zufällig
gefundene Antwort) schlechthin undenkbar ist. Auch wenn die Unbeantwortbarkeit einer
Frage in diesem Sinne nicht dazu berechtigt, eine solche Frage als im semantischen Sinn
sinnlos zu verwerfen, scheint sie gleichwohl dazu zu berechtigen, sie als in einem
pragmatischen Sinn sinnlos aus dem Kreis der "echten" Fragen auszuschließen. Meine
These lautet: Die "Grundfrage der Metaphysik" ist eine logisch unbeantwortbare Frage
in diesem Sinne, und insofern besteht Wirtgensteins Verdikt über sie völlig zu Recht.
Zur Begründung dieser These ist im folgenden zunächst zu prüfen, ob, und wenn ja, aus
welchen Gründen, es für die "Grundfrage der Metaphysik" keine Antwort geben kann.
Eine notwendige Vorarbeit dazu ist die Klärung einiger Termini der "Grundfrage" selbst,
vor allem des "etwas", das dem absoluten Nichts entgegengesetzt wird.
Eine naheliegende Interpretationsmaxime für die Interpretation des "etwas&q