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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces central themes of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, through an exposition of the ‘whole meaning’ of the book, ‘summed up’ as ‘What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.’ Philosophy has a two-fold task: clarifying the meaning of everyday language while exposing confusions at the root of philosophical problems. Such confusions are fostered by the desire to avoid the requirement that logic take care of itself. Wittgenstein criticizes Frege and Russell for succumbing to this temptation, yielding superfluous, meaningless, attempts to ground logic. Clarity is achieved only by abandoning such attempts, the last of which is the so-called doctrine of showing. This allows the ethical point of the Tractatus to come into view. Key concepts introduced in the chapter include: propositions as logical pictures; logical form as shared by the proposition and depicted reality; the ineffability of logical form; the non-representative character of logic; saying and showing; meaning as linguistic function; symbols and signs; nonsense, lack of meaning, and confused use of signs; logical techniques for resolving confusion and unmasking nonsense.

Keywords: Wittgenstein, Frege, Russell, logic, logical form, meaning, nonsense, showing/saying, sign/symbol, ethics

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