Tuesday, November 06, 2007

5.4541 The solutions of logical problems must be simple because they set the standard of simplicity.

People have always suspected that there must be a field of questions to which the answers – a priori – are symmetrical and form a closed, regular structure.

A field in which the proposition holds: simplex sigillum veri.

If the solutions of logical problems set the standard of simplicity then whatever they are is what ‘simple’ means. So this is a definition, not information about the nature of these solutions. Is what people always suspected necessarily true? False? What is it that they have always suspected anyway (this is the hard part)?

The Latin means “simplicity is the hallmark of truth.” Black (p. 268) points out that this was a motto of Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738) of Leyden. Schopenhauer uses the phrase in his dialogue on religion (pp. 95-114 in Essays and Aphorisms edited by R. J. Hollingdale, Penguin Books, 1970, p. 106), in which Philalethes says: “Simplex sigillum veri: naked truth must be so simple and intelligible that it can be imparted to everyone in its true shape without adulterating it with myths and fables (a mass of lies) – that is, without disguising it as religion.”

Proops (p. 27, note 80, incorrectly referred to as note 79 in the text on p. 26) suggests ‘had an inkling’ where I have ‘suspected’ because Ogden’s ‘thought’ “risks making it sound as though Wittgenstein regarded the idea as some kind of delusion. Pears’ and McGuinness’s translation: “mankind has always had a presentiment,” is superior to Ogden’s, but a little grandiloquent.” But this reminds me of 6.3211, which uses the same root (here it is geahnt, a form of the verb ahnen (to suspect), there it is Ahnung, the noun (suspicion). It is not clear that Wittgenstein thinks there is no delusion here.

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