Thursday, December 21, 2006

2.173 A picture represents its subject from the outside (its standpoint is its form of representation), which is why pictures represent their subjects rightly or falsely.

A picture is a representation, a kind of claim, and so it can be true or false, correct or incorrect. Which is perhaps to say no more than: a proposition is a proposition, so it can be true or false. To "represent from the inside" would be simply to be, and existence is not true or false.

2.172 But a picture cannot picture its form of representation; it exhibits it.

So a picture has a discernible form, but cannot picture this. Otherwise I suppose it would be a picture of its own picturing activity, which is inconceivable. The inability of a picture to depict its own form, its own picturely essence, must be a logical inability after all. And that means, I think, that the idea just does not make sense.

2.171 A picture can picture every reality whose form it has.

A spatial picture [can represent] everything spatial, a color one everything colored, etc.

A spatial picture, I take it, need not itself be spatial. That is to say, we can represent three-dimensional space without building a three-dimensional model, just as we do not need to use colors to represent colors (we can use words, for instance, instead). But again I am talking here as if pictures were to be understood fairly literally. If they are propositions, then what is a spatial picture? A proposition to do with space? Perhaps a proposition belonging to the set of all (possible) propositions about space? And then 2.171 becomes obviously true.

Monday, December 18, 2006

2.17 What a picture must have in common with reality in order to be able to picture it in its way -- rightly or falsely -- is its form of representation.

See 2.151. This form is a possibility. For x to be a picture of y, x and y must share the possibility of being true or real (including, I suppose, being truly non-existent). One must be a logical possibility, the other must represent that logical possibility. It is that possibility that they must have in common. But what kind of thing is that? Are we reifying possibility? Making logic metaphysical? Surely not. So what is being said? Could it be: nothing?

Ostrow (p. 44): “Far from being imagined as a third element, stateable or unstateable, the pictorial form is no element at all, but rather part of the picture’s way of depicting. The picture “must” have in common with reality its particular pictorial form precisely because this form is constituted by this picture’s application to the world – just as the possibilities of length are given through the ruler’s use in measuring magnitudes.”

See also 2.033.

2.161 In the picture and the depicted there must be something identical so that one can be a picture of the other at all.

This might sound reasonable, but what does, say, "The cat sat on the mat" have in common with a cat's sitting on a mat? What is identical in the pictured and the picture? Perhaps we could say what is identical is a certain relation that they share. Otherwise nothing comes to mind. And remember we have not yet been given any examples of pictures. Are they literal pictures, as one might reasonably think? Or sentences, as is often thought? Or propositions? And how are we to decide exactly how they relate to "states of affairs" (whatever exactly they might be)?

Ostrow (p. 39) says of standard interpretations that: “Wittgenstein’s answer to the question of how the picture – and hence language – can always be about the world is thus supposedly to be: they share a form.” And yet: “the strategy of taking recourse in talk of an isomorphism is empty; it amounts to no more than the claim that depicting the world is possible because the world has the possibility of being depicted.”

Cf. 4.04.

Friday, December 15, 2006

2.16 A fact must have something in common with what it depicts in order to be a picture.

The line between facts and pictures is further blurred. A fact can be a picture, it is implied. Or else, Tatsache ("fact") does not mean here what it means elsewhere, in which case "fact" is less (good as) a technical term than it has seemed.

2.1515 These coordinations are as it were the feelers [antennae, “the things which a butterfly has” in Wittgenstein’s words] of the picture elements, with which the picture touches reality.

The picture/ruler/map is now imagined almost as a living being, adjusting itself to reality so as to correspond to it, like an invisible shadow that always matches its object.

2.1514 The picturing relation consists of the coordination of the elements of the picture and the things.

To picture something (i.e. to be a picture of something) is to share, deliberately I suppose, its order or internal structure.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

2.1513 On this view the picturing relation that makes it a picture also belongs to the picture.

Black (p. 85) prefers ‘picturing relation’ here to P&McG’s ‘pictorial relationship. (Ogden has ‘representing relation,’ which is also OK with Black).

Cf. my comment on 2.13. Anscombe rejects Ogden’s translation in note 1, p. 68. I think her point is that Ogden allows for the misinterpretation that, as Ramsey puts it on p. 271 of Foundations of Mathematics, the elements of the picture “are co-ordinated with the objects by the representing relation which belongs to the picture.” The picturing relation is not a relation between picture and pictured, but between elements of the picture. As Anscombe says (p. 68): “only if significant relations hold among the elements of the picture can they be correlated with objects outside so as to stand for them.” A picture needs a certain kind of coherence to be a picture, just as a sentence needs a certain kind of structure to be a sentence, nonsensical or otherwise. The correlation with something else, in order to give the picture meaning, is something we do.

And yet, in light of what Wittgenstein says next, mustn't the picturing relation belong to both the picture and its relation to what it pictures? Not everything is a picture, so some kind of property or properties must be had in order for something to be a picture, we might think. But then not every picture is a picture of this, so something else would seem to be needed to make a given picture a picture of some given thing or things. If, on the other hand, correlating a picture with something else is something that we do, then couldn't the same be true of the seemingly essential properties of a picture? Couldn't anything be a picture? So perhaps what I've quoted Anscombe as saying here is wrong.

2.15121 Only the outermost points of the dividing lines [on the ruler] touch the object to be measured.

OK, but what else is there? How thick is this ruler supposed to be? If it is just a line (and why not?) then it all touches, like the map. Cf. 5.557.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2.1512 It is like a ruler laid against reality.

OK, so perhaps they are not one. But think of a map, to scale, laid right on top of reality. That is what a picture is like. And now recall that reality includes the non-existence of states of affairs and that pictures can represent the non-existence of states of affairs. So what is the relation between a non-existent state of affairs and a perfectly corresponding representation of it? Can we be sure that the relationship is not one of identity in fact (or in effect)?

Ostrow (p. 35) notes that a ruler does not use itself. We must apply it. He quotes Wittgenstein (Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle p. 185) saying to Waismann later that he might as well have called propositions measuring-rods as pictures.

2.1511 This is how a picture is tied to reality: it reaches right up to it.

How is language related to reality? They go right together. If they are not one, they are at least inseparable, with an entirely common border. There is no distance between them. It really sounds as though they might be one and the same.

(Cf. Schopenhauer Fourfold Root p. 81: “Indeed perceptions through sight ultimately refer to touch, and sight can be regarded as an imperfect touch extending to a distance and making use of the rays of light as long feelers.”)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

2.151 The form of representation is the possibility that things are related to each other in the same way as the elements of the picture.


2.15 The elements of a picture's relating to each other in a specific way represents matters relating to each other just so.

Let us call this connection of the elements of a picture its structure, and its possibility the form of representation of the picture [i.e. the form of the picture's picturing].

‘Form of representation’ is what Ogden has, and is accepted by Black (p. 81), although he prefers ‘form of depiction.’ He rejects, though, P&McG’s ‘pictorial form.’

Pictures really are just like states of affairs. Perhaps we should not think of these "pictures" as literal pictures, e.g. paintings, written sentences, etc. Perhaps instead we should think of them as propositions, what sentences express or contain or mean. Then every possible proposition will not only represent but really be a possible state of affairs. To think of literal pictures would then be like confusing sentences with propositions, or metaphysics with logic.

Monday, December 11, 2006

2.141 A picture is a fact.

To represent a possibility space is, in a sense, to realize it. So pictures are facts, i.e. existing states of affairs.

2.14 A picture consists in its elements relating to one another in a specific way.

‘Specific’ could equally be ‘determinate’ (as in P&McG) or ‘definite’ (as in Ogden).

Echoes of 2.031 and 2.032 here. The essence of a picture is the same as the essence of a state of affairs. How then can a picture be anything other than a state of affairs? Its elements are different, I suppose. In a state of affairs they are possibility spaces. In a picture they are the representatives of such possibility spaces.

2.131 In a picture, the elements of the picture stand in for objects.

Again, more literally: The elements of a picture stand [in], in the picture, for objects. So objects now seem to be the kind of things that can be represented, which sounds metaphysical again. This, we might say, is the problem of language. It is hard to talk about something without making it sound like a thing, an object, a res. How can the elements of a picture stand for possibility spaces? Well, in a graph the points on the coordinates do. In a painting or sentence ..., what? Every possible content is represented by every possible content. And what are the contents of a sentence? Clauses, words, letters, letter-parts? It's hard to see how there can be a right answer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

2.13 In a picture, the elements of the picture correspond to objects.

This is a strange sentence: To the objects correspond in the picture the elements of the picture. Why not just: The elements of a picture correspond to objects? For two reasons, I think. The first is to emphasize the correspondence to objects. The second is that the correspondence takes place within the picture. The picture, that is to say, is not just a copy of reality, a double. A shadow corresponds to whatever casts the shadow, but the correspondence between this object and its shadow is, so to speak, external. A shadow is not a work of art, like a portrait, intended or presented as a copy. Pictures, though, are like portraits in this respect. The correspondence is internal in the sense that the picture 'claims' to represent certain things. Also, bear in mind that objects are possibility spaces. The elements of a picture do indeed correspond to these. A pencil sketch can represent only in shades of grey, while a sculpture can represent not really color but three-dimensions of space (so can a sketch, of course, but in a different way). How a representation represents depends on the kind of representation it is. In an oil painting red will usually be represented by red, whereas in a charcoal sketch red will have to represented in some other way. The possibilities for the picture correspond to possibilities for reality (objects). Perhaps in fact this is all that Wittgenstein means here.

2.12 A picture is a model of reality.

So a fact is a state of things/condition/state of things/status rerum in logical space which is a piece of reality. See 2.063 and 2.11. A picture represents a (purported) fact or existing state of affairs. In Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle p. 185 he says: “I have inherited this concept of a picture from two sides: first from a drawn picture, second from the model of a mathematician, which already is a general concept. For a mathematician talks of picturing in cases where a painter would no longer use this expression.”

Thursday, December 07, 2006

2.11 A picture presents a state of things in logical space, the existence and non-existence of states of affairs.

Fairly straightforward, it seems, although is the non-existence of a state of affairs now a fact too? Or is it simply that some pictures present as facts the non-existence of various states of affairs?

Ostrow (p. 35) compares this with 1.13 and says that, “From the start, it would seem, the world is understood always against a larger – logical – backdrop of what is not the case.” He also says (pp. 36-37) that it is a mistake to see Wittgenstein (rightly) as rejecting Frege’s idea that a proposition is a kind of name only then to wonder how a picture represents a state of affairs. Facts should not be reified. They are uses of pictures. Ostrow (p. 38): “positive and negative fact stand on the same level, a contrast between two uses of a picture.”

He also (pp. 80-81) compares this remark with 2.201, 2.202, and 2.203. His conclusion is that a picture presents [vorstellt] existent and non-existent atomic facts, and represents [darstellt] a possibility of such facts, a choice made from among the facts that it could be used to depict.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

2.1 We make pictures of facts for ourselves.

This is the translation that Black (p. 76) calls the literal one.

Cf. Heinrich Hertz The Principles of Mechanics (New York: Dover Publications, 1956) p. 1: “We form for ourselves pictures or symbols of external objects…” Hertz is concerned with the question how scientists can represent nature in such a way as to allow for making predictions.

Here, apparently, is the start of the famous picture theory, which seems to be beginning on a very shaky foundation given my previous comment.

Schopenhauer on pictures, language, etc. says that language does not communicate perceptions or anything that needs to be translated into pictures in the imagination, at least not usually. Language deals with abstract conceptions, which is why animals cannot understand it even though they perceive as we do. Images can never do justice to the concepts they occasionally represent. “Now, although concepts are fundamentally different from ideas of perception, they stand in a necessary relation to them, without which they would be nothing. This relation therefore constitutes the whole nature and existence of concepts. Reflection is necessarily a copy, a repetition, of the original world of perception, albeit a special kind of copy in an entirely different material. Thus concepts may quite properly be called ideas of ideas.” (Everyman edition of Schopenhauer’s WWR, pp. 10-11.)

“[T]rue philosophy must always be idealistic; indeed, it must be so in order to be merely honest." (Ibid., p. 13) “To the empirical standpoint of the other sciences it is quite appropriate to assume the objective world as something absolutely given; but it is not appropriate to the standpoint of philosophy, which by its nature has to go back to what is first and original. Only consciousness is immediately given; therefore, the basis of philosophy is limited to facts of consciousness, i.e., it is essentially idealistic.” (Ibid.)

What is available to our immediate consciousness “is limited by our skin, or rather by the very tips of the nerves which emanate from the cerebral system. Beyond this lies a world of which we have no knowledge except through pictures in our head.” (Ibid., p. 17) According to Schopenhauer, thinking is a kind of reflection of the empirical world, but because it deals with abstract concepts, it is perhaps better compared with algebra. See Gardiner p. 111, and Schopenhauer’s Erslingsmanuskripte §34.

2.063 The total reality is the world.

Tricky. 1.12 says that the totality of facts determines both what is the case and what is not the case. 2.05 repeats this idea. But then 2.062 seems to contradict it. It is not the facts that tell us what the non-facts are, but their being all the facts that does so. So in addition to all the facts we need another fact, namely that these are all the facts. But don't we then get into an infinite regress? It cannot be a fact that these are all the facts, since "these" refers to a set that excludes that last, seemingly all-important, fact. The existence of states of affairs cannot itself be a state of affairs. Our attempt to define a logical space or world consisting of all that is possible and allowing for the possibility of specifying exactly which possibilities are actualized and which are not seems to have hit a wall. Cf. 4.12.

2.062 The existence or non-existence of a state of affairs cannot be inferred from the existence or non-existence of another.

This clarifies what it means to talk about dependence here. It is a logical relation, having to do with inference, not causation.

Monday, December 04, 2006

2.061 States of affairs are independent of one another.

Cf. 1.21.

2.06 The existence and non-existence of states of affairs is reality.

(We also call the existence of states of affairs a positive fact, their non-existence a negative one.)

Cf. 1.12. So there are negative facts, or at least “we” say there are, or reserve that name for something. The question of the relation between “the world” and “reality” comes up here. Ostrow (p. 34): “It is, it would seem, some version of the ancient problem of the nature of “what is not” that confronts us at the close of the 2.06s.” On this, see Anscombe (p. 13, footnote): “cf. Plato’s Theaetetus 189A: ‘In judging, one judges something; in judging something, one judges something real; so in judging something unreal one judges nothing; but judging nothing, one is not judging at all.’ Wittgenstein returned to the problem presented by this argument again and again throughout his life.”

2.05 The totality of existing states of affairs also determines which states of affairs do not exist.

Cf. 1.12. An existing state of affairs, the realization of that possibility set, is a fact. See 2, from which we have not progressed here. But also see 2.062. Black (p. 70) says that 1.12 expresses the same thought.

Friday, December 01, 2006

2.04 The totality of existing states of affairs is the world.

See above and 1.1, from which we have not progressed except in terms of the addition of definitions which may or may not prove to be useful.

Black (p. 69): “The chief novelty [in 2.04-2.063] is the introduction of the puzzling notion of reality (die Wirklichkeit).” Putting 2.04 and 2.06 together, we might expect a contrast between ‘the world’ and ‘reality,’ but 2.063 shoots that expectation down. Perhaps, Black suggests, the terms are synonymous, with ‘total reality’ emphasizing the negative aspects of the world.

2.034 The structure of a fact consists of the structures of the states of affairs.

More puzzling multiplication. So is a fact a state of affairs? Or a complex of states of affairs? Or is a fact the reality corresponding to (or realizing) the possibility that is a state of affairs? 1.112 and 2 suggest this last alternative is the correct one. Whatever states of affairs (or state of affairs) correspond to a fact must have the same logical structure as it, otherwise they would not be the states of affairs that correspond to it, by definition.

Black (p. 69): “This should be compared with 4.1. The ‘fact’ here is a complex fact (Tatsache): the ‘atomic facts’ (Sachverhalte) (‘states of affairs’ in P.-McG.) are those involved in the former.”

Thursday, November 30, 2006

2.033 The form is the possibility of the structure [or: Form is the possibility of structure].

If each state of affairs can be said to have a form, then its form will be the possibility of its structure, the logical space necessary for, or implied by, that structure. It can't have a different structure and still be that state of affairs. If form is instead something that belongs to the whole world (see 2.022) and not to individual states of affairs, then the parenthetical translation would be correct instead. Either way we seem to have more than we need here. Objects themselves are what we might call possibility spaces, so a state of affairs is a complex possibility space, not just a possibility point but a set of possibility coordinates. Now form is something like the possibility of this possibility, or the "space" in which this "space" exists. Perhaps the multiplication of pseudo-entities here is meant to help us see that we don't need any of them, that all this talk of objects and states of affairs and logical space is itself not only misleadingly metaphysical-sounding but also quite worthless. It is, we might suspect, a metaphor introduced as if to help us understand something, but one that turns out to be comprehensible only by reference to the things (color, hardness, etc.) that it was meant to help us understand. And realizing this perhaps also involves realizing that those things are not at all hard to understand after all. But this is speculation.

Ostrow (p. 25) argues that objects are not just form (i.e. possibility of structure), but also content, as is said of substance at 2.025. “It is constitutive of the object to occur in an atomic fact, but not only in this fact… [T]he object is this thing taken against the background of all the rest of its possibilities of combination with other things.” Otherwise the object would “be understood as dissolving simply into a possibility – as if we could understand the condition of the world apart from any consideration of how things actually stand.” (All quotes from p. 25.) On pp. 26-27 he says: “While we will no doubt be tempted to bring to bear notions like “particular,” “universal,” or “sense datum” to try to make sense of what he has in mind, Wittgenstein will not allow us to rely on any such categories as basic, as clarificatory. Indeed, it would appear to be the reverse: rather than seeking to understand objects in terms of some prior philosophical category, the Tractatus is suggesting that it is only through their possibilities of occurrence that those fundamental categories emerge. The object is, we might say, a primitive notion.”

Black (p. 67) notes that here we cannot ask “Is it possible that…?” in relation to the “possibility” that Wittgenstein refers to here. This makes interpretation problematic.

2.032 The way that the objects hang together in a state of affairs is the structure of the state of affairs.

This gives us a definition of "the structure of a state of affairs".

Black (p. 66) compares this with 2.15 and notes the contrast between ‘form’ and ‘structure.’ Higher up that page he doubts whether the distinction is necessary.

2.031 In a state of affairs the objects relate to each other in a definite way.

Yes, not in a flexible or indeterminate way. Because they are not to be thought of as physical objects (or their non-physical, dualist counterparts).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

2.03 In a state of affairs, the objects hang one in another like the links in a chain.

A chain seems a bit too flexible for what Wittgenstein surely means here. After all, objects are fixed, whereas the links of a chain can move around. His point is presumably that in a state of affairs, a configuration of objects, the objects are interconnected or linked together, this degree of hardness with that color and so on.

Mounce says (p. 19): “A state of affairs, like a chain, is not just a collection, but a collection that holds together in a determinate way. But what holds together the links of a chain? Nothing, except their fitting into one another. Their fitting into one another is how they hold together. The same point applies to the combination of objects in a state of affairs. That they hold together in a determinate way shows something about their logical form. But logical form is not a further fact about them, that which holds them together.”

Anscombe (p. 37) argues that “in the elementary proposition there must be nothing corresponding to bracketing.” That is, the meaning of the proposition must be such that it needs no ‘collecting’ or ‘punctuating’ of terms in the way done by brackets. See 5.461-5.4611.

Black (p. 66), like Mounce, says the point is that there is nothing else in a fact (a ‘bond,’ say) that holds its components together.

2.0272 The configuration of objects forms states of affairs.

Black (p. 66) notes that ‘constitutes’ could work here for bildet in place of P&McG’s ‘produces.’ Ogden has ‘forms,’ which is better.

This remark confirms what I said above about what 2.0231 seems to mean.

2.0271 The object is the fixed, the persistent; the configuration is the changing, the unstable.

2.0231 seems to identify configurations of objects with states of affairs. Possibility-spaces (objects) remain, their combinations (possible actualizations in combination with others) are various, and their actual combinations, those states of affairs that really exist, of course vary and change.

2.027 The fixed, the persistent, and the object are one.

See 2.024, which identifies substance with the persisting, 2.023, which identifies objects with the fixed, and 2.021, which identifies objects with substance. Nothing new here. Bearn notes (p. 75) that 5.621 and 6.421 also talk of things being one. “There are no thinkable distinctions in the realm of the higher. So the transcendental is not many, it is one,” he says.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

2.026 Only if there are objects can there be a fixed form of the world.

This is clear from 2.023. Indeed it is tautological.

2.0251 Space, time, and color (coloredness) are forms of objects.

Bear in mind 2.0141 ("The possibility of its occurrence in states of affairs is the form of an object.") So space, time, and color are possibilities of objects occurring in states of affairs. "Forms of objects" then are what I have been calling dimensions. An object's form is the dimension, or set of dimensions, in which it exists as a possibility, or the representative of that possibility.

2.025 It is form and content.

But not form in the sense of shape (rather, in the sense of possibility). And not content in the sense of atoms or molecules or quarks (rather, in the sense of possibility again).

2.024 Substance is what persists [besteht] independently of what is the case.

Ogden has ‘exists,’ Pears & McGuinness have ‘subsists.’ Ogden’s version seems to make the sentence paradoxical-sounding. Perhaps ‘endures’ would be best.

What is there independently of what is the case? Perhaps substance is possibility? Or should we say possibility and necessity? Perhaps we should say it is logic. Better yet, perhaps we should stick with 2.024 as it stands, and treat it as a definition of substance.

Monday, November 27, 2006

2.02331 Either a thing has properties that no other has, and then one can distinguish it straightaway from the others by means of a description, and refer to it thereby; or else there are several things that have all their properties in common, and then it is altogether impossible to pick out one of them.

Because if a thing is not distinguished by anything then I cannot distinguish it, because otherwise it really would have been distinguished all along.

All talk of external properties is dropped here in this only explanatory comment on 2.0233. Presumably, therefore, it is not that important, at least at this stage. Distinguishing one object from another is not something that we do. If a distinction can be made then it is there already. The properties of objects belong to them and cannot be added to with gifts from us. At least in this sense they are essential, i.e. necessary and unchangeable. Again this sounds metaphysical, but is in fact purely logical. The rather hypothetical status of objects is underlined by their being referred to here again by the vaguer term "thing". The vagueness is partly inherent in the word itself, and partly in the fact that Wittgenstein is not bothering to stick to one term. What I am calling a dimension is not created by adding together a bunch of points. Rather, we start with the dimension (think of a Cartesian graph) and then pick out points along it. These are Wittgenstein's objects, and they are no more real than mathematical points (which is not to say that they are utterly unreal, of course).

2.0233 Two objects of the same logical form are -- apart from their external properties -- differentiated from one another only by the fact that they are different.

And what kind of fact is that? This seems to be irony. Two objects of the same logical form are identical, apart from their external properties. But if objects are mere possibilities, or possibility place-holders, what external properties could they have? And what are external properties, after all? Perhaps they are signs for objects, or something of that sort. External properties must be inessential, and objects seem to be all about essence, so it is hard to conceive of their having anything that might be called external properties. But since Wittgenstein does not say that they do have such properties, and besides has not told us what he means by "external properties," we need not worry about this yet. On the other hand, perhaps there is no irony here. Perhaps simply being different is a relation or property that two objects could have. I think we need to read on before we make up our minds.

Anscombe (p. 111): “The only ‘external properties’ his [i.e. Wittgenstein’s] simple objects can have, of course, are those of actually occurring in certain facts.” See 5.5302, where, Anscombe says, “he is explicit that it makes sense to say that two objects have all their properties in common.”

See 4.123 for more on external properties.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

2.0232 Incidentally: objects are colorless.

Right. They have no properties. They are the possibility of properties. That is to say, an object is not this or that degree of hardness, say, but the possibility of, logical space for, this or that degree of hardness. A color object, then, a possibility within the dimensions of color, would be not this or that color but the possibility of this or that color. Also worth considering is that ‘colorless’ here refers to Frege’s notion of color or tone, the purely subjective flavor of certain words.

“Roughly speaking” might not be the best translation of “Beiläufig gesprochen.” Gillian Russell says: “I think it can mean in passing (and so on a side note is definitely one way to translate it in general), but it can also mean something like casually. The other translation of the Tractatus that I have (Pears and McGuiness …) goes for "In a manner of speaking", which is kind of an interesting translation decision. I suspect that captures pretty much what Wittgenstein meant to convey, despite it's non-literality.” See The most literal translation would be something like “By the way: objects are colorless,” which might be too casual, so “Incidentally: objects are colorless” might be best. Nordmann (p. 102) has “By the way: …” Black (p. 64) seems to think that “in a manner of speaking,” “roughly speaking,” “incidentally,” and “in passing” would all be acceptable translations of beiläufig gesprochen.

McManus p. 124: “My suggestion is that to declare that our talk ultimately rests on an immediate ‘seeing’ of ‘colourless objects’ is one step away from recognizing that the ‘project’ of explaining the ‘possibility’ of ‘meaningful’ talk leaves us nothing to say or think: our ‘experience’ of the pure and simple here is the experience of empty words.”

Monday, November 20, 2006

2.0231 The substance of the world can determine only a form and not any material properties. Because these [material properties] are exhibited only by propositions -- are only produced by the configuration of objects.

Ogden has “first” for erst here, whereas P&McG, correctly, have ‘only’ instead. At least, this is the more likely meaning in context.

If objects are logical (by 2.0231) and it is they that make up the substance of the world (see 2.021), then this substance must itself be logical. Talk about the substance of the world can then be replaced by talk about the form of the world, which is what all possible worlds have in common, which is possibility, which is (a matter of) logic. Somehow, though, the configuration of objects (logical atoms or elements) produces material properties. These are properties such as a certain degree of hardness, we can suppose. These can be defined as points on logical axes. Each possibility would be a point on the axis, which is what objects appear to be. That is to say, objects are to be understood in the terms of 2.0131. A particular speck in my visual field is not an object, but it is a reality corresponding to a particular possibility, and that possibility, that space in the (logical) realm of color, is an object. Again this sounds metaphysical, but it is just a way of saying that an actual speck can be thought of as the realization of a particular possibility. Such possibilities are what Wittgenstein calls objects. In doing so he is not reifying possibility or giving us a metaphysics of possible worlds. See Kripke, if I recall correctly, on the correct (metaphorical, Wittgensteinian) understanding of possible worlds talk.

2.023 This fixed form consists precisely of the objects.

This sounds extremely metaphysical, as if logic had components. Objects would be something like atoms yet able to make up, i.e. constitute, the whole of logic, the realm of logic. This is inconceivable, so we need to turn things around. Objects must be conceived not as metaphysical but as logical, and hence as something like fictional. Logic has no quasi-metaphysical substance after all. How could it?

Friday, November 17, 2006

2.022 It is obvious that even a world quite different from the actual one must have something -- a form -- in common with it.

Both Ogden and P&McG refer to an “imagined world” in contrast to the actual one. Black (p. 62) points out that this is wrong and that “a world which is thought about” would be more literal. I think the least clumsy way to render this is to leave out altogether a reference to the non-actual world’s being merely thought of.

See 2.0141 on the form of an object. The concept of form seems to have to do with possibility. What all possible worlds have in common is, precisely, possibility, i.e. form, i.e. logic.

2.0212 It would then be impossible to draft a picture of the world (true or false).

Well yes. If our premise is self-contradictory and anything follows from a contradiction, then of course this conclusion, or any other, will follow. A world with no substance, no nature, could not be pictured.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

2.0211 If the world had no substance then whether a proposition had sense would depend on whether another proposition was true.

In a logically perfect language, all proper names must have Bedeutung. But Frege’s big concern is that proper names’ having Bedeutung should not depend on the truth of a thought (as it seems to in “The man who invented safety razors made a fortune,” which would be Bedeutungslos if there was no such man). See pp. 40-41 of “On Sinn and Bedeutung.”

Mounce presents Wittgenstein’s reasoning here as follows (p. 21): “whether a proposition has sense cannot be a contingent matter. What is contingent is whether it is true (or false). But in order to be true (or false) a proposition must already possess a sense. The sense of a proposition, in short, must be independent of whether it is in fact true or false. Consequently, there must be a contact between language and the world which is prior to the truth or falsity of what we say. Such a contact is to be found in the relationship between a simple name and a simple object, the relationship being such that the name just stands for the object independently of description.”

My firsat reaction: This is mysterious. How could the world have no substance? Would that be an empty space? Or would it be no world at all? Perhaps the meaning of "If the world had no substance" is to be understood in terms of a proposition's having sense depending on whether another proposition was true. So let's look at what that means. It is clearly meant to be (or seem to be) a bad thing, since the sentence sounds like a reductio of the idea that the world might have no substance (whatever that idea might turn out to be). We don't know what sense is yet, for Wittgenstein, but he seems to be saying that if the world had no substance then logic would depend on metaphysics (which, the implication seems to be, is absurd). Whether a proposition is true or false depends on how the world is (is it raining or not?), a matter of what I am calling metaphysics (perhaps I should just call it a matter of fact). Wittgenstein's suggestion seems to be that the whole of logic (what makes sense) must be prior to metaphysics (what is true or the case). So sense or logic must be prior to the world, not temporally (metaphysically) but logically. The dependence here is not causal or anything like that. Some people think that whether a bunch of symbol-like things make sense or not depends on people: on the existence of people (or symbol-users of some kind) and on their happening to use those symbol-like things as symbols. Does "shizzle my nizzle" have sense? Apparently it does, but only because (and only since) some people started to use it as having sense. So we might think that whether "shizzle my nizzle" has sense depends on whether the proposition "People use 'shizzle my nizzle' to mean something" is true. But this cannot be. There can be no question whether a proposition has sense or not, because without sense it is not a proposition. And whether something symbol-like (and what is not symbol-like?) has sense depends on its use or function or role in a language or symbol-system, not on whether a proposition asserting that it is so used is true. Whether a proposition is true depends on the facts, not the other way round. What then about the case of "shizzle my nizzle"? If I bark like a seal and then say "... makes no sense" I have not said anything. Similarly, I would like to say, if I say "Piggly wiggle makes no sense" I have not said anything either. I have made no sense myself. But this seems false. It seems false because the sentence "Piggly wiggle makes no sense" looks and sounds as though it does make sense. The sense in question is something like this: Although "piggly wiggle" look and sound like English words, try using (as opposed to mentioning or quoting) them in a sentence and you will fail. Even here there is an implicit contraction of "the marks 'piggly wiggle' and the sounds you would make if pronouncing them as words" to "piggly wiggle." "Piggly wiggle" does not simply mean piggly wiggle, because there is no such thing to mean, no such meaning. So the sentence/set of marks "Piggly wiggle makes no sense" as it were looks for a sense, or prompts us to look for one on its behalf, and there is a fairly unambiguous sense that it finds. So it is OK to say that it is a sentence and has a sense. There is an important difference between a mere barking and a barking presented as meaning something, just as there is a difference between a pre-linguistic baby making sounds that might be transcribed as "shizzle my nizzle" and an adult claiming that to say "shizzle my nizzle" is to utter a profanity. The status of the sounds is different in each case. The barking and baby cases are as it were a-sensical, sense not being in question at all. The others are in the realm of sense and could be sensical or nonsensical. But only within the realm of sense can the question of truth arise, and then only within the realm of the sensical or meaningful. To think that to which realm something belongs depends on the truth of some proposition is a mistake. It is to reify these realms and their contents. It is to mistake logic for metaphysics. Now how would the world's having no substance imply that this were no mistake? Perhaps because then there would be no difference between logic and metaphysics. All would be logic. Or because from a contradiction, anything at all follows. So the very idea of the world's having no substance might be incoherent. Indeed it does seem to be, since it is hard to conceive of a being ("the world" or anything else) without some kind of substance.

2.021 Objects make up the substance of the world. Therefore they cannot be composite.

Why? Presumably because they are, by definition, something like atoms or monads. The "cannot" is logical. So we still don't know what objects are. Black (p. 61): "It is a basic principle for W. that every combination is contingent (cf. 2.0271 on the ‘configuration’ as mutable). If objects were complex, their existence would be a contingent fact and hence they could not collectively constitute the substance of the world.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

2.0201 Each statement about complexes can be analyzed into a statement about their components and into those propositions that completely describe the complexes.

Black says (p. 61) cf. 3.24, 3.3442, and 5.5423. He goes on to note that in the corresponding part of Notes on Logic (ref. 99 (6) c) Wittgenstein adds “i.e. that proposition which is equivalent to saying the complex exists.” If this is what he means here, then the whole thing just means that each statement that a complex exists can be analyzed into a statement that this and this and this ingredient are combined thus into a complex.

My initial reaction: A bit mystifying again. What complexes? If I make a statement about three complexes ("Complexes A, B, and C are nice," say) then this can be analyzed into a statement about the components of A, B, and C, and into the set of propositions that describes A, B, and C completely? Wouldn't that require a lot more information? If A is a tiger can an analysis of my statement that it is nice give us a complete description of the tiger? Surely this is not what Wittgenstein means, but what he does mean is not apparent yet. Could a complex be whatever is taken for a complex, so that a statement about a complex would be about a complex-understood-as-a-complex, which could then be analyzed into a statement about the-things-understood-to-be-parts-of-the-complex plus some propositions about those-parts-considered-as-parts-of-a-complex? There might be limits to what could be thought of as a complex (perhaps) but otherwise complexity might be in the eye of the beholder. Or rather, in the analysis of the statement. Simplicity and complexity would then not be absolute matters, matters of metaphysics, but dependent on, or features of, logical analysis. And what that is is not (yet) clear.

Ostrow (p. 27) says that this remark must be compared with 3.24. The “central purpose” of 2.0201, he says (p. 28) is to make evident the fundamental distinction between complex and object. Complexes cannot be treated as entities or objects. By 2.0211, a proposition about a nonexistent object is nonsense, but, by 3.24, a proposition about a nonexistent complex is false, not nonsensical.

2.02 Objects are simple.

OK, but what does "simple" mean? They have both external and internal properties (2.01231) after all. Cf. Leibniz Monadology 1, where he says that simple means without parts.

Fahrnkopf (p. 42) writes: "The middle of the very first page of the text through the beginning of the third page, from 2.01 to 2.02, is devoted exclusively to setting out the radical idea that objects are essentially dependent, in that they are not merely a content but also a form."

2.0141 The possibility of its occurrence in states of affairs is the form of an object.

So circumstances [states of things?] are states of affairs after all, presumably. Otherwise this is a definition of the form of an object. Black (p. 55) says it is such a definition.

Black (p. 38): “Later on, we shall learn that form is the possibility of structure (2.033): every remark about ‘form’ can be made to yield a remark about ‘possibility’ and conversely. It is very difficult to advance beyond this point and to form a distinct idea of what Wittgenstein intends by either word.”

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

2.014 Objects contain the possibility of all circumstances.

Black (p. 55) calls this an “alternative formulation of 2.0123a.”

My first thoughts: Aaargh! First "objects" was introduced vaguely but "state of affairs" was a somewhat precise-seeming constant, but now that we have got a consistent use of "object" the term "state of affairs" gets dropped. Why won't Wittgenstein define his terms and stick to them? Is he deliberately being imprecise? Unhelpful? Is he introducing a new technical term (Sachlagen)?

Cf. Leibniz’ Monadology §§ 65-67:

65. The author of nature has been able to employ this divine and infinitely marvellous artifice, because each portion of matter is not only, as the ancients recognised, infinitely divisible, but also because it is really divided without end, every part into other parts, each one of which has its own proper motion. Otherwise it would be impossible for each portion of matter to express all the universe.

66. Whence we see that there is a world of created things, of living beings, of animals, of entelechies, of souls, in the minutest particle of matter.

67. Every portion of matter may be conceived as like a garden full of plants and like a pond full of fish. But every branch of a plant, every member of an animal, and every drop of the fluids within it, is also such a garden or such a pond.

2.0131 The spatial object must be in infinite space. (A spatial point is an argument-place.)

The speck in a visual field of course need not be red, but it must have a color: it has, so to speak, color-space around it. The note must have a pitch, the object of the sense of touch a degree of hardness, etc.

Black (p. 50) suggests that perhaps the space must be infinite because it must be boundless, otherwise objects on a boundary might have a privileged position. This seems doubtful to me. But what other reason could there be? Black also says ‘speck’ should be ‘patch’. I think ‘spot’ is the closest to a literal translation.

The reference to the object of the sense of touch is interesting here since such objects are especially problematic for sense data theorists such as Russell. What are such objects? Surely just material objects of a very familiar kind. Wittgenstein does not say this here, but perhaps he wants to intimate it. What does he say? There is not one but many spaces of possible states of affairs: the space of (three-dimensional) space, the space of color, the space of pitch, the space of hardness, and so on. Each can be thought of as a dimension or set of dimensions. Is there some über-space of spaces in which these dimensions exist? Is that what logic would be? Presumably not because: a) see above, and b) this has all been presented as mere metaphor. But perhaps we presume too much here. We must go on.

Monday, November 13, 2006

2.013 Each thing is, as it were, in a space of possible states of affairs. I can conceive of this space as empty, but I cannot conceive of the thing without the space.

Black (p. 50) points out a possible echo of Kant CPR A 24/B 38 here.

My first thoughts: Logic is here presented metaphorically as a kind of extra dimension, or even another set of dimensions. Objects, like puzzle pieces, belong in the context of a state of affairs (a puzzle). But states of affairs themselves (puzzles) exist in another, larger context. The dimensions in which states of affairs exist (three of space and one of time, we might think) themselves exist within the world of possibility, the dimensions of logic. All this is only metaphorical, remember, but still. But: a) logic cannot be just more metaphysics (surely) or else the great insights of Kant and Frege would be no insights at all, the dimensions of logic cannot be dimensions in the same sense in which those of space are dimensions, and b) each of Wittgenstein's terms (object, state of affairs, space of possibilities, etc.) has so far been defined only in terms of the others, so so far really nothing has been said. We have had definition-proposals, like IOUs, but they have not been completed or cashed yet.

2.0124 If all objects are given then therewith all possible states of affairs are also given.

So the relation between objects and states of affairs is logical. States of affairs are like jigsaw puzzles, objects like their pieces. Logic is concerned with the combinatorial possibilities of jigsaw puzzle pieces, their form one might say. It is not concerned with other ("external") properties of these pieces. And a jigsaw puzzle piece is only a jigsaw puzzle piece if it actually is a piece from a jigsaw puzzle, as distinct from, say, a bit of wood that someone has cut with a jigsaw to look like a puzzle piece. That is to say, objects (pieces) are dependent on states of affairs (puzzles) for their being (-as-puzzle-pieces, I take it).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

2.01231 In order to know an object, I must know not, of course, its external but all its internal properties.

A definition of what it is to know an object in terms of the internal properties of objects. It is not yet clear what these are, but the only things that have been said to lie within objects so far (at 2.0121 and 2.013) are possibilities of combination with other objects in states of affairs. So internal properties look like they are going to turn out to be logical, not metaphysical. Perhaps external properties are metaphysical: the properties a thing happens to have, rather than necessary, essential properties. Putting it this way treats essence as a feature of logic rather than metaphysics, but I don't see how to avoid that since Wittgenstein sees all necessity as logical. Internal properties are then wholly different from external properties, being necessary rather than contingent and having to do with relations with other objects in metaphysically basic states of affairs. Since states of affairs are thus basic, Wittgenstein no more offers a metaphysics of objects than one could have a grammar of words, a syntax of semantics so to speak. Does he then offer a metaphysics of states of affairs instead? It looks as though he is in the process of offering one, but we are certainly not there yet. And if states of affairs are analyzable into objects, whose nature consists of logical properties, then it rather looks as though what we have here is logic dressed up as metaphysics.

McManus says (p. 31) that objects’ external properties “are their forming particular combinations with other objects, the existence of these combinations being the holding of particular contingent facts.” He refers to 4.123 in connection with this, although his focus is on what “internal properties” might be.

2.0123 If I know the object then I also know all the possibilities of its occurrence in states of affairs.

(Each such possibility must be in the nature of the object.)

A new possibility cannot be found later.

This sounds more blatantly metaphysically realist than 2.012. Objects have natures that we can know. On the other hand, we still seem to be dealing with a kind of equation here. To know the object is to know the possibilities of its occurrence in states of affairs. The "must" and "cannot" of the following sentences suggest that we are dealing here with logic, not metaphysics. So really we still seem to be in the process of defining objects. On p. 59 of Letters to Ogden Wittgenstein says: “to know here just means: I know it but I needn’t know anything about it.”

See also the discussion here:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

2.0122 The thing is independent in so far as it can occur in all possible states of things, but this form of independence is a form of connection with the state of affairs, a form of dependence. (It is impossible for words to appear in two different ways: alone and in propositions.)

On objects being independent, see Russell’s Logical Atomism: “Particulars have this peculiarity, among the sort of objects that you have to take account of in an inventory of the world, that each of them stands entirely alone and is completely self-subsistent. It has that sort of self-subsistence that used to belong to substance, except that it usually only persists through a very short time, so far as our experience goes. That is to say, each particular that there is in the world does not in any way logically depend upon any other particular.” (p. 179)

Stokhof (pp. 46-47) notes that the reference to dependence here “strongly suggests that [objects] cannot be conceived of as material atoms (elementary particles, or wave packets, or whatever), since for such objects the very possibility of an independent existence, however short-lived this may be, cannot be ruled out a priori.” Much the same goes for sense data: “For such objects, too, it holds that no logical property prevents their independent occurrence, even if other properties would.” (p. 47)

My original reaction: "Propositions" following Frege's use of Satz. A word has meaning potentially, we might say, on its own. But then so does everything. They actually mean only in a proposition or sentence. And proposition can be understood to mean thought, so you can't have half a one as you can half a sentence. Parsing or analyzing a thought is somewhat arbitrary, being relative to a given purpose. Really the thought is a whole. And states of affairs are the same, so things seems to have a somewhat arbitrary status.

2.0121 It would, as it were, appear as an accident if there were later to be a state of things suitable for a thing that could [already] exist for itself, on its own.

If things can occur in states of affairs then this [possibility] must already be in them.

(Something logical cannot be merely possible. Logic deals with every possibility, and all possibilities are its facts.)

As we cannot conceive of spatial objects at all without space, or temporal objects without time, so we can conceive of no thing without the possibility of its uniting with other objects.

If I can conceive of an object in the context of a state of affairs then I cannot conceive of it without the possibility of this context.

I'm not very happy with this translation, but there (for now) you are. Wittgenstein is describing a state of things that he has just told us is illogical, so of course it is inconceivable (if he is right, and we still seem to be dealing with his definitions here, so he can't really be wrong) and therefore hard (to say the least) to put into words. But if the 'commentary' called for by 2.012 is nonsense, how much sense (or what kind of sense) can 2.012 make? It's tempting to leave this as a rhetorical question, but I'm not sure that's justified. We still don't really know what is being said, or presented as being said, so judging it is really not possible at this stage.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

2.012 In logic nothing is accidental: if a thing can occur in a state of affairs then the possibility of the state of affairs must be already prejudged in the thing.

Hard to avoid awkwardness here, but I prefer to err on the side of literalness. The word prejudged (präjudiziert) is strange though. Is this another way of saying that this possibility is built-in, metaphysically, to the thing? Or, on the contrary, are the properties of things somehow projected by us? Do these things have any existence independent of us? Perhaps not if it is at all arbitrary how states of affairs are analyzed.

On p. 49, Bearn writes of this passage: “Objects (things) are the nonaccidental. So they cannot be within the world, for if they were within the world they would be accidental, facts (see 6.41). What is accidentally the case, the world, depends on the non-accidental.”

2.011 It is essential to the thing that it can be a constituent part of a state of affairs.

Pears & McGuinness have “should be” instead of can be, which is wrong, as Black points out (p. 47). See 3.3421 for the importance of this.

Monday, November 06, 2006

2.01 The state of affairs is a combination of objects (items, things).

This raises the question of what these objects are, although Wittgenstein's use of different words to name the same things perhaps implies that the meaning of "objects" is not well defined. If he meant something precise, one might think, why not stick to one carefully defined term?

According to Goldfarb (in Reck, ed., From Frege to Wittgenstein), so far as the TLP is a response to Russell, it is mostly a response to Part I of Principles of Mathematics, published in 1903 and mostly written in 1900.

In the preface, written in 1902, Russell writes: “The discussion of indefinables—which forms the chief part of philosophical logic—is the endeavour to see clearly, and to make others see clearly, the entities concerned, in order that the mind may have that kind of acquaintance with them which it has with redness or the taste of a pineapple. Where, as in the present case, the indefinables are obtained primarily as the necessary residue in a process of analysis, it is often easier to know that there must be such entities than actually to perceive them; there is a process analogous to that which resulted in the discovery of Neptune, with the difference that the final stage—the search with a mental telescope for the entity which has been inferred—is often the most difficult part of the undertaking.” (p. xv)

“Whatever may be an object of thought, or may occur in any true or false proposition, or can be counted as one, I call a term. This, then, is the widest word in the philosophical vocabulary. I shall use as synonymous with it the words unit, individual, and entity. A man, a moment, a number, a class, a relation, a chimaera, or anything else that can be mentioned, is sure to be a term; and to deny that such and such a thing is a term must always be false.” (p. 43)

“A term is, in fact, possessed of all the properties commonly assigned to substances or substantives. Every term, to begin with, is a logical subject: it is, for example, the subject of the proposition that itself is one. Again every term is immutable and indestructible. What a term is, it is, and no change can be conceived in it which would not destroy its identity and make it another term. Another mark which belongs to terms is numerical identity with themselves and numerical diversity from all other terms.” (p. 44)

“Among terms it is possible to distinguish two kinds, which I shall call respectively things and concepts. The former are the terms indicated by proper names, the latter those indicated by all other words.” (p. 44)

Wittgenstein's giving different words for thing here suggests that the idea is meant to be intuitive or non-technical. What matters is the combination, the combinatory nature of states of affairs. See elsewhere on the concept of a thing, how its meaning could cover almost anything, and in a way that Kant at least considered to be problematic.

Wittgenstein later said that relations count as objects. This is in Desmond Lee (ed.) Wittgenstein's Lectures, Cambridge, 1930-32. Lee records Wittgenstein as saying that: "Objects etc. is here used for such things as a colour, a point in visual space etc..... "Objects" also include relations; a proposition is not two things connected by a relation. "Thing" and "relation" are on the same level. The objects hang as it were in a chain."

According to McGuinness, objects are the form of the realms of world, thought, and language. So our ‘acquaintance’ with them “is not an experience or knowledge of something over against which we stand. Thus it is not properly experience or knowledge at all [see TLP 5.552].” So it is misleading to call Wittgenstein a realist with respect to objects and, Bearn adds, equally misleading to call him an anti-realist in respect of them. See Bearn p. 55 (where the McGuinness quote is, which originally is on pp. 72-73 of B. F. McGuinness “The So-Called Realism of the Tractatus,” in Perspectives on the Philosophy of Wittgenstein edited by I. Block (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1981). Objects are unchanging (see TLP 2.027) and whatever we can experience could always be otherwise (see TLP 5.643), so we cannot experience objects. Bearn makes this point on p. 60.

Robert Fahrnkopf (in his Wittgenstein on Universals Peter Lang, New York, 1988) argues that Wittgenstein's objects include universals. He points out (p. 7) that Moore's notes on Wittgenstein's lectures (1930-33) report that Wittgenstein spoke of colors as if they were Russellian individuals. On p. 8 Fahrnkopf points out that in the Blue Book Wittgenstein characterizes his Tractatus view as being that redness, roundness, and sweetness are elements or individuals. He certainly seems to be talking about the universal redness rather than a particular red sense-datum here.

P. 31 of the Blue Book refers specifically to the Tractatus and the idea that a fact is a "complex of objects." The discussion there sounds like a discussion of Plato's idea of universals. Talk of facts as combinations of objects, Wittgenstein writes, springs from the following confusion: "We are misled by the substantives "object of thought" and "fact", and by the different meanings of the word "exist"."

So Wittgenstein came to think of 2.01 as a mistake. (And perhaps he already thought this way in the Tractatus, given 6.54.)

The distinction between knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description is, for obvious reasons, associated with Russell, but Schopenhauer makes a similar distinction in the Fourfold Root p. 163: “reason, is evidently reduced to what is possible only to abstract, discursive, reflective, and mediate knowledge that is tied to words, but not to what is possible to merely intuitive, immediate, and sensuous knowledge, which animals also share.”

Friday, November 03, 2006

2 What is the case, the fact, is the existence of states of affairs.

Black (p. 39) says that it might be better to speak of the holding of a fact than the existence of a fact. He prefers ‘atomic fact’ for Sachverhalt. A Sachverhalt is “the objective counterpart of an unanalysable contingent truth (see, for instance, 4.2211)” (pp. 39-40). However, Black notes, Wittgenstein uses Sachverhalt in seemingly inconsistent ways. E.g. most of the time he uses it to mean an actual combination of objects, but he also sometimes uses it to mean a combination that does not exist (e.g. at 2.06 and 4.3). Stenius (p. 31) says that “a Sachverhalt is something that could possibly be the case,” but 2.0124 talks of possible Sachverhalte, which would be odd in that case. (This objection is Black’s, as is the page reference in Stenius.) Black argues (pp. 41-45) quite convincingly that Sachverhalte should be understood as facts rather than possibilities, at least most of the time.

My original comment: This seems odd. Shouldn't it be "the existence of a [or the] state of affairs"? Or is the fact that states of affairs exist? Is the world the existence of states of affairs? Or is it the totality of the existences of states of affairs, whatever that might mean? I think the idea is that a fact is the existence of a state of affairs. But why not: a fact is a state of affairs? So far we seem to have got either nowhere at all or else no further than 1. Perhaps the obvious ambiguity or (potential for) confusion is designed to make us attend to definitions, to look carefully for clear understanding.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

1.21 Each can be the case or not be the case and all else stay the same.

This does not say that everything else necessarily will stay the same. One fact's changing might cause others to change, as far as we know so far, but this is not necessary. We don't know much yet, including what these "facts" are.

If we take them to be complex then Wittgenstein is wrong, as Black points out (p. 37). One fact’s being the case (e.g. the cat being on the shelf) would mean that others were affected (e.g. the cat’s being too big to fit on the shelf). Black thinks Wittgenstein means atomic facts here, or else conjunctions of atomic facts. He points out also how awkward it is to refer to a fact’s not being the case.

Cf. 5.135.

1.2 The world divides into facts.

This doesn't seem to add much. More questions: is this division merely possible, or somehow right? Black says (p. 37) that ‘divides’ (zerfällt) “is an emphatic word—the world falls apart into facts, we might say, because they are mutually independent.”

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

1.13 The facts in logical space are the world.

So are some facts not in logical space? Or is "in logical space" another way of saying "being all the facts"? Or is this more stipulation?

1.12 Because the totality of facts determines what is the case and also all that is not the case.

How does it do this? Is it a fact that something is not the case? Or is something's not being the case just implied by the facts?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

1.11 The world is determined by the facts, and by these being all the facts.

Russell on facts (from Logical Atomism): He proposes to begin with truisms that are beyond doubt and need no justification, “truisms … so obvious that it is almost laughable to mention them.”[1] The first of these is “that the world contains facts, which are what they are whatever we may choose to think about them, and that there are also beliefs, which have reference to facts, and by reference to facts are either true or false.”[2] Facts are what make propositions true or false. They are objective but not particular (in the way that a particular person is particular, say). Since they cannot be false, it would be a mistake to say that they are all true.

Black (p. 36) says that ‘determined’ (bestimmt) here does not mean ‘stipulated’, as it does in some places, but something more like ‘necessitated.’

My original reaction: A problem here. Isn't it a fact that these are all the facts? So wouldn't it be enough to say "determined by the facts"? And is it a fact that these are all the facts? And is that a fact? Perhaps there is no problem. My (entirely fictional) running might make me fit, without the fact that I run making me fit. At least someone with a metaphysics of facts might want to deny causal powers to them. Maybe this is what Wittgenstein has in mind. Or maybe the metaphysical doctrine he is putting forward is (intentionally or not) incoherent almost from the very start. Or maybe all we have been given so far is definitions, or even pseudo-definitions (like: I will use 'fraggle' and 'spling' to mean the same thing. This is a kind of definition, but it might turn out that I don't use these words to mean anything really). Perhaps Wittgenstein is saying: when I say "the world" I will mean the same as when I say "the totality of facts." It could turn out to be the same nothing in each case.

[1] Ibid., p. 163.

[2] Ibid.