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?