By Robert Hanna
TABLE OF CONTENTS
VI.9 Propositions Again
VI.10 Language and Thought
VII. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 3: Propositions 4–5.61
VII.1 The Logocentric Predicament, Version 3.0: Justifying Deduction
VII.2 The Logical Form of Deduction
VII.3 Logic Must Take Care of Itself
VII.4 Tautologies and Contradictions
VII.5 What is Logic?
VII.6 Logic is the A Priori Essence of Language
VII.7 Logic is the A Priori Essence of Thought
VII.8 Logic is the A Priori Essence of the World
VIII. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 4: Propositions 5.62–7
VIII.1 Tractarian Solipsism and Tractarian Realism
VIII.2 Tractarian Solipsism
VIII.3 Tractarian Realism
VIII.4 Is the Tractatus’s Point an Ethical One?
VIII.5 The Meaning of Life
VIII.6 Three Basic Worries About the Tractatus
VIII.7 Natural Science and the Worry About the Simplicity of the Objects or Things
VIII.8 Natural Science and the Worry About the Logical Independence of Atomic Facts
VIII.9 Tractarian Mysticism and the Worry About Metaphilosophy
IX. Carnap, The Vienna Circle, Logical Empiricism, and The Great Divide
IX.1 Carnap Before and After the Tractatus
IX.2 Carnap, The Vienna Circle, and The Elimination of Metaphysics
IX.3 The Verifiability Principle and Its Fate
IX.4 The Davos Conference and The Great Divide
X. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 1: Preface, and §§1–27
X.1 From the Tractatus to the Investigations
X.2 The Thesis That Meaning Is Use
X.3 A Map of the Investigations
X.4 The Critique of Pure Reference: What the Builders Did
XI. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 2: §§28–242
XI.1 The Picture Theory and the Vices of Simplicity
XI.2 Wittgenstein’s Argument Against The Picture Theory: A Rational Reconstruction
XI.3 Understanding and Rule-Following
XI.4 Wittgenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: The Basic Rationale
XI.5 Wittgenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction
XI.6 Kripkenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: Why Read Kripke Too?
XI.7 Kripkenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction
XI.8 How to Solve The Paradox: Wittgenstein’s Way and Kripkenstein’s Way
XI.8.1 Wittgenstein and The Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction
XI.8.2 Kripkenstein and The Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction
XII. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 3: §§242–315
XII.1 What is a Private Language?
XII.2 The Private Language Argument: A Rational Reconstruction
XII.3 Is Wittgenstein a Behaviorist? No.
XII.4 Wittgenstein on Meanings, Sensations, and Human Mindedness: A Rational Reconstruction
XIII. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 4: §§316–693 & 174e-232e
XIII.1 Linguistic Phenomenology
XIII.2 Two Kinds of Seeing
XIII.3 Experiencing the Meaning of a Word
XIII.4 The Critique of Logical Analysis, and Logic-As-Grammar
XIV. Coda: Wittgenstein and Kantianism
XIV.1 World-Conformity 1: Kant, Transcendental Idealism, and Empirical Realism
XIV.2 World-Conformity 2: Wittgenstein, Transcendental Solipsism, and Pure Realism
XIV.3 World-Conformity 3: To Forms of Life
XIV.4 The Critique of Self-Alienated Philosophy 1: Kant’s Critical Metaphilosophy
XIV.5 The Critique of Self-Alienated Philosophy 2: Wittgensteinian Analysis as Critique
XV. From Quine to Kripke and Analytic Metaphysics: The Adventures of the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction
XV.1 Two Urban Legends of Post-Empiricism
XV.2 A Very Brief History of The Analytic-Synthetic Distinction
XV.3 Why the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction Really Matters
XV.4 Quine’s Critique of the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction, and a Meta-Critique
XV.5 Three Dogmas of Post-Quineanism
XVI. Analytic Philosophy and The Ash-Heap of History
XVI.1 Husserl’s Crisis and Our Crisis
XVI.2 Why Hasn’t Post-Classical Analytic Philosophy Produced Any Important Ideas in the Last Thirty-Five Years?
XVI.3 On Irad Kimhi’s Thinking and Being, Or, It’s The End Of Analytic Philosophy As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
XVI.4 Thinking Inside and Outside the Fly-Bottle: The New Poverty of Philosophy and Its Second Copernican Revolution
This installment contains sections VI.9 and VI.10.
But you can also read or download a .pdf version of the complete book HERE.
VI.9 Propositions Again
Tractarian propositions, as we’ve seen, are at once
(i) the semantic content of judgments, assertions, beliefs, and statements,
(ii) bipolar essential truth-bearers,
(iii) logical pictures of atomic facts, and
(iv) vehicles of sense.
But propositions have several other crucial features as well.
First, propositions are the proper objects of logical analysis, in that they are essentially decomposable into their simple symbols, or names, and the way in which those names are configured into a propositional structure.
Each proposition has a unique complete decomposition (3.25), and logical “elucidation” is the activity of decomposing a proposition uniquely into its simple constituent symbols (3.263).
Second, in the reverse direction, propositions are essentially compositional, in that each propositional symbol is a function of its component simple symbols or expressions.
This compositionality of the proposition entails what Chomskyans call the “creative” or “productive” aspect of language: namely, that an infinitely large number of new propositions can be constructed from a finite set of simple symbols plus rules for construction (4.03).
Also anticipating Chomsky, Wittgenstein regards our human compositional capacity for language as an innate endowment (4.002).
Third, propositions are essentially generalizable, in that each meaningful part of the proposition can be replaced by a variable while other parts are held constant, thus producing a class of propositions of that form.
E.g., the proposition
Frege is taller than Wittgenstein
can be generalized as
x is taller than Wittgenstein
and then there will be a class of propositions determined by substituting different individual constants for the variable ‘x’.
Or it could be generalized as
Frege is taller than y
Frege bears R to Wittgenstein
x bears R to Wittgenstein
x bears R to y
The absolutely general form of a proposition is the propositional variable ‘P’, which simply means such and such is the case (4.5).
Fourth, propositions are the primary or primitive units of meaning, in that all other symbols, including names (3.3), have meaning (i.e., either sense or reference/Meaning) only in the context of whole propositions.
This, of course, is Frege’s context principle.
Fifth, propositions are semantically self-intimating, in that they convey sense and are the vehicles of sense, but propositional senses cannot described or named: they can only be shown (4.022).
Q: What’s showing?
A: I think that the best overall characterization of “showing” is that it covers all the basic types of linguistic meaning other than describing facts, i.e., what Wittgenstein calls “saying.”
So showing includes, at the very least,
(i) intensional discourse, i.e., discourse about meanings,
(ii) reflexive discourse, i.e., self-referring discourse,
(iii) speech-act-expressing discourse, i.e., discourse that communicates different types of language-use, e.g., imperatives, questions, subjunctives, etc.,
(iv) emotive discourse, e.g., discourse expressing approval or disapproval,
(v) non-literal discourse, e.g., jokes or metaphors,
(vi) transcendental discourse, i.e., logico-philosophical discourse, i.e., Tractarian discourse.
Notice, moreover, that in this non-descriptive, non-fact-stating respect, even
(vii) directly referential discourse, i.e., naming objects or things,
is also a kind of showing.
So whereas saying is a rather narrowly constrained and defined, and also — except for those who prefer “the icy slopes of logic” — a somewhat philosophically boring sort of thing, nevertheless showing, like love, is a many-splendored thing.
Sixth, propositions are semantically non-reflexive, in that they cannot be about themselves (3.332).
Correspondingly, functions also cannot contain themselves as arguments (3.333).
Together, these two forms of Tractarian non-reflexivity automatically rule out the possibility of the Liar paradox and other semantic paradoxes, as well as the set-theoretic paradoxes.
Seventh, propositions are essentially first-order, in that when we take the fifth and sixth features of propositions together, it follows that although complex or molecular propositions are possible, no higher-order propositions are logically possible.
That is: there are no senses of senses (hence no hierarchy of senses), and there are no propositions about propositions (hence no hierarchy of propositions).
Wittgenstein‘s implicit rationale here seems to be that such hierarchies are in themselves irrational and lead to vicious impredicativity.
On the other hand, however, by logically banning senses of senses and propositions about propositions, at least prima facie, he puts his own Tractarian discourse in jeopardy.
So how can the author of the Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung meaningfully talk about propositions?
(As I’ve indicated already, the neo-Kantian and correct Tractarian answer is that such discourse is transcendental showing, not saying.
This Tractarian meta-philosophical insight, like so many others, is simply overlooked by the “resolute” reading of the Tractatus.
Though this be nonsense, yet there is neo-Kantian method in’t.)
VI.10 Language and Thought
Language as a whole is the totality of propositions (4.01).
Among other things, this shows us that in the context of the Tractatus, Wittgenstein is providing a logico-philosophical theory of language only insofar as language is an information-carrying means ir medium, i.e., only insofar as it’s a means or medium for saying, and not insofar as it’s a means or medium for showing.
In the context of the Tractatus, language as a means or medium for showing is only shown, not said.
(In the context of the Philosophical Investigations, by contrast, language as a means or medium for showing is not only shown, but also said: but that’s another story for later in this book.)
The totality of true propositions is complete natural science (4.11).
Among other things, this shows us that Wittgenstein is treating positive atomic facts or the truth-makers as ultimately reducible to the natural facts (explanatory and ontological naturalism).
Language, however, for Wittgenstein is not merely the set of outer or public inscriptions or utterances or texts: it also includes any proposition-constructing activity, whether inner or outer.
This is what Wittgenstein calls “thought” or “thinking” (3.1–3.11).
So all thinking is essentially linguistic in character.
This has two important consequences.
First, all thinking, whether or not accompanied by utterance, occurs in a private language of thought.
Thinking is inner propositional activity.
Second, natural language and cognition are both essentially propositional and thought-based in character, even though they may not appear to be such.
The surface structure of either inner or outer natural language (i.e., its psychological syntax or surface grammar) thoroughly disguises its real structure (its depth grammar or logical syntax) (4.002).
Only logical analysis can reveal this underlying structure.
But on the other hand this logical analysis should not be regarded as a reform of language (i.e., a prescriptive depth grammar, or prescriptive logical syntax); on the contrary, everything in natural language is logico-grammatically perfectly in order, just as it is (5.5563).
In this respect, Wittgenstein‘s approach to logical analysis is sharply different from that of the logical positivists or empiricists, who were explicitly logico-grammatical prescriptivists and reformers — e.g., Carnap took a strong interest in the Esperanto movement.
On the contrary, for Wittgenstein, logical analysis is there merely to clarify what we already implicitly fully understand.
It follows that almost all of our propositional thinking is in fact “tacit” or non-self-conscious cognizing.
It is only philosophers of logic, language, and thought who can adequately recover the nature of this nonconscious cognizing.
But this recovery is not psychological in character (4.1121): instead it’s the result of transcendental reflection in the Kantian sense (6.13).
AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 460
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