Tractatus logico philosophicus = Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung

by Ludwig Wittgenstein

Hardcover, 1999



Call number

CI 5004 L832



Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp


Perhaps the most important work of philosophy written in the twentieth century, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was the only philosophical work that Ludwig Wittgenstein published during his lifetime. Written in short, carefully numbered paragraphs of extreme brilliance, it captured the imagination of a generation of philosophers. For Wittgenstein, logic was something we use to conquer a reality which is in itself both elusive and unobtainable. He famously summarized the book in the following words: 'What can be said at all can be said clearly; and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.' David Pears and Brian McGuinness received the highest praise for their meticulous translation. The work is prefaced by Bertrand Russell's original introduction to the first English edition.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Alixtii
If we accept (what seems to be?) Wittgenstein's conclusion that the ultimate truths of philosophy are inexpressible, ineffable truths which cannot be put into words, then the most any philosophical work can be is a flawed account which nonetheless can, when we reflect upon it (by recognizing the
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points where it is mistaken, for example), point us in the right direction. While I suppose the writings of every philosopher from Plato to Putnam is capable of doing this, some make the process easier than others, adequately discouraging us from falling into the trap of fundamentalism, of taking what they say (or seem to say) too seriously. Alongside Nietzsche (whom Wittgenstein admired) and Derrida as masters of this technique, the early Wittgenstein has clearly more than earned his place.

The Tractatus is at least as much a poem as it is philosophy, although Wittgenstein clearly would have denied any hard-and-fast distinction between the two types of writing. Wittgenstein moves from theories of language in the first few sections of the book into examinations of mysticism and religion, leading the reader to the understanding that everything Wittgenstein has said or could say about metaphysics must be nonsense, but at the same to a type of spiritual enlightenment, even if the subsequent understanding of the relationship between humans, God, language, and the world cannot be put into words.
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LibraryThing member CaptainBroadchurch
A farrago of laconic pronouncements which, when Wittgenstein discusses mathematics, express old ideas that had already been refuted many years earlier by the likes of Dedekind and Frege.

A dream come true for any budding acolyte.
LibraryThing member P_S_Patrick
After an abandoned half-attempt at reading this a few years ago, I managed to convince myself to see this book through.
This is one of the hardest books I have read, and I think I will need to read it again to better understand it, though I doubt it is all completely understandable. It doesn't start
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off too badly, but builds up in difficulty somewhere between the beginning and end, and then in the last few pages he moves away from logic onto its philosophical implications. While most of the book is spent sculpting and dissecting logic, a lot of what he says about language and the world does not seem to follow strictly from propositions. This book is a real schooling in logic, but his considerations of reality and language do not carry the same level of authority.
While this is a very difficult book, it is a rewarding one to finish, and one that provokes thought. Nietzsche pronounces against the worth of philosophy and ethics and values with an emotive and impassioned style, but Wittgenstein does so coldly and without working himself up, which makes it far more convincing. There is another difference between the two, that Wittgenstein does not deny the existence of answers to questions of values etcetera, only that they lie outside of language and the world, that they cannot be expressed, that they are transcendental. There are some points in which he even comes across as pro-science, with a pragmatic attitude “ The right method of philosophy would be this: To say nothing except what can be said, i.e. the propositions of natural science, i.e. something that has nothing to do with philosophy: and then always, when someone else wished to say something metaphysical, to demonstrate to him that he had given no meaning to one of his propositions.”. I think this is a common opinion of scientists, that metaphysics and philosophy ask questions for which there are no answers, and that we should stick to asking scientific questions for which there are answers. I do not agree with this though, as logic describes the necessarry truth, and as Wittgenstein says “ Logic is transcendental”, meaning that it too is surely as metaphysical as the rest of philosophy. Perhaps this is why he says that we should "thow away the ladder" (meaning the propositions of the book), after we have climbed them. If I have understood it aright, then throwing the ladder away is not necessary, it vanishes beneath us as soon as our foot has stepped off the final rung. Or it appears to do, if we take Wittgenstein at his word.
I will have to read his Philosophical Investigations to tell if his thought ever became consistent. Most of the Tractatus did seem to me to be consistent, but whether this is because I have understood it, or misunderstood it, it is difficult to tell. Caveat lector - this is strong stuff.
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LibraryThing member dazzyj
A breathtaking acheivement, building from dry logical propositions to the koan-like conclusions on the meaning of life (or, rather, why life has no meaning).
LibraryThing member jwhenderson
This is a classic of the era of logical postivism. With the blessing of Bertrand Russell it became an influential text at least until its author threw it overboard for a new approach with his Philosophical Investigations. The early Wittgenstein was concerned with the relationship between
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propositions and the world, and hoped that by providing an account of this relationship all philosophical problems could be solved; these problems arise, he thought, because the logic of language is not evident in our ordinary use of language. The later Wittgenstein rejected many of the conclusions of the Tractatus, arguing that language is a kind of motley of language-games in which the meaning of words is derived from their public use. The Tractatus is still worth reading as the most concise presentation of the logical analysis of propositions.
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LibraryThing member ari.joki
This is a very dense book. Wittgenstein himself says that his text is probably not comprehensible to someone who has not had the same thoughts themself before. It seems to me that Wittgenstein is constructing rules for expressions in formal logic; he is, however, all the time claiming that he is
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talking about how to talk about the real world. It seems to me that I need to read this very carefully with pencil and paper and try to follow all his arguments and assertions.
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LibraryThing member heinous-eli
Interesting and stark, it showcases the mathematical background of the author quite well. Too bad that later in life, W. himself recanted what he put forth in terms of metaphysics and language via this book.
LibraryThing member agricolaoval
An interesting, but clearly overoptimistic attempt to describe how language works in general and to state its limitations. So the main problem obviously is to find the general form that applies to any statement. This is of course a hopeless quest that had to be abandoned, but it is a nice try. If
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we are a bit cynical about it the limitations of the approach is quite obvious. This is especially easy to see when we try to assess the picture theory of language. It's very easy to make up simple models to realitytest the theory on actual statements, and when we do we really soon run into problems. I can totally understand the transition to Philosophical Investigations.
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LibraryThing member palaverofbirds
Patience is necessary if you're not within philosophy academia, like myself. It's not light reading but, conversely, Wittgenstein is not heavy material. In fact, it's the strict, disciplined simplicity of his ideas that adds some difficulty. The book ends on a fantastic note, either an affirmation
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or a haymaker to the field of philosophy. I'm still unsure which.
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LibraryThing member le.vert.galant
The nexus between logic, literature, and philosophy. He had me until Proposition 3.333.
LibraryThing member DanielSTJ
An engaging document that requires significant attention span, critical thinking, and insightful observation to grasp the most of what is being read. This is a thick document, not in length-- but in style and connotations. You need to use your full brain for this one.

Nevertheless, recommended for
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anyone interested in philosophy or who wishes to expand the mind.
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