Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Today's mystery

How did the Vienna circle read the Tractatus and come up with what they did?

I've managed to get myself into the position where I can't see how they did that after doing fairly in-depth readings of the book like they were supposed to have done. It seems like they cherry picked bits that sounded good and threw out everything else, which is most of the book.


N. N. said...


I think that positivist readings of the Tractatus, especially Waismann's, are accurate for the most part.

Granted, members of the Vienna Circle balked at the doctrine of showing, which according to Wittgenstein is the main point of the book. Nevertheless, they got most of the details right in my opinion.

Shawn said...

Hi n.n.,
I'm only familiar with the broad outlines of the logical positivist reading of the Tractatus, but it still seems weird. I have a hard time seeing the conventionality meaning or truths in there. Also, they seem adopt an idea of necessity distinct from logical necessity. Granted, I don't know what they do with the end of the 5's or the latter 6's and 7.

I have an odd intuition that in order for Tractarian saying to remain interesting, you have keep showing. They stand or fall together. I don't really have anything to back that up at the moment.

On a different topic, have you read the papers by Michael Kremer in which he tries to recover the saying/showing distinction for the resolute reading? He is on board with the idea that that distinction is very important for understanding the Tractatus and argues that it is linked to the sense/senseless/nonsense distinction as well.

Aidan said...

Coffa's chapter 'The Return of Ludwig Wittgenstein' has some stuff to say on how the Positivists ended up with the reading of the Tractatus they did.

Shawn said...

Hi Aidan,
I had completely forgotten about Coffa's book. I should definitely check that out. Last time I tried to read it I knew nothing about Kant and not much about Wittgenstein circa Tractatus. Thanks for the pointer.

N. N. said...


I havn't read any of Kremer's stuff. He and Ricketts are on my short list of things to read next, but I want to get a good handle on Conant first. In the next couple of days I'll be posting a fairly lengthy post on Conant's account of sign, symbol and logical syntax (He, Hacker and Diamond have a great exchange on this).