A Study in Wittgenstein's Tractatus

By Alexander Maslow | Go to book overview

. . . Traditional elementary logic, taught in youth, is an almost fatal barrier to clear thinking in later years.

RUSSELL


3
Truth Functions of Atomic Propositions

This chapter will deal primarily with Chaps. 4, 5, and 6 of the Tractatus, and especially with Wittgenstein's view of molecular propositions as truth functions of atomic propositions in some of its technical aspects. Logic is, for Wittgenstein, closely connected with his theory of propositions as truth functions, and so I will also discuss here some technical features of Wittgenstein's logic, and thus will complete my discussion of his logic.

3.1 Molecular or complex propositions are propositions containing other propositions, and in the last analysis, atomic propositions, as their constituents. More specifically, molecular propositions are truth functions of atomic propositions: 'Propositions are truth-functions of elementary [atomic] propositions' ( Tractatus, 5); 'A proposition is the expression of agreement and disagreement with the truth-possibilities of the elementary propositions' (4.4), that is, with 'the possibilities of the existence and non-existence of the atomic facts' (4.3). The essence of this view is this: the sense of a molecular proposition is completely determined and exhausted by the statement of the conditions under which the proposition is true or false.

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A Study in Wittgenstein's Tractatus
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Contents xxi
  • 1 - Objects, Atomic Facts, and Language 1
  • 2 - Symbol and Sign 49
  • 3 - Truth Functions of Atomic Propositions 95
  • 4 - Wittgenstein's Philosophy 137
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