Wittgenstein: Connections and Controversies

By P. M. S. Hacker | Go to book overview

6 #6 Naming, Thinking, and Meaning In the Tractatus

1 Malcolm and Winch On the Tractatus

In his paper 'Language, Thought and World in Wittgenstein's Tractatus', 1 Peter Winch criticized Norman Malcolm's interpretation of the Tractatus in his book Memory and Mind. 2 In his subsequent book Nothing is Hidden3 Malcolm defended his interpretation against Winch. I believe that Malcolm's defence is largely successful. However, there are a number of lacunae in his criticism of Winch's interpretation. I shall try to fill them. First I shall sketch Malcolm's interpretation.

Malcolm defended the view that, according to the Tractatus, the logical syntax of language is ineffably answerable to the logical form of the world. The logical form of the world consists in the combinatorial possibilities of the sempiternal objects that constitute the substance of the world and the consequent truth-functional combinatorial possibilities of elementary states of affairs. On analysis, language consists (inter alia) of simple names. The meaning of a name is the simple object of which it is a representative. The logical form of a name consists in its combinatorial possibilities in syntax. A name and its meaning—that is, the object that is its meaning—must possess the same multiplicity. If a sign occurring in a proposition is a name, then it must admit of the very same range of combinatorial possibilities in syntax as the object that is its meaning has in reality. Hence a two-place predicate cannot represent a three-place relation—there is no such thing, and the two-place predicate in question

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