Wittgenstein: An Introduction

By Joachim Schulte; William H. Brenner et al. | Go to book overview

2 Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

How to Read the Tractatus

In approaching this difficult book a few pointers should be kept in mind, the first concerning its often-imitated numbering system. Wittgenstein explains that the decimal numbers assigned to the individual propositions indicate their "logical weight," "the emphasis placed on them in my exposition." This means that, by giving prominence to certain propositions--those numbered 1, 2, 3, etc., and next 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, etc.--the numbering system provides path markers for reading. It does not mean that the primary numbers (1, 2, etc.) are related to the subordinate (1.1, etc.) as premises to conclusion. The propositions of the Tractatus are, in fact, seldom related in this way, for understanding them requires reading "from above to below" as well as "from below to above." Another point: it would be wrong to think that the number of decimal places always gives the "absolute logical weight" of a proposition; thus the proposition expressing the "fundamental thought" of the book has the number 4.0312. (It almost appears that Wittgenstein wanted to hide this "fundamental thought" of his.) In sum: the Tractatus numbering is useful in gaining an overview of themes; otherwise it is to be regarded with suspicion.

The Tractatus is now about seventy years old. Thus, in order to understand it better, we have to take into account many of those factors that were obvious or may have been

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Wittgenstein: An Introduction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Author's Preface vii
  • Translators' Preface ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 39
  • 3 - Connecting Links 69
  • 4 - Language Games 97
  • 5 - Criteria 129
  • 6 - Certainty 155
  • Bibliography 175
  • Index 183
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