Fw: [quickphilosophy] Re: 1.12; 1.13; 1.2 & 1.21

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 09:21:55 -0700 (PDT)

[sending manually because feed isn't working]

Hi, Ron.

The northwest was beautiful, thanks.  I was very taken by the Olympic 
I also enjoyed Portland (and Powell's Books!).  Forks, WA is all about 
"Twilight" these days....

W tries to answer your (excellent) questions about why "X is red" conflicts 

"X is green" in his 1929 paper, "Remarks on Logical Form."  He later disowned 
that paper, but it was one of the first things he wrote after returning to 
philosophy, and it seems to point up very difficult problems for atomism. 

I think that, on his view, an "X is P" statement cannot be atomic just in case 
either "X" or "P" is not a simple name.  So, e.g., "Walto is Lisa's Uncle." is 
complex on his view even though it isn't a negation, a conjunction, etc.  On 

view, it's analyzable, which means it isn't elementary.  He believed that all 
necessary truths were analytic, so that if "X is entirely red" contradicts "X 

entirely green" both statements must be complex.  (Interestingly, Fogelin has a 
paper--which I don't really understand--in which he argues that W should have 
held that negative propositions are actually simple!)

Your Locke comparison seems to me interesting, because, while Locke was clearly 
an empiricist and the positivists who were so taken with the Tractatus were 
empiricists, W doesn't seem to have an empiricist perspective in the TLP.

A number of commentators have pressed differences between Russell's empiricism 
and W's Tractarian, views based on the fact that W says nearly nothing about 
epistemology in TLP and Russell's philosophy in the teens was all about 
acquaintance.  Landini (in "W's Apprenticeship with Russell") argues against 
that position, claiming that Russell was as much a logical atomist (and 
non-empiricist) as W., but, paradoxically IMO, Landini provides a number of 
Russell quotes to the effect that it is absurd (even Hegelian!) to try to 

philosophical truths from the nature human thought, and, in a way, that's what 
TLP is all about.

As we go on, we'll see that W starts out with the simple fact that we can 
understand something--and in his view what we understand may be (i) 

and (ii) not dependent on the truth of any other proposition.  That we can 
understand, e.g., "A cat is on this mat" without needing to know a single truth 
about the world seems to me the most important premise he leans on throughout 
the Tractatus. 

But hmmm.... Was that an empirical claim of his or more akin to something we 
might find in the Monadology?


--- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Ron Allen <wavelets@...> wrote:
> Hi Walter:
> Just to emphasize the distinction: I think that 1* and its supporting 
>propositions are about *facts* not *propositions*. 
> Also, does not W. go too far in saying (1.21) that each item can be the case 
> or 
>not be the case while everything else remains the same? As you point out in 

>case of a thing being red-colored, if it's red, then it isn't green, and in 
>case, everything else does not remain the same. 
> If you think about it generally, there might be objects and properties, but 
>1.21 requires that an object can have only one property. My car can be red. 

>it can't be anything else that would conflict with red as a property, because 
>then the fact or not of it being red would affect the truth of the possible 
>that it's green. This is ridiculous.
> I think you take 1.21 and you prove, by a valid argument, that "This is red" 
> is 
>not an atomic proposition. OK. Well, then, what kind of proposition (or 

>what kind of fact) is it? It certainly does not seem to be composite. There is 
>no negation, no disjunction, and no existential quantifier in the statement. 
>is there any negation, disjunction, or quantification in my dog's red ball. It 
>is red. What is less atomic than an object having a property?
> Again, I think W. got carried away with himself here. A better formulation 
>would have it that an object can have or not have a property without affecting 
>the state of other objects, and not try to extend it to facts.
> Also, as a general remark, W. is going to rigorously, through congruence, 
>connect language with the states of affairs in the world. This is a weaker 
>approach, though, than that followed, for example, by Locke, who also has 
>ideas and complex ideas, but identifies as well the effect of the human 

>mechanisms on what comes into us from the senses. So, for Locke, the redness 

>not a property of the object so much as it is (a secondary quality) an effect 
>our own sensory apparatus, but one which is caused by some effective nature of 
>the object. Thus, our propositions, when we get to them, might be about the 
>objects in the world, but they might also be about the operations of our own 
>sensory mechanisms as caused by some as yet unknown properties of the state of 
>affairs presented to us in the world.
> How was Seattle?
> Thanks!--Ron
> --- On Sun, 7/18/10, walto <calhorn@...> wrote:
> From: walto <calhorn@...>
> Subject: [quickphilosophy] Re: 1.12; 1.13; 1.2 & 1.21
> To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Date: Sunday, July 18, 2010, 3:59 PM

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