Fw: [quickphilosophy] Re: What are objects, and what is the form of an atomic prop?

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2010 10:07:14 -0700 (PDT)

Hi Walt:
I'm up to Chapter VI on Objects. Griffin points out some important sources for 
how W. came to his extreme version of logical atomism. I'll have to read more 
into the book, but I'm not sure that Griffin's wrong per se. Some things that 

says, though, just scream out for clarification or comment, and yet nothing 
seems to take place.
For example, the case of the proposition "Red patch here" not being elementary. 
It's easy to prove that it's composite by a reductio. Suppose it's atomic for 
the sake of contradiction. Similarly, then, "Green patch here" is atomic. Their 
logical product is "Red patch here" & "Green patch here". But that's a 
contradiction in the logic of colors. W. says at 6.3751 that the logical 

of elementary propositions can be neither a tautology nor a contradiction. But 
we have a contradiction. Thus, these propositions aren't elementary. 

But, what about names for simples and locations in object space? What if I take 
indexicals 'this' and 'that' for simple objects and an indexical 'here' for 
spatial location. My candidate elementary propositions are "this here" and 

here". My logical product is "this here" & "that here". This is a contradiction 
in the logical of extension, as long as 'this' and 'that' can name distinct 
simples. Thus, we can have no atomic propositions that name an object at a 
location. The whole notion collapses into incoherence. The only way around the 
contradiction is to say that there is only one simple (Ludwig Parmenides) or 
that W. is just wrong at 6.3751 and wrong already at 1.21, which is where this 
all gets started.
The thing is, though, that 1.21 is close to being correct! It seems to be 
correct for atomic facts. That is, "Red patch here" can be true or false and 
every other *atomic fact in the world* can remain the same. It's true that the 
proposition "Green patch here" is affected by whether "Red patch here" is or is 
not the case, but we don't care about any old proposition you might cobble 
together from a set of names. Russell and Carnap seem to have realized this, 
and their systems do not collapse so readily.


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