[quickphilosophy] "Propositions are Pictures"

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2010 21:40:34 -0700 (PDT)

This is from an Anscombe paper called "The Simplicity of the Tractatus":

Propositions are pictures.  If this means that there is a projective relation 
between propositions and possible or actual facts, must not the fact presented 
by a proposition, if it is actual, be as much a picture of the propositoin as 
the proposition is of it?  Projective relations can be seen as going in both 
directions.  So isn't the reality as much a picture of a possible proposition- 
-which if actual, is itself also a fact--as it is of the reality?  The answer 

this objection is that the elements of a proposition (completely analysed) are 
names.  So if the reality represented by a true proposition were a picture of 
that proposition, the simple objects of which it was composed would have to 
stand for names.  That some object is a name is not to be seen by looking at 

object--the mark on paper or the bit of furniture or whatever is doing duty as 

name.  You have to understand the configuration of those objects as a logical 
configuration of names in order to understand it as a proposition.  I don't 

that every picture is a proposition, its form of representation may be spatial 
and it a picture of a spatial arrangement somewhere; or temporal and a pciture 
of a temporal arrangement.  But every picture, according to the Tractatus, is 

any rate also a logical picture and propositions are only logical pictures.  
This is so even though they represent by means of a spatial arrangement.  A 
representation by a spatial arrangement- -like a musical score--can be a 
rerpesentation of something temporal, i.e., of a succession of sounds.  Here 

'form of representation' is not the spatial form, because it isn't a 
representation of anything spatia; there is no form of representation in 
question except the logical form....

W's solution to the ancient problem of the connexion between language or 

and realty: Thoughts (we learn from a letter to Russell) consist ultimately of 
elements, just as propositions consist ultimately of simple names: these are 
sprinkled on a logical network--so W described his earlier doctrine in a later 
notebook.  The ancient problem is solved by the thesis of the identity of the 
possibility of the structure of a proposition and the possibility of the 
structure of a fact.

We can derive from this the astonishing thesis that the structure of reality 
within the world is a logical structure.  See 2.18:  

What any picture, of whatever form, must have in common with reality in order 

be able to represent it truly or falsely, is the logical form, that is THE form 
of the reality.



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