[Wittrs] [quickphilosophy] Props 2 through 2.0211 (at breakneck speed)

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2010 22:19:20 -0000

Continuing with the text now, but here I'm just using excerpts from
Richter's Wittgenstein`s Tractatus: A Student`s Edition,
which is a nice on-line resource.  I don't add anything here,just

2 What is the case, the fact, is the existence of states of affairs.

[Black (p. 39)says that it might be better to speak of the holding of a
fact than the existenceof a fact. He prefers 'atomic fact` for
Sachverhalt. A Sachverhalt isâ??the objective counterpart of an
unanalysable contingent truth (see, forinstance, 4.2211) (pp.39-40).
However, Black notes, Wittgenstein uses Sachverhalt in
seeminglyinconsistent ways. Most of the time he uses it to mean an
actual combination ofobjects, but he also sometimes uses it to mean a
combination that does notexist (e.g. at 2.06 and 4.3).

  Stenius (p. 31) says that â??a Sachverhalt is something that could
possibly be the case, but 2.0124 talks of possible Sachverhalte,which
would be odd in that case. (This objection is Black`s.) Black argues
(pp.41-45) quite convincingly that Sachverhalte should be understood as
facts rather than possibilities, at least most of the time?. 
Frascolla writes: â??states of affairs and factsdiffer in two ways:
first, a state of affairs is merely a possible combination of objects,
whereas a minimal fact is an actual combination; second, when a fact is
spoken of, it is not necessary that it be thought of as one
obtainingstate of affairs: several obtaining states of affairs can
constitute a fact. On p. 85, though, Frascolla notes that
Wittgenstein`s distinction between facts and states of affairs is
weakened byhis introduction of the term â??negative fact (at 2.06),
since now facts are not necessarily actual.]

2.01 The state of affairs is a combination of objects. (Items, things.)

[Hacker (p. 66): â??Wittgenstein`s conception of a simple
object was, I suspect, an heir to Russell`s notion of a term in The
Principles of Mathematics, itself a development of Moore`s notion of
a concept.Hacker`s reference is to G. E. Moore, â??"The Nature
of Judgment," Mind viii (1899), pp. 176-193. In The Principles of
Mathematics, Russell writes: â??Whatever may be an object of
thought, or may occur in any true or false proposition, or can be
counted as one, I call a term. This, then, is the widest word inthe
philosophical vocabulary. I shall use as synonymous with it the words
unit,individual, and entity. ? A man, a moment, a number, a class, a
relation, a chimaera, or anything else that can be mentioned, is sure to
be a term; and to deny that such and such a thing is a term must always
be falseâ?? (p. 43).

Pears (p. 89): â??The question, 'What kind of thing did he take
objects to be?` is often made to appear simpler than it really is.
Commentators usually ask whether he took them to be material points
(point-masses) or sense-data. The Notebooks,which record exploratory
work, canvas both possibilities, and in the Tractatus,where he might
have been expected to make up his mind and choose between them,he does
not do so, and does not even formulate the question to which of the two
categories objects belong.On p. 142 Pears concludes: â??However, it
is really safer to accept his professions of agnosticism about the
nature of the objects of the Tractatus,and to take the evidence to show
no more than that he allowed for the possibility that they might include

Bearn adds that it is therefore misleading to call Wittgenstein a
realist with respect to objects and equally misleading to call him an
anti-realist in respect of them. See Bearn p. 55. Objects are unchanging
(see TLP 2.027) and whatever we can experience could always be otherwise
(see TLP 5.643), so we cannot experience objects. Bearn makes this point
on p. 60.

Fahrnkopf argues that Wittgenstein's objects include universals. He
points out (p. 7) that Moore's notes on Wittgenstein's lectures
(1930-33) report that Wittgenstein spoke of colors as if they were
Russellian individuals. On p. 8 Fahrnkopf points out that in the Blue
Book Wittgenstein characterizes his Tractatus view as being that
redness, roundness, and sweet-ness are elements or individuals.He
certainly seems to be talking about the universal redness rather than
aparticular red sense-datum here.

Hintikka (p. 14)identifies Wittgenstein`s objects as â??objects
of my experience. He quotes Frank Ramsey: â??Wittgenstein says it
is nonsense to believe in anything not given inexperience?. For to
be mine, to be given in experience, is the formal [definitory] property
to be a genuine entity (quoted on p. 14 of Hintikka, from item
#004-21-02 of the Ramsey arc-hives of Pittsburgh). Hintikka (see p. 15)
calls these objects phenomenological entities but denies that they are
mere phenomena.That is, they are what is given in immediate experience,
but they are not only the contents of our consciousness. We have
immediate experience of physica lreality (which still remains to be
defined), not only of the contents of our own minds.

Page 31 of the BlueBook refers specifically to the Tractatus and the
idea that a factis a "complex of objects." The discussion there sounds
like adiscussion of Plato's idea of universals. Talk of facts as
combinations of objects, Wittgenstein writes, springs from the following
confusion: "We are misled by the substantives "object of thought"
and"fact", and by the different meanings of the word"exist"." So
Wittgenstein came to think of 2.01 as a mistake.(And perhaps he already
thought this way in the Tractatus, given what he writesat 6.54.)]

2.011 It is essential to the thing that it can be a constituent part of
a state of affairs.

2.012 In logic nothing is accidental: if a thing can occur in a state of
affairs then the possibility of the state of affairs must be already
prejudged in the thing.

2.0121 It would,as it were, appear as an accident if there were later to
be a state of things suitable for a thing that could [already] exist for
itself, on its own. If things can occur in states of affairs then this
[possibility] must already bein them. (Something logical cannot be
merely possible. Logic deals with every possibility, and all
possibilities are its facts.) As we cannot conceive of spatial objects
at all without space, or temporal objects without time, so wecan
conceive of no thing without the possibility of its uniting with other
objects. If I can conceive of an object in the context of a state of
affairs then I cannot conceive of it without the possibility of this

2.0122 The thing is independent in so far as it can occur in all
possible states of things, but this form of independence is a form of
connection with the state of affairs, a form of dependence. (It is
impossible for words to appear in two different ways: alone and in

[On objects being independent, see Russell`s Logical Atomism (p.
179): â??Particulars have this peculiarity, among the sort of
objects that you have to take account of in an inventory of the world,
that each of them stands entirely alone and is completely
self-subsistent. It has that sort of self-subsistence that used to
belong to substance, except that it usually only persists through a very
short time, sofar as our experience goes. That is to say, each
particular that there is in the world does not in any way logically
depend upon any other particular.

Stokhof (pp.46-47) notes that Wittgenstein`s reference to dependence
here â??strongly suggests that [objects] cannot be conceived of as
material atoms (elementary particles, or wave packets, or whatever),
since for such objects the very possibility of an independent existence,
however short-lived this may be,cannot be ruled out a priori. Much the
same goes for sense data: â??For such objects, too, it holds that
no logical property prevents their independent occurrence, even if other
properties wouldâ?? (p. 47).]

2.0123 If I am acquainted with the object then I am also acquainted with
all the possibilities of its occurrence in states of affairs. (Each such
possibility must be in the nature of the object.) A new possibility
cannot be found later.

[On p. 59 of Letters to Ogden Wittgenstein says: â??to know here
just means: I know it bu tI needn`t know anything about
it.â??Presumably he is making use if Russell`s notion of
knowledge by acquaintance.]

2.01231 In order to be acquainted with an object, I need not of course
[be acquainted with] its external ? but I need to be acquainted with
all its internal properties.

[McManus says (p.31) that objects` external properties â??are
their forming particular combinations with other objects, the existence
of these combinations being the holding of particular contingent facts.
He refers to 4.123 in connection with this, although his focus is on
what â??internal properties might be.

Frascolla (p. 61) says that internal properties are what an object
â??necessarily can be, while external properties (see p. 62)
concern an object`s involvement in states of affairs that happen to
obtain. He gives one object`s being taller than anotheras an example
of an external property.]

2.0124 If all objects are given then therewith all possible states of
affairs are alsogiven.

2.013 Each thing is, as it were, in a space of possible states of
affairs. I can conceive ofthis space as empty, but I cannot conceive of
the thing without the space.

[Black (p. 50) points out a possible echo of Kant CPR A 24/B 38 here.]

2.0131 The spatial object must be in infinite space. (A spatial point is
an argument-place.) The speck in a visual field of course need not be
red, but it must have a color: ithas, so to speak, color-space around
it. The note must have a pitch, the object of the sense of touch a
degree of hardness, etc.

2.014 Objects contain the possibility of all states of things.

2.0141 The possibility of its occurrence in states of affairs is the
form of an object.

2.02 Objects are simple.

[Cf. Leibniz Monadology1, where simple is defined as meaning without

2.0201 Each statement about complexes can be analyzed into a statement
about their components and into those propositions that completely
describe the complexes.

[Ostrow (p. 27)says that this remark must be compared with 3.24. The
central purpose of 2.0201,he says (p. 28), is to make evident the
fundamental distinction between complexand object. Complexes cannot be
treated as entities or objects. According to2.0211, a proposition about
a nonexistent object is nonsense, but, by 3.24, a proposition about a
nonexistent complex is false, not nonsensical. White (pp.38-40) notes an
important difference between the argument from 2.0201-2.0212and that
running from 3.23-3.24. One starts from the need for the world to have
substance, while the latter is based on the demand that sense be
determinate.Each concludes that there must be simple objects.]

2.021 Objects makeup the substance of the world. Therefore they cannot
be composite.

2.0211 If theworld had no substance then whether a proposition had sense
would depend onwhether another proposition was true.

[Mounce presents Wittgenstein`s reasoning here as follows (p. 21):
â??whether a proposition has sense cannot be a contingent matter.
What is contingent is whether it is true(or false). But in order to be
true (or false) a proposition must already possess a sense. The sense of
a proposition, in short, must be independent of whether it is in fact
true or false. Consequently, there must be a contact between language
and the world which is prior to the truth or falsity of what we say.Such
a contact is to be found in the relationship between a simple name and a
simple object, the relationship being such that the name just stands for
the object independently of description.

Schroeder (p. 42): â??The meaning of a name is the object it
denotes. Hence, if there is no such object, the name will be
meaningless, andthe sentence in which it occurs will have no sense. But
if a name is supposed to stand for a complex object, the decomposition
or non-existence of that complex is a real possibility. So to ascertain
that the original proposition does have a sense, one would have to check
whether the complex in question did in fact exist, i.e., whether another
proposition describing that complex was true.]

When it looks like discussion of the material here has played out, I'd
like to start in on the picture theory.  If anybody has questions about
the sources Richter uses, I think I can supply them.


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  • » [Wittrs] [quickphilosophy] Props 2 through 2.0211 (at breakneck speed) - wittrsl