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

  • From: "walto" <calhorn@xxxxxxx>
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 15:34:08 -0000

Hi, Ron.

The northwest was beautiful, thanks.  I was very taken by the Olympic 
Peninsula.  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 
with "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 

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 
his 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 is 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 
derive 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) 
determinate, 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 the case of a thing being red-colored, if it's red, then it isn't green, 
> and in that 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. 
> But 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 fact 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 
> rather, 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. Nor 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 
> simple ideas and complex ideas, but identifies as well the effect of the 
> human sensory mechanisms on what comes into us from the senses. So, for 
> Locke, the redness is not a property of the object so much as it is (a 
> secondary quality) an effect of 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
> --- In quickphilosophy@ yahoogroups. com, "walto" <calhorn@> wrote:
> >
> > 1.21  Each can be the case or not be the case and all else stay the
> > same.
> > 
> A couple of weeks ago, I wrote:
> > There's a huge amount to say about this proposition, IMO, and much of it 
> > has been, e.g., in an interesting chapter in the Anscombe commentary and 
> > good papers by Hintikka and Pears.  It seems to be the issue on which, in 
> > Witt's eyes anyhow, the TLP first foundered--at least according to the 1929 
> > "Notes on Logical Form." So, since I'm going to be going away for a couple 
> > of weeks this Sunday, I'd like to hold off getting into issue regarding the 
> > possible relationships between atomic propositions until I get back.
> > 
> OK, I'm back.  This claim, that each fact into which the world can be 
> divided up is independent of all other facts is, obviously, a key foundation 
> for what will follow.  So, why does W. believe that the building blocks of 
> the world are not only facts, but atomic facts?
> W's ordering of his props here seems to me a bit problematic.  We haven't 
> yet been told what he thinks propositions are, but we are already informed, 
> not only that they exist, but that they may be ultimately analyzed into an 
> elementary or atomic kind.  When we ARE told what makes up elementary 
> propositions, we find that they are "[simple] names in immediate combination 
> [4.221] (i.e., hanging together "like links in a chain." I therefore think it 
> makes sense to follow Anscombe here and interrupt W's order at this poing to 
> talk about names.  Here are some important points:
> 1. Names cannot be expounded by definitions the way other (non-primitive) 
> signs can.  Therefore, names and other signs cannot signify the same way.  
> [3.261 & Ansc. at 26]
> 2. References of names (primitive signs) can be made clear by "elucidations" 
> --bu!
>  t only i
> f provided to someone who is acquainted with the objects stood for by the 
> names in question. [3.263 & Ansc. at 26]
> 3. W may have had such words as "red" as candidates for names. [Ansc. at 
> 26-7; this is the view of the Hintikkas as well.]  It is worth pointing out, 
> however, that this is controversial. Other commentators (e.g., Landini) deny 
> it categorically.
> 4. But, whether or not W thought "red" was a candidate for a simple name, it 
> is clear (except perhaps to the Hintikkas) that he does not think that a 
> proposition that contains an elementary name and "elucidates" that name for 
> someone acquainted with its reference must be an atomic proposition. [Ans. at 
> 27]
> 5.  And an observation statement like "red patch here" CANNOT be an atomic 
> proposition, even if "red" is a name, simply because no elementary prop may 
> either entail or be inconsistent with any other atomic proposition, and "Red 
> patch here" (where "red" and "here" are simple names) is inconsistent with 
> "Green patch here." And what's true of "Red patch here" is true of ALL simple 
> observation statements -- they're inconsistent with many others that are 
> logically on a par with it.  So, whether "red" is a simple name or not, no 
> elementary prop can be a simple observation statement like "Red patch here." 
> [6.3751 & Ans. at 27]
> I guess I'll stop here today.
> Walto

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