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January 06, 2023 2 min read


Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is a philosophical work in which Wittgenstein presents a theory of language and how it can be used to represent the world. According to Wittgenstein, the world is made up of simple, indivisible objects and the purpose of language is to represent these objects and their relationships to one another.

In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein argues that language is composed of propositions, which are made up of words that represent objects in the world. The structure of a proposition is determined by the logical relationships between the objects it represents. For example, the proposition "The cat is on the mat" represents the relationship between the objects "cat," "on," and "mat."

Wittgenstein believes that the structure of language mirrors the structure of the world, and that it is possible to use language to represent the world completely and accurately. However, he also argues that there are limits to what can be represented in language, and that there are certain aspects of the world, such as ethics and aesthetics, that cannot be expressed in language.

Overall, the Tractatus is an influential work that has had a significant impact on the philosophy of language and the nature of knowledge. But why is it known that Wittgenstein later recanted the core statement of his Tractatus? This goes so far that in the history of philosophy one sometimes speaks of Wittgenstein I and Wittgenstein II to clarify his two views.

Wittgenstein did not explicitly refute his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, but he did significantly alter his views on language and meaning in his later work.
The Tractatus was written during the First World War and published in 1921. In the years following its publication, Wittgenstein continued to work on and think about the ideas presented in the Tractatus, and he eventually came to reject many of the core assumptions and arguments of the work.

One of the main reasons for Wittgenstein's rejection of the Tractatus was that he came to believe that the idea that language is a representation of the world, and that the structure of language mirrors the structure of the world, was flawed. Wittgenstein came to argue that language does not represent the world in a straightforward way, and that the meaning of words and propositions cannot be understood in isolation from the way they are used in the context of human practices and activities.

In his later work, Wittgenstein developed a different theory of language and meaning, known as "use theory," which rejected the idea that language is a representation of the world and instead focused on the way language is used to communicate and interact with others. This new approach to language and meaning became the basis for Wittgenstein's later philosophical work and had a significant influence on the development of 20th century philosophy.

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