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Studies in Logic


Passed over in Silence

On Wittgenstein's Tractatus and its System

Jaap van der Does

“This is the book I always wanted to read but could not, because no-one had yet written it: an in-depth, comprehensive investigation of Wittgenstein's views on language and logic in the Tractatus. Jaap van der Does combines technical prowess and philosophical sensitivity, and thereby gives us an invaluable companion for anyone who really wants to master Wittgenstein's early masterpiece.” Martin Stokhof, University of Amsterdam

Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is a highly original ethical deed that involves presenting a logical system in literary fashion. This book aims for a strong interpretation of his text, both philosophically and technically. It makes clear how Wittgenstein's early views on ethics and logic are related to his symbolic turn. The symbolic nature of contingent propositions is charted in detail, and logical propositions are characterized as empty forms. All key concepts are made as explicit as possible. The finite system is covered but also an infinite generalization that the text just hints at. It is argued that Wittgenstein anticipates the elegant tableaux methods developed much later; his treatment of quantification is shown to be correct. Still, all that is of value in life is inversely related to the system and its ontology, which purports to give a clear view on what can be said and what must be passed over in silence.

24 May 2011


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