The Tractatus Re-examined

  • B. R. Tilghman
Part of the Swansea Studies in Philosophy book series (SWSP)


There are several serious difficulties in trying to understand and apply Wittgenstein’s ideas from the time of the Tractatus. One is the paucity of examples. We can never be sure how the notions of the Tractatus are to be instantiated; what, for instance, will count as a simple object, a proposition, a state of affairs or a case of seeing the world under the aspect of eternity? A second is that the Tractatusis a thoroughgoing piece of metaphysics with its essentialist theories of the world, language, ethics and aesthetics. These two difficulties are closely connected. It has never been the practice of metaphysics to trade in examples. For one thing, metaphysical theories and concepts are usually supposed to be completely general and their application to particular cases tends to be thought irrelevant. In addition, a close look at the details of particular cases has the damaging tendency of raising sceptical doubts about the intelligibility of metaphysical claims.


Picture Theory Good Judgement Happy Life Philosophical Investigation Aesthetic Theory 
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Notes to Chapter 4: The Tractatus Re-examined

  1. 4.
    Engelmann, Letters to Wittgenstein with a Memoir (New York: Horizon Books, 1967) p. 110.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    G. E. Moore, ‘Wittgenstein’s Lectures in 1930–33’, in Philosophical Papers ( London: George Allen & Unwin, 1959 ) p. 312.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    Rush Rhees, ’some Developments in Wittgenstein’s View of Ethics’, Philosophical Review (January 1965) p. 20.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© B. R. Tilghman 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. R. Tilghman
    • 1
  1. 1.Kansas State UniversityUSA

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