The ‘Prototractatus’ Manuscript and Its Corrections

Part of the History of Analytic Philosophy book series (History of Analytic Philosophy)


Both the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and the so-called ‘Prototractatus’ manuscript1 contain numbered propositions. The 726 propositions of the Tractatus are printed in numerical order starting with statements 1, 1.1, 1.11, 1.12, 1.13, 1.2 and ending with 6.522, 6.53, 6.54, 7, while in the ‘Prototractatus’ the same or similar propositions appear in disarray, without any obvious criteria of arrangement or possible reading. More careful consideration of the numbering system, which is substantially the same in the two texts, reveals alternative virtual arrangements. In fact, there are at least two ways of reading Wittgenstein’s Tractatus: (1) a physical and sequential one, in strictly numerical order, as in the original edition; and (2) a logical-hierarchical one by means of the top-down structure of the decimal numbers (the tree-like arrangement, see Bazzocchi, 2008). But there are at least three ways of reading the ‘Prototractatus’ notebook: (1) a physical one, following the compositional order of the notebook pages; (2) a sequential one, reordering propositions in strictly numerical order; (3) a logical-hierarchical one, by means of the top-down structure of the decimal numbers (the tree-like arrangement). Information about the chronological order of composition is, of course, the real contribution of the ‘Prototractatus’ notebook, and it is a pity that in the printed editions rearrangement of the propositions in numerical order, in strict accordance with the second point of view, has hidden the order of composition from most critics.2


Decimal Number Numerical Order Original Edition Obvious Criterion Single Proposition 
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Copyright information

© Luciano Bazzocchi 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Scuola Normale Superiore of PisaItaly

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