Sense and Substance in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

Maija Aalto-Heinilä


In this article, I clarify the remarks 2.0211 and 2.0212 of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.
They connect the sense (Sinn) of a proposition to what he calls the “substance of the
world” in a rather baffling way. I argue that the remarks become quite intelligible
if they are read as expressing Wittgenstein’s rejection of Frege’s theory of Sinn and
Bedeutung. Frege allows the sense of a proposition to be independent of the
Bedeutungen of its constituent parts, i.e. independent of the proposition’s being
connected (truly or falsely) to the world. Wittgenstein, on the contrary, does not
separate the Sinn of a proposition from the Bedeutungen of its parts, that is, from
the substance of the world. However, whether we regard Wittgenstein as being
justified in rejecting Frege’s theory depends on whether we accept his starting-point
that all meaningful propositions are bipolar.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; substance; simple object; name; world; meaning; sense; reference

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