On the Problem of Expression in the Tractatus

Gabriele Tomasi


The fact that Wittgenstein values the Tractatus in the first place because it
expresses thoughts and attempts to express them as well as possible, leads us to
suppose that at the heart of the book there has also been a problem of expression. In
the first part of the paper I will try to identify the nature of this problem,
starting from the idea that the contents of the book consist of genuine intuitions on
the nature of representation. Since such intuitions constitute ineffable knowledge,
we can conjecture that in Wittgenstein’s intentions what we should understand are not
his (senseless) propositions, but rather this knowledge. The second part stresses the
importance of the stylistic and expressive aspects for the text’s strategy in leading
the reader in this direction, and suggests that Wittgenstein’s perception of the
literary aspect of his work may have also been influenced by some of Tolstoy’s ideas
on art.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; aesthetics; art; expression; sense of the world

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