Language and Logic in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, or Why “an Elementary Proposition Really Contains All Logical Operations in Itself” (TLP 5

Daniele Mezzadri


This paper investigates the relation between Wittgenstein’s account of elementary
propositions and his account of molecular propositions (and thus the
propositions of logic) in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. A very natural
reading of that relation holds that the two accounts are separate and distinct
from one another; the former rests on the so-called picture theory, whereas the
latter is grounded on the principle of truth-functionality. This I call the
‘twofold account’ reading. After considering why such a reading is mistaken, I
concentrate on Wittgenstein’s claim that an elementary proposition contains all
logical operations in itself (5.47) in order to explain why he can be said to
provide a unified account of elementary and molecular propositions, and,
therefore, of language and logic.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; language; logic; sense; bipolarity; elementary proposition; truth function; logical constant; logical operation

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