Wittgenstein’s Picture Theory of Language as a Key to Modern Physics

Hans Herlof Grelland


In this paper I pose the following question: how can we understand modern
physics, which is completely depend-ent on mathematics for its expression, and
where the mathematical symbolism has no obvious correspondence with our images
of physical objects? This problem is par-ticularly acute in quantum physics and
has stimulated a vast amount of discussion and research on what is called the
interpretation problem. I argue that Wittgenstein’s Tractatus provides a key to
understanding of such theories by explaining how a mathematical language can be
mean-ingful in a linguistic sense. I further argue that such an approach to the
interpretation problem corresponds closely to the position of quantum pioneer P.
A. M. Dirac, famous for his silence on the interpretation problem, which I
iden-tify as exactly the kind of silence Wittgenstein recommends in Tractatus, 7.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; quantum physics; science; picture theory

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