Nordic Wittgenstein Review 2 (1):57-80 (2013)

Daniele Mezzadri
United Arab Emirates University
This paper investigates Wittgenstein’s account of the relation between elementary and molecular propositions (and thus, also, the propositions of logic) in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. I start by sketching a natural reading of that relation – which I call the “bipartite reading” – holding that the Tractatus gives an account of elementary propositions, based on the so-called picture theory, and a different account of molecular ones, based on the principle of truth- functionality. I then show that such a reading cannot be attributed to Wittgenstein, because he holds the view that an explanation of logical complexity is already given by a correct account of the (pictorial) nature of elementary propositions; this is implied in his claim that “an elementary proposition contains all logical constants/operations in itself”. After clarifying Wittgenstein’s notion of an operation from the Notes on Logic to the Tractatus, I finally explain why Wittgenstein claims that an elementary proposition contains all logical operations in itself, and hence why he can be said to provide a unified (and thus not bipartite) account of language and logic.
Keywords molecular proposition  elementary proposition  Wittgenstein Ludwig  operation  Tractatus logico-philosophicus  language  20th Century Philosophy  logic
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DOI 10.1515/nwr.2013.2.1.57
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Notebooks, 1914-1916.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1969 - University of Chicago Press.
Wittgenstein's Notes on Logic.Michael Potter - 2008 - Oxford University Press.
A Companion to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.Max Black - 1964 - Cambridge University Press.

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