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The unclarity of the notion ‘object’ in the Tractatus

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posted on 2023-06-08, 21:07 authored by Andreas Georgallides
The aim of this thesis is to look freshly at one of the oldest objections to the Tractatus - that no examples are given of Tractarian objects and it is not clear what they are. The thesis will argue that although there is a serious point to the objection - despite the official response which is made to it, but in line with Wittgenstein's later views - it does not undermine the value of the work as a whole, but can instead be seen as helping the work’s fundamental purpose. Chapter One: The aim of this Chapter is to lay out the theoretical role of objects in the Tractatus. It will argue that this depends on the Bild theory of language, and the demands which that places on the world. Objects are (i) what names refer to; (ii) the constituents of atomic facts; (iii) the substance of the world; (iv) however they are required to be for atomic facts to be logically independent of each other. Chapter Two: The aim of this Chapter is to spell out the crucial ways in which the nature of objects is left undetermined by their theoretical role as specified in Chapter One. In particular it will be argued that it is indeterminate whether the objects include universals - qualities and relations (against both realist and nominalist interpreters, but in line with Ramsey's view of the text) - and what the relation is between the objects of the Tractatus and the objects which we might think we experience. Chapter Three: The aim of this Chapter is to show that the indeterminacies identified in Chapter Two create serious problems for the Tractatus. In particular, it becomes impossible even in principle either (i) to identify the objects after further analysis, or (ii) to verify or falsify the theory of the Tractatus. It also looks as if it is impossible either (iii) for words ever to be correlated with objects (since we can never know, or have known, which the objects are) or (iv) for sentences to be compared with reality to see whether they are true or false. Chapter Four: The aim of this Chapter is to argue that despite these problems, the indeterminacies in the notion of ‘objects’ does not undermine the project of the Tractatus as a whole, but in fact furthers it. This depends on interpreting the central purpose of the Tractatus as being mystical. This Chapter will present the interpretation of the central purpose of the book, and will explain how maintaining these indeterminacies, precisely by making the Tractatus empty or problematic as a theory, furthers the work’s mystical purpose.


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