Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

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9781440424212: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
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Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is the only book-length philosophical work published by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein during his lifetime. It is an ambitious project to identify the relationship between language and reality and to define the limits of science. It is recognized as one of the most important philosophical works of the twentieth century. Tractatus employs a notoriously austere and succinct literary style. The work contains almost no arguments as such, but rather declarative statements which are meant to be self-evident.

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About the Author:

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (1889–1951) was an Austrian philosopher who held the professorship in philosophy at the University of Cambridge from 1939 until 1947. He is known for having inspired two of the century's principal philosophical movements, logical positivism and ordinary language philosophy, though in his lifetime he published just one book review, one article, a children's dictionary, and the 75-page Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921). In 1999 his posthumously published Philosophical Investigations (1953) was ranked as the most important book of 20th-century philosophy. Born into one of Austria-Hungary's wealthiest families in Vienna at the turn of the century, he gave away his inheritance, and was at one point forced to sell his furniture to cover expenses when working on the Tractatus. Three of his brothers committed suicide, with Wittgenstein and the remaining brother contemplating it too. Bertrand Russell described him as the most perfect example of genius, "passionate, profound, intense, and dominating", while Richard Rorty wrote that he took out his intense self-loathing on everyone he met. He grew angry when his students wanted to teach philosophy, and was famously overjoyed when G.E. Moore's wife told him she was working in a jam factory—doing something useful, in Wittgenstein's eyes. He tried to leave philosophy himself several times, serving during the First World War on the front lines with the Austrian Army, and commended for his courage; teaching in schools in Austrian villages, where he found himself in trouble for hitting the children; and working during the Second World War as an orderly in Guy's Hospital, London, where only a few of the staff were told that the new porter was the professor of philosophy at Cambridge.

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The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus first appeared in 1921 and was the only philosophical work that Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) published during his lifetime. Written in short, carefully numbered paragraphs of extreme compression and brilliance, it immediately convinced many of its readers and captivated the imagination of all. Its chief influence, at first, was on the Logical Positivists of the 1920s and 30s, but many other philosophers were stimulated by its philosophy of language, finding attractive, if ultimately unsatisfactory, its view that propositions were pictures of reality. Perhaps most of all, Wittgenstein himself, after his return to philosophy in the late 1920s, was fascinated by its vision of an inexpressible, crystalline world of logical relationships. The posthumous publication of other writings has, therefore, only served to reawaken interest in the Tractatus and to illuminate its more neglected aspects. In this present edition Mr. Pears and Mr. McGuinness have been able to revise their translation in the light of Wittgenstein's own suggestions and comments in his correspondence wit hC. K. Ogden about the first translation.

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