4.9 of 5.0


The bottom line: A tough, yet mind-bending look into the object of philosophy through linguistics.


In Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein “deals with the problems of philosophy and shows … that the method of formulating these problems rests on the misunderstanding of the logic of our language.”

Hence, the author demonstrates that the solution to most philosophic problems becomes a critical method of linguistic analysis.

Tractatus begins with ontology and the state of affairs of the world is described. From there the book deals largely with the question of how language works and how it can describe the world accurately. Many forms of language (e.g. names and propositions) reflect different objective parts of reality (e.g. objects and facts). Logic is then discussed as it pertains to tautologies, contradictions and propositions. From this claim stems the conclusion that that the laws of science are not logical “laws,” but a means that we use to express reality—hence, science does not in fact explain our world but merely describes it.

Although the author embraces logic, he ironically ventures into the mystical on many occasions. Some of such highlights of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus include the proposal that most philosophical propositions are senseless (4.003), the relativity of “free” will and the lack of inner necessity of causality (5.1362), and the inability to recognize either the truth or falsehood from non-logical propositions. Wittgenstein brilliantly elaborates on widely accepted, yet wholly non-certain, everyday happenings (6.363II to 6.372) and clarifies that all ethics is transcendental (6.42I). In effect, the author posits that morality is in fact objective because subjective morality stems from happenstance, and is therefore meaningless.

All potential readers should be acutely aware that this book is a very, very tough read. You may find yourself taking several minutes to read through one short page and then several hours to digest what it is you in fact just read. Either way, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is a terse, powerful, enigmatic and notable in its ability to whisk the dormant imagination into shape. The intellectual ramifications of being able to fully grasp and comprehend the material are limitless.


Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal

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