SOPhiA 2018

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

The Tractatus on the Unity of the Proposition and the Variety of Logical Categories
(History of Philosophy, English)

A It is commonly held that while from 1903 to 1913, Russell fails to solve the problem of the unity of the proposition, Wittgenstein either solves or avoids it in the Tractatus logico-philosophicus by conceiving the proposition as a fact. But what, exactly, the nature of factual unity is remains a much discussed topic. It is this very question that gave rise to nominalist versus realist readings of the Tractatus, the former holding that the unity of the proposition rests on the exclusive existence of particulars, while the latter asserts that Wittgenstein's understanding of a proposition suggests an implicit distinction between particulars and universals. I will argue, with others, that this exegetical debate is misguided and that what is important is that Wittgenstein abstains from dividing objects into logical categories. But the reasons for this abstention are yet to be elucidated. This paper aims at doing so by showing that the Tractatus carefully distinguishes, contra Russell, the problem of the the unity of the proposition from that of the identification of logical categories. The unity of proposition is to be understood by appeal to the form of the proposition, which although being written within its very constituant, does not relate to their belonging to this or that logical category. If this is correct, then my last task will be to show that the identification of logical categories is required only in order to determine how actual propositions gain their particular truth-conditions at elementary level. Yet, the Tractatus does not engage with it because at that time Wittgenstein thought that the task of logic was not to discover which logical categories there are by identifying the particular forms of elementary propositions -- which are not truth functional -- but only to identify the general form of the proposition -- which is truth functional.

Chair: Petter Sandstad
Time: 18:20-18:50, 12 September 2018 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.003

Jonathan Gombin 
(University Bordeaux Montaigne, France)

Jonathan Gombin is a first-year p.h.D student in philosophy at Université Bordeaux Montaigne, France, where he was granted a three-year doctoral scholarship in 2017.
His dissertation aims to show that despite the central role given to the idea of a complete analysis of language into elementary propositions in the Tractatus logico-philosophicus, the early Wittgenstein does not promote any form of logical atomism. Its relationship to Russell's and Frege's work on the one hand, and to his latter philosophy on the other is thus reassessed in this light.
Jonathan Gombin is interested in the philosophy of language, the philosophy of logic and the history of early analytic philosophy. He also enjoys teaching these topics to bemused undergraduate students at Université Bordeaux Montaigne.

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