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Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (Routledge Classics) Paperback – 18 May 2001

3.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 142 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (18 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415254086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415254083
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"Wittgenstein, in his preface, tells us that his book is not a textbook, and that its object will be attained if there is one person who reads it with understanding and to whom it affords pleasure. We think there are many persons who will read it with understanding and enjoy it. The treatise is clear and lucid. The author is continually arresting us with new and striking thoughts, and he closes on a note of mystical exaltation."
-The Times Literary Supplement
""Tractatus is one of the fundamental texts of twentieth-century philosophy - short, bold, cryptic, and remarkable in its power to stir the imagination of philosophers and non-philosophers alike."
-Michael Frayn

From the Back Cover

'Among the productions of the twentieth century the Tractatus continues to stand out for its beauty and its power.' - A.J. Ayer

Perhaps the most important work of philosophy written in the twentieth century, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was the only philosophical work that Ludwig Wittgenstein published during his lifetime. Written in short, carefully numbered paragraphs of extreme brilliance, it captured the imagination of a generation of philosophers. For Wittgenstein, logic was something we use to conquer a reality which is in itself both elusive and unobtainable. He famously summarized the book in the following words: 'What can be said at all can be said clearly; and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.' David Pears and Brian McGuinness received the highest praise for their meticulous translation. The work is prefaced by Bertrand Russell's original introduction to the first English edition.

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951). Regarded by many as the most outstanding philosopher of the twentieth century. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm not going to review the Tractatus itself here - others have done that very well elsewhere. This particular version of the book should be avoided because of terrible production quality. Some of the propositions are missing entirely (which also causes the numbering system to be incorrect in some sections), and other propositions are incomplete. There are many high-quality English printings of the Tractatus available - this isn't one of them.
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I cannot recommend the Wilder edition at all; it is a desktop reprint which, although linked to the Ogden translation, is actually the Pears/McGuiness translation. Not that that is a bad thing, but the text abounds in misprints, missed line breaks and textual lacunae, neither are there any italics in the text. There are no diagrams, the text just runs on, and horror of horror the logical propositions look like they have been cut and paste into MS word, and the special characters have been Englished or disappeared completely. The Look Inside feature goes to the Routledge edition, which looks nothing like the crowded pages of this edition.
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By A Customer on 11 May 2001
Format: Paperback
Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was meant to put an end to philosophy. As it turned out, it didn't, because he continued to write later on in life, although after reading it, most of his contemporaries had to keep silent for a bit. It undermines much thought of the early 20th Century. It's a hard one to read. You need to go over these short aphoristic mind explosions slowly. So it's a good thing that the whole text only amounts to about 70 pages. If you do get to the end, though, you can not read philosophy in the same way again. It is worth it for the final lines. The Tractatus is something you grow into. You love it or you hate it. If you get it, you can't ignore it. If you don't, you probably will.
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Format: Paperback
The Tractatus, for me, has been very enjoyable to study and many of the concepts, such as 'the limits of language' and 'nonsense', are riveting once they are understood. But that is the problem; to gain anything from the Tractatus it needs to be understood and this is difficult. Famously, Wittgenstein handed the transcript of the Tractatus to Bertrand Russell and claimed that Russell would never understand. Wittgenstein turned out to be correct. He was appalled by the misunderstanding in Russell's introduction for the book, particularly with the claim that he was 'stating the conditions for 'an ideal language'. Wittgenstein attempted to have the book republished without Russell's appraisal. So, if Russell cannot understand the Tractatus it would seem unconquerable for someone with a passing, or even deep, interest in philosophy. Or rather, it is unconquerable without guidance.

My recommendation is that if you want to enjoy the book for the fascinating content it has to offer, buy a study guide (or take one out from the library). When I first bought the Tractatus for my undergraduate course it seemed unapproachable, but after going through the guides I became engrossed in the many, varied and contradictory insights it presented. The guides I have read are the Nordman, White and Morris and I found that White was good for a step by step approach with the outlines of the modern interpretation, Nordman represented those modern interpretations in a interesting and accessible way, and Morris was a nice middle ground, although sometimes a little drawn-out. Although I haven't read it I hear good things about the Mounce guide also.

What I found most interesting about the Tractatus are the many and varied understandings of the book explained by the introductions, so I urge that if do study the Tractatus, do study it. It is certainly not a quick read for sunny afternoon on a park bench.
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Format: Paperback
Before outlining the philosophical project of the Tractatus a cursory note about the style and structure of the text should be made. It consists of short supposedly self-evident aphorisms in the form 7 general statements as well as many supplementary sentences that explain or reveal the deeper meaning of the more general statement above, e.g. 7.1 is taken to be an explanatory proposition of 7, 7.1.1 supplements 7.1, and so on. There are no arguments per se in the text. This does not mean that the propositions are unreasoned, but the responsibility lies with the student in teasing the arguments out of Wittgenstein's subtle pointers. It is of necessity to point out that the Tractatus is not a work accessible to laymen or beginners: one does need some understanding of contemporary formal logic as well as the logical atomism of Russell and to a lesser extent the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.

Wittgenstein's aim with the Tractatus was to demystify philosophy through the conceptual clarification. Wittgenstein did not believe philosophical problems existed in the traditional sense, but resulted from confusions caused by a fundamental misuse and misunderstanding about the form and meaning of language. In this sense, the Tractatus, according to Wittgenstein, was to put an end to philosophizing in the ordinary sense and instead see philosophy as a process of clarification of fundamental concepts that would aid those subjects that seek genuine answers in terms of facts, e.g. the sciences.

Central to this new definition of philosophy is the picture theory, for which the Tractatus is most famed. In the preface Wittgenstein alludes to the Kantian principle that the limits of language (thought) are the limits of the world.
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