Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (5 ratings)


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.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 142 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: History of Western philosophy
  • ISBN: 9780415254083

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Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

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If we accept (what seems to be?) Wittgenstein's conclusion that the ultimate truths of philosophy are inexpressible, ineffable truths which cannot be put into words, then the most any philosophical work can be is a flawed account which nonetheless can, when we reflect upon it (by recognizing the points where it is mistaken, for example), point us in the right direction. While I suppose the writings of every philosopher from Plato to Putnam is capable of doing this, some make the process easier than others, adequately discouraging us from falling into the trap of fundamentalism, of taking what they say (or seem to say) too seriously. Alongside Nietzsche (whom Wittgenstein admired) and Derrida as masters of this technique, the early Wittgenstein has clearly more than earned his place.The <i>Tractatus</i> is at least as much a poem as it is philosophy, although Wittgenstein clearly would have denied any hard-and-fast distinction between the two types of writing. Wittgenstein moves from theories of language in the first few sections of the book into examinations of mysticism and religion, leading the reader to the understanding that everything Wittgenstein has said or could say about metaphysics must be nonsense, but at the same to a type of spiritual enlightenment, even if the subsequent understanding of the relationship between humans, God, language, and the world cannot be put into words.

Review by

A farrago of laconic pronouncements which, when Wittgenstein discusses mathematics, express old ideas that had already been refuted many years earlier by the likes of Dedekind and Frege.A dream come true for any budding acolyte.

Review by

An interesting, but clearly overoptimistic attempt to describe how language works in general and to state its limitations. So the main problem obviously is to find the general form that applies to any statement. This is of course a hopeless quest that had to be abandoned, but it is a nice try. If we are a bit cynical about it the limitations of the approach is quite obvious. This is especially easy to see when we try to assess the picture theory of language. It's very easy to make up simple models to realitytest the theory on actual statements, and when we do we really soon run into problems. I can totally understand the transition to Philosophical Investigations.

Review by

Patience is necessary if you're not within philosophy academia, like myself. It's not light reading but, conversely, Wittgenstein is not heavy material. In fact, it's the strict, disciplined simplicity of his ideas that adds some difficulty. The book ends on a fantastic note, either an affirmation or a haymaker to the field of philosophy. I'm still unsure which.

Review by

2.1 We make to ourselves pictures of facts.<br/><br/>2.12 The picture is a model of reality<br/><br/>4.003 Most propositions and questions, that have been written about philosophical matters, are not false, but senseless. We cannot, therefore, answer questions of this kind at all, but only state their senselessness. Most questions and propositions of the philosophers result from the fact that we do not understand the logic of our language.<br/><br/>5.6 The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.<br/><br/>6.211 In life it is never a mathematical proposition which we need, but we use mathematical propositions only in order to infer from propositions which do not belong to mathematics to others which equally do not belong to mathematics.<br/><br/>6.271 At the basis of the whole modern view of the world lies the illusion that the so-called laws of nature are the explanations of natural phenomena.

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