Do We Really Need Negative Atomic Facts to Make Sense Out of the Tractarian Sense Theory?

Marcos Silva


This paper defends the notion that negative atomic facts are irrelevant to the
Tractarian theory of sense, even if it deals with the sense of false and truly
negated propositions. In other words, we do not need negative facts com-pounding
the tractarian ontology, if we focus on two well-known Tractarian features.
First, the intuitivity of assuming propositions as maps of reality, as a sort of
reherseal simulating possible articulations of denoted objects. Consequently, to
understand a map does not imply that the represented complex is actualized in
the world, neither now, nor in the past nor in the future. A second tractarian
feature is the assumption that the tractarian sense theory conveys two
assimetric levels, namely: projection of sense and determination of truth value.
In this way, to understand a proposition, irrespective of being true or false,
is to understand the very same fact (always possible!) (TLP 4.021,2). As a
result, we can assume that the tractarian passage 2.06 does not introduce
another ontological category, that is, it does not maintain that negative facts
compound the world, but it conveys an only-terminological distinction between
the existence of state of affairs (positive facts) and its inexistence (negative


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; ontology; falsehood; negative fact; picture theory

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