Picturing as Mapping: A Mark of Continuity in Wittgenstein’s Notion of Representation

Sabine Plaud


Throughout his philosophical development, Ludwig Wittgenstein has been using an
identical paradigm when accounting for the nature of representation: namely the
paradigm of projective translation. In the Tractatus
logico-philosophicus, Wittgenstein describes propositional pictures as
projective mappings of a given multiplicity into another. After repudiating this
early “picture-theory” of proposition, he nonetheless maintains the paradigm of
representation as a projection, especially in his exposition of the business of
philosophy. He now claims that the goal of philosophy is to provide “synoptic”
representations of language and of its grammatical rules. Such synoptic
representations aim at translating the logical multiplicity of a given grammatical
system into a perspicuous symbolism, in a way that is commonly compared by
Wittgenstein to a kind of “map-making”. On that respect, the notion of representation
he has in mind in his later philosophy is quite comparable to the one he had in mind
in his early philosophy, except that this projective paradigm is now used to
characterize philosophical elucidations rather than the nature of propositions.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; picture; map; projection; synopticity; grammar

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