Wittgenstein’s early philosophy of language and the idea of ‘the single great problem’

Marie McGinn

Abstract


In the Notebooks, Wittgenstein expresses the conviction that the problemsthat preoccupy him – ‘the problems of negation, of disjunction, of true and false’ – are reflections of ‘the one great problem’. He identifies this ‘singlegreat problem’ as one of ‘explaining the nature of the proposition’. Hebelieves that in coming to see the nature of the proposition clearly he will, atthe very same time, come to see the nature of the logical constants, thenature of truth and falsity and the status of the propositions of logic clearly.The question the author is concerned with in this paper is how Wittgensteinarrives at the idea of a single great problem, and how this idea sets theagenda for his investigation of the nature of a proposition in the Tractatus.

Keywords


20th century philosophy; Frege Gottlob; Tractatus logico-philosophicus; Wittgenstein Ludwig; epistemology; logic; philosophy; reading of Wittgenstein; truth theory

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