Page:Wittengenstein - Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1922.djvu/16

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INTRODUCTION

contain no such parts; for example : "Socrates was a wise Athenian," consists of the two facts, "Socrates was wise," and "Socrates was an Athenian." A fact which has no parts that are facts is called by Mr Wittgenstein a Sachverhalt. This is the same thing that he calls an atomic fact. An atomic fact, although it contains no parts that are facts, nevertheless does contain parts. If we may regard "Socrates is wise" as an atomic fact we perceive that it contains the constituents "Socrates" and "wise." If an atomic fact is analysed as fully as possibly (theoretical, not practical possibility is meant) the constituents finally reached may be called "simples" or "objects." It is not contended by Wittgenstein that we can actually isolate the simple or have empirical knowledge of it. It is a logical necessity demanded by theory, like an electron. His ground for maintaining that there must be simples is that every complex presupposes a fact. It is not necessarily assumed that the complexity of facts is finite; even if every fact consisted of an infinite number of atomic facts and if every atomic fact consisted of an infinite number of objects there would still be objects and atomic facts (4.2211). The assertion that there is a certain complex reduces to the assertion that its constituents are related in a certain way, which is the assertion of a fact : thus if we give a name to the complex the name only has meaning in virtue of the truth of a certain proposition, namely the proposition asserting the relatedness of the constituents of the complex. Thus the naming of complexes presupposes propositions, while propositions presupposes the naming of simples. In this way the naming of simples is shown to be what is logically first in logic.

The world is fully described if all atomic facts are known, together with the fact that these are all of them. The world is not described by merely naming all the objects in it; it is necessary also to know the atomic facts of which these objects are constituents. Given this total of atomic facts, every true proposition, however complex,

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