Page:Wittengenstein - Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1922.djvu/21

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INTRODUCTION

If this does not in fact happen that is an accidental characteristic of the world, not a logically necessary characteristic, and accidental characteristics of the world must, of course, not be admitted into the structure of logic. Mr Wittgenstein accordingly banishes identity and adopts the convention that different letters are to mean different things. In practice, identity is needed as between a name and a description or between two descriptions. It is needed for such propositions as "Socrates is the philosopher who drank the hemlock," or "The even prime is the next number after i." For such uses of identity it is easy to provide on Wittgenstein's system.

The rejection of identity removes one method of speaking of the totality of things, and it will be found that any other method that may be suggested is equally fallacious: so, at least, Wittgenstein contends and, I think, rightly. This amounts to saying that "object" is a pseudo-concept. To say "x is an object" is to say nothing. It follows from this that we cannot make such statements as ** there are more than three objects in the world," or "there are an infinite number of objects in the world." Objects can only be mentioned in connexion with some definite property. We can say "there are more than three objects which are human," or "there are more than three objects which are red," for in these statements the word object can be replaced by a variable in the language of logic, the variable being one which satisfies in the first case the function "x is human "; in the second the function "x is red." But when we attempt to say "there are more than three objects," this substitution of the variable for the word "object" becomes impossible, and the proposition is therefore seen to be meaningless.

We here touch one instance of Wittgenstein's fundamental thesis, that it is impossible to say anything about the world as a whole, and that whatever can be said has to be about bounded portions of the world. This view may have been originally suggested by notation, and if so, that is much in its favour, for a good notation has

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