What Wittgenstein Saw and Russell Missed

Research Seminar • University of London • Autumn 2006

Convenor : Josť Zalabardo, UCL (j.zalabardo@ucl.ac.uk)

Tuesdays 10:00-12:00 at the Institute of Philosophy, Room ST273

NOTE: No meeting in week one. First meeting 10 October. See below for assigned reading

Presentation

In a letter to his lover, dated 28 May 1913, Russell gives the following remarkable account of a meeting with Wittgenstein:

We were both cross from the heat. I showed him a crucial part of what I had been writing. He said it was all wrong, not realizing the difficulties—that he had tried my view and knew it wouldn't work. I couldn't understand his objection—in fact he was very inarticulate—but I feel in my bones that he must be right, and that he has seen something that I have missed. If I could see it too I shouldn't mind, but as it is, it is worrying, and has rather destroyed the pleasure in my writing—I can only go on with what I see, and yet I feel it is probably all wrong, and that Wittgenstein will think me a dishonest scoundrel for going on with it. Well, well—it is the younger generation knocking at the door—I must make room for him when I can, or I shall become an incubus. But at the moment I was rather cross.

Three years later he wrote that Wittgenstein's criticism was

an event of first-rate importance in my life, and affected everything I've done since. I saw he was right, and I saw that I could not hope ever again to do fundamental work in philosophy. My impulse was shattered, like a wave dashed to pieces against a breakwater.

What Russell had been writing was a book manuscript that he began 7 May 1913. He wrote 350 pages in thirty-one days, but he seems to have abandoned the project after that, and never returned to it. The existence of this manuscript was not known until 1967, and its importance for the understanding of Wittgenstein's early work was not appreciated until the 70's. It was published in 1984 under the title Theory of Knowledge. The 1913 Manuscript, as volume 7 of Russell's collected papers.

The theory of representation put forward in the Tractatus constitutes Wittgenstein's solution to the problems that he found in the theory of judgment (or understanding) that Russell was trying to articulate in the 1913 manuscript. I regard this as the single most important lead for the interpretation of the Tractatus. The main goal of this seminar is to follow this lead as far as we can. I don't have any polished material to present on these topics. I see the seminar as a collective effort.

I propose to undertake the following tasks:

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Readings

Primary

Background

Secondary

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Reading Assignments

[Items listed here will be placed in a folder in the UCL Philosophy Department library]

DATE
READING
10 October Linsky, "The Unity of the Proposition"
17 October

Russell, The Principles of Mathematics, chapter 4
—, "On the Nature of Truth and Falsehood"
—, The Problems of Philosophy, chapter 12
Stewart Candlish, "The Unity of the Proposition and Russell's Theories of Judgment"

24 October

Russell, The Principles of Mathematics, chapter 4, §§ 52-55.
—, "On the Nature of Truth and Falsehood"
—, The Problems of Philosophy, chapter 12
—,"Theory of Knowledge: the 1913 Manuscript." Part I, Chapters VII and IX, and Part II, Chapters I and V
Stewart Candlish, "The Unity of the Proposition and Russell's Theories of Judgment"

31 October Russell, "On the Nature of Truth and Falsehood"
—, The Problems of Philosophy, chapter 12
—,"Theory of Knowledge: the 1913 Manuscript." Part I, Chapters VII and IX, and Part II, Chapters I and V
Stewart Candlish, "The Unity of the Proposition and Russell's Theories of Judgment"
14 November Russell,"Theory of Knowledge: the 1913 Manuscript." Part I, Chapter IX, and Part II, Chapters I and V
21 November

Wittgenstein, "Notes on Logic" and Notebooks (mainly entries from from 13 October to 1 November 1914.)
David Pears, "The Relation Between Wittgenstein's Picture Theory of Propositions and Russell's Theory of Judgment."

28 November

Frege, "Function and Concept" and "On Concept and Object."
Hans Sluga, "Frege Against the Booleans."

5 December

Wittgenstein, Tractatus, 1's, 2.0's and 3.31's.
Palmer, Concept and Object, ch. 4.

12 December Wittgenstein, Tractatus, up to the 4.0's

 

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