Reasonable Logic: Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
Originally, there were two commonly recognized stages of Wittgenstein’s thought—the early and the later—both of which were taken to be pivotal in their respective periods. In more recent scholarship, this division has been questioned: some interpreters have claimed a unity between all stages of his thought, while others talk of a more nuanced division, adding stages such as the middle Wittgenstein and the third Wittgenstein.
In order that a certain sentence should assert a certain fact there must, however the language may be constructed, be something in common between the structure of the sentence and the structure of the fact. This is perhaps the most fundamental thesis of Mr. Wittgenstein’s theory. That which has to be in common between the sentence and the fact cannot, he contends, be itself in turn said in language. It can, in his phraseology, only be shown, not said, for whatever we may say will still need to have the same structure.
The standard reading can perhaps be best understood in contrast with the third interpretation, dubbed the “resolute reading.” The resolute reading takes seriously Wittgenstein's remark at 6.54 that “[m]y propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as nonsense [unsinnig].” According to the resolute interpretation, Wittgenstein is not advancing a series of philosophical theses in the Tractatus. Rejecting the distinction characteristic of standard readings, between propositions without sense [sinnlos] and just plain nonsense [unsinnig], these interpreters read Wittgenstein as treating ethical and metaphysical inquiry, as well as a bulk of the doctrines in the text, as nonsense. To them, Wittgenstein did not intend to put forth any theses in the the text. Instead his methodology is therapeutic, similar to the later philosophy (Carnap, 67).
However, the representation can never say that it includes this logical form - it can never be displayed within the model, the picture or the proposition, but must be there nonetheless. It is noticeable to anyone who happens to study the representation, as they will need to know what there is in common.
Anscombe, Introduction to Wittgenstein's Tractatus, 78
Hacker, “Was He Trying to Whistle It?,” 370.
Conant, “Must We Show What We Cannot Say?,” 274
Carnap, “Elimination of Metaphysics,” 67.