Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thomas Prendergast

Second Advisor

Lee C. Rice

Third Advisor

Francis J. Collingwood

Fourth Advisor

Denis Savage


Ludwig Wittgenstein's first work, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, presented the philosophical world of the early twentieth century with a programme for the solution of the problems that had plagued that discipline for all preceding centuries. It was this claim (in his Preface to that work) which first aroused my interest in the man and his philosophy. Wittgenstein's programme suggested that philosophy was a unique inquiry whose very uniqueness depended on something inexpressible. Philosophy, in the sense in which Wittgenstein spoke of it there, had for its subject matter not the metaphysics which is usually associated with subjects beyond the scope of science, but rather natural science itself. Philosophy, he believed, would deal with the language of natural science in order to clarify the boundary between the expressible and inexpressible.

Wittgenstein's main theme in this early work consisted of an examination of the foundations of the philosophical enterprise in order to describe the a priori conditions for the possibility of a relationship which Wittgenstein saw as holding between our language and the world. According to Wittgenstein's cardinal doctrine in the Tractatus, his Picture Theory of Meaning, language pictures reality in virtue of sharing a common logical structure with the world.




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