Visualisation and Wittgenstein's "Tractatus"

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Abstract

Wittgenstein developed what has become known as "the picture theory of meaning" in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. This has been widely interpreted as a comparison between the way in which an engineering drawing is derived by means of projection from the object, and the way in which language and/or thought is derived from the world around us. Recent research into the intellectual history of graphical representation has shown that in addition to this kind of drawing, other forms of graphical representation were gaining in importance at the time. This chapter uses graphical statics and dynamic modelling to argue that Wittgenstein's picture theory of meaning is not based on a simple analogy of depiction, but on the contrary seeks a mode of representation by which performance and action can be calculated. This interpretation explains why the picture theory may be relevant to Wittgenstein's interest in ethics and the mystical, a matter on which Russell remained completely baffled.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMultidisciplinary Approaches to Visual Representations and Interpretations
EditorsM. Malcolm
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherElsevier
Pages293-303
ISBN (Print)0-444-51463-5
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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