Wittgenstein in the First World War, and his detention as a Prisoner-of-War, 1914-1919

Tuesday 28th July, 1914: Austria declares war on Serbia, thus sparking off the First World War. LW is at the Hochreit with his brother Paul, their sisters and their mother when they get the news (Waugh, p.68). They then rush back to Vienna (Waugh, p.68). LW, who had avoided Austria’s compulsory conscription, initially tries to leave Austria, for Norway, but is prevented from doing so, and volunteers for civilian duties instead (Monk, p.111; Waugh, pp.68-9).
Saturday 1st August, 1914: LW’s brother Paul, who had completed his military service some years earlier, enlists as a Second Lieutenant in the 6th Dragoon regiment of the Austro-Hungarian army (Waugh, pp.70-71).
LW writes from Neuwaldegg to von Ficker, thanking him for introducing him to Adolf Loos, and explaining that the Wittgenstein family ‘have moved to Vienna on account of the war’ (Luckhardt, p.84).
Monday 3rd August, 1914: LW’s Cambridge friend (and fellow ‘Apostle’) John Maynard Keynes joins the Treasury, to serve his country in a financial capacity during the war. Bertrand Russell dated his own opposition to the war from this point (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, p.78).
Friday 7th August, 1914: LW volunteers for service in the Austrian army, despite being officially exempt from service because of a double hernia, and joins up (Monk, pp.111-2; Waugh, p.69). His motive seems to have been not patriotism, but the desire to do something difficult and demanding, but non-intellectual (Hermine’s recollection, see Waugh, p.69). He is assigned straightaway to an artillery regiment, part of the Austro-Hungarian First Army, on the Eastern (Galician) Front (Monk, p.112; Waugh, p.69).
Tuesday 11th August, 1914: In the first part of the final entry of his diary pertaining to LW, David Pinsent notes that he received two letters from LW in August and September. The first was sent from Vienna in early August. Pinsent reports that ‘Ludwig was caught in Austria when the war broke out and not allowed to leave: he began by doing voluntary civilian work in connection with the war, but in his second letter he said he had joined the army. He was not liable to compulsory military service – on medical grounds – but enlisted voluntarily. He appears to be in the artillery and quartered at Krakau. I think it is magnificent of him to have enlisted – but extremely sad and tragic’ (Pinsent, pp.91-2).
Wednesday 12th August, 1914: Bertrand Russell writes his first public letter against the war, ‘The Rights of War’, which he sends to The Nation for publication (Yours Faithfully, Bertrand Russell, pp.34-7).
Thursday 13th August, 1914: In one of the first entries in his so-called Geheime Tagebücher (wartime diaries, written in code so as to keep their contents secret from his fellow soldiers), LW reports that the Captain of his regiment turned up yesterday, and the fact that LW had got his Matura (school certificate) came out. He reports having catarrh, and being somewhat depressed. He mentions that he met a Lieutenant, in the canteen, who asked him what he was in civilian life, and was surprised that LW had not been enlisted in the ‘one-year’ volunteers (GT, ss.2-3).
Friday 14th August, 1914: LW writes a postcard to Ludwig von Ficker, letting him know that his correspondence address will be that of his artillery regiment in Kracow (Luckhardt, p.85).
Saturday 15th August, 1914: In his private diary, LW reports that yesterday he was ordered to operate a searchlight on a ship captured by the Austrians on the river Vistula. The crew he deems a gang of hoodlums – ‘No enthusiasm, incredible rudeness, stupidity and wickedness!’. So he reflects that it can’t be true that a great common cause must ennoble people. The work itself he characterises as tedious forced labour, but he muses on how, under the present circumstances, this work could make for a wonderful happy time. He speculates that it will impossible for him to communicate with the people surrounding him (except perhaps with the lieutenant, who he thinks seems to be a very nice person). So he urges himself to do the work in humility (GT1, SS.4-5).
Bertrand Russell’s first public letter against the war, ‘The Rights of War’ is published in The Nation (Yours Faithfully, Bertrand Russell, pp.34-7). His letter begins by protesting against ‘our share in the destruction of Germany’, and goes on to lament the fact that formerly peaceable and humane British citizens are now on ‘the steep slope to primitive barbarism, letting loose, in a moment, the instincts of hatred and blood-lust against which the whole fabric of society has been raised’. The current madness, rage, and ‘flaming death of our civilization’ he blames on ‘a set of official gentlemen, living luxurious lives, mostly stupid, and without imagination or heart’. The ‘diplomatists’, who he thinks did see the inevitable end of the current political process, he charges with restraining themselves, out of punctiliousness, from making or accepting the minor concessions that might have saved the world. Behind these diplomatists he discerns ‘vast forces of national greed and national hatred – atavistic instincts, harmful to mankind at its present level, but transmitted from savage and half-animal ancestors, concentrated and directed by Governments and the Press, fostered by the upper class as a distraction from social discontent’. His letter concludes that the British Government has failed in its duty to the nation, to Europe, and to humanity.
Sunday 16th August, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that he is now serving on board a ship, the Goplana on the river Vistula. (The Goplana was a Russian patrol ship which had already been captured by the Austrians). He remarks again on ‘the stupidity, audacity and wickedness of these unfit people’ (the crew) which knows no bounds. However he reports that he was today able to do some work (i.e. philosophical work), and that he also wrote a card today to ‘den lieben David’ (David Pinsent). ‘Heaven protect him and preserve his friendship!’ he implores. He notes that the night itself along the Vistula is gorgeous, and that he is in a good mood. Finally, he adds a logical note: aRb.aRc.bSc = aR[bSc] Def. (GT1, s.5).
Monday 17th August, 1914: ‘A pack of rogues!’, LW’s private diary entry begins, referring to his fellow soldiers. The officers, however, he approves of, finding them to be nice people. He and his unit, on board the Goplana, are now in Russia, and he has had to sleep on the bare ground without blankets. ‘Through the hard work’, he remarks, ‘I have become quite unsensuous’. He notes that he did no (philosophical) work today, and mentions that on deck it’s too cold and below deck are ‘too many people who talk, scream, smell etc.’ (GT1, s.6).
Tuesday 18th August, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that last night he was awakened suddenly at 1 a.m., when his lieutenant asked him to man the searchlight immediately. LW ran to do so, almost naked, in icy air and rain. ‘I was sure I would die’. He turned on the searchlight, then went back to get dressed. ‘I felt the horrors of war’, he notes. Writing this diary entry later, in the evening, he feels he has overcome the shock again, and resolves to hold on to life ‘with all my strength’ (GT1, SS.6-7).
Wednesday 19th August, 1914: Around this time, LW buys a copy of Tolstoy’s book The Gospel in Brief  from an impoverished bookshop in Tarnów, Galicia, which has only this single book remaining (Monk, p.115; Waugh, pp.103-5). (Tarnów lies about 60km East of Kracow, so the Goplana must have sailed first along the Vistula, then South along the river Dunajec, to reach there).
Thursday 20th August, 1914: Around this time, LW reads a newspaper article about a Paris lawsuit in which miniature models were used to stand for people and cars involved in a road accident. This soon becomes the inspiration for the Bild-conception of language in his future work (see, for example, my reports on the forthcoming entries in his Notebooks for 27th and 29th September, 1914).
Friday 21st August, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that he and his lieutenant ‘have already talked about everything’. The lieutenant is, says, LW, a very nice man, with the ability to handle the biggest scoundrels and be friendly without compromising himself. LW then remarks that ‘When we hear a Chinese person, we are inclined to take his speech for inarticulate gurgling. One who understands Chinese, though, will recognize the language. Just so I often cannot recognize the people in the people’.
He notes that he has worked a little (on philosophy, that is), but unsuccessfully. He asks himself whether it’s now all over for his work, and responds ‘The devil knows!’. He worries whether he will be productive again (GT1, S.7).
Saturday 22nd August, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that the Goplana has been on a sandbar for three days. He notes that his (philosophical) work suffers from many interruptions, and so far is completely unsuccessful. ‘Everything is going on in a haze’ he feels (GT1, S.7).
LW, continuing to write philosophical notes, begins to write the first extant manuscript volume (MS 101) of material that would eventually be included in his Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung (now published in Notebooks 1914-1916, pp.2-21).
In the first entry of the first of these notebooks that survives, LW begins by declaring that ‘Logic must take care of itself’. He goes on to urge that if one can set up syntactical rules for functions then the entire theory of things and properties is superfluous. Neither Frege’s Grundgesetze der Arithmetik nor Whitehead & Russell’s Principia Mathematica, he declares, are really concerned with such a theory. If a sign is possible, it must be capable of signifying. In logic, everything possible is also legitimate. And if a string of words (like ‘Socrates is Plato’) is nonsense, that can only be because we have failed to make some arbitrary stipulation, not because any of its signs is intrinsically illegitimate (NB, p.2).
Sunday 23rd August, 1914: LW’s brother Paul Wittgenstein is wounded by a bullet in his right arm, and has to have that arm amputated (McGuinness, p.30; Waugh, p.74). He is then captured by the Russians and shunted around a variety of prisoner-of-war camps (Waugh, p.74ff.). Later, Paul is cited for bravery in the Galician campaign (Waugh, p.73).
Tuesday 25th August, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that yesterday was a terrible day. In the evening the Goplana’s searchlight didn’t work, and when he tried to examine it, he was disturbed by the crew shouting, bawling, etc.. He wanted to examine it more closely, but the platoon commander took it out of his hands. ‘It was horrible. I saw that there isn’t a single decent person in the whole crew’. He then wonders how to conduct himself in the future, should he tolerate this, or not? In the latter case, he muses, he would certainly wear out, but in the former case maybe not. He urges himself to keep himself together, and ends ‘God help me!’ (GT1, SS.9-11).
Wednesday 26th August, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that yesterday he resolved not to resist (the behaviour of the Goplana's other crew-members), so as to leave himself undisturbed within (GT1, S.11).
Saturday 29th August, 1914: ‘Every night I stand on the [Goplana’s] bridge until about 3:30 a.m.’ LW records in his private diary. He hasn’t, he notes, quite got his project of perfect passivity up and running: ‘The infamy of these comrades is still horrible to me. But just stay with it. Every day I work on something, yet without any real success’ (GT1, S.11).
Wednesday 2nd September, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that he has been on searchlight duty every night, with the exception of yesterday, and that he sleeps during the day. He seems thankful for this, since being on the night-shift means that he is thereby ‘deprived of the wickedness of my comrades’. He then reports that yesterday they heard a huge battle that had already been underway for 5 days. [This could have been the victory by the Austrian 1st army at the battle of Kraśnik or the victory of the Austrian 4th army at the battle of Komarów (or both)] He also notes that yesterday he masturbated ‘for the first time in 3 weeks’, being ‘almost unsensual’. He records that he works a little bit every day, but is too tired and distracted. But he also notes that he began reading Tolstoy's ‘Notes on the Gospels’. ‘A magnificent work. But it’s not what I expected’ (GT1, SS.11-12).
In his notebook entry, LW explains that at least part of what his dictum ‘Logic must take care of itself’ means is that in a certain sense it must be impossible to go wrong in logic. He counts this ‘an extremely profound and important insight’.
Frege, he notes, had said that every well-formed sentence must make sense. But LW responds that every possible sentence is well-formed, and that if it doesn’t make sense this can only be because we have failed to give a meaning to one or more of its parts (NB, p.2).
Thursday 3rd September, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that yesterday his (philosophical) work was not totally successful, but that he has been reading Tolstoy ‘with great profit’ (GT1, S.13).
In his notebook entry, LW asks himself how the fact that logic must take care of itself can be reconciled with the task of philosophy. Can we infer, for example, from the fact that there are signs which behave as signs of the subject-predicate form, that the particular facts they purport to state are of the subject-predicate form? The question, he thinks, turns on whether there is a complete analysis of such signs, and he worries that if there isn’t such an analysis, the task of philosophy will no longer be apparent at all.
He then raises questions about whether any of the different forms that he and Russell had talked about (such as the subject-predicate form) exist. Russell, he opines, would think their existence self-evident, but to this suggestion LW merely exclaims ‘Ha!’.
If everything that needs to be shown is shown by the existence of subject-predicate sentences, etc., LW thinks has has been wrong about the task of philosophy. But the alternative, that what is lacking would have to be shown by means of some kind of experience, he regards as hopeless.
He diagnoses the obscurity here as lying in the question ‘what does the logical identity of sign and thing signified consist in?’. But this question he thinks of, again, as an aspect of ‘the whole philosophical problem’.
He then imagines that some philosophical question, such as whether ‘A is good’ is a subject-predicate proposition, is given, and asks how such a question could be settled, what sort of evidence could clinch the issue. ‘Self-evidence’ he counts as ‘extremely dubious’. He then imagines a similar but simpler and more fundamental question, such as ‘Is a point in our visual field a simple object, a thing?’. Such questions he has regarded up until now as the real philosophical ones, and in a sense they certainly are, but what evidence could settle them? Might there not be a mistake in their formulation, since it seems to LW that nothing at all is self-evident to him on this question, indeed ‘it looks as if I could say definitively that these questions could never be settled at all’ (NB, pp.2-3).
Friday 4th September, 1914: LW notes that if the existence of subject-predicates sentences doesn’t show ‘everything needful’ (that there exist facts of the subject-predicate form, perhaps?), then this could only be shown by the existence of a particular fact of that form. But acquaintance with such a fact cannot be essential for logic.
Even if a sign was of the subject-predicate form, this could be no better suited to express subject-predicate propositions than our (existing) subject-predicate sentences are.
‘If logic can be completed without answering certain questions, then it must be completed without answering them’.
LW decides that the logical identity between sign and thing signified (which he had postulated yesterday) consists in it not being permissible to recognise more or less in the sign than in what it signifies. If the sign and the thing signified were not identical in their total logical content, there would have to be something more fundamental than logic (NB, pp.3-4).
Saturday 5th September, 1914: In his private diary, LW records his feeling that he is ‘on the road to a great discovery’. However, he wonders, is he going to get there? He notes that although he is now more sensual than before, today he resisted masturbating. ‘Outside it is icy and stormy. I lie on the straw on the floor and write and read on a small wooden box (price 2,50 crowns)’ (GT1, SS.18-19).
In his notebook entry, LW first notes that: φ(a).φ(b).aRb = Def. φ[aRb]
The words ‘function’, ‘argument’, ‘sentence’ (or ‘proposition’) ought not to occur in logic.
Russell’s definition of classes must be inadmissible, since although to say of two classes that they are identical is meaningful, to say of two things that they are identical means nothing (NB, p.4).
Sunday 6th September, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that he is still tormented by most of his most comrades, but that he hasn’t yet found any satisfactory response. He hasn’t yet decided on complete passivity, but feels powerless against these people, defending himself having proved useless (GT1, S.19).
LW notes that the final idea from yesterday’s note is really the same as ‘the old objection against identity in mathematics’, that if 2 x 2 was really the same as 4, the equation ‘2 x 2 = 4’ would say no more than ‘a = a’.
He then asks himself whether it could be said that logic isn’t concerned with the analysability of the functions with which it works (NB, p.4).
Monday 7th September, 1914: LW notes that even an unanalysed subject-predicate proposition ‘is a clear statement of something quite definite’.
He considers saying that the issue depends not on our dealing with unanalysable subject-predicate sentences, but on the fact that the logic of our subject-predicate sentences is the same as the logic of such unanalysed subject-predicate sentences. The point, he then claims, is to complete logic, and the objection was that we cannot construct the syntax of unanalysed subject-predicate sentences as long as we do not know their analysis. ‘But must not the logic of an apparent subject-predicate sentence be the same as the logic of an actual one?’ (NB, p.4).
Tuesday 8th September, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that he learned this morning that Lemberg (the German name for Lviv, now in the Ukraine) had been occupied by the Russians. [This would have been in the defeat of the Austrian 3rd Army, under General Rudolf von Brudermann. These particular Austrian forces had unknowingly advanced into the main concentration of Russian forces, with predictable results] ‘Now I know that we are hindmost!’ He reports that during the last four days he hasn’t been on the night shift, since the nights have been very bright, but that he has ‘worked every day a lot and read a lot in Tolstoy's 'Notes on the Gospels'’ (GT1, S.21).
In a notebook entry, LW notes that in logic we can only dispense with the ‘self-evidence’ of which Russell made so much if language itself prevents any logical mistake. ‘Self-evidence’, he concludes, is and always was wholly deceptive (NB, pp.4-5).
Thursday 10th September, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that although he has had much to do he nevertheless has done a bit of (philosophical) work, without definite success, but not in a hopeless mood (GT1, S.21).
Saturday 12th September, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that the news which he and his fellow soldiers are hearing gets worse and worse. [This would have been news of the Second Battle of Lemberg (September 3rd to 11th) or the Battle of Grodek (September 4th to 11th), and the subsequent Austrian retreat] Tonight his division will be in strict readiness. He notes that he does (philosophical) work every day and is quite confident. ‘Again and again I say in my mind the words of Tolstoy “Man is powerless in the flesh but free by the Spirit”’. He reports that this afternoon his Lieutenant heard shots nearby, that he (LW) was very excited, and now wonders how he will behave when it comes to shooting. He notes that he isn’t afraid of being shot, but is more worried about doing his duty properly. He ends: ‘God give me strength! Amen. Amen. Amen’ (GT1, SS.21-22).
Sunday 13th September, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that this morning the crew of the Goplana left the ship and everything that was on board, since ‘the Russians are on our heels’ He reports having witnessed terrible scenes, has had no sleep for 30 hours, feels very weak and doesn’t see any hope. If his end is nigh, he writes, ‘may I die a good death, mindful of myself. May I never lose myself’ (GT1, SS.22-23).
Mid-September, 1914: LW writes a postcard, from Kracow, to von Ficker, explaining that he has been on board a ship in Russia for the last four weeks, and has just returned to Kracow (Luckhardt, p.85). Later that day, he writes a postscript to his postcard, expressing the hope that he (LW) might meet the expressionist poet Georg Trakl, whom von Ficker had told him was also serving in the war (Luckhardt, p.86).
Tuesday 15th September, 1914: In his private diary, LW reports ‘terrible scenes’ from the previous night…. almost everyone was drunk! Yesterday the crew was back on the Goplana, which sailed into the river Dunajec. [A tributary of the Vistula, rising in the Carpathian Mountains and flowing into the Vistula about 25km north of Tarnów and about 60km east of Krakow] He records that, despite trying, he did no (philosophical) work yesterday. Again he exclaims that ‘The Russians are on our heels! We are in close proximity of the enemy’. However, he notes that he is in a good mood again, since he has now done some (philosophical) work. He did so while peeling potatoes, a task he signs up for voluntarily. ‘It is for me’, he says, ‘what lens-grinding was for Spinoza’. He is cooler with the Lieutenant, he records, than before. But he urges himself to take heart: ‘If the Genius does not depart….! God is with me!’. He would seize that which it would take to be a decent human being, because he’s faced with death eye to eye. ‘May the Spirit enlighten me’, he finishes (GT1, SS.23-24).
Wednesday 16th September, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that the previous night passed quietly, but that he heard heavy gun- and cannon-fire in the morning. ‘We are lost, in all probability inescapably. The Spirit is still with me, but will it not leave me at the last? I hope not! Now just keep it together and be good! Man is powerless in the flesh but free in the Spirit. And free only through this’. He did no (philosophical) work that night, he records (GT1, SS.24-25).
Thursday 17th September, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that the previous night passed quietly, and that he had been on guard duty. The Goplana has sailed up the Vistula to Krakow, whose outskirts, he fears, will be ‘completely occupied by Cossacks’. He also reports that yesterday morning the Lieutenant left the ship and didn’t come back until noon today. No one knows what to do, and they don’t even have money to buy food. Nevertheless he finds himself still in good spirits. ‘Keep thinking about how I can maintain myself’, he finishes (GT1, SS.25-26).
Friday 18th September, 1914: In his diary, LW reports that the previous night had been dreadfully exciting. He had been afraid every moment that his searchlight would go out. They were in a very precarious position, and had his light gone out the whole responsibility would have fallen on him. Then there was a false alarm. LW reports that he kept schtum when he had to hear the train driver denigrate his Lieutenant, which annoyed LW terribly. He was at his post from 1-3, and got very little sleep. He did no philosophical work yesterday. He records how incredibly difficult it is to set himself against evil all the time, as well as how hard it is to to serve the Spirit with an empty stomach and lack of sleep. ‘But what would I be if I couldn’t do so?, he asks himself. His supervisors he deems rude and stupid, his comrades stupid and coarse (with very few exceptions). Today he traveled to Krakow ‘with Galären’ (a fellow soldier, or officer?). ‘The day was calm and not unpleasant’, and he did a bit of (philosophical) work (GT1, SS.25-27).
Saturday 19th September, 1914: In his diary, LW records that yesterday evening he had to work up to 11pm on his searchlight. In the night it’s extremely cold, and the men have to sleep in their boots. LW slept badly. He hasn’t changed his clothes or his boots for four days. He worries what will happen to him in Krakow (GT1, SS.27-28).
LW notes that a proposition like ‘this chair is brown’ seems to say something enormously complicated, since if we wanted to express it in such a way that nobody could raise objections to it on grounds of ambiguity, ‘it would have to be infinitely long’ (NB, p.5).
Sunday 20th September, 1914: In his diary, LW notes again how extremely difficult it is not to oppose the wickedness of men, since ‘the wickedness inflicts on one each time a wound’. The Russians, he notes, have been pushed back so far from the city-limits that he and his company have not yet been bothered (GT1, SS.27-28).
In his notebook entry, LW notes that it’s obvious ‘to the uncaptive eye’ that a sentence is a logical portrayal of its meaning.
He asks himself whether there are functions of facts, e.g., is it better for one thing to be the case than for another to be the case?
He asks what the connection might be between the sign p and the rest of the signs in the sentence ‘that p is the case, is good’? He urges that the uncaptive judgement will be to the effect that this consists in the spatial relation of the letter p to its neighbouring signs. But what if the fact “p” were to contain no things?
‘It is good that p’, he thinks, can presumably be analysed ‘p. it is good if p’ (the punctuation-mark here is Principia Mathematica’s sign for conjunction).
Even if p is not the case, it’s still meaningful to say ‘that p, is good’. We can say that the situation [Sachverhalt] p is good without knowing whether ‘p’ is true or false. This, LW thinks, throws light on the idea that ‘one word refers to another’, and that’s why in the above cases the point is to say how propositions hang together internally, how the ‘propositional bond’ comes into existence.
LW then asks himself one of the ‘old old questions’: how can a function refer to a proposition? But he cautions himself against being overwhelmed with questions.
‘φ(ψx)’: He then tries out one way in which a function (of a subject-predicate proposition) refers to that proposition: it relates only immediately to the subject of the proposition, and what signifies is the logical product of this relation and the subject-predicate propositional sign (that is, the conjunction of the two). If we were to say this, we can be asked why one cannot give an analogous explanation of what the proposition stands for, i.e., that it is not a function of a subject-predicate fact, but rather the logical product of such a fact and of a function of its subject. But LW notes that presumably the objection to the latter explanation (which objection he does not specify) must apply to the former, too (NB, pp.5-6).
Monday 21st September, 1914: In his diary, LW reports that this morning the Goplana arrived in Krakow. He had been on searchlight duty all night. Yesterday, he records, he did a lot of (philosophical) work, but he isn’t very hopeful, ‘because I lacked the right overview’ [Überblick]. He also had a discussion with his platoon leader, which cleared the air a little. But today he is a little out of sorts, being still ‘so TIRED’ from many emotions. He notes that he has heard nothing from Vienna, but that he did receive a card from his mother, sent on August 20th. In the evening, though, he received the depressing news that the Lieutenant who had been his commanding officer has been transferred. ‘This news depressed me deeply. I can’t give an exact account, but it’s a compelling cause for despondency. Since then I’ve been deeply sad. Although I am free by the Spirit, the Spirit has left me!’. He ends by recording that he found himself able to do some (philosophical) work in the evening, and that this made him feel better (GT1, SS.28-29).
In his notebook, LW notes that it suddenly seems to him clear that a property of a situation [Sachverhalt] must always be internal.
Φa, ψb, aRb. It could be said that the situation aRb always has a certain property, if the first two propositions are true.
To say it is good for p to be the case must mean that it is good in itself.
It seems clear, furthermore, that there cannot be functions of situations (NB, p.6).
Tuesday 22nd September, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that he spent the morning in the barracks to fetch money for the Captain. The Captain then told LW to sew onto his own uniform the stripes denominating him a ‘one-year volunteer’. After running many errands and returning to the ship, his new stripes ‘caused a big sensation’. He also reports receiving lots of cards and letters, from Ficker and Jolles, among others. [These were: two letters from Ludwig von Ficker, from August 21st and September 15th, agreeing with LW’s proposals regarding the allocation of the donation to Der Brenner for cash-strapped Austrian artists (Rainer Maria Rilke et al.), and a letter from Adele Jolles, wife of Stanislaus Jolles (1857-1942), who was Wittgenstein's teacher at the Technischehochschule in Berlin–Charlottenburg from 1906 to 1908. Both stayed in correspondence with Wittgenstein until 1939] He ends by recording that he has done no (philosophical) work today (GT1, S.29).
Wednesday 23rd September, 1914: LW’s diary entry reads simply ‘Etwas gearbeitet’, i.e., he did some (philosophical) work (GT1, S.29).
One could ask, LW notes, how the situation p can have a property if it turns out that that situation doesn’t obtain (NB, p.6).
Thursday 24th September, 1914: In his diary, LW records that he did quite a lot of (philosophical) work, but that it had been ‘pretty hopeless’. He spent the afternoon in the city (of Kracow) (GT1, S.30).
In his notebook, LW notes that the question of how a correlation of relations is possible is identical with the problem of truth (NB, p.6).
Friday 25th September, 1914: LW again records in his diary that he did quite a lot of work, but ‘without any real confidence: I still lack an overview, and thus the problem seems unsurveyable’ (GT1, S.30).
In his notebook entry, the ‘problem of truth’ LW referred to yesterday is now said to be identical with the question of how the correlation of situations is possible (one situation signifying, the other being what is signified).
LW decides that this is possible only by means of the correlation of the components of the situations, like the correlation between names and things named. But it is also clear that relations can be correlated, too. In | aRb | ; |a b| ; p = aRb, by definition – here a simple sign is correlated with a situation (NB, p.6).
Saturday 26th September, 1914: LW asks himself what is the ground of our well-founded confidence that we can express any sense we like in our two-dimensional script (NB, p.6).
Sunday 27th September, 1914: LW’s private diary entry reports that he did some (philosophical) work yesterday, ‘but without real success’. In recent days, he notes, he has been feeling ‘somewhat sensual’. Finally, he records that yesterday he telegraphed home and asked for news (GT1, S.30).
LW notes that ‘a proposition can express its sense only by being the logical portrayal [logisches Abbild] of it’. He then remarks on what he calls the ‘striking similarity’ between these signs: ‘aRb’, and ‘aσR . Rσb’ (NB, pp.6-7).
Monday 28th September, 1914: LW again notes in his diary that he did some work, but also that they (he and his unit) are now expecting a siege of Krakow: ‘If it happens, hard times are before us. May the Spirit give me strength!’ (GT1, S.30).
Tuesday 29th September, 1914: In his diary, LW mentions that this morning a corporal who is sick with dysentery was brought to the hospital, and that there are now many cases. He notes that he himself did some (philosophical) work, but without success: ‘I’m still not clear and have no overview. I see details, without knowing how they [something – one word illegible here] are likely to fit into a whole’. In an entry whose text is incomplete and heavily scratched over, he then records that ‘every problem is the main problem’. He urges himself not to be fainthearted, but to take courage. In the evening, he records, he worked, not without success (GT1, S.31).
The notebook entry corresponding to this not unsuccessful work begins by declaring that ‘The general concept of the proposition carries with it a quite general concept of the co-ordination of proposition and situation: The solution to all my questions must be extremely simple’.
He then has the insight arising from the Paris law court scenario he had recently read about (in August): the idea of propositions as models (Potter 2009, pp.226-7; Monk, p.118; Sterrett, pp.xvii, xx, 16, 212). In a proposition it is as if a world is put together experimentally. This, he thinks, must straight away yield the nature of truth.
He then considers hieroglyphic writing, in which ‘each word is a representation of what it stands for’, as well as the fact that pictures of situations can be right or wrong.
He sketches two people, A and B, swordfighting, and explains how this sketch might assert ‘A is fencing with B’ by virtue of one stick-figure representing A and the other representing B. In this picture-writing form, the proposition can be true or false, and its sense is independent of its truth or falsehood. LW declares that ‘It must be possible to demonstrate everything essential by considering this case’.
While we cannot be certain that all situations can be pictured, nevertheless we can be certain that all logical properties of situations can be portrayed in a two-dimensional script.
He finishes by noting that ‘This is still very much on the surface, but we are on good ground’ (NB, p.7).
Wednesday 30th September, 1914: In his diary, LW reports that last night he started to feel unwell (in the stomach and head). He then declares simply: ‘Thy will be done’ (GT1, S.32).
LW notes that in his picture of the two fencers (from yesterday), it can be said that each figure is a representation of something, but that even if this wasn’t the case, their relative position could represent something, i.e. a relation.
How is it possible for a picture to represent relations that do not obtain?
Again it looks as if all relations must be logical ‘in order for their existence to be guaranteed by that of the sign’ (NB, pp.7-8).
Thursday 1st October, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that yesterday he had to lie down in the morning and lie there all day, because he felt very unwell. He did quite a lot of (philosophical) work, but without success. He notes that they have heard that they will be leaving the Goplana tomorrow, and wonders what will happen to him (GT1, S.32).
(Around this time): LW writes an army postcard, from Kracow, to Frege (mentioned in Frege’s reply to LW, of 11th October).
Friday 2nd October, 1914: LW reports in his diary that he did quite a lot of (philosophical) work, and not entirely without success. But it is still unclear to him what will happen to him, whether he will stay on the Goplana or not, etc. (GT1, S.32).
LW continues to develop the consequences of his ‘Theory of Logical Portrayal’ (Monk, p.118). He notes that what connects a and c in ‘aRb.bSc’ is not the sign for conjunction (‘.’, in the Peano-Russell notation he uses), but the occurrence of the same letter b in the two simple sentences.
Instead of saying ‘this proposition has such and such a sense’, we can say ‘this proposition represents such and such a situation’.
The proposition portrays the situation logically.
‘Only in this way can the proposition be true or false: It can only agree or disagree with reality by being a picture of a situation’ (NB, p.8).
Saturday 3rd October, 1914: In his private diary LW records that today a decision was taken that all the old crew of the Goplana, with the exception of four men - including him - are to leave the ship. ‘This is not unpleasant to me’, he notes. Today he received a chest containing washing things, tea, biscuits and chocolate, ‘as if my dear mother had sent it’, but it contained no message from her. ‘Is mama dead?’, he wonders. ‘And why do they send me no message?’ He notes that he has done almost no (philosophical) work (GT1, SS.32-33).
In his notebook LW notes that only insofar as it is logically articulated is the proposition a picture of a situation. (Simple (non-articulated) signs can be neither true nor false).
A name is not a picture of the thing it names!
‘The proposition only says something in so far as it is a picture!’
Tautologies, therefore, say nothing, are not pictures of situations, but are logically ‘completely neutral’. (Conjoining a tautology and a proposition says neither more nor less than that proposition itself) (NB, p.8).
Sunday 4th October, 1914: LW’s diary entry reads: ‘Did some work yesterday evening. Today received a card that mama wrote to me on the 9th of last month. It contains nothing important. My work is now faltering again after a brief upswing. Did quite a lot of work, but without hope. In the next few days we’re going back to Russia. Our new commander, a lieutenant, I don’t really like, although I’ve seen him only in passing’ (GT1, SS.33-34).
LW notes that ‘xRy’ can contain the signifying element of a relation even if ‘x’ and ‘y’ do not stand for anything, although in that case the relation is the only thing signified in the sign.
But then, referring back to his idea of the previous day, that simple signs can be neither true nor false, he asks himself how it is possible for a single word in a code to mean ‘I’m all right’. Isn’t a simple sign asserting something here, and being used to give information to others? Can’t that single word, with that meaning, be true or false? (NB, p.8. See Potter, pp.92-3).
Monday 5th October, 1914: LW’s diary entry records that today he received a letter from Keynes, but that Keynes wrote only to ask him what would happen about W.E.Johnson’s money after the war. [Since June 1913, LW had been anonymously donating a stipend of 200 GBP per month to give Johnson relief from teaching and enable him to pursue his research] The letter, he reports, ‘gave me a pang’. He also received a card from his mother, from the first day of the month, reporting that all was well. LW notes that he has ‘thought of Russell often over the last days, and wonder whether he still thinks of me. It was strange, our meeting! In times of outward well-being, we do not think about the fragility of the flesh’ (GT1, SS.34-35).
LW notes that it is possible to correlate a simple sign with the sense of a sentence.
‘Logic is interested only in reality. And thus in sentences ONLY in so far as they are pictures of reality’.
But how CAN a single word be true or false? It cannot express the thought that agrees or does not agree with reality – that thought must be something articulated.
So a single word can’t be true or false in this sense: it can’t agree with reality, or the opposite (NB, p.9).
Tuesday 6th October, 1914: LW’s diary entry reads: ‘Yesterday worked quite a bit. Man must not depend on chance, neither the favourable nor the unfavorable. Yesterday, the new commander came to the ship. Now they send people from the lighting division here, who fumble around the ship’s reflector. Don’t worry!! The command to depart for Russia just came. So it’s serious again! God be with me’ (GT1, S.35).
In his notebook LW remarks on ‘The general concept of two complexes of which the one can be the logical picture of the other, and so in one sense is so’.
Where two such complexes agree their agreement is internal, and so cannot be expressed but can only be shown.
‘p’ is true, says nothing else but p.
Therefore “‘p’ is true” is only a pseudo-proposition, like all connections of signs which apparently say something which can only be shown (NB, p.9).
Wednesday 7th October, 1914: In one of his most poetic diary entries, LW begins by recording that the Goplana entered Russian territory overnight, and that he hardly slept due to the service lights etc. ‘We are soon to come under fire. May the spirit be with me’. He records that the Goplana is now on the river Wisłoka . ‘It is icy cold to me - from the inside’. He notes that he has worked a little. ‘I can die in an hour, I can die in two hours, I can die in a month or only in a few years. I can’t know or help or do anything about it: that’s how life is. How should I live so as to be able to die at any moment? Live in the beautiful and the good, until life itself ceases’ (GT1, SS.35-36).
LW notes that if a proposition φa is given, all its logical functions (∼φa, etc.) are already given with it! (NB, p.9).
Thursday 8th October, 1914: In his private diary, LW mentions that the Goplana has continued towards Sandomierz, a border town on the West side of the Vistula river. The night was calm, and LW was very tired and slept soundly. He now finds himself in Tarnobrzeg, an Austrian border town on the eastern side of the Vistula, half an hour from Sandomierz. ‘When I'm tired and I'm cold’, he notes, ‘I soon, unfortunately, lose the courage to endure life as it is. But I 'm trying not to lose it. Every hour of physical well -being is a grace’ (GT1, S.37).
LW remarks on complete and incomplete portrayals of a situation, and on how function plus argument is portrayed by function plus argument.
The expression ‘not further analysable’ is ‘on the index’, along with ‘function’, ‘thing’, etc. But, LW asks himself, how does what we try to express by means of it get shown?
(Of neither a thing nor a complex can it be said that it is not further analysable) (NB, p.9).
Friday 9th October, 1914: In a private diary entry LW notes that last night was quiet, although there had been the continuous thunder of cannon in the distance. He is still at Tarnobrzeg. It’s obvious to him that nearby a huge battle is taking place, since he and the other members of the Goplana’s crew have been listening to over 12 hours of continuous gunfire. LW reports that ‘Our new crew is much better (nicer and more decent) than the old one’. He then notes that the command has been issued that all those who are armed must be involved in the ground-fighting. ‘God be with me!’, he implores. After making their way to Sandomierz they hear strong and ongoing artillery fire, and see grenades exploding. But LW notes that he is in a very good mood, and has done plenty of (philosophical) work (GT1, SS.37-38).
LW notes that if there was such a thing as an immediate correlation of relations, we would have to ask how the things standing in these relations are correlated with one another. Can there be such a thing as a direct correlation of relations without consideration of their *direction* [Sinn]?
He considers whether we might be misled into postulating ‘relations between relations’ through an apparent analogy between the expression ‘relations between things’ and ‘relations between relations’. At this point he exclaims ‘*In all these considerations I am somewhere making some sort of FUNDAMENTAL MISTAKE*’.
The question of the possibility of existence propositions, he insists, comes not in the middle but at the very beginning of logic.
All the problems connected with Russell’s Axiom of Infinity have already to be solved in the proposition ‘(Ǝx)x = x’. (NB, pp.9-10).
Saturday 10th October, 1914: In his diary, LW records that although last night was quiet, the cannonade resumed this morning. They now have to travel on to Zawichost (a small border town on the west side of the Vistula). But at the moment they are in Nabzesze (a village, I surmise). LW mentions that because he sleeps right next to the wall of the commanders’ cabin, he overheard a conversation in which his platoon leader said that the Goplana’s crew will be helping the German army cross the Vistula. The platoon leader said they could expect no artillery fire, but only infantry fire. LW records that he did a lot of (philosophical) work, ‘but without positive success’ (GT1, S.38).
LW notes that ‘One often makes a remark and only later sees how true it is’ (NB, p.10).
Bertrand Russell’s article ‘War: The Cause and the Cure’ appears in The Cambridge Magazine.
Sunday 11th October, 1914: In his diary, LW notes another quiet night. ‘I always carry Tolstoy’s ‘Statements of the Gospel’ around with me like a talisman’. Again he has overheard a conversation, this time between the crew’s commanding officers and those from another ship, to the effect that they would remain in Nabzesze today, but leave tomorrow. He records having just heard the news that Antwerp has fallen and that ‘somewhere our troops have won a great battle. The grace that I enjoy, since I can think and write now, is indescribable. I must acquire indifference to the difficulties of external life. Tonight we are going to Zawichost to land troops and supplies. We have to go right in front of the Russian positions. God be with me’. (GT1, S.39).
Gottlob Frege writes the first of his known Feldpostkarte (German military postcards) to LW, from Jena (Janik 1989, pp.8-9).
In his notebook, LW remarks on the difficulty lying in the fact that apparently analysability, or its opposite, is not reflected in language. So we cannot gauge from language alone whether there are facts of the subject-predicate form, for example. But we could not express this fact, or its opposite, anyway – it must instead be shown.
He then contemplates whether we should bother at all about the question of analysability, or instead work with signs which do not stand for anything, but ‘merely help to express by means of their logical properties’. Even unanalysed propositions, he notes, mirror the logical properties of their meanings.
Then he considers propositions about infinite numbers, and whether, as per Frege’s method, we would need 100 million signs in order to define the number 1000,000,000. Wouldn’t that depend on whether it is applied to things or to classes, though?
Like all propositions of logic, propositions dealing with infinite numbers can be got by calculating the signs themselves, since no foreign element gets added to the original primitive signs. So here too ‘the signs must themselves possess all the logical properties of what they represent’ (NB, pp.10-11).
Monday 12th October, 1914: In his diary, LW notes that they have not yet gone to Zawichost (as he yesterday anticipated they would do), and that last night was another quiet one. However, listening in to his Lieutenant and Lieutenant commander he again gauges that it's likely that the Goplana’s crew will be going to Zawichost. The Lieutenant he finds strange, since he is honorable and ambitious to reach the front. LW then muses on his indifference to outer fate, his tiredness at having involuntarily to execute any command, and the uncertainty of his future. ‘In short’, he says, ‘there are times where I cannot live only in the present and with the Spirit. The good hour of life is to be enjoyed as a grateful grace, but one should otherwise be indifferent to life. Today I have long struggled with depression’. He notes that he then masturbated again. He then hears that the actions planned for last night will happen today, and they will be going to Krakow tonight. The crew has been practicing using automatic weapons and machine guns. ‘The matter will be dangerous’, he notes: ‘If I have to to operate the searchlights, I’m certainly lost. But that doesn’t matter! In an hour we leave. God is with me!’ (GT1, SS.39-41).
LW notes that the trivial fact that a completely analysed proposition contains as many names as there are things contained in its reference is an example of ‘the all-embracing representation of the world through language’.
To understand the real sense of propositions like the Axiom of Infinity, he thinks, one would need to investigate the definitions of the cardinal numbers more exactly (NB, p.11).
Tuesday 13th October, 1914: In his diary, LW notes that at 11:30 last night, the crew of the Goplana received the order that they are not, or not yet, going to Zawichost. So, it was a quiet night. On hearing that their ships are prevailing, though, they immediately head down to the Vistula and leave straight away. ‘I am spirit and therefore I am free’. They spend time at Lopiza, with grenades whistling over their heads. Then they retreated to Nadbzewze (I suspect this is Nadbrzezie, now a suburb of Sandomierz), having experienced very intense gunfire, all afternoon. In the evening they proceeded to Sandomierz, where the plan is to stay for the night. LW notes that he has done some work (GT1, SS.41-42).
LW again remarks that logic takes care of itself – all we have to do is to look and see how it does it.
He then considers the proposition ‘there is a class with only one member’, or (Ǝφ):.(Ǝx):φx.φy.φz ﬤ .y = z. The expression ‘(Ǝx)x = x’ might be thought to be tautological, since it could not get written down at all if it was false, but here it is! This proposition, he thinks, can be investigated instead of the Axiom of Infinity.
He then says that he knows that ‘the following sentences’ as they are stand are nonsensical: Can we speak of numbers if there are only things? If the world consisted of one thing and nothing else, could we say that there was ONE thing? He speculates that Russell would say that if there is one thing there is also a function (Ǝx) ξ = x, but LW protests at that.
If this function doesn’t do it we can only talk of 1 if there is a material function satisfied by only one argument.
He then asks himself how it is with propositions such as: (Ǝφ).(Ǝx).φ(x)., and (Ǝφ).(Ǝx).∼φ(x). Is one of these a tautology? Are they propositions of some science, i.e. are they propositions at all?
He concludes by encouraging himself to remember that ‘it is the variables and not the sign of generality that are characteristic of logic’ (NB, p.11).
Wednesday 14th October, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that it had been a quiet night. They were in Sandomierz until the evening, and he anticipates that they will probably be there tonight too. He notes that he is ‘not satisfied’ (with the work he has done), ‘since it is again difficult to achieve an overview’ (GT1, S.42).
LW asks himself whether there is such a thing as a science of completely generalized propositions, and immediately considers that extremely improbable.
He thinks it clear, though, that if there are such propositions, their sense cannot depend on any arbitrary formation of signs. Therefore such a connection of signs can represent the world by means of its own logical properties, that is, it can not be false, and not be true. So there are no completely generalized propositions.
But now which of these propositions: ‘(Ǝφ,x).φx’, and ‘∼(Ǝφ,x).φx’ is the tautology, and which the contradiction?
What we need is a comparative arrangement of propositions standing in internal relations, a book that might well be furnished with diagrams.
(The tautology shows what it appears to say, the contradiction shows the opposite of what it appears to say).
It’s clear that we can form all possible completely general propositions as soon as we are merely given a language. That’s why it can’t be that such connections of signs (as tautologies and contradictions) should really say anything about the world. On the other hand, there seems to be a gradual transition from the elementary proposition to the completely general one!
The completely general propositions can all be formed a priori. (NB, pp.11-12).
Friday 16th October, 1914: In his diary, LW notes that they drove out early this morning, to Smuzin, to get guns (GT1, S.43). [Over the next few days, we’ll see that LW has different ways of spelling the name of the place in question, which is almost certainly the Polish town Szczucin]
LW now realises that exactly the same grounds as those produced to show that ‘(Ǝφ,x).φx’ *could* not be false would constitute an argument showing that its negation, ‘∼(Ǝφ,x).φx’, also couldn’t be false. Here, therefore, there must be a fundamental mistake, since it’s impossible to see why just the former proposition and not the latter is supposed to be a tautology. He urges himself not to forget that the contradiction (‘p.∼p’) can’t be true, even though it is a logical structure.
If no negation of an elementary proposition is true, wouldn’t ‘negation’ have another sense in this case than in the opposite case?
Of this proposition: ‘(Ǝφ):(x).φx’, it seems almost certain that it’s neither a tautology nor a contradiction. Here the problem becomes extremely sharp. (NB, p.13).
Saturday 17th October, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that he worked a lot yesterday, with some ‘knot’ (or ‘node’) drawing several ideas together, albeit without a solution. In the evening they stayed at Baranov and are now driving further on to Smuzin. [At that time, Baranov, on the eastern side of the Vistula River, about 15km south-west of Tarnobrzeg, was an Austrian border town. Now it’s Baranow, Poland. Again, by ‘Smuzin’ LW probably has in mind the Austrian frontier town Szczucin, about midway between Kracau and Sandomierz] ‘Will the redemptive idea come to me, will it come??!!’ He notes that he masturbated again yesterday, and today, and that this evening they arrived in Smuzin, where they are going to stop for the night. He notes that he has done a lot of (philosophical) work: ‘Amassed much material, unable to organize it. But this influx of material, I think, is a good sign. Remember how great the grace of the work is!’ (GT1, SS.43-44).
LW notes that if there do exist completely general propositions, it seems as if they would be ‘experimental combinations of “logical constants” (!)’.
He then asks himself whether it isn’t possible to describe the entire world completely by means of completely general propositions, without using any sort of names or other denoting signs, and decides that it is indeed possible. In order to get from this to ordinary language, he suggests, one would only have to introduce names, saying after an existential quantification (Ǝx) ‘and this x is A’, etc.
In this way it would be possible to devise a picture of the world without saying what is a representation of what.
Suppose the world consisted of things A and B and the property F, and that F(A) was the case but not F(B). One could describe this world by means of these propositions: (Ǝx,y).(Ǝφ).x ≠ y.φx.∼φy:φu.φz.⊃.u=z, (Ǝφ).(ψ).ψ = φ, (Ǝx,y).(z).z = x v z = y
Here one also needs propositions of the type of the last two only in order to be able to identify the objects.
From this, he declares, of course it follows that there are completely general propositions!
He then considers whether the first proposition ((Ǝx,y).(Ǝφ).x ≠ y.φx.∼φy:φu.φz.⊃.u=z) would be enough, and the difficulty of identification done away with by describing the entire world in a single general proposition beginning ‘(Ǝx,y,z…φ,ψ…R,S…)’ followed by a logical product (NB, pp.13-14).
Sunday 18th October, 1914: LW notes in his diary that he spent the morning shopping, then at noon traveled to Tarnobrzeg and was there from 5 p.m. onwards. In the evening some officers came to the ship, and the one LW came with noticed his volunteer badge. ‘We talked for over an hour with each other very comfortably. He was very friendly and not stupid. He addressed me as 'Du'’. LW reports that he did little work ‘But that doesn’t matter!’. He will stay overnight in Tarnobrzeg (GT1, SS.44-45).
LW notes that his mistake must lie in a false conception of logical portrayal by the proposition.
No statement can be concerned with the logical structure of the world, since for a statement to be possible at all, for a proposition to be CAPABLE of making SENSE, the world must already have just the logical structure it has. The logic of the world is thus ‘prior to all truth and falsehood’.
Roughly speaking, he notes, before any proposition can make sense at all, the logical constants must have reference [Bedeutung] (NB, pp.14-15).
Monday 19th October, 1914: In his diary, LW notes that they travelled early to Sandomierz, where they are now. At night he again masturbated (‘half in a dream’), and he puts this down to getting almost no exercise. In the afternoon they drive back Tarnobrzeg. LW notes that since yesterday his digestion has not been quite in order. In the evening they travel back to Sandomierz. ‘Do not feel very well, no real zest for life’. He notes that he worked a lot, though (GT1, S.45).
The description of the world by means of propositions, LW notes, is only possible because what is signified is not its own sign.
Light can be shed on Kant’s question ‘How is pure mathematics possible’ through the theory of tautologies.
Obviously, we must be able to describe the structure of the world without mentioning any names (NB, p.15).
Tuesday 20th October, 1914: In his diary, LW notes that he is now unwell. However, he has done a lot of philosophical work, and felt better in the afternoon. ‘But I am not quite happy; I'm longing for David: If only I could at least write to him. But my spirit speaks to me in my depression. God be with me’ (GT1, S.46).
LW notes that, just as a picture, to be true, must show the spatial relation in which the things it represents stand, so a proposition must enable us to see the logical structure of the situation that makes it true or false.
Those respects in which the picture must agree with reality, in order to be capable of portraying it at all, can be called the form of the picture.
The theory of logical portrayal by means of language first gives us information about the nature of the truth-relation.
That theory says, quite generally, that in order for it to be possible that a proposition should be true or false (agree with reality or not), something in the proposition must be identical with reality.
In ‘∼p’ what negates is not the tilde in front of the ‘p’, but what is common to all signs that have the same meaning as ‘∼p’ in this notation, i.e. the set ∼p, ∼∼∼p, ∼p v ∼p, ∼p & ∼p, etc., and the same holds for the generality notation, etc.
Pseudo-propositions are those which, when analysed, turn out only to show what they purported to say.
This is a justification for the feeling that the proposition describes a complex in the way Russellian descriptions do: the proposition describes the complex by means of its logical properties.
‘The proposition constructs a world by means of its logical scaffolding, and that is why we can actually see in the proposition how everything logical would stand if it were true: we can draw conclusions from a false proposition, etc.’ (Thus one can see that if ‘(x,φ).φx’ were true, this would contradict a proposition ‘ψa’).
That completely general propositions can be inferred from material propositions (i.e. that the former can stand in meaningful internal relations with the latter) shows that the completely general propositions of logic are logical constructions from situations (NB, pp.15-16).
Wednesday 21st October, 1914: In his diary, LW records that they have been told that they will be going back to Krakow, and that ‘that would not be disagreeable to me’. All day he has been in Sandomierz. He records having worked (on philosophy) with confidence, but being too tired in the evening, and prone to depression. ‘But take heart!’ he urges himself (GT1, S.46).
LW asks himself whether Russell’s definition of zero isn’t nonsensical. Can we speak of a class ẍ(x ≠ x) at all? Or even of a class ẍ(x = x)? Is either x ≠ x or x = x a function of x? Mustn’t 0 then be defined by means of the hypothesis (Ǝφ):(x) ∼φx? Something analogous would also hold of all the other numbers. This throws light on the whole question about the existence of numbers of things. He then defines:
0 = a {(Ǝφ):(x) ∼φx.a = û(φu)} Def.
1 = â {(Ǝφ)::(Ǝx).φx.φy.φz ⊃y = z:a = û(φu)} Def.
The proposition must contain (and thus show) the possibility of its truth, but not more than the possibility.
He remarks that he had thought that the possibility of the truth of the proposition φa was tied up with the fact (Ǝx,φ).φx, but this can’t be right since it’s impossible to see why φa should only be possible if there is another proposition of the same form. ‘Φa surely does not need any precedent’, since if there existed only the two elementary propositions ‘φa’ and ‘ψa’, but ‘φa’ was false, it should not make sense only if ‘ψa’ was true (NB, pp.16-17. See Potter, pp.110-111).
Thursday 22nd October, 1914: In his diary, LW records that the battles around Sandomierz continue, and that yesterday they heard cannonade. He notes that he did a lot of (philosophical) work, but that he had been standing all day (GT1, S.46).
LW notes that there must be something in the proposition that is identical with its reference, but that the proposition cannot be identical with its reference, so there must also be something else in it that’s not identical with its reference. (The proposition is a formation of the logical features of what it represents, plus other features, but these latter will be arbitrary and differ in different languages). So there must be different formations with the same logical features; what is represented will be one of these, and it will be the business of the representation to distinguish this one from other formations with the same logical features (since otherwise the representation would not be unambiguous). This latter part of the representation, the assignment of names, must take place by means of arbitrary stipulations. Every proposition must accordingly contain features with arbitrarily determined references.
He then notes, though, that ‘[i]f one tries to apply this to a completely generalized proposition, it appears that there is some fundamental mistake in it’.
The generality of completely generalized propositions is accidental generality. They deal with all the things that there happen to be, and hence they are material propositions (NB, p.17).
Friday 23rd October, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that he again had to go, in the morning, to Tarnobrzeg. He has done a lot of philosophical work, and worked hard, but still without success. In the evening he returns to Sandomierz. He recalls thinking a lot about his friend David Pinsent, and wonders ‘Will I see him again?’ (GT1, S.47).
LW fears that, although his seems to be the only possible theory of logical portrayal, there is an insoluble contradiction in it.
If completely generalized propositions are not completely ‘dematerialized’ (shorn of material content?), then propositions do not get dematerialized through generalization at all, as he used to think.
Whether something is asserted of a particular thing, or of all the things there are, the assertion is equally material.
‘All things’ is, as it were, a description taking the place of ‘a and b and c’.
He contemplates the possibility that signs are just as indeterminate as the world they mirror.
‘In order to recognize the sign in the sign we have to attend to the use’.
Trying to express what we express by means of ‘(x).φx’ by prefixing an index to ‘φx’, saying ‘Gen.φx’, for example, is inadequate, since we should not know what is being generalized.
It would be just as inadequate if we tried to show it by means of an index to the ‘x’, e.g., by saying ‘φ(xG), since we could not settle the identity of the variables.
LW concludes that all these methods of symbolizing are inadequate because they don’t have the necessary logical properties. They lack the power to portray the requisite sense in the proposed way (NB, pp.17-18).
Saturday 24th October, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that he slept badly, due to his not being able to move enough. His commanding officer he finds arrogant and rude, since he ‘treats everyone as his servant’. This afternoon he goes back to Tarnobrzeg, where the crew of the Goplana stay the night. He reports doing a lot of (philosophical) work, still without success, but with great confidence. ‘Now I lay siege to my problem’ (GT1, S.47).
LW notes that to be able to frame a statement at all we must, in some sense, know how things stand if the statement is true, and that is just what we portray.
‘The proposition expresses what I do not know; but what I must know in order to be able to say it at all, I shew in it’.
Definitions are tautologies – they show internal relations between their two terms (NB, p.18).
Ludwig von Ficker visits Kracow (staying there until Monday 26th Oct), and there meets “an officer who described an exciting philosophical conversation with Wittgenstein which took place on the deck of the Goplana while Wittgenstein peeled potatoes” (Janik in Luckhardt, p.168).
Sunday 25th October, 1914: In his private diary, LW reports going to Sandomierz again in the morning. Yesterday evening, he says, they got ‘the nonsensical news that Paris had fallen’, on receiving which he recalls being pleased, ‘until I learned of the impossibility of the message’. He then muses on feeling, ‘more than ever’, ‘the terrible sadness of our - the German, race. Because it seems to me as good as certain that we cannot prevail against England. The Englishman - the best breed in the world - cannot lose! But we can lose and will lose if not this year, then next! The thought that our race is to be defeated, depresses me terribly, because I am completely German!’
At this point, LW’s diary entry breaks off when he hears Russian rifle fire. After this alarm he begins again: ‘God be with me! --- It was nothing more than a Russian aeroplane’. He records having worked a lot (on philosophy), and that they are staying the night in Tarnobrzeg to continue onward tomorrow morning to Stutzin. [He means Szczucin] By noon, he records, his depression returned (or intensified) (GT1, SS.47-49).
LW asks himself why he never investigates an individual sign in order to find out how it is a logical portrayal.
‘The completely analysed proposition must image its reference’.
He notes that the difficulty he is concerned with starts from the fact that the completely generalized proposition doesn’t appear to be complex.
It doesn’t appear, like all other propositions, to consist of components which symbolize arbitrarily, united in a logical form. It appears not to have a form, but to be a form, complete in itself.
Of logical constants one need never ask whether they exist, since they can even vanish!
He asks himself why ‘φ(ẍ)’ should not image how (x).φx is the case, whether it depends only on how that sign images something.
He supposes that, if one wanted to represent four pairs of men fighting, one could do so by representing only one such pair and saying: ‘That’s how all four pairs look’. This appendix to the diagram would determine the kind of representation being given. (And similarly (x).φx he represents by means of ‘φ(ẍ)’).
He then reminds himself that there are no hypothetical internal relations. If we’re given a structure, and a structural relation to it, there must be another structure with that relation to the first one. (This is involved in the nature of structural relations).
This, he thinks, attests to the correctness of the remark above, stopping it from being an evasion (NB, pp.18-19).
Monday 26th October, 1914: In his private diary, LW says merely that they left Ksuzin [Szczucin] early, and that they were on the move all day. He reports having a headache and being tired, but nevertheless doing a lot of (philosophical) work (GT1, S.49).
LW notes that it looks as though the logical identity between sign and thing signified wasn’t necessary, but only an internal, logical relation between them. (Such a relation’s holding would in a certain sense incorporate the holding of a fundamental (internal) identity).
The point, he declares, ‘is only that the logical part of what is signified should be completely determined just by the logical part of the sign and the method of symbolizing: sign and method of symbolizing together must be logically identical with what is signified’.
‘The sense of the proposition is what it images’ (NB, p.19).
Tuesday 27th October, 1914: In his diary, LW writes that they moved towards Szczucin early. He notes that he did a lot of (philosophical) work, and that in the night he was on guard duty. (GT1, S.49).
LW notes that ‘x = y’ is not a propositional form. He also notes that this has consequences.
It’s clear that ‘aRa’ would have the same reference as ‘aRb.a = b’, so in a completely analysed notation the pseudo-proposition ‘a = b’ would disappear. This he deems to be the best proof of the correctness of the above remark.
The difficulty of his theory of logical portrayal he now claims to be that of finding a connection between the signs on paper and a situation [Sachverhalt] outside in the world.
He had always said that truth is a relation between the proposition and the situation, but he had been unable to pick out such a relation.
Representing the world by means of completely generalized propositions might be called the impersonal representation of the world.
How does such a representation of the world take place?
The proposition [Satz] is a model [Modell] of reality as we imagine it (NB, pp.19-20).
Wednesday 28th October, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that both morning and afternoon he has been almost incapable of working because of very great fatigue, having hardly slept at all in the night. ‘Most of the crew was drunk, so my guard duty was quite unpleasant’. They travelled early to Sandomierz, but on the way the Goplana broke a paddle wheel, so now needs to be towed to Krakow by another vessel. He reports that he received a lot of mail today, including the sad news that his brother Paul had been seriously wounded and is in Russian captivity. ‘Poor, poor Mama’, he exclaims.
He also got friendly letters from von Ficker and Jolles, plus a letter from Norway, in which Drägde (the person building his hut, presumably) asks him for 1000 crowns. ‘But can I send him that?’, he asks himself, ‘now that Norway has joined our enemies!!!’ [This was an error: Norway remained neutral in World War I] Again and again I have to think of poor Paul, who has come so suddenly to his profession! How terrible’. He notes that he did not work much, but ends ‘Thy will be done’ (GT1, SS.49-51. See Waugh, p.79).
In his notebook, LW notes that what the pseudo-proposition ‘There are n things’ tries to express shows in language by the presence of n proper names with different references.
Completely general propositions do indeed in a sense describe structural properties of the world. Nevertheless they can still be true or false. ‘According as they make sense the world still has that permanent range’.
The truth or falsehood of every proposition makes some difference to the general structure of the world. The range which is left to its structure by the TOTALITY of all elementary propositions is just the one bounded by the completely general propositions (NB, p.20).
Thursday 29th October, 1914: In his diary, LW records that they are on the way to Krakow, but have stopped because their tug had to return to Sandomierz. So they are waiting until it comes back. In the morning he had headaches and fatigue, but thought a lot about his brother Paul. He worked a lot, though, and is still ‘besieging’ his problem. He considers that now he sees ‘as clearly and calmly as in the best of times. If only I could solve all the essentials this time!!’ (GT1, S.51).
LW notes that ‘if an elementary proposition is true, at any rate one more elementary proposition is true, and conversely’.
For a proposition to be true it must first of all be capable of truth – that’s all that logic is concerned with.
The proposition must show what it tries to say. Its relation to its reference must be like that of a description to its subject.
However, the logical form of the situation cannot be described.
The internal relation between a proposition and its reference, the method of symbolizing, is the system of co-ordinates which projects the situation into the proposition. ‘The proposition corresponds to the fundamental co-ordinates’.
We might think of two co-ordinates, ap and bp, as a proposition which states that material point P can be found at place (ab). For such a statement to be possible, the co-ordinates a and b must really determine a place. ‘For a statement to be possible the logical co-ordinates must really determine a logical place!’.
LW then notes parenthetically that the world is the subject-matter of general propositions - it makes its appearance in them by means of a logical description. This is why the world doesn’t itself really occur in them, just as the subject of a description doesn’t occur in that description.
That the logical form of a proposition p must be present even if p isn’t the case shows symbolically through the fact that ‘p’ occurs in ‘∼p’.
He then declares that the difficulty is how there can be such a thing as the form of p if there is no situation of this form. What, in that case, does this form really consist in?
He concludes by noting that there are no such things as analytic propositions (NB, pp.20-21).
Friday 30th October, 1914: LW writes the final entry in the first of his ‘Geheime Tagebücher’ (private diaries), in which he records that he received a German newspaper today. ‘Not good news, which means as much as bad news! It's hard to work when such thoughts disturb one!! Have nevertheless worked in the afternoon. I often find it difficult that there is no-one here with whom I can express myself. But I want to gather ALL my forces for the offensive. (GT1, S.51). [The latter phrase (‘all my forces…’) is an allusion to Goethe’s poem ‘Cowardly thoughts, timid shaking’ (which was set to music by Johannes Brahms)]
But he also begins the second of his ‘Geheime Tagebücher’, recording in its first entry that in the evening he received ‘a very dear card from Frege’ (Frege’s postcard of 11th October), plus mail from Trakl, from Ficker, from his mother, from his aunt Clara, and from Mrs. Klingenberg (the wife of Hans Klingenberg, the postmaster in Skjolden, with whom LW had been lodging in October 1913). ‘This made me very happy. I did a lot of [philosophical] work’ (GT2, S.2). Trakl asks LW to visit him, and LW answers this card immediately, just as he is leaving on the Goplana for river-duty (Luckhardt, p.87; Janik in Luckhardt, p.168).
Having also completely filled his first wartime Notebook (which he’s writing on the other side of the page from his private diary entries), LW begins to write the second notebook (MS 102) of material that would eventually become the Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung (now published in Notebooks 1914-1916, pp.21-71).
In this notebook’s first entry, he first asks whether we could say that in ‘∼φ(x)’, ‘φx’ images how things are not.
‘Even in a picture we could represent a negative fact by representing what is not the case’.
If we admit these methods of representation, though, he wonders, what is really characteristic of the relation of representing?
He considers whether we could say: it’s just that there exist different logical co-ordinate systems!
There are different ways of giving a representation, even by means of a picture, and what represents isn’t merely the sign or picture but also the method of representation. ‘What is common to all representations is that they can be right or wrong, true or false’.
Then, the picture and the way of representing are completely outside what is represented!
The two together, the picture, and its particular way of representing, are true or false. (And this also holds for elementary propositions).
The fact that any proposition can be negated shows that ‘true’ and ‘false’ mean the same for all propositions. This, LW claims, is of the greatest possible importance (and he notes a contrast with Russell here).
The proposition’s reference must be fixed, as confirming or contradicting it, through it together with its method of representation.
Finally, he remarks that ‘In logic there is no side by side, there cannot be any classification’ (NB, pp.21-22).
Saturday 31st October, 1914: In his private diary entry, LW records that this morning they went back to Krakow. He worked all day, having ‘stormed’ the problem he is concentrating on. ‘But I would rather let my blood before this fortress, than depart empty-handed. A major difficulty is to keep the once-conquered fortress, until you can stay quietly in it. And not until the city has fallen, can you stay quietly in one of the forts’. In the evening he again works, but to no avail. They are staying tonight in Szczucin (GT2, SS.2-3).
LW notes that a proposition such as ‘(Ǝx, φ).φx’ is just as complex as an elementary proposition, and this becomes apparent from the fact that we have to mention ‘φ’ and ‘x’ explicitly in the brackets. The two stand independently in symbolizing relations to the world, just as in the case of an elementary proposition ‘ψa’.
He then asks himself whether it isn’t thus: the logical constants signalize the way in which the elementary forms of the proposition represent.
The proposition’s reference must be fixed as confirming or contradicting it, by means of it and its way of representing. To do this it must be completely described by the proposition.
The proposition’s way of representing doesn’t portray – only the proposition is a picture.
Its way of representing determines how the reality has to be compared with the picture.
‘First and foremost the elementary propositional form must portray; all portrayal takes place through it’ (NB, p.22).
Sunday 1st November, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that in the morning they continued on to Krakow. He was on guard duty today, but worked in the night, although much of that work was still unsuccessful. ‘But I am not discouraged, because I have the main problem always in my sight’. Georg Trakl, he records, is in the Garrison Hospital in Krakow and asked LW to visit him. He hopes to meet him when he gets to Krakow – ‘Maybe it would be a great strengthening’ (GT2, SS.3-4).
LW notes that the representing relation, which holds between a proposition and its reference [Bedeutung], is readily confused with the truth relation. The former is different for different propositions, but the latter is one and the same for all propositions.
It does look as if ‘(x,φ).φx’ is the form of a fact φa.ψa.θc etc. (Just as, he had thought, (Ǝx).φx would be the form of φa).
But this, he then notes, ‘must be where my mistake is’.
He urges himself to examine the elementary proposition, asking himself what the form of ‘φa’ is and how it is related to ‘∼ φ(a)’.
‘That precedent to which we should always like to appeal must be involved in the sign itself’.
The proposition’s logical form must already be given by the forms of its component parts (and these parts have to do only with the sense of the proposition, not with their truth and falsehood).
Already within the form of the subject and the predicate there lies the possibility of the subject-predicate proposition, etc., but nothing about its truth or falsehood.
The picture [Bild] has whatever relation to reality it does have. The point is how it is supposed to represent. The same picture will agree or fail to agree with reality depending on how it is supposed to represent.
He then floats what he calls an analogy between a proposition and a description: a complex is congruent with a sign (as in representation by a map). However, that a particular complex is congruent with that sign (or anything of that kind) cannot be said, instead it shows. For this reason, he notes, the description ‘assumes a different character’.
Before we can compare reality with the proposition in order to see whether the proposition is true or false, its method of portrayal must be completely determinate. Before one can make that comparison, the method of comparison must be given.
Whether a proposition is true or false is something that has to appear. But we must know in advance how it will appear.
The fact that two people are not fighting can be represented by representing them as not fighting, but also by representing them as fighting and saying that this picture shows how things are not. We could represent by means of negative facts just as much as by means of positive ones. What we want, though, is to investigate the principles of representing as such.
The proposition “‘p is true” has the same reference as the logical product of ‘p’ and a proposition “‘p’” which describes the proposition ‘p’, and a correlation of the components of the two propositions. The internal relations between proposition and reference are portrayed by means of the internal relations between ‘p’ and “‘p’”. (However, LW then notes parenthetically that this is a bad remark).
He then urges himself not to get involved in partial problems, but to always ‘take flight to where there is a free view [freien Überblick] over the whole single great problem, even if this view is still not a clear one’.
To say that a situation is thinkable, or imaginable, means that we can make ourselves a picture of it.
The proposition must determine a logical place.
The existence of this place is guaranteed by the existence of the proposition’s component parts alone, by the existence of the significant [sinnvoll] proposition.
If we suppose that there is no complex in a particular logical place, there is one then that is: not in that logical place (NB, pp.22-24).
Monday 2nd November, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that they went early to Krakow, and that he is feeling ‘sensual’ again. In the evening, though the Goplana got stuck on a sand-bar. ‘It is bitterly cold. It’s really fortunate that you have yourself and can always escape. Worked a lot. The grace of work!!’ (GT2, S.4).
LW notes that in a tautology the conditions of agreement with the world (its truth-conditions, or representing relations) cancel one another out, with the effect that it does not stand in any representing relation to reality, and thereby it says nothing.
a = a is not a tautology in the same sense as p ⊃ p.
A proposition’s being true doesn’t consist in its having a particular relation to reality, but in its really having a particular relation.
He then asks himself whether it isn’t thus: false propositions do make sense, like true ones, and independently of their falsehood or truth, but false propositions have no reference? (He does wonder whether here there is not a better use of the term ‘reference’ [Bedeutung] (See Potter, p.132)).
He considers whether we could say: as soon as subject and predicate are given, a relation which will exist or not exist between a subject-predicate proposition and its reference is given. As soon as one really knows subject and predicate, one can also know about this relation, which is an indispensable presupposition even for the subject-predicate proposition’s being false (NB, p.24).
Tuesday 3rd November, 1914: In his diary entry, LW remarks that he has heard that the Russians have advanced again and are now 20 km from ‘Opakowiz’ [the town in question here was called Opatowka (now Opatow)] – his own company being 10 km from that same town. ‘What will happen to me if I get to Krakow?!?’, he wonders. He notes that he worked almost all day, and that he can hear the thunder of cannons and see the explosions (GT2, SS.4-5). [Opatow is about 20km northwest of Sandomierz, and in the three-day battle there, Viktor Dankl, the commander of Austria-Hungary’s First Army (the force of which LW is a member), lost forty thousand troops (Wawro, p.285)]
LW notes that in order for it to be possible for a negative situation [negativen Sachverhalt] to exist, the picture of the corresponding positive situation must exist.
Knowledge of the representing relation [darstellenden Relation] must be founded only on knowledge of the component parts of the situation!
Would it then be possible to say that knowledge of the subject-predicate proposition, and of subject and predicate, gives us knowledge of an internal relation, etc.?
This suggestion he considers not strictly correct, since we don’t need to know any particular subject or predicate.
He then asks himself how it is evident that we feel the elementary proposition to be a picture of a situation.
Mustn’t the possibility of the representing relation be given by the proposition itself?
The proposition itself divides what’s congruent with it from what’s not congruent. If the proposition is given, for example, together with congruence, then the proposition is true if the situation is congruent with it. Alternatively: if the proposition and non-congruence are given, the proposition is true if the situation isn’t congruent with it. (See Potter, p.230, on this).
How, though, he asks, are we given congruence, non-congruence, or the like? How can one be told how a proposition represents? Or can this not be said at all? And if it cannot be said, how can I ‘know’ it? If it was supposed to be said to me, this would have to be done by means of some proposition, but the proposition could only show it.
‘What can be said can only be said by means of a proposition, and so nothing that is necessary for the understanding of all propositions can be said’.
The arbitrary correlation of sign and thing signified which is a condition of the possibility of propositions, and which, LW reports, he has found lacking in the completely general propositions, occurs there by means of the generality notation, just as in the elementary proposition it occurs by means of names. (Since the generality notation doesn’t belong to the picture). Thus arises the constant feeling that generality makes its appearance quite like an argument.
Only finished propositions can be negated (similarly for all ab-functions (i.e. truth-functions)).
A proposition is a logical picture of a situation.
Negation pertains to the finished sense of the negated proposition, not to its way of presenting.
If a picture presents what isn’t the case, this happens only via its presenting that which is not the case. For the picture says, ‘This is how it is not’, and to the question ‘How is it not?’, the answer is just the positive proposition.
LW then considers whether one might say: the negation refers to the very same logical place which is determined by the negated proposition.
But he immediately warns himself not to ‘lose the solid ground on which you have just been standing!’. The negated proposition determines a different logical place from the negated proposition.
It not only draws a boundary between the negated domain and the rest, it actually points to the negated domain.
The negating proposition uses the logical place of the proposition it is negating to determine its own logical place, by describing the latter as the place that is outside the former.
A proposition is true when what it images exists (NB, pp.24-26).
Wednesday 4th November, 1914: In his diary entry, LW remarks that the night was quiet, and that he worked a lot. He expects to be in Krakow tomorrow, but has heard that Krakow will probably be besieged by the Russians. ‘I will need a lot of force to preserve the Spirit’, he remarks, and urges himself not to depend on what is outer, even though ‘it is easier to be dependent on things than people’ (GT2, SS.5-6).
LW asks how the proposition determines the logical place, and how a picture presents a situation. After all, the picture isn’t itself the situation, which need not be the case at all.
‘One name is representative of one thing, another of another thing, and they themselves are connected; in this way – like a tableau vivant – the whole images the situation’.
The logical connection must be one that is possible between the things that the names stand for, and this will always be the case if the names really do stand for the things. N.B. that connection isn’t itself a relation but the holding of a relation (NB, p.26).
Thursday 5th November, 1914: The Austrian army being in retreat under the advance of the Russians, the Goplana makes its way back to Krakow from its river-duty (Monk, p.119; Janik in Luckhardt, p.168).
In his diary entry, LW remarks that they made an early start for Krakow, where they expect to arrive late in the evening. ‘I'm very curious to see whether I will meet Trakl. I hope so. I miss a man with whom I can talk a little. It would strengthen me very much’. He notes that throughout the day he has been a little tired and inclined to depression, and that he didn’t work very much. Arriving in Krakow later this day, he notes that ‘It’s already too late to visit Trakl today. --- May the Spirit give me strength’ (GT2, SS.6-7).
Continuing yesterday’s notebook entry, LW begins by noting that ‘In this way the proposition represents the situation – as it were off its own bat’.
He then asks himself whether the whole problem he is concerned with isn’t contained in the thought that the connection of the propositional components must be possible for the represented things. How can a non-existent connection between objects be possible?
What ‘The connection must be possible’ means is that the proposition and the components of the situation must stand in a particular relation.
What’s required for a proposition to present a situation is only that the component parts of the proposition represent those of the situation, as well as that the former stand in a connection which is possible for the latter.
The propositional sign guarantees the possibility of the fact it presents (but it doesn’t guarantee that this fact actually obtains) – this also holds for general propositions. Since if the positive fact φa is given then so is the possibility of (x).φx, ∼(Ǝx).φx, ∼φa, etc. (All the logical constants are already contained in the elementary proposition).
‘That’, he remarks, ‘is how the picture arises’. To designate a logical place with the picture, we must attach to it a way of symbolizing.
So we might, for example, show by means of fencing puppets how not to fence (NB, pp.26-27. See also Potter, p.230).
Friday 6th November, 1914: In his diary, LW notes that after breakfast in the city (Krakow) he learned that Georg Trakl, who had been incarcerated in the military hospital there as a psychiatric patient, and who Ludwig von Ficker asked LW to visit, died a few days ago. (Trakl committed suicide, by taking an overdose of cocaine, two or three days before (Monk, p.119; Kanterian, p.59; Janik in Luckhardt, p.168)). ‘This hit me very strongly. How sad, how sad!!! I wrote about it immediately to Ficker’. The rest of the day he spent doing errands, then boarded the Goplana again at 6 pm. He notes that he did no (philosophical) work. ‘Poor Trakl. --- Thy will be done’ (GT2, S.7).
In his notebook, continuing his reflections from the previous day, LW remarks that the same is the case with ∼φa, although the picture deals with what shouldn’t happen instead of with what doesn’t happen.
That we can in turn negate a negated proposition shows that what is negated is already a proposition and not merely the preliminary to one.
He asks himself whether one could say, of a picture, that we cannot tell whether it is right or not until we know what it is supposed to say.
‘The picture must now in its turn cast its shadow on the world’ (NB, p.27).
Saturday 7th November, 1914: In his private diary entry, LW recalls that yesterday at 9 pm he suddenly got the command to work on another ship, operating its spotlight. So he had to get up early (3:30 am) to light it up, and is therefore very tired. He spent the afternoon in the city on errands. The siege of Krakow is now fully expected. He decides to try to ‘get away from my ship’. He has not done any (philosophical) work. ‘I long for a decent man, because here I am SURROUNDED BY indecency. May the Spirit not leave me, but resist in me’ (GT2, SS.7-8).
In one of his shortest notebook entries, LW remarks that spatial place and logical place agree in both being the possibility of an existence (NB, p.27).
Sunday 8th November, 1914: In his diary entry, LW reports that he isn’t quite in the frame of mind for (philosophical) work, although he has read a lot. Last night he was on guard duty, and hardly did any (philosophical) work. ‘I'm a little worried about my future’, he notes (GT2, S.9).
LW notes that ‘What can be confirmed by experiment, in propositions about probability, cannot possibly be mathematics’. Probability propositions, he remarks, are ‘abstracts of scientific laws’, generalizations which express an incomplete knowledge of those laws.
So, for example, if one draws black and white balls out of an urn one cannot say before drawing one whether one whether it will be black or white, not being well enough acquainted with the natural laws in question, but all the same one does know that if the urn contains as many black balls as white ones the number of black balls drawn will approach the number of white balls drawn as the drawing is continued – one does know the natural laws as accurately as this (NB, pp.27-28).
Monday 9th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW remarks that he has again eavesdropped on a conversation between his own commanding officers and another officer: ‘What common voices. Yelling all the wickedness of the world. Meanness, wherever I look. NO feeling, as far as my eye can see !!!’.
He notes that he has received a very nice card from his Uncle Paul, which should refresh and strengthen him. But he [LW] lives in fear of the future, and is much concerned with ‘the indecency of my surroundings’, which wounds him in the heart. He notes that he only rarely and temporarily feels like working. The Russians, he remarks, are quickly advancing towards Krakow, and the entire civilian population must leave the city. ‘Our cause seems to me very bad! God help me!!!’ (GT2, SS.9-11).
Continuing his thought from yesterday, LW notes that what one knows when one knows a probability statement are certain general properties of ungeneralized propositions of natural science, such as their symmetry in certain respects, asymmetry in others, etc.
He compares puzzle pictures with ‘the seeing of situations [Sachverhalten]’, and then remarks that ‘It has been what I should call my strong scholastic feeling that has occasioned my best discoveries’.
‘p’ and ‘∼p’ contradict one another, and cannot be true together, but one can express both, both pictures exist, and are to be found side-by-side.
Or rather ‘p’ and ‘∼p’ are like a picture and the infinite plane outside it. (Logical place). One can construct that infinite space only by using the picture to bound it (NB, p.28).
Tuesday 10th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW remarks that he has done a bit more (philosophical) work again and is in a better mood. Today he learnt that he could send mail to England via Switzerland, so he decides that, first thing tomorrow, he will write to David Pinsent and maybe to Russell. Or maybe he will do so today. ‘I hope I can now work better again!’ (GT2, S.12).
LW asks himself whether, when one says ‘p is possible’, this means that ‘p’ makes sense. Is the former proposition about language, so that the existence of a propositional sign (‘p’) is essential for its sense? Or doesn’t it instead try to say what ‘p v ∼p’ shows?
He then asks himself whether his ‘study of sign language’ [Studium der Zeichensprache] corresponds to the study of thought-processes, which philosophers have always taken to be so essential for philosophy of logic. Those philosophers, he reckons, ‘always got involved in inessential psychological investigations’, but he notes that there is an analogous danger with his own method (NB, p.28).
Wednesday 11th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW recalls that today he received a nice letter from Ficker, and that he has done quite a lot of (philosophical) work. However, he and his fellow soldiers have already heard the thunder of cannon. He notes that he has sent a letter to David [Pinsent]. ‘How often I think of him! Does he think half as much of me? In a better mood today’ (GT2, SS.12-13).
In the final part of the final entry of his diary pertaining to LW (written in early December), David Pinsent notes that he has received another letter from him, from Krakau, dated this day. This letter had been sent via the international committee of the Red Cross, in Geneva. Pinsent notes that LW seems to be in the artillery and quartered in Krakau. In this letter, LW says he has done a lot of work on Logic since the war began, and prays that they may meet again some day. (They never did, since Pinsent died in May 1918). Pinsent records that he has written three letters to LW in answer to LW’s two, but does not know whether any of them have reached him (Pinsent, pp.91-2).
In his Notebooks, LW notes that since ‘a = b’ isn’t a proposition, nor ‘x = y’ a function, a class ‘ẍ (x = x)’ is a chimera, just as much as the so-called null class. (He reports that wherever such identities were used in the construction of sentences, one had the feeling that one was only getting out of a difficulty by means of a swindle, as if one said that ‘a exists’ means ‘(Ǝx)x = a’ (there is something, x, which is identical with a)).
However, he then admonishes himself, saying ‘This is wrong: since the definition of classes itself guarantees the existence of the real functions’.
When one appears to be asserrting a function of the null class, one is saying that this function is true of all functions that are null – and one can say that even if no function is null.
He asks whether x ≠ x. ≡ φx is identical with (x). ∼φx, and answers that it certainly is.
‘The proposition points to the possibility that such and such is the case’ (NB, pp.28-29).
Thursday 12th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW begins by urging himself not to lose himself, to live piously, and to do no injustice. There is, he records, talk of a 6-7 month siege (of Krakow), all the shops being already closed, and open only for a very short time. The more serious the situation is, the worse the NCOs (non-commissioned officers) get. Every word that you hear now is a rudeness, decency being worthwhile no longer. ‘It's all very sad’. LW notes that he spent the afternoon in the city, and did quite a lot of work, ‘but without any real clarity of vision!’. ‘Will I still continue to work?’, he wonders, ‘Or is the curtain falling already??’ (GT2, SS.13-14).
LW notes that a negation is a description in the same sense as the elementary proposition itself.
We might call the truth of a proposition possible, that of a tautology certain, and that of a contradiction impossible. This LW regards as a hint of a gradation needed in the probability calculus.
Within a tautology an elementary proposition still portrays, but it is so loosely connected with reality that reality has unlimited freedom. Contradiction, though, imposes constraints so strict that no reality can exist under them.
It is as if the logical constants projected the picture of the elementary proposition onto reality – which may then accord with this projection or not.
All logical constants must occur in the simple proposition, but its own peculiar proto-picture must also occur there, whole and undivided. (This is the first occurrence in the Notebooks of the notion of a proto-picture, which will feature over the next few weeks).
He asks himself whether in that case the picture is not the simple proposition, but rather its prototype, which must occur in the proposition. This prototype would not actually be a proposition (although it would have the Gestalt of a proposition), and might correspond to Frege’s ‘assumption’ [Annahme].
Then the proposition would consist of proto-pictures, projected onto the world (NB, pp.29-30).
Friday 13th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that all morning he worked in vain endeavors, since the clear vision he is seeking has eluded him. He has been thinking a lot about his life, and wonders whether this is also a reason why he can’t work, or whether it might be vice versa. He muses on his fellow ship-mates: ‘I cannot associate with them, because I lack the meanness that’s necessary to do so’. However, he does not find this distancing easy, since his own habit of being friendly and talking to people is so strong. Today he is on night duty. He now goes every evening to a café, where he considers that ‘the decent atmosphere makes me feel good’, to drink two glasses of coffee. He reports that he had only worked a little today. ‘God give me reason and strength!!!’ he ends (GT2, SS.14-16).
‘In this work more than any other it is rewarding to keep on looking at questions, which one considers solved, from another quarter, as if they were unsolved’, LW notes (NB, p.30).
Saturday 14th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW reports being thoroughly depressed ‘i.e., I lack at least every joy of life. And each loud word I hear, hurts me. For no reason!!!’ He did very little (philosophical) work today, being very tired during the day, severely depressed in the afternoon, and too tired to work (GT2, SS.16-17).
LW encourages himself to think of the representation of negative facts by means of models [Modelle]. That two railway trains must not stand on the rails in such-and-such a way, for example. ‘The proposition, the picture, the model are – in the negative sense – like a solid body restricting the freedom of movement of others; in the positive sense, like the space bounded by solid substance, in which there is room for a body’.
He diagrams this for himself (as one filled rectangle within an empty space, alongside one empty rectangle within a completely filled space) and remarks of this image that is is very clear and must lead to the solution (NB, p.30).
Sunday 15th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that heis currently reading Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essays. ‘Maybe they will have a good influence on me’, he hopes. Finally he notes that he has done quite a lot of (philosophical) work (GT2, S.17).
LW’s notebook entry is headed ‘Projection of the picture onto reality’, and he diagrams this with two horizontal lines, the upper representing reality, the lower representing a model or picture of it. On the upper line there is a point marked with a cross, alongside a different point designated a. Between this and the lower line a correspondence is drawn in, connecting a point designated ‘a’ on the lower line and (not, as one might have expected, the point a on the upper line, but) the cross on the upper line. Below his diagram LW notes in parentheses ‘Maxwell’s method of mechanical models’.
He then urges himself not to worry about what he has already written, but to constantly begin thinking anew as if nothing at all had yet happened (See Potter, p.111).
He wonders how he can get an exact grasp on the shadow which the picture, as it were, casts upon the world. This he declares to be a deep mystery [ein tiefes Geheimnis], the mystery of negation, in which we can say how things are not, even though this is not how things are.
The proposition, he remarks, is only the description of a situation. But he adds immediately in parentheses that all this is still only on the surface, and then tells himself that ‘a single insight at the start is worth more than ever so many somewhere in the middle’ (NB, pp.30-31).
Monday 16th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that it is now winter. He is exercised by the question of what happens to the crew of the Goplana now that the order has gone out that ships are not to be used over the winter. ‘What will become of me?? We hear heavy gunfire from the front’, he records. Yesterday, though, he received a friendly card from von Ficker. This evening was spent in the city. He notes that he didn’t do a lot of work. ‘Again, no clarity of vision, although I obviously stand so close before the solution of the deepest questions that I almost hit my nose on it!!! […] I feel that I am standing at the gate, but I cannot see clearly enough to open it. This is an extremely strange state, for I have never felt as clear as now’ (GT2, SS.18-19).
LW writes a postcard to von Ficker from the Goplana, telling him that he has been informed that Trakl had died from a heart attack, reporting that he had been deeply moved by this news, and explaining the sequence of his contacts with Trakl (Luckhardt, p.87).
In his notebook, LW notes the logical significance of the introduction of the sign ‘0’ in order to make the decimal notation possible (NB, p.31).
Tuesday 17th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW notes ‘how hard is it for people not to annoy me! How hard it is to tolerate. Whenever I work with the people here their meanness is so terrible that anger threatens to conquer and break me. Again and again I resolve to calmly tolerate and again I break my resolution. And as this is so, I don’t really know myself. It’s so hugely difficult to work with people and at the same time to have nothing to do with them’. In the afternoon, he records, he got a severe depression, ‘like a stone on my chest. Each duty is an unbearable burden’. Towards evening, though, ‘a little courage returned to my soul’. He reports that he did almost no (philosophical) work. Only in the evening did he find some inner peace. He then wonders whether this comes from the fact that in the evening he is looking forward to sleep? ‘Yes, today's depression was terrible!!!’ (GT2, SS.19-21).
LW asks himself what it means, supposing φa is true, to say that ∼φa is possible, and notes parenthetically that φa is equivalent in meaning to ∼(∼φa) (NB, p.31).
Wednesday 18th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW reports hearing more thunder from the front-line, as well as machine-gun fire and heavy artillery fire. He records feeling pleased that their commander is again being replaced by their Lieutenant. He notes that he has done quite a lot of (philosophical) work, and is in a good mood. However, he also notes that in his work there has been at a standstill, as he needs a major incident to move forward (GT2, S.22).
Continuing his thought from yesterday, LW tells himself that it is all simply a matter of the existence of the logical place. ‘But what the devil is this “logical place”?’, he then asks himself (NB, p.31).
Thursday 19th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW first reports that it's snowing, and remarks on how often he is in a depressed mood. All morning he worked on the Goplana, and in the afternoon the crew expected a General to visit, so there was much excitement. Again there has been fierce fighting near Krakow. Towards evening, he did some (philosophical) work (GT2, S.23).
LW answers his own question from yesterday (what is ‘logical place’?), saying that the logical place is the proposition and the logical co-ordinates (NB, p.31).
Friday 20th November, 1914: In his private diary entry, LW again reports hearing strong cannon-fire. He spent the afternoon at the ophthalmologist ‘because I suffer when on watch, with my bad eyes - will get glasses’. Tonight he will be on guard duty. He reports having worked a bit (on philosophy), but worries that ‘my future is still very uncertain. Tomorrow I'll probably talk to our commanders about what’s to become of me’ (GT2, SS.23-4).
Still continuing the theme of his recent thoughts, LW notes that the reality corresponding to the sense of the proposition can be nothing other than its component parts, since we are ignorant of everything else.
If the reality were to consist in anything else as well, this could in any case neither be denoted nor expressed, for in the former case it would be a further component, and in the latter case the expression would again be a proposition, for which the same problem would recur (NB, p.31).
Saturday 21st November, 1914: In his private diary, LW again reports hearing persistent cannon-fire - ‘almost continuous thunder from the front’. It is extremely cold, he notes, but he did some (philosophical) work. ‘However, I still cannot pronounce a liberating word. I walked around it around and am very close, but still I couldn’t grasp it!! I’m getting a little worried about my future because I’m not totally calm in myself’ (GT2, S.24).
LW asks himself what one really knows when one understands the sense of ‘φa’ but doesn’t know whether it is true or false. In that case, he remarks, surely one can know nothing more than φa v ∼φa, but that means that one knows nothing.
‘As the realities corresponding to the sense of a proposition are only its component parts, the logical co-ordinates too can only refer to these’ (NB, p.31).
Sunday 22nd November, 1914: In his private diary, LW reports that the cold is so grim that there is ice floating on the Vistula. More gunfire is being heard. He records that he had no good ideas, and was tired, so did little (philosophical) work. ‘The redeeming word was not pronounced. Yesterday it was at one point on the tip of my tongue. But then it slides back in. I’m in a mediocre mood. I want to go to sleep soon’ (GT2, SS.25).
LW decides that at this point (in his thoughts on propositions and their relation to reality) he again finds himself ‘trying to express something that cannot be expressed’ (NB, p.31).
Monday 23rd November, 1914: In his diary, entry, LW reports hearing more persistent fire. His company has received a telegram about river transport which means that he will soon have to make a decision. ‘My day passes now in reading and some work, which of course always sits with me in the cabin’. He spends every 4th or 5th day on guard duty ‘here and there peeling potatoes, doing coal accounts, and the like. Apart from the guard duty I have no specific work (the searchlight has hardly been needed for the last 1½ months)’. He therefore records feeling lazy, but also not at rest even during his free time, because ‘I feel I should work for the ship, but don’t know what to do. The best thing for me would be a regular job that I could accomplish easily and safely, because work that one can’t cope with is the worst. I will now try to speak with our commanders about a possible move’. Finally he records that he did work a bit (on philosophy), but without success (GT2, SS.25-7).
LW notes that although a proposition must point only to a region [Ort] of logical space, nevertheless the whole of logical space must already be given by means of it, otherwise new elements, in co-ordination, ‘would keep on being introduced by means of negation, disjunction, etc., which, of course, must not happen’ (NB, pp.31-32).
Tuesday 24th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW again records that it is grimly cold, and that the Vistula is completely covered with drifting ice. He wishes that he wasn’t here: ‘Here there’s an everlasting unrest, and nobody knows what to do. The NCOs are always vulgar, one encouraging the other to ever greater audacity. There are of course exceptions’. Last night he spent on guard duty, and worked a lot. Today, he reports, ‘von Ficker sent me a poem by poor Trakl, which I think is amazing, without understanding it. God be with me!’ (GT2, SS.27-8).
In his notebooks, LW introduces a new analogy, declaring that the proposition and the situation ‘are related to one another like the yardstick and the length to be measured’.
The fact that the proposition ‘φa’ can be inferred from the proposition ‘(x).φx’ shows how generality is present even in the sign ‘(x).φx’, and the same holds for any generality notation.
‘In the proposition we hold a proto-picture up against reality’.
LW notes parenthetically that when investigating negative facts, one feels as if they presuppose the existence of the propositional sign.
He then asks himself whether the sign of the negative proposition must be constructed by means of the sign of the positive one. And he notes that he believes that this is so.
He asks why one shouldn’t be able to express the negative proposition by means of a negative fact. It is as if one was to take the space outside the yardstick, instead of the yardstick itself, as the object of comparison.
He asks himself how the proposition ‘∼p’ really contradicts the proposition ‘p’. The internal relation of the two signs, he notes, must mean contradiction.
Finally, LW declares that whenever we have a negative proposition, it must be possible to ask what it is that isn’t the case. The answer to this question is in turn only a proposition, of course. (He notes that this remark is incomplete). (NB, p.32).
Wednesday 25th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that since yesterday afternoon they have been in the harbor, because the planned evacuation of the ship was blocked. And, he adds, ‘you must walk to a half-open latrine. It is very cold. This way of life is becoming unbearable. Just get out of here!’ Perhaps unsurprisingly, he records that he didn’t do a lot of (philosophical) work (GT2, SS.28-9).
Continuing yesterday’s thoughts about negative propositions, LW notes that the negative state of affairs that serves as a sign can perfectly well exist without a proposition that expresses it.
He then remarks that ‘in investigating these problems it’s constantly as if they were already solved’, but that this is an illusion arising from the fact that the problems often disappear from our view.
The question here, he notes, is whether the positive fact is primary, the negative one being secondary, or whether they are on the same level. If so, how is it with facts such as pvq, p⊃q? Aren’t they on the same level as ∼p? If so, all facts must be on the same level. The question he decides, is really whether there are facts besides the positive ones (it being difficult not to confuse what isn’t the case with what is the case instead of it).
All the ab-functions (truth-functions) are only so many different methods for measuring reality. But the methods of measurement by means of p and ∼p have some special advantage over the others.
LW notes that it is the dualism of positive and negative facts that gives him no peace, for there cannot be such a dualism. He asks himself how to get away from it. (See Potter, pp.144, 217).
This would all be solved, if we understood the nature of the proposition (NB, pp.32-33).
Thursday 26th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW again records hearing heavy cannon fire. Mostly, though, he muses on his situation vis-à-vis the philosophical problems he is wrestling with, assuring himself that hard problems must resolve themselves before us. He notes that he is ‘not in a position to take a continuous satisfactory position’ with respect to the problems in question. He notes that he worked a lot, but still without finding a position which would allow him to clarify matters. Rather, ‘everywhere I meet questions I cannot answer’. He worries about his intellectual fertility, and having the feeling that ‘the whole subject seems to retreat again into the distance’. The last 3-4 months, he records, have gone by ‘without a really great result! But we will see!’ He worries that he will have to sleep in the same place as all the other troops (‘God forbid!!’). ‘In any event, have the presence of mind not to lose! God will be with me!’ (GT2, SS.29-30).
LW asks himself whether, if all the positive statements about a thing are made, all the negative ones aren’t already made, too. That is the whole point, he declares.
He now decides that the dualism of positive and negative which he had feared doesn’t exist, for propositions like (x).φx are neither positive nor negative.
He asks himself whether, if the positive proposition doesn’t have to occur in the negative one, the proto-picture of the positive proposition must not at any rate occur there.
By distinguishing, as we do in any possible notation, between ∼aRb and ∼bRa we presuppose that in any notation there is a correlation in the negative proposition between its argument and its argument-place, this correlation giving the prototype of the negated positive proposition.
Is that correlation of the components of the proposition by means of which nothing is yet said the real picture in the proposition, then?
LW asks himself whether his lack of clarity here doesn’t rest on his lack of understanding of the nature of relations.
He then asks himself whether one can negate a picture [Bild], and declares immediately that one cannot. This is the difference between picture and proposition. The former can serve as a proposition, but when it does so something gets added to it which brings it about that it now says something. One can only deny [verneinen] that the picture is right, but the picture one cannot deny.
It is by correlating the components of the picture with objects that it comes to represent a situation, and to be right or wrong (a picture represents the inside of a room, for example) (NB, pp.33-34).
Friday 27th November, 1914: The entry in LW’s private diary reads simply ‘guard duty today’ (GT2, S.31).
LW notes that ‘∼p’ is true when p is false. So part of the true proposition ‘∼p’ is a false proposition. He asks himself how the mere twiddle ‘∼’ can bring it into agreement with reality. He reminds himself that he has already said (in this notebook entry for October 20th) that what is in question here it is not the twiddle alone but everything common to the different signs for negation. Obviously, what’s common to all these must proceed from the meaning of negation itself. So the sign of negation must surely thus mirror its own reference (NB, p.34).
Saturday 28th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that he did a lot of (philosophical) work yesterday, and that he was in the guards' office until noon. ‘I believe that I must perish with these raw and vicious people who are tamed by no danger, unless a miracle happens for me that gives me a lot more power and wisdom than I have now! I’m in fear of my future’. Today, he notes, he did little (philosophical) work. His diary entry ends with the invocation: ‘A miracle! A miracle’ (GT2, SS.31-2).
LW writes, from the Goplana, to von Ficker, expressing a wish to see him, and thanking him for having sent Trakl’s poems (Luckhardt, p.88), ‘The tone of this truly gifted man’ having entranced him.
In his notebook, he remarks that negation combines with the ab-functions (truth-functions) of the elementary proposition, and that ‘the logical functions of the elementary proposition must mirror their reference, just as much as all the others’ (NB, p.34).
Sunday 29th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW records only that he did quite a lot of (philosophical) work today (GT2, S.32).
LW notes that the ab-function (truth-function) doesn’t stop short of the elementary proposition, but penetrates it.
‘What can be shown cannot be said’.
It would be possible, he remarks, entirely to exclude the sign of identity from our notation, always indicating identity merely by the identity of signs (and conversely). In that case, φ(a,a) would not be a special case of (x,y).φ(x,y), and φa would not be a special case of (∃x,y).φx.φy. Instead of φx.φy⊃x = y one could simply write ∼(∃x,y).φx.φy.
By means of this notation, he declares, pseudo-propositions such as (x)x=a ‘would lose all appearances of justification’ (NB, p.34. See Potter, p.208).
Monday 30th November, 1914: In his diary, LW records that he talked with his commanding officer about whether he was being transferred. ‘In the event that we get winter quarters, he will make sure that I get my own room’. However, for the time being the Goplana’s searchlight may be needed again, so LW must remain here on board. This afternoon he spoke with an ammunitions worker about whether it might be possible for him to transfer to the balloon department. He told LW to speak to another ammunitions worker, Vlcek, about such a posting. He hopes to be able to do so. He notes that he has not done much (philosophical) work, and that he’s again feeling ‘somewhat sensual’. ‘Only take care of one's own spirit, and leave everything to God!’ (GT2, SS.33-4).
Tuesday 1st December, 1914: ‘So December already! And still no talk of peace’, writes LW in his private diary. Last night they heard violent cannonade and whizzing bullets. Also, a ship came down the Vistula which every day has a different crew on guard, ‘for example, tomorrow us! What will happen to me?! With these comrades and superiors!’. LW then reports that in the afternoon he went to look for the munitions worker Vlcek, but didn’t find him. LW then records that he has been appointed by the artillery staff department, and anticipates going there tomorrow after his guard duty. He notes that he has done very little (philosophical) work. The entry closes: ‘May the Spirit protect me, whatever happens!’ (GT2, S.35).
David Pinsent writes a letter to LW, in which he starts by saying how glad he was to have received a letter from him, which had been sent via Switzerland. Since the war began, Pinsent notes, he has received three of LW’s letters, and since September 1st has himself sent two, via a cousin of his who lives in Italy. He hopes LW will have received them, since he knows they have been forwarded from Italy. This letter, he is going to send via Switzerland.
Pinsent reports that he was in Cambridge about a month ago, for two nights, and that he saw Russell and G.H.Hardy, who both asked after LW. Pinsent told them what he knew of LW, and that he had joined the army as a volunteer.
Pinsent reports that he himself had tried to join the British army, but had been deemed not up to the medical stadard for a Private, being too thin, and was unable to get commissioned as an officer. So he has decided to go on as a civilian, ‘as usual’, reading Law.
Pinsent closes his letter by saying that he is thinking of LW often, and hoping all is well with him. ‘When this war is over we will meet each other again. Let’s hope it will be soon!’. After signing off ‘G’Dave’, he tells LW how glad he is that he (LW) has done mathematical work recently, relates that he wishes LW was here so they could talk about G’Log again, and remarks that ‘I think it was splendid of you to volunteer for the Army – though it is horribly tragic that it should be necessary’ (Pinsent, pp.98-99).
In his notebook entry for this day, LW notes that a proposition says, so to speak, ‘This picture cannot (or can) present a situation in this way’ (NB, p.34).
Wednesday 2nd December 1914: In his private diary, LW records that this afternoon he and his company are going to go on watch (on board the ship he mentioned yesterday, presumably). ‘Thank God it will be with our commander, so at least there will be a decent person there’. At night, he reports, they could hear terrible thunder from the front-line. And now at 8 a.m. it begins again. ‘Tonight we have to sleep in the open air. I probably will not be able to work. Only: don’t forget God’ (GT2, S.36).
LW notes that everything depends on settling ‘what distinguishes the proposition from the mere picture’ (NB, p.34).
Thursday 3rd December, 1914: In his diary, LW notes that he did no (philosophical) work, and that although he went through a lot today, he’s too tired to write it down (GT2, S.36).
Friday 4th December 1914: In his diary, LW records that the day before yesterday at the guard station nothing in particular happened, ‘except that I fell to the ground and am constantly lagging today’. From all sides, he reports, they are hearing violent cannonade – gun-fire, fires, etc.’ Last night, while on guard duty at the fortress because of his injury, when he heard that LW had studied mathematics, a Lieutentant asked LW to come with him (to work in an artillery workshop). [This was Leutnant Oskar Gürth, whose protégé LW is to become]. ‘He seems to be very nice. I agreed and was now reassigned from this vessel. I have a lot of hope’. LW reports that he spent the afternoon in the city, and did little work, that he was a little tired the whole day ‘because I slept very little last night. Early to bed!’ (GT2, SS.37-8).
LW remarks that the identity ∼∼p = p, together with others, determines the sign for p, since it says that there is something that ‘p’ and ‘∼∼p’ have in common. ‘Through this that sign acquires properties which mirror the fact that double negation is an affirmation’ (NB, pp.34-35).
Saturday 5th December 1914: In his private diary, LW notes that either tomorrow or the day after he will be leaving (for his new post), but that where he will live is not yet determined. He reports having not done much (philosophical) work, although he does not feel at a standstill. ‘Thinking a lot about lovely David! God bless him! And me!’ (GT2, S.38).
How, LW asks himself in his notebook entry, does ‘p v∼p’ say nothing? (NB, p.35).
Sunday 6th December 1914: In his diary entry, LW reports that last night the guns fired so close that the ship trembled. He records having done much (philosophical) work, with success. He doesn’t yet know when he will get off the Goplana, though. Tomorrow morning that ship has to patrol again, and LW worries that if he isn’t removed by then he will have to leave with it, which he feels will be embarrassing because his leg still isn’t recovered from the fall he had two days ago (GT2, S.39).
LW’s notebook entry for this day, one of the longest entries in his Notebooks, features material on mechanics which would later comprise some of the longest propositions of his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (6.341-6.343).
Monday 7th December 1914: In his private diary, LW records that his leg (which he injured last Friday) has got worse, and that he probably won’t go with the Goplana on patrol. He next writes that he has heard nothing about his move to the new post, but then records that he has just heard that he will leave for that posting tomorrow. He can’t go on guard duty because of his foot. He reports not having done a lot of (philosophical) work. ‘Everything is in God's hands’ (GT2, SS.39-40).
LW notes that ‘The logical constants of the proposition are the conditions of its truth’ (NB, p.36).
Tuesday 8th December 1914: In his private diary, LW records that this morning he had to attend a clinic because of his feet, and that the diagnosis was that he’d pulled a muscle. He reports that although he didn’t do a lot of work he bought volume 8 of Nietzsche’s Collected works (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nietzsche/ ), and was reading it [This volume of that edition of Nietzsche's work includes The Case of Wagner, Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche contra Wagner, and The Anti-Christ] LW notes that he is ‘strongly affected by Nietzsche’s hostility to Christianity’, but that his writings contain some truth. ‘Certainly’, he says, ‘Christianity is the only sure way to happiness. But what if one spurned this happiness?! Mightn’t it be better to perish in hopeless struggle against the external world, unhappy? Such a life is meaningless. But why not live a meaningless life? Is it worthy? As it is compatible with the strict solipsistic point of view? What must I do that my life is not lost to me? I must always be aware of the Spirit’ (GT2, SS.40-41).
LW remarks in his notebook entry that ‘Behind our thoughts, true and false, there is always to be found a dark background, which we are only later able to bring into the light and express as a thought’ (NB, p.36).
Wednesday 9th December, 1914: In his diary, LW reports that this morning he went to Headquarters with his sick note. He did no (philosophical) work. He ends the entry by recording again that although he experienced a lot today, he is too tired to write it down (GT2, S.42).
Thursday 10th December, 1914: In his diary, LW reports that yesterday afternoon he went to his new boss’s office, but had to wait a long time for him. ‘At last he came and immediately gave me a job. I had to compile a list of chainsaws in a barracks here. At the same time he invited me to his apartment for 8 p.m.; a Captain was there, he told me, and wants to see me’. When LW arrived there were four officers. ‘The Captain is an infinitely likeable man (and all the others were really kind). We talked to 10:30 and departed very cordially’. This morning, he records, he searched for and found lodgings, then spent 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the office. Then his things were taken from the Goplana to his new apartment: ‘a very nice room, not small. Alone in a real room for the first time in four months!! I enjoy that luxury’. He records that he didn’t do any (philosophical) work, although he will now be able to. ‘I’m very tired, because I'm running around very much. What grace to be allowed to sleep in a bed again! What grace of the facts’ (GT2, SS.42-4).
Bertrand Russell sends his letter ‘Possible Guarantees of Peace’ to The Economist for publication (Yours Faithfully, Bertrand Russell, pp.39-41).
Friday 11th December, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that he spent the morning in the office, writing. But he did no (philosophical) work. The Lieutenant, he reports, is extremely kind (GT2, S.44).
Saturday 12th December, 1914: In his diary, LW reports that he did a little (philosophical) work, and that he spent the whole day in the office, but had not much to do there. He hopes to work more tomorrow. Today, he also had a bath (GT2, SS.44-5).
LW notes that the conjunction of a proposition, p, and a tautology is identical with that proposition p itself, i.e. that a tautology says nothing (NB, p.36).
Sunday 13th December 1914: In his diary, LW reports that he worked all day at the office. ‘My thoughts are lame. I have muscle pain, and it's also as if my brain was limping. But I did some work. Still no answer from David! Did he receive my letter? Is he as affected by the war as I am?! Only the Spirit lives! It is the safe harbour, protected, away from the dreary and endless grey sea of events’ (GT2, S.45).
LW asks himself whether it exhausts the nature of negation that it is an operation that cancels itself. In that case, χ would have to stand for negation if χχp = p, as long as χp ≠ p.
It’s certain that according to these two equations χ can no longer express affirmation.
He wonders whether the capacity that these operations have of vanishing shows that they are logical (NB, p.36).
Monday 14th December, 1914: In his private diary, LW records that he spent all day at the office, that he did no (philosophical) work, but will do so again, and that he got a lovely message from Stanislaus Jolles (the Professor of mathematics with whom he had lodged while studying at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin, 1906-8) (GT2, S.45).
Tuesday 15th December 1914: In his diary, LW records again that he worked all day at the office, but did no (philosophical) work. ‘However, my thoughts are like in a train or on a ship, where one also thinks clumsily’ (GT2, S.46).
In his notebook entry, LW takes it to be obvious that we can introduce whatever we like as the written signs of the ab-function (truth-function), since the real sign will form itself automatically. When this happens, though, he wonders, what properties will be formed of themselves?
‘The logical scaffolding surrounding the picture (in the proposition) determines logical space’ (NB, p.36).
Wednesday 16th December 1914: In his diary, LW records that he spent all day at the office. He heard there that they are likely to move soon to Lodz. He records that he did some (philosophical) work, but with no real spirit (GT2, S.46).
‘The proposition must reach out through the whole of logical space’, he notes (NB, p.36).
Thursday 17th December 1914: ‘G.T.K’, LW notes in his diary [The abbreviation almost certainly means 'Ganzen Tag Kanzlei', i.e., he spent the whole day at the office] He didn’t work, and this annoyed him a lot. He had very little free time (GT2, S.46).
LW notes that the signs of the ab-function (truth-function) are not material, otherwise they could not vanish (NB, p.37. See Potter, p.173).
Friday 18th December 1914: LW’s diary entry reads simply ‘As usual. Didn’t work’ (GT2, S.47).
LW notes that it must be possible to distinguish just as much in the propositional sign as can be distinguished in the situation. Their identity consists in this (NB, p.37. See Potter, p.230).
Saturday 19th December, 1914: In his diary, LW records only that he did a little bit of (philosophical) work (GT2, S.47).
Sunday 20th December 1914: In his diary, LW records that he did a little (philosophical) work, was at the office until almost 5 p.m., then in the city. He reports having the pleasant feeling of a little chill running down one’s back, when one becomes conscious in one’s solitude of being in a good mood (GT2, S.47).
LW remarks that in ‘p’ neither more nor less can be recognized than in ‘∼p’.
He asks, therefore, how a situation can agree with ‘p’ and not with ‘∼p’.
One might also, he notes, ask the following question: if one person was to try to invent Language in order to make himself understood to someone else, what sort of rules should they have to agree on about their expression? (NB, p.37).
Monday 21st December, 1914: In his diary, LW records excitedly that he received a letter from David Pinsent [This was a letter dated December 1st] ‘He sent me kisses, and I replied with the same. Worked a little’ (GT2, S.47).
Tuesday 22nd December, 1914: LW’s diary entry notes that he didn’t do any (philosophical) work, but went to the office for 6 a.m., and that he bathed in the evening (GT2, SS.47-8).
Wednesday 23rd December, 1914: Gottlob Frege writes the second of his known Feldpostkarte to LW, from Jena (Janik 1989, p.9).
LW notes what he calls ‘a characteristic example for my theory of the significance of descriptions in physics’ (see the above entry for December 6th): the two theories of heat (conceived of as one time as stuff, at another time as movement) (NB, p.37).
Thursday 24th December, 1914: In his diary, LW records ‘Today, to my great joy I was promoted to Militärbeamter [military official] (without stars)’. But he did no (philosophical) work (GT2, S.48, Monk, p.123, Waugh, p.101).
Around this time: having been given his new post in an artillery workshop, LW writes, from Kracow, to von Ficker, telling him he has been transferred from the Goplana and that he is now a warrant officer with the Artillery Motor Detachment (Monk, p.120; Luckhardt, p.88).
Friday 25th December 1914: LW writes to Russell, thanking him for his letter of 28th July, but finding it inconceivable that Moore had not been able to explain LW’s ideas to Russell. He mentions that if he should not survive the war, the first two of his 1914-1916 Notebooks will be sent to Russell, but that if he should survive it, he would like to come to England to explain his work to Russell. He thanks Russell for sending him his article ‘The Relation of Sense-Data to Physics’ (which had been published that July), but does not comment on it, having not yet read it (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, pp.76-7).
LW records in his diary that he had lunch in the officers’ mess, and that he did some (philosophical) work (GT2, S.48).
In his notebook, LW remarks that ‘The proposition says something, is identical with: It has a particular relation to reality, whatever this may be’. If this reality and that relation are given, then the sense of the proposition is known. ‘pvq’ has a different relation to reality from ‘p.q’, etc.
The possibility of the proposition, he notes, is founded on the principle of signs GOING PROXY for objects.
So in the proposition something has something else as its proxy. But there is also the common cement.
LW then declares that his ‘fundamental thought’ is that ‘the logical constants are not proxies. That the logic of the fact cannot have anything as its proxy’ (NB, p.37. See Potter, p.61).
Saturday 26th December, 1914: In his diary, LW records that he did almost no (philosophical) work, although he made the acquaintance of a young man who went to high school in Lvov, and now is a chauffeur in Kracow. He notes that he spent the evening with this man in a café, and had a good time (GT2, S.48).
Sunday 27th December, 1914: In his diary, LW reports that he didn’t do any (philosophical) work. However, he was appointed as Lieutenant Gürth’s adjutant (administrative assistant) (GT2, S.48).
Around this time: LW writes to Keynes, from his artillery workshop, acknowledging a letter that Keynes had sent him. He asks Keynes to give his love to W.E.Johnson, and assures Keynes that the money he has been trying to give to Johnson (or perhaps the latest installment of the money which he has been giving to Johnson?) will be sent to the registry as soon as the war is over (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, p.77; McGuinness, p.99).
Monday 28th December, 1914: LW records in his diary that he was in the office until 10 p.m., and that he didn’t do any (philosophical) work, since he was ‘VERY busy’ (GT2, S.49).
Tuesday 29th December 1914: LW reports in his diary that he did a little bit of (philosophical) work, but that he also had a lot of other things to do. In the evening, he says, he had a bath (GT2, S.49).
LW notes that ‘In the proposition the name goes proxy for the object’ (NB, p.37).
Wednesday 30th December, 1914: LW’s diary entry records that he did no (philosophical) work. ‘Just don’t get lost’, he urges himself (GT2, S.49).
Thursday 31st December, 1914: LW accompanies his superior officer, Oberleutnant Gürth, on a ten-day visit to Vienna (Monk, p.123). (See forthcoming diary entry, Saturday 2nd January).
Saturday 2nd January, 1915: In his diary, LW records that the day before yesterday he suddenly learned that he would be going with his commanding officer to Vienna. They arrived in Vienna yesterday morning, to his mama’s ‘highest surprise and delight’. Yesterday he did no (philosophical) work, but just devoted himself to his family. This morning, he ran errands. Now, he is expecting Gürth for lunch (GT2, SS.49-50).
Sunday 3rd January, 1915: In his diary, LW reports that he spent yesterday afternoon first with his commanding officer, Gürth, in Klosterneuburg, and then with his own mama at home (GT2, S.50).
Monday 4th January, 1915: LW spends the day with the composer Josef Labor, at Labor’s flat in Vienna (Monk, p.125). (Labor (1842-1924), the blind organist and composer, was a friend of the Wittgenstein family). He also writes a letter to David Pinsent (see the reference in Pinsent’s letter of January 14th (Pinsent, p.99)).
Tuesday 5th January, 1915: LW is still spending time with Josef Labor, while Labor composes a piano concerto for the left hand for LW’s brother, Paul (Waugh, p.90).
Wednesday 6th January, 1915: In his diary, LW records that this morning he (and Oberleutnant Gürth, presumably) drove back from Vienna (to Kracow). He had spent Monday and Tuesday with Josef Labor. Yesterday, he spent with Gürth in Wiener Neustadt (a city south of Vienna). On the way back, in Mödling (a district south of Vienna), they ate with a Captain Roth, who LW found so ‘terribly unappealing’ that he left went right after dinner and traveled back to Vienna alone on the train (GT2, S.50).
Around this time (Jan 1914): Work on LW’s hut in Norway is completed (Monk, p.125).
Sunday 10th January, 1915: Keynes, having been astonished to receive LW’s latest letter, writes to him from Cambridge, hoping that he has been safely taken prisoner. He reports that he and Russell have given up philosophy, Keynes having given his services to the Government, and Russell having begun agitating for peace. He also reports on Moore, Johnson, two other members of the ‘Society of Apostles’ (Ferenc Békássy and F.K.Bliss), and notes the publication of Russell’s book Our Knowledge of the External World at around the time the war began (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, p.78).
In his diary, LW records that late this evening he arrived in Krakow, tired, but having had many very pleasant hours with Gürth. ‘I'm very curious about my future life’ (GT2, S.51).
Monday 11th January, 1915: In his diary, LW notes excitedly that he received a card from Gottlob Frege (Frege’s postcard of December 23rd, presumably), and that he did a little (philosophical) work (GT2, S.51).
LW notes that a yardstick does not say that the object to be measured is one yard long, even when we know that it is supposed to be for measuring this particular object. So what has to be added to that yardstick in order for it to assert something about the length of the object? (Without this addition, the yardstick would be the ‘assumption’ [Annahme]) (NB, pp.37-8).
Tuesday 12th January, 1915: LW’s diary entry notes only that he did a bit of (philosophical) work (GT2, S.51).
Wednesday 13th January, 1915: In his diary, LW notes that he did a bit of (philosophical) work, albeit it not with great animo. ‘My thoughts are tired. I’m not seeing things afresh, but all the time without life. It seems as though a flame has gone out and I have to wait until it begins to burn by itself again. However, my Spirit is active, I think....’ (GT2, SS.51-2).
Thursday 14th January, 1915: In his diary, LW records that he did a little work, but it wasn’t good. ‘Very often I think of David and long for a letter from him’ (GT2, S.52). (And, in fact, on this same day David Pinsent writes to LW (from Glenfield, Foxcombe Hill, Oxford), (Pinsent letter to LW, p.99). Also, around this time, Russell receives LW’s letter from Christmas (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, p.80).
Friday 15th January, 1915: David Pinsent writes to G.E.Moore, conveying to Moore a message from LW: ‘give him my love and say that I’m sorry I offended him, in short make my peace with him’ (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, p.75).
In his diary, LW reports that he did a bit of (philosophical) work, having greater animo, and that he bathed in the evening (GT2, S.52).
LW notes that the propositional sign ‘p v q’ is correct if p is the case, if q is the case, and if both are the case, otherwise it is wrong. This, he remarks, ‘seems to be infinitely simple; and the solution will be as simple’ (NB, p.38).
Saturday 16th January, 1915: In his diary, LW records that he is working with more and more animo. He has very little to do for his detachment, and is finding that very pleasant. However, he notes, he has had no news from David [Pinsent]. Finally, he records that in recent weeks he has been feeling sensuous (GT2, S.52).
The proposition is correlated with a hypothetical situation [Sachverhalt], LW notes. The situation is given by means of its description, and the proposition is the description of a situation. Just as descriptions of an object describe it by its external properties, so the proposition describes facts by their internal properties. The description is correct if the object has the asserted properties, and the proposition is correct if the situation has the internal properties given by the proposition (NB, p.38).
Sunday 17th January, 1915: In his diary entry, LW records only that he has been working (on philosophy) again (GT2, S.53).
LW receives a postcard (of 10th January) from von Ficker, and replies this same day, explaining that von Ficker’s postcard been sent back to him (von F) because of the machinations of the military postal service (Luckhardt, pp.88-9).
LW notes that the situation p.q falls under the proposition ‘p v q’.
He then remarks, a propos his net analogy for physics, that although the spots are geometrical figures, even so geometry can say nothing at all about their form and position. ‘The net, however, is purely geometrical, and all its properties can be given a priori’ (NB, p.38).
Monday 18th January, 1915: In his diary entry, LW records that he has done almost no work, feeling ‘quite dull and without any animo’. He looks forward to things being different, though (GT2, S.53).
LW notes that his comparison between a proposition and a description is purely logical, and thus must be carried further (NB, p.38).
Tuesday 19th January, 1915: In his diary, LW again reports that he has done very little work, and is ‘in this respect, quite dead’. ‘When will I receive a message from David?!!’, he wonders (GT2, S.53).
Wednesday 20th January, 1915: In his diary, LW notes that he hasn’t worked, but that ‘this calm is like a refreshing sleep’ (GT2, S.53).
In his notebook entry, LW asks himself how it is that all is a logical concept, how it is a concept of form, and how it can be that all can occur in any proposition, since that is the characteristic mark of the concept of a form. All, he remarks, ‘APPEARS to be nearer to the content of the proposition than to the form’. All: things, All: functions, All: relations: it’s as if All was a connecting term between (on the one hand) the concept of the thing, of functions, etc., and (on the other hand) the individual thing, individual functions, etc. Generality, he notes, is essentially connected with the elementary FORM. Could this be the liberating word [das erlösende Wort]?! (NB, pp.38-9).
Thursday 21st January, 1915: In his diary, LW records that he did some (philosophical) work, and that he sent a letter to David [Pinsent], taking it directly to the censor at the local main post office, ‘who’s a very nice person’ (GT2, SS.53-4).
LW notes that the transition from the general consideration of the propositional form is ‘infinitely difficult, fantastic’ (NB, p.39).
Friday 22nd January, 1915: In his diary, LW notes only that he did some (philosophical) work (GT2, S.54).
In his notebook entry, LW remarks that his whole task consists in explaining the nature of the proposition, that is, in giving the nature of all facts, whose picture the proposition is. In other words, in giving the nature of all being (where being does not mean existing – that would be nonsensical) (NB, p.39).
Saturday 23rd January, 1915: In his diary, LW records that he did some (philosophical work), but also that through his ‘unspoken position’ he has got into difficulties (GT2, S.54).
LW notes that negation is an operation, and that operations denote operations. Words are probes, some reaching very deep, others only to a shallow depth. An operation, though, does not say anything – only its result does, and that depends on its object (NB, p.39).
Sunday 24th January, 1915: In his diary, LW reports only that he worked a bit (GT2, S.54).
LW notes that the logical pseudo-functions [die logischen Scheinfunktionen] are operations, and that only operations can vanish. The negative proposition excludes reality. He then asks himself how ‘the all-embracing world-mirroring logic can make use of such special twiddles and manipulations? Only by their all being linked together to form one infinitely fine network, the great mirror’ (NB, p.39).
Monday 25th January, 1915: In his private diary, LW records excitedly that he has received a letter from Keynes (his letter of 10th January), although it isn’t very friendly. In recent days, he notes, he has been feeling very sensual. He notes that he has worked without success, and is ‘completely in the dark about how my work will continue. Only a miracle can succeed. Only in this way FROM OUTSIDE can the veil be taken away from my eyes. I must give myself entirely to my fate. I live in the hand of fate’ (GT2, SS.54-5).
LW also replies to Keynes, asking him to send a copy of Russell’s recently-published book Our Knowledge of the External World, and reporting that, contra Keynes’ expectation, being a soldier doesn’t prevent him from thinking about propositions, in fact that he has done ‘a good deal of logical work lately’ (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, pp.78-9).
In his notebook, LW remarks that we can also say that ∼p is false, when p is true (NB, p.40).
Tuesday 26th January, 1915: LW’s diary entry records that he received ‘a lovely card from Arne’ [Arne Draegni, the son of Halvard Draegni, the factory-owner with whom LW lodged in Skjolden, from October 1913]. He also worked a bit, ‘but without success’ (GT2, S.55).
Wednesday 27th January, 1915: In his diary, LW records that he didn’t work. ‘Had dinner with many officers in the cafe. Most of them were like pigs. Even I drank a little bit more than usual’ (GT2, S.55).
David Pinsent writes to LW, from Oxford. He acknowledges LW’s letters of December 21st and January 4th. He reports that he has written to G.E.Moore in Cambridge, and sent him LW’s message (see post of January 15th), but explains that he is writing to LW since it is unlikely that he (Pinsent) will be able to get to Cambridge soon. Pinsent records that he is ‘working away at the G’Law’ (see posts for June & July 1914 for an explanation of such terms), mostly in London. (Pinsent was working for his uncle, Robert Parker, Judge of the High Court). Again he closes by saying: ‘There isn’t much to say – but that I hope very much indeed that we shall see each other again soon, after the War’, and he signs himself ‘Ever yours, G’Dave’ (Pinsent, pp.99-100).
Thursday 28th January, 1915: In his diary, LW records that he hasn’t been working, although work is very healthy for him. He also reports feeling very sensual, ‘which is strange, because I’m not doing enough exercise. Didn’t sleep well’ (GT2, S.56).
Friday 29th January, 1915: LW’s diary entry reports only that he did almost no (philosophical) work (GT2, S.56).
LW notes that ‘Language is articulated’ (NB, p.40).
Saturday 30th January, 1915: In his diary entry, LW reports that he didn’t do any (philosophical) work. He also records being unhappy with his position (in the artillery workshop) and notes that he will probably soon take a decisive step in this respect (GT2, S.56).
Sunday 31st January, 1915: In his diary, LW records only that he did no (philosophical) work (GT2, S.56).
Monday 1st February, 1915: In his diary, LW reports that he did no (philosophical) work, but that he had lunch in Captain Scholz’s wardroom, which was agreeable (GT2, S.57).
LW writes a postcard from Kracow to Ludwig von Ficker, regretting that he has not yet received a letter that von Ficker had mentioned (‘One is truly “cut off from the world by the Military Postal Service”’) , and hoping that von Ficker might be able to visit him there (Luckhardt, p.89).
Tuesday 2nd February, 1915: In his diary, LW records only that he did a little bit of (philosophical) work (GT2, S.57).
Wednesday 3rd February, 1915: In his private diary, LW again reports that he didn’t work, having had no ideas. He then muses on a different task ahead of him: ‘I’m now supposed to take over the supervision of our smithy. How will this happen? May the Spirit help me! It will be very difficult. But take heart!’ (GT2, S.57).
LW writes a letter to his friend in Manchester, William Eccles. This is the third of LW’s surviving letters to Eccles, written from the artillery workshop: K.u.K. Artilleriewerkstatte, der Testung Krakau, Feldpost No.186. Its envelope was addressed to Eccles’ uncle, a Dr. Moore, since LW had forgotten Eccles’ own address. In it LW begins by remarking how nice of him it is to begin their correspondence again. He relates to Eccles that he joined the army as a volunteer at the beginning of the war, reports being ‘pretty well so far’, and having done ‘a good deal of mathematical work during the last 6 months’. He then asks how Eccles, his wife Ada, and Dr. Moore are. He also notes that he’s sending this letter via the Red Cross in Geneva, and asks Eccles to send him his address soon. Finally, he asks to be remembered to ‘everybody who likes to be reminded of my existence’, and exhorts Eccles to ‘write soon and a lot’ (Eccles, pp.59-60).
Friday 5th February, 1915: In his diary, LW records that he hasn’t worked, but that he’s now in the artillery workshop’s smithy a lot of the time (GT2, S.57).
Russell writes from Cambridge to LW, amazed that he has been able to write a MS. on logic since the beginning of the war, and assuring LW that if his manuscripts come to Russell, he will do his utmost ‘to understand them and make others understand them’ (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, p.80).
Saturday 6th February, 1915: LW’s diary entry mentions that he has received ‘a lovely letter from David [Pinsent]’ (the one dated January 15th) (GT2, S.58).
In that letter, Pinsent begins by thanking LW for his letter of January 4th, and remarks on how LW’s letters to him seem to reach him much faster than his own letters get to LW. Pinsent hopes that alongside the one letter of his which LW has received (of August 30th), he will also receive two others which were addressed to him in Kracau. He notes that he has received four letters from LW since the war began. There follows just one personal paragraph: ‘I very often think of you and wonder how you are getting on. There is very little to say – except that I hope to God we shall see each other again after the war’. He ends his letter ‘God bless you! Ever yours, G’Dave’ (Pinsent, p.99).
Sunday 7th February, 1915: In his diary, LW notes only that he didn’t do any (philosophical) work (GT2, S.58).
However, in his notebook LW notes that musical themes are, in a certain sense, propositions, and thus that knowledge of the nature of logic will lead to knowledge of the nature of music (NB, p.40).
Monday 8th February, 1915: In his diary, LW records that he has received from von Ficker a posthumous work of Georg Trakl’s, a work that LW reckons ‘probably very good’. (The work in question might well have been Sebastian im Traum. But, as we shall see, it transpires that LW has not read it). He also reports that he is feeling ‘sensuous’, but concludes by stating that at the moment he has no handle on his (philosophical) work (GT2, S.58).
Tuesday 9th February, 1915: In his diary, LW records only that he did no (philosophical) work (GT2, S.58).
LW writes from Kracow to Ludwig von Ficker, thanking him for having sent Trakl’s book of verse, but explaining that ‘I am now in a sterile period and have no desire to assimilate foreign thoughts. I have this only during a decline of productivity, not when it has completely ceased. However, - UNFORTUNATELY I now feel completely burnt out. One just has to be patient’. He ends by remarking how much he would like to see von Ficker now (Luckhardt, p.89).
Wednesday 10th February, 1915: In his private diary, LW records that he hasn’t worked, although he has received a nice letter from von Ficker, with a dedication from Rainer Maria Rilke. He then worries about his own work: ‘If only I could work again!!! When will I come up with something again??! All this is in God's hand. Only wish and hope! Then you won’t lose any time’ (GT2, SS.58-9).
LW writes a letter to David Pinsent. The letter has not survived, although a surviving draft of it begins ‘My dear Davy, Got today your letter dated January 27th. This is about the limit. I’m now beginning to be more fertile again’ (Pinsent, p.101).
Thursday 11th February, 1915: In his diary, LW records that he still hasn’t done any (philosophical) work. At the moment he is with one of the officers - Cadet Adam - who has a badly strained foot. ‘It’s possible that there will be a duel between us. Therefore live properly and according to conscience: the spirit is with me! Now and in any future!’ (GT2, S.59).
Saturday 13th February, 1915: In his diary, LW reports again that he didn’t work. ‘May the Spirit be with me’, he ends (GT2, S.60).
LW writes, from Kracow, to Ludwig von Ficker, thanking him for his letter of 21st December 1914, but returning almost all the letters that the artists among whom von Ficker had distributed LW’s money had sent him, opining that they were ‘for the most part highly distasteful to me. A certain degrading, almost swindling tone’ (Luckhardt, p.90). Rainer Maria Rilke’s letter to von Ficker, though, LW retained, finding it moving and gladdening. LW asks von Ficker to convey his thanks and ‘faithful devotion’ to Rilke. He reports to von Ficker the exact location of Georg Trakl’s grave, and wishes to von Ficker that ‘your military activity should be pleasing to you’ (Luckhardt, p.90). (LW gives as his address ‘Imperial & Royal Artillery Workshop of the Fortress Kraków, Military Post Office No.186’).
Sunday 14th February, 1915: LW notes that if there existed mathematical objects (logical constants) the proposition ‘I’m eating five plums’ would be a proposition of mathematics. But it’s not even a proposition of applied mathematics. The proposition must describe its reference completely (NB, p.40).
Monday 15th February, 1915: In his diary, LW reports that he did some (philosophical) work yesterday. Nowadays, he records, there’s hardly a day on which he doesn’t think - if only fleetingly – about logic, ‘and this is a good sign. I think anything’s possible!’. Finally, he notes that he spent yesterday evening at Captain Scholz’s, making music until midnight, which he found ‘very agreeable’ (GT2, S.60).
Ludwig von Ficker himself begins active duty with the Austro-Hungarian army’s Kaiserjäger Regiment in Brixen (Janik in Luckhardt, p.170).
Wednesday 17th February, 1915: In his diary, LW records that yesterday and today he did a little (philosophical) work. However, he notes that he is now finding his position in the artillery workshop ‘quite unsatisfactory’, and is beginning to think about requesting a transfer. He records finding his current post annoying, hurtful, and a waste of his inner strength. Additionally, he again feels very sensuous and is masturbating almost every day: ‘It cannot go on’ (GT2, S.60).
Thursday 18th February, 1915: In his diary, LW reports that he did almost no (philosophical) work, but that he thought a lot about his situation: ‘I’m curious about my future in every respect’ (GT2, S.61).
Friday 19th February, 1915: In his diary, LW mentions ‘recent unpleasantness in the factory’ (i.e., the artillery works). He has had a long talk about this with his commanding officer, ‘but this has not led to anything positive’. He has done almost no (philosophical) work. The unpleasantness in question ‘has made me think: this has to change’ (GT2, S.61).
Saturday 20th February, 1915: LW’s diary entry begins ‘Cowardly thoughts, anxious wavering, fearful trembling, effeminate actions, don’t make you free!’ [Here he is again quoting (although not quite correctly) Goethe’s poem ‘Cowardly thoughts, timid shaking’ (later set to music by Johannes Brahms)] Finally, he notes that has hasn’t worked much, although he’s thinking a lot (GT2, S.62).
Sunday 21st February, 1915: In his diary, LW again records that he hasn’t worked, despite being in a better mood. He also notes that he is again feeling ‘sensuous’. ‘If only I could work again!!!’ he exclaims (GT2, S.62).
Monday 22nd February, 1915: LW records in his diary that he hasn’t worked. Tonight, he notes, was very lively, although he didn’t have any bad dreams. He then reports ‘much unpleasantness among my work-team. Anger and excitement, even before [something or other – there’s an illegible word here], etc., etc’ (GT2, S.62).
Tuesday 23rd February, 1915: In his diary, LW again records that he hasn’t done any (philosophical) work, and that he hasn’t settled his (non-philosophical) difficulties either (GT2, S.63).
Friday 26th February, 1915: In one of his most anguished diary entries, LW exclaims ‘No work! Will I ever work again?!? Gloomy mood. No news from David. I feel very abandoned. Thinking of suicide. Will I ever work again??!’ (GT2, S.63).
Saturday 27th February, 1915: In his diary, LW records again that he hasn’t done any (philosophical) work, that he’s in a gloomy mood, and that he feels ‘very sensuous’, but also lonely. ‘The goal of my work seems moved back by more than ever, an incalculable distance! I lack the certainty of victory, the courage of hope. To me it’s as if I will never make a great discovery. For so long I’ve felt von allen guten Geistern verlassen (literally: abandoned by all good spirits; figuratively: out of my mind]. Just don’t yourself!!’ (GT2, SS.63-4). (Recall that LW used this same German expression once before, in a letter to Russell of January 1913).
Sunday 28th February/Monday 1st March, 1915: In his diary entry (which he himself credits to 28th February/1st March), LW again records that he hasn’t done any (philosophical) work. ‘No news from David! Mood indecisive and changing’ (GT2, S.64).
Tuesday 2nd March, 1915: David Pinsent writes a letter to LW (Pinsent letter to LW, pp.100-101). (Its contents will be reported here on the day LW receives it, March 18th)).
In his diary entry (credited to 2nd and 3rd of March) LW again records not having worked, despite having had last night ‘a momentary flash of light’. ‘No news from David! Had a cosy evening at Scholz’s. Otherwise generally gloomy mood’ (GTS, S.64).
Thursday 4th March, 1915: In his diary, LW yet again records that he hasn’t worked. But he seems mainly pre-occupied with his war-situation: ‘I feel morally dull, but I see an enormous difficulty of my situation. And so far I'm still quite unclear about how to correct it’ (GT2, SS.64-5).
LW notes that a tune is a sort of tautology, complete in itself, satisfying itself (NB, p.40).
Friday 5th March, 1915: In his diary, LW records that today he spoke with Oberleutnant Gürth about ‘my unworthy position. No decision yet. Maybe I'll go as an infantryman to the front’ (GT2, S.65).
Mankind, LW notes, has always had an inkling that there must be a sphere of questions in which the answers must, a priori, ‘be arranged symmetrically, and united into a complete regular structure’. He then remarks parenthetically that the older a word is, the deeper it reaches (NB, p.40).
Saturday 6th March, 1915: In his diary, LW records only that his situation is still undecided, and his mood greatly changing (GT2, S.65).
LW notes that the problems of negation, disjunction, true and false are merely reflections of ‘the one great problem in the variously-placed great and small mirrors of philosophy’ (NB, p.40).
Sunday 7th March, 1915: LW’s diary entry begins ‘Situation unchanged. Uncomfortable’. He reports that there has been a heavy frost, very out of season. He is not feeling well: ‘Mentally I’m tired, very tired. What, however, will happen?? I will be consumed by an abominable circumstance. The whole outer life, with all its wickedness, storms in on me. And I’m full of hate inside and cannot get involved in my Spirit. God is love. I'm like a burnt furnace, full of slag’ (GT2, SS.65-6).
LW notes that just as ∼ξ, ∼ξ v ∼ξ, etc. are the same function, so too are ∼η v η, η ⊃ η, etc. the same function, that is, the tautological function. ∼ξ can be investigated just as the others can, and perhaps with advantage (NB, p.40).
Monday 8th March, 1915: From this point onwards, until at least the end of March, the entries in LW’s private diary become notably more short and sketchy, as he seeks to have himself extricated from the artillery workshop and posted to the front line infantry. Today’s entry, for example, reads simply: ‘Situation undecided. Unchanged! Depression’ (GT2, S.67).
Tuesday 9th March, 1915: LW’s diary entry reads: ‘Situation undecided! Mood wary, but bad’ (GT2, S.67).
Wednesday 10th March, 1915: ‘VERY sensuous. Undecided restless spirit’, says LW in his private diary (GT2, S.67).
Thursday 11th March, 1915: LW’s diary entry reads: ‘Haven’t worked. Situation unchanged. Nothing but unpleasantness’ (GT2, S.67).
Friday 12th March, 1915: Again it’s ‘Didn’t work. Thought a lot. Situation undecided’, in LW’s diary (GT2, S.67).
Saturday 13th March, 1915: In his diary, LW reports ‘Situation the same. I’m very undecided’ (GT2, S.68).
Sunday 14th March, 1915: In his diary, LW notes ‘Situation unchanged! Haven’t worked. Depression. Pressure on the chest’ (GT2, S.68).
Monday 15th March, 1915: In his diary, LW records having met another well-known one-year volunteer, with whom he discussed his situation, and with whom he hopes to continue to talk about it tomorrow. Still he hasn’t done any (philosophical) work, though: ‘Will I ever work again??!!’ (GT2, S.68). (The Einjährig-Freiwilliger (one-year volunteers) were generally well-educated middle class men who, in exchange for having volunteered for one year’s service in the armed forces, escaped conscription. They had to be from well-off families, since they had to support themselves entirely from their own resources during their year’s service. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-year_volunteer. LW, estimated to have been the 254th richest person in Vienna in 1910, would have had little problem there).
Thursday 18th March, 1915: In his private diary entry, LW records having yesterday received ‘a lovely letter from David’; he also reports feeling ‘very sensuous’ (GT2, S.69).
In the letter in question, of March 2nd, Pinsent begins by thanking LW for his letter of February 10th, and assures LW that he has, as instructed, sent all his recent letters to LW via the Red Cross in Geneva. He explains that he hasn’t been able to go to Cambridge recently, and hasn’t seen Russell’s new book, but will try to find it and send it to LW. He asks LW whether, having written to G.E.Moore on LW’s behalf, he has heard from Moore. He then reports that he has been writing a paper on philosophy, ‘not so much about the details of Logic, as about what Logic as a whole is about and what “Truth” is and “Knowledge”. The whole business seems very clear to me as a matter of fact, but I dare say what seems clear to me is all rot! I wish you were here and could talk it over with me’. Pinsent explains that he is very busy with the Law, being ‘a sort of private secretary to my uncle, who is a Judge’, and that he is living in London during the week, but going to Oxford at weekends. He ends his letter ‘I wish to God this horrible tragedy would end, and am longing to see you again’ (Pinsent, pp.100-101).
LW notes that it’s clear that the closest examination of the propositional sign cannot yield what it asserts, but that what it can yield is what it is capable of asserting. (NB, p.40).
Friday 19th March, 1915: In his diary, LW records that he spoke today with Oberleutnant Gürth about his future, although without any good outcome. Again he records feeling ‘very sensuous’ GT2, S.69).
Sunday 21st March, 1915: In his diary, considering a move to the infantry, LW reminds himself to apply to the Kaiserjägern, since that is the regiment which Ludwig von Ficker joined in February. He also notes that he isn’t feeling well, and hasn’t done any (philosophical) work (GT2, S.69).
Monday 22nd March, 1915: LW again notes in his diary that he has been feeling unwell, but also that he felt better towards evening (GT2, S.69).
Tuesday 23rd March, 1915: LW records in his diary only that he feels ‘very sensuous’ (GT2, S.70).
Wednesday 24th March, 1915: ‘No work! Will I ever work again??!!!’ LW asks himself in his diary entry (GT2, S.70).
Saturday 27th March, 1915: LW notes that ‘The picture [Bild] can replace a description’ (NB, p.41).
Monday 29th March, 1915: LW’s diary entry reads: ‘Tired! Surrounded by vulgarity! How am I tired!’ (GT2, S.70).
LW notes that the law of causality is not a law, but the form of a law. ‘Law of causality’ is a class name [Gattungsname]. And just as there are in mechanics minimum principles (e.g., the ‘law of least action’) so in physics there is A law of causality, a law of the causality form. Just as people had an inkling that there must be a ‘law of least action’ before knowing precisely how it ran. Here, he notes parenthetically, as so often happens, the a priori turns out to be something purely logical (NB, p.41).
Wednesday 31st March, 1915: LW records in his diary only that he has been in a ‘changeable mood’ (GT2, S.70).
Saturday 3rd April, 1915: LW notes that the proposition is a measure of the world. He then asks himself, if something purports to be a picture of a process, but is wrong, how can it still be a picture of that process? Finally, he notes that ‘a’ can go proxy for a and ‘b’ for b when ‘a’ stands in the relation ‘R’ to ‘b’ – this is what that POTENTIAL internal relation we are looking for consists in (NB, p.41).
Sunday 4th/Monday 5th April, 1915: In a diary entry credited to these two days, LW reports again only that his mood has been ‘changeable’ (GT2, S.70).
Monday 5th April, 1915: LW notes that the proposition is not a blend of words (NB, p.41).
Tuesday 6th April, 1915: David Pinsent writes a letter to LW (Pinsent, pp.101-2, Wittgenstein in Cambridge, p.75). (Its contents will be reported here when LW receives it, on April 30th).
Sunday 11th April, 1915: Just as (he had noted last Monday) a proposition is not a blend of words, so now LW notes that a tune is not a blend of notes, ‘as all unmusical people think’ (NB, p.41).
Monday 12th April, 1915: LW notes in frustration that he ‘cannot get from the nature of the proposition to the individual logical operations!!’ (NB, p.41). (This issue gets mentioned again on Thursday 15th).
Tuesday 13th April, 1915: LW writes to Bertrand Russell (but although Russell receives it, this letter is now lost) (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, p.81).
Thursday 15th April, 1915: In his diary, LW reports that still nothing new has happened to him, although Lieutenant Gürth has been sent away on duty. LW himself ‘cannot think of anything new’, and wonders whether any such will ever come to him (GT2, SS.70-71). (This seems to be LW’s last mention of Oberleutnant Gürth, so presumably their paths did not cross again).
Explaining his remark from Monday, to the effect that he is unable to get from the nature of the proposition to the individual logical operations, LW says ‘That is, I cannot bring out how far the proposition is the picture of the situation. I am almost inclined to give up all my efforts’ (NB, p.41).
Friday 16th April, 1915: In his private diary, written in code, LW notes that he is feeling ‘very sensuous’, and is masturbating every day. He bemoans the fact that he hasn’t heard from David Pinsent in a long time, but notes, finally, that he did some (philosophical) work (GT2, S.71).
LW notes that description is also, so to speak, an operation with the means of description as its basis, and the described object as its result. The sign ‘not’ is the class of all negating signs (NB, pp.41-2).
Saturday 17th April, 1915: LW’s diary entry records only that he did some (philosophical) work (GT2, S.71).
LW’s notebook entry begins with the isolated phrase ‘The subjective universe’. He then remarks that instead of performing the logical operations in the proposition upon its component propositions, we could correlate marks with these, and operate with those marks. In that case a single propositional formation would have correlated with it a constellation of marks connected with it in a complicated way (NB, p.42).
Sunday 18th April, 1915: In his diary, LW records that he got a severe chill today (GT2, S.71).
LW notes that the transition from p to ∼p isn’t what’s characteristic of the operation of negation, and adds parenthetically that the best proof of this is that negation also leads the other way, from ∼p to p (NB, p.42).
Monday 19th April, 1915: LW notes ‘What is mirrored in language I cannot use language to express’ (NB, p.42).
Thursday 22nd April, 1915: In his diary, LW notes that he must now take charge of the entire artillery workshop (until now, he has been in charge only of its smithy or forge). His reaction?: ‘Renewed inconvenience’ (GT2, S.71, Monk, p.128).
Friday 23rd April, 1915: LW notes that we do not believe a priori in a law of conservation, but rather we know a priori the possibility of its logical form.
All propositions known a priori, such as the principle of sufficient reason, the principle of continuity in nature, etc., are a priori insights relating to the possible ways of forming the propositions of natural science.
‘Ockham’s razor’ is of course not an arbitrary rule or one justified by its practical success. What it says is that unnecessary sign-units mean nothing.
Signs fulfilling the same purpose are logically identical. ‘The purely logical thing just is what all these are capable of accomplishing’ (NB, p.42).
Saturday 24th April, 1915: LW records in his diary only that he did some (philosophical) work (GT2, S.71).
LW notes that in logic (mathematics) process and result are equivalent (and this is why there are no surprises). (NB, p.42).
Sunday 25th April, 1915: LW notes that because language stands in internal relations to the world, language and these relations determine the logical possibility of facts. A significant sign must stand in a particular internal relation to a structure. Sign and relation determine unambiguously the logical form of the thing signified.
He then asks himself, though, whether any so-called thing can be correlated in one and the same way with any other such.
For example, it’s clear, he notes, that the separate words of language are both experienced and used as logically equivalent units.
‘It always seems as if there were something that one can regard as a thing, and on the other hand real simple things’.
It’s clear, he claims, that neither a pencil-stroke nor a steamship is simple. So is there really a logical equivalence between the two?
‘Laws’ like the law of sufficient reason, etc. deal with the network rather than with what the network describes. (NB, pp.42-3).
Monday 26th April, 1915: LW’s diary entry records that he did some (philosophical) work, but that he is finding his (non-philosophical) work ‘very unsatisfactory’ (GT2, S.72).
LW notes that ordinary propositions must get their stamp of simplicity through generality.
We must, he urges, recognise how language takes care of itself.
A proposition about a ‘complex’ stands in an internal relation to any proposition about one of its component parts (NB, p.43).
Tuesday 27th April, 1915: LW reports again that he did some (philosophical) work, but that ‘Now I have to waste my time in the factory!!!’ (GT2, S.72).
The freedom of the will, LW notes, consists in the fact that future events cannot be KNOWN now. We could only know them if causality was an inner necessity, like that of logical inference. The connection of knowledge and thing known is the connection of logical necessity.
‘I cannot need to worry about language’.
Non-truth is like non-identity (NB, p.43).
Wednesday 28th April, 1915: ‘Arbeite wieder!’ (worked again), reads LW’s diary entry (GT2, S.72).
LW notes that the operation of negating doesn’t consist in writing down, e.g., a ‘∼’, but in the class of all negating operations.
But then, he asks himself, what really are the properties of this ideal negating operation? How does it come to be that two assertions are compatible? If one puts ‘p’ instead of ‘q’ in ‘p v q’ the statement turns into p. Does the sign ‘p & q’ also belong among those which assert p? Is ‘p’ one of the signs for p v q?
Can one say: All signs that don’t assert p, aren’t asserted by p, and don’t contain p as tautology or contradiction does, negate p? (NB, pp.43-4).
Thursday 29th April, 1915: LW reports again in his diary that he did some (philosophical) work, (‘otherwise things go badly for me’). ‘Just don’t let mean people get to you!’ (GT2, S.72).
Further explaining his thought from yesterday’s notebook entry (about how to specify the ideal negating operation), LW writes ‘That is to say: All signs that are dependent on p and that neither assert p nor are asserted by p’ (NB, p.44).
Friday 30th April, 1915: ‘Lovely letter from David!’ LW records in his diary (this was the letter David Pinsent wrote on April 6th) (GT2, S.72).
In it, Pinsent begins by thanking LW for his letter of March 18th, commiserates with LW that ‘Moore won’t behave like a Christian’ (after their pre-WW1 quarrel) and notes that he (Moore) never acknowledged the letter Pinsent had sent him on January 15th, which conveyed LW’s apology. He then reports that his own paper on philosophy has expanded, purporting now to say ‘what Ethics and Philosophy in general are about as well as Logic: also what ‘truth’ is – there seem to be at least seven sorts of truth’. He tells LW that he would like to send him a copy, to see what he thinks of it, but fears that the Censor (reading wartime correspondence) ‘might object to reading through 50 type-written pages of Philosophy in search of any information which might be of value to the enemy!’. Pinsent then tells LW that he thinks of him often and wonders what he is doing. He relates that he is having three weeks holiday, but afterwards will begin work in London. He closes his letter ‘Ever your friend, Davy’ (Pinsent, pp.101-2).
LW notes that of course the occurrence of an operation cannot have import by itself.
p is asserted by all propositions from which it follows.
Every proposition that contradicts p negates p (NB, p.44).
Saturday 1st May, 1915: This is the day on which, reinforced by German troops, the Austro-Hungarian forces mount the Gorlice-Tarnów breakthrough, resulting in the total collapse of the local Russian lines and the retreat of the Russian forces. (The editor of LW’s Geheime Tagebücher, Wilhelm Baum, states that this ‘led to the liberation of Galicia and the conquest of the whole of Poland’).
LW’s diary entry reads simply ‘The grace of work!’ (GT2, S.72).
LW notes that the fact that p & ~p is a contradiction shows that ~p contradicts p.
Scepticism is not irrefutable, but obvious nonsense if it tries to doubt where no question can be asked, for doubt can only exist where a question exists, a question exists only where an answer exists, and this exists only where something can be said.
All theories that say: ‘This is how it must be, otherwise we could not philosophize’ or ‘otherwise we surely could not live’ etc., must of course disappear.
He then characterizes his own method as being ‘not to sunder the hard from the soft, but to see the hardness of the soft’.
One of the philosopher’s chief skills is not to occupy himself with questions that do not concern him.
Finally, he remarks that Russell’s method in his 1914 paper ‘On Scientific Method in Philosophy’, ‘is simply a retrogression from the method of physics’ (NB, p.44).
Sunday 2nd May, 1915: LW notes that the class of all signs which assert both p and q is the sign for ‘p & q’, and that the class of all signs which assert either p or q is the proposition ‘p v q’ (NB, p.44).
Monday 3rd May, 1915: LW notes that we cannot say that both tautology and contradiction say nothing in the sense that they are both, for example, zero points in a scale of propositions. For they are at least opposite poles.
He then asks whether we can say that two propositions are opposed to one another when there is no sign that asserts them both – meaning: when they have no common member?
In this way propositions are imagined as classes of signs – the propositions ‘p’ and ‘q’ have the member ‘p & q’ in common, and two propositions are opposed to one another when they lie quite outside one another (NB, p.45).
Tuesday 4th May, 1915: LW notes that the law of induction cannot in any case be a logical law, since it is evidently a proposition.
The class of all propositions of the form Fx is the proposition (x)Фx (NB, p.45).
Wednesday 5th May, 1915: In a diary entry he credits to May 5th-7th, LW records that he has still not been nominated (for the service in the front-line infantry he has been seeking). He anticipates trouble again because his position is unclear. Finally he states that ‘If this goes on much longer, I shall try to get away from here’ (GT2, S.73).
In his notebook entry, LW asks himself whether the general form of proposition exists, and answers yes, if by that we understand the single ‘logical constant’.
The question ‘Are there simple things’ looks as if it made sense. But surely it must be nonsense! (NB, p.45).
Thursday 6th May, 1915: LW notes that it would be vain to try to express the pseudo-sentence ‘Are there simple things?’ in symbolic notation.
Yet it is clear, he remarks, ‘that I have before me a concept of a thing, of simple correlation, when I think about this matter’.
He then asks himself how he is imagining the simple, but finds that all he can say is ‘“x” has meaning’ [Bedeutung]. Here, he exclaims, is a great riddle!
(Parenthetically he notes that as examples of the simple he always thinks of points in the visual field (just as parts of the visual field are what comes before his mind as typical examples of composite objects)) (NB, p.45).
Friday 7th May, 1915: LW asks himself whether, as it seems, spatial complexity is also logical complexity.
What is a uniformly coloured part of one’s visual field composed of? Minima sensibilia? Then how should the place of one of these be determined?
Even if the sentences we ordinarily use all contain generalizations, there must surely still occur in them the proto-pictures [Urbilder] of the component parts of their special cases. So the question of how we arrive at those still remains (NB, pp.45-6).
Saturday 8th May, 1915: In a diary entry he credits to 8th-10th May, LW records ‘MUCH excitement! Was close to CRYING!!! Feel broken and sick! Surrounded by vulgarity’ (GT2, S.73).
LW notes that the fact that there is no sign for a particular proto-picture doesn’t show that the proto-picture isn’t present. Portrayal by sign language doesn’t take place in such a way that a sign of a proto-picture goes proxy for an object of that proto-picture. The sign and the internal relation to what is signified determine the proto-picture of the latter, as the fundamental coordinates together with the ordinates determine the points of a figure (NB, p.46).
Sunday 9th May, 1915: In his notebook entry, LW begins by asking himself whether we can manage without simple objects in LOGIC.
Obviously, he thinks, propositions which contain no simple signs (no signs having an immediate reference) are possible, and these are really propositions, making sense, even though the definitions of their component parts don’t have to be attached to them.
But it’s clear that components of our propositions can be analysed by means of a definition, and must be so analysed if we want to approximate to the real structure of the proposition. There is, at any rate, a process of analysis. Can we not now ask whether this process comes to an end? If so, what will the end be?
If it’s true that every defined sign signifies via its definition, presumably the chain of definitions must sometime have an end.
The analysed proposition mentions more than the unanalysed.
Analysis makes the proposition more complicated than it was, but it cannot and must not make it more complicated than its meaning was.
The proposition is completely analysed when it is just as complex as its reference.
But the reference of our propositions is not infinitely complicated.
The proposition is the picture of the fact. One can devise different pictures of a fact (using logical operations). But what’s characteristic of the fact will be the same in all these pictures and will not depend on the picturer.
With the class of signs of the proposition ‘p’ the class ‘~p’ is already given, as is necessary.
But doesn’t that presuppose that we are given the class of all propositions? How do we arrive at that? (NB, pp.46-7).
Monday 10th May, 1915: Bertrand Russell writes to LW, from Cambridge, having received LW’s letter of 13th April. He asks that LW should visit the Polish logician M.H.Dziewicki, who had corresponded with Russell, in Kracow. (The artillery forge LW is in charge of is located there). Russell also reports that although Moore had reported back everything he had to report about ‘tautologies, etc.’, he had not understood it, so Russell expresses the hope that LW will explain everything to him after the war (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, pp.81-2; Monk, p.129).
[Michael Henry Dziewicki was the editor of the works of the English scholastic philosopher John Wycliffe, perhaps most notably his Tractatus de Logica (in three volumes, 1893-1899). He also served as the translator for various literary works]
Tuesday 11th May, 1915: In his diary, LW records only that he did no (philosophical) work (GT2, S.73).
LW asks himself whether the logical sum of two tautologies is a tautology in that same sense, and whether there is really such a thing as the duality: tautology – contradiction.
The simple thing for us IS the simplest thing we are acquainted with, the simplest thing which our analysis can attain. But it need only appear as a prototype, a variable in our propositions – ‘that is the simple thing that we mean and look for’ (NB, p.47).
Wednesday 12th May, 1915: LW’s notebook entry begins with the line ‘The general concepts (a) of portrayal [Abbildung] and (b) of co-ordinates’.
If the expression ‘~(∃x) x = x’ was a proposition, namely the proposition ‘There are no things’, it would be a matter for great wonder that, in order to express it in symbols, we had to make use of a relation (viz., =) with which it wasn’t really concerned at all. (NB, p.47).
Thursday 13th May, 1915: LW’s notebook entry begins by remarking on ‘A singular logical manipulation, the personification of time!’ [We hear no more about this, though]
He then advises himself not to pull the knot tight before being certain that he has got hold of the right end.
Next he asks himself whether we can regard a part of space as a thing, and notes that in a certain sense we obviously do this when we talk of spatial things.
As far as he can currently see, it seems that the matter isn’t settled by getting rid of names by means of definitions: complex spatial objects seem to be in some sense essentially things. And the designation of them by means of names seems to be more than a mere trick of language. Spatial complex objects, for example, really do appear as things.
But what does all of this signify?
That we quite instinctively designate those objects by means of names, at any rate (NB, pp.47-8).
Friday 14th May, 1915: ‘Language is a part of our organism, and no less complicated than it’, LW notes.
‘The old problem of complex and fact!’, he exclaims (NB, p.48).
Saturday 15th May, 1915: LW notes that the theory of the complex is expressed in such propositions as ‘If a proposition is true then Something exists’. There seems to be a difference between the fact expressed by the proposition ‘a stands in the relation R to b’ and the complex a in the relation R to b, which is just that which ‘exists’ if that proposition is true. It seems as if we could designate this Something, and with a real ‘complex sign’. He then notes that since the feelings expressed in these sentences are ‘quite natural and unartificial’, there must be some truth at the bottom of them. But what truth?
‘What depends on my life?’ he asks.
This much is clear: a complex can only be given by means of its description, and this description will hold or not hold.
The proposition dealing with a complex will not be nonsensical if the complex does not exist, but simply false (NB, p.48).
Sunday 16th May, 1915: LW begins his notebook entry by asking himself whether, when one sees space, one sees all its points.
It’s no more possible to present something ‘contradicting logic’ in language than to present a figure contradicting the laws of space in geometry by means of its co-ordinates, or to give the co-ordinates of a point that doesn’t exist.
If there existed propositions asserting the existence of proto-pictures they would be unique and a kind of ‘logical propositions’, and the set of them would give logic an impossible reality. ‘There would be co-ordination in logic’ (NB, p.48).
Tuesday 18th May, 1915: LW notes that the possibility of all similes, of the whole pictorial character of our language, is founded in the logic of portrayal [Abbildung] (NB, p.48).
Wednesday 19th May, 1915: Returning to his theme of what counts as a thing, LW notes that we can even conceive a body apprehended as in movement, and together with its movement, as a thing. So the moon circling around the earth moves around the sun. Here it seems clear that this reification is nothing but a logical manipulation – although the possibility of this may be extremely significant.
Or consider such reifications as: a tune, a spoken sentence.
When one says “‘x’ has meaning [Bedeutung]” does one have the feeling that it’s impossible that ‘x’ should stand for, e.g., this knife or this letter? Not at all (NB, p.49).
Thursday 20th May, 1915: ‘A complex is just a thing!’ notes LW (NB, p.49).
Friday 21st May, 1915: LW notes that we can quite well give a spatial representation of a set of circumstances which contradict the laws of physics, but not of one that contradicts the laws of geometry (NB, p.49).
Saturday 22nd May, 1915: ‘Lovely letter from Russell’ LW records in his diary (this was Bertrand Russell’s letter of 10th May) (GT2, S.73).
Having received this letter, LW replies, from Cracow, saying that he will visit Dziewicki soon, as Russell asked. He expresses frustration that Russell was unable to understand Moore’s notes, since he regards them as definitive. He worries that if he doesn’t live to see the end of the war, all his work will be for nothing. But he reports that ‘the problems are becoming more and more lapidary and general and the method has changed drastically’ (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, pp.83-4).
LW notes that the mathematical notation for infinite series such as “1 + x/1! + x2/2! + ....” together with the dots is an example of extended generality. A law is given and the terms that are written down serve as an illustration.
In this way one might write “fx & fy...” instead of ‘(x)fx’.
Spatial and temporal complexes. (NB, p.49).
Sunday 23rd May, 1915:The limits of my language mean the limits of my world’ is the famous expression with which LW’s long notebook entry for today begins.
‘There really is only one world soul [Weltseele], which I for preference call my soul and as which alone I conceive what I call the souls of others’.
He then notes that this above remark gives the key to decide the way in which solipsism is a truth.
He notes that he has long been conscious that it would be possible for him to write a book ‘The world I found’.
The feeling of the simple relation which always comes before our mind as the main ground for the assumption of ‘simple objects’ – don’t we have this same feeling when we think of the relation between name and complex object?
Suppose this book, called ‘A’, is the complex object. Then surely the occurrence of ‘A’ in the proposition shows the occurrence of the book A in the fact. For it is not arbitrarily resolved even when it is analysed, so as, e.g., to make its resolution a completely different one in each propositional formation.
Like the occurrence of the name of a thing in different propositions, the occurrence of the name of compounded objects shows that there is a form and content in common.
In spite of this the infinitely complex situation [Sachverhalt] seems to be a chimera.
But it also seems certain that we don’t infer the existence of simple objects from the existence of particular simple objects, but rather know them – by description – as it were – as the end-products of analysis, by means of a process that leads to them.
For the very reason that a bit of language is nonsensical, it is still possible to go on using it (and here he refers to the previous remark).
‘In the book “The world I found” I should also have to report on my body and say which members are subject to my will, etc. For this is a way of isolating the subject, or rather of showing that in an important sense there is no such thing as the subject; for it would be the one thing that could not come into this book’ (NB, pp.49-50).
Monday 24th May, 1915: In his diary, LW notes that today he made the acquaintance of the old Polish logician M.H.Dziewicki, of whom Russell wrote in his letter, and who Russell had asked LW to look in on in Cracow. They discuss the problem of the contiguity of instants of time. LW’s verdict?: ‘A nice old man’ (GT2, SS.73-4).
Dziewicki later wrote to Russell, saying he had been very pleased to meet LW, but making a remark which implies that LW expected to be killed on the Russian front (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, pp.81-2).
In his notebook, LW notes that even though we have no acquaintance with simple objects, we do know complex objects by acquaintance. We know by acquaintance that they are complex, but he queries whether we know by acquaintance that they must in the end consist of simple things.
We single out a part of our visual field, for example, and see that it is always complex, that any part of it is still complex although it is already simpler, and so on.
He then asks himself whether it is imaginable that, for example, we should see that all the points of a surface are yellow, without seeing any single point of this surface? ‘It almost seems to be so’, he comments.
He diagnoses the way this problem arises as being a matter of tension which concentrates into a question, and becomes objective.
Finally he asks himself how we should describe a surface uniformly covered with blue, for example (NB, pp.50-51).
Tuesday 25th May, 1915: In a diary entry he credits to 25th May – 8th June, LW notes that although he has experienced renewed difficulties in the way of his transition (to the infantry), he will probably get out of here. He also reports that he is ‘often very depressed by the meanness of my environment’ (GT2, S.74).
LW asks himself whether the visual image of a minimum visibile actually appears to us as indivisible? What has extension is divisible. So are there parts in our visual field that have no extension (e.g. the images of the fixed stars)?
He then remarks that the urge towards the mystical comes from the non-satisfaction of our wishes by science. ‘We feel that even if all possible scientific questions are answered our problem is still not touched at all. Of course in that case there are no questions any more; and that is the answer’.
The tautology is asserted, and the contradiction denied, by every proposition (since one could add ‘and’ and some tautology (or alternatively the negation of a contradiction) to any proposition without altering its sense). ‘Without altering its sense’ means: without altering the essential thing about the sign itself, for the sign cannot be altered without altering its sense.
“aRa” must make sense if “aRb” makes sense (NB, p.51).
Wednesday 26th May, 1915: LW asks himself how he is now to explain the general nature of the proposition. We can say: everything that is (or is not) the case can be pictured by means of a proposition. But here we we have the expression ‘to be the case’, which is just as problematic!
Objects form the counterpart to the proposition.
‘Objects I can only name. Signs go proxy for them’ (NB, p.51).
Thursday 27th May, 1915: Continuing his thought from yesterday, LW says, of ‘objects’, that one can only speak of them, one cannot express them.
He asks himself whether there might not be something which cannot be expressed by a proposition (and which is also not on object). But in that case this could not be expressed by means of language, and it would also be impossible for us to ask about it.
Can we suppose there is something outside the facts, something which our propositions are impotent to express? Here we do have, e.g., things and we feel no demand at all to express them in propositions.
What cannot be expressed we do not express. How could we try to ask whether THAT can be expressed which cannot be EXPRESSED?
Is there no domain outside the facts? (NB, pp.51-2).
Friday 28th May, 1915: LW notes that “complex sign” and “proposition” are equivalent.
He asks himself whether it’s a tautology to say that language consists of sentences [Sätzen]; it seems it is (NB, p.52).
The Viennese daily newspaper Fremdenblatt reports that LW has purchased Austrian war-bonds worth 250,000 crowns (this would be a purchase by his family, on his behalf) (Schmidt 2014, p.182).
Saturday 29th May, 1915: Continuing his ideas from yesterday, LW asks ‘But is language the only language?’.
Why shouldn’t there be a mode of expression through which one can talk about language in such a way that it can appear to us in co-ordination with something else?
Suppose music was such a mode of expression – then it is at least characteristic of science [Wissenschaft] that no musical themes can occur in it.
He notes that he himself only writes sentences down here – why? How is language unique? (NB, p.52).
Sunday 30th May, 1915: LW begins his notebook entry by saying ‘Words are like the film on deep water’.
It is clear, he thinks, that to ask what a sentence is and to ask what a fact (or a complex) is comes to the same thing.
Why shouldn’t we say: ‘There are complexes; one can use names to name them, or propositions to portray them’?
The name of a complex functions in the proposition like the name of an object that I know only by description – the proposition depicting it functions as a description.
If there are simple objects, though, is it correct to call both the signs for them and those other signs ‘names’?
Or is ‘name’ a logical concept?
‘It signalises what is common to a form and a content’.
According to the difference in the structure of the complex its name denotes in a different way and is subject to different syntactical laws.
He then notes that the mistake in this conception must lie in its contrasting complexes and simple objects (on the one hand) while treating them as akin (on the other hand).
However: components and complex seem to be akin, and to be opposed to one another. (Like the plan of a town and the map of a country, the same size but on different scales).
He then asks himself what is the source of the feeling that one can correlate a name with all that one sees (a landscape, the dance of dust-motes in the air)? What should one call a name if not this?!
Names, he remarks, signalise what is common to a single form and a single content. Only together with their syntactical use do they signalise one particular logical form (NB, pp.52-3).
Tuesday 1st June, 1915: LW notes that the great problem around which everything he writes turns is whether there is an order in the world a priori, and if so what it consists in.
‘You are looking into fog and for that reason persuade yourself that the goal is already close. But the fog disperses and the goal is not yet in sight’ (NB, p.53).
Wednesday 2nd June, 1915: LW notes that he had said [on May 25th] that a tautology is asserted by every proposition. But that isn’t enough to tell us why a tautology isn’t itself a proposition. ‘For has it told us why a proposition cannot be asserted by p and ~p?’
His own theory, he notes, doesn’t ensure that the proposition must have two poles.
What one would now have to do would be to find an expression in the language of this theory for HOW MUCH a proposition says. And this would have to yield the result that tautologies say NOTHING.
He asks himself how one could find the measure of this amount-that-is-said.
Even if we don’t know how to measure it, though, it’s there, ‘and our theory must be able to give it expression’ (NB, pp.53-4).
Thursday 3rd June, 1915: Continuing his thoughts from yesterday about how to measure the amount that a proposition says, LW begins a long notebook entry by remarking that one could certainly say: that proposition says the most from which the most follows.
He asks himself whether one could say ‘from which the most mutually independent propositions follow?’
But he then wonders whether it doesn’t work like this: if p follows from q but not q from p, then q says more than p?
Then nothing at all follows from a tautology, although a tautology follows from every proposition. The analogous thing holds of its opposite.
He then worries that contradictions will be the propositions that say the most, since from ‘p & ~p’ there follows not merely ‘p’ but also ‘~p’! Could it be that every proposition follows from a contradiction, and that a contradiction follows from none? Surely one can’t infer anything from a contradiction, just because it’s a contradiction?
But if contradiction is the class of all propositions, then tautology becomes what is common to any classes of propositions that have nothing in common and vanishes completely.
‘p v ~p’ would then be a sign only in appearance, but in reality it would be the dissolution of the proposition.
It’s as if the tautology vanishes inside all propositions, and the contradiction does so outside all propositions.
LW then remarks that in these investigations he always seems to be unconsciously taking the elementary proposition as his starting point.
‘Contradiction is the outer limit of propositions; no proposition asserts it. Tautology is their substanceless centre. (The mid-point of a circle can be thought of as its inner boundary)’.
However, LW then notes that ‘the key word’ [Das erlösende Wort] hasn’t yet been spoken.
Here it’s very easy to confuse logical product and logical sum.
Since we come to the apparenty remarkable result that two propositions must have something in common in order to be capable of being asserted by one proposition.
(However, belonging to a single class is also something which propositions can have in common).
Finally, LW parenthetically notes that here there’s still a definite and decisive lack of clarity in his theory, and thus that he has ‘a certain feeling of dissatisfaction!’ (NB, pp.54-5). [cf. 5.142, 5.143]
Friday 4th June, 1915: LW notes only that ‘p & q’ only makes sense if ‘p v q’ makes sense (NB, p.55).
Saturday 5th June, 1915: LW notes that although ‘p & q’ asserts both ‘p’ and ‘q’, that surely doesn’t mean that ‘p & q’ is their common component, but rather that ‘p’ and ‘q’ are equally contained in ‘p & q’.
In this sense p and ~p would have something in common, e.g., propositions such as ‘~p v q’, ‘p v q’. That is: there are propositions which are asserted by ‘p’ as well as by ‘~p’ (like those two just mentioned), but there are none that assert p and which also assert ~p.
‘In order for a proposition to be capable of being true it must also be capable of being false’.
LW then asks himself why a tautology says nothing. ‘Because every possibility is admitted in advance; because...’
It must show in the proposition itself that it says something and in the tautology that it says nothing.
p & ~p is that thing (or perhaps that nothing) which p and ~p have in common.
LW ends this notebook entry by remarking that in the real sign for p there is already contained the sign ‘p v q’ (since it is then possible to form this sign WITHOUT FURTHER ADO) (NB, p.55).
Sunday 6th June, 1915: LW begins this notebook entry, one of his longest in these surviving volumes, by noting parenthetically that his theory treats of propositions exclusively as a world on their own, not in connection with what they present.
The connection between the picture-theory and the class-theory [the theory of propositions as classes of signs (see especially entries for May 3rd and 9th)] will only become obvious later.
One can’t say of a tautology that it’s true, since it is made so as to be true.
A tautology isn’t a picture of reality, in the sense that it doesn’t PRESENT anything – it’s what all (mutually contradictory) pictures have in common.
In the class-theory it’s not yet obvious why each proposition needs its counter-proposition, why it’s a part of logical space which is separated from the remaining part of logical space.
The proposition says: this is how it is and not: that. It presents a possibility and itself conspicuously forms one part of a whole, whose features it bears, and from which it stands out.
‘p v q v ~p’ is also a tautology.
Certainly there are propositions that allow p as well as ~p, but there are none which assert p as well as ~p.
The possibility of ‘p v q’ when ‘p’ is given is a possibility in a different dimension from the impossibility of ‘~p’.
‘p v ~p’ is A QUITE SPECIAL CASE of ‘p v q’.
‘p’ has nothing in common with ‘~p v q’.
By attaching the ‘~’ to ‘p’ the proposition gets into a different class of propositions.
Every proposition has only one negative;.... there’s only one proposition lying quite outside ‘p’.
One could also say: the proposition which asserts p and ~p is negated by all propositions, whereas the proposition which asserts p or ~p is asserted by all propositions.
LW notes that his own mistake must lie in wanting to use what follows from the nature of negation, etc. in its definition. That ‘p’ and ‘~p’ have a common boundary is no part of the explanation of negation that he’s trying for (NB, pp.55-7).
Monday 7th June, 1915: LW notes that if, for example, one could say that all propositions that don’t assert p assert ~p, ‘that would give us an adequate description’. But that doesn’t work.
However, can’t we say that ‘~p’ is what’s in common only to such propositions as don’t assert ‘p’? From this there already follows the impossibility of ‘p & ~p’.
He then notes parenthetically that all of this presupposes the existence of the whole world of propositions. Does it do so rightly?
It isn’t enough to point to ~p’s lying outside p. It will only be possible to derive all the properties of ‘~p’ if ‘~p’ is introduced essentially as the negative of p.
How is that to be done?
Or is it thus: we can’t ‘introduce’ the proposition ~p at all, but we encounter it as a fait accompli and can only point to its individual formal properties, e.g., that it has nothing in common with p, that no proposition contains it and p, etc. etc.? (NB, p.57).
Tuesday 8th June, 1915: LW notes that every mathematical proposition is a symbolic representation of a modus ponens. (And it’s clear that modus ponens can’t be expressed in a proposition).
p and ~p have a common boundary; this is expressed by the fact that the negative of a proposition is only determined by means of the proposition itself. For we say that the negative of a proposition is a proposition which... (and now follows the relation of ~p to p). (NB, p.57).
Wednesday 9th June, 1915: Following up his remarks on negation from the previous day, LW notes that it will be possible simply to say: The negation of p is the proposition which has no proposition in common with p.
Since no third thing is in question in p v ~p, the expression ‘tertium non datur’ [no third possibility is given] is really a piece of nonsense.
He then wonders whether we might be able to use this for our definition of the negative of a proposition.
Can’t we say: Among all the propositions that are dependent on p alone, there are only those that assert p and those that deny it?
So one can say that the negative of p is the class of all propositions which are dependent on ‘p’ alone and don’t assert ‘p’ (NB, pp.57-8).
Thursday 10th June, 1915: LW’s notebook entry begins emphatically ‘‘p&q v ~q’ is NOT dependent on ‘q’! Whole propositions, to disappear!’
The very fact that ‘p&q v ~q’ is independent of ‘q’, although it contains the sign ‘q’, shows how signs of the form η v ~η can apparently, but still only apparently, exist.
This, he claims, arises from the fact that this arrangement ‘p v ~p’ is indeed externally possible, but doesn’t satisfy the conditions for such a complex to say something and so be a proposition.
‘p&q v ~q’ says the same as ‘p&r v ~r’ - whatever q and r may say-: All tautologies say the same thing. (Namely nothing).
From this explanation of negation it follows that all propositions which are dependent on p alone and which don’t assert p - and only these - negate p. So ‘p v ~p’ and ‘p & ~p’ are not propositions, for the first sign neither asserts nor denies p and the second would have to affirm both.
But since one can, after all, write down p v ~p and p & ~p, particularly in connection with other sentences, we need to clearly set forth what role these pseudo-propositions have, especially in such connections. For of course they aren’t to be treated as completely meaningless appendices, like meaningless names. Rather they belong in the symbolism, like ‘0’ in arithmetic.
Here it’s clear that p v ~p has the role of a true proposition, which however says zero.
So again we have arrived at the idea of the quantity of what is said. (NB, p.58).
Friday 11th June, 1915: LW begins by noting that the opposite of ‘p & ~p’ follows from all propositions. He asks himself whether that is as much as to say that it says nothing. By his earlier rule (June 3rd) contradictions would have to say more than all other propositions. (A diagram follows).
If a proposition that says a great deal is false, it ought to be interesting that it’s false. It’s astonishing that the negative of a proposition that says a great deal should say absolutely nothing.
On June 3rd we also said: If p follows from q but not q from p, q says more than p. But now, if it follows from p that q is false, but not from q that p is false, what then?
From p there follows ~q, from q not ~p. --- (NB, pp.58-9).
Saturday 12th June, 1915: LW notes that we could ask, in connection with any proposition: What does it’s being true come to? And what does it’s being false come to?
The ‘assumption’ [Annahme] in ‘p & ~p’ is never anything but false, so this doesn’t come to anything; and as to what it would amount to if it were true, that can’t be asked at all, of course (NB, p.59).
Sunday 13th June, 1915: LW notes that if ‘p & ~p’ COULD be true it would indeed say a great deal. But the assumption that it’s true doesn’t come into consideration in connection with it, as the ‘assumption’ [Annahme] in it is always false.
He then remarks how singular it is, since the words ‘true’ and ‘false’ refer to the relation of the proposition to the world, that these words can be used in the proposition itself for purposes of representation!
We said (June 9th-10th): if a proposition depends only on p and it asserts p then it doesn’t negate it, and vice versa: Is this the picture of that mutual exclusion of p and ~p? Of the fact that ~p is what lies outside p?
It seems so, he exclaims. The proposition ‘~p’ is in the same sense what lies outside ‘p’. (Here he urges himself not to forget that the picture may have very complicated co-ordinates to the world [sehr komplizierte Koordinaten zur Welt]).
One might simply say: ‘p & ~p’ says nothing in the proper sense of the word. For in advance there’s no possibility left which it can correctly present.
Finally, he notes incidentally that if ‘p follows from q’ means: If q is true then p must be true, then it can’t be said at all that anything follows from ‘p & ~p’, since there’s no such thing as the hypothesis that ‘p & ~p’ is true (NB, p.59).
Monday 14th June, 1915: LW notes that it has become clear that names may and do stand for the most various forms, and that it is only the syntactical application that signalises the form that is to be presented.
He asks himself first what the syntactical application of names of simple objects is, and then what his fundamental thought is when he talks about simple objects. He raises the worry that ‘complex objects’ also satisfy the demands which he apparently makes on simple ones: if we give this book a name ‘N’ and talk about N, isn’t the relation of N to that ‘complex object’, the book, the relation of the name to those forms and contents, essentially the same as he imagined to obtain only between name and simple object?
For, he notes, even if the name ‘N’ vanishes on further analysis, it still indicates a single common thing.
What about the reference of names out of the context of propositions, though?
He proposes that the question might also be presented thus: ‘It seems that the idea of the SIMPLE is already to be found contained in that of the complex and in the idea of analysis, and in such a way that we come to this idea quite apart from any examples of simple objects, or of propositions which mention them, and we realize the existence of the simple object - a priori - as a logical necessity’.
So it looks as if the existence of simple objects is related to that of complex ones in the way that the sense of ~p is related to the sense of p: the simple object is prejudged in the complex (NB, pp.59-60).
Tuesday 15th June, 1915: Continuing yesterday’s thoughts about simple and complex objects, LW notes parenthetically that his point that ‘the simple object is prejudged in the complex’ shouldn’t be confused with the fact that its component is prejudged in the complex.
‘(One of the most difficult of the philosopher's tasks is to find out where the shoe pinches).’
He then proposes that it’s clear that one can correlate a name with a ‘complex’ object (‘such as this watch just as it lies here ticking in front of me’), that this name will have reference outside any proposition, and that within a proposition the name will meet all the requirements on ‘names of simple objects’ (NB, p.60).
Wednesday 16th June, 1915: Still thinking about the simplicity and complexity of objects, LW remarks that we just want to see whether this watch does in fact meet the conditions for being a ‘simple object’.
The question, he proposes, is whether in order to know the syntactical treatment of a name, one must know the composition of its reference. If so, then the whole composition is already expressed even in the unanalysed proposition....
‘(One often tries to jump over too wide chasms of thought and then falls in). What seems to be given us a priori is the concept: This. – Identical with the concept of the object.’
However, he notes, relations, properties, etc. are also objects.
He then diagnoses the difficulty he’s in as follows: In all the propositions that occur to him there occur names, which, however, must disappear on further analysis. We know that such a further analysis is possible, but are unable to carry it out completely. In spite of this, he feels that he certainly seems to know that if the analysis were completely carried out, its result would have to be a proposition which once more contained names, relations, etc. In other words it looks as if in this way one knows a form without being acquainted with a single example of it.
‘I see that the analysis can be carried farther, and can, so to speak, not imagine its leading to anything different from the species of propositions that I am familiar with.
When I say this watch is shiny, and what I mean by this watch alters its composition in the smallest particular, then this means not merely that the sense of the sentence alters in its content, but also what I am saying about this watch straightway alters its sense. The whole form of the proposition alters’.
That’s to say, the syntactical employment of the names completely characterizes the form of the complex objects they denote.
Every proposition that has a sense has a COMPLETE sense, and is a picture of reality in such a way that what’s not yet said in it simply can’t belong to its sense.
If the proposition ‘this watch is shiny’ has a sense, it must be explicable HOW THIS proposition has THIS sense.
If a proposition tells us something, it must be a picture of reality just as it is, and a complete picture at that. – There will, of course, also be something that it doesn’t say – but what it does say it says completely and it must be susceptible of SHARP definition.
So a proposition may indeed be an incomplete picture of a certain fact, but it is ALWAYS a complete picture.
From this, he concludes, it would seem as if in a certain sense all names are genuine names. Or, as one might also say, as if all objects were in a certain sense simple objects (NB, pp.60-62).
Thursday 17th June, 1915: LW begins this day’s very long notebook entry by asking us to assume that every spatial object consists of infinitely many points. Then, it’s clear that one cannot mention all these by name when one speaks of that object. So here would be a case in which one can’t arrive at the complete analysis in what he calls ‘the old sense’ at all; and he speculates that this is the usual case.
However, he urges, this is surely clear: the propositions which are the only ones that humanity uses have a sense just as they are and don’t wait upon a future analysis in order to acquire a sense.
It does seem to be a legitimate question, though: Are spatial objects, for example, composed of simple parts; and in analysing them, does one arrive at parts that can’t be further analysed, or not?
He then pauses his reasoning to ask himself what kind of question this is.
‘Is it, A PRIORI, clear that in analysing we must arrive at simple components – is this, e.g., involved in the concept of analysis - , or is analysis ad infinitum possible? – Or is there some third possibility?
This question, he notes, is a logical one and the complexity of spatial objects is a logical complexity, since to say that one thing is part of another is always a tautology.
But suppose one wanted to say that ONE component of a fact had a particular property? Then one would have to mention it by name and use a logical sum.
‘And nothing seems to speak against infinite divisibility’.
It keeps on forcing itself upon us that there’s ‘some simple indivisible, an element of being, in brief a thing.
It doesn’t go against our feeling, that we cannot analyse PROPOSITIONS so far as to mention the elements by name; no, we feel that the WORLD must consist of elements. And it appears as if that were identical with the proposition that the world must be what it is, it must be definite. Or in other words, what vacillates is our determinations, not the world. It looks as if to deny things were as much as to say that the world can, as it were, be indefinite in some such sense as that in which our knowledge is uncertain and indefinite’.
The world, though, he urges, has a fixed structure.
He then asks himself whether representation by means of unanalysable names is only one system among others.
‘All I want is only for my meaning to be completely analysed!’
In other words the proposition must be completely articulated. Everything that its sense has in common with another sense must be contained separately in the proposition. If generalizations occur, then the forms of the particular cases must be manifest and it’s clear that this demand is justified, otherwise the proposition can’t be a picture at all, of anything.
For if possibilities are left open in the proposition, just this must be definite: what is left open. The generalizations of the form – e.g. – must be definite. What I don’t know I don’t know, but the proposition must shew me WHAT I know. And in that case, isn’t this definite thing at which I must arrive precisely simple in that sense that we have always had in mind? It is, so to speak, what’s hard.
In that case, then, what we mean by saying ‘complex objects don’t exist’ is: It must be clear in the proposition how the object is composed, so far as it’s possible for us to speak of its complexity at all. – The sense of the proposition must appear in the proposition as divided into its simple components - . And these parts are then actually indivisible, for further divided they just would not be THESE. In other words, the proposition can then no longer be replaced by one that has more components, but any that has more components also does not have this sense.
When the sense of the proposition is completely expressed in the proposition itself, the proposition is always divided into its simple components – no further division is possible and an apparent one is superfluous – and these are objects in the original sense (NB, pp.62-3).
Friday 18th June, 1915: LW begins another very long notebook entry by remarking that if the complexity of an object is definitive of the sense of the proposition, then it must be portrayed in the proposition to the extent that it does determine the sense. And to the extent that its composition isn’t definitive of this sense, to this extent the objects of this proposition are simple. THEY can’t be further divided.---
He then identifies the demand for simple things with the demand for definiteness of sense.
----For if I’m talking about, e.g., this watch, and mean something complex by that and nothing depends upon the way it’s compounded, then a generalization will make its appearance in the proposition and the fundamental forms of the generalization will be completely determinate so far as they are given at all.
If there’s a final sense and a proposition expressing it completely, then there are also names for simple objects.
That is the correct designation.
But then he wonders again what happens when a simple name denotes an infinitely complex object, for example when we assert of a patch in our visual field that it’s to the right of a line, and we assume that every patch in our visual field is infinitely complex. Then if we say that a point in that patch is to the right of the line, this proposition follows from the previous one, and if there are infinitely many points in the patch then infinitely many propositions of different content follow LOGICALLY from that first one. And this of itself shews that the proposition itself was as a matter of fact infinitely complex. That is, not the propositional sign by itself, but it together with its syntactical application.
Now it seems, of course, perfectly possible that in reality infinitely many different propositions don’t follow from such a proposition, because our visual field perhaps – or probably – doesn’t consist of infinitely many parts – but continuous visual space is only a subsequent construction - ; and in that case only a finite number of propositions follow from the one known and it itself is finite in every sense.
But doesn’t this possible infinite complexity of the sense impair its definiteness?
We might demand definiteness in this way too!: if a proposition is to make sense then the syntactical employment of each of its parts must be settled in advance. – It isn’t, for example, possible only subsequently to come upon the fact that a proposition follows from it. But, e.g., what propositions follow from a proposition must be completely settled before that proposition can have a sense!
LW remarks that it seems to him perfectly possible that patches in our visual field are simple objects, in that we don’t perceive any single point of a patch separately; the visual appearances of stars even seem certainly to be so. He explains what he means thus: if, e.g., I say that this watch isn’t in the drawer, there’s absolutely no need for it to FOLLOW LOGICALLY that a wheel which is in the watch isn’t in the drawer, for perhaps I had no idea that the wheel was in the watch, and hence couldn’t have meant by ‘this watch’ the complex in which the wheel occurs. Moreover it’s certain that one doesn’t see all the parts of one’s theoretical visual field. Who knows whether one sees infinitely many points?
LW then asks us to suppose that we were to see a circular patch: is the circular form its property? Certainly not. It seems to be a structural ‘property’. And if one notices that a spot is round, isn’t one noticing an infinitely complicated structural property? Or one notices only that the spot has finite extension, and this of itself seems to presuppose an infinitely complex structure.
He urges that it’s not that one proposition follows from another, but rather that the truth of the one follows from the truth of the other. ‘(That’s why it follows from ‘All men are mortal’ that ‘If Socrates is a man, then he is mortal’)’.
A proposition can, however, quite well treat of infinitely many points without being infinitely complex in a particular sense (NB, pp.63-5).
Saturday 19th June, 1915: LW notes that when we see that our visual field is complex we also see that it consists of simpler parts.
We can talk of functions of this and that kind without having any particular application in view, since we don’t have any examples before our minds when we use ‘Fx’ and other variable form-signs.
In short: if we were to apply the prototypes only in connection with names, it would be possible that we should know the existence of the prototypes from the existence of their special cases. But as it is we use variables, that’s to say we talk, as it were, of the prototypes by themselves, quite apart from any individual cases.
We portray the thing, the relation, the property, by means of variables and so show that we don’t derive these ideas from particular cases that occur to us, but possess them somehow a priori.
For the question arises: If the individual forms are, so to speak, given me in experience, then I surely can’t make use of them in logic; in that case I can’t write down an x or a Фy. But this I surely can’t avoid at all.
LW then asks himself what he characterizes as ‘an incidental question: Does logic deal with certain classes of functions and the like? And if not, what then is the import of Fx, Фz, and so on in logic?’. Then these must be signs of more general import!, he exclaims.
There doesn’t after all seem to be any setting up of the kind of logical inventory in the way he formerly imagined it.
The component parts of the proposition must be simple = The proposition must be completely articulated.
But now does this SEEM to contradict the facts?----
For in logic we are apparently trying to produce ideal pictures of articulated propositions. But how is that possible?
Or can we deal with a proposition like “The watch is on the table” without further ado according to the rules of logic? No, here we say, for example, that no date is given in the proposition, that the proposition is only apparently... etc. etc. So before we can deal with it we must, so it seems, transform it in a particular way.
But perhaps this is not conclusive, for couldn’t we just as well apply our usual logical notation to the special proposition? (NB, pp.65-6).
Sunday 20th June, 1915: Continuing his thought from yesterday, LW asks himself whether we can legitimately apply logic just as it stands (e.g. in Principia Mathematica) straightaway to ordinary propositions. Of course, he declares, we can’t disregard what’s expressed in our propositions by means of endings, prefixes, vowel changes, etc. etc.
But we do apply mathematics, and with the greatest success, to ordinary propositions, namely to those of physics. He then notes how remarkable this is: in the familiar theorems of mathematical physics there appear neither things nor functions nor relations nor any other logical forms of object! Instead of things what we have here is numbers, and the functions and relations are purely mathematical throughout! However, he notes, it’s surely a fact that these propositions are applied to solid reality. The variables in those theorems don’t – as is often said – stand for lengths, weights, time intervals, etc. at all, they simply stand for numbers and for nothing else.
When, however, I want to apply numbers, I come to relations, things, etc. etc. I say, e.g.: This length is 5 yards and here I am talking of relations and things, and in the completely ordinary sense at that.
Here we come to the question about the reference of variables in the propositions of physics. For these aren’t tautologies.
A proposition of physics is obviously senseless if its application is not given. What sort of sense would it make to say: “k = m.p”?
So the complete physical proposition does after all deal with things, relations and so on. (Which was really to be expected).
Now everything turns on the fact that I apply numbers to ordinary things, etc., which in fact says no more than that numbers occur in our quite ordinary sentences.
The difficulty is really this: even when we want to express a completely definite sense there’s the possibility of failure. So it seems that we have, so to speak, no guarantee that our proposition is really a picture of reality.
The division of the body into material points, as we have it in physics, is nothing more than analysis into simple components.
But, he asks himself, could it be that sentences in ordinary use have, as it were, only an incomplete sense (quite apart from their truth or falsehood), and that the propositions in physics, as it were, approach the stage where a proposition really has a complete sense?
When I say, “The book is lying on the table”, does this really have a completely clear sense? (LW then calls this ‘An EXTREMELY important question’).
But the sense must be clear, for after all we mean something by the proposition, and as much as we certainly mean must surely be clear.
If the proposition “The book is on the table” has a clear sense, then I must, whatever is the case, be able to say whether the proposition is true or false. There could, however, very well occur cases in which I shouldn’t be able to say straight off whether the book is still to be called “lying on the table”. Then - ? Is this a case of my knowing exactly what I want to say, but then making mistakes in expressing it? Or can this uncertainty TOO be included in the proposition?
But it may also be that the proposition “The book is lying on the table” represents my sense completely, but that I am using the words, e.g., “lying on”, with a special reference here, and that elsewhere they have another reference. What I mean by the verb is perhaps a quite special relation which the book now actually has to the table.
Then are the propositions of physics and the propositions of ordinary life at bottom equally sharp, and does the difference consist only in the more consistent application of signs in the language of science?
Is it or isn’t it possible to talk of a proposition’s having a more or less sharp sense?
It seems clear that what we MEAN must always be “sharp”.
Our expression of what we mean can in its turn only be right or wrong. And further the words can be applied consistently or inconsistently. There doesn’t seem to be any other possibility.
When I say, e.g., that the table is a yard long, it’s extremely questionable what I mean by this. But I presumably mean that the distance between THESE two points is a yard, and that the points belong to the table.
We said that mathematics has already been applied with success to ordinary propositions, but in propositions of physics it treats of completely different objects from those of our ordinary language. Must our propositions undergo such preparation, to make them capable of being dealt with mathematically? Evidently they must. When quantities come in question, then an expression like, e.g., “the length of this table” wouldn’t be adequate. This length would have to be defined, say, as the distance between two surfaces, etc. etc.
Mathematical sciences are distinguished from non-mathematical ones by treating of things of which ordinary language doesn’t speak, whereas the latter talk about things that are generally familiar (NB, pp.66-8).
Monday 21st June, 1915: LW notes that the difficulty was that we kept on speaking of simple objects but were unable to mention a single one.
If a point in space doesn’t exist, then its co-ordinates don’t exist either, and if the coordinates exist then the point exists too. – That’s how it is in logic.
The simple sign is essentially simple.
It functions as a simple object. (What does that mean?, he asks himself)
Its composition becomes completely indifferent. It disappears from view.
It always looks as if there were complex objects functioning as simples, and then also really simple ones, like the material points of physics, etc.
It can be seen that a name stands for a complex object from an indefiniteness in the proposition in which it occurs. This comes from the generality of such propositions. We know that not everything is yet determined by this proposition. For the generality notation contains a proto-picture.
All invisible masses, etc. etc. must come under the generality notation.
What is it for propositions to approximate to the truth?
But logic as it stands, e.g., in Principia Mathematica can quite well be applied to our ordinary propositions, e.g., from “All men are mortal” and “Socrates is a man” there follows according to this logic “Socrates is mortal” which is obviously correct although one equally obviously doesn’t know what structure is possessed by the thing Socrates or the property of mortality. Here they just function as simple objects.
Obviously the circumstance that makes it possible for certain forms to be projected by means of a definition into a name, guarantees of itself that this name can then also be treated as a real one.
To anyone that sees clearly, it’s obvious that a proposition like “This watch is lying on the table” contains a lot of indefiniteness, in spite of its form’s being completely clear and simple in outward appearance. So we see that this simplicity is only constructed (NB, pp.68-9).
Tuesday 22nd June, 1915: In the final entry in this diary, LW records that he has worked a lot, ‘despite the nasty environment!’ (GT2, S.74). (The next surviving diary entry is for March 1916).
Also, in the final entry in this notebook, and following on from his thoughts of the previous day, LW begins by noting that just as an ordinary proposition like “This watch is lying on the table” contains much indefiniteness, it’s also clear ‘to the UNPREJUDICED mind’ that the sense of that proposition is more complicated than the proposition itself.
The conventions of our language, he declares, are extraordinarily complicated. There’s enormously much added in thought to each proposition and not said. (These conventions are exactly like Whitehead’s ‘conventions’. They’re definitions with a certain generality of form).
‘I only want to justify the vagueness of ordinary sentences, for it can be justified’.
It’s clear that I know what I mean by the vague proposition. But now someone else doesn't understand and says: “Yes, but if you mean that then you should have added such and such”; and now someone else again will not understand it and will demand that the proposition should be given in more detail still. I shall then reply: NOW THAT can surely be taken for granted.
I tell someone “The watch is lying on the table” and now he says: “Yes, but if the watch were in such-and-such a position would you still say it was lying on the table?” And I should become uncertain. This shews that I did not know what I meant by “lying” in general. If someone were to drive me into a corner in this way in order to show that I didn’t know what I meant, I should say: “I know what I mean; I mean just THIS”, pointing to the appropriate complex with my finger. And in this complex I do actually have the two objects in a relation. – But all that this really means is: The fact can SOMEHOW be portrayed by means of this form too.
Now when I do this and designate the objects by means of names, does that make them simple?
All the same, however, this proposition is a picture of that complex.
This object is simple for me!
If, e.g., I call some rod “A”, and a ball “B”, I can say that A is leaning against the wall, but not B. Here the internal nature of A and B comes into view.
A name designating an object thereby stands in a relation to it which is wholly determined by the logical kind of the object and which signalises that logical kind.
And it’s clear that the object must be of a particular logical kind, it just is as complex, or as simple, as it is.
“The watch is sitting on the table” is senseless!
Only the complex part of the proposition can be true or false.
The name compresses its whole complex reference into one (NB, pp.69-71).
Monday 28th June, 1915: David Pinsent writes a letter to LW (from his home near Oxford), thanking LW for his letter of June 2nd, and noting that a letter of his own must have been lost in the post. Pinsent reports that he has recently been up at Cambridge for a weekend, but found very few people he knew there (he called on Bertrand Russell, for example, but Russell was out). Pinsent notes that he is still working very hard, but is ‘getting rather sick of the Law’. However, he manages to go for long walks in the country most weekends. He apologises for not having much else to say, but tells LW that he would love to talk to him ‘about the work you have been doing in Logic’. He records having heard Beethoven’s fifth and seventh symphonies and Schubert’s Unfinished symphony at a single concert recently, as well as ‘quite a lot of Beethoven and Brahms, including the 9th symphony and the Requiem and Missa Solemnis’ [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missa_solemnis_%28Beethoven%29 ] around three months ago. Finally, he expresses the hope that they will meet again some time, and signs off ‘Ever your friend, David’ (Pinsent, pp.102-3).
Mid-July, 1915: LW is injured in an explosion in his artillery workshop. Apparently, the barrel of a cannon that was being repaired had exploded. He then spends the second half of July in hospital, suffering from his injuries and shock (McGuinness, p.233, Potter 2013, p.17).
Saturday 24th July, 1915: LW writes from hospital to Ludwig von Ficker, having received a letter from him, explaining that he had ‘suffered a nervous shock and a few light injuries through an explosion in the workshop, therefore could not answer right away’ (Luckhardt, pp.90-91). He recommends Tolstoy’s book The Gospel in Brief to von Ficker, saying that at one time it had ‘virtually kept me alive’ (evidently he is referring to late 1914, since he bought his own copy of this book only in August of that year). He also expects to go to Vienna for two weeks in a week’s time (Luckhardt, p.91). (Again, as in his letter to von Ficker of 13th February, LW gives as his address ‘Imperial & Royal Artillery Workshop of the Fortress Cracow, Military Post Office No.186’).
Around Saturday 31st July, 1915: LW does indeed go home to Vienna on leave for three weeks, his first substantial period of leave since the beginning of the war (Monk, p.132, Potter 2013, p.17).
Wednesday 25th August, 1915: In a letter to Gottlob Frege, LW mentions for the first time the Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung [his own title for the book he is constructing] (Künne 2009, p.29).
Thursday 2nd September, 1915: David Pinsent writes, from his family home near Oxford, to LW, thanking him for his letter of July 10th, and commiserating with LW about the nervous shock he suffered in the explosion incident. Pinsent reports that he has ‘given up the study of that damned Law’, at least for the moment, and is on Government work, and working very long hours. He notes that the ‘Promenade concerts’ (now known simply as ‘the Proms’) are now on in London, and that although he has very little spare time he has been to one such concert, at which he heard Beethoven’s 2nd Symphony and ‘a magnificent Piano Concerto of Brahms!’. Finally, Pinsent says he often thinks of LW, and wonders what he is doing. He signs off ‘ever your friend, David’ (Pinsent letter to LW, pp.103-4).
September 1915: Still in the artillery (rather than having been transferred to the front-line infantry, as he has desired for some time now), LW receives a new posting, to another artillery workshop aboard a train at Sokal, a small town north of Lemberg (now L’viv) and east of Zamość, in the Ukraine (now in Western Ukraine) (Monk, p.132; Waugh, p.99, Kanterian, p.66, Potter 2013, p.17). LW makes friends there with a Dr. Max Bieler, who was in charge of a Red Cross hospital train (Waugh, p.105, McGuinness, pp.234-5, Monk, p.132). (A letter from Bieler about LW is reproduced in McGuinness’s book, and partly in Monk’s). He then writes the first of several military postcards to Ludwig von Ficker from there, giving his new address (‘Imperial and Royal Artillery, Maintenance Platoon 1, Military Post Office No.12’), and asking von Ficker to write to him (Luckhardt, pp.91-2).
Sunday 12th September 1915: LW writes a military postcard to Ludwig von Ficker, from his new posting, giving von Ficker his new address (‘Imperial and Royal Artillery, Maintenance Platoon 1, Military Post Office No.12’), and asking von Ficker to write soon to let him know how he is (Luckhardt, pp.91-2).
Friday 22nd October, 1915: LW writes to Bertrand Russell, and has the letter sent via his aunt (Else Gröger) in neutral Switzerland. He reports that he has recently done a lot of successful work, and is now in the process of summarizing it in the form of a treatise [Abhandlung]. He asks Russell to ensure that, if he doesn’t survive the war, LW’s family send Russell all his manuscripts. He also asks after his friend David Pinsent, and W.E.Johnson (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, p.84, McGuinness, pp.236-7). (See Potter 2013, pp.24-5).
Tuesday 2nd November, 1915: LW writes another military postcard to Ludwig von Ficker, regretting that it has been many months since he last heard from him (Luckhardt, p.92).
Sunday 21st November, 1915: LW’s brother Paul, having finally been released from Russian custody, returns to Vienna in an exchange of prisoners (McGuinness, p.30; Waugh, p.99). Despite the loss of his arm, he was determined to rejoin the war as soon as possible (Waugh, p.122). LW is still on active duty in an artillery workshop at the train station in Sokal (Waugh, p.99), and is not given leave to return to Vienna for Christmas (Waugh, p.101).
Thursday 25th November, 1915: Bertrand Russell, having received LW’s letter of 22nd May only a few days previously, writes to LW from London, delighted that he is writing a treatise. He suggests that it isn’t necessary to wait until the end of the war to publish it, and that LW could send a copy to him via Ralph Barton Perry, at Harvard. He reports that he has seen neither David Pinsent nor W.E.Johnson, both of whom LW had enquired about, for a long while. He also mentions that he is not in Cambridge, but that he is is going back there next Spring (Wittgenstein in Cambridge, p.86).
Sunday 28th November, 1915: Gottlob Frege writes the third of his known Feldpostkarte (German military postcards) to LW, from Jena (Janik 1989, p.10).
Friday 31st December, 1915: LW’s good friend from this period, Dr. Max Bieler, later recalled an incident from this day:
We talked about philosophical and metaphysical themes and these sometimes absorbed us so completely that we lost sight of place and time. I remember one comical incident. It was New Year’s Eve 1915. The local Commandant had invited us all to the Officers’ Mess for the New Year’s celebrations. When supper was over, getting on for 10 o’clock, the two of us retired to Wittgenstein’s room in order to resume yesterday’s theme. At about 11 o’clock the officers from the train let us know that it was time to set off in order to arrive at the party in good time. Wittgenstein conveyed to them that they should simply go and we would follow immediately. We quickly forgot about the invitation and the time and continued our discussion until loud voices became audible outside. It was our comrades returning merrily at 4 a.m. – and we thought it was not yet midnight. The next day we had to make our excuses to the local Commandant and pay him our New Year’s compliments belatedly. (Letter from Max Bieler to George Pitcher, reproduced in McGuinness, pp.234-5).
Sunday 6th February, 1916: Frege writes the fourth of his known Feldpostkarte to LW, from Jena (Janik 1989, p.10).
Saturday 11th March, 1916: LW’s brother Paul Wittgenstein plays for the first time to his own family as a one-armed concert pianist (Waugh, p.108). He also receives medals for his valor in combat (Waugh, p.122). Despite wanting to rejoin the combat and lobbying vigorously to do so, he is ordered into retirement (Waugh, p.122).
Thursday 23rd March, 1916: After many requests for a transfer, LW at last gets his wish, and is sent to a unit destined for the front-line. He is allocated to the 4th Battery of the 5th Austro-Hungarian Field Howitzer regiment, located in Sanok, on the upper river San, on the Eastern front, in Galicia (territory nowadays divided between Ukraine and Poland) (Monk, pp.136-7, McGuinness, p.235 and note, plus p.238). However, at this precise time, that unit was attached to the 24th Infantry Division (part of the VII army under the command of General Karl von Pflanzer-Baltin), and on its way to the front (McGuinness, p.238).
LW’s friend Dr. Max Bieler later recalled: ‘Wittgenstein suddenly received orders to leave for the front. It was a heavy blow for us both. He took with him only what was absolutely necessary, leaving everything else behind and asking me to divide it among the troops. On this occasion he told me that he had had a house built beside a Norwegian fjord where he would sometimes take refuge in order to have peace for his work... He now wanted to make me a present of this house. I refused and took in its place a Waterman’s Fountain Pen. Among a few other books he took with him The Brothers Karamazov. He liked this book very much’ (McGuinness, p.235 and note, plus pp.237-8).
At first, he is employed on the gun position, ‘where there would be heavy physical work and (at his rank) nothing that required his particular abilities’ (McGuinness, p.239).
Tuesday 28th March, 1916: With his very recent change in location LW begins a new manuscript volume containing diary entries and philosophical notes (GT, footnote for March 28th, 1916). (His philosophical notes, though, do not begin for two weeks from this point). From this day (but possibly from some previous day – all we know is that it’s an entry from before 29th March) only the final part of a diary entry survives. It begins ‘… and must take my life. I suffered agonies. And yet the picture of life was so tempting to me that I wanted to live again. I will only poison myself when I really want to poison myself’ (GT3, S.2).
Wednesday 29th March, 1916: In his diary, LW writes ‘Forced to do a lot of unfamiliar things. I need great strength, to bear it. Often I’m close to despair. I’ve done no work for more than a week. I have no time! God! But it’s natural, because if I’m going to die, I’ll have no time to work. Inspection now. My soul shrivels up. God enlighten me! God enlighten me! God enlighten my soul’ (GT3, S.2). (McGuinness, p.239).
Thursday 30th March, 1916: In his diary entry, LW writes ‘You do your best! You can’t do more (than that). And be cheerful. Ignore the others, you don’t need them. Because the others won’t support you, and if they do, it will be only for a short while. (Then you’ll become a nuisance to them). Help yourself and help others with all your might. And be cheerful! But how much power do you want for yourself, and how much is needed for others? Life is heavy to live! But the good life is beautiful. Not my will, but thy will be done!’ (GT3, S.3). (McGuinness, p.239).
Sunday 2nd April, 1916: ‘Was ill. Today still very weak. Today my commander told me that he would be sending me away from the front-line. If that happens, I’ll kill myself’ LW writes in his diary (GT3, S.3).
Thursday 6th April, 1916: LW’s diary entry from this day says merely ‘Das Leben ist eine’ (Life is one) (GT3, S.3).
Friday 7th April, 1916: LW writes in his diary ‘A torture which is only temporarily suspended in order to remain susceptible to further torments. An assortment of horrible tortures. An exhausting march, one night spent coughing, a party of drunks, a society of common and stupid people. Do good and be pleased with your virtue. I’m sick and have had a bad life. God help me. I’m a poor unhappy man. God hear me and grant me your peace! Amen’ (GT3, S.3).
Monday 10th April, 1916: ‘I live with difficulty’, LW writes in his diary. ‘I’m not yet been enlightened. Looked at myself today in the mirror – I’m quite sunken! Also I’ve not been able to work in a long time’ (GT3, S.5).
Thursday 13th April, 1916: ‘I’m left dangling and my case is still in the dark. Haven’t come back to life’ writes LW in his diary (GT3, S.5).
Saturday 15th April, 1916: In his diary, LW records ‘In eight days we go into the firing-line. May it be granted me to risk my life for a difficult task!’ (GT3, S.5).
However, on this day LW also begins to write the third extant manuscript volume (MS 103) of material that would eventually become the Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung (now published in Notebooks 1914-1916, pp.71ff). (See Potter 2013, p.28). In the first entry in this new notebook, he begins by declaring that ‘We can only foresee what we ourselves construct’. But if that is so, he asks himself, ‘where is the concept of a simple object still to be found? This concept does not so far come in here at all’.
We must be able to construct the simple functions because we must be able to give each sign a meaning. For the only sign which guarantees its meaning is function and argument (NB, p.71).
Sunday 16th April, 1916: In his diary, LW records that he has been ‘completely asexual’ since March 22nd. But also that the last two days have been rest days (GT3, S.5).
In his notebook, LW notes that because every simple proposition can be brought into the form φx, we can compose all simple propositions from this form.
If one was given all simple propositions, and had to say what propositions could be constructed from them, the latter would be all propositions, and this would be how they are bounded.
He then writes (p): p = aRx.xRy ... zRb
(p): p = aRx
(NB, p.71).
Monday 17th April, 1916: LW notes that the final definition from yesterday’s notebook entry can in its general form only be a rule for a written notation which has nothing to do with the sense of the signs. But, he wonders, can there be such a rule?
The definition, he declares, is only possible if it is itself not a proposition. In which case a proposition cannot treat of all propositions, although a definition can do so (NB, p.71).
Tuesday 18th April, 1916: ‘Into the firing-line tomorrow or the day after. Therefore: courage! God will help’, LW notes in his diary (GT3, S.5).
Thursday 20th April, 1916: In his diary, LW writes ‘God make me better! Then I’ll be even happier. Today I’ll probably be in the firing-line. God help me’ (GT3, S.6).
Friday 21st April, 1916: Gottlob Frege writes the sixth of his known Feldpostkarte to LW, from Brunshaupten (Janik 1989, p.11). In it, Frege thanks LW for a recent letter and card, and then says “I find your hope not to let your intellectual work be lost very understandable, and I would very much like to contribute what help I can. However, I still doubt that I can come to Vienna. Many thanks for your friendly invitation. In any case I hope that in some way or other I shall have the privilege of further pursuing our scientific conversations, and then in time we are bound to become closer”. He closes by telling LW that he will soon return to Jena (Pellegrin, p.13).
Sunday 23rd April, 1916: In his diary, LW records that he has now been in a new position (i.e., on the front-line) for a few days. ‘Hard physical work all day long; unable to think. May God help me. I have to endure so very much. Have applied today to be moved to the observation post. In the unit everyone hates me because no one understands me. And because I’m not a saint! May God help me!’ (GT3, S.6).
In his philosophical notebook, LW remarks that the above definition (of propositions, which he gave on April 16th) doesn’t deal with all propositions, since it essentially contains real variables. It is analogous to an operation whose own result can be taken as its base (NB, p.71).
Wednesday 26th April, 1916: ‘The officers of the battery apparently liked me greatly. This saves me some discomfort. Thanks be to God. Thine will be done! You go your way! Thine will be done!’ LW writes in his diary (GT3, S.7).
Referring to his previous notebook entry (23rd April), LW notes that this (i.e., the iteration of ‘operations’) is the only way in which it is possible to proceed from one type to another, that ‘we can say that all types stand in hierarchies’, and that ‘the hierarchy is only possible by being built up by means of operations’. Empirical reality, he declares, is bounded by the number of objects, and this boundary appears again in the totality of simple propositions. These hierarchies are and must be independent of reality, the meanings of their terms being determined only by the correlation of objects and names (NB, pp.71-72).
Thursday 27th April, 1916: ‘As a volunteer’, LW writes in his diary, referring to his status as an Einjährigfreiwilliger, ‘the team, with few exceptions, hates me. So I’m now almost always surrounded by people who hate me. And this is only thing I still can’t accept. But here are evil, heartless people. It’s almost impossible for me to find a trace of humanity in them. God help me to live. Today there was an idea that tonight there will be an alarm. And tonight it’s really on-call duty. God be with me! Amen’ (GT3, SS.7-8).
In his notebook, LW considers what would be the case if one wanted to represent a function of three non-interchangeable arguments, φ(x): φ( ), x. But he then wonders whether there should be any mention of non-interchangeable arguments in logic. If so, he asserts, this would surely presuppose something about the character of reality (which presumably would be unacceptable in logic) (NB, p.72).
Friday 28th April, 1916: LW’s diary entry reads ‘Night calm. Wrote to Russell. Had a bad dream tonight. God bless me’ (GT3, S.8). If LW did send such a letter to Russell, it does not survive.
Saturday 29th April, 1916: LW’s diary entry for this day reads: ‘On reconnaissance this afternoon. Was shot at. Thought of God. Thy will be done! God be with me’ (GT3, S.8).
Sunday 30th April, 1916: ‘Will join reconnaissance again today amid the armed attack: Man needs God alone’, says LW in his diary (GT3, S.8).
Tuesday 2nd May, 1916: ‘I’ve got to continually defend myself against the meanness of people’, LW complains in his diary (GT3, S.9).
Wednesday 3rd May, 1916: In his diary, LW writes ‘I’m having a hard time! God protect me and stand by me. Amen. May I be spared this hardest test. But Thy will be done. The work sleeps in my head’ (GT3, S.9).
Thursday 4th May, 1916: LW (who is usually employed on the gun position) asks to be sent up to his unit’s forward observation-post, a particularly dangerous position since it comes under regular fire.
The entry in his private diary reads: ‘Tomorrow perhaps I shall be sent out, at my own request, to the observation-post. Then and only then will the war begin for me. And – possibly – life too! Perhaps nearness to death will bring light into my life. May God enlighten me. I am a worm, but through God I’m going to be a man. God help me. Amen’ (GT3, SS.9-10) (McGuinness, p.240).
Friday 5th May, 1916: LW’s request to be sent to the observation-post is granted. ‘I am like the prince in the enchanted castle in the observation-post’, he writes in his diary. ‘Now everything is quiet during the day, but at night things must be horrible! Will I endure it???? Tonight will tell. God stand by me!!!’ (GT3, S.10).
In his biography of Wittgenstein, Brian McGuinness explains that in this new post LW ‘had defined and accurate tasks of spotting and plotting on the map enemy positions, [and] of observing and directing the fire of his own guns’ (McGuinness, p.240). (See also ibid., p.239; Monk, p.138; Waugh, pp.113-4; Kanterian, p.66).
Saturday 6th May, 1916: LW writes in his diary that he is ‘in constant danger of death’. ‘The night went well, by the grace of God. From time to time I’m despondent. This is the result of the wrong attitude to life! Understand people! Always, although you want to hate them, understand them instead. Live in peace! But how do you come to inner peace? ONLY by living in a way pleasing to God! Only then is it possible to endure life’ (GT3, SS.10-11).
After a gap of one week in his notebook entries, and in a vein apparently unrelated to his most recent entries, LW writes
‘At bottom the whole Weltanschauung of the moderns involves the illusion that the so-called laws of nature are explanations of natural phenomena.
In this way they stop short at the laws of nature as at something impregnable as men of former times did at God and fate.
And both are right and wrong. The older ones are indeed clearer in the sense that they acknowledge a clear terminus, while with the new system it is supposed to look as if everything had a foundation’ (NB, p.72). [Cf. TLP 6.371, 6.372]
Sunday 7th May, 1916: ‘Night passed quietly. Thank God. Only I am a wretch’ LW records in his diary (GT3, S.11).
The Viennese daily newspaper Neue Freie Presse reports that LW has again purchased Austrian war-bonds worth 250,000 crowns (Schmidt 2014, p.182).
Monday 8th May, 1916: In his diary, LW records: ‘Quiet night. God is with me! The people I’m with are not so much common as tremendously limited. This makes dealings with them almost impossible because they always misunderstand one. The people (here) aren’t stupid, but they are limited. Within their circle they’re clever enough. But they lack character and thereby a broader horizon. “Nothing is beyond the comprehension of a faithful heart”. I can’t work now’ (GT3, SS.11-13).
Tuesday 9th May, 1916: ‘Now I had plenty of time and quiet to work. But nothing stirs. My material is far from me. Only death gives life its meaning’ LW muses in his diary (GT3, S.13).
Wednesday 10th May, 1916: LW’s diary entry reads ‘By God's grace things go well for me now. Unfortunately, I can’t work. But Thy will be done! Amen. In danger He won’t leave me!!!’ (GT3, S.13).
Thursday 11th May, 1916: ‘A change of post the day after tomorrow. Very uncomfortable! But Thy will be done’ LW writes in his diary (GT3, S.14).
In his notebook, LW begins by writing ‘|p |(a,a)’. He then declares that there are operations with two bases, this ‘|’ operation being of this kind. ‘|(ξ, η)... is an arbitrary term of the series of results of an operation’. He then wonders whether expressions of the form ‘(∃x)....’ (such as ‘(∃x).φx’) are really the results of an operation, and if so what their bases would be (NB, p.72).
(Although his diary entries continue for another couple of weeks, there is now a gap of at least one month (nearly two months, if Brian McGuinness is right, which I think he is) until LW’s next notebook entries, which will be in a very different vein from these previous ones).
Tuesday 16th May, 1916: LW’s diary entry reads: ‘In the third position. As always, a lot of hardship. But even great grace. Am weak as ever! Cannot work. Sleep today during infantry fire, will probably perish. God be with me! Forever Amen. I’m a weak man, but he received me until now. God blessed for ever, Amen. I give my soul to the Lord’ (GT3, S.14).
Sunday 21st May, 1916: ‘May God make me a better man!’ LW implores in his diary (GT3, S.15).
Thursday 25th May, 1916: ‘We’re bombarded. As God wills!’ LW’s diary records (GT3, S.15).
Saturday 27th May, 1916: In his diary, LW records that he received letters from his mother and his eldest sister Hermine (‘Mining’). But he now expects a Russian attack today or tomorrow. ‘Whatever God wills. I am very deeply fallen into sin. But God will forgive me’ (GT3, S.15, McGuinness, p.241).
Sunday 28th May, 1916: In his diary, LW writes ‘Very disturbed sleep in the last weeks. Constantly dreaming of my duties. Dreams that bring me to the brink of waking. In the last two months m[asturbated] only three times.... My company disgusts me against my will. They often appear to me not like people, but like grimaces. Common riffraff. I don’t hate them, but they disgust me. Today strict readiness. My commander is very kind with me. Thinking about the purpose of life. That’s still the best thing you can do. I should be happier. Oh, if only my mind was stronger!!! Now God be with me! Amen’ (GT3, S.14).
Monday 29th May, 1916: LW’s diary entry reads simply ‘Gott mit mir’ (‘God with me’) (GT3, S.14). (His next diary entry will be 6th July – the hiatus here is due to the intensity of the Russians’ ‘Brusilov Offensive’)
Wednesday 31st May, 1916: A German translation of a letter that David Pinsent had written to LW is forwarded to him from Switzerland. Pinsent begins by thanking LW for a letter he has received, and apologising for the fact that his own letters have not been reaching LW. He explains that he has been sending them through an agency in Switzerland, although he is sending this letter via a lady (his aunt, Frau Elsa Gröger) from whom he has been receiving LW’s letters. He tells LW that he should have received many of his letters over the last six months, but that these have evidently gone astray.
Pinsent tells LW that he feels very sorry for him that he has to live through such difficult times. He exhorts LW to ‘bear them with courage, and after the war we shall no doubt at once do our very best to see each other again’. He tells LW that he misses him very much. He then relays the news that his own brother, Richard Parker Pinsent, who had been serving in the war in France, has been killed (that had happened in the previous October). Richard and LW were, Pinsent says, ‘the two persons who I most of all liked to see and wanted to be with’. Now, he says, he longs even more to see LW again: ‘The War cannot change our personal relations; it has really nothing to do with personal relationships. I assure you that it has not in the least influenced my feelings towards you’.
Pinsent then notes that some months ago he was for a second time refused service in the army for medical reasons, and that at the moment he is working extremely hard in connection with the war, as (‘incredible to me’) a mechanic.
He relates that he has not heard much music recently, and asks LW to write to him again and tell him that all goes well with him. He looks forward to seeing LW again: ‘we shall both wait patiently for that moment. It will come, and it will be splendid after so long to go back to the times we had together and which, like so many other things, now appear so distant and almost inconceivable’. He signs off ‘Ever your friend, Davy’ (Pinsent, pp.104-5). On 24th July, LW notes having received this letter.
Thursday 1st June, 1916: LW is promoted to Vormeister (which McGuinness says is equivalent to Lance-Bombardier) (McGuinness, pp.242, 256, Monk, p.146; Waugh, p.122).
Sunday 4th June, 1916: Across their entire south-west front, and to relieve some of the pressure on their allies, the Russians launch the Brusilov offensive, which results in enormous numbers of Austro-Hungarian casualties (McGuinness, pp.241-2). One of the main areas in which it develops is at Okna, immediately north of the Dniester, where LW is stationed (McGuinness, p.241).
From Sunday 4th to Tuesday 6th June, 1916: LW is involved in the Battle of Okna. Two reports later recommend him for a decoration, the longer of which runs:
‘Volunteer Wittgenstein was attached to the Observer officer during the engagements in front of Casemate JR77 (Cardinal Point Sarokrynicznyi) and the Cavalry Strongpoint Hill 458 from 4-6 vi 16. Ignoring the heavy artillery fire on the casemate and the exploding mortar bombs he observed the discharge of the mortars and located them. The Battery in fact succeeded in destroying two of the heavy-calibre mortars by direct hits, as was confirmed by prisoners taken. On the Battery Observation Post, Hill 417, he observed without intermission in the drumfire, although I several times shouted to him to take cover. By this distinctive behaviour he exercised a very calming effect on his comrades’ (quoted from McGuinness, p.242).
Saturday 10th June, 1916: A Russian breakthrough takes place to the northwest of LW’s position, and his division (along with the rest of the forces under General Karl von Pflanzer-Baltin is forced to retreat to the line of the river Pruth, and then to the Sereth (McGuinness, p.243).
Brian McGuinness remarks that ‘Wittgenstein himself later told a nephew of his long retreat from this offensive, in which he sat utterly exhausted on a horse in an endless column, with the one thought of keeping his seat, since if he fell off he would be trampled to death’ (McGuinness, p.243).
Saturday 24th June, 1916: LW’s division takes part in the battle of Kolomyia (24th June to 6th July) (McGuinness, p.243).
Sunday 2nd July, 1916: Gottlob Frege writes the seventh of his known Feldpostkarte to LW, from Jena (Janik 1989, p.12). Frege begins by thanking LW for his cards, and then continues “I am sorry that your earlier high spirits are missing from them. I very much hope that you regain these soon in the successful struggle for a great cause in a decisive world-historical context the likes of which there has never been. Right now I too lack enough strength and frame of mind for genuinely scientific work, but I am trying to occupy myself by working out a plan that I hope may be useful to the fatherland after the war. Then I hope that we shall be able to resume our conversations so as to make progress on our mutual understanding and on logical questions” (Pellegrin, p.15. The editors of this correspondence remark in a footnote that nothing in particular is known about the ‘plan’ Frege mentions, although he did record various political thoughts in his diary).
Tuesday 4th (or perhaps Saturday 1st) July, 1916: In his notebook, LW begins by asking himself what he knows about God and the purpose of life. He replies in the form of a list (reproduced here in Anscombe’s translation):
‘I know that this world exists.
That I am placed in it like my eye in its visual field.
That something about it is problematic, which we call its meaning.
That this meaning does not lie in it, but outside it.
That life is the world.
That my will penetrates the world.
That my will is good or evil.
Therefore that good and evil are somehow connected with the meaning of the world.
The meaning of life, i.e. the meaning of the world, we can call God.
And connect this with the comparison of God to a father.
To pray is to think about the meaning of life.
I cannot bend the happenings of the world to my will: I am completely powerless.
I can only make myself independent of the world – and so in a certain sense master it – by renouncing any influence on happenings’ (NB, pp.72-73).
[Here I follow Brian McGuinness’s suggestion that these remarks are from 1st or 4th July, and not from Sunday 11th June (as the published editions of LW’s Notebooks 1914-1916 have it) (McGuinness p.244 note). This means there has been no notebook entry since 11th May (Note that there are no diary entries between 29th May and 6th July, either. The intensity of the Brusilov Offensive, the enormous casualties sustained by the Austro-Hungarian forces, and the gruelling nature of their subsequent retreat are surely parts of the explanation for these parallel hiatuses)]
Wednesday 5th July, 1916: ‘The world is independent of my will’, LW’s notebook entry begins. Even if everything one wanted was to happen, that would only be, so to say, a grace of fate [eine Gnade des Schicksals], since it would not be guaranteed by any logical connection between one’s will and the world, and one could not will any supposed physical connection.
Good or evil willing could at most affect the boundaries of the world, that which cannot be portayed by language but can only be shown in language, it could not affect the facts. ‘In short, it must make the world a wholly different one’.
The world must, as it were, wax or wane as a whole, as if by accession or loss of meaning.
As, in death, the world does not change but stops existing (NB, p.73).
Thursday 6th July, 1916: ‘Colossal exertions in the last month’, LW begins his first diary entry since the end of May (McGuinness, p.243). He then goes on to remark that he has reflected a great deal on every possible subject (during May and June, and despite not having written any notes), but that ‘I cannot establish the connection with my mathematical modes of thought’ (GT3, SS.14-16; McGuinness, p.245).
Apparently continuing his final thought from yesterday’s notebook entry (to the effect that the world ceases to exist when one dies), LW remarks that Dostoyevsky is right when he says that the man who is happy is fulfulling the purpose of existence. [The Brothers Karamazov, pt.I, bk.2, ch.4] Alternatively, one could say that the man who no longer needs to have any purpose except to live, the man who is content, is the one who is fulfulling the purpose of existence. So ‘[t]he solution of the problem of life is to be seen in the disappearance of this problem’. He then asks himself, though, whether it is possible to live so that life stops being problematic, whether one can live in eternity, rather than in time (NB, pp.73-74).
Friday 7th July, 1916: Referring to the missing ‘connection’ between his recent reflections and his logico-mathematical philosophy, LW writes in his diary that ‘the connection will be made! What cannot be said, cannot be said!’ (GT3, S.16).
Again continuing his notebook entry from the previous day, LW supposes that this (the solution of the ‘problem of life’ being its disappearance) is why people to whom the meaning of life becomes clear after doubting cannot say what this meaning consists in. Then, apparently on a very different theme, he remarks that ‘If one can imagine a “kind of object” without knowing whether there are such objects, then I must have constructed their proto-picture for myself. Isn’t the method of mechanics based on this?’ (NB, p.74).
Saturday 8th July, 1916: ‘Alas, alas! I have no time to work!’ LW laments in his diary (GT3, S.16).
However, in his notebook, resuming his thoughts on matters metaphysical, LW writes a long notebook entry covering topics such as God, the meaning of life, the will, fate, happiness and unhappiness, life and death, eternal life, and conscience.
He begins by declaring that to believe in God means understanding the question of the meaning of life, and also means seeing that the facts of the world are not the end of the matter. Believing in God means seeing that life has a meaning.
The world, he remarks, is given to the subject; one’s will enters into the world completely from outside, as into something that is already there. This is why we feel dependent on an alien will. Whether or not this is so, he then says, we are in some sense dependent, and what we depend upon we can call God. God would then simply be fate or, ‘what is the same thing’, the world, which is independent of our will.
However, he then notes, one can make oneself independent of fate. The world and ‘my independent I’ are the two godheads.
One is either happy or unhappy, that’s all. So it can be said: good or evil do not exist. The one who is happy must have no fear, not even in the face of death. Only the person who lives in the present, rather than in time, is happy, since when one lives in the present there is no death.
‘Death is not an event if life. It is not a fact of the world’. If by eternity we mean not infinite temporal duration but non-temporality, we can say that whoever lives in the present lives eternally.
To live happily one must be in agreement with the world – that is what ‘being happy’ means. Then one is in agreement with the alien will on which one appears dependent – one is ‘doing the will of God’. Fear in the face of death, though, is the best sign of a false, that is a bad, life. But, he asks himself, when one’s conscience upsets one’s equilibrium what is it that one isn’t in agreement with – the world?
Conscience is the voice of God. But when one is made unhappy by the thought that one has offended someone else, is that one’s conscience? Or can one say ‘Act according to your conscience, whatever it may be’? He ends his notebook entry ‘Live happily!’ [Lebe glücklich!] (NB, pp.74-75). [Cf. TLP 6.4311] (McGuinness, p.255 and note).
Sunday 9th July, 1916: ‘Don’t get angry about people’, LW advises himself in his private diary. ‘People are grey villains. And yet you must not annoy yourself about them. Their words must not invade you. If they do not address you, it is still easy to stay calm. But if they are cheeky and rude towards you, it wells up inside you. Do not be upset. Fretting benefits you nothing’ (GT3, SS.16-17).
Returning to matters of logic and language, in his notebook entry LW argues that it must be possible to give ‘the most general form of proposition’, otherwise there would have to be a moment where we suddenly had a new experience, a logical experience as it were. But that is impossible.
He urges that one should not forget that (∃x)fx does not mean: there is an x such that fx, but rather: there is a true proposition ‘fx’. Where the proposition ‘fa’ speaks of particular objects, the general proposition speaks of all objects. (NB, p.75).
Tuesday 11th July, 1916: LW begins his notebook entry by noting that the particular object is a very remarkable phenomenon. Instead of ‘all objects’ we might say: All particular objects. If all particular objects are given, ‘all objects’ are given. So with the particular objects all objects are given. If there are objects, that gives us ‘all objects’ too. This is why it must be possible to construct the unity of the elementary propositions and of the general propositions. If the elementary propositions are given, that gives us all elementary propositions, too, and that gives us the general proposition. With the latter, hasn’t the unity been constructed? (NB, pp.75-76).
July 1916: Austrian forces, including LW, are driven back from Bukovina into the Carpathian mountains, where they spend the rest of the season (McGuinness, p.243, Monk, p.145). Pflanzer-Baltin’s forces make several counter-offensives in the region south of the river Dniester, confining the forces of his Russian opponent, General Letchitski, to the area they originally won (McGuinness, pp.243-4). ‘[T]he Russians were held and their failure in the war was precisely that the Brusilov offensive was their greatest vistory. Their last throw had achieved only partial success. Wittgenstein evidently played a normal part in these operations’ (ibid, p.244).
Thursday 13th July, 1916: LW notes that one keeps on feeling that even elementary propositions mention all objects. He then writes ‘(∃x)φx.x = a’. If two operations which cannot be reduced to one are given it must at least be possible to set up the general form of their combination. Φx, ψy|χz , (∃x). , (x)
Because it can easily be explained how propositions can be formed by means of these operations and how propositions are not to be formed, this must also be capable somehow of exact expression (NB, p.76).
Friday 14th July, 1916: LW’s diary entry remarks only on ‘Die Gnade der Arbeit’ ('the grace of work') (GT3, S.17).
Continuing his line of thought from yesterday’s notebook entry, LW remarks that the exact expression he had in mind there ‘must already be given in the general form of the sign of an operation’. Mustn’t this, he asks himself, be the only legitimate expression of the application of an operation? Obviously its must, since if the form of operation can be expressed at all, it must be expressed in such a way that it can only be applied correctly.
Finally, harking back to his ideas from July 8th, he remarks ‘Man cannot make himself happy without more ado’, and ‘Whoever lives in the present lives without fear and hope’ (NB, p.76).
Sunday 16th July, 1916: ‘Terrible weather’, LW remarks in his diary. ‘In the mountains, bad, quite inadequate shelter, icy cold, rain, and mist. An excruciating life. Terribly difficult not to lose oneself. Because I am indeed a weak man. But the spirit helps me. The best thing would be if I did fall sick; then at least I should have a little peace’ (GT3, S.17).
Wednesday 19th July, 1916: ‘It’s still annoying me. I’m a weak man’, LW writes in his diary (GT3, S.18).
Thursday 20th July, 1916: ‘Just keep working so you’ll become a good person’, exhorts LW in his diary entry for this day (GT3, S.18).
Friday 21st July, 1916: In his notebook entry, LW asks himself what the situation of the human will is. ‘I will call “will” first and foremost the bearer of good and evil’. He then imagines a man who has no use of his limbs, and thus could not exercise his will in the usual way, but could nevertheless think, and *want*, and communicate his thoughts to another, and could therefore do good or evil through this other person. Then it’s clear that ethics would have validity for this imagined man, too, ‘and that he in the *ethical sense* is the bearer of a *will*’. Is there any difference, LW asks himself, between this will and that which sets the human body in motion? Or is the mistake here that even *wanting* (thinking) is an activity of the will (so that a person *without* will wouldn’t even be alive)? He ends by asking himself whether we couldn’t conceive of a being that isn’t capable of Will at all, but only of Idea (e.g., of seeing). But he thinks this ‘in some sense seems impossible’. If it were possible, there could be a world without ethics (NB, pp.76-77).
Arthur Schopenhauer’s (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schopenhauer ) categories of Will and Idea figure here).
Monday 24th July, 1916: In an anguished diary entry from this day, LW says ‘We’re bombarded. And at every shot my soul flinches. I’d love to go on living!’ (GT3, S.18).
‘The World and Life are one’, LW’s notebook entry begins. By ‘Life’, he then explains, he means neither physiological nor psychological life. Life is the world.
Ethics, he then remarks, does not treat of the world, but must be a condition of the world, like logic. Ethics and aesthetics are one and the same [Ethik und Aesthetik sind Eins] (NB, p.77). (McGuinness, p.253).
Wednesday 26th July, 1916: In his private diary, LW records receiving ‘A touching letter from David [that is, his friend David Pinsent]. He writes that his brother has been killed in France. Dreadful! This lovely friendly letter opens my eyes about how I live here in exile. It may be a salutary exile, but I now feel it as banishment. I’m exiled to being only among maggots and must live with them in the most disgusting conditions. And in this environment, I should live a good life and purify myself. But that's awfully hard! I’m too weak. I’m too weak! God help me’ (GT3, SS.18-19).
Saturday 29th July, 1916: LW’s diary entry reads ‘Was shot at yesterday. Was despondent. I was afraid of death. Such a request, I now have to live! And it's hard to give up on life, once you’ve liked it. That’s just “sin”, unreasonable life, a false conception of life. From time to time I become a beast. Then I can think of nothing but eating, drinking, sleeping. Awful! And then I suffer like a beast, without the possibility of internal rescue. Then I’m defencelessly abandoned to my desires and my aversions. That makes real life unthinkable‘ (GT3, SS.19-20).
In a line of thought apparently continuing his previous notebook entry (from 24th July), LW begins by noting that it’s a fact of logic that wanting doesn’t stand in any logical relation to its own fulfilment. It’s also clear that the world of the happy person is a different world from the world of the unhappy person.
Is seeing an activity?, he asks himself. Is it possible to will good, and to will evil, and not to will? Or is only the person happy who does not will? ‘To love one’s neighbour’ would mean to will! But can one want and yet not be unhappy if the want does not attain fulfilment? (A possibility that always exists). He then asks himself whether, according to common conceptions, it is good to want nothing for one’s neighbour, neither good nor evil? (Presumably not) and yet ‘in a certain sense it seems that not wanting is the only good’.
He then interrupts to berate himself for undoubtedly making crude mistakes.
He notes that it’s generally assumed that it’s evil to want someone else to be unfortunate. But can this be correct? Can it be worse than to want him to be fortunate? Here, LW remarks, everything seems to turn on how one wants. It seems that one can say no more than: Live happily! [Lebe glücklich!] The world of the happy is a different world from that of the unhappy – the world of the happy is a happy world. But then, can there be a world that is neither happy nor unhappy? (McGuinness, p.253). (NB, pp.77-78).
Gottlob Frege writes the eighth of his known Feldpostkarte to LW, from Jena (Janik 1989, p.12). He begins by thanking LW for his greetings, and goes on “I am always pleased when I get a sign of life from you. But do forgive me that I reply to you so infrequently. Although on the surface life goes on as usual, so much runs through my head right now that I rarely get around to writing cards. I hope I shall soon receive another card from you in which I read of your truly high spirits” (Pellegrin, p.17).
Sunday 30th July, 1916: LW’s diary entry reads: ‘Odd: Today I wasn’t happy that I didn’t get into the infantry Officer's Mess, as I initially expected. So I'm acting extremely childishly, and badly. But still, I cannot master my anger over the injustice. Again and again I have to think about it and about how it could be remedied. Man is so stupid’ (GT3, S.21).
In his notebook, LW begins by remarking that when a general ethical law of the form “Thou shalt...” is set up, the first thought is: suppose I don’t do it? It’s clear, he maintains, that ethics has nothing to do with punishment and reward, and therefore that the question of the consequences of an action must be unimportant. Or at least ‘these consequences cannot be events’. For, he says, ‘there must be something right about that question after all. There must be a kind of ethical reward and of ethical punishment but these must be involved in the action itself’.
It’s clear, too, that the reward must be something pleasant, the punishment something unpleasant.
He then remarks that he keeps on coming back to this: the happy life is good, the unhappy bad. But if one now asks oneself: why should I live happily, this question seems to be tautological; ‘the happy life seems to be justified, of itself, it seems that it is the only right life’. This, however, he finds deeply mysterious; ‘It is clear that ethics cannot be expressed!’ However one could say: the happy life seems to be in some sense more harmonious than the unhappy. But, he asks himself, in what sense?? ‘What is the objective mark of the happy, harmonious life? Here it is again clear that there cannot be any such mark that can be described. This mark cannot be a physical one but only a metaphysical one, a transcendental one. Ethics is transcendental’ (NB, pp.78-79).
Monday 31st July, 1916: LW writes a letter to his friend David Pinsent (but although Pinsent receives it (see entry for 22nd August), this letter no longer survives) (Pinsent, p.105).
Tuesday 1st August, 1916: LW begins his notebook entry by writing ‘How things stand, is God. God is, how things stand’. Religion, Science, and Art, he remarks, arise only from the consciousness of ‘the *uniqueness of my life*’ (NB, p.79).
Wednesday 2nd August, 1916: Continuing his thought from yesterday’s notebook entry, LW remarks that this consciousness (the consciousness of the uniqueness of my life) is life itself.
He asks himself whether there could be any ethics if there were no living being except myself. If ethics is supposed to be something fundamental, he replies, there could.
‘If I am right, then it is not sufficient for the ethical judgment that a world is given. Then the world in itself is neither good nor evil. For it must be all one, as far as concerns the existence of ethics, whether there is living matter in the world or not. And it is clear that a world in which there is only dead matter is in itself neither good nor evil, so even the world of living things can in itself be neither good nor evil. Good and evil only enter through the subject. And the subject is not part of the world, but a boundary of the world. It would be possible to say (as per Schopenhauer): It is not the world of Idea that is either good or evil; but the willing subject’.
He then remarks, though, that he is conscious of the complete unclarity of all these sentences.
Going by the above, he continues, the willing subject would have to be happy or unhappy, and happiness and unhappiness could not be part of the world. As the subject is not a part of the world but a presupposition of its existence, so good and evil which are predicates of the subject, are not properties in the world. Here the nature of the subject is completely veiled.
Finally, LW remarks that his own work has now ‘broadened out from the foundations of logic to the nature of the world’ (NB, p.79) (Monk, p.142; McGuinness, pp.244-5, 254, Kanterian, p.69).

Thursday 4th August, 1916: LW’s notebook entry begins with him asking whether the thinking subject isn’t mere superstition. Where in the world is the metaphysical subject to be found? To one who would say that it stands in a relation analogous to that between the eye and the visual field, LW replies that (in this arrangement, of course) one does not actually see the eye, and that nothing in the visual field would enable one to infer that it is seen from an eye (NB, p.80).

Monday 8th January, 1917: It’s clear, LW writes in his notebook entry from this day, that the logical product of two elementary propositions (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_sentence ) can never be a tautology. If the logical product of two propositions is a contradiction, and the propositions appear to be elementary propositions (e.g., A is red and A is green), we can see that in this case the appearance is deceptive (NB, p.91).


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