What is Logical Syntax?

What is Logical Syntax?

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Carnap’s The Logical Synthesis of Language can be taken as a response to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.

In this study, Carnap discusses and develops the concept of logical syntax that Wittgenstein proposed in the Tractatus. As is known, Wittgenstein stated in the Tractatus that a logical syntology should be developed in which the same signs are not used for different symbols and different signs are used for signs with different signifying modes in order to avoid misleading us with the superficial structure of language (Tractatus, 3.325). On the other hand, Wittgenstein also argued that propositions are not fully sufficient to represent the logical form. Propositions can only show logical form (Tractatus, 4.121).

Carnap becomes the person who gets involved in what everyone says should be done, just like in the Aufbau project. He undertakes the work of developing the syntax in question. He also does not share Wittgenstein’s reservations about the representative power of propositions.

Carnap defines logical syntax as follows:

By the logical syntax of a language we mean a formal theory of the linguistic forms of that language, the systematic expression of the formal rules that govern language, and the development of results that follow these rules. A theory, a rule, a definition, or the like is called formal when no reference is made to either the meaning of symbols (for example, words) or the meaning of expressions (such as sentences), but only and simply to the types and orders of symbols from which expressions are constructed. Logical Syntax of Language, p.1).

The purpose of logical syntax is to be able to express the results of the logical analysis fully without creating ambiguity by constructing a string of signs.

According to Carnap, if this can be achieved, philosophy will be able to turn into a logical analysis of the sentences and concepts of science. Philosophy will be the logic of science. This is the fulfillment of Leibniz’s dream characteristica universalis.

Carnap thinks that thanks to logical syntax, it can be shown that the sentences of metaphysics are empty or meaningless by logical analysis, and in this respect, it can be claimed that the sentences of metaphysics are false sentences that violate the rules of syntactics. The remaining meaningful philosophical problems will be those of the logic of science. As can be seen, the purpose of Carnap; It is to make room for a kind of philosophy by eliminating metaphysics. It’s not about abolishing philosophy entirely.

Carnap thinks that logical syntax will enable us to determine the method of verification of propositions by revealing the structure of propositions and the relations between propositions.

Carnap, while carrying out his studies on syntactics, tried to define accuracy within the boundaries of syntactics, but could not clarify the use of the predicate of truth within the boundaries of language. Carnap learns this expansion from Tarski. It is rumored that Carnap described his conversations to his disciples, in which Tarski first told him about his views on righteousness: They are sitting in a cafe, and Carnap asks Tarski what he can say about the truth of a proposition with sensory content (non-logical-mathematical) such as “This table is black.” Tarski replies, “‘This table is black’ if and only if this table is black”. This answer contains a theory that Carnap had been looking for for a long time and could not find. It is said that Carnap expressed his feelings at that moment by saying “the scales fell from my eyes” (The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap, p.304).

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook