Wittgenstein: The Relation of the World, Language and Painting

Wittgenstein: The Relation of the World, Language and Painting

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Tractatus consists of short, numbered aphorisms. The seven basic aphorisms are presented as numbers 1 to 7. The explanations and comments under each aphorism are numbered in the format 1.1, 3.1, and the views on the said explanation are numbered in the format 1.11, 3.11.

Now let’s see the opening sentences of the Tractatus:

1. The world is what it is.
1.1 The world is a collection of facts, not things. Expressing his ideas about the world in this way, Wittgenstein then turns to what language is. Let’s consider a drawing that depicts a factual situation. The phenomenon is what actually happens. Drawing, on the other hand, depicts a possible state of affairs.
2.1 We picture the facts ourselves.
2.12 A picture is a model of reality.
2.131 In a picture, the elements of the picture are representatives of objects.
2.14 What constitutes a picture is that its elements are in a certain relation to one another.
2.141 A picture is a fact.

If we take the drawing example, the elements in the drawing (lines, shapes, maybe colors) actually exist. Each picture has a specific structure. What is meant by structure is that the elements that make up the picture are in certain relations with each other. Two different pictures can have a similar structure. The two pictures, beyond having similar structures, have a common pictorial form. What is meant by pictorial form here is neither one of the elements in the pictures nor the structure of the pictures. Pictorial form must be thought of as a possibility. The possibility of arranging certain elements in such a structure gives us the pictorial form. Pictorial form is not dependent on a phenomenon or a picture representing that phenomenon. The said possibility may become actual in one painting, or it may become actual in many different pictures. We say that all these pictures have the same pictorial form.

Being able to talk about the relation of painting between pictures and what is painted depends on the fact that there is something in common between the painting and the painted. This commonality between painting and reality is the pictorial form, whether the painting accurately portrays the reality it portrays or not.

Wittgenstein uses the term painting in a very broad sense. The picture does not have to be just a two-dimensional drawing. Where the facts and the objects included in the facts are represented, a relation of painting can be mentioned. According to Wittgenstein, every picture is a logical picture. Logical pictures can portray the world right or wrong.

Wittgenstein speaks of a space in which all possible facts or all possible objects, all possible relations exist, and he calls this space logical space. The logical space includes not only actual cases of fact, but also all possible cases of facts. Wittgenstein, who reveals the logical space in this way, reveals the nature of the pictures as follows:

2.202 A picture represents a possible state in logical space. Based on these views, how can one talk about whether a picture is right or wrong?
2.22 A painting represents what it represents through its pictorial form, regardless of whether it is true or false.
2.223 To be able to say whether a picture is true or false, we must compare it to reality.
2.224 It is not possible to tell whether the picture is true or false just by looking at the picture.
2,225 There are no pictures that are a priori correct.

For a picture to be true, the fact it depicts must be actual. In order to understand this, it is necessary to compare the picture with the phenomenon. If Wittgenstein is right, this shows that all rational conceptions of epistemology are on the wrong track. Any picture, however clear and distinct, cannot be true or false regardless of the facts.

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