chapter  III
12 Pages

The Tractatus and Logical Positivism

The Tractatus is a book of just over eighty pages, but it has exercised a greater influence on twentieth-century philosophy than almost any other single work. The dominant philosophical school in the years between the wars was that of Logical Positivism. And although Logical Positivism derived something or other from a variety of sources, its decisive impulse and central inspiration came from the Tractatus. Logical Positivism was formulated in Vienna in the 1920'S by a group of philosophers generally known as the Wiener Kreis or 'Vienna Circle' . One of the works they studied together was the Tractatus. The author was living in or near Vienna at this time but he never attended the discussions or adhered to the Kreis. Strange as this aloofness may seem, it was very characteristic ofWittgenstein. But through Moritz Schlick, the real leader of the Wiener Kreis, Wittgenstein had some contact with it, and some indirect share in its deliberations. However, it would be a great mistake to assume on the strength of this, as some have done, that Wittgenstein was a Logical Positivist. One can see that he was not one if one understands what Logical Positivists believe. For although some of the ideas in the Tractatus may have become fundamental tenets of Logical Positivism, there are still basic disagreements between that doctrine and what is said in the Tractatus.