The Distinction in the Tractatus Between Saying and Showing

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Harward, Donald W.
Perkins, Moreland
The distinction between saying and showing is fundamental to Wittgenstein's attempt in the Tractatus to explain the communication of significant propositions, the function of non-significant assertions, and the general relationships between thought, language and reality. In fact, the saying and showing distinctions provide the key to an interpretation of the philosophies of logic and language in the Tractatus. The distinction has not been thoroughly investigated in the Wittgensteinian literature. When it has been discussed, it has not been analyzed rigorously; nor, I think, has it been analyzed correctly. It is quite remarkable that a distinction so important to the Tractatus has been given such brief treatment. I critically construct the positions of the six leading commentators on the Tractatus doctrines of saying and showing early in the dissertation. The commentators are: Pitcher, Black, Stenius, Favrholdt, Schwyzer and Shwayder. Arguments are presented to demonstrate the inadequacies of each of their intepretations. By paying attention to just how Wittgenstein uses various "show" and "say" terms or expressions in the Tractatus, and by exploring what follows from those uses, an appropriate interpretation is found. In Chapters Three and Four, I structure this interpretation and I indicate how it avoids the criticisms and errors attributed to the other commentaries. The last chapter buttresses my interpretation of what Wittgenstein is doing in, and with, the doctrines of showing and saying in the Tractatus by presenting support­ing evidence from the pre-Tractatus manuscripts.