Wittgenstein and Russell both moved away from Logical Atomism, and it is generally considered to have failed as a theory of how language connects to truth.

However, as an IT person, when I first came into contact with Logical Atomism, its ideas were so obvious and intuitive as to be almost be trivial. I can see the ideas of Logical Atomism embodied in the way programming languages are structured, in the way specification and requirement documentation is written, and in the way legal documents are written. The format of the Tractatus may have seemed weird at the time, but now it is familiar to anyone who has to deal with business documents and complicated installation and user manuals.

  1. Is it legitimate to say that Logical Atomism has indeed had permanent effect on the way we use language in certain domains?
  2. Or are the similarities I have mentioned above coincidental, and are just du to the generally analytical nature of the domains I mentioned?
  3. Has anyone argued for the above point: that Logical Atomism has had a long term effect on our culture?
  • The structure of the Tractatus was influenced by Spinoza, and he was influenced by Euclid - and Euclid, perhaps by Law Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 23:17

1 Answer 1


I believe the answer is: yes, indeed, but can't say how. I am only assuming "Answer" status for this vague reply, due to Java problems with "Comments" at the moment.

I have always understood that, yes, while early logical positivism and Russell's efforts "failed" in terms of philosophical completion, they were very influential in the development of computing. The reductive merging of logic, mathematics, and natural languages beginning with Frege is ancestral to our whole computerized world.

However, I can't say how fundamentally genealogical this "ancestry" is. Can one just skip from Boole to Turing and Shannon without the whole Principia interlude? Did that project set a generation of logicians on the digital path? I'm sure others can answer that.

Unfortunately, I seem to have got this idea by osmosis and have no particular references to cite. I imagine it wouldn't be hard to google up the genealogy.

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