Wittgenstein's Tractatus appears to have a singular style (526 sections numbered and organized in decimal under headings 1 to 7). It's also very concise. And the stylistic side is not envisaged by him as a secondary aspect of his work (as he said, his book is "rigidly philosophical and at the same time literally"). So he had a great concern for the aesthetic dimension of the Book.

I feel this makes the Book to be more similar to the ancient philosophy and the eastern philosophy than to the western philosophy.

Somewhere I read that Gottlob Frege criticized such style for being so different from that of common philosophical works and from the tradition of western philosophy.

Could you give me a confirmation of such Frege's viewpoint as regard to the Tractatus' style and link me a source?

1 Answer 1


Regarding the twenty-one cards and letters from Frege to Wittgenstein discovered in 1988 [None of the letters from Wittgenstein to Frege are thought to have survived the bombing of the Munster library in 1945], you can see into: Enzo De Pellegrin (editor), Interactive Wittgenstein: Essays in Memory of Georg Henrik von Wright (2011):

  • Frege-Wittgenstein Correspondence, edited by Burton Dreben and Juliet Floyd, page 15-on,


  • Juliet Floyd, The Frege-Wittgenstein Correspondence: Interpretive Themes, page 75-on:

they contain a record of Frege’s highly critical reactions to the Tractatus manuscript, which Wittgenstein had sent to him in December 1918 after having had the manuscript rejected by the literary publisher Jahoda and Siegel. And they also contain his reaction to Wittgenstein’s frank criticisms (now lost, with Wittgenstein’s side of the correspondence) of Frege’s later highly influential philosophical essay “Der Gedanke”, an essay that Frege sent to Wittgenstein in an offprint.

See Frege's letter dated 28.VI.19 [page 51]:

You have certainly long awaited an answer from me and must want me to comment on your treatise that you sent to me. [...] I have thus been prevented from occupying myself more thoroughly with your treatise and can therefore unfortunately give you no well-grounded judgment. I find it difficult to understand. For the most part you put your sentences down one beside the other without justification, or at least without sufficiently detailed justification. I thus often do not know whether I ought to agree, for their sense is not sufficiently clear to me. Surely the sense would become clearer with more detailed justification. In general colloquial language is too faltering tobe suited, just as it is, for difficult logical and epistemological tasks. It seems to me that elucidations are necessary to make the sense more precise.


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