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Was Wittgenstein's picture theory of meaning/language, as posited in the Tractatus, and which was closely aligned with his analytic realism/logical atomism, simply an elucidation and elaboration of the traditional correspondence theory? How so? If not, what was interestingly novel about it. How are the two theories best distinguished from one another?

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    It is something much more specific than traditional "theory", which is more of a vague system of ideas than a theory, see e.g. Stegmüller's commentary. But it only covers the propositional fragment of language. Hintikka extended it to predicates/quantifiers in Quantification and the picture theory of language.
    – Conifold
    Dec 7 '20 at 1:03
  • Thank you, @Conifold. I note that your first citation claims to be a "reconstruction" of the picture theory, how does this differ from the original/traditional interpretation of the l "theory". Also, please say something about the more salient differences between isomophism and homomorphism. Finally, what, specifically, is the focus of the claim that the picture theory is "independent of the metaphysical absolutism and atomism of the Tractatus"?.
    – gonzo
    Dec 7 '20 at 2:00
  • @Conifold just to be clear, I am familiar with the supposedly unique one to one word/world relationship conoted by the term isomorphism. But not about the supposed connotation of the other.
    – gonzo
    Dec 7 '20 at 2:09
  • Isomorphism is not just 1-1 map, it is one that preserves structure, relational structure in this case (images of related things are image related). Homomorphism is that without 1-1. Stenius's interpretation is more or less along the standard lines, but it fills in the details that are cryptic in the Tractatus. The relativization is explained on p.138 which is visible in the preview, neither individuals nor relations involved need to be metaphysically irreducible, only treated as such for the purposes of a model at hand (Russell explicitly relativized his atomism to this effect in late years).
    – Conifold
    Dec 7 '20 at 5:19
  • @Conifold So what we have is 1-1 not word-world, but "word-ideal representation" [constitutive elements of a "model" perhaps] correspondence. How does this differ from, or not reduce to, simple Berkleyan idealism? The naming [rather than the traditional "perceiving"] of a mode of mind. Maybe with a hint of the coherentist theory of not truth but justification.
    – gonzo
    Jan 8 at 17:50
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According to the correspondence principle, a statement is true if it accurately describes reality. What Wittgenstein wants to know is how exactly (and whether) our minds can accomplish that feat. His question is "How can we accurately describe the reality?". And he offers his picture theory as a possible answer.

Of course, in order to explain how we describe reality, we need to know what reality is in the first place? -- so Wittgenstein offers his answer to that question as well.

And it's close -- but no cigar. The correspondence is, yes, visual in nature, but it is not between 2-D pictures and reality. The real world has three space dimensions plus time -- that's why it takes a full-blown 3-D simulation to adequately represent a particular aspect of reality -- go ahead and call it a "mental model". Both assembling and, later, running it inside one's head is, basically, a form of daydreaming.

It takes a bit a Googling (plus some healthy imagination and just enough courage to keep an open mind) to connect the dots and piece together individual models till you have the rest of it covered -- a comprehensive 3-D simulation of reality. Which, sadly, no modern language has a word for. But that's what Sanskrit's "ātman", or Greek's "lógos" (as in "the lógos became flesh" or in Heraclitus' fragments) used to mean1 -- a deep understanding of ourselves, our lives, and the world around.

And yes, you can do it too -- everyone can!

1 ... and, technically, so "used to" the English word "soul" through it's PIE(?) equivalent <== i don't know that word, but, on the way there we might encounter Russian word "сила", "sila", the force... May it be with you!

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  • Forgive me, but u have lost me: for I know not of what you speak. I was simply trying referring to the relationship between Wittgenstein's picture theory language (which holds that reality ('the world') is a vast collection of facts that we can picture in language, assuming that our language has an adequate logical form) and the traditional correspondence theory of truth, which provides essentially that the truth or falsity of a statement is determined only by how it relates to the world and whether it accurately describes that world (plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth-correspondence)
    – gonzo
    Dec 7 '20 at 19:27
  • @gonzo -- Yes, according to the correspondence principle, a statement is true if it accurately describes reality. What Wittgenstein wants to know is how exactly (and whether) our minds can accomplish that feat. His question is "How can we accurately describe the reality?". And he offers his picture theory as a possible answer.
    – silkfire
    Dec 8 '20 at 2:03
  • ... of course, in order to explain how we describe reality, we need to know what IS reality in the first place? -- so Wittgenstein offers his answer to that question as well.
    – silkfire
    Dec 8 '20 at 3:19

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