The goal of both Russel’s Principia (1910) and Frege’s Begriffsschriftis (1879) ["a formula language, modeled on that of arithmetic, for pure thought."] was essentially to defend the thesis that mathematics can be reduced to logic, that mathematical truths are logical truths. These works put forward the logicist claim that logical knowledge enjoys a privileged status in comparison with other types of knowledge about the world.

Likewise, standing on the shoulders of these two philosophers/logicians, Wittgenstein’s goal in his Tractatus was primarily that of eliminating from philosophy the alleged “nonsense” deriving from philosophy's distorted uses of language by attempting to describe/show the limits of thought and language, sense and meaning. Adding his picture theory of meaning/language, which is arguably but a more sophisticated version of the Correspondence Theory, arguing that the logical structure of the world is somehow mirrored in the logical structure of rationality. And declaring that “What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must remain silent.”

While (until recently*) the arguably common theses of these works largely succeeded in causing the then world of thought and knowledge to pivot in a new direction, i.e. away from Hegelian idealism and grand metaphysical system building in general and toward conceptual elucidation and logical clarity, I wonder how, approaching the centennial of the Tractatus’ publication, in the decidedly Rortian neo pragmatic post-positivism of 2021 (in part ushered in by Witgenstein's own Philosophical Investigations), aside from the instrumental methods of a predicate calculus (particularly useful to, say, computation, AI, etc. ), one would usefully characterize these works’ lasting influences and failures to epistemology. Their legacy.

(*I say “until recently” because of the resurgence of [a now post-positivist] metaphysical realism, so typical in the trending (arguably Hegelian) lexicon of “structural” and “systemic” objects/[arti]facts.)

  • 1
    "in the decidedly Rortian neo pragmatic post-positivism of 2021"--can you elaborate a little on what views/arguments you are denoting with this term, and how it relates to the question of the "legacy" of Frege/Russell/Wittgenstein (Tractatus era) views of truth and knowledge? Do you think advocates of some kind of Rorty-esque view have made specific arguments that undermine the F/R/W view of the usefulness of logical formalism for clarifying philosophical debates, and are wondering about the responses, for example? Or are you asking if Rorty-esque thinkers see anything of value in F/R/W ideas?
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 19:20
  • There is significant controversy in considering Rorty any kind of pragmatist, even insinuation his self-identification as such is postmodern trolling behavior (cf. Susan Haack). Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 20:04
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    Most current analytic philosophers are arguably "post-positivist", and neo-pragmatism is arguably a minority current there. Even it is represented more by Putnam and Brandom than Rorty, who is very unpopular. Frege-Russel’s spirit of technical analysis and formalization very much remains the analytic consensus, this includes even mainstream neo-pragmatists, albeit in tempered form. As for logicism per se, it never really took in practice, and was replaced by vaguer milder attitudes early on, which remain the pervasive legacy.
    – Conifold
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 23:29
  • @ Hypnosifl How I distill my views about “ the decidedly Rortian neo pragmatic post-positivism of 2021” can be deduced from these two posts: epistemology - Has, as Richard Rorty hoped, solidarity successfully replaced objective truth as the aim of cognition? - Philosophy Stack Exchange and epistemology - Implication of Rorty's concession to Ramberg that true statements "get things right"? - Philosophy Stack Exchange.
    – gonzo
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 17:38
  • @ Hypnosifl But a full elucidation of the distinction between Rortian “neo pragmatism” (Ian Hacking’s term if memory serves) and “the revisionist movement in contemporary pragmatism” can be found in Jefferey Stout’s essay, “On Our Interest in Getting Things Right,” the first essay in editor Cheryl Misak’s ”new pragmatists.
    – gonzo
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 17:39


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