12 March 2013


First of all: I love Wittgenstein’s Tractatus! It may have been naive to try and explain the world in such a “simple” logical framework, but it is still one of the best and most readable approaches of the 21st century. For computer scientists this should be of special interest:

3 .333 A function cannot be its own argument, because the functional sign already contains the prototype of its own argument and it cannot contain itself.

If, for example, we suppose that the function F(fx) could be its own argument, then there would be a proposition “F(F(fx))”, and in this the outer functions F and the inner function F must have different meanings; for the inner has the form φ(fx), the outer the form ψ(φ(fx)). Common to both functions is only the letter “F”, which by itself signifies nothing.

This is at once clear, if instead of “F(F(u))”, we write “(φ) : F(φu) . φu = Fu”.

Herewith Russell’s paradox vanishes.

It seems Wittgenstein used something similar to simple typed lambda, where ¬∃σ. ⊢ λ x . x x : σ. I wonder how his world would have looked in a more turing complete framework.

You can find the complete text and translation here.
The picture above was taken from Wikipedia.