On Operator N and Wittgenstein’s Logical Philosophy

James R Connelly


In this paper, I provide a new reading of Wittgenstein’s N operator, and of its significance within his early logical philosophy. I thereby aim to resolve a longstanding scholarly controversy concerning the expressive completeness of N. Within the debate between Fogelin and Geach in particular, an apparent dilemma emerged to the effect that we must either concede Fogelin’s claim that N is expressively incomplete, or reject certain fundamental tenets within Wittgenstein’s logical philosophy. Despite their various points of disagreement, however, Fogelin and Geach nevertheless share several common and problematic assumptions regarding Wittgenstein’s logical philosophy, and it is these mistaken assumptions which are the source of the dilemma. Once we recognize and correct these, and other, associated expository errors, it will become clear how to reconcile the expressive completeness of Wittgenstein’s N operator, with several commonly recognized features of, and fundamental theses within, the Tractarian logical system.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15173/jhap.v5i4.2963

James R Connelly
Trent University Peterborough and Oshawa, ON, Canada

Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy