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Models and Multiplicities: Logical Pictures in Hertz and Wittgenstein

Eisenthal, Joshua (2018) Models and Multiplicities: Logical Pictures in Hertz and Wittgenstein. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The most long-standing division amongst interpretations of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus is between ontologically-oriented and logically-oriented interpretations. On an ontologically-oriented interpretation, the Tractatus introduces unfamiliar entities—simple objects constituting logically independent states of affairs—in order to account for the sense of colloquial sentences. On a logically-oriented interpretation, in contrast, the sense of colloquial sentences is presupposed, and Tractarian simple objects do not play a special explanatory role.

I show that an unprecedented argument in favour of a logically-oriented interpretation emerges from an appreciation of the influence of Heinrich Hertz’s Principles of Mechanics, particularly Hertz’s notion of a dynamical model. According to Hertz, a dynamical model captures all of the essential content of a mechanical description. On this view a pendulum, a mass on a spring, and a vibrating string are all instantiations of the same mechanical system because they can all be represented by the same dynamical model. I show that understanding the central role of dynamical models in Principles provides crucial insights into Hertz’s project as well as its influence on Wittgenstein. Just as Principles provides the analytic resources needed to bring out the essential content of mechanical descriptions, the Tractatus provides the analytic resources needed to bring out the essential content of colloquial sentences. Despite certain appearances to the contrary, neither Hertz nor Wittgenstein was arguing for the existence of unfamiliar ontological entities. Rather, they were aiming to display the significant content of ordinary descriptions—in classical mechanics and in natural language respectively.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Eisenthal, Joshuajosheisenthal@gmail.comjoe22
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWilson,
Committee CoChairRicketts,
Committee MemberShaw,
Committee MemberSchaffner,
Committee MemberGoldfarb,
Date: 26 September 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 15 June 2018
Approval Date: 26 September 2018
Submission Date: 2 August 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 116
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Wittgenstein, Hertz, Logic, Mechanics
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2018 23:32
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2018 23:32


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