The University of Iowa Tractatus Map

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David G Stern


Drawing on recent work on the nature of the numbering system of the Tractatus and Wittgenstein’s use of that system in his composition of the Prototractatus, the paper sets out the rationale for the online tool called The University of Iowa Tractatus Map. The map consists of a website with a front page that links to two separate subway-style maps of the hypertextual numbering system Wittgenstein used in his Tractatus. One map displays the structure of the published Tractatus; the other lays out the structure of the Prototractatus. The site makes available the full text of the German and the two canonical English translations. While we envisage the map as a tool that we would like a wide variety of readers to find helpful, we argue that our website amounts to a radically new edition of Wittgenstein’s early masterpiece, with far-reaching implications for the interpretation of that text. In particular, we claim that our visually compelling presentation of the book’s overall structure delivers on Wittgenstein’s cryptic claim in a letter to his publisher that it is the numbers that “make the book surveyable and clear”.
From the Archives
Author Biography

David G Stern, University of Iowa

David G. Stern is a Professor of Philosophy and a Collegiate Fellow in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa. His research interests include history of analytic philosophy, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. He is the author of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and Wittgenstein on Mind and Language (Oxford University Press, 1995). He is also a co-editor of Wittgenstein: Lectures, Cambridge 1930-1933, From the Notes of G. E Moore, with Brian Rogers, and Gabriel Citron (Cambridge University Press, 2016), the parallel online Wittgenstein Source Facsimile Edition of Moore’s Notes of Wittgenstein’s Lectures (WS-MWN) from the Wittgenstein Source website, Wittgenstein Reads Weininger, with Béla Szabados (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein, with Hans Sluga (Cambridge University Press, 1996.) A second, extensively revised, edition of The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein is forthcoming, for which he has written a chapter on Wittgenstein in the 1930s.


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