Zalabardo on Semantic Unity and Metaphysical Unity


Johnston C (2018) Zalabardo on Semantic Unity and Metaphysical Unity. Australasian Philosophical Review, 2 (3), pp. 321-326.

In his paper ‘The Tractatus on Unity’, José Zalabardo argues that the Tractatus makes important contributions towards the resolution of two related problems, the problem of semantic unity, and the problem of metaphysical unity. The problem of metaphysical unity consists in explaining how the unity of a fact arises out of the multiplicity of its constituent objects. The problem of semantic unity consists in explaining how a propositional representation doesn’t merely introduce various objects but furthermore represents them as combined in a certain way. According to Zalabardo, Wittgenstein takes rather different attitudes to these two problems. The semantic problem is solved by the idea, central to Wittgenstein’s picture theory, that a representation is a fact which exemplifies in its own combinatorial mode the way in which it represents its objects as combined. The metaphysical problem, by contrast, is rejected as relying on a mistaken conception of facts as compounds. In this response, I take individual issue with both attributions, and briefly query also their coherence.

Wittgenstein; picture theory; fact; unity; proposition

Australasian Philosophical Review: Volume 2, Issue 3

Publication date31/12/2018
Publication date online16/10/2019
Date accepted by journal08/08/2018