The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (Latin for "Logical-Philosophical Treatise") is the only book-length philosophical work published by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in his lifetime. It was an ambitious project: to identify the relationship between language and reality and to define the limits of science. It is recognized as a significant philosophical work of the twentieth century. […] The Tractatus employs a notoriously austere and succinct literary style. The work contains almost no arguments as such, but rather declarative statements which are meant to be self-evident. The statements are hierarchically numbered, with seven basic propositions at the primary level (numbered 1–7), with each sub-level being a comment on or elaboration of the statement at the next higher level (e.g., 1, 1.1, 1.11, 1.12).
The final result is available here (warning: it's been tested only on Chrome and Firefox): http://hacks.michelepasin.org/witt/spacetree
I liked the idea of making the tree-like structure of the text explorable one step at a time, within a framework that suggests a predefined order of the text-units but also allows for lateral steps or quick jumps to other sections. However I'm still trying to figure out what the advantages of looking at the text this way can be, once you go past the initial excitement of playing with it as if it was some sort of toy!
Some of the pros seem to be:- By zooming in and out of the tree, you can see immediately where one sentence is located and how it (structurally) relates to the other ones - The tree visualisation makes more transparent the importance of some sentences, and thus implicitly conveys some aspects of the argument Wittgenstein is making. On the other hand, here are some cons:- We lose the the diachronic, linear sense of the text (assuming the Tractatus has one - which is something not all scholars would agree with) - The animations may become distracting..
Cite this blog post:
LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, Aug 2010.
Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Information - Proceedings of the 30th International Ludwig Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg, Austria, Aug 2007. pp. 319-335