By Robert John Ackermann

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We can speak correctly in our native language without being able to cite or explain its grammatical structure. Grammatical structures and all of the limits on what we can say yield only to explicit investigation. Having found these structures, we can use them to straighten out puzzlements about obscure or complicated expression. Wittgenstein uses this technique for all language usage, not just for the question of correct Page 12 syntax. Horizons must be carefully traced by noting where clear language develops into nonsense on its own terms or where it turns into nonsense in some special way.

The numbering of the older propositions confirms the idea that they did not make clear sense and did not have a structure of relative importance that would follow from clear meaning and definition, since the numbering itself is the imposition of a weighting of importance that could not be teased out of cloudy meanings by analyzing the sentences themselves. Making the Tractatus a document of positivism is simply the expression of an entrenched prejudice Page 28 quite at odds with Wittgenstein's use of language and his lifelong insistence that he was criticizing the systematic pretensions of philosophers.

I do not deny that he later finds error in the Tractatus but note only that error is not later corrected by replacing technical language either with ordinary language or with better technical language. Error is corrected by interpreting the errors of the Tractatus as though its assertions were read against the wrong horizon of meaning, without an awareness of the existence of alternative horizons. Wittgenstein never criticizes the vocabulary of the Tractatus, only its demands for clarity, its idea of analysis, and its too rigid notion of simplicity.

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