Volume 38, 2013
Wittgenstein on Russell’s Theory of Logical Types
Wittgenstein criticizes Russell’s theory of logical types for involving the idea that our language must be anchored in extra-linguistic entities so that it makes a meaningful combination of signs. Calling it the “fallacy of meaning,” Wittgenstein self-consciously remains within the realm of signs. This issue of meaning vs. sign, however, has not been understood correctly, partly because of being viewed through the distorting lens of Russell. Siding with Wittgenstein, I will argue that our language does not go wrong because of our “transgressing the (pre-established) rules of logical syntax.” It is rather because we just happen not to use a sign in accordance with the logico-grammatical rules we arbitrarily stipulate about it. The rules of logical syntax do not, as it were, flow from some extra-linguistic entities, or anything of that nature. “The rules of logical syntax must follow of themselves, if we only know how every single sign signifies.” In general, our language is accountable to nothing but itself in order for it to make the sense that it does. When it comes to logical syntax, our language is autonomous.