Thoughts on Truth & Medium

I’ve been reading Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Intimidating little book. Seems to be written in its own language: cold fucking logic. Still, there are some fascinating ideas relating to how we choose to define the world around us. It’s easy to see how revolutionary this book may have been for some people, as concepts of truth and falsity take a back-seat to the greater question of a proper logical confine for the philosophy itself – in doing so, Wittgenstein is saying that the structure of a philosophy is greater than the veracity of its content.

Gleaning from this, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Marshall McLuhan’s 1 observation, “the medium is the message” (which was also the name of the resulting book he published 2), which seems resonant of Wittgenstein’s approach (if not somewhat parallel).

From Tractatus:

3.332 No proposition can say anything about itself, because the propositional sign cannot be contained in itself (that is the “whole theory of types”).

3.333 A function cannot be its own argument, because the functional sign already contains the prototype of its own argument and it cannot contain itself.

It would be rather trite to pit Wittgenstein against McLuhan based upon a couple of sentences (foundational though they may be). However, from this discourse I’m curious to take a closer look at what McLuhan was trying to say – I suppose I carry a vain hope of tripping over a Unified Theory.

You know you’re part-geek when things like this really interest you. However, I swear, I’m also part-superhero 3.

1. I always get this guy’s name mixed up with the guy who created the Sex Pistols (Malcolm McLaren)…if only they were the same person.

2. Although, technically speaking, due to a copy-edit error, the book was first published as The Medium is the Massage. I shit you not.

3. …as opposed to the Nietzschean concept of the Superman (*chortle*)


2 Replies to “Thoughts on Truth & Medium”

  1. I credit my wife with that bit of publishing trivia. From a writer’s perspective, I can’t imagine what must’ve gone through McLuhan’s mind when he saw that.

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