Department of Philosophy

Aloisia Moser: Picture Theory and Projection Method

Aloisia Moser is Visiting Scholar in Philosophy at UC Berkeley, is APART Fellow at the Austrian Academy of Science and holds a PhD from New School for Social Research, New York. She will visit the Wittgenstein Archives in Bergen in March and will give a guest lecture while here.


It is often said that a proper understanding of Wittgenstein's so-called 'picture theory' is a fundamental crossroads in grasping the significance of the Tractatus as a whole. In my paper I discuss Wittgenstein's picture theory of the proposition by arguing that when Wittgenstein presents language or thought as a picture of the world he does not present a semantic account in which the picture serves as representation of the world. Instead he develops a pragmatic account. This account is not pragmatic in that the picture is used to compare with or to project onto reality. The projection method developed in the Tractatus is an account of how language, thought and world are connected in the first place. Projection or use is operative at the core of this connection similar to the way in which use of language is operative in the grammar of our language games. In the first part of my paper I discuss the traditional picture theory and in the second part I present the dynamic picture or picturing as I argue Wittgenstein presents in the projection method. I conclude that we find in the projection method of the Tractatus a predecessor to Wittgenstein's theory of meaning as use in the later works.