Picture theory of language
The picture theory of language, also known as the picture theory of meaning, is a theory of linguistic reference and meaning articulated by Ludwig Wittgenstein in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Wittgenstein suggested that a meaningful proposition pictured a state of affairs or atomic fact. Wittgenstein compared the concept of logical pictures (German Bild) with spatial pictures. The picture theory of language is considered an early correspondence theory of truth.
Wittgenstein's picture theory of language states that statements are meaningful if they can be defined or pictured in the real world.
Wittgenstein's later practice-based theory of meaning laid out in the First Part of Philosophical Investigations refuted and replaced his earlier picture-based theory. However, the second psychology-focused Part of Philosophical Investigations employs the concept as a metaphor for human psychology.
- Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1968). Philosophical Investigations. Translated by G.E.M. Anscombe (Third ed.). New York: Basil Blackwell & Mott, Ltd. p. 178.
The human body is the best picture of the human soul.