A meaningful sentence depicts a possible state of affairs in the world; a meaningful and true
sentence depicts an actual state of affairs in the world; anything in language that does not
depict a possible state of affairs - that is, anything that does not depict possible fact -
is, strictly speaking, meaningless.
Wittgenstein draws from the picture theory of meaning some arresting philosophical
conclusions. The Tractatus regards as nonsensical, as literally meaningless, any claim that
cannot be reduced to discrete facts about things in the world - for instance, any statements
about ethics or aesthetics ("goodness" and "beauty" don't refer to actual things or
Philosophical Sweep: To understand the fiction of David Foster Wallace, it helps to have a
By James Ryerson Posted Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010, at 10:42 AM ET Slate
"An economy depends fundamentally on public morality; some shared standards about what sorts of activities are impermissible because they so fundamentally violate trust that they threaten to undermine the social fabric. Without trust it has to depend upon such complex contracts and such weighty enforcement systems that it would crumble under its own weight. What we’ve seen over the last two decades in the United States is a steady decline in the willingness of people in leading positions in the private sector - on Wall Street and in large corporations especially - to maintain those minimum standards. The new rule has become making the highest profits possible regardless of the social consequences."