Ludwig Wittgenstein’s life was as interesting as his philosophy. He was born on April 26, 1889, in Vienna, which was then a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. He would be regarded as one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century.
His father was Karl Wittgenstein, a tycoon whose wealth was rivaled only by the Rothschild family. Karl, who was married to Poldi Wittgenstein, held a monopoly on Austria’s steel industry and was known as the Austrian Andrew Carnegie.
The entire Wittgenstein family was insulated from most of the European hyperinflation of the 1920s. Their wealth was diminished, but in 1938 they still owned 13 mansions just in the city of Vienna. Wittgenstein, the youngest of nine children, has a rarified privileged upbringing, at best.
Although the children had Jewish grandparents (a fact that would become relevant in the 1930s), they were raised as Catholics. The Wittgensteins were a major part of Vienna’s cultural scene, commissioning works by artists such as Rodin. Brahms and Mahler gave regular private concerts for the family. For Wittgenstein, music would always remain an integral part of his life. The family home had seven grand pianos.
Karl Wittgenstein was a stern parent. He refused to send his sons to school. Instead, they were homeschooled according to his methods in preparation for taking over his empire. He was harsh with them, and they had a hard time being content with life. Three of the five boys would commit suicide.
Wittgenstein did not attend any official school until he was 14 years old. There, he was an average student, at best. He received his degree at the age of 19 and went to study at Victoria University in Manchester, England. Here, he studied applied mathematics and engineering.
Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertram Russell
After three years, he left Victoria University to study mathematics with philosopher Bertram Russell at Cambridge’s Trinity College. In October of 1911, Wittgenstein simply showed up at Russell rooms without notice or invitation. He began attending Russell’s lectures and talked to him about philosophy outside of the classroom. In fact, he grew into a pest. Said Russell, “My German friend threatens to be an infliction.”
Pest or not pest, Wittgenstein soon began to stand out as a genius. Russell told his friend, “I love him and feel he will solve the problems I am too old to solve … He is the young man one hopes for.”
Away from his domineering father, Wittgenstein felt free for the first time in his life. It did not take long for Wittgenstein to begin criticizing his own mentor. Russell accepted it with equanimity. “His [Wittgenstein’s] criticism … was an event of first-rate importance in my life and affected everything I have done since. I saw that he was right, and I saw that I could not hope ever again to do fundamental work in philosophy.”
The Morales Sciences Club and Cambridge Apostles
In 1912, Wittgenstein joined the Cambridge Moral Sciences Club, which he soon dominated. There were complaints that he would not allow anyone else to speak. That included fellow Viennese philosopher Karl Popper. The two philosophers argued to the point where Wittgenstein threatened his rival with a poker. He was not good in groups. He joined the elite and exclusive Cambridge Apostles for a short period, but soon left.
A part of the problem was his self-admitted depression, which ran within his family. Once, while in Bertram Russell’s rooms, he threatened to commit suicide – as his three brothers had done. Russell was a calming influence on him when he became agitated.
A part of his frustration was his work in applied mathematics. In 1912, Russell finally convinced him to pursue mathematical philosophy instead. Within a short period of time, Wittgenstein handed in his first paper on the subject, ‘What is Philosophy’ to the Cambridge Philosophical Society. He would always care about mathematics, but now it was from a philosophical angle.
The following year, Russell felt he no longer had anything to teach his young pupil. Wittgenstein’s father had died, leaving him a huge fortune. The young philosopher moved to the Norwegian village of Skjolden to continue concentrating on his work.
Wittgenstein in Skjolden
Wittgenstein required solitude to think. In Skjolden, he built a small hut by a Fjord and on a mountain. It was a place to which he kept returning for the remainder of his life. This seven by eight-meter structure was his spiritual home, quite a change from the massive mansions in which he had grown up.
As he stated in 1936, “I can’t imagine that I could have worked anywhere as I do here. It’s the quiet and, perhaps, the wonderful scenery; I mean its quiet seriousness.” Here he escaped societal distractions; it is where he wrote much of his most outstanding works. He learned Norwegian and immersed himself in the works of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. The solitude suited him.
It was Bertram Russell who has postulated that mathematics could be understood through the study of language. While in Skjolden, Wittgenstein wrote much of his major work, Tractatus, which dealt with the connection between reality and language. His premise was that logic can be inconsequential as the truth is already known and exists independently from language.
Wittgenstein concluded that much of language involving logic was useless. He even suggested that to be true of his own language used in writing Tractatus. He denied that there was any contradiction between his writings and his belief. He insisted that his writing “showed” the logic without the spoken language. Very few learned modern-day philosophers have been able to accept this contradiction. However, the ideas that Wittgenstein was writing about were rapidly accepted in the thinking group called the Vienna Group, which labeled Wittgenstein’s philosophy Logical Positivism. All this before Tractatus was even published
Logical Positivism and the Vienna Group
According to Logical Positivism, knowledge is possible only through sensory experience. In other words, meaningful logic is verifiable only through the senses. As an example, one might deduce that the house next door were on fire if one smelled smoke and heard fire engines. However, according to logical positivism, one needs to visually verify the fire instead of arriving a logical deduction.
The Vienna Circle, which consisted of about a dozen philosophers, mathematicians, and scientists, embraced Wittgenstein’s thinking. They were already influenced by Bertram Russell. The group was unhappy with abstract thinkers of the time, such as Kant, and wanted truth to be answered with facts.
Wittgenstein and his ideas were quickly embraced by the Vienna Circle. They regarded him as a genius, and he became one of their top members. Ideal language, he insisted, was mathematically precise and did not tolerate ambiguity.
Religion and Ethics
Wittgenstein was interested in religion but uncommitted to any specific faction. He did not believe in looking for value in life. He believed accepting life as it is, whether it was called God’s will or fate, would provide whatever answers one needed. He did believe in morality, but also said, “The tendency of all men who ever tried to write or talk Ethics or Religion was to run against the boundaries of language.”
In other words, people who discussed ethics tended to become abstract and nonsensical. Problems were to be solved less by thinking than they were by observations and actions.
He considered faith as a way of life rather than an argument for the existence of God. But God mattered to him. His friend Norman Malcom wrote, “Wittgenstein’s mature life was strongly marked by religious thought and feeling. I am inclined to think that he was more deeply religious than are many people who correctly regard themselves as religious believers.”
World War I
Following the outbreak of World War I, Wittgenstein volunteered to fight in the Austro-Hungarian army. He received the Military Merit with Swords on the Ribbons and received commendations for his courage. He fought on the Russian front and received several medals for bravery.
Throughout the battles, he continued to write his thoughts in his notebooks for the completion of Tractatus. He took leave from the military to return to Vienna and completed Tractatus in 1918.
The following year, following the war, he enrolled for training to become an elementary school teacher, although he was a multi-millionaire and did not need a job. He taught in a village primary school, and his Tractatus was finally published while he was teaching there. His old mentor, Bertram Russell, wrote the introduction.
He was popular among his students, or, as his sister Hermine stated, his students “literally crawled over each other in their desire to be chosen for answers or demonstrations.” His strictness and zealousness, however, were not. He was a strict teacher, perhaps emulating his father, boxing his students’ ears when needed. That did not draw too many objections, but the villagers were enraged when he pulled the girls’ hairs.
He kept finding new schools at which to teach. At one school, he hit a student so hard, the boy collapsed. Parents were furious. As one father, whose daughter had had her hair pulled, stated, “I called him all the names under the sun. I told him he wasn’t a teacher, he was an animal-trainer! And that I was going to fetch the police right away!”
When the police came, Wittgenstein has disappeared. The case was not pursued, possibly because of the family’s wealth and prominence.
In 1929, Wittgenstein returned to Cambridge, where he applied for an advanced undergraduate degree. It was pointed out to him that with his previous credits, he had enough for a Ph. D and should submit Tractatus as his official thesis. One of the examiners read the book and stated, “I myself consider that this is a work of genius; but, even if I am completely mistaken and it is nothing of the sort, it is well above the standard required for the Ph.D. degree.”
Following his questionable elementary teaching career, Wittgenstein was now an official lecturer at Cambridge’s Trinity College.
Germany’s Adolph Hitler annexed Austria in 1938. As an Austrian, Wittgenstein was now officially a German citizen. As someone with Jewish grandparents, this was not a good thing to be. Probably because of the Wittgenstein family’s prominence, Hitler himself called out their racially mixed blood. Wittgenstein’s remaining brother, Paul, escaped to the U.S.
Wittgenstein stayed in England and continued to lecture at Cambridge. When the head of the Philosophy Department, G.E. Moore, resigned in 1939, Wittgenstein took his place. He was now a full-fledged professor.
He loved philosophy, but following the onset of World War II, he felt it was a waste. What good was philosophy in the face of war? Since his youth, his entire belief system had been based on opposing abstractions and dealing with reality. Now, he was teaching abstractions while people were dying.
The situation became intolerable to him. He found work at Guy’s Hospital delivering drugs to the various hospital wards. At least, he was doing something real and useful. Few at the hospital knew that the man delivering medicines was a world-famous philosopher and one of the wealthiest men in the world.
Wittgenstein resigned as head of the Philosophy Department at Trinity College in 1947. He wanted to focus on doing more writing. By April, he was feeling unwell. He wasn’t up to doing any work. A former student invited him for a visit to the United States, and Wittgenstein accepted. He was in America in April of 1949 but felt unwell. He had previously been diagnosed with anemia and thought that perhaps that was the problem.
Nothing made him feel better. He felt near death but didn’t want to die in America. “I don’t want to die in America. I am a European. I want to die there. What a fool I was to come!”
Back in London, he learned he was suffering from cancer of the prostate which had spread to his bone marrow.
Refusing to stay in one place, he traveled. In April of 1951, he was in Cambridge. Several of his students paid him a visit. On April 28th, he lost consciousness for the last time after telling his sister, “Tell them I’ve had a wonderful life.” He received a Catholic burial at the Ascension Parish Burial Ground in Cambridge.
Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Life and Legacy
For one of the most renowned philosophers of the twentieth century, Wittgenstein leaves a strange legacy. He was a thinker with a lot to say, but he wrote only one major book, which he assumed explained everything. He was one of the richest men in Europe who lived in a one-room hut and resigned from a professorship at Cambridge to perform menial work at a hospital.
He was a moral purist and never wavered from his chosen path.
Ludwig Wittgenstein Quotes
A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
An honest religious thinker is like a tightrope walker. He almost looks as though he were walking on nothing but air. His support is the slenderest imaginable. And yet it really is possible to walk on it.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
An entire mythology is stored within our language.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Anything that can be said can be said clearly.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Always come down from the barren heights of cleverness into the green valleys of folly.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Concerning that which cannot be talked about, we should not say anything.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Don’t for heaven’s sake, be afraid of talking nonsense! But you must pay attention to your nonsense.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Don’t think, but look! (PI 66)― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Hell isn’t other people. Hell is yourself.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Hegel seems to me to be always wanting to say that things which look different are really the same. Whereas my interest is in showing that things which look the same are really different. I was thinking of using as a motto for my book a quotation from King Lear: ‘I’ll teach you differences’.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
‘You’d be surprised’ wouldn’t be a bad motto either.
How small a thought it takes to fill a life.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
I am my world.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
I am not interested in constructing a building, so much as in having a perspicuous view of the foundations of possible buildings.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
I should not like my writing to spare other people the trouble of thinking. But, if possible, to stimulate someone to thoughts of his own.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
I sit astride life like a bad rider on a horse. I only owe it to the horse’s good nature that I am not thrown off at this very moment.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
I think one of the things you and I have to learn is that we have to live without the consolation of belonging to a Church….
Of one thing I am certain. The religion of the future will have to be extremely ascetic, and by that I don’t mean just going without food and drink.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If there were a verb meaning “to believe falsely,” it would not have any significant first person, present indicative.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If you and I are to live religious lives, it mustn’t be that we talk a lot about religion, but that our manner of life is different. It is my belief that only if you try to be helpful to other people will you in the end find your way to God.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If anyone is unwilling to descend into himself, because this is too painful, he will remain superficial in his writing. . . If I perform to myself, then it’s this that the style expresses. And then the style cannot be my own. If you are unwilling to know what you are, your writing is a form of deceit.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
In philosophy it is always good to put a question instead of an answer to a question. For an answer to the philosophical question may easily be unfair; disposing of it by means of another question is not.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
It is a dogma of the Roman Church that the existence of God can be proved by natural reason. Now this dogma would make it impossible for me to be a Roman Catholic. If I thought of God as another being like myself, outside myself, only infinitely more powerful, then I would regard it as my duty to defy him.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
It’s impossible for me to say one word about all that music has meant to me in my life. How, then, can I hope to be understood?― Ludwig Wittgenstein
It’s not how the world is, but that it is, that is cause for astonishment.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If in life we are surrounded by death, then in the health of our intellect we are surrounded by madness.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If someone does not believe in fairies, he does not need to teach his children ‘There are no fairies’; he can omit to teach them the word ‘fairy’.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Just improve yourself; that is the only thing you can do to better the world.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Knowledge is in the end based on acknowledgement.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Language disguises thought.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Language is a part of our organism and no less complicated than it.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Logic takes care of itself; all we have to do is to look and see how it does it.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Man feels the urge to run up against the limits of language. Think for example of the astonishment that anything at all exists. This astonishment cannot be expressed in the form of a question, and there is also no answer whatsoever. Anything we might say is a priori bound to be nonsense. Nevertheless we do run up against the limits of language. Kierkegaard too saw that there is this running up against something, and he referred to it in a fairly similar way (as running up against paradox). This running up against the limits of language is ethics.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Music conveys to us itself!― Ludwig Wittgenstein
My day passes between logic, whistling, going for walks, and being depressed. I wish to God that I were more intelligent and everything would finally become clear to me – or else that I needn’t live much longer.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Not how the world is, but that it is, is the mystery.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Nothing is more important for teaching us to understand the concepts we have than to construct fictitious ones.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Never stay up on the barren heights of cleverness, but come down into the green valleys of silliness.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Only describe, don’t explain.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
One often makes a remark and only later sees how true it is.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Our greatest stupidities may be very wise.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Our craving for generality has [as one] source … our preoccupation with the method of science. I mean the method of reducing the explanation of natural phenomena to the smallest possible number of primitive natural laws; and, in mathematics, of unifying the treatment of different topics by using a generalization. Philosophers constantly see the method of science before their eyes, and are irresistibly tempted to ask and answer in the way science does. This tendency is the real source of metaphysics, and leads the philosopher into complete darkness. I want to say here that it can never be our job to reduce anything to anything, or to explain anything. Philosophy really is “purely descriptive.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Sometimes, in doing philosophy, one just wants to utter an inarticulate sound.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Suppose someone were to say: ‘Imagine this butterfly exactly as it is, but ugly instead of beautiful’?!― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. (One is unable to notice something because it is always before one’s eyes.) The real foundations of his enquiry do not strike a man at all― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The human body is the best picture of the human soul.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Tell me,” Wittgenstein’s asked a friend, “why do people always say, it was natural for man to assume that the sun went round the earth rather than that the earth was rotating?” His friend replied, “Well, obviously because it just looks as though the Sun is going round the Earth.” Wittgenstein replied, “Well, what would it have looked like if it had looked as though the Earth was rotating?― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Tell them I’ve had a wonderful life.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The eternal life is given to those who live in the present.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The limits of my language means the limits of my world.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The mystical is not how the world is, but that it is.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The real question of life after death isn’t whether or not it exists, but even if it does what problem this really solves.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The world is everything that is the case.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
This is how philosophers should salute each other: ‘Take your time.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The primary question about life after death is not whether it is a fact, but even if it is, what problems that really solves.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The great delusion of modernity, is that the laws of nature explain the universe for us. The laws of nature describe the universe, they describe the regularities. But they explain nothing.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
There are no subjects in the world. A subject is a limitation of the world.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
There is a truth in Schopenhauer’s view that philosophy is an organism, and that a book on philosophy, with a beginning and end, is a sort of contradiction. … In philosophy matters are not simple enough for us to say ‘Let’s get a rough idea’, for we do not know the country except by knowing the connections between the roads.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
This sort of thing has got to be stopped. Bad philosophers are like slum landlords. It’s my job to put them out of business.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
To imagine a language is to imagine a form of life.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Understand or die.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
What can be shown, cannot be said.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
What do I know about God and the purpose of life?― Ludwig Wittgenstein
I know that this world exists.
That I am placed in it like my eye in its visual field.
That something about it is problematic, which we call its meaning.
This meaning does not lie in it but outside of it.
That life is the world.
That my will penetrates the world.
That my will is good or evil.
Therefore that good and evil are somehow connected with the meaning of the world.The meaning of life, i.e. the meaning of the world, we can call God.
And connect with this the comparison of God to a father.
What is troubling us is the tendency to believe that the mind is like a little man within.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
We are asleep. Our Life is a dream. But we wake up sometimes, just enough to know that we are dreaming.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
We regard the photograph, the picture on our wall, as the object itself (the man, landscape, and so on) depicted there. This need not have been so. We could easily imagine people who did not have this relation to such pictures. Who, for example, would be repelled by photographs, because a face without color and even perhaps a face in reduced proportions struck them as inhuman.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
When we can’t think for ourselves, we can always quote― Ludwig Wittgenstein
When I came home I expected a surprise and there was no surprise for me, so of course, I was surprised.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
You can’t think decently if you’re not willing to hurt yourself― Ludwig Wittgenstein
You must always be puzzled by mental illness. The thing I would dread most, if I became mentally ill, would be your adopting a common sense attitude; that you could take it for granted that I was deluded― Ludwig Wittgenstein
You sometimes see in a wind a piece of paper blowing about anyhow. Suppose the piece of paper could make the decision: ‘Now I want to go this way.’ I say: ‘Queer, this paper always decides where it is to go, and all the time it is the wind that blows it. I know it is the wind that blows it.’ That same force which moves it also in a different way moves its decisions.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein Quotes on Culture and Value
A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Christianity is not a doctrine, not, I mean, a theory about what has happened & will happen to the human soul, but a description of something that actually takes place in human life.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ideas too sometimes fall from the tree before they are ripe.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
I really do think with my pen, because my head often knows nothing about what my hand is writing.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
I think I summed up my attitude to philosophy when I said: philosophy ought really to be written only as a poetic composition.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If you already have a person’s love no sacrifice can be too much to give for it; but any sacrifice is too great to buy it for you.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If you have a room which you do not want certain people to get into, put a lock on it for which they do not have the key. But there is no point in talking to them about it, unless of course you want them to admire the room from outside! The honorable thing to do is put a lock on the door which will be noticed only by those who can open it, not by the rest.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
In art it is hard to say anything as good as saying nothing.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Man has to awaken to wonder – and so perhaps do peoples. Science is a way of sending him to sleep again.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Perhaps what is inexpressible (what I find mysterious and am not able to express) is the background against which whatever I could express has its meaning.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
People nowadays think that scientists exist to instruct them, poets, musicians, etc. to give them pleasure. The idea that these have something to teach them – that does not occur to them.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Philosophy hasn’t made any progress? – If somebody scratches the spot where he has an itch, do we have to see some progress? Isn’t genuine scratching otherwise, or genuine itching itching? And can’t this reaction to an irritation continue in the same way for a long time before a cure for the itching is discovered?― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Put a man in the wrong atmosphere and nothing will function as it should. He will seem unhealthy in every part. Put him back into his proper element and everything will blossom and look healthy. But if he is not in his right element, what then? Well, then he just has to make the best of appearing before the world as a cripple.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Religion is, as it were, the calm bottom of the sea at its deepest point, which remains calm however high the waves on the surface may be.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Resting on your laurels is as dangerous as resting when you are walking in the snow. You doze off and die in your sleep.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The truly apocalyptic view of the world is that things do not repeat themselves. It isn’t absurd, e.g., to believe that the age of science and technology is the beginning of the end for humanity; that the idea of great progress is delusion, along with the idea that the truth will ultimately be known; that there is nothing good or desirable about scientific knowledge and that mankind, in seeking it, is falling into a trap. It is by no means obvious that this is not how things are.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Telling someone something he does not understand is pointless, even if you add that he will not be able to understand it.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
We are struggling with language.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
We are engaged in a struggle with language.
When you are philosophizing you have to descend into primeval chaos and feel at home there.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus Quotes
A logical picture of facts is a thought.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
A tautology’s truth is certain, a proposition’s possible, a contradiction’s impossible.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Belief in the causal nexus is superstition.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ethics and aesthetics are one.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly. Everything that can be said can be said clearly.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
For an answer which cannot be expressed the question too cannot be expressed.
The riddle does not exist.
If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
I give no sources, because it is indifferent to me― Ludwig Wittgenstein
whether what I have thought has already been
thought before me by another.
It is not humanly possible to gather immediately from it what the logic of language is. Language disguises thought.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists― Ludwig Wittgenstein
In the world everything is as it is and happens as it does happen. In it, there is no value, – and if there were, it would be of no value.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Language disguises the thought; so that from the external form of the clothes one cannot infer the form of the thought they clothe, because the external form of the clothes is constructed with quite another object than to let the form of the body be recognized.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Most of the propositions and questions to be found in philosophical works are not false but nonsensical.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Our life is endless in the way that our visual field is without limit.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Roughly speaking: to say of two things that they are identical is nonsense, and to say of one thing that it is identical with itself is to say nothing.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Roughly speaking: objects are colourless― Ludwig Wittgenstein
There can never be surprises in logic.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The temporal immortality of the soul of man, that is to say, its eternal survival also after death, is not only in no way guaranteed, but this assumption in the first place will not do for us what we always tried to make it do. Is a riddle solved by the fact that I survive forever? Is this eternal life not as enigmatic as our present one? The solution of the riddle of life in space and time lies outside space and time.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.
A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.
The result of philosophy is not a number of “philosophical propositions”, but to make propositions clear.
Philosophy should make clear and delimit sharply the thoughts which otherwise are, as it were, opaque and blurred.
The world of the happy man is a different one from that of the unhappy man.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Logic fills the world: the limits of the world are also its limits.
We cannot therefore say in logic: This and this there is in the world, that there is not.
For that would apparently presuppose that we exclude certain possibilities, and this cannot be the case since otherwise logic must get outside the limits of the world : that is, if it could consider these limits from the other side also.
What we cannot think, that we cannot think: we cannot therefore say what we cannot think.
This book will perhaps only be understood by those who have themselves already thought the thoughts which are expressed in it-or similar thoughts. It is therefore not a text-book. Its object would be attained if it afforded pleasure to one who read it with understanding.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein Quotes on Philosophical Investigations
a nothing will serve just as well as a something about which nothing could be said.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If a lion could speak, we could not understand him.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If I have exhausted the justifications, I have reached bedrock and my spade is turned. Then I am inclined to say: ‘This is simply what I do.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Language is a labyrinth of paths. You approach from one side and know your way about; you approach the same place from another side and no longer know your way about.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Philosophers are often like little children, who first scribble random lines on a piece of paper with their pencils, and now ask an adult ‘What is that?― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Remember that we sometimes demand explanations for the sake not of their content, but of their form. Our requirement is an architectural one; the explanation a kind of sham corbel that supports nothing.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
So in the end, when one is doing philosophy, one gets to the point where one would like just to emit an inarticulate sound.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The face is the soul of the body.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
the meaning of a word is its use in the language.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have known since long.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
The philosopher is not a citizen of any community of ideas, that is what makes him a philosopher.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
That it doesn’t strike us at all when we look around us, move about in space, feel our own bodies, etc. etc., shows how natural these things are to us. We do not notice that we see space perspectivally or that our visual field is in some sense blurred towards the edges. It doesn’t strike us and never can strike us because it is the way we perceive. We never give it a thought and it’s impossible we should, since there is nothing that contrasts with the form of our world.What I wanted to say is it’s strange that those who ascribe reality only to things and not to our ideas move about so unquestioningly in the world as idea and never long to escape from it.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Think, for example, of the words which you perhaps utter in this space of time. They are no longer part of this language. And in different surroundings the institution of money doesn’t exist either.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein “On Certainty” Quotes
At the core of all well-founded belief lies belief that is unfounded.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
I am sitting with a philosopher in the garden; he says again and again ‘I know that that’s a tree’, pointing to a tree that is near us. Someone else arrives and hears this, and I tell him: ‘This fellow isn’t insane. We are only doing philosophy.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
I act with complete certainty. But this certainty is my own.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If you tried to doubt everything you would not get as far as doubting anything. The game of doubting itself presupposes certainty.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
If a blind man were to ask me “Have you got two hands?” I should not make sure by looking. If I were to have any doubt of it, then I don’t know why I should trust my eyes. For why shouldn’t I test my eyes by looking to find out whether I see my two hands? What is to be tested by what?― Ludwig Wittgenstein
What is the proof that I know something? Most certainly not my saying I know it.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
What stands fast does so, not because it is intrinsically obvious or convincing; it is rather held fast by what lies around it.― Ludwig Wittgenstein
Where two principles really do meet which cannot be reconciled with one another, then each man declares the other a fool and a heretic― Ludwig Wittgenstein