Ludwig Wittgenstein, fully Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein, fully Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein

Austrian Jewish Philosopher who worked primarily in Logic and the Philosophy of Mathematics, Mind and Language

Author Quotes

To imagine a language is to imagine a form of life.

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.

What makes a subject difficult to understand ? if it is significant, important ? is not that some special instruction about abstruse things is necessary to understand it. Rather it is the contrast between the understanding of the subject and what most people want to see. Because of this the very things that are most obvious can become the most difficult to understand. What has to be overcome is not difficulty of the intellect but of the will.

Why in the world shouldn't they have regarded with awe and reverence that act by which the human race is perpetuated. Not every religion has to have St. Augustine's attitude to sex. Why even in our culture marriages are celebrated in a church, everyone present knows what is going to happen that night, but that doesn't prevent it being a religious ceremony.

To obey a rule, to make a report, to give an order, to play a game of chess, are customs (uses, institutions)

We see, not change of aspect, but change of interpretation.

What should we gain by a definition, as it can only lead us to other undefined terms?

Wishing is not acting. But willing is acting.

To understand a sentence means to understand a language. To understand a language means to be master of a technique.

What "existence" means is determined by the proof. The end-result of a proof is not isolated from the proof but is like the end surface of a solid. It is organically connected with the proof which is its body.

What stands fast does so, not because it is intrinsically obvious or convincing; it is rather held fast by what lies around it.

Words and chess pieces are analogous; knowing how to use a word is like knowing how to move a chess piece. Now how do the rules enter into playing the game? What is the difference between playing the game and aimlessly moving the pieces? I do not deny there is a difference, but I want to say that knowing how a piece is to be used is not a particular state of mind which goes on while the game goes on. The meaning of a word is to be defined by the rules for its use, not by the feeling that attaches to the words.

Transparency painted in a picture produces its effect in a different way than opaqueness.

What can be said at all can be said clearly; and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.

What we are destroying is nothing but houses of cards and we are clearing up the ground of language on which they stood.

Words are deeds.

We are asleep. Our Life is a dream. But we wake up sometimes, just enough to know that we are dreaming.

What cannot be imagined cannot even be talked about.

What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.

Wouldn?t one have to say, that there is no sharp boundary between propositions of logic and empirical propositions? The lack of sharpness is that of the boundary between rule and empirical proposition.

We are struggling with language. We are engaged in a struggle with language.

What do I know about God and the purpose of life? 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. To pray is to think about the meaning of life.

What we do is to bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use.

You can have things now just as you choose. You only need to say how you want them. So (just) make a verbal picture, illustrate it as you choose ? by drawing comparisons etc.! Thus you can ? as it were ? prepare a blueprint. ? And now there remains the question how to work with it.

We are talking here of the grammar of the words "reason" and "cause": in what cases do we say we have given a reason for doing a certain thing, and in what cases, a cause? If one answers the question 'Why did you move your arm?' by giving a behaviouristic explanation, one has specified a cause. Causes may be discovered by experiments, but experiments do not produce reasons. The word 'reason' is not used in connection with experimentation. It is senseless to say a reason is found by experiment. The alternative, 'mathematical argument or experiential evidence?' corresponds to 'reason or cause?'

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
Wittgenstein, fully Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein
Birth Date
Death Date

Austrian Jewish Philosopher who worked primarily in Logic and the Philosophy of Mathematics, Mind and Language