Ludwig Wittgenstein quotes

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Ludwig Wittgenstein

Birthdate: 26. April 1889
Date of death: 29. April 1951
Other names: Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. From 1929 to 1947, Wittgenstein taught at the University of Cambridge. During his lifetime he published just one slim book, the 75-page Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus , one article, one book review and a children's dictionary. His voluminous manuscripts were edited and published posthumously. Philosophical Investigations appeared as a book in 1953, and has since come to be recognised as one of the most important works of philosophy in the twentieth century. His teacher Bertrand Russell described Wittgenstein as "the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived; passionate, profound, intense, and dominating".

Born in Vienna into one of Europe's richest families, he inherited a large fortune from his father in 1913. He initially made some donations to artists and writers and then, in a period of severe personal depression after the First World War, he gave away his entire fortune to his brothers and sisters. Three of his brothers committed suicide, with Wittgenstein contemplating it too. He left academia several times—serving as an officer on the front line during World War I, where he was decorated a number of times for his courage; teaching in schools in remote Austrian villages where he encountered controversy for hitting children when they made mistakes in mathematics; and working as a hospital porter during World War II in London where he told patients not to take the drugs they were prescribed while largely managing to keep secret the fact that he was one of the world's most famous philosophers. He described philosophy as "the only work that gives me real satisfaction".

His philosophy is often divided into an early period, exemplified by the Tractatus, and a later period, articulated in the Philosophical Investigations. The early Wittgenstein was concerned with the logical relationship between propositions and the world and believed that by providing an account of the logic underlying this relationship, he had solved all philosophical problems. The later Wittgenstein rejected many of the assumptions of the Tractatus, arguing that the meaning of words is best understood as their use within a given language-game.

Works

Philosophical Investigations
Philosophical Investigations
Ludwig Wittgenstein
On Certainty
On Certainty
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Quotes Ludwig Wittgenstein

„Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity.“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein

Variant translation: 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.
Original German: Der Zweck der Philosophie ist die logische Klärung der Gedanken. Die Philosophie ist keine Lehre, sondern eine Tätigkeit. Ein philosophisches Werk besteht wesentlich aus Erläuterungen. Das Resultat der Philosophie sind nicht „philosophische Sätze“, sondern das Klarwerden von Sätzen. Die Philosophie soll die Gedanken, die sonst, gleichsam, trübe und verschwommen sind, klar machen und scharf abgrenzen.
1920s, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922)
Context: Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations. Philosophy does not result in 'philosophical propositions', but rather in the clarification of propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries. (4.112)

„Not how the world is, but that it is, is the mystery.“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein

Variant translation: The mystical is not how the world is, but that it is.
Original German: Nicht wie die Welt ist, ist das Mystische, sondern dass sie ist.
1920s, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922)
Variant: The mystical is not how the world is, but that it is.
Context: It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists. (6.44)

„I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein

As quoted in The Beginning of the End (2004) by Peter Hershey, p. 109
Also, as quoted in "The Relentless Rise of Science as Fun", by Jeremy Burgess, in New Scientist, Volume 143, Issues 1932-1945, originally published 1994.
Attributed from posthumous publications

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„A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein

As quoted in "A View from the Asylum" in Philosophical Investigations from the Sanctity of the Press (2004), by Henry Dribble, p. 87
Attributed from posthumous publications

„The world is my world: this is manifest in the fact that the limits of language (of that language which alone I understand) mean the limits of my world.“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein

1920s, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922)
Context: This remark provides the key to the problem, how much truth there is in solipsism. For what the solipsist means is quite correct; only it cannot be said, but makes itself manifest. The world is my world: this is manifest in the fact that the limits of language (of that language which alone I understand) mean the limits of my world. (5.62)

„The purely corporeal can be uncanny.“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein

Source: Culture and Value (1980), p. 50e
Context: The purely corporeal can be uncanny. Compare the way angels and devils are portrayed. So-called "miracles" must be connected with this. A miracle must be, as it were, a sacred gesture.

„Frazer is much more savage than most of his savages, for they are not as far removed from the understanding of spiritual matter as a twentieth-century Englishman.“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein

Source: 1930s-1951, Philosophical Occasions 1912-1951 (1993), Ch. 7 : Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough, p. 131
Context: Frazer is much more savage than most of his savages, for they are not as far removed from the understanding of spiritual matter as a twentieth-century Englishman. His explanations of primitive practices are much cruder than the meaning of these practices themselves.

„The subject does not belong to the world, but it is a limit of the world.“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein

5.632
Original German: Das Subjekt gehört nicht zur Welt, sondern es ist eine Grenze der Welt.
1920s, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922)

„I cannot get from the nature of the proposition to the individual logical operations!!!“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein

Journal entries (12 March 1915 and 15 March 1915) p. 41e
1910s, Notebooks 1914-1916
Context: I cannot get from the nature of the proposition to the individual logical operations!!!
That is, I cannot bring out how far the proposition is the picture of the situation. I am almost inclined to give up all my efforts.

„Only a man who lives not in time but in the present is happy.“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein

Journal entry (8 July 1916), p. 74e
1910s, Notebooks 1914-1916
Context: There are two godheads: the world and my independent I.
I am either happy or unhappy, that is all. It can be said: good or evil do not exist.
A man who is happy must have no fear. Not even in the face of death.
Only a man who lives not in time but in the present is happy.

„My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them.“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein

He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.
6.54
Original German: Meine Sätze erläutern dadurch, dass sie der, welcher mich versteht, am Ende als unsinnig erkennt, wenn er durch sie—auf ihnen—über sie hinausgestiegen ist. (Er muss sozusagen die Leiter wegwerfen, nachdem er auf ihr hinaufgestiegen ist.)
1920s, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922)

„What has to be overcome is not difficulty of the intellect but of the will.“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein

Source: 1930s-1951, Philosophical Occasions 1912-1951 (1993), Ch. 9 : Philosophy (chapters 86–93 of the so called Big Typescript), p. 161
Corresponding to TS 213, Kapitel 86
Context: 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. [Nicht eine Schwierigkeit des Verstandes, sondern des Willens ist zu überwinden. ]

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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