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Quotes of the day: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Published Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 6:02 PM EDT
Apr 25 2015

(photo by Ben Richards)

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (April 26, 1889 - April 29, 1951) was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. From 1929–1947, Wittgenstein taught at the University of Cambridge. During his lifetime he published just one slim book, the 75-page Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921), 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 by the end of the century it was considered an important modern classic. Philosopher Bertrand Russell described Wittgenstein as "the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived; passionate, profound, intense, and dominating". (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


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.

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

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 just the way in which our visual field has no limits.

Eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.

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

It is clear that the causal nexus is not a nexus at all.

It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists.

It is one of the chief skills of the philosopher not to occupy himself with questions which do not concern him.

Logic takes care of itself; all we have to do is to look and see how it does it.

Make sure that your religion is a matter between you and God only.

Never stay up on the barren heights of cleverness, but come down into the green valleys of silliness.

One of the most difficult of the philosopher's tasks is to find out where the shoe pinches.

One often makes a remark and only later sees how true it is.

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

Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language.

Tell me how you are searching, and I will tell you what you are searching for.

Tell them I've had a wonderful life. (last words)

The difficulty in philosophy is to say no more than we know.

The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.

The world is the totality of facts, not of things.

The world of the happy is quite different from the world of the unhappy.

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

What cannot be imagined cannot even be talked about.

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


(April 26 is also the birthday of Bernard Malamud.)

Categories: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Quotes of the day


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