Wittgenstein Quotes

Quotes tagged as "wittgenstein" Showing 1-30 of 47
Umberto Eco
“The order that our mind imagines is like a net, or like a ladder, built to attain something. But afterward you must throw the ladder away, because you discover that, even if it was useful, it was meaningless.”
Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

Ludwig Wittgenstein
“Don't think, but look! (PI 66)”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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

Stephen Hawking
“In the eighteenth century, philosophers considered the whole of human knowledge, including science, to be their field and discussed questions such as: Did the universe have a beginning? However, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, science became too technical and mathematical for the philosophers, or anyone else except a few specialists. Philosophers reduced the scope of their inquiries so much that Wittgenstein, the most famous philosopher of this century, said, "The sole remaining task for philosophy is the analysis of language." What a comedown from the great tradition of philosophy from Aristotle to Kant!”
Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

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

Haruki Murakami
“Once the ego is born into this world, it has to shoulder morality.”
Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

Georg Henrik von Wright
He was of the opinion... that his ideas were generally misunderstood and distorted even by those who professed to be his disciples. He doubted he would be better understood in the future. He once said he felt as though he were writing for people who would think in a different way, breathe a different air of life, from that of present-day men.

{Von Wright on his tutor, the great philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein}”
Georg Henrik von Wright

Ludwig Wittgenstein
“What is the proof that I know something? Most certainly not my saying I know it.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty

Stanley Cavell
“This is all that “ordinary” in the phrase “ordinary language philosophy” means, or ought to mean. It does not refer to particular words of wide use, nor to particular sorts of men. It reminds us that whatever words are said and meant are said and meant by particular men, and that to understand what they (the words) mean you must understand what they (whoever is using them) means, and that sometimes men, do not see what they mean, that usually they cannot say what they mean, that for various reasons they may not know what they mean, and that when they are forced to recognize this they feel they do not, and perhaps cannot, mean anything, and they are struck dumb.”
Stanley Cavell

Bertrand Russell
“An even more important philosophical contact was with the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who began as my pupil and ended as my supplanter at both Oxford and Cambridge. He had intended to become an engineer and had gone to Manchester for that purpose. The training for an engineer required mathematics, and he was thus led to interest in the foundations of mathematics. He inquired at Manchester whether there was such a subject and whether anybody worked at it. They told him about me, and so he came to Cambridge. He was queer, and his notions seemed to me odd, so that for a whole term I could not make up my mind whether he was a man of genius or merely an eccentric. At the end of his first term at Cambridge he came to me and said: “Will you please tell me whether I am a complete idiot or not?” I replied, “My dear fellow, I don’t know. Why are you asking me?” He said, “Because, if I am a complete idiot, I shall become an aeronaut; but, if not, I shall become a philosopher.” I told him to write me something during the vacation on some philosophical subject and I would then tell him whether he was complete idiot or not. At the beginning of the following term he brought me the fulfillment of this suggestion. After reading only one sentence, I said to him: “No, you must not become an aeronaut.” And he didn’t.
The collected papers of Bertrand Russell: Last Philosophical Testament”
Bertrand Russell

Tony Hendra
“Wittgenstein once said: the mystery is, why does the universe exist at all?
Tony Hendra, Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul

Ludwig Wittgenstein
“All testing, all confirmation and disconfirmation of a hypothesis takes place already within a system. And this system is not a more or less arbitrary and doubtful point of departure for all our arguments: no, it belongs to the essence of what we call an argument. The system is not so much as the point of departure, as the element in which arguments have their life.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty

Ludwig Wittgenstein
“But doesn't it come out here that knowledge is related to a decision?”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty

“Wrestling with what came to be called the “rule-following considerations” in the wake of Kripke’s reading of Wittgenstein led me to see Hegel as directly addressing what is perhaps the central question that Wittgenstein raised in the vicinity. If all there is to confer meaning on linguistic expressions and content on intentional states is the use that we make of them, the functional role they play in our practices, how is it that such use can institute norms that are determinately contentful, in the sense of providing definite standard for assessments of the correctness of further uses in a whole range of possible novel situations?”
Robert Brandom

Alexandre Alphonse
“[[[Escuché todas estas cosas y las escribí a vuelapluma en folios dispersos, en libretas viejas y nuevas, en notas adhesivas multicolor que acabaron cubriendo todas las paredes y casi todo el techo y el suelo de mi habitación. Con ello esperaba entretenerme en el acto, transcribiendo, y cuando no pudiese dormir, releyendo. Esperaba imaginar algo en algún momento diferente de lo imaginado en el momento del descubrimiento. Esperaba que pudiese esperanzarme, quizá incluso sonreír, quizá mantener el recuerdo vivo o alterarlo a voluntad, quizá recordar que no había olvidado. Nada es tan difícil como no engañarse. Los que se preguntaron ¿Por qué!, mirando al sol directamente, no me parecieron muy lúcidos; los que se preguntaron ¿Por qué?, no mirando al sol directamente, con un folleto en la mano, no me parecieron mucho más listos.]]]”
Alexandre Alphonse, Gedankenprojektor

W.G. Sebald
“Voorzover ik me herinner duurde het geruime tijd voordat ik van mijn verbazing over de onverhoopte terugkeer van Austerlitz was bekomen; in elk geval staat me nog bij dat ik, voordat ik naar hem toe ging, een tijdlang nadacht over zijn gelijkenis met Ludwig Wittgenstein die mij nu voor het eerst opviel, over de verbijsterde uitdrukking die ze beiden op hun gezicht droegen. Ik geloof dat het vooral de rugzak was, waarvan Austerlitz mij later vertelde dat hij hem vlak voordat hij was gaan studeren voor tien shilling had gekocht uit voormalige Zweedse legervoorraden in een surplus-store aan Charing Cross Road, en dat het het enige waarachtig betrouwbare in zijn leven was geweest, het was geloof ik deze rugzak die mij op het eigenlijk nogal bizarre idee bracht van een zekere lichamelijke verwantschap tussen hem, Austerlitz, en de in 1951 in Cambridge aan kanker gestorven filosoof. Ook Wittgenstein had voortdurend zijn rugzak bij zich gehad, in Puchberg en Otterthal evenzeer als wanneer hij naar Noorwegen ging of naar Kazachstan of naar zijn zusters thuis om het kerstfeest te vieren in de Alleegasse. Die rugzak, waarvan Margarete haar broer op een keer schrijft dat hij haar bijna net zo lief is als hijzelf, reisde altijd en overal met hem mee, ik geloof zelfs over de Atlantische Oceaan, op de lijnboot Queen Mary, en vervolgens van New York tot Ithaka. Als ik nu dus ergens op een foto van Wittgenstein stuit, heb ik steeds meer het gvoel dat Austerlitz mij daarop aanstaart, en als ik naar Austerlitz kijk is het alsof ik in hem de ongelukkige denker zie, die zowel in de helderheid van zijn logische gedachtengangen als in de verwarring van zijn gevoelens zat opgesloten, zo opvallend is de gelijkenis tussen die twee, in hun gestalte, in de manier waarop ze je als van achter een onzichtbare grens bestuderen, in hun slechts provisorisch ingerichte leven, in het verlangen met zo weinig mogelijk toe te kunnen, en in het onvermogen zich bezig te houden met preliminairen, dat karakteristiek was zowel voor Austerlitz als voor Wittgenstein.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“... you can always mention Wittgenstein since he is vague enough to always seem relevant”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Bertrand Russell
“I have not found in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations anything that seemed to me interesting and I do not understand why a whole school finds important wisdom in its pages.”
Bertrand Russell

John Haldane
“Prior to taking up philosophy I had spent half a decade as an art student and I am quite sure that what persuaded me of the importance and veracity of these ancient ideas was my art school education. For art making is all about discerning and creating structures. When later, as a philosophy student, I read Wittgenstein’s instruction to attend to the differences, I heard an echo of the art teacher’s command to look at the gaps between objects and draw them also.”
John Haldane, Faithful Reason: Essays Catholic and Philosophical

“Nur im fluss des Lebens haben die Worte ihre Bedeutung.”
Wittgenstein Ludwig

“What Wittgenstein points the way toward here is the possibility of appreciating how (what we, under the pressure of certain philosophical assumptions, are prone to conceive of as) our 'merely' animal capacities are not merely animal. Even those capacities that we are inclined to view as beloning to our 'merely' animal being - capacities such as walking, eating, drinking, and playing - come to be transformed through and through in the lives of the sorts of creatures we are: ones who speak.”
James Conant, The Logical Alien: Conant and His Critics

“We can now say this: the capacities that homo erectus and homo sapiens generically have in common - such that they may both be generically characterized as 'walking', 'eating', 'drinking', and 'playing' - must formally differ in the manner in which they are done in order for these respective pairs of sets of activities to belong to the very different forms of life that they do. The philosophical obstacles that stand in the way of such a vision of the human animal are considerable. If the wish to transpose Wittgenstein's point here into Boyle's Kantian idiom, then it may be put as follows: walking, eating, and drinking are not just parts of our material animal nature that can be brought into view apart from their relation to a form. If we seek to understand what is involved in learning to walk, eat, and drink as we do, this will require conceiving those activities under the aspect of their human form. Such forms of learning characterize 'initiation' into our form of life no less deeply than learning how to give orders, ask questions, tell stories, and chat. In relation to the concept of our form of life, not only do these capacities all stand at the same level, but more importantly: those in the one set would not be of the sort that characterize our form of life unless they were part and parcel of a single form of life that also involved those in the other. Our manner of walking, eating, drinking, and playing and our manner of giving orders, asking questions, telling stories, and chatting all partake of a single form. The form here in question figures in Wittgenstein's conception of philosophy as a very abstract logical (or, as he later prefers to say, grammatical) category - the category of a form of life.”
James Conant, The Logical Alien: Conant and His Critics

“The sign for Wittgenstein partakes of a logical dimension that cannot simply be taken in through an act of Hilbertian immediate perceptual apprehension that is prior to all thought or language. To put this dimension of Wittgenstein's teaching in our earlier Kantian idiom: an employment of language in which no symbol is to be recognized in the sign - so that we're confronted with the occurrence of a mere sign - involved a kind of exercise of our linguistic capacity whose very possibility presupposes the prior capacity successfully to employ signs as the sensibly perceptible aspects of symbols. In this area of philosophy - as in some of the others explored earlier in these replies - contemporary philosophers are prone to assume that the order of logical priority must be the other way around. They are inclined, with Hilbert, to regard the (to borrow Kant's term) problematic mode of occurrence of the sign as the logically simpler phenomenon and the comparatively less problematic case as the product of an enhancement of the 'mere sign' - an enhancement that breathes life into a sort of something that is, regarded in and of itself, logically mute and inert.”
James Conant, The Logical Alien: Conant and His Critics

Ludwig Wittgenstein
“Anything your reader can do for himself leave to him.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value

“Here is another way of putting an aspect of that same parallel: just as The Critique of Pure Reason seeks to show us that the formal conditions of sensory consciousness of an object presuppose a form of synthesis that belongs to the understanding, so, too, the Tractatus seeks to show us that the formal conditions of sensory consciousness of the identity of a sign presupposes linguistic self-consciousness of the logical nexus of the symbol. Just as Kant seeks to show how, on the one hand, the understanding must bear on sensibility in order to have content (for it to represent anything), and how, on the other, the sensible manifold requires conferral of unity through the activity of the understanding to be more than merely blind (for it to amount to more than mere sensory noise); so, too, later Wittgenstein aims to show how, on the one hand, the symbol must find expression in the sign to be more than nothing (for it to say anything), and how, on the other, the form of the sign (in spoken language—its phonological form) presupposes the apprehension of its real possibilities for symbolizing (its logico-grammatical uses in acts of speech) in order for it to come into view as having the form that it does.”
James Conant, The Logical Alien: Conant and His Critics

“Even if we restrict ourselves to the comparatively limited conceptual repertoire for talking about such matters that early Wittgenstein makes available, we may already say this: in order to learn a first language, the potential speaker needs not only to learn to see the symbol in the sign, she needs the very idea of language to become actual in her. This formal aspect of what it is to be human—the linguistic capacity as such—is something that dawns with the learning of one’s first language, with one’s becoming the bearer of a linguistic practice. We touched above, in the reply to Sullivan, on how the Tractatus inherits and adapts yet a further feature of the Kantian enterprise of critique: it starts with the assumption not only that we already have the very faculty we seek to elucidate in philosophy, but also that the prosecution of the philosophical inquiry must everywhere involve the exercise of the very capacity it seeks to elucidate. The Tractatus does not seek to confer the power of language on us: we already have this and bring it to our encounter with the book. Hence, it does not seek to explain what language is (as it is sometimes put) from sideways-on—from a position outside language—but rather from the self-conscious perspective of someone who already, in seeking philosophical clarity about what language is, seeks clarity about herself qua linguistic being. Through its exercise, however, the book does seek to confer a heightened mastery of that capacity on us—a reflective self- understanding of its logic and its limits, and of the philosophical confusions that arise from misunderstandings thereof. This heightened mastery (like the general power itself) can be acquired only through forms of further exercise of that same capacity. What I just said about the Tractatus, at this level of methodological abstraction, is no less true of the method of the Philosophical Investigations. The author of the Tractatus, however, unlike later Wittgenstein, never pauses for even a moment to reflect upon what it means to learn to recognize the symbol in the sign through attending to contexts of significant use. Nevertheless, early Witt- genstein would certainly agree with his later self on this point: for the learner of language, light must gradually dawn over the whole—over sign and symbol together.”
James Conant, The Logical Alien: Conant and His Critics

“How does one do justice to what occasions philosophical wonder in us without conferring false sublimity upon it? We said that what occasions Frege’s wonder—the absoluteness of the logical order—seems to him to be such that it cannot possibly be implicated in our dependence upon language: say, in our meaning to assert p in using a proposition to say one thing rather than another, or in our using just these words rather than some others to assert it. The Tractatus (while repudiating Frege’s conception that the nature of logic may in no way be implicated in that of language) still seeks a way to hold onto the idea that in logic it is not we who express, by means of signs, what we want; rather it is the nature of the essentially necessary signs—it is logic—that asserts itself. The later Wittgenstein, as we are about to see, seeks to undo this residual subliming of the logical in the Tractatus, while in no way seeking to dissipate the sense of wonder at the illimitable depth of the logical—(what he later calls) the grammatical—that shows itself in our forms of thought and life.”
James Conant, The Logical Alien: Conant and His Critics

John King
“The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said 'Everything that can be said can be said clearly.' But I think we know what he meant.”
John Alejandro King a.k.a. The Covert Comic

“Wittgenstein was brilliant enough to see that math is, and must be, pure tautology, but not brilliant enough to see that mathematical tautology is descriptive and
real, not empty and abstract.”
Mike Hockney, Gödel Versus Wittgenstein

“The mythic journey to the village of the pig people can be compared to the first trip into space and the view of Earth afforded thereby: the space trip does not actually distance us from ourselves as much as the mythic trip does. The journey from human reality to pig reality reprises an ancient 'reversal' in roles, from hunter to hunted, which has been an important wellspring of metaphoric thinking. The universal human value of being able to look back from a different place was noted by Wittgenstein, who also noted the difficulty of doing so - a dilemma of the human consciousness.”
Michael R. Dove, Bitter Shade: The Ecological Challenge of Human Consciousness

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