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WITTGENSTEIN

RAY M0 NK

WITTGENSTEIN
R

Granta Books
L o n d o n

H O W

T O

R E A D

A v a ila b le n o w

H o w

H o w

to

R e a d

H o w

to

H o w

to

to

R e a d
H o w

H o w

b y

a rk

F reu d b y J o s h

R e a d

H itle r b y

N ie tz s c h e

to

to

D a ru n n

R e a d

R e a d

R e a d

b y

N e il

K e ith

H o w

to

to

H o w

to

H o w
H o w

to

to

R e a d

R e a d

F o u c a u lt b y

H e id e g g e r b y

R a y

R e a d J u n g
R e a d

R e a d

b y

M a rx

b y

o n k

H a c k in g

a rk

A n d re w
P e te r

S h a ke sp e a re b y

2 0 0 5

Ia n
M

P e a rs o n

P h illip s

b y

P u b lis h e d A u t u m n

H o w

G r e g o r

A n s e ll

S a d e b y J o h n

W ittg e n s te in

R id le y

C o h e n

ra th a ll

S a m u e ls
O s b o r n e

N ic h o la s

R o y le

F o r th c o m in g

H o w
H o w
H o w

to
to

R e a d
R e a d

to

d e

B e a u v o ir b y

D e r r id a

R e a d

b y

S a r tr e b y

S te lla

P e n e lo p e
R o b e r t

S a n d fo rd
D e u ts c h e r

B e rn a s c o n i

G r a n u

P u b lic a tio n s ,

2 / 3

F irs t p u b lis h e d

H a n o v e r Y a rd ,

in

G re a t B r ita in

C o p y r ig h t C* R a y

T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h ilo s o p h i e s b y
a n d

c G u in n e s s ,

R u s s e ll,
a n d
b y

1 9 5 7 ,

B ro w n

L u d w ig

P u b lis h in g .
b y

G .

a n d

R .

A n s c o m b e .

ittg e n s te in ,
W

e d ite d

V o ls I a n d

V o n

o n k

b y

A ll r ig h ts
p u b lic a tio n

R u s s e ll P e a c e
th e

m a y

b e

r ig h t

m o r a l
b e

N o

as

r e p r o d u c tio n ,

m a d e

w ith o u t

b e

r e p r o d u c e d , c o p ie d

o r

in

A c t

1 9 5 6

a c t in

(a s a m e n d e d ) .

r e la tio n

to

c r im in a l p r o s e c u tio n

C I P
is

a n d

c a ta lo g u e

a v a ila b le

fro m

th is

P r in te d

a n d

A n y

N y m a n , tra n s la te d

b o u n d

1 0

in

L im ite d ,

p e rm is s io n .

D e s ig n s

o f th is

o f th is

p a ra g ra p h

tra n s m itte d

sa v e

p ro v is io n s

o f th e

w h o
m a y

b o o k

R u le s

B r ita in

b y

S u rre y

w ith

a n y

lia b le

f o r d a m a g e s .

L ib ra ry .

C r o y d o n ,

d o e s

b e

a n d

w o rk .

tra n s m is s io n s

p e r s o n

G re a t

k in d

o r

f o r th is

R u s s e ll, K e y n e s , a n d

w ith

p u b lic a tio n

B ritis h

H a rg re a v e s

th e

c iv il c la im s

th e

T V p e se t b y

B o o k m a r q u e

w ith

re c o rd

R .

P h ilo s o p h y o f

C o p y r ig h t.

o r

m a y

C o p y r ig h t

H e ik k i

b y
th e

p e rm is s io n .

p e rm is s io n

u n a u th o r iz e d

o n

a u th o r

c o p y

tra n s la te d

P h ilo s o p h ic a l R e m a r k s b y

th e

th e

w r itte n

a c c o rd a n c e

B lu e

B la c k w e ll

ittg e n s te in ,

U s e d

u n d e r

id e n tifie d

P e a rs

F o u n d a tio n .

tra n s la te d

r ig h t a n d

h is

b y

B e rtra n d

A n s c o m b e ,
W

W r itin g s

P u b lis h in g .

1 9 8 8 , to

re s e rv e d .

R h e e s ,

B la c k w e ll

a s s e rte d

A c t,

V o n

L u d w ig

L a st

8 B E

P h i l o s o p h i c a l I n v e s t i g a t i o n s '

P u b lis h in g .

R u s h

2 0 0 5

K n o w le d g e b y

1 1 , B l a c k w e l l P u b l i s h i n g . L e tte r s to

r ig h t,

p u b lic a tio n

w r itte n

b y

B o o k s

ittg e n s te in , tra n s la te d

G . E . M

P u b lis h in g .

ittg e n s te in , e d .

h a s

P a te n ts

o f th is

B la c k w e ll

h ite , B la c k w e ll

L u c k h a rd ,

L o n d o n

2 0 0 5

L o g ic a n d

B e rtra n d

ittg e n s te in , tra n s la te d

P s y c h o lo g y b y

R a y

L u d w ig

G ra n ta

o n k .

P r e lim in a r y S tu d ie s f o r

b y

M o re, e d .

R o u d e d g e .
T h e

b y

P h ilo s o p h ic a l I n v e s tig a tio n s b y

E . M

L u d w ig

1 9 7 5 ,

R o u d e d g e ,

B o o ks:

N o e l R o a d ,

to

CONTENTS

v ii

S e r i e s E d i t o r s F o r e w o r d

In tr o d u c tio n

1
2
3
4
5

L o g ic , S c ie n c e a n d B u s in e s s
C le a rin g
P ic tu rin g

u p

P h ilo s o p h y

th e W o rld

15
34

W h a t is a P r o p o s i t i o n ?

44

W h a t is P h i l o s o p h y ?

52

T h e

D is in te g ra tio n

T h e

N e w

P u rity

o f L o g ic a l F o r m

P h ilo s o p h y : G iv in g u p

th e

54
C ry s ta llin e

o f L o g ic

61

L an g u ag e G am es

C a n

10
11

in T h r e e W o rd s

th e r e b e a P riv a te

R e a d in g W ittg e n s te in
U n d e rs ta n d in g
Im p o n d e ra b le

69
L anguage?

83

in

94

th e R ig h t S p irit

O th e r s , U n d e r s ta n d in g O u rs e lv e s :
E v id e n c e

99

C h r o n o lo g y

107

S u g g e s tio n s fo r F u r th e r R e a d in g

109

In d e x

1 1 1

SERIES EDITOR'S FOREWORD

How am I to read H ow to R e a d l

T h is

s e rie s

is b a s e d

o n

v e ry

s im p le , b u t n o v e l

b e g in n e r s g u id e s

to

g re a t th in k e rs

p o tte d

o r

c o n d en se d

b io g ra p h y

w o rk s,
b rin g s

o r

c o m p a n y
o rd e r to

re a d

ev en

b o th .

re a d e r fa c e -to -fa c e
o f an

e x p e rt

g e t c lo s e

g e t c lo s e
to

p e rh a p s

th e

to

th e

to

an d

H o w
w ith

g u id e .

w rite rs

s u m m a rie s

Its

to

th e ir
by

w ritin g

s ta rtin g

th e y

a c tu a lly

u se

p o in t

an d

m a jo r

c o n tra s t,

its e lf in
is

w h a t a w r i t e r is a ll a b o u t , y o u

w o rd s

M o st

o ffe r e ith e r

o f

R ea d,

th e

id e a .

b e

th e

th a t

in

h a v e to

sh o w n

h o w

th o s e w o rd s .

E v e r y b o o k i n t h e s e r i e s is i n a w a y a m a s t e r c l a s s i n r e a d i n g .
E a c h

a u th o r

has

s e le c te d

te n

o r

w r ite r s w o rk a n d lo o k s a t th e m
th e ir c e n tr a l id e a s a n d
w o rld

o f th o u g h t.

c h ro n o lo g ic a lly

to

th e re b y

e x tra c ts

fro m

in d e ta il as a w a y o f re v e a lin g
d o o rs

th e s e

e x tra c ts

o f a

th in k e rs

sense

o v e r tim e , s o m e tim e s n o t. T h e

sh o rt

o p e n in g

S o m e tim e s
g iv e

so

o n

to

a re

a w h o le
a rra n g e d

d e v e lo p m e n t

b o o k s a re n o t m e re ly

c o m p i

l a t i o n s o f a t h i n k e r s m o s t f a m o u s p a s s a g e s , t h e i r g r e a t e s t h i t s ,
b u t ra th e r th e y
le a d e rs to
tio n

to

g o

th e

o f f e r a s e r ie s o f c lu e s o r k e y s th a t w ill e n a b le

o n
te x ts

an d
an d

m a k e d is c o v e rie s o f th e ir o w n . In
re a d in g s ,

jW o g ra p h ic a l c h r o n o lo g y

an d

each

b o o k

s u g g e s tio n s

p ro v id e s

a d d i
sh o rt

f o r f u r th e r re a d in g

vi

SERIES EDITORS FOREWORD

a n d so
to

o n . T h e

te ll y o u

b o o k s in

a ll y o u

n e e d

D a rw in , o r in d e e d
th e y

d o

th e H o w

to

k n o w

S h a k e s p e a re a n d th e M a rq u is d e S a d e , b u t

o ffe r th e b e s t s ta rtin g p o in t fo r fu r th e r e x p lo ra tio n .

U n lik e

th e

a v a ila b le

th a t h a v e sh a p e d

se c o n d -h a n d

firs t-h a n d

e n c o u n te rs

b o o k s

w ill,

e n co u ra g e an d

v e rs io n s

o f th e

m in d s

o u r in te lle c tu a l, c u ltu ra l, re lig io u s , p o litic a l

a n d s c ie n tific la n d s c a p e , H o w

th e s e

t o R e a d s e r i e s d o n t c l a i m

a b o u t F re u d , N ie tz s c h e a n d

w ith

b y

tu rn ,

to R e a d o f f e r s a r e f r e s h i n g s e t o f
th o s e

m in d s .

in s tru c t,

O u r

in trig u e ,

h o p e

is

th a t

e m b o ld e n ,

d e lig h t.

S im o n
N e w

C ritc h le y

S c h o o l f o r S o c ia l R e s e a r c h , N e w

Y o rk

INTRODUCTION

L u d w ig
m e n t

W ittg e n s te in

o n e

o f

p h ilo s o p h e rs

o f th e

e x c ite d

g re a t

b o o k ,

T r a c ta tu s

T h e re

is

p re te d ,
o u g h t
w o rk
In
b o o k

n o

o r
to

b e

o n e

d eal

h o w

o n

h o w

a g a in

o n

ev er

h o w e v e r,

th e

is o n e

s in c e

p u b lis h e d

b o o k

a g re e

in flu e n tia l

s h o u ld

th a t

h is

firs t

in

1921.

b e

in te r

P h ilo s o p h ic a l In v e s tig a tio n s ,

th e

e x te n t

to

w h ic h

th e

la te r

e a rlie r.

t h i s c o n t e x t , it is e x t r e m e l y

fo r d o in g

T h e re ,

w as

th a t

u n iv e rs a l
m o st

to r e a d h i m

o f c o n tro v e rs y

h is la te r w o r k ,

re a d , o r

b y

th e

o f how

L o g ic o -P h ilo s o p h ic u s ,

re p u d ia te s th e

c a lle d

w as
o f

c e n tu ry .

q u e s tio n

co n sen su s

o n

an d

tw e n tie th

a g r e e m e n t s to p s . T h e
has

(1 8 8 9 -1 9 5 1 )

g re a te s t

p re s u m p tu o u s to

H o w

to R e a d

W ittg e n s te in . I a p o lo g iz e

so a n d

w a n t to

m ak e

p u b lis h

in

advance

it c le a r th a t w h a t I o ffe r h e re

is o n l y o n e p o s s ib le w a y o f r e a d i n g W i t t g e n s t e i n .
T h e

e x tra c ts

re p ro d u c e d

fro m

a n d

c h ro n o lo g ic a l

W ittg e n s te in s

d is c u s s e d

o rd e r

an d

b e lo w

I g iv e

o w n

a re

so m e

w ritin g s

a rra n g e d

th a t

in

b io g ra p h ic a l

a re

b ro a d ly
d e ta ils

in

a m o n g s t th e c o m m e n ta r y th a t I o ffe r. H o w e v e r , it m ig h t b e as
w e ll to b e g in

w ith

W ittg e n s te in

w as

w e a lth ie s t

th e

b o rn

fa m ilie s

fa th e r w a s a n
o f

a su m m a ry .

o f

in
th e

V ie n n a

iro n

an d

1 8 8 9

in to

A u s tro -H u n g a ria n

in d u s tria lis t w h o

A u s tria n

in

s te e l

o w n e d

o n e

E m p ire .

p ra c tic a lly

in d u s try .

o f th e

U n d e r

H is

th e w h o le
h is

fa th e rs

INTRODUCTION

in flu e n c e , W ittg e n s te in

s tu d ie d

th e n

e n g i n e e r i n g , firs t a t B e r lin a n d

a t M a n c h e s te r, b u t th e n b e c a m e g r ip p e d b y p h ilo s o p h ic a l

q u e s tio n s a n d
s tu d y

w ith

cam e

to

B e rtra n d

C a m b rid g e
R u s s e ll.

in

th e

a u tu m n

W ittg e n s te in

q u ic k ly

R u s s e l l s f a v o u r i t e p u p i l a n d t h e o n e t o w h o m
fo r a s o lu tio n to
lo g ic .

In

N o rw a y ,
tio n .

th e u n re s o lv e d q u e s tio n s in

1 9 1 3 , W ittg e n s te in
h o p in g

H e

re tu rn in g to
D u rin g

th a t

w h ic h ,
h e

in

th a t

W ittg e n s te in
tim e

an d

in

th e e v e o f th e

fin is h e d

w as

n o t

b o o k ,

te a c h e r

1 9 2 6

h e

1 9 2 9 , re tu rn in g
h a v in g b e c o m e

th e p h ilo s o p h y o f
a lo n e

in

h is c o n c e n tr a
lo g ic ,

in

b e fo re

th e A u s tria n

p ris o n e r b y th e

p u b lis h e d
a ll

h e lp

liv e

F irs t W o r ld W a r.

T r a c ta tu s

s o lv e d

to

a b o u t

serv ed

w as s h o rt,

s w itc h e d
to

to

a rm y

Ita lia n s .

L o g ic o -P h ilo s o p h ic u s ,
1 9 21.

T h in k in g

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

u n til

p ro b le m s ,

c o n v in c e d

to

an

w o rk

th a t th e
to

an d

m is e ra b le

a rc h ite c t,
o n

b e fo re ,

p h ilo s o p h y

T r a c ta tu s d i d

in

a g a in ,

n o t , a f t e r a ll,

a ll t h e p r o b l e m s o f p h i l o s o p h y .

u n til h is d e a th

w ay o f d o in g

u n su c c e ssfu l

b e in g

C a m b rid g e

fin a l s o lu tio n

1929

o u t a n ew

h ad

b ecam e

g a v e u p p h ilo s o p h y a n d b e c a m e a s c h o o lte a c h e r.

as a

p ro v id e th e

w o u ld

th in k in g

o f th e w a r, w a s ta k e n
h e

h o w e v er,

H is

s o litu d e

th e re ,

V ie n n a o n

tim e ,

h ad ,

F ro m

y ear

to

R u s s e ll lo o k e d

le ft C a m b r id g e

th e w a r, W ittg e n s te in

a n d , a t th e e n d
B y

th a t th e

sp en t

o f 1911

in

1 9 5 1 , W ittg e n s te in

p h ilo s o p h y

th a t h as n o

w o rk e d

p r e c e d e n t in

t h e h i s t o r y o f t h e s u b j e c t . I t is a w a y o f a p p r o a c h i n g p h i l o s o
phy

th a t trie s

to

re m a in

T r a c ta tu s t h a t p h i l o s o p h y
a

s c ie n c e .

It

is

n o t

a c tiv ity o f c le a rin g u p


m e n ts c ast b y
T h is

fa ith fu l to

had

in

th e

o f d o c trin e

b u t

an

a c d v ity ,

th e c o n fu s io n s c a u s e d b y th e

th e

b e w itc h

la n g u a g e .

c o n c e p tio n

p h ilo s o p h y .

in s ig h t h e

c a n n o t b e a s c ie n c e , o r a n y th in g lik e

b o d y

o f

th e

W ittg e n s te in s m o s t ra d ic a l a n d
to

th e

s u b je c t

is ,

in

m y

o p in io n ,

m o s t im p o rta n t c o n trib u tio n

LOGIC, SCIENCE AND BUSINESS

: an inquiry into the principles of accurate


thought and scientific method. By P. Coffey, Ph.D.
(Louvain). Professor of Logic and Metaphysics, Maynooth
College. Longmans, Green & Co. 1912.
T h e

S c ie n c e o f L o g ic

In no branch of learning can an author disregard the results


of honest research with so much impunity as he can in
Philosophy and Logic. To this circumstance we owe the pub
lication of such a book as Mr Coffeys 'Science of Logic: and
only as a typical example of the work of many logicians today
does this book deserve consideration. The authors Logic is
that of the scholastic philosophers and he makes all their
mistakes - of course with the usual references to Aristotle.
(Aristotle, whose name is so much taken in vain by our logi
cians, would turn in his grave if he knew that so many
Logicians know no more about Logic to-day than he did
2,000 years ago.) The author has not taken the slightest
notice of the great work of the modern mathematical logi
cians - work which has brought about an advance in Logic
comparable only to that which made Astronomy out of
Astrology, and Chemistry out of Alchemy.

LOGIC, SCIENCE AND BUSINESS

Mr Coffey, like many logicians, draws a great advantage


from an unclear way of expressing himself; for if you cannot
tell whether he means to say 'Yes' or No, it is difficult to
argue against him. However, even through his foggy expres
sion, many grave mistakes can be recognized clearly
enough; and I propose to give a list of some of the most
striking ones, and would advise the student of Logic to
trace these mistakes and their consequences in other books
on Logic also. (The numbers in brackets indicate the pages
of Mr Coffeys book - Volume 1 - where a mistake occurs for
the first time; the illustrative examples are my own.)
I.
II.
III.

IV.

V.

VI.

(36) The author believes that all propositions are of


the subject-predicate form.
[31] He believes that reality is changed by becoming
an object of thoughts.
(6) He confounds the copula is with the word is'
expressing identity. (The word is has obviously differ
ent meanings in the propositions Twice two is four
and Socrates is mortal.)
(46) He confounds things with the classes to which
they belong. (A man is obviously something quite dif
ferent from mankind.)
[48] He confounds classes and complexes. (Mankind
is a class whose elements are men; but a library is not
a class whose elements are books, because books
become parts of a library only by standing in certain
spatial relations to one another - while classes are
independent of the relations between their members.)
[47] He confounds complexes and sums. (Two plus
two is four, but four is not a complex of two and itself.)

LOGIC. SCIENCE AND BUSINESS

This list of mistakes could be extended a good deal.


The Worst of such books as this is that they prejudice sen
sible people against the study of Logic.
Cambridge Review, 1913
W ittg e n s te in s

p u b lis h e d

p u b lis h e d ju s t

o n e

o u t p u t w a s tin y .

b o o k ,

o n e

T h i s ( t h e a b o v e ) is t h e b o o k

a rtic le

an d

In

h is

o n e

life tim e , h e

b o o k

re v ie w . I t w a s p u b lis h e d in

in a C a m b r id g e u n d e r g r a d u a te m a g a z in e c a lle d th e
R e v ie w ; a n d
th e n

w a s h is

firs t p u b lic a tio n .

a s tu d e n t o f p h ilo s o p h y

h a lfw a y

th ro u g h

h is

th o u g h , it w o u ld
an

v e ry

to

a t T rin ity

sec o n d

y ear

b e m is le a d in g to

u n d e rg ra d u a te

le a d in g

s tu d e n t,

th in k

o f

h im

o r,

y e a rs o ld e r th a n

h a v in g s p e n t th r e e
e n g in e e rin g
w a s a lre a d y
p h e rs

th e

by

tw o

o f

o f th e

M o o re
in

w ay s,

an

b e

m is

o r d i n a r y

w h e n

h e

C a m b rid g e
a n o th e r

as an

th in g ,

h e

m o s t in flu e n tia l p h ilo s o

an d

h is

F o r

B e rtra n d

o w n

H e r m in e , v is ite d

1912,

sen se,

w e n t to

re g a rd e d

p h ilo s o p h e r

su m m e r

h e

M a n c h e s te r.

W i t t g e n s t e i n s s i s t e r ,

m an y

a t th is tim e as

th in g , a t tw e n ty -fo u r, h e w a s

y ears b e fo re

G .E .

w as

u su a l s e c o n d -y e a r u n d e rg ra d u a te ,

in

day,

In

c a se , it w o u ld

an y

s tu d e n t

o f th e

s ig n ific a n t

th e

W ittg e n s te in

o f s tu d y .

an y

in

1913

C a m b r id g e

C o lle g e , C a m b rid g e ,

p ic tu re h im

in

as,

u n d e rg ra d u a te s tu d e n t. F o r o n e
a fe w

re v ie w .

h ad

rig h t.
h im

R u s s e ll,
In d e e d ,

as

w h e n

a t C a m b rid g e

b e en

th e re

le s s

in

th a n

y e a r, R u s s e ll to ld

h e r : W e e x p e c t t h e n e x t b i g s t e p i n p h i l o s

o p h y

b y y o u r b r o th e r .

to

b e ta k e n

A s R u s s e l l s r e m a r k s u g g e s t s , W i t t g e n s t e i n
in g

c o n v e n tio n a l

a tte n d e d

u n d e rg ra d u a te

c o u rse

in

w a s n o t fo llo w
p h ilo s o p h y .

H e

R u s s e l l s l e c t u r e s , a n d , o c c a s i o n a l l y , t h o s e b y M o o r e

a n d t h e o t h e r C a m b r i d g e p h i l o s o p h e r s , b u t t h e r e is n o t h i n g t o
in d ic a te

th a t h e

e v e r s e rio u s ly

c o n s id e re d

s ittin g

any

e x a m i

n a tio n s . H is f o r m a l s ta tu s w a s th a t o f a n u n d e r g r a d u a te , b u t h e

LOGIC. SCIENCE AND BUSINESS

re g a rd e d
o th e rs ,

h im s e lf,

n o t

as

an d ,

m o re

s tu d e n t

re m a rk a b ly ,

o f p h ilo s o p h y

p h ilo s o p h e r, a tte m p tin g to

p ro v id e n e w

w as

b u t

re g a rd e d

as

an

by

o rig in a l

s o lu tio n s to p ro b le m s

th a t w e re a t th e v e r y c u ttin g e d g e o f th e d is c ip lin e .
I t is p o s s i b l e , I t h i n k , t h a t C a m b r i d g e is t h e o n l y
in th e

w o rld th a t w o u ld

te rm s . H a d

h e b ro k e n

h a v e a c c e p te d

u n iv e rs ity

W ittg e n s te in

o f f h is e n g in e e r in g s tu d ie s in

o n

th e s e

o r d e r to

s tu d y p h ilo s o p h y a t O x f o r d , V ie n n a , B e r lin , P a ris , H a r v a r d o r


a n y o th e r le a d in g u n iv e rs ity o f th e tim e , h e
a t th e

firs t h u r d le , m o s t lik e ly

c o m p le te
th a n

ig n o ra n c e

F reg e

h u rd le ,

h e

an d

o f th e

R u s s e ll.

w o u ld

have

re je c te d

w o rk

A n d ,

b een

w o u ld h a v e fa lle n

b ecau se

o f an y

o f h is a lm o s t

p h ilo s o p h e rs

even

if h e

o b lig e d

to

h ad

d o

o th e r

o v e rc o m e

w h a t, in

th is

fa c t, h e

n e v e r d i d t h r o u g h o u t h is e n t i r e life , n a m e ly s tu d y t h e w o r k s o f
th e

g re a t p h ilo s o p h e rs

so m e

u n d e rs ta n d in g

H u m e , e tc .
d e n t, to

w o u ld

o f th e

o f

h e

P la to ,

have

d e v o te h im s e lf to

A t C a m b rid g e , to
W ittg e n s te in
s ta g e a t w h ic h

in

p a s t. O n l y
A ris to d e ,

b een

h is o w n

o f B e rtra n d

(a u tu m n ) te r m
a rriv e d
w ith

fo r

h im

s tu

re se a rc h .

to

re a c h

th is

la s t s ta g e

o f

th e

s o lv e p h ilo s o p h ic a l

p re v io u s p h ilo s o p h e rs h a d

w a s th a t h e a ro u s e th e in te re s t a n d a d m i
R u s s e ll.

T h is

h e

d id

in

th e

M ic h a e lm a s

o f 1 9 1 1 , w h e n , w ith o u t a n y p rio r w a rn in g , h e

a t R u s s e l l s l e c t u r e s

h im

L e ib n iz ,

its g r e a t c r e d i t , a ll t h a t w a s r e q u i r e d

o rd e r

sh o w n

as a g ra d u a te

h e s p e n t h is ti m e t r y i n g t o

tr ie d to s o lv e th e m

h ad

D e s c a rte s ,

a llo w e d ,

p ro b le m s r a th e r th a n le a r n in g h o w

ra tio n

a fte r h e

a b o u t lo g ic . I n

to

h ear

h im

speak

an d

d e c id in g w h e th e r o r n o t to

to

a rg u e

ta k e o n

th is e c c e n tr ic y o u n g A u s tr ia n as a s tu d e n t, R u s s e ll d id n o t a sk
W ittg e n s te in

w h a t

p h ilo s o p h e rs

o f th e

a b o u t

h e

p a s t;

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

W ittg e n s te in

w ro te

k n e w
h e

a b o u t
ask ed

p ro b le m

is l o s t

to

th e
h im

th a t

w o rk s
to

o f th e

w rite

in te re s te d

h is to ry , b u t

it

w as

g re a t

s o m e th in g
h im .

W h a t

e n o u g h

to

LOGIC. SCIENCE AND BUSINESS


c o n v in c e
in g , a n d

R u s s e ll th a t W ittg e n s te in

n e x t b ig s te p in

W i t t g e n s t e i n s r e v i e w
w ritte n

w a s s e rio u s a n d

s ix m o n th s la te r , h e w a s lo o k in g

m a k e th e

to

in te re s t

W ittg e n s te in

to

p h ilo s o p h y .
o f C o ffe y s

a t a tr a n s itio n a l s ta g e in

T he

S c ie n c e o f L o g ic w a s

th e re la tio n s h ip b e tw e e n h im

a n d R u s s e ll. D u r i n g h is f ir s t y e a r a t C a m b r id g e , W ittg e n s te in
had b e co m e
h ad

th e

s to p p e d
b eg an

R u s s e l l s f a v o u r i t e s t u d e n t , t h e o n e

g re a te s t

e x p e c ta tio n s .

tre a tin g

W ittg e n s te in

to

d e fe r to

th a t y e ar, a fe w

h im

o n

1 9 1 3 ,
a

p o in ts o f lo g ic .

to w a rd s

ta tin g re p e rc u s s io n s o n

h o w e v e r,

s tu d e n t

m o n th s a fte r th is r e v ie w

d e fe re n tia l a ttitu d e

R u s s e ll

a lto g e th e r,

In

th e

h e

an d

su m m er o f

w a s w r i t t e n , R u s s e l l s

W ittg e n s te in

w as to

have

devas

R u s s e l l s o w n i n t e l l e c t u a l d e v e l o p m e n t ,

w h e n , a fte r W ittg e n s te in
o f a b o o k

In
as

o f w h o m

c ritic iz e d w ith

g re a t s e v e rity a d ra ft

th a t h e w a s w o r k in g o n , R u s s e ll b e c a m e c o n v in c e d ,

te m p o r a r ily a t le a s t, th a t h e h a d n o th in g f u r th e r to c o n tr ib u te
to

fu n d a m e n ta l q u e s tio n s in

p h ilo s o p h y .

A n d

re v ie w , m o r e

y e t,

f o r a ll t h a t ,

th a t W ittg e n s te in
w ritte n
th e ir
o p e d

b y

d is c ip le

su b seq u en t

in te lle c tu a l a n d

y e ars,

d is a g re e m e n ts

b e tw e e n

fo rg et -

th is

w h a t

th a n

m a rk

o f R u s s e l l s . B e c a u s e

re la tio n s h ip , b o th
in

th e

e v e r w ro te , b e a rs th e

it

o f th e

is c u s t o m a r y

sh o w s

to

a n d

w ith

e ls e

te n s io n s

p e rs o n a l,

W ittg e n s te in

re v ie w

a n y th in g

o f h a v in g b e e n

e m p h a s iz e
R u s s e ll

g re a t

in

th a t d e v e l
th e

a n d

c la rity

to
th a t

W i t t g e n s t e i n w a s a t o n e t i m e n o t o n l y a n a d h e r e n t o f R u s s e l l s
id e a s , b u t a f ie rc e ly
th e

re v ie w , th o u g h

g re a t

s ig n ific a n c e

p a rtis a n

c h a m p io n

a d m itte d ly
in

W i t t g e n s t e i n s w o r k ,

its e lf,
o n e

o f th e m .

a sh o rt an d

p ro v id e s

th a t b o th

In

th is w ay ,

s lig h t w o r k

g o o d

p ro v id e s

o f n o

in tro d u c tio n
th e

to

in te lle c tu a l

c o n te x t o f h is th in k in g a b o u t lo g ic a n d h e lp s o n e to a v o id th e
e x e g e t i c a l m i s t a k e o f t h i n k i n g t h a t W i t t g e n s t e i n s w o r k s h o u l d
a lw a y s b e

seen

in c o n tr a s t t o

R u s s e l l s w o r k . W h a t

w e

see

in

LOGIC, SCIENCE AND BUSINESS

8
th is r e v ie w

is W i t t g e n s t e i n

fig h tin g , w ith

a ll t h e c o n s id e r a b le

p o l e m i c a l f o r c e a t h is d is p o s a l, o n th e s a m e s id e a s R u s s e ll.
T h e

ta rg e t

o f

W i t t g e n s t e i n s

p o le m ic ,

P r o f e s s o r P. C o f f e y , is a f o r g o t t e n
day an d
o f a

n o w

b o o k

w h ic h

k n o w n

d is tin g u is h e d

o n ly
b y

fo r th e

L o g ic

to

b e

d e fe n d e r

A ris to te lia n /S c h o la s tic


o t h e r s y s te m s n o w
h e re a llu d in g to
in

fa c t h e

g re a t

th a t

w o rk

s y s te m

a c tu a lly in

t h e n e w

n ev er o n ce

a c c u s a tio n

h e

o f

e x tre m e

h o s tility

w ith

w as an

Iris h

th e p re fa c e to
th e

T h e S c ie n c e

s u p e rio rity

o f lo g ic

h is

o v er

o f

w h a t

h e

th e
c a lls

v o g u e * . I t is p o s s i b l e t h a t h e is

lo g ic o f F re g e a n d R u s s e ll, th o u g h

m e n tio n s

h a s

o f th e

d u rin g

b e in g th e a u th o r

W ittg e n s te in . C o ffe y

C a th o lic , w h o a n n o u n c e s h im s e lf in
o f

u n fo rtu n a te

fig u re , o b s c u r e

fo r n o th in g o th e r th a n

it w a s re v ie w e d

th e

n o t

e ith e r

ta k e n

m o d e rn

(h e n c e

th e

W ittg e n s te in s

s lig h te s t n o tic e

m a th e m a tic a l

l o g i c i a n s ') .

o f th e
M o re

lik e ly , h e is t h i n k i n g o f t h e v a r i o u s s y s t e m s o f l o g i c d e v e l o p e d
b y K e y n e s , V e n n , D e M o r g a n , J e v o n s , M ill a n d
o f w h o m

h e

A ris to te lia n
in g

does d is c u s s in

A r i s t o t l e s

a d m ire rs a n d

w o u ld

lo g ic

a g a in s t,

h is

o f h is d e f e n c e

w h o e v e r, h e

d e fe n c e

has

o f th e

w as d e fe n d

w o n

v e ry

fe w

in M in d -

th e le a d in g B ritis h jo u r n a l o f p h ilo s

o n e m ig h t re g a rd as re p re s e n ta tiv e o f th e B ritis h

p h ilo s o p h ic a l
b e in g

c o u rse

e v e n fe w e r a d h e re n ts .

In a re v ie w
o p h y , w h ic h

fo r

th e

s y s te m . W h a te v e r , a n d

W h c w e l l , a ll

e s ta b lis h m e n t -

a g g r e s s i v e l y

h a v e s tru c k

C o f f e y s b o o k

t h e o l o g i c a l ,

an d ,

w as c ritic iz e d

ev en

in

1913,

it

m o s t lo g ic ia n s a n d

p h ilo s o p h e r s as a lm o s t

q u a i n d y o l d - f a s h i o n e d . I t is c l e a r f r o m

W ittg e n s t e in s re v ie w ,

h o w e v e r,

th a t

h e

w as

n o t

e s p e c ia lly

in te re s te d

in

th e

b o o k

i t s e l f ( o n l y a s a t y p i c a l e x a m p l e o f t h e w o r k o f m a n y l o g i c i a n s
to d a y

d o es

th is

b o o k

h i m , r a t h e r , is t h e
s ta te

h is

c o n v ic tio n

d e se rv e

c o n s id e ra tio n * );

o p p o rtu n ity
th a t th e

p re s e n te d

w o rk

o n

b y

lo g ic

w h a t in te re s ts
th e
d o n e

re v ie w
by

to

F reg e

LOGIC. SCIENCE AND BUSINESS


an d

R u s s e ll

re p re s e n ts

A ris to te lia n
w h ic h

s y s te m ,

an

h u g e

ad v an ce

ad v an ce

o v er

th e

c o m p a r a b l e

tra d itio n a l

o n ly

to

th a t

m a d e A s tr o n o m y o u t o f A s tro lo g y , a n d C h e m is tr y o u t

o f A lc h e m y .
T h i s is a v e r y l a r g e c l a i m , n o t o n l y i n
m a th e m a tic a l
lo g ic , w h ic h

lo g ic

b u t

a ls o

in

its

its p r a is e o f m o d e r n

d e n ig ra tio n

is , a f t e r a ll, u s u a l l y c o n s i d e r e d

e st in te lle c tu a l m o n u m e n ts

o f W e s te rn

o f A r i s t o t l e 's

o n e

o f th e g re a t

c iv iliz a tio n .

F o r o v er

tw o th o u s a n d y e a rs, th e lo g ic ta u g h t a n d s tu d ie d a t a c a d e m ie s ,
u n iv e rs itie s

an d

m o n a s te rie s

w a s , e s s e n tia lly , th a t d e v is e d

o n ly

c o n trib u tio n

c o m e s c lo s e to

it in

t h e l o n g e v i t y o f i t s d o m i n a n c e i s E u c l i d s

s y s te m

o f g e o m e try ,

c e n tu ry

B C

g e o m e trie s
re ig n
en d

u n til
in

th e

o f A r i s t o d e s l o g i c
d u rin g

th e

in

L ik e

ru le d

s c ie n c e

th e

o f th e

la s te d

o f

s lig h tly

c e n tu ry .

c e n tu ry

T h e
to

an
ju s t

d e c i d e d h is f u t u r e la y in p h i l o s o p h y r a t h e r

K in g

C a n u te ,

C o ffe y ,

in

d e fe n d in g

m a th e m a d c a l b a rb a ria n

o n

A r i s t o t l e s l o g i c ,

litd e o r n o

M ill

an d

a s c ie n rific

A r i s t o d e s

lo g ic

h o rd e s , w as try in g

th a t h a s w id e r c u ltu ra l

m ig h t a t firs t b e a p p a r e n t. C o ffe y , lik e m o s t


w as

n o t

s c ie n tis t o r

m a th e

in L a d n a n d G r e e k

s c ie n tific e d u c a tio n . T h e m e n a g a in s t w h o m

C o ffe y w a s d e fe n d in g A ris to tle -

w ith

s ix th

lo n g e r, c o m in g

m a tic ia n ; h e w a s a c la s s ic is t, a m a n tr a in e d

Jev o n s,

th e

th a t

n o n -E u c lid e a n

tw e n tie th

h o ld b a c k a n in e x o ra b le tid e , a tid e

w ith

fro m

n in e te e n th

o f th e

c u ltu re

e n g in e e rin g .

im p lic a tio n s th a n
e x p e rts

an d

fie ld

d e v e lo p m e n t

firs t d e c a d e

a g a in st th e m o d e r n
to

th e

m id d le

w h e n W ittg e n s te in
th a n

w h ic h

to

by

A ris to d e . T h e

W h e w e ll
e d u c a tio n .

w e re

T h e

lo g ic m a rk s th e p o in t a t w h ic h

K ey n es, V en n , D e M o rg a n ,
e ith e r

s c ie n tis ts

fin a l d e m is e

o r

m en

o f A ris to te lia n

lo g ic as a d is c ip lin e w a s ta k e n

o u t o f t h e h a n d s o f c la s s ic a lly t r a i n e d s c h o la r s a n d p u t in t h o s e
o f m a th e m a tic ia n s . E v e ry s ig n ific a n t a d v a n c e in lo g ic m a d e in

10

LOGIC, SCIENCE AND BUSINESS

th e

tw e n tie th

m a tic a l
lo g ic

w as m ad e
an d

y et

b y

so m eo n e

b e fo re

th e

w as th e p re s e rv e o f th e g e n d e m a n

o f su ch

b o o k s

a g a in s t th e
s io n

c e n tu ry

b a ck g ro u n d ,

to

as

s tu d y

h is

th is

is

th a t

th e y

W h a t

h e

m ean s

a m a th e
c e n tu ry

s c h o la rs . T h e

p re ju d ic e

s e n s ib le

o f L o g i c , s a y s W i t t g e n s t e i n

re v ie w

w ith

tw e n tie th

b y

in

th e

s e n s i b l e

w o rst
p e o p le

c o n c lu

p e o p l e ,

t h i n k , is t h o s e w i t h a s c i e n t i f i c e d u c a t i o n . H i s p o i n t is t h a t , s o
lo n g as p e o p le lik e C o f f e y c a n g e t a w a y w ith
o n

T h e

S c ie n c e

o f L o g i c , l o g i c

w ill b e

p u b lis h in g b o o k s

a v o id e d

by

g e n u in e

s c ie n tis ts .
I f o n e w a n ts to u n d e rs ta n d w h y R u s s e ll e n c o u r a g e d W ittg e n
s t e i n s p h i l o s o p h i c a l
fro m

a m b itio n s

even

th o u g h

W ittg e n s te in

w as,

a c o n v e n tio n a l p o i n t o f v ie w , w o e f u lly u n d e r - e d u c a t e d

p h ilo s o p h y ,
p la y e d

o u t

it
in

h e lp s

to

th in k

o f th e

W i t t g e n s t e i n s

re v ie w

w id e r

c u ltu ra l

o f C o ffe y .

in

s tru g g le

R u s s e ll

had

b e e n , fo r s o m e tim e b e fo re h e m e t W ittg e n s te in , a n a d v o c a te
o f w h a t h e c a lle d

s c i e n t i f i c m e t h o d

in

p h i l o s o p h y . H i s v i e w

w a s th a t p ro g re s s in p h ilo s o p h y w o u ld b e m a d e b y th e k in d o f
e x a c t t h i n k i n g t h a t h a d
p h y s ic s ,

an d

th a t,

r e c r u it s tu d e n ts
th o s e
m an

tra in e d
w ith

in

d riv e n

th e re fo re ,

w ith
th e

s c ie n tific

so m e
c la s s ic s .

p ro g re s s in

p h ilo s o p h y

m a th e m a tic a l
W h e n

e d u c a tio n

an d

h e
a

m a th e m a tic s a n d

w o u ld

d o

a b ility

ra th e r

m e t

w e ll

th a n

W ittg e n s te in ,

p a s s io n a te

to

in te re s t

a
in

m a th e m a tic a l lo g ic , h e th o u g h t h e h a d d is c o v e r e d h is id e a l. A s
h e p u t it in

a le tte r to

h is lo v e r. O t t o l i n e

M o rre ll:

I believe a certain sort of mathematicians have far more


philosophical capacity than most people who take up
philosophy. Hitherto the people attracted to philosophy
have been mostly those who loved the big generalizations,
which were all wrong, so that few people with exact minds
have taken up the subject. It has long been one of my

LOGIC, SCIENCE AND BUSINESS

11

dreams to found a great school of mathematically minded


philosophers, but I don't know whether I shall ever get it
accomplished. I had hopes of Norton, but he has not the
physique, Broad is all right, but has no fundamental
originality. Wittgenstein of course is exactly my dream.
I n th e y e a r s to c o m e , W ittg e n s te in w o u ld s u r p r is e a n d d is
a p p o in t
c a lle d

R u s s e ll

t h e

W ittg e n s te in
lo o k in g
in to

fo r

h is

v e h em en t

h is

th e s tu d y

re je c tio n

o u t l o o k , b u t

m ig h t w e ll
in

C e rta in ly ,
s c h o la rly

b y

s c ie n tific

b e

th e

c a m p a ig n

to

in

a b le

o f w h a t

1 9 1 3

it

R u s s e ll

lo o k e d

as

lie u te n a n t R u s s e ll

in je c t s o m e

s c ie n tific

if

w as

rig o u r

o f p h ilo s o p h y .
W ittg e n s te in

tra d itio n

e x tra o rd in a rily

h e

sh o w s

seeks

v itrio lic ,

to

C o ffe y

d e fe n d

s e lf-c o n fid e n t

In p la c e o f a c a re fu l c o n s id e r a tio n

an d

n o

an d

th e

e n tire

m e rc y

d id a c tic

in

th is

re v ie w .

o f th e m e rits a n d d e m e rits

o f C o f f e y s b o o k , W i t t g e n s t e i n p r e s e n t s C o f f e y a s r e p r e s e n t a
tiv e o f a n in te lle c tu a lly la z y a n d o u t m o d e d
o n e

th a t fe e ls a b le , in

th e

a p p ro a c h to

n a m e o f A ris to tle , to

re s u lts o f h o n e s t r e s e a r c h a n d , c o n s e q u e n tly , to
t h e

g re a t

sh o w n

w o rk

w e re

o f th e

m o d e rn

lo g ic ia n s h a d

W ittg e n s te in

accu ses C o ffe y

in v o lv e ig n o r in g a s p e c ts o f th e

R u s s e ll. T h e

firs t o n e

tio n s

a re

h ad ,

fo r

o f th e

v e ry

b e g in n in g

re p e a t w h a t

m a th e m a tic a l

g r a v e m i s t a k e s .

A ll s ix o f t h e m is ta k e s w h i c h
o f m a k in g

lo g ic ,

d i s r e g a r d t h e

lo n g

( T h e

s u b je c t-p re d ic a te

fo rm * )

tim e ,

to

b een

o f h is

c lo s e

1900

w o rk

o f F reg e a n d

a u t h o r b e l i e v e s t h a t a ll p r o p o s i

b o o k

ra is e s

R u s s e l l s

o n

an

is s u e

h e a rt.

L e ib n iz ,

th a t

A t

R u s s e ll

th e
had

a n n o u n c e d : T h a t a l l s o u n d p h i l o s o p h y s h o u l d b e g i n w i t h

an

a n a ly s is

to

o f p ro p o s itio n s

is

tru th

d e m a n d a p r o o f . R u s s e l l s t h e m e

to o

e v id e n t,

p e rh a p s,

th r o u g h o u t th e b o o k

is t h a t

L e i b n i z s m i s t a k e n v i e w s a b o u t m e t a p h y s i c s c a n b e t r a c e d t o a

12

LOGIC, SCIENCE AND BUSINESS

m is ta k e n

a s s u m p tio n

o f w h ic h

W ittg e n s te in a c c u se s C o ffe y : th a t e v e ry p ro p o s itio n

h a s a s u b je c t a n d
s itio n s

a re

o f

a b o u t p ro p o s itio n s , n a m e ly th e v e ry o n e

a p re d ic a te . T h e

th e

a s s u m p tio n

s u b je c t-p re d ic a te

t h a t a ll p r o p o

fo rm

le a d s ,

R u s s e ll

t h o u g h t , t o t h e b e l i e f t h a t a ll tr u th s a r e o f t h a t f o r m , w h i c h , in
t u r n , le a d s o n e to im a g in e t h e w o r ld a s c o n s is tin g o f o n ly tw o
k i n d s o f t h i n g : o b j e c t s
p ro p e rtie s
It

w as

(w h ic h

tie s , th e

c o rre sp o n d

o f e n o rm o u s

b e lie v e d , to

(w h ic h

is t a l l e r t h a n

c o n ta in e d

to

s u b je c ts )

and

to p re d ic a te s ).

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

a c k n o w le d g e

w o rld

c o rre sp o n d

im p o rta n c e ,

R u s s e ll

th a t, as w e ll as o b je c ts a n d

p ro p e r

r e la tio n s . P r o p o s i t i o n s s u c h

a s J o h n

h is f a th e r a n d

F o u r is t h e s q u a r e r o o t o f s i x t e e n

m u s t b e u n d e rs to o d , n o t as th e p re d ic a tio n o f a p ro p e rty to a n
o b je c t, b u t as th e a s s e rtio n o f a re la tio n b e tw e e n

tw o

B u t, to

b re a k

th e
by

u n d e rs ta n d

th e m

s u b je c t-p re d ic a te
A ris to te lia n

as su c h

re q u ire s o n e

s tra itja c k e t im p o s e d

lo g ic . T h e

lo g ic

o f F reg e

to

u p o n
an d

o b je c ts .
o u t o f

p ro p o s itio n s

R u s s e ll, w h ic h

tr e a ts p r o p o s i t i o n s z s fo n c tio n s , a c h ie v e s th is b r e a k t h r o u g h . T h e
w o rd

f u n c t i o n h e r e

o rig in s in
tio n

w ith

a c o n s c io u s

m a th e m a tic s . T h u s , ju s t as th e

h a s th e

is u s e d

v a lu e

16 w h e n

4 , an d

a llu s io n

= Jo h n

fa th e r a n d y
R e la te d
n o tio n -

2 5

w h en

i.e .,

it

v a lu e (s )

is

h is f a th e r a n d fa ls e w h e n

5 , so
v a lu e

h is

is

th e

= Jo h n .
to

th e

c e n tra l to

o f a c la s s . A

an d y

its

m a th e m a tic a l fu n c

t h e p r o p o s i t i o n a l f u n c t i o n x is t a l l e r t h a n y h a s t h e t r u t h
tr u e w h e n

to

n o tio n

th e

p ro p o s itio n a l

e x te n s io n o f a p ro p o s itio n a l fu n c tio n :

c o lle c tio n

o f th in g s

v a ria b le (s )

in

th e

th a t,

W ittg e n s te in

c la s s o f m e n . T h e
accu ses C o ffe y

w h e n

fu n c tio n ,

p r o p o s itio n . F o r e x a m p le , th e f u n c tio n
e x te n s io n , th e

fu n c tio n

th e lo g ic d e v e lo p e d b y F re g e a n d R u s s e ll -

c la s s is t h e

o f th e

o f a

g iv e n

re s u lt

in

as
a

th e
tru e

is a m a n h a s , a s its

m i s t a k e s I V , V

a n d V I th a t

o f m a k i n g a ll in v o lv e m i s u n d e r -

LOGIC, SCIENCE AND BUSINESS


S ta n d in g

th e

n o tio n

o f c la s s

as

th a t

n o tio n

13

w as

used

in

th e

l o g i c o f F r e g e a n d R u s s e l l . O f t h e o t h e r s , I I is a m i s t a k e o n l y
if th e

k in d

o f p h ilo s o p h ic a l

R u s s e ll h a p p e n s
th e

tw o

uses

R u s s e l l s

to

b e

o f th e

tru e ,

w o rd

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

in v o k e d

re a lis m
an d

esp o u sed

III

is * )

(th e

ra is e s

h e a rt

an d

A ll in

a ll, t h e n , t h e

a g a in

a n d

b e tw e e n

p o in t

c lo s e

to

re p e a te d ly

o f m o d e rn

m a th e m a t

s h o w s W ittg e n s te in

a t th e v e ry

o f A ris to tle .

re v ie w

p a rtis a n

th a t

an d

h e

b e g in n in g o f h is p h ilo s o p h ic a l c a r e e r t o
lig e re n t

F reg e

c o n fu s io n

o n e

in a rg u in g fo r th e s u p e rio rity

ic a l lo g ic o v e r t h e lo g ic

by

c h a m p io n

b e a p a rtic u la rly b e l

o f th e

lo g ic

o f F reg e

an d

R u s s e ll. I t a ls o r e fle c ts v ie w s a b o u t p h ilo s o p h y th a t r e m a in e d


c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f W i t t g e n s t e i n s w o r k t h r o u g h o u t h is life .
In th e firs t p la c e , it s h o w s th a t, lik e F r e g e a n d R u s s e ll b e f o r e
h im ,

h e

to o k

lo g ic

to

lie

at

th e

v e ry

h e art

o f p h ilo s o p h y .

In d e e d , fo r h im , p h ilo s o p h y s im p ly w a s th e a tte m p t to
s ta n d
to o k

lo g ic .

S e c o n d ly ,

it

show s

th e

v ie w

th a t th e

w o rk

p re v io u s

w o rk

in

(a n d

lo g ic

c o n s id e rin g .

o f F reg e

w o rk

o f

o u t

o f

an d

L ocke,
ever

fe lt th a t h e

R u s s e ll

L o g ic c o m p a ra b le

A s tro lo g y ,

A ris to d e s w o rk H u m e,

re a d )

an d

R u s s e ll su p ersed ed

p h ilo s o p h y ),
n o t w o rth

re v e a le d

to

th e

re a d in g

(o r

p e rh a p s

h ad
to

d id

in d e e d

n o t n eed

to . I f th e

b ro u g h t

ab o u t

th a t w h ic h

C h e m is try

o u t

o f

an

m a d e A s tro n o m y
A lc h e m y ,

th e n

lik e th a t o f , say , D e s c a r te s , L e ib n iz , S p in o z a ,

H eg el an d

w as

o fte n

u n d e r

W ittg e n s te in

frie n d s th a t h e h a d n e v e r re a d a w o rd

E v id e n d y , h e

F reg e

a d v a n c e in

an d
in

w a s s im p ly

W ittg e n s te in

b o a s t e d i s t h e w o r d ) t o
o f A ris to d e .

s e rio u s ly

th e re fo re

e x te n t th a t th is p r e v io u s w o r k
an d

h o w

as

M ill

o b s o le te

(n o n e

as

th e

o f w h ic h
w o rk s

W ittg e n s te in

o f th e

m e d ia e v a l

a lc h e m is ts .
In
an d

l a t e r life , W i t t g e n s t e i n
re a d

w ith

e v id e n t

c a re

re la x e d
an d

th is

a ttitu d e

a tte n tio n

th e

s o m e w h a t,

w o rk

o f,

fo r

14

LOGIC. SCIENCE AND BUSINESS

e x a m p le ,

P la to

an d

p h ilo s o p h e r h a s

K a n t,

b u t it

ev er b e en

so

re m a in s

tru e

ig n o ra n t o f th e

th a t n o
h is to ry

g re a t
o f h is

s u b je c t as W ittg e n s te in w a s. H e d id n o t h a v e th e k in d o f e d u
c a tio n
h ad

in

an d

p h ilo s o p h y
th a t m a n y

t h a t a l m o s t a ll o t h e r p h i l o s o p h e r s h a v e
c o n s id e r to

a n y th in g in te re s tin g to say o n
s t a r t , W i t t g e n s t e i n s a t t i t u d e
fro m

th a t w h ic h

b e

p re re q u is ite

f o r h a v in g

th e s u b je c t. R ig h t fro m
to

p h ilo s o p h y

p re v a ils a m o n g

w as v e ry

th e v e ry
d iffe re n t

p ro fe s s io n a l p h ilo s o p h e r s

in

a c a d e m ic in s titu tio n s . H e d id n o t th in k o f p h ilo s o p h y p r im a r ily


a s a n a c a d e m i c s u b j e c t , s till le s s a s a p r o f e s s i o n . F o r h i m , p h i l o s
o p h y

w as

th e

a c tiv ity

o f s o lv in g

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

p ro b le m s .

H e

u s e d to sa y th a t, ju s t as h is f a th e r h a d b e e n a b u s in e s s m a n , s o h e
to o k

a b u s in e s s lik e a ttitu d e

to

p h ilo s o p h y . H e

w a n te d

to

c le a r

u p p h ilo s o p h ic a l p r o b le m s , lik e a b u s in e s s m a n c le a rs h is d e s k .

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

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 pleas
ure to one who read it with understanding.
The book deals with the problems of philosophy and
shows, I believe, that the method of formulating these
problems rests on the misunderstanding of the logic of our
language. Its whole meaning could be summed up some
what as follows: What can be said at all can be said clearly;
and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.
The book will, therefore, draw a limit to thinking, or
rather - not to thinking, but to the expression of thoughts;
for in order to draw a limit to thinking we should have to be
able to think both sides of this limit (we should therefore
have to be able to think what cannot be thought).
The limit can, therefore, only be drawn in language and
what lies on the other side of the limit will be simply non
sense.
How far my efforts agree with those of other philosophers

16

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

I will not decide. Indeed what I have here written makes no


claim to novelty in points of detail; and therefore I give no
sources, because it is indifferent to me whether what I have
thought has already been thought before me by another.
I will only mention that to the great works of Frege and
the writings of my friend Bertrand Russell I owe in large
measure the stimulation of my thoughts.
If this work has a value it consists in two things. First
that in it thoughts are expressed, and this value will be the
greater the better the thoughts are expressed. The more the
nail has been hit on the head. Here I am conscious that
I have fallen far short of the possible. Simply because my
powers are insufficient to cope with the task. May others
come and do it better.
On the other hand the truth of the thoughts communi
cated here seems to me unassailable and definitive. I am,
therefore, of the opinion that the problems have in essen
tials been finally solved. And if I am not mistaken in this,
then the value of this work secondly consists in the fact
that it shows how little has been done when these prob
lems have been solved.
Preface to Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1921
In

1 9 2 1 , e ig h t y e a rs a f te r p u b lis h in g h is r e v ie w

Science of Logic,
A s

th e

w o rd
en d .

p re fa c e

o n

m ak es

c le a r,

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

(A n d ,

su re

W ittg e n s te in

it

w as

p ro b le m s ,

e n o u g h ,

gave u p

s ix y e a rs a f te r th e

w h e n

to
h e

su p p o sed
b rin g
h ad

to

b e

th e

p h ilo s o p h y

fin is h e d

p h ilo s o p h y , r e tu r n in g

The

to

to

la s t
an

th e

b o o k ,

it o n ly

w h e n ,

T r a c ta tu s w a s p u b l i s h e d , h e b e c a m e c o n v i n c e d

t h a t it w a s n o t , a f te r a ll, th e fin a l w o r d
R u s s e ll h a d

o f C o ffe y s

W ittg e n s te in p u b lis h e d h is firs t a n d o n ly b o o k .

d re a m e d

o n

th e s u b je c t.)

o f fo u n d in g a s c h o o l o f p h ilo s o p h e rs

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS


tra in e d

in

m a th e m a tic s

w h o se

e x a c t m i n d s w o u l d

17
re s is t t h e

t e m p t a t i o n s o f t h e b i g g e n e r a l i z a t i o n s , a l l o f w h i c h w e r e f a l s e .
W h a t W ittg e n s te in th e m a n R u s s e ll re g a rd e d as th e e m b o d
im e n t o f th a t d re a m
a v o id , n o t

o n ly

h a d p ro d u c e d w a s a b o o k th a t s o u g h t to

th e

b i g

p h ilo s o p h ic a l p ro b le m s

g e n e r a li z a tio n s , b u t

as th e y

have

a r ty a n s w e r s

tra d itio n a lly

b een

to

ra is e d .

P h il o s o p h y w o u l d b e c le a r e d u p , its p r o b le m s s o lv e d o n c e a n d
f o r a ll, n o t b y
s h o w in g
fro m

p ro v id in g n e w

th a t

th o s e

o ld

a n sw e rs to

q u e s tio n s

n o th in g m o re th a n

w e re

o ld

q u e s tio n s b u t b y

ill-fo rm e d

an d

a ro se

t h e m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e l o g i c o f

o u r la n g u a g e .
R u s s e ll h a d s h o w n -

o r a tte m p te d to

m e ta p h y s ic a l v ie w s re s te d

u p o n

sh o w

a m is ta k e n

th e n a tu re o f p ro p o s itio n s ; W ittg e n s te in
a ll p h i l o s o p h i c a l v ie w s r e s te d
o f th e

n a tu re

ask ed

a tte m p t

to

m ak e

g r a v e

an sw er

re s te d
a

u p o n

su ch

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

m is ta k e ,

o f th e

t h a t L e i b n i z s

w a n te d to

a m is ta k e n

o f p ro p o s itio n s . In d e e d , th e

p h ilo s o p h e rs

u p o n

u n d e rs ta n d in g o f

v e ry

sh o w

th a t

u n d e rs ta n d in g
q u e s tio n s th a t

m is u n d e rs ta n d in g s .

q u e s tio n

k in d

th a t

w as

T o

a lre a d y

to

m ad e

in

C o ffe y

d e fe n d in g A ris to te lia n

lo g ic . W h a t w a s r e q u ir e d w a s a c o r r e c t

u n d e rs ta n d in g

lo g ic

o f th e

o f o u r

la n g u a g e .

th a t, p h ilo s o p h ic a l q u e s ti o n s w o u l d
b e a b le to
a

se e th a t a n y te m p ta tio n

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

lo g ic
w as

q u e s tio n

o f o u r la n g u a g e . A
th in k a b le

an d

w h a t

se n se , a n d th e w h o le
w o u ld
w ay,

b e

th e

seen
b i g

to

a ro se
lin e
w as

a sk , le t a lo n e

fro m

n o t,

o n e

n o t a ris e , f o r o n e

to

w o u ld

O n c e

a
b e

c o n fu s io n
d ra w n

b e tw e e n

had

w o u ld

to a n sw e r,
a b o u t

b e tw e e n

sense

an d

th e

w h at
n o n

o f p h ilo s o p h y as tra d itio n a lly c o n c e iv e d

lie

o n

th e

w ro n g

s id e

g e n e ra liz a tio n s w o u ld

b e

o f th a t lin e .
sh o w n

to

In

th is

b e

n o t

fa ls e , b u t n o n s e n s ic a l.
B u t w a it.

I s n t t h e

v ie w

t h a t a ll p h i l o s o p h i c a l p r o b l e m s r e s t

u p o n a m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e l o g i c o f o u r l a n g u a g e i t s e l f a b i g

18

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

g e n e r a l i z a t i o n ?

A n d

so

m u st

w e

W ittg e n s te in a llu d e s to th is p r o b le m

re g a rd

th a t

as

n onsense?

in th e p re fa c e w h e n h e say s:

The book will, therefore, draw a limit to thinking, or


rather - not to thinking, but to the expression of thoughts;
for in order to draw a limit to thinking we should have to be
able to think both sides of this limit (we should therefore
have to be able to think what cannot be thought).
The limit can, therefore, only be drawn in language and
what lies on the other side of the limit will be simply non
sense.
B u t th is
c u lty .

w ay

H e

o f p u ttin g

a d m its

h a v e to p re te n d
te n d

to

b e

a b le

th e

th a t to
to

d ra w

th in k

to

p ro b le m

b o th

th in k

s im p ly

lim it to

a v o id s th e

th in k in g

w e

s id e s o f th e lim it a n d

w h a t

c a n n o t

b e

d iffi

s h o u ld

th u s p r e

th o u g h t,

b u t

he

a p p e a r s t o d e n y t h a t t h e s a m e t h i n g a p p l i e s t o t h e e x p r e s s io n o f
th o u g h ts .
e x p re sse d

If w e
an d

d ra w

th u s d ra w

lim it
a lin e

in

la n g u a g e

b e tw e e n

w h a t s i d e o f t h e l i m i t d o e s o u r l i n e lim it b e

to

th e

w e

n o t n o w

have

to

can

be

n onsense,

e x p re s s io n

b e lo n g to ? J u s t as, b e fo re , w e h a d to th in k

th o u g h t, d o

w h a t

sense a n d

o f th a t

w h at can n o t

e x p re ss w h a t c a n n o t b e

e x p re sse d ?
I n t h e b o d y o f t h e b o o k , W ittg e n s te in d e a ls d ir e c tly w ith th is
p ro b le m

a n d d r a w s a s u r p r i s i n g c o n c l u s i o n : t h a t t h e b o o k is a n

a tte m p t to

e x p re ss

w h at can n o t b e

e x p re sse d , a n d ,

th e re fo re ,

nonsense:

My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way:


anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as
nonsensical, when he has used them - as steps - to climb
up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

19

ladder after he has climbed up it.) He must transcend these


propositions, and then he will see the world aright.
T h u s , th e v ie w

p u t fo rw a rd in

T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h ilo s o p h ic u s

a p p e a r s t o b e t h a t a ll p h i l o s o p h i c a l p r o p o s i t i o n s a r e n o n s e n s i
cal -

in c lu d in g

is r e m i n d e d
T h e

T ao

th e

th e

v e ry

o f th e

Tao

T e

C h in g y w h ic h

e x p r e s s e d is n o t t h e

to

d is c o v e r

p e rs o n ific a tio n

th a t,

w h e n

o f h is

say s:

e t e r n a l T a o .

R u s s e ll, it c a m e as s o m e th in g

d is a p p o in tm e n t

d e n t,

T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h ilo s o p h ic u s . O n e

firs t lin e

th a t c a n b e

F o r B e rtra n d
a

o n e s in

o f th e

o f a sh o ck and

h is

fa v o u rite

s tu

d r e a m o f s c i e n t i f i c a l l y

m i n d e d p h ilo s o p h e r s , f in a lly p r o d u c e d a b o o k , it h a d a t its v e r y


h eart
to

m y s tic a l

p a ra d o x .

In

th e

th e b o o k , R u s s e ll w a s fu ls o m e

in tro d u c tio n
in

th a t

h is p r a is e

o f th e

a c h i e v e m e n t s a n d o f its s ig n if ic a n c e . H o w e v e r , w h e n
t o d i s c u s s W i t t g e n s t e i n s a p p a r e n t v i e w
and

p h ilo s o p h y

(e v e n

th o s e

th a t w e re

h e

w ro te
b o o k s

h e cam e

th a t th e tr u th s o f lo g ic
u n a s s a ila b le a n d

d e fin i

t i v e ) a r e i n e x p r e s s i b l e , h e d e m u r r e d . W h a t c a u s e s h e s i t a t i o n ,
R u s s e l l w r o t e , is t h e f a c t t h a t , a f t e r a ll, M r W i t t g e n s t e i n m a n a g e s
to

say a g o o d
W h e n

d e a l a b o u t w h a t c a n n o t b e s a id .

R u s s e ll firs t re a d

p u b lis h e d ,

h e

sen t

th e

b o o k , tw o

W ittg e n s te in

so m e

S o m e w h a t re lu c ta n tly , W ittg e n s te in
tio n s ,

b u t

w h a t

R u s s e ll w a s th e

h e

w as

m o st

y ears b e fo re
q u e s tio n s

it w a s

a b o u t

it.

a n s w e r e d R u s s e l l s q u e s

c o n c e rn e d

to

im p o r ta n c e o f th e d is tin c tio n

e m p h a s iz e

to

b e tw e e n s a y in g

a n d s h o w in g :

Now Im afraid you havent really got hold of my main


contention, to which the whole business of logical propfositionls is only a corollary. The main point is the theory of
what can be expressed (gesagt) by propositionJs - i.e., by
language - (and, which comes to the same, what can be

20

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

thought) and what cannot be expressed by prop[osition]s,


but only shown (gezeigt); which, I believe, is the cardinal
problem of philosophy.
In th e

T r a c t a t u s i t s e l f , W i t t g e n s t e i n s a y s : W h a t c a n b e s h o w n ,

c a n n o t b e s a id .'
D o e s th is
s a ila b le a n d
be

th a t W ittg e n s te in

d e fin itiv e tr u th s

c o m m u n i c a t e d i n

sh o w n
In

m ean

ra th e r th a n

th e

th a t h e

b o o k

th o u g h t th a t th e
c la im s in

th e

p re fa c e

a re c o m m u n ic a te d

s a id ? T h i s is h o w

u n a s
to

b y b e in g

R u s s e ll in te r p r e te d

h im .

h is in tr o d u c ti o n , h e say s:

The whole subject of ethics, for example, is placed by


Mr Wittgenstein in the mystical, inexpressible region. Never
theless he is capable of conveying his ethical opinions.
His defence would be that what he calls the mystical can
be shown, although it cannot be said. It may be that this
defence is adequate, but, for my part, I confess that it leaves
me with a certain sense of intellectual discomfort.
F ra n k R a m se y , th e y o u n g C a m b rid g e p h ilo s o p h e r w h o
h a n d in th e tra n s la tio n
p e rc e p tiv e

an d

W h a t c a n t b e
a n d

o f th e

e n th u s ia s tic
s a id ,

h ad a

T r a c ta tu s a n d w a s o n e o f i ts m o s t
a d m ire rs ,

c a n t b e

p u t

it

s a id , R a m s e y

m o re

o n c e

b lu n tly .

re m a rk e d ,

i t c a n t b e w h i s d e d e i t h e r .

M o re
p re te rs

recen d y ,
o f

s tro n g

d o u b ts

W ittg e n s te in

w h i s d e i t , t r y i n g

to

s ta te

C o n a n t

th e m . J a m e s

a b o u t

have

b een

w h e th e r

ra is e d

h e

w as

by

in te r

try in g

sh o w p h ilo s o p h ic a l tr u th s r a th e r th a n

le a d in g

W ittg e n s te in s c h o la rs , h a v e d e v e lo p e d a r e a d in g o f th e

T r a c ta tu s

R am sey .

fre e it fro m

A c c o rd in g

to

C o ra

th e p a ra d o x
th e m ,

th e re

D ia m o n d ,

to

tw o

th a t trie s to

an d

to

th a t tro u b le d R u s s e ll a n d
is n o

w ay

th a t

o n e

can

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

21

m a k e s e n se o f th e b o o k i f o n e in te rp re ts W ittg e n s te in as b e lie v
in g

t h a t its

p ro p o s itio n s

1. e x p re ss

u n a s s a ila b le

tr u t h s a n d 2 . a re n o n s e n s ic a l. S u re ly , th e y
p ro p o s itio n

an d

d e fin itiv e

a rg u e , a n o n s e n s ic a l

la c k s a n y m e a n in g , s o i t c a n n o t p o s s ib ly e x p re s s a

t r u t h , u n a s s a ila b le o r o th e r w is e . N o n s e n s e , a c c o r d in g to th e m ,
can

n e ith e r

say

p ro p o s itio n s

in

n o r
th e

sh o w

a n y th in g .

e x p re ss p h ilo s o p h ic a l tr u th s
by

W ittg e n s te in

C o n a n t

an d

to

T h e y

T r a c ta tu s t h a t l o o k

b e

D ia m o n d

a re

in d e e d

s im p ly
b e lie v e ,

a n y th in g , a n d n e ith e r d o

H o w e v e r, th e b o o k , o n

an d

n o n s e n s ic a l.
th e s e

th e y s h o w

b e lie v e

as i f th e y

th a t

a re

w e re
A nd,

p ro p o s itio n s

th e

try in g

to

in te n d e d
th e re fo re ,

d o

n o t say

a n y th in g .

t h e i r r e a d in g , s till m a n a g e s t o

co m

m u n ic a te a n u n a s s a ila b le a n d d e f in itiv e t r u t h a b o u t p h ilo s o p h y v iz ., t h a t a n y a t t e m p t t o s a y s o m e t h i n g p h ilo s o p h ic a l r e s u lts in


n o n s e n s e . I t d o c s th is b y g e t t i n g t h e r e a d e r t o s e e t h a t its o w n
p ro p o s itio n s a re
th e y
o ffe rs

try

to

an

say

n o n sen se

an d

s o m e th in g

in g e n io u s

w ay

th a t th e y

a re

p h ilo s o p h ic a l.
ro u n d

th e

n o n sen se

T h is

p a ra d o x

because

in te rp re ta tio n
th a t

lie s

at

th e

h e a rt o f th e

s t a n d a r d r e a d i n g o f t h e b o o k . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , i t

is e x t r e m e l y

h a rd

to

s q u a re it w ith

th e

te x t o f th e b o o k

its e lf

a n d w ith o t h e r th in g s th a t W ittg e n s te in s a id a n d w r o te a r o u n d
th e tim e th a t h e
s tra te

th a t

w ro te th e b o o k , th in g s th a t s e e m

W ittg e n s te in

d id

in d e e d

b e lie v e

to

th a t

d e m o n

o n e

sh o w d e e p tru th s , e ith e r b y r e m a in in g s ile n t a b o u t th e m


s a y in g th in g s th a t, s tric tly s p e a k in g , w e re

c o u ld
o r by

n o n s e n s ic a l.

T o w a r d s t h e e n d o f T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - M il o s o p h ic u s , W i t t g e n s t e i n
s a y s : T h e r e i s i n d e e d t h e i n e x p r e s s i b l e . T h i s s h o w s i t s e l f ; i t i s t h e
m y s t i c a l . A m o n g t h o s e t h i n g ? t h a t s h o w
a e s th e tic s , r e lig io n ,

th e

m e a n in g

th e m s e lv e s a re e th ic s ,

o f life , lo g ic

and

p h ilo s o p h y .

I n a ll t h e s e a re a s , W i t t g e n s t e i n a p p e a rs t o b e lie v e , t h e r e a r e i n d e e d
tru th s , b u t n o n e
th e y

a ll h a v e t o

o f th e s e tr u th s c a n b e e x p r e s s e d
b e s h o w n , n o t s a id .

in

la n g u a g e ;

22

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS


T h e

o n ly

d is tin c tio n

b e sh o w n

b e tw e e n

w h a t can

b e

w h a t W ittg e n s te in , in

s a id

an d

w h a t can

h is le tte r to

R u s s e ll,

c a l l s t h e m a i n p o i n t o f h i s b o o k a n d t h e c a r d i n a l p r o b l e m

o f

p h ilo s o p h y w a s

in

so m e

n o te s o n

6 rst m a d e

lo g ic

th a t h e

in

w ritin g

d ic ta te d

b y

to

W ittg e n s te in

M o o re

o f 1 9 1 4 . A t th a t tim e , h o w e v e r, it w a s a p p lie d
n o t to

e th ic s , a e s th e tic s , re lig io n

w h a t W ittg e n s te in
h is m a in

d e s c rib e s to

p o in t w a s, in

e x te n s io n

o f th e

d is tin c tio n

a b o u t tw o

th e

a rm y

A u s tria n
o n

o n

W i t t g e n s t e i n s

th e

h e

w a r,

le tte r

it,

a n d

u n d e rs ta n d
B u t, h e

to

lo g ic ,

R u s s e l l a s o n l y a c o r o l l a r y t o

th e s e

o f th e d is tin c tio n . T h e
o th e r a re a s o c c u r r e d

R u s s ia n

F ro n t,

h e

o f th e

d u rin g

th e

h e

to

p ro s p e c tiv e

w a rn e d
th a t

v o n

it b e c a u s e

th a t

to

h g h tin g

fo r

c o n tin u e d

b e

th e

h e

w as

W o rld

to

w ritin g

W ar.

p re p a rin g

h im s e lf to

h av e

B e fo re

w o rk

b o o k

w as

w o u ld

c o n te n t

L u d w ig

w ill

v o n

d iffic u lt

m o st
b e

o n

w ritte n

w a s fu n d a m e n ta lly

p u b lis h e r,

F ic k e r
t h e

b o o k

F irs t

h im s e lf to

c o n s id e re d

c e n tra l p o in t o f w h ic h

W ittg e n s te in
s ta n d

th e

c o n s id e re d

a fte r

b o o k , th e
a

o n ly

s p rin g

m e a n in g o f life . S o

y e a rs la te r, w h e n , w h ile

c o n c e p tio n

c o n s id e ra b ly

In

to

th e

h is b o o k .

ch an g ed

lo g ic ;

th e

fa c t, th e o r ig in

W ittg e n s te in

w o rk

an d

in

to

e th ic a l.
F ic k e r,
u n d e r

p ro b a b ly
s tra n g e

to

n o t
y o u .

ad d ed :

In reality, it isnt strange to you, for the point of the book is


ethical. I once wanted to give a few words in the foreword
which now are actually not in it, which, however, I'll write
to you now because they might be a key for you: I wanted
to write that my work consists of two parts: of the one
which is here, and of everything which I have not written.
And precisely this second part is the important one. For the
Ethical is delimited from within, as it were, by my book;

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

23

and Im convinced that, strictly speaking, it can ONLY be


delimited in this way. In brief, I think: All of that which
many are babbling today, I have defined in my book by
remaining silent about it. Therefore the book will, unless
Im quite wrong, have much to say which you want to say
yourself, but perhaps you won't notice that it is said in it.
For the time being, Id recommend that you read the fore
word and the conclusion since these express the point
most directly.
T h is

seem s

to

c o n n e c t

R u s s e ll a b o u t th e
is

to

an sw er

th e

m a i n

o f w h e re

th e

w h a t

th o u g h t

w as

an sw er
to

to

th a t

h a v e c le a re d

u la r, to
an d

have

o f e x p re s s ib ility

d e fin itiv e ly

a n d

W ittg e n s te in

th e

re a lm

o f th e

c e n t r a l p o i n t is t h e

a g a in

Its m a in

lie .

In

th e

g iv in g

u n a s s a ila b ly

c o n s id e re d

to

p o in t

o f p h i l o s o p h y , i .e .,

e th ic a l.

sam e an d

th e s e n te n c e th a t o c c u rs tw ic e in

p re fa c e a n d

b o o k .

re m a rk s

tru e

h im s e lf

a ll p r o b l e m s o f p h i l o s o p h y , a n d , i n p a r t i c

d e fin e d

e th ic s , th e

u p in

q u e s tio n ,
u p

p ro b le m

lim its
a

W i t t g e n s t e i n s

p o in t o f th e

c a r d i n a l

q u e s tio n
h e

w ith

In

can

b o th
be

lo g ic

su m m ed

th e b o o k , o n c e in

a s t h e f in a l s e n t e n c e : W h e r e o f o n e

th e

can n o t

s p e a k t h e r e o f o n e m u s t b e s ile n t.
I n its f i n a l f o r m , t h e n , T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h ilo s o p h ic u s is a c u r i
o u s h y b r id o f a b o o k , a tre a tis e o n
a d e e p ly
w h o

h ad

lo g ic a n d th e e x p r e s s io n

m y s tic a l p o i n t o f v ie w . A t th e
n o t seen

H o lla n d w ith

h im

W ittg e n s te in
in

o rd e r to g o

e n d

f o r s ix y e a rs , s p e n t a w e e k in
th ro u g h

lin e . H e w a s s h o c k e d a t th e tr a n s f o r m a tio n

th e

T r a c ta tu s l i n e b y

in

h i s d r e a m s t u

d e n t b ro u g h t a b o u t b y

h is e x p e r ie n c e s in

th e

in

o f m y s tic is m , h e

w ro te

h is

b o o k .a

M o rre ll:

fla v o u r

o f

o f 1 9 1 9 , R u s s e ll,

w a r. I h a d
to

fe lt

O tto lin e

24

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

. . . but was astonished when I found he has become a


complete mystic. He reads people like Kierkegaard and
Angelus Silesius, and he seriously contemplates becoming
a monk. It all started from William Jamess Varieties of
Religious Experience, and grew (not unnaturally) during
the winter he spent alone in Norway before the war, when
he was nearly mad. Then during the war a curious thing
happened. He went on duty to the town of Tarnov in
Galicia, and happened to come upon a bookshop, which,
however, seemed to contain nothing but picture postcards.
However, he went inside and found that it contained just
one book: Tolstoy on the Gospels. He bought it merely
because there was no other. He read it and re-read it, and
thenceforth had it always with him, under fire and at all
times. But on the whole he likes Tolstoy less than
Dostoewski (especially Karamazov). He has penetrated
deep into mystical ways of thought and feeling, but I think
(though he wouldnt agree) that what he likes best in mys
ticism is its power to make him stop thinking.
D u rin g
e n in g
life ,

th e w a r, a t th e

o u t

fro m

th e tic

to

an d

as R u s s e ll
P au l

h is

b e e n

an d
w h o

c lo s e

m o re , w e ig h t to
R u s s e l l s
b e

c o n s id e re d

to

o n e

lo g ic .

H is

d e a th ,

o f th e

th a t

m a in

to g e th e r

th in g s w a s to
as

m u ch ,

o r

o f lo g ic . A b o u t

E n g e lm a n n
re a so n s

w as

E n g e lm a n n

gave

its t h e o r y

b o o k ,

n am e

W ittg e n s te in ,

p u b lis h in g th e s e

as to

o f

m y s tic is m

h is

T r a c ta tu s

th e

m e a n in g

W i t t g e n s t e i n s

w ith

in

th e

as sy m p a

W ittg e n s te in s

o f th e

w as b ro a d

w as

a b o u t

its m y s tic is m

in tro d u c tio n

frie n d

a b o u t

c o rre sp o n d e n c e

re a d in g

th a t h is w o r k

e a rlie r

A fte r

tim e

e th ic s , re lig io n

a m e m o ir . H is m o tiv e

e n co u rag e

m ay

to

m ad e

e n th u s ia s tic

h ad

E n g e lm a n n .

p u b lis h e d
w ith

lo g ic

W ittg e n s te in

v e ry

w h y

w ro te :
th e

[It]

b o o k ,

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS


th o u g h

re c o g n iz e d

to

th is d a y a s a n

e v e n t o f d e c is iv e im p o r

ta n c e in th e fie ld o f lo g ic , h a s fa ile d to
as a p h ilo s o p h ic a l w o r k
W ittg e n s te in s

in

25

m a k e its e lf u n d e rs to o d

t h e w i d e r s e n s e .

c o rre sp o n d e n c e

w ith

E n g e lm a n n

d o es

in d e e d h e lp o n e to u n d e r s ta n d h is m y s tic is m . F o r e x a m p le , in
A p ril 1 9 1 7 , E n g e lm a n n s e n t W ittg e n s te in a p o e m

b y U h la n d

c a l l e d C o u n t E b e r h a r d s H a w t h o r n , w h i c h , v e r y s i m p l y a n d
w ith o u t a n y e m b e llis h m e n t, d r a w in g o f m o ra ls o r e v e n c o m
m e n t, te lls th e

s to ry

o f a s o ld ie r w h o , w h ile o n

a sp ra y fro m

a h a w th o rn

h e p la n ts in

h is g a rd e n . In

o f th e fu lly g r o w n
o f h is y o u th .

b u s h , w h ic h , w h e n

h a w th o rn

is n o t a t t e m p t e d , a n d
W ittg e n s te in

tre e , w h ic h

e x p re ss th e

a g re e d . T h e

. . . A n d

w ill

b e

th is

th e sh a d e

se rv e s as a re m in d e r
w ro te

in e x p re s s ib le ; h e r e

to

th a t

p r e c is e ly b e c a u s e o f t h a t i t is a c h i e v e d .
p o e m , h e

is h o w

s a i d , w a s r e a l l y

i t is : i f o n l y

u t t e r w h a t is u n u t t e r a b l e t h e n
te ra b le

h e re tu rn s h o m e ,

o l d a g e , h e s its b e n e a t h

A l m o s t a l l o t h e r p o e m s , E n g e l m a n n

W i t t g e n s t e i n , a t t e m p t t o

n ific e n t

c ru s a d e , c u ts

u n u tte ra b ly

y o u

d o

m ag

n o t try

to

n o th in g g e ts lo s t. B u t th e u n u t
-

c o n ta in e d

in

w h a t

has

b een

u tte re d !
T h is c le a rly

b ecam e

W ittg e n s te in s

th e in e x p re s s ib le b y n o t a tte m p tin g to
th e
o n e

T r a c ta tu s , i n
to

o th e r

th e
to

b e tw e e n

e ffe c t

th e

e ffe c t

th a t

th e

th e

th a t th e

tw o

id e a l: to

c o m m u n ic a te

e x p re s s it. A t th e e n d o f

re m a rk s

in e x p re s s ib le
p ro p o s itio n s

a lre a d y

sh o rn
in

q u o te d

its e lf a n d

th e

th e

T r a c ta tu s a r e

n o n s e n s e a n d to b e tr e a te d lik e a la d d e r w h ic h o n e k ic k s a w a y
a fte r o n e

has

u sed

it -

is t h e

fo llo w in g

s tric tly s p e a k in g , p h ilo s o p h y o u g h t to

re m a rk

a b o u t

how ,

b e d o n e:

The right method of philosophy would be this. To say


nothing except what can be said, i.e., the propositions of
natural science, i.e., something that has nothing to do with

26

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

philosophy: and then always, when someone else wished to


say something metaphysical, to demonstrate to him that he
had given no meaning to certain signs in his propositions.
This method would be unsatisfying to the other - he would
not have the feeling that we were teaching him philoso
phy - but it would be the only strictly correct method.
It w o u ld se e m

to fo llo w

fro m

t h i s t h a t , i f o n e f o l l o w e d t h e

r ig h t m e th o d o f p h ilo s o p h y , th e n
s ib le
b e

to

w rite

lik e

th e

b o o k

seco n d

W ittg e n s te in to v o n

o f p h ilo s o p h y .

p a rt

o f

h e

e x is t.

E r s t p a r t o f t h e

S u ch

T r a c ta tu s

a
as

b o o k

w o u ld

d e s c rib e d

by

i m p o r t a n t p a r t c o n s i s t i n g o f

n o t w ritte n .

w r ite , c le a rly d o e s
th e rig h t m e th o d

th e

F ic k e r, th e

e v e ry th in g
T h e

h ad

it w o u ld s im p ly b e im p o s

It w o u ld , in

b o o k ,

not c o n fo rm

o th e r w o rd s, n o t

h o w e v e r, th e

to

w h at h e

p a rt h e

d id

d e s c rib e s h e re

o f p h ilo s o p h y . A re w e to

re g a rd

as ju s t s tra ig h tfo rw a rd ly in c o n s is te n t a b o u t h o w

as

h im , th e n ,

(a n d w h e th e r)

p h ilo s o p h y s h o u ld b e w ritte n ?
Is

W ittg e n s te in ,

w h e n

h e

lo g ic

an d

c o n fo rm

w rite s

in

o th e r

a n y th in g

e th ic s , b e lo n g s
to

th e

a d v ic e

in

q u o ta tio n

m an

fro m

th e

ro a rin g , c a n

be

s a id

in

tw ic e

th e

E n g e lm a n n
w o rd s.
th e y

O n ly

a re

p o e m
an d

by

w o rd s

a re

* ...

lik e
n o t

re m a in

in

a n y th in g

ru m b lin g

th e

to o

case

m an y

is
a

an d

o f th e
S h o u ld

u s i n g a n y w o r d s a t a ll?
th a t

d o es,
n o t

a b o u t C o u n t E b e rh a rd

an d

an d

h e a rd

w o rd s a re

U h la n d

W ittg e n s te in

th o s e

b o o k

h e

c h o se fo r th e b o o k

w o r d s . B u t ,

th re e

id e a l

I f p h ilo s o p h y ,

th e

K iirn b e rg e r:

n o t, m u st w e n o t, re fra in fr o m
W e ll,

in

W ittg e n s te in

th re e

h is

in e x p re s s ib le , s h o u ld

h e h a s n o t m e re ly

in e x p r e s s ib le , s u re ly , e v e n
w e

th e

g iv e n

p o et

k n o w s , a n y th in g

c o m p ro m is in g

p h ilo s o p h y ?

to

s i l e n t a b o u t it? T h e m o t t o
a

w o rd s,

w as
a fte r

about th e

an d

so
a ll,

a d m ire d
c o n ta in

m e a n in g

h is h a w th o r n

by
so m e

o f life ;

tre e . A n d

27

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS


y e t,

E n g e lm a n n

an d

W ittg e n s te in

a p p e a re d

c is e ly b e c a u s e n o th in g d ir e c tly w a s s a id in
d e e p e r m e a n in g , th a t it m a n a g e d
tru th

ab o u t

th in k

I su m m ed

p h ilo s o p h y
tio n !

H is

th e

n a tu re
u p

i n g is t o

w h a t h e

to

h a d in

m in d .

b e c o n v e y e d , th e n

it m u s t b e

p o e try . T h e
he

o r sh e

has b e co n v ey ed
as W ittg e n s te in

o f life

w ay

tre e ),

th e y

m ak e

u p

a re
th e

re c o g n iz e d
T h is ,

as

th in k ,

in te rp re ta tio n
say

th a t th e

a d d itio n

to

in

w h at has b een

n o n sen se

a rc o n

b e tw e e n

b y

u tte re d .

T r a c ta tu s ( a s t h e b o o k

is

th e
th e y

p la n tin g

a re n o t a b o u t th e
an d

g ro w th

o f a

c o m p le te

n o nsense.

In

fro m

s e n te n c e s

w h ic h

th e

W ittg e n s te in

an y o n e

a d h e re n ts

w h o

o f th e

says,

th is

s h o u ld

u n d e rs ta n d s

be

h im .

C o n a n t-D ia m o n d

t h e i r s t r o n g e s t g r o u n d . I t is o n e t h i n g t o
o f U h la n d s p o e m

sh o w

w h a t t h e y s a y ; i t is q u i t e a n o t h e r t o

s o m e th in g
c la im

in

th a t th e

T r a c ta tu s s u c c e e d i n s h o w i n g s o m e t h i n g e v e n

n o n s e n s ic a l, th e y

e a s ie r

th is w ay ,

u n u tte r a b le w ill b e ,

th is w o u ld s u g g e s t. F o r, a f te r

d iffe re n t

is w h e r e

s e n te n c e s

th o u g h , b e in g
m u c h

a b o u t

n e ith e r a re

c ru c ia lly

a lw a y s th a t w h a t

U h la n d s p o e m

T r a c ta tu s , w h i c h ,

s e n te n c e s o f th e

b e

(b u t

us

m o r e a n a lo g o u s to

b e sh o w n . In

E n g e lm a n n , th e

th e s e n te n c e s in

h a w th o rn

g iv e s

i.e ., s ta te d d ir e c tly in lite ra l

a n o th e r w ay : it h as to

t r a d i t i o n a l l y r e a d ) is d e e p e r t h a n

m e a n in g

I s a id :

th e s a m e w a y th a t

s o m e th in g

B u t th e m y s te ry a t th e h e a r t o f th e

a ll, t h o u g h

w ro te :

w h e n

sa y c a n n o t b e s a id , a n d , th e r e f o r e , it

p u t it to

u n u tte ra b ly , c o n ta in e d

o n ce

I f p h ilo s o p h ic a l u n d e rs ta n d

p h ilo s o p h e r h a s to b e a r in m in d

re a lly w a n ts to

a b o u t its

in e x p re s s ib le

I th in k ,

it c a n n o t b e in

th ro u g h

p re

o n l y a s a p o e tic c o m p o s i

p o em ,

s c i e n t i f i c k n o w l e d g e is c o n v e y e d la n g u a g e -

an

p h ilo s o p h y

b e w ritte n

fo r U h la n d s

b e lie v e ,

th e p o e m

co n v ey

W ittg e n s te in

a ttitu d e

o u g h t re a lly to

a d m ira tio n

c lu e as to

o f life .

m y

to

to

to

s a y in g a n d

u n d e rs ta n d

fa il t o

s a y a n y th in g . I t w o u l d

W i t t g e n s t e i n s

s h o w in g i f it a p p lie d

o n ly

to

d is tin c tio n
m e a n in g fu l

28

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

p r o p o s itio n s . W e c o u l d s till t h e n
f o r U h l a n d s p o e m
b e

as a

a n d o f h is r e m a r k th a t p h ilo s o p h y o u g h t to
th e

d iffe re n c e

b e tw e e n a p o e tic c o m p o s itio n a n d a s c ie n tific o n e

is n o t t h a t

th e

w ritte n

m a k e s e n s e o f h is a d m ir a tio n

p o e tic

c o m p o s itio n

f o r m e r is n o n s e n s e ) ,

b u t w e

th e e x tre m e ly p ro b le m a tic v ie w
sh o w n

( a f te r a ll,

w o u ld

n o t b e

s a d d le d

w ith

th a t im p o rta n t tru th s c a n b e

b y s e n t e n c e s t h a t l a c k a n y m e a n i n g a t a ll.

H o w e v e r,

th e re

W ittg e n s te in
s o m e tim e s ,
e x a m p le ,

c le a r

in d e e d

can

h e

says

b e

n o

e th ic s c a n n o t b e
o th e r h a n d , o n

s ig n s

th in k

s h o iv s o m e t h i n g

w h a t

s a y s : t h e r e

a re

d o es

th a t

th a n

a b o u t

in

c an n o t

e th ic s .

O n

e th ic a l p ro p o s itio n s

e x p re s s e d . E th ic s

th e

T r a c ta tu s

n o n sen se
b e

can,

s a id .

th a t

at

le a s t

T ake,

fo r

h an d ,

he

th e

o n e

. . .

I t is c l e a r t h a t

is t r a n s c e n d e n t a l . O n

th e v e ry s a m e p a g e in

th e

th e b o o k , h e s ta te s :

. . . it is clear that ethics has nothing to do with punish


ment and reward in the ordinary sense. The question as to
the consequences of an action must therefore be irrelevant.
At least these consequences will not be events. For there
must be something right in that formulation of the ques
tion. There must be some sort of ethical reward and ethical
punishment, but this must lie in the action itself.
(And this is clear also that the reward must be something
acceptable, and the punishment something unacceptable.)
I f th e s e a re n o t in te n d e d

to b e

e t h i c a l p r o p o s i d o n s , w h a t a r e

th e y s u p p o s e d to b e ? G r a n te d th e y a re n o t e th ic a l p ro p o s id o n s
in

th e

w ro n g

sense
to

g o

th a t,
to

fo r e x a m p le ,

w a r w ith

th e

I r a q is a n

t h e y a re p r o p o s i t i o n s t h a t s e e m

s e n te n c e

I t w a s m o r a l l y

e th ic a l p ro p o s id o n , b u t

to b e a b o u t e th ic s , p r o p o s id o n s

t h a t a t t e m p t t o c h a r a c t e r i z e e t h i c s . A n d is n o t t h e c h a r a c t e r i
z a tio n

o f e th ic s o n e

o f th e

th in g s th a t h a s to

b e sh o w n

ra th e r

29

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS


th a n

s a id ?

In

h is

le tte r

to

v o n

F ic k e r,

W ittg e n s te in

w ro te ,

a p r o p o s o f t h e e t h i c a l p u r p o s e o f t h e b o o k : A l l o f t h a t w h i c h
m a n y a r e b a b b lin g t o d a y , I h a v e d e f i n e d i n m y b o o k b y r e m a i n
in g

s i l e n t a b o u t it. B u t i n

a b o u t

e th ic s ;

h e

s ta te s ,

c o n s e q u e n tia lis t,
e x a m p le ,

v ie w

ib le ,

th e n

s h o u ld

b e

d ire c tly ,

is n o t s i l e n t

p a rtic u la r,

o n e

th a t

I f e th ic s

an d

p h ilo s o p h y

b e lo n g to

a fo r tio r i, a

s u re ly ,

p assag e ab o y e, h e

o f e th ic s ,

u tilita ria n is m .

t r a n s c e n d e n t a l , i f b o t h

th e
q u ite

in e x p re s s ib le .

c o n tra d ic ts ,

th e re a lm

th e

a re

fo r

b o th

o f th e in e x p re s s

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

S o,

a n ti-

v ie w

s e n te n c e s

a b o u t e th ic s

ab o v e

m u st

be%

a c c o rd in g to W ittg e n s te in , n o n s e n s ic a l, as in d e e d h e d ra w s to
th e

re a d e rs a tte n tio n

m e

fin a lly

w h e n

re c o g n iz e s

n o n s e n s e .

B u t,

c o n tr a

th a t W ittg e n s te in

above

a rc

to

[th e

C o n a n t

th in k ,

tr y in g

h e s a y s t h a t h e

th e m

say

an d

it

D ia m o n d ,

th a t w h a t th e

in d e e d

tru e .

H e

re w ard

th a t, s tric tly
has

to

th e n ,

b e

in

sh o w n .

th a t

e x p re sse d

th e

o rd in a ry

It w o u ld

o n e

o f th e

can

b e

seem

w ays

sh o w n

is

in

c le a r,

in d e e d ,

fo r

w ith

p u n is h

s e n s e , b u t h e a ls o

b e lie v e s

s p e a k in g , th is e th ic a l tr u th
to

c an n o t be

b e

w h ic h

th ro u g h

d o

is

as

p ro p o s itio n s

d o es

e x a m p l e , b e l i e v e t h a t : e t h i c s h a s n o t h i n g t o
m e n t an d

u n d e rs ta n d s
h is b o o k ]

b e lie v e s
is

w h o

p ro p o s itio n s in

s ta te d

b u t

W i t t g e n s t e i n s v i e w ,

th in g s
th e

th a t

fa ile d

c an n o t

be

a tte m p t

to

e x p re ss th e m ; in o th e r w o rd s , th a t n o n s e n s ic a l p ro p o s itio n s h is o w n , f o r e x a m p le T h e
a n d

a b o u t

p o s s ib le

to

w h e th e r
sh o w

p ro p o s itio n s
d iv id e

c a n in d e e d s h o w

w h a t th e y fa il t o

say.

o n g o in g d e b a te a b o u t th e s a y in g /s h o w in g d is tin c tio n
o r

n o t

W ittg e n s te in

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

is j u s t

o n e

tru th s

a m o n g

th o u g h t

th ro u g h

m an y

c o n tro v e rs ie s

i n t e r p r e t e r s o f T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h ilo s o p h ic u s . A n d

c o n tro v e rs ie s d o

n o t c o n c e rn

it

w as

n o n s e n s ic a l
th a t
th e s e

d e ta ils b u t th e v e r y f u n d a m e n

ta ls o f t h e b o o k . M o r e t h a n e i g h t y y e a r s a f te r it w a s p u b lis h e d ,
an d

d e s p ite

a vast se c o n d a ry

lite ra tu re

in s p ire d

by

it, th e r e

is

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

30
s till

n o

re a d .

g e n eral

I t is s u r e l y

a g re em e n t
o n e

o f th e

s o p h y e v e r p u b lis h e d : to o
f o r m y s tic s , to o

th e

h o w

th e

b o o k

m o s t e n ig m a tic

p ie c e s

be

o f p h ilo

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

th a t m a k e s e x tra o rd in a rily

re a d e r a n d

s h o u ld

m y s tic a l f o r lo g ic ia n s , t o o te c h n ic a l

p o e tic fo r p h ilo s o p h e rs a n d to o

f o r p o e t s , i t is a w o r k
s io n s to

a b o u t

s e e m s c o n s c io u s ly

fe w

d e s ig n e d

co n ces
to

e lu d e

c o m p re h e n s io n .
W ittg e n s te in
b o o k
re a d
in g

w o u ld
it w ith

an d

b e

fro m

in

to

see

o f th e

a c tiv e s e r v ic e in

e s tin g

p re fa c e

w ho

in

th e

p u rp o se

p le a s u re

th is in

to

th e

o f th e

o n e

w h o

m i n d , i t is i n t e r e s t

p a rtic u la r

h e

h o p e d

an d

it.
b o o k

w as c o m p le te d

d u r i n g le a v e

th e s u m m e r o f 1 9 1 8 . A s s o o n

s e n t it to

c h o ic e

th a t

i f i t a f f o r d e d

u n d e rs ta n d

fin a l v e r s io n

fin is h e d , h e

th e

u n d e rs ta n d in g . W ith

re v e a lin g

e x p e c te d w o u ld
T h e

says

a c h ie v e d

p u b lis h e r J a h o d a . T h is

b ecau se Jah o d a

w as n o t an

as it w a s

is a n

a c a d e m ic

in te r

p u b lis h e r

b u t a lite ra ry o n e , b e s t k n o w n as th e p u b lis h e r o f th e V ie n n e s e
s a tiris t

K a rl

a lo n g w ith
o n e

o f

K ra u s.

th e

A lth o u g h

In

th e

1930s,

m o re p re d ic ta b le
p e o p le

w h o

h e is n o t v e r y

W ittg e n s te in

lis te d

n a m e s lik e F re g e a n d

h ad

m o st

w e ll k n o w n

in flu e n c e d
in

th e

K ra u s,

R u s s e ll, as
h is

w o rk .

E n g lis h -s p e a k in g

w o rld , K ra u s w a s e n o r m o u s ly in flu e n tia l a m o n g th e V ie n n e s e


in te lle c tu a l a n d
w as

th e

e d ito r -

s o c ia l e lite

o f W ittg e n s te in s g e n e ra tio n .

a n d , fo r th e

m o s t p a rt,

j o u r n a l D ie F a c k e l ( T h e T o r c h ) , w h i c h
an d

q u ic k ly

a tio n

b ecam e

o f a rtis ts

an d

re q u ire d

w ay

in

w h ic h

K ra u s

fo r th e

m o ck ed

w r ite r o f th e

w a s la u n c h e d in

1899

re a d in g fo r th e y o u n g e r g e n e r

in te lle c tu a ls

re v e re n tia l a d m ir a tio n

th e

H e

in

V ie n n a ,

d e v a s ta d n g ly
th e

h y p o c ris y

w h o

w itty

fo rm e d

an d

o f th e

a c e rb ic

H a b sb u rg

E s ta b lis h m e n t.
In s e n d in g
h o p in g

th e b o o k

th a t it w o u ld

b e

to J a h o d a , it s e e m s , W ittg e n s te in
se n t to K ra u s a n d

w as

th a t K ra u s w o u ld

31

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

r e c o g n iz e W i t t g e n s t e i n a s a n a lly in h is c a m p a ig n f o r d e c e n c y ,
c la rity

an d

in te g rity

in

A u s tria n

life . I n

o th e r w o rd s, h e

h o p in g th a t K ra u s w o u ld u n d e rs ta n d w h a t h e to ld v o n

w as

F ic k e r

h e h a d o n c e w a n te d to s p e ll o u t in th e p r e f a c e : th e u n s p o k e n ,
b u t c e n tra lly
h e

ev en

w o u ld

im p o r ta n t, e th ic a l p u rp o s e o f th e b o o k . P e rh a p s

h o p e d

th a t

in

T r a c ta tu s

s e e th a t h is o w n

L o g ic o -P h ilo s o p h ic u s

e th ic a l p o in t o f v ie w

K ra u s

h a d re c e iv e d

its

d e fin itiv e e x p re s s io n , a n d re c o g n iz e th e in te lle c tu a l a n d m o ra l


s u p e rio rity
v a ile d in

o f th is

u n d e rs ta n d

s a y in g

if W ittg e n s te in

th is , h e

re tu rn e d
th a t

th e y

firs t o f m a n y -

w as to

fro m

w as

b e

th e

b a b b l i n g t h a t

to

n o t

h o p in g

th a t

d is a p p o in te d .

le a v e , h e

w o u ld

re a s o n s . W r itin g

k n o w

o v er

p re

lite r a r y a n d a r tis tic c irc le s .

H o w e v e r,

a fte r h e

e x p re s s io n

re c e iv e d

p u b lis h

E n g e lm a n n

K ra u s

w o u ld

A b o u t a

m o n th

a le tte r fro m J a h o d a

th e

b o o k

ab o u t

th is

f o r

te c h n ic a l

re je c tio n

th e

W i t t g e n s t e i n r e m a r k e d : I w o u l d d e a r ly lik e t o

w h a t K r a u s s a i d a b o u t it.*

In

a ll

p ro b a b ility ,

Jah o d a,
sense

th e

ch an ces

o f it

b o o k s

if K ra u s

w as

a re

h e

w h a ts o e v e r.

c e n tra l

p o in t

th a t
W h at

th a t

ev er

sh o w n

w o u ld

n o t

W ittg e n s te in

th e

m o st

th e

have

b o o k
m ad e

re g a rd e d

im p o rta n t

as

tru th s

e th ic s , a e s th e tic s a n d re lig io n ) w e re th o s e a b o u t w h ic h
fo rc e d

to

b e

s ile n t

W i t t g e n s t e i n s w a y

w as

fa m ilia r

o f d e m o n s tra tin g

e n o u g h

to

by
any
th e
(o f

w e a re

K ra u s,

b u t

th a t p o in t th ro u g h

an

a n a ly s is o f th e p r o b le m s a b o u t th e n a tu r e o f lo g ic t h a t d o g g e d
th e

w o rk

a lie n

to

B u t,
p o e tic

o f F reg e

an d

R u s s e ll -

w o u ld

have

b e en

e n tire ly

h im .
i f th e
fo r

e x p e c te d

th e
to

b o o k
o th e r

w as

to o

p e rso n

u n d e rs ta n d

it:

G o ttlo b

tim e , a t s e v e n ty

y e a rs o ld , a

w as

b u t

s till p r e c is e

n o t,

te c h n ic a l
w h o m

fa irly

p e rh a p s,

fo r

K ra u s,

it w as

to o

h o p e d

and

w as by

th is

W ittg e n s te in
F reg e .
e ld e rly

F reg e
m an ,

as fle x ib le

as

w h o se
it

h ad

m in d
o n ce

32

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS

b e e n . It to o k
by

th e

F re g e a lo n g tim e

tim e h e

W ittg e n s te in
m o n th s .

h ad

F reg e s

c la rific a tio n ,
th a t

w ro te

w o rd

q u e s tio n s

an

re s p o n d to

Ita lia n

re sp o n se

c o n s is te d

h e

W h e n
c o u ld ,

th e b o o k , a n d ,

a b o u t it in J u n e

p ris o n e r-o f-w a r

W ittg e n s te in

p h ra se .

as b e st

to

W ittg e n s te in

b e en

a s k in g

o r

to

e n tire ly

w h a t

h e

F reg e

cam e

o f re q u e s ts

m e a n t b y

W ittg e n s te in

1919,

fo r sev en

re p lie d

b ack

fo r

th is

o r

to

th e s e

w a n tin g

m o re

e x p la n a tio n s , te llin g W ittg e n s te in th a t h e w o u ld b e u n a b le to


re c o m m e n d
to o

th e

u n c le a r to

b o o k

to

m e . I n

p u b lis h e r b e c a u s e

t h e

an y case, F reg e w as w o rrie d

c o n t e n t is
a b o u t th e

firs t s e n te n c e o f W ittg e n s te in s p re f a c e , a b o u t th e id e a th a t th e
b o o k

w o u ld b e u n d e rs to o d

o r s im ila r th o u g h ts .

o n ly b y

I f th is w e r e

th o s e w h o

so, F re g e

to ld

had

th e sa m e ,

W ittg e n s te in :

T h e p l e a s u r e o f r e a d i n g y o u r b o o k c a n t h e r e f o r e n o l o n g e r b e
a ro u se d

by

th e

c o n te n t w h ic h

th e p e c u lia r fo r m

g iv e n to

is a l r e a d y

k n o w n , b u t o n ly b y

it b y th e a u th o r . T h e b o o k

th e re b y

b e c o m e s a n a rtis tic r a th e r th a n a s c ie n tific a c h ie v e m e n t; w h a t


is s a id

in

it ta k e s s e c o n d

A fte r re c e iv in g

o f g e ttin g F re g e to
O n ly
fro m

a fte r

K ra u s

n o t

h e

an d

T r a c ta tu s t o

p la c e

to

th e

w ay

th is le tte r, W ittg e n s te in
u n d e rs ta n d

h ad

d id

th e s e

d is h e a rte n in g

W ittg e n s te in

sen d

R u s s e ll, h a v in g p re v io u s ly to ld

u n d e rs ta n d

F r e g e s s e c o n d

it

w ith o u t

w h ic h

i t is s a i d .
any

e x p la n a tio n .

le tte r a b o u t th e

b o o k ,

h im

re sp o n se s

co p y

h o p e

V E R Y
T h e

h a rd
w eek

to g e th e r

at

e x p la n a tio n
R u s s e ll

is t o

see

n o t to
in
th e

you so o n
b e

u n d e rs to o d

H o lla n d
en d

o f th e

u n d e rs to o d

an d

H a v in g

W ittg e n s te in

o f

b y

re c e iv e d
w ro te

1919

w as

a fte r

b o o k

a ll t o

to

S o m y

y o u , f o r i t is

a s i n g l e s o u l!*

th a t R u s s e ll a n d

b o o k ,
th e

e x p la in

o f th e

th a t h e w o u ld

R u s s e l l t h a t F r e g e d o e s n t u n d e r s t a n d a w o r d o f i t . . .
o n ly

h o p e

th e b o o k .

re c e iv e d

F reg e

in

ab an d o n ed

W ittg e n s te in

d e v o te d

w h ic h

to

b o th

s u ffic ie n d y

to

sp en t

lin e -b y -lin e

c o n s id e re d
w rite

an

th a t

in tro

CLEARING UP PHILOSOPHY IN THREE WORDS


d u c tio n

to

it. H o w e v e r , w h e n

in tro d u c tio n , h e
t h a t I m
y o u r e

m y

w ith

i t . T h e r e s s o m u c h

an d

a ls o

w h e re

y o u r e

s im p ly

o f it

try in g

p o i n t o f v i e w . A f t e r R u s s e l l s i n t r o d u c t i o n

tra n s la te d

h im s e lf to
E n g lis h

W i t t g e n s t e i n r e c e i v e d R u s s e l l s

n o t i n a g r e e m e n t w i t h , h e t o l d R u s s e l l , b o t h w h e r e
c ritic a l o f m e

e lu c id a te
b een

w as u n h ap p y

33

in to

G e rm a n ,

W ittg e n s te in

c o u ld

to

had

n o t b rin g

a g r e e t o i t s p u b l i c a t i o n . A l l t h e r e f i n e m e n t o f y o u r

s ty le w a s , o b v io u s ly , lo s t in

th e

tr a n s la tio n ,*

h e w ro te

t o R u s s e l l , a d d i n g c u t t i n g l y , a n d w h a t r e m a i n e d w a s s u p e r f i
c i a l i t y a n d m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g . T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P ililo s o p h c u s w a s
e v e n tu a lly p u b lis h e d
W ittg e n s te in
tio n

e ig h te e n

re le n te d

(w ith o u t w h ic h

o n
n o

th e

m o n th s la te r, a n d o n ly b e c a u s e
in c lu s io n

o f R u s s e l l s i n t r o d u c

p u b lis h e r w o u ld

to u c h

it). T h e r e

is

n o t h i n g t o i n d i c a t e , h o w e v e r , t h a t h e e v e r c o n s i d e r e d R u s s e l l s
in tro d u c tio n

to

c o n ta in

a n y th in g

m is u n d e r s ta n d in g a n d , in
I t s
p e rso n
c a tio n ,

p u rp o se
w h o

w o u ld

re a d a n d

d e s p ite

b e in g

th o u g h t m o s t lik e ly to
w h e th e r,

by

n o t. E ig h ty

th is

b e

th a n

s u p e rfic ia lity ,

its o r i g i n a l E n g lis h , a r e f in e d s ty le .
a c h ie v e d

u n d e rs to o d
sen t

o th e r

to

th e

i f it g a v e

it. A t t h e
th re e

p le a s u re

p e o p le

its p u r p o s e

y e a r s l a t e r , i t is s till a n o p e n

h ad

o n e

W ittg e n s te in

u n d e r s ta n d it, it w a s a n o p e n

m e a su re ,

to

tim e o f its p u b li

b e en

q u e s tio n .

q u e s tio n

a c h ie v e d

o r

PICTURING THE WORLD

1.
The world is everything that is the case.
1.1. The world is the totality of facts, not of things.
1.11. The world is determined by the facts, and by these
being all the facts.
1.12. For the totality of facts determines both what is the
case, and also all that is not the case.
1.13. The facts in logical space are the world.
1.2. The world divides into facts.
1.21. Any one can either be the case or not be the case,
and everything else remain the same.
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1921
O n e

reaso n

th a t

T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h ilo s o p h ic u s is s u c h

a d iffic u lt

w o r k is t h e u t t e r w e i r d n e s s o f i t s s t y l e . N o t h i n g b e f o r e o r s i n c e ,
in p h ilo s o p h y , s c ie n c e o r lite r a tu r e , h a s b e e n w r i t t e n q u ite lik e it.
T h e b o o k b e g in s w ith th e se v e n n u m b e r e d p ro p o s itio n s q u o te d
above. T h e
v o n

n u m b e rs a re o ff-p u ttin g

F ic k e r w a s c o n s id e r in g

asked

W ittg e n s te in

n e c e ssa ry .

Y es,

th e y

an d

w h e th e r to

p la in tiv e ly

if th e

d is o rie n ta tin g . W h e n
p u b lis h

n u m b e rs

w e re , W ittg e n s te in

th e

w e re

re p lie d ,

b o o k ,

he

a b s o lu te ly

b e c a u s e

th e y

PICTURING THE WORLD


a lo n e

g iv e

th e

b o o k

lu c id ity

an d

c la rity

35

an d

it

w o u ld

b e

an

i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e j u m b l e w i t h o u t t h e m .
T h e

o n e

fo o tn o te to

c o n c e s s io n

W ittg e n s te in

m a k e s to

th e v e r y firs t p r o p o s itio n , in w h ic h

th e

r e a d e r is a

h e e x p la in s th e

s i g n i f i c a n c e o f t h e n u m b e r s : T h e d e c i m a l n u m b e r s a s s i g n e d t o
th e in d iv id u a l p r o p o s itio n s in d ic a te th e lo g ic a l im p o r ta n c e o f
t h e p r o p o s itio n s , t h e s tre s s la id o n

th e m

in m y e x p o s itio n . T h e

p r o p o s i t i o n s . 1 , . 2 , w .3 , e t c . , a r e c o m m e n t s o n p r o p o s i t i o n n o .
; t h e p r o p o s itio n s . m l , .m 2 , e tc . a r e c o m m e n t s o n
tio n

n o . .m ; a n d

co m m en t o n
o n

n u m b e rin g

1 an d

p ro p o s itio n

1 .1 1

1 .1

is a

is a c o m m e n t

1 .1 .

s tra n g e
is

u n d e rs ta n d

o n . S o , f o r e x a m p le , p r o p o s itio n

p ro p o s itio n

p ro p o s itio n
T h o u g h

so

p ro p o s i

n o t

a n d

u n fa m ilia r,

d iffic u lt

to

th e

g ra sp .

is w h a t W i t t g e n s t e i n

b a s ic

W h a t

is t r y i n g

to

id e a

is

o f

d iffic u lt

say

w ith

th e
to

th e s e

o ra c u la r p ro n o u n c e m e n ts a n d h o w

th e y a rc s u p p o s e d to h e lp

in

th e

p ro v id in g

a ll t h e

w h a t w a s p ro m is e d

in

p re fa c e : a s o lu tio n

to

p ro b le m s o f p h ilo s o p h y .

T o u n d e r s t a n d th a t, i t h e l p s t o h a v e s o m e i d e a o f t h e s t r u c t u r e
o f th e

b o o k ,

as th a t s tru c tu re

n u m b e r sch em e.
th e

s ig n ific a n c e

p ro p o s itio n s
and

th e s e ,

w e

If w e
o f th e

th a t

a re

ta k e

is i n d i c a t e d

W ittg e n s te in

n u m b e rs,

th e n

n o t c o m m e n ts

m u s t a ssu m e , a re

m o s t lo g ic a lly im p o r ta n t. T h e y

th o s e

by

th e re

o n

W i t t g e n s t e i n s

a t h is w o r d
a re

o th e r

th a t

h e

o n ly

a b o u t
seven

p ro p o s itio n s ,
re g a rd s

as th e

a re :

1. The world is all that is the case.


2.
What is the case - a fact - is the existence of states of
affairs.
3. A logical picture of facts is a thought.
4. A thought is a proposition with a sense.
5. A proposition is a truth-function of elementary propositions.

PICTURING THE WORLD

36

(An elementary proposition is a truth-function of itself.)


6. The general form of a truth-function is Ip, , /V(f)].
This is the general form of a proposition.
7. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
L e a v in g a s id e f o r t h e m o m e n t t h e f a c t t h a t a lm o s t a ll o f th e s e
p ro p o s itio n s a re , w ith o u t c o n s id e ra b le h e lp , c o m p le te ly u n in
t e l l i g i b l e , t h e r e is a d i s c e r n i b l e s t r u c t u r e h e r e : t h e b o o k
firs t

w h a t

th e

w o rld

is ,

th e n

w h a t

fa c t

is ,

t h o u g h t is , a n d

th e n , a t m u c h

g re a te r le n g th

4,

a ll

th is ),

an d

a re

d e v o te d

F in a lly , it te lls u s th e

w h o l e

w h a t in

o th e rs

m u ch
is

b o o k

w h a t

(p ro p o s itio n s

p ro p o s itio n

th a t w e

is .

d e s c rib e d

have

to

as

re m a in

w e c a n n o t sp eak .

g re a te r th e s e c tio n

so m e w h a t

w h a t

th e p re fa c e h a d b e e n

m e a n in g o f th e

s ile n t a b o u t th a t w h ic h
H o w

to

te lls u s

th e n

d is g u is e d

o n

b y

p r o p o s i t i o n s is t h a n

th is

b a re

s tru c tu re .

th e
F o r,

th o u g h

e a c h o f t h e s e s e v e n p r o p o s i t i o n s is a c c o r d e d t h e s a m e

lo g ic a l

s ig n ific a n c e ,

th e y

d o

c o m m e n t a r y .

P ro p o s itio n

a lo n e .

v e ry

It

is

th e

(a ll

q u o te d

above)

ta k in g

pages,

e ig h te e n

has

pages,

p ag es. T h e n o tio n
o f th e

re c e iv e

fo r

la s t s e n t e n c e

p ro p o s itio n 7 .1 . P r o p o s itio n

o th e rs , p ro p o s itio n

n o t
7 ,

eq u al

e x a m p le ,
o f th e

a m o u n ts

s ta n d s

b o o k ;

o f

e n tire ly

th e re

is

n o

1 h a s a m e r e s i x s u b - p r o p o s i t i o n s
u p

fiv e
5

le s s

th a n

pages

h a lf a

page.

o f c o m m e n ta ry ,

tw e n ty -tw o

pages

an d

O f th e
3

e ig h t
fifte e n

o f a p r o p o s i t i o n is i n t r o d u c e d a t 3 . 1 , s o t h a t

e ig h t p a g e s

o f c o m m e n ta ry

d e v o te d

to

p ro p o s itio n

( w h i c h , o s t e n s i b l y , is a b o u t t h o u g h t ) , s e v e n o f t h e m

a re a b o u t

p ro p o s itio n s . T h e b u lk o f th e b o o k , th e n , s o m e t h i n g lik e 9 0 %
o f i t , is c o n c e r n e d
T h o u g h

w ith

it

is

n a tu re o f th e p ro p o s itio n .

W ittg e n s te in s re m a rk s a b o u t th e

th o u g h ts a p p e a r in
tio n s ,

th e

c le a r

th e

th a t

b o o k
th e

w o r ld , fa c ts a n d

b e fo r e h i s d i s c u s s i o n

lo g ic a l

p rio rity

is

th e

o f p ro p o s i
o th e r

w ay

37

PICTURING THE WORLD


ro u n d .

W h a t

W ittg e n s te in

d e p e n d s u p o n , a n d o n ly

says

a b o u t

m a k e s se n se in

th e s e
th e

o th e r

th in g s

lig h t o f, w h a t h e

say s a b o u t p ro p o s itio n s . In d e e d , W ittg e n s te in s c la im


b o o k

c le a rs

u p o n

h is

s in g le

u p

th e

w h o le

b e lie f th a t th e

q u e s tio n :

w h a t

lig h t o n

w h a t

h e

s o p h ic a l

p ro b le m s

o f p h ilo s o p h y

w h o le

is a

m ean s
h ad

p ro p o s itio n ?
w h e n

o n

w h a t

w h e n
a b ly
a

h e

th a t

b een

to

re st

in

tu rn ,

th e

w ay

fo rm u la te d

to

sheds
p h ilo

re s ts

o n

lo g ic o f o u r la n g u a g e , a n d a ls o
is

a c h ie v e d
u n a s s a il-

a n d

d o in g

h e

d e fin itiv e

p ro p o s itio n ?

W ittg e n s te in

w h e n

T h is ,

says

o u t

a m o u n ts

p h ilo s o p h ic a l p r o b le m s a re s o lv e d . T o g iv e a n
tru e

m ean s

h e

p re v io u s ly

t h e m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e

tu rn s

o f p h ilo s o p h y

th a t th e

m ay

w o u ld

re m a rk s

an sw er

seem

a g re e

so , W ittg e n s te in

th e

s m a ll

th a t

w o u ld

to

h o w

little

q u e s tio n

w h a t

a c h ie v e m e n t

i t is . O n

th e

c la im , o n e

o th e r

h as, fo r

is

an d

h an d ,

in

w h a t it

is

w o r t h , s o l v e d a ll t h e p r o b l e m s o f p h i l o s o p h y .
B e fo re

w e

g e t to

h o w e v e r,

w e

h av e

th o u g h t. O n e
je c t,

b u t

b rie f.

W ittg e n s te in s
sh o rt

W ittg e n s te in s

T h e

s e c tio n s

m ig h t th in k

e n tire

so

se v e n p ro p o s itio n s q u o te d
A n d

y e t,

a n y th in g

th e s e

e ls e

in

seven
th e

o n

th a t th e

s e c tio n

w o rld ,

to

a n a ly s is
th e

w o rld ,

w o rld

is

fa c ts

is q u i t e

d is c u s s in g
speak,

o f p ro p o s itio n s ,

it

is

an d

a b ig s u b
p a rtic u la rly

d is p o s e d

o f in

th e

above.

p ro p o s itio n s

b o o k .

I f ta k e n

a re

as

re v o lu tio n a ry

s e rio u s ly , th e y

le a d

to

as
a

c o n c e p tio n o f th e w o r ld th a t re m o v e s a t a s in g le s tro k e a lo t o f
tra d itio n a l

m e ta p h y s ic s .

o b je c tio n s to

b y th e A ris to te lia n
o f th e

w o rld

T h in k ,

fo r

e x a m p le ,

o f

R u s s e l l s

L e ib n iz : L e ib n iz w a s, R u s s e ll b e lie v e d , tr a p p e d

as

c o n c e p tio n

c o n s is tin g

o f a p ro p o s itio n

o f o b je c ts

an d

in to

th in k in g

p ro p e rtie s ,

w h ile

i g n o r i n g th e f a c t th a t th e w o r ld a ls o c o n ta in s r e la tio n s . R u s s e ll
a rg u e d

th is

p h ilo s o p h e r

p o in t
F.

H .

a ls o

w ith

B ra d le y .

h is

c o n te m p o ra ry ,

B ra d le y

a rg u e d

th a t,

th e

O x fo rd

i f re la tio n s

PICTURING THE WORLD

38
e x is te d , w e
B u t s in c e

w o u ld

th e y

h av e to

a re

c le a rly

th in k

o f th e m

n o t a k in d

as a k in d

o f o b je c t.

o f o b je c t, th e y

d o

n o t,

a f te r a ll, e x is t. R u s s e ll c o u n t e r e d b y a c c e p t i n g B r a d le y s in itia l
p re m is e

(th a t,

i f re la tio n s

o b je c t), b u t d ra w in g

th e

e x is te d ,
o p p o s ite

th e y

w o u ld

c o n c lu s io n .

b e

k in d

o f

H is a r g u m e n t

w a s th a t, s in c e r e la tio n s c le a rly d o e x is t, th e y m u s t, in d e e d , b e
a k in d o f o b je c t.
W ittg e n s te in w a n te d to
k in d

(th e y

sen se ).

O n e

s h o w in g

d o

a w ay w ith

a ll a r g u m e n t s o f th i s

a r e c la s s ic e x a m p le s o f w h a t h e
o f h is

an d

o rig in a l

s a y in g

w as to

uses
try

o f th e

to

d e s c rib e d

d is tin c tio n

c o n v in c e

as n o n
b e tw e e n

R u s s e ll

th a t th e

e x is te n c e o f o b je c ts , p ro p e rtie s a n d re la tio n s w a s o n e o f th o s e
th in g s th a t h a d to

b e sh o w n

th e n o te s h e d ic ta te d

to

r a th e r th a n s ta te d . A s h e p u t it in

M o o re

in

1914:

This same distinction between what can be shewn by the


language but not said, explains the difficulty that is felt
about types - e.g., as to (thel difference between things,
facts, properties, relations/That M is a thing can't be
fy id i it is nonsense; but something is shewn by the
symbol 'M*. In (thel same way, that a proposition is a
subject-predicate proposition can't be said: but it is
shown by the symbol.
T h e
w o rd s
w h a t

fa c t th a t o u r la n g u a g e
fo r

th in g s

R u s s e ll

L e ib n iz

an d

is

(o b je c ts ),
try in g

B ra d le y ,

to

h e

h a s d iffe re n t ty p e s o f w o rd s

p ro p e rtie s
say

in s is ts

an d

w h e n ,
th a t

in

re la tio n s

sh o w s

d is a g re e in g

re la tio n s

a re

as

w ith
re a l

as

o b je c ts a n d p r o p e r tie s . D is p u te s lik e th e s e c a n n o t b e s e td e d b y
a s s e rtin g

fa c ts

a b o u t

a rc s e ttle d

p la y e d

d iffe re n t

b y

th e y

th e

w o rld ,

d is a p p e a r ty p e s

o f

W ittg e n s te in

w h en

w e

w o rd

in

in s is te d ;

u n d e rs ta n d
th e

th e

th e y
ro le s

c o n s tru c tio n

o f

PICTURING THE WORLD


p ro p o s itio n s .

A n y

w o rld

e x a m p le ,

by,

fo r

a tte m p t

re la tio n a l p ro p o s itio n
W h e n

R u s s e ll

to

sa y

w h a t

is

sh o w n

s u b je c t-p re d ic a te

w ill r e s u lt in

an d

39
a b o u t

p ro p o s itio n

th e
o r

n o n sen se.

W ittg e n s te in

m e t

in

H o lla n d ,

th e y

a r g u e d th is p o in t a t p a r tic u la r ly g r e a t le n g th , R u s s e ll tr y in g to
p e rsu a d e
th re e

W ittg e n s te in

th in g s

in

th e

th a t

th e

s e n te n c e

w o rld w as

R u s s e ll la te r re c o lle c te d

b o th

th a t d u r in g

T h e r e

a re

m e a n in g fu l

a t le a s t

an d

th e d is c u s s io n

tru e .

h e to o k

s h e e t o f w h ite p a p e r a n d m a d e th r e e b lo b s o f in k o n it, u rg in g
W ittg e n s te in to

a d m it th a t, s in c e th e r e w e re th re e b lo b s , th e re

m u s t b e a t le a s t th r e e th in g s in
o lu te ly
page,

. . . H e

b ecau se

w o u ld
th a t

a d m it

w as

t h e w o r l d , b u t h e r e f u s e d r e s
th e re

fin ite

w e re

th re e

a s s e rtio n ,

a d m i t t h a t a n y t h i n g a t a ll c o u l d

b e

s a id

b u t

b lo b s
h e

a b o u t th e

o n

th e

w o u ld

n o t^

w o rld

as a

w h o l e . T h a t t h e w o r l d c o n t a i n s a t l e a s t t h r e e t h i n g s is s h o w n
"by

th e re

th re e

b e in g

th re e

t h i n g s is ,

p ro p o s itio n

th a n

fo r

b lo b s ,

b u t

t h e

W ittg e n s te in ,

t h e

w o rld

w o rld
n o

c o n ta in s

c o n ta in s

m o re

a t le a s t

m e a n in g fu l

o b je c ts , p ro p e rtie s

and

re la tio n s .
T h e firs t t w o p r o p o s itio n s o f t h e
W ittg e n s te in

to

c o n c e iv e

o f th e

T r a c ta tu s a r e a n a t t e m p t b y

w o rld

m a k e it o b v io u s th a t n o th in g c a n

in

su ch

w ay

as

to

b e g a in e d b y a rg u in g a b o u t

th e e x is te n c e o r o th e r w is e o f o b je c ts , p r o p e r tie s a n d re la tio n s .
W e a re to
as m a d e

th in k

u p

o f th e

w o rld , n o t as m a d e

o f fa c ts . T h e

s i m p l e , b u t a f a c t is a r tic u la te , i n
lo rry

is

a rtic u la te ,

W ittg e n s te in

c a lls

i.e .,

it

o b je c ts ,

has
b u t

o b je c ts excep t in s o fa r as th e y
c o rre sp o n d
W ittg e n s te in
c a n n o t

re a lly

to

(tru e )

m ean s
b e

b y

u p

c ru c ia l d iffe re n c e
th e

sense

p a r ts .
w e

can

p ro p o s itio n s
T h e

u n d e rs to o d

w o rld
u n til

th a t a n

T h e se

o n e

a re

n o th in g

w h a t
a b o u t

a fa c t. F a c ts a re w h a t

(w h ic h
is

a re

a rtic u la te d

p a rts

k n o w

c o n s titu te

o f t h i n g s b u t

is t h a t t h i n g s

th e

is

w h y

to ta lity

u n d e rs ta n d s

w h a t

o f fa c ts
w h a t

40

PICTURING THE WORLD

p ro p o s itio n

is ) a n d

o b je c ts a re w h a t c o r r e s p o n d

to

w o rd s. A

w o r d o n i t s o w n m e a n s n o t h i n g . W o r d s r e fe r t o o b j e c t s b u t t h e y
m ea n s o m e th in g o n ly

in s o fa r as th e y

a re p a rt o f a p ro p o s itio n .

T h e s m a l le s t u n i t o f m e a n i n g f u l l a n g u a g e is n o t t h e w o r d b u t
th e p ro p o s itio n

(th e e x c la m a tio n

th is ,

an

s in c e

it

is

a b b re v ia te d

F i r e ! i s n o t a n e x c e p t i o n t o
p ro p o s itio n ,

b e in g

sh o rt

fo r

s o m e t h i n g l i k e : T h e r e i s a f i r e i n t h i s r o o m ! ) . I n t h i s w a y , l a n
g u a g e is n o t m a d e u p o f w o r d s , b u t o f p r o p o s i t i o n s , a n d , i n t h e
s a m e w a y , t h e w o r l d is n o t m a d e u p

o f o b je c ts b u t o f fa c ts .

O f c o u r s e , if, a s W i t t g e n s t e i n in s is te d t o R u s s e l l , n o t h i n g c a n
b e s a id a b o u t th e

w o r ld as a w h o le , it fo llo w s th a t e a c h

se v e n p ro p o s itio n s w ith w h ic h th e

o f th e

T r a c ta tu s o p e n s is a n a t t e m p t

t o s a y s o m e t h i n g t h a t c a n n o t b e s a i d a n d is t h e r e f o r e m e a n i n g
le s s . T h i s m u c h is e x p l i c i t l y a c k n o w l e d g e d b y W i t t g e n s t e i n a n d
is c o m m o n g r o u n d a m o n g h i s i n t e r p r e t e r s . W h a t t h e r e a d e r h a s
to d e c id e fo r h im
n e v e rth e le s s

o r h e r s e l f , h o w e v e r , is th is : d o e s W i t t g e n s t e i n

th in k

th a t

th e

th in g s

th a t

th e s e

p ro p o s itio n s

a re

tr y in g t o s a y a r e t r u e o r is h e o f f e r i n g t h e m

as th e k in d o f n o n

s e n s e t h a t p h i l o s o p h e r s fa ll i n t o

try to

w h en

th e y

u s e la n g u a g e

b e y o n d its lim its ? T h e t r a d iti o n a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n sa y s t h e firs t; t h e


C o n a n t-D ia m o n d

in te rp re ta tio n

says th e

s e c o n d . I fa v o u r th e

tr a d itio n a l in te r p r e ta tio n ; it s e e m s t o m e th a t W ittg e n s te in re a lly


d o e s b e lie v e th a t, f o r e x a m p le , th e w o r ld
n o t o f th in g s , a n d

h e a ls o b e lie v e s th a t a n y

h is o w n ) to sa y th is h a s to
In
seem s

any
to

R u s s e ll

is t h e t o t a l i t y o f f a c ts
a tte m p t (in c lu d in g

re s u lt in n o n s e n s e .

c ase, th e v e ry b re v ity

o f h is d is c u s s io n o f th e w o r ld

have

p o in t,

e t a l.

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

th a t

th is

is

n o t

w h e re

n a m e ly
th e

re a l

to

suggest

p ro b le m s

to
lie .

D i s p u t e s a b o u t t h e w o r l d a r i s e , W i t t g e n s t e i n b e l i e v e d , l i k e a ll
p h ilo s o p h ic a l p ro b le m s , fro m

a m is u n d e rs ta n d in g o f th e lo g ic

o f o u r la n g u a g e , a n d c a n th e r e f o r e o n ly b e re s o lv e d th r o u g h
c o r r e c t a n a ly s is o f p r o p o s itio n s .

41

PICTURING THE WORLD


T h e

w ay

W ittg e n s te in

t h i n k s a ll t h e p r o b l e m s a n d
s i t i o n , is v i a t h e n o t i o n

g e ts

fro m

th e

w o rld

to

w h e re

he

a n s w e rs re a lly lie , i.e ., th e p r o p o

o f a th o u g h t.

H a v in g u rg e d u s to th in k o f th e w o rld as b e in g m a d e u p o f
fa c ts n o t o f th in g s , W ittg e n s te in

th e n , a t 2 .1 . in tr o d u c e s th e

c e n t r a l i d e a o f p i c t u r i n g t h e f a c t s o f t h e w o r l d . W e p i c t u r e f a c t s
to

o u r s e lv e s , h e

says,

e la b o ra tin g

th e

id e a

in

th e

w a y s (in w h a t f o llo w s s o m e p r o p o s itio n s h a v e b e e n

2.12.
2.13.
2.131.
2.14.
2.141.
2.18.

2.181.
2.182.

3.
3.1.

H e re

fo llo w in g
o m itte d ):

A picture is a model of reality.


Ina picture objects have the elements of the pic
ture corresponding to them.
In a picture the elements of the picture are the
representatives of objects.
What constitutes a picture is that its elements are
related to one another in a determinate way.
A picture is a fact.
What any picture, of whatever form, must have in
common with reality, in order to be able to depict
it - correctly or incorrectly - in any way at all, is
logical form, i.e., the form of reality.
A picture whose pictorial form is logical form is
called a logical picture.
Every picture is at the same time a logical one.
(On the other hand, not every picture is, for exam
ple, a spatial one.)
A logical picture of facts is a thought.
In the proposition the thought is expressed per
ceptibly through the senses.

w e can see h o w

i m p o r t a n t i t is t o

W ittg e n s t e in s a n a ly s is

t h a t f a c ts a r e a r t i c u l a t e . I t is b e c a u s e f a c ts h a v e p a r t s t h a t t h e y

42

PICTURING THE WORLD

c a n b e p ic tu re d , th e e le m e n ts o f th e p ic tu re c o rre s p o n d in g to
th e

o b je c ts

th a t

W ittg e n s te in
m a g a z in e

a c c id e n t,

in

b e fo re

th e

c o n s titu te

d u rin g

re p o rt

th e

o f a

w h ic h
c o u rt.

th e

fa c t.

F irs t W o rld
c o u rt case

m o d e l

W h a t

in

P a ris

o f th e

s tru c k

T h is

id e a

W ar w h e n

h e

cam e
re a d

c o n c e rn in g

a c c id e n t

w as

W ittg e n s te in

w as

to
in

car

p re s e n te d
th a t

th e

m o d e l c o u ld re p re s e n t th e a c c id e n t b e c a u s e o f th e c o rre s p o n
d e n c e b e tw e e n

th e

p a rts o f th e

m o d e l (th e m in ia tu re h o u s e s ,

c a r s , p e o p l e , e tc .) a n d t h e re a l h o u s e s , c a r s , p e o p l e , e tc . I n th is
w ay,

t h e

e le m e n ts

o f th e

p ic tu re

a re

th e

re p re s e n ta tiv e s

o f

o b j e c t s .
T h e c o u rtro o m
tia l r e la tio n s

m o d e l w a s a s p a tia l p i c t u r e i n

b e tw e e n

th e

th a t th e sp a

m o d e l fig u re s r e p r e s e n t th e

s p a tia l

re la tio n s b e tw e e n th e c a rs , p e o p le , e tc . in th e re a l w o r ld . E a c h
re a rra n g e m e n t o f th e
p ic tu re o f h o w

e le m e n ts o f th e

th in g s s to o d

a t th e

m o d e l g iv e s a d if f e r e n t

t i m e o f a c c i d e n t . B u t , i t is

n o t n e c e s s a ry th a t in e v e r y p ic tu r e th e e le m e n ts o f th e p ic tu r e
b e s p a tia lly r e l a t e d , j u s t t h a t t h e p i c t u r e h a s e l e m e n t s w h i c h c a n
have

so m e s o rt o f re la tio n s

m e lo d y

is h e l d

to

to

re p re se n t a

o n e

a n o th e r.

s itu a tio n

in

F o r e x a m p le , i f a
th e

w o rld

(in

th e

w a y , f o r e x a m p l e , t h a t B e e t h o v e n s S i x t h S y m p h o n y i s h e l d t o
r e p r e s e n t a w a lk in th e fo re s t), th e n
b e

a c h ie v e d

s ta n d

fro m

th ro u g h
th e

ra th e r th ro u g h

w in d

s e c tio n

has

th e

(h o w

n o th in g

te m p o r a l re la tio n s . B o th

r e la tio n s m i g h t p r o v i d e t h e fo r m
fo rm

th e re p re s e n ta tio n

s p a tia l r e l a t i o n s

p ic tu re

h as, th e

is t o

say

f a c t s i s a t h o u g h t ) t h a t e v e r y
p ro p o s itio n

to

d o

th e

can n o t

v io lin is ts

w ith

te m p o ra l a n d

it)

b u t

s p a tia l

o f th e p ic tu re , b u t w h a te v e r

f a c t th a t it h a s a f o r m

t h a t i t h a s a lo g ic a l f o r m . A n y p i c t u r e
lo g ic a l f o r m , w h ic h

fa r

(g iv e n

a t a ll m e a n s

o f w h a te v e r fo rm

has a

t h a t a l o g i c a l p i c t u r e

p ic tu re

e x p re sse s a th o u g h t.

o f
A

is a t h o u g h t e x p r e s s e d i n a w a y t h a t is p e r c e p t i b l e

b y t h e s e n s e s . I n o t h e r w o r d s , a p r o p o s i t i o n is a k i n d o f p i c t u r e .

PICTURING THE WORLD


Its

m e a n in g

a ffa irs

is t h e

m ig h t o b ta in

p ro p o s itio n

s ta te
in

o f a ffa irs p i c t u r e d
th e

re a l w o rld

o r

43
b y
n o t.

it; th e

is t r u e , i f i t d o e s n o t t h e p r o p o s i t i o n

e ith e r w ay, th e p ro p o s itio n

s ta te

I f it d o e s,

o f
th e

is f a ls e . B u t ,

p i c t u r e s a p o s s ib le s t a t e o f a f f a ir s .

WHAT IS A PROPOSITION?

3. A logical picture of facts is a thought.


3.1. In a proposition a thought finds an expression that can
be perceived by the senses.
3.11. We use the perceptible sign of a proposition (spoken
or written, etc.) as a projection of a possible situation.
The method of projection is to think of the sense of the
proposition.
3.12. I call the sign with which we express a thought a
propositional sign. And a proposition is a propositional
sign in its projective relation to the world.
3.14. What constitutes a propositional sign is that in it its
elements (the words) stand in a determinate relation to
one another.
A propositional sign is a fact.
3.141. A proposition is not a blend of words. (Just as a
theme in music is not a blend of notes.)
A proposition is articulate.
3.142. Only facts can express a sense, a set of names cannot.

WHAT IS A PROPOSITION?

3.143. Although a propositional sign is a fact, this is


obscured by the usual form of expression in writing or print.
For in a printed proposition, for example, no essential
difference is apparent between a propositional sign and a
word.
3.1431. The essence of a propositional sign is very clearly
seen if we imagine one composed of spatial objects (such
as tables, chairs and books) instead of written signs.
Then the spatial arrangement of these things will
express the sense of the proposition.
3.2. In a proposition a thought can be expressed in such a
way that elements of the propositional sign correspond to
the objects of the thought.
3.22. In a proposition a name is the representative of an
object.
3.221. Objects can only be named. Signs are their
representatives. I can only speak about them: I cannot put
them into words. Propositions can only say how things are,
not what they are.
3.25. A proposition has one and only one complete analysis.
3.3. Only propositions have sense; only in the nexus of a
proposition does a name have meaning.
3.32. A sign is what can be perceived of a symbol.
3.321. So one and the same sign (written or spoken, etc.)
can be common to two different symbols - in which case
they will signify in different ways.

46

WHAT IS A PROPOSITION?

3.323. In everyday language it very frequently happens that


the same word has different modes of signification - and so
belongs to different symbols - or that two words that have dif
ferent modes of signification are employed in propositions in
what is superficially the same way.
Thus the word is' figures as the copula, as a sign for
identity, and as an expression for existence; exist figures as
an intransitive verb like go, and identical as an adjective;
we speak of something, but also of somethings happening.
(In the proposition, Green is green - where the first
word is the proper name of a person and the last an adjec
tive - these words do not merely have different meanings:
they are different symbols.)
3.324. In this way the most fundamental confusions are
easily produced (the whole of philosophy is full of them).
3.325. In order to avoid such errors we must make use of
a sign-language that excludes them by not using the same
sign for different symbols and by not using in a superfi
cially similar way signs that have different modes of
signification: that is to say, a sign-language that is gov
erned by logical grammars - by logical syntax.
(The conceptual notation of Frege and Russell is such a
language, though, it is true, it fails to exclude all mistakes.)
4. A thought is a proposition with a sense.
4.001. The totality of propositions is language.
4.01. A proposition is a picture of reality.
A proposition is a model of reality as we imagine it.
4.011. At first sight a proposition - one set out on the printed
page, for example - does not seem to be a picture of the real
ity with which it is concerned. But neither do written notes

47

WHAT IS A PROPOSITION?

seem at first sight to be a picture of a piece of music, nor our


phonetic notation (the alphabet) to be a picture of our speech.
And yet these sign-languages prove to be pictures, even
in the ordinary sense, of what they represent.
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1921
I n t h e e a r l y s e c t i o n s o f T r a c ta tu s L o g i c o - P h i l o s o p h i c u s , W i t t g e n s t e i n
e s t a b l i s h e s t h a t a t h o u g h t i s a p i c t u r e o f r e a l i t y , a lo g ic a l p i c t u r e . A
p r o p o s i t i o n , t o o , is a p i c t u r e ; i n d e e d , a p r o p o s i t i o n
th a t h a s fo u n d
W ittg e n s te in

e x p re s s io n .

In

d is tin g u is h e s

th e

above

s e c tio n s o f th e

s ig n

b e tw e e n

is a t h o u g h t

an d

b o o k ,

s y m b o l.

T h e

p r o p o s i t i o n a l s i g n is t h e c o l l e c t i o n o f m a r k s o n a p i e c e o f p a p e r ,
s o u n d s u tte r e d b y th e m o u th , e tc . th a t c o n s titu te th e s p o k e n o r
w ritte n

w o rd s

used

to

e x p re ss th e

th o u g h t.

T h e

s i g n , t h e n , is

s o m e t h i n g p h y s i c a l , s o m e t h i n g p e r c e p t i b l e . T h e s y m b o l is w h a t
is c o m m o n t o a l l s i g n s t h a t a r e u s e d t o e x p r e s s t h e s a m e t h o u g h t .
It o fte n
to

h a p p e n s t h a t i n e v e r y d a y l a n g u a g e t h e s a m e s i g n is u s e d

e x p re ss

v e ry

d iffe re n t

th o u g h ts ;

in

w h ic h

case,

th e

tw o

in s ta n c e s o f th e s ig n a rc a c tu a lly d if f e r e n t s y m b o ls . F o r e x a m p le ,
in

th e

s e n te n c e

G r e e n

th o u g h t th a t s o m e b o d y
in s ta n c e s o f th e

s ig n

is g r e e n ( u s e d , p e r h a p s , t o
c a lle d J o h n

G re en

g r e e n a r e , d e s p i t e

e x p re ss th e

is j e a l o u s ) , t h e

tw o

a p p e a ra n c e s , d iffe re n t

s y m b o ls .
In

th is a n d

u n d e rly in g

o th e r w ay s, o u r e v e ry d a y

lo g ic a l f o r m

o f th e

th o u g h ts

la n g u a g e

d is g u is e s th e

i t is u s e d

to

e x p re ss.

P h i l o s o p h y , W i t t g e n s t e i n b e l i e v e s ( s e e , e . g . , 3 . 3 2 4 a b o v e ) , is , f o r
th e m o s t p a r t, a s e rie s o f p ro b le m s th a t h a v e a n s e n b e c a u s e o f th e
c o n fu s io n
in

c a u s e d b y th is d is g u is e . I n

p h ilo s o p h y

to

re -e x p re ss

th is w a y , it c a n

th o u g h ts

in

th e

k in d

o fte n

h e lp

o f a rtific ia l,

fo rm a l la n g u a g e s in v e n te d b y F re g e a n d R u s s e ll. H o w e v e r, o n e
m u s t n o t b e m is le d b y th is in to
th in g

as a

t h i n k i n g (a ) t h a t t h e r e is s u c h a

c o r r e c t s i g n - l a n g u a g e

o r

(b ) th a t th e r e

is a n y t h i n g

WHAT IS A PROPOSITION?

48

w r o n g w ith th e la n g u a g e w e h a v e . T h e p ro b le m

w ith o u r e v e ry

d a y l a n g u a g e is n o t t h a t i t is i n a d e q u a t e t o e x p r e s s o u r t h o u g h t s ,
n o r th a t it s ta n d s in

n eed

o f im p ro v e m e n t in

th o u g h ts m o r e p re c is e ly (se e 5 .5 5 6 3 : \

o rd e r to

. . a ll t h e p r o p o s i t i o n s o f

o u r e v e ry d a y la n g u a g e , ju s t as th e y s ta n d , a re in
o r d e r ) ; t h e p r o b l e m
lo g ic a l f o r m

e x p re ss

p e r f e c t lo g ic a l

is t h a t i t d o e s n o t , s o t o s p e a k , w e a r its o w n

o n its s le e v e . T h i s is a p r o b l e m , n o t f o r o r d i n a r y l a n

g u a g e -u s e rs , b u t fo r p h ilo s o p h e rs , w h o
th e ir q u e s tio n s a re th e

te n d

n o t to

re s u lt o f n o t s e e in g c le a rly

n o tic e th a t
en o u g h

th e

lo g ic o f o u r la n g u a g e . S o , f o r e x a m p le , i f y o u a re a w a re th a t th e
w o rd
and

i s c a n
id e n tity

caused.

b e

used

( G r e e n

If y o u

a re

to
is

n o t

e x p re ss p re d ic a tio n
G r e e n ) ,

a w a re

th e n

o f th is ,

n o
th e n

( G r e e n

i s g r e e n )

c o n fu s io n
y o u

n eed

w ill m a k e

b e
th e

g r a v e m i s t a k e s m a d e b y p h i l o s o p h e r s s u c h a s C o f f e y .
W ittg e n s te in
tio n

is

a fa c .

la y s g r e a t s tr e s s o n

N o tic e

p a ra lle l b e tw e e n

th e

c u rio u s

th e th o u g h t th a t a p ro p o s i
-

an d

p ro p o s itio n s 2 .1 4 /2 .1 4 1

s u re ly
an d

d e lib e ra te

3 .1 4 /3 .1 4 1 :

2.14. What constitutes a picture is that its elements are


related to one another in a determinate way.
2.141. A picture is a fact.
3.14. What constitutes a propositional sign is that in it its
elements (the words) stand in a determinate relation to
one another.
A propositional sign is a fact.
3.141. A proposition is not a blend of words. (Just as a
theme in music is not a blend of notes.)
A proposition is articulate.
O n l y

fa c ts

can

e x p re ss

( 3 .1 4 2 ) . I t fo llo w s f r o m
o n ly in

sense,

set

o f n am es

c a n n o t

t h i s t h a t : O n l y p r o p o s i t i o n s h a v e s e n s e ;

th e n e x u s o f a p ro p o s itio n d o e s a n a m e h a v e m e a n in g

WHAT IS A PROPOSITION?
( 3 .3 ) . T h e m o d e l in t h e P a r is c o u r t r o o m
a b o u t b e c o m e s fo r h im
o f a p ro p o s itio n

49

th a t W ittg e n s te in re a d

a w a y o f s e e i n g c le a r ly t h e v e r y essen ce

(s e e 3 .1 4 3 1

ab o v e). T h e re a so n th e

essence o f

a p r o p o s i t i o n is s e e n m o r e c le a r l y w h e n

w e im a g in e o n e c o m

p o sed

its

o f s p a tia l

o b je c ts

is

th a t

b e c o m e s m o r e o b v io u s ; w e d o

th e n

p ic to ria l

n o t g e t m is le d b y th e fa c t th a t:

A t f i r s t s i g h t a p r o p o s i t i o n o n e s e t o u t o n
fo r e x a m p le F ro m

does n o t seem

th e n o tio n

c h a ra c te r

th e p rin te d

page,

to b e a p ic tu re .

t h a t a p r o p o s i t i o n is e s s e n tia lly a p i c t u r e o f

re a lity , W i t t g e n s t e i n

g o es o n

in

th e

re st o f th e

b o o k

to

d ra w

f a r - r e a c h in g c o n c lu s io n s a b o u t lo g ic , a b o u t w h a t c a n b e
an d

w h a t c a n n o t, a n d a b o u t th e

A t

th e

h e art

th o u g h t th a t to

o f a ll

th e s e

s a id

n a tu r e o f p h ilo s o p h y .

fa r-re a c h in g

e x p r e s s a s e n s e is t o

c o n c lu s io n s

p ic tu re a p o rtio n

is

th e

o f re a l

i t y ; t h e r e f o r e a n y t h i n g t h a t d o e s n o t p i c t u r e a s u t e o f a f f a i r s is
s e n s e le s s . T h i s i n c l u d e s a ll t h e s o - c a l l e d

p r o p o s itio n s o f lo g ic .

L o g i c is t h e s t u d y o f i n f e r e n t i a l r e l a t i o n s b e t w e e n p r o p o s i t i o n s ,
b u t,
can

a c c o rd in g
b e

in fe rre d

t i o n s , is j u s t t o

to

say th a t th e s e

s a id w h a te v e r th e
re a so n

th a t

W ittg e n s te in ,

to

say

th a t

o n e

p ro p o s itio n

fr o m , o r th a t it fo llo w s fr o m , o th e r p r o p o s i

in fe rre d

S o c r a t e s

is

o th e r p ro p o s itio n s h a v e a lre a d y

p ro p o s itio n

say s. F o r e x a m p le , th e

m o r ta l fo llo w s

fro m

A ll

m e n

a re

m o r t a l a n d S o c r a t e s is a m a n is t h a t a m o n g t h e t h i n g s s a i d b y
th e s e tw o

l a t t e r p r o p o s i t i o n s is t h a t S o c r a t e s is m o r t a l . S o , t h e

a rg u m e n t:

All men are mortal


Socrates is a man
Therefore Socrates is mortal
is , i n

fa c t, a

ta u to lo g y .

L o g ic

is n o t

s c ie n c e

th a t d is c o v e rs

tr u t h s ; i t is j u s t a c o l l e c t i o n o f ta u to lo g ie s . A n d a u u t o l o g y

is

50

WHAT IS A PROPOSITION?

n o t a p i c t u r e o f r e a lity . I t is e i t h e r r a i n i n g o r i t is n o t r a i n i n g
is a l w a y s t r u e i t is n o t a
k n o w

i t i s , i n W i t t g e n s t e i n s s e n s e , a t a u t o l o g y -

tru th

t h a t te lls y o u

t h a t i t is e i t h e r r a i n i n g

a n y th in g

a b o u t th e

a n y th in g
o r

n o t ra in in g

w e a t h e r ; i t is j u s t t o

te n c e e m b ra c e s eve ry p o s s ib ility a n d
p o s s ib ly b e fa ls e . T o k n o w
k n o w

a b o u t th e

is n o t t o

k n o w

b u t

w o rld .

T o

k n o w

th a t th a t s e n

th a t, th e re fo re , it c a n n o t

t h a t i t is a l w a y s t r u e , t h e r e f o r e , is t o

s o m e th in g a b o u t o u r la n g u a g e , n o t a b o u t o u r w e a th e r.

T a u to lo g ie s , a c c o rd in g to
as th e y

d o

n o t p ic tu re

W i t t g e n s t e i n , a r e s e n s e le s s , b e c a u s e ,

th e

w o rld ,

th e y

la c k

sen se. H o w e v e r,

th e y a re n o t n o n sen se, b e c a u s e th e y a re a le g itim a te p a rt o f o u r


s ig n -la n g u a g e , ju s t

as

th e

n u m e ra l

fo r

zero ,

th e s ig n -la n g u a g e o f m a th e m a tic s , e v e n th o u g h

0 ,

is

p a rt

o f

( q u ite lite ra lly )

it s ig n ifie s n o th in g .
J u s t a s t a u t o l o g i e s a r e a l w a y s t r u e , c o n t r a d i c t i o n s ( e . g . , I t is
r a i n i n g a n d n o t r a i n i n g ) a r e a l w a y s f a l s e , a n d , l i k e t a u t o l o g i e s ,
d o

n o t, th e r e f o r e , p ic tu r e a n y th in g in th e w o r ld . I f o n e th in k s

o f an

o rd in a ry

ta u to lo g y

can

p ro p o s itio n
b e

lik e n e d

as a p h o to g ra p h ic

to

a s h o t w h ic h

t h a t e v e r y t h i n g is w h i t e , a n d
so

u n d e r-e x p o se d

p ic tu re , th e n

is s o

a c o n tra d ic tio n

to

o v e r-e x p o se d
a s h o t t h a t is

t h a t e v e r y t h i n g is b l a c k . W i t t g e n s t e i n

c a lls

t a u t o l o g i e s a n d c o n t r a d i c t i o n s p s e u d o - p r o p o s i t i o n s ; t h e y a r e
n o t re a l p ro p o s itio n s ,

b ecause

re a l p ro p o s itio n s

can

be

e ith e r

t r u e o r fa ls e .
A

p ic tu re

h as to

have

s o m e th in g

in

c o m m o n

w ith

w h a t it

p i c t u r e s . T h i s s o m e t h i n g W i t t g e n s t e i n c a l l s p i c t o r i a l f o r m ;
p ic to ria l f o r m

can

b e

lo g ic a l. E v e r y t h i n g i n

s p a tia l, te m p o r a l,

be

th e w o rld c a n b e p ic tu re d , b u t a p ic tu re

c a n n o t r e p r e s e n t its o w n
r a th e r th a n s a id . T h e f o r m
th e w o rld -

e tc ., b u t it h a s to

p ic to ria l fo rm ; th a t h a s to

b e sh o w n

o f o u r la n g u a g e a n d , th e re fo re , o f

is s h o w n b y l o g i c ; l o g i c , t h e r e f o r e , b e l o n g s t o t h e

u n s a y a b l e . I t i s , a s W i t t g e n s t e i n p u t s i t , t r a n s c e n d e n t a l ( s e e 6 . 1 3 ) .

WHAT IS A PROPOSITION?
E v e ry

lo g ic a l

p ro p o s itio n ,

ev ery

ta u to lo g y ,

51
is o f e q u a l

v a lu e ;

t h e r e a r e n o l o g i c a l a x i o m s a n d n o l o g i c a l f a c t s . T h e s y s t e m s o f
lo g ic

b u ilt b y

F reg e a n d

v ie w

o f w h a t l o g i c is .

R u s s e ll, th e re fo re , a s s u m e a m is ta k e n

A s w e h a v e s e e n , l o g i c i s n o t a l o n e i n b e i n g t r a n s c e n d e n t a l
in

W i t t g e n s t e i n s s e n s e . E t h i c s , a e s t h e t i c s a n d r e l i g i o n a r e a l s o

tra n s c e n d e n ta l in
th e m

th is s e n s e ; t h a t is , t h e

t r u t h s b e l o n g i n g

c a n n o t b e s ta te d in m e a n in g fu l p ro p o s itio n s . T h e re a s o n

f o r t h a t is t h a t m e a n i n g f u l p r o p o s i t i o n s a r e l i m i t e d
in g

to

s ta te s

o f a ffa irs

in

th e

w o r ld , a n d

v a lu e ,

a e s t h e t i c o r r e l i g i o u s , is n o t t o b e f o u n d

in

to

w h e th e r

p ic tu r
e th ic a l,

th e w o rld . In o th e r

w o r d s , t h e r e a r e n o e t h i c a l fa c ts . T h i s is w h y t h e r e c a n n o t b e a n y
e th ic a l p ro p o s itio n s
T o

u n d e rs ta n d

th e

lo g ic

o f o u r la n g u a g e , to

s e e th a t lo g ic ,

e t h i c s , a e s t h e t i c s a n d r e l i g i o n a r e t r a n s c e n d e n t a l is t o a p p r e c i a t e
w h at

W ittg e n s te in

c a lls

th e

m a i n

p o in t o f

T r a c ta tu s

L o g ic o -

P h ilo s o p h ic u s . I t is , i n o t h e r w o r d s , t o s e e t h e f i n a l , d e f i n i t i v e a n d
u n a s s a ila b ly

tru e

o n e

th in g s

o f th e

W ittg e n s te in

s o lu tio n

to

th e

th a t b e c o m e s

c la im s

has

b e en

p r o b le m s o f p h ilo s o p h y . A n d
c le a r

in

th is

s e e i n g i s w h a t

m is u n d e rs to o d

p h ilo s o p h e r s : n a m e ly , th e n a tu r e o f p h ilo s o p h y

by

a lm o s t

its e lf.

a ll

WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?

4.11. The totality of true propositions is the whole of natural


science (or the whole corpus of the natural sciences).
4.111. Philosophy is not one of the natural sciences.
(The word 'philosophy' must mean something whose place is
above or below the natural sciences, not beside them.)
4.112. 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.
4.1121. Psychology is no more closely related to philosophy
than any other natural science.
Theory of knowledge is the philosophy of psychology.
Does not my study of sign-language correspond to the study
of thought-processes, which philosophers used to consider so
essential to the philosophy of logic? Only in most cases they

WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?

53

got entangled in unessential psychological investigations,


and with my method too there is an analogous risk.
4.1122. Darwins theory has no more to do with philosophy
than any other hypothesis in natural science.
4.113. Philosophy sets limits to the much disputed sphere
of natural science.
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1921
T h e t a s k o f p h i l o s o p h y , a s W i t t g e n s t e i n s e e s i t , is t o

re v e a l th e

t r u e n a t u r e o f t h e l o g i c o f o u r l a n g u a g e , a n d t h e r e b y t o s o l v e
th e

p h ilo s o p h ic a l p ro b le m s th a t a ris e w h e n

u n d e rs to o d .

T h e

s o lv in g

w a y is b e s t d o n e
an

a c tiv ity ,

n o t

c la rific a tio n
a

b o o k

o n
a

o f p h ilo s o p h ic a l

d o c trin e .

o f p h ilo s o p h ic a l
su ch

e l u c i d a t i o n s *
to w a rd s

is m i s

p ro b le m s

in

th is

a c a s e - b y - c a s e b a s is . T h u s , p h ilo s o p h y
It

o f t h o u g h t s . T h e

th e re a re n o

th a t lo g ic

is

th e

a c tiv ity

o f

t h e

lo g ic a l

T r a c ta tu s s h o u l d n o t b e s e e n
s tric tly

s p e a k in g ,
as a s e t o f

s h o u ld

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

b e

fo r,

as

th in g s . R a th e r , it s h o u ld b e s e e n

th a t

p ro p o s itio n s ,

is

re g a rd e d

c la rific a tio n .

as

tra n s ito ry

If o n e

has

s ta g e s

a c h ie v e d

th e

c la r ity th a t th e e lu c id a tio n s s e e k to im p a r t, o n e w ill b e a b le to


s e e th a t th e s o -c a lle d p ro p o s itio n s o f th e

T r a c ta tu s a r e , i n

fa c t,

n onsen se.
In

1913,

n e x t b ig
n a tu re

R u s s e ll

s te p

o f

in

h ad

lo o k e d

p h ilo s o p h y , to

lo g ic

th a t

h a d

to

W ittg e n s te in

s o lv e

d e fe a te d

th e

in

p h ilo s o p h y . W h e n

ta k e n , it to o k

th e

fo rm

th e

ta k e

th e

p ro b le m s a b o u t th e

R u s s e ll

b e c o m e th e s ta n d a rd - b e a re r in th e fig h t to
m e th o d

to

h im s e lf a n d

to

e s t a b l i s h s c i e n t i f i c

n e x t b ig

s te p

w as

fin a lly

o f s a y in g th a t th e p ro b le m s a b o u t th e

n a tu r e o f lo g ic c o u ld o n ly b e s o lv e d w h e n o n e u n d e r s to o d th e
c o n f u s io n s th a t g a v e ris e to th e m , a n d o n e o f th o s e c o n fu s io n s
w a s p re c is e ly th e c o n v ic tio n th a t th e r e c o u ld p o s s ib ly b e s u c h
a th in g

as s c ie n tific m e th o d

in

p h ilo s o p h y .

THE DISINTEGRATION OF LOGICAL FORM

Every proposition has a content and a form. We get the pic


ture of the pure form if we abstract from the meaning of
the single words, or symbols (so far as they have inde
pendent meanings). That is to say, if we substitute
variables for the constants of the proposition. The rules of
syntax which applied to the constants must apply to the
variables also. By syntax in this general sense of the word
I mean the rules which tell us in which connections only
a word gives sense, thus excluding nonsensical structures.
The syntax of ordinary language, as is well known, is not
quite adequate for this purpose. It does not in all cases pre
vent the construction of nonsensical pseudo-propositions
(constructions such as 'red is higher than green' or 'the
Real, though it is an in itself, must also be able to become
a for myself, etc.).
If we try to analyse any given propositions we shall find
in general that they are logical sums, products or other
truth-functions of simpler propositions. But our analysis,
if carried far enough, must come to the point where it
reaches propositional forms which are not themselves com

THE DISINTEGRATION OF LOGICAL FORM

posed of simpler propositional forms. We must eventually


reach the ultimate connection of the terms, the immediate
connection which cannot be broken without destroying the
propositional form as such. The propositions which repre
sent this ultimate connection of terms I call, after B.
Russell, atomic propositions. They, then, are the kernels of
every proposition, they contain the material, and all the
rest is only a development of this material. It is to them we
have to look for the subject matter of propositions. It is the
task of the theory of knowledge to find them and to under
stand their construction out of the words or symbols. This
task is very difficult, and Philosophy has hardly yet begun
to tackle it at some points. What method have we for tack
ling it? The idea is to express in an appropriate symbolism
what in ordinary language leads to endless misunderstand
ings. That is to say, where ordinary language disguises
logical structure, where it allows the formation of pseudo
propositions, where it uses one term in an infinity of
different meanings, we must replace it by a symbolism
which gives a clear picture of the logical structure,
excludes pseudo-propositions, and uses its terms unam
biguously . . .
The mutual exclusion of unanalysable statements of
degree contradicts an opinion which was published by me
several years ago and which necessitated that atomic
propositions could not exclude one another. I here deliber
ately say exclude and not contradict, for there is a
difference between these two notions, and atomic proposi
tions, although they cannot contradict, may exclude one
another. There are functions which can give a true propo
sition only for one value of their argument because - if I
may so express myself - there is only room in them for one.

55

56

THE DISINTEGRATION OF LOGICAL FORM

Take, for instance, a proposition which asserts the exis


tence of a colour R at a certain time Ti na certain place P
of our visual field. I will write this proposition R P T f and
abstract for the moment from any consideration of how
such a statement is to be further analysed. B P T\ then,
says that the colour B is in the place P at the time T,
and it will be clear to most of us here, and to all of us in
ordinary life, that R P T & B P T is some sort of contra
diction (and not merely a false proposition). Now if
statements of degree were analysable - as I used to think we could explain this contradiction by saying that the
colour R contains all degrees of R and none of B and that
the colour B contains all degrees of B and none of R. But
from the above it follows that no analysis can eliminate
statements of degree. How, then, does the mutual exclu
sion of R P T and B P T operate? I believe it consists in the
fact that R P T as well as B P T are in a certain sense
complete. That which corresponds in reality to the function
' O P T leaves room only for one entity - in the same
sense, in fact, in which we say that there is room for one
person only in a chair. Our symbolism, which allows us to
form the sign of the logical product of R P T* and B P T
gives here no correct picture of reality.
'Some Remarks on Logical Form, 1929
In

a c c o rd a n c e

s o lv e d

a ll t h e

p h ilo s o p h y

w ith

a fte r

s c h o o lte a c h e r

h is v ie w

p ro b le m s
th e

b o o k

in s te a d ,

th a t

T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h ilo s o p h ic u

o f p h ilo s o p h y ,
w as

an d ,

fo r

W ittg e n s te in

fin is h e d .
s ix ,

H e

gave

tra in e d

la rg e ly

to

u n h ap p y ,

uj

b e

y ears

1 9 2 0 -2 6 , h e ta u g h t a t v a rio u s e le m e n ta r y s c h o o ls in th e c o u n
try s id e

s o u th

P u c h b e rg

o f V ie n n a .

w h e n

th e

H e

T r a c ta tu s

w as
w as

te a c h in g

in

p u b lis h e d ,

th e

v illa g e

an d ,

w h ile

h<

57

THE DISINTEGRATION OF LOGICAL FORM

c o n t i n u e d t o liv e in r u r a l is o la tio n , h is b o o k b e c a m e t h e c e n tr e
o f

g re a t

in te re s t

V ie n n a . O n e

a m o n g

o f th e

a c a d e m ic s

m o s t p e rc e p tiv e

in

C a m b rid g e

re a d e rs o f th e

an d

b o o k

in
w as

F r a n k R a m s e y , w h o , t h o u g h s till a n u n d e r g r a d u a t e , w a s w id e ly
re g a rd e d

a t C a m b rid g e

as a m a th e m a tic ia n

o f g re a t p ro m is e . R a m s e y h a d h e lp e d w ith
o f th e

b o o k

an d

w ro te

a lo n g

an d

an d

a p h ilo s o p h e r

th e E n g lis h e d itio n

in s ig h tfu l re v ie w

o f it fo r

M in d . I n t h e s u m m e r o f 1 9 2 3 , W i t t g e n s t e i n h e a r d f r o m

O g d en

th a t R a m s e y p la n n e d to v is it V ie n n a a n d a t o n c e w r o te to h im
to

in v ite h im

to

P u c h b e rg . H e

a rriv e d

o n

17

S e p te m b e r a n d

s ta y e d f o r a b o u t tw o w e e k s , d u r i n g w h ic h tim e , W ittg e n s te in th in k in g , p e rh a p s , th a t R a m s e y

m ig h t p o te n tia lly

c o m p re h e n d in g re a d e r h e w as lo o k in g fo r a day

to

g o in g

th ro u g h

th e

re s u lt w a s th a t R a m s e y
v ic tio n
e x ile

th a t

fro m

W ittg e n s te in

a c a d e m ic

b o o k

re tu rn e d

lin e
to

s h o u ld

life ,

an d

by

lin e

W ittg e n s te in
re tu rn e d

le ft

o n

w ith

th e

o n e

h im . T h e

C a m b rid g e w ith
a b an d o n

h is

W ittg e n s te in

u n d e r R a m s e y s a s t u t e q u e s t i o n i n g , t h a t t h e
a f te r a ll, t h e la s t w o r d

b e

d e v o t e d fiv e h o u r s

th e c o n

s e lf-im p o s e d

b egan

to

th in k ,

T r a c ta tu s w a s n o t ,

its s u b je c t.

te a c h in g

in

th e

s p rin g

o f

1926

an d

to V ie n n a , w o r k in g firs t a s a g a r d e n e r , a n d t h e n as a n

a r c h ite c t, d e s ig n in g a s t r i k i n g h o u s e f o r h is s is te r, n o ta b le f o r
its a u s te r e , u n a d o r n e d
b eg an

g ra d u a l

b e a u ty .

re tu rn

to

In

th e

m e a n tim e ,

p h ilo s o p h y .

In

W ittg e n s te in

1927,

h e

s ta rte d

a tte n d in g re g u la r m e e tin g s o f a g r o u p o f p h ilo s o p h e rs b a s e d a t


th e

U n iv e rs ity

w as to

b eco m e

o f V ie n n a , le d b y
fa m o u s as th e

M o ritz

V i e n n a

S c h lic k . T h is g r o u p

C i r c l e , a n d

th e

l o g i

c a l p o s itiv is m th e y e s p o u s e d w a s to b e c o m e w id e ly in flu e n tia l


in

a n a ly tic

p h ilo s o p h y .

T h ro u g h o u t

1 9 2 8 ,

W i t t g e n s t e i n s

in te re s t in p h ilo s o p h y w a s in c re a s in g ly re v iv e d a n d h e b e c a m e
c o n v in c e d

th a t h e

s h o u ld ,

a fte r

a ll, r e t u r n

o r d e r to r e th in k s o m e a s p e c ts o f th e

to

th e

s u b je c t in

T r a c ta tu s . I n t h e N e w

Y ear

58

THE DISINTEGRATION OF LOGICAL FORM

o f 1 9 2 9 , h e re tu rn e d to

C a m b r id g e , o ffic ia lly as a n

A d v a n c e d

S t u d e n t r e a d in g f o r a P h .D . w i t h R a m s e y , s e v e n te e n y e a r s h is
ju n io r a n d n o w
W ith in
w o u ld
c a lle d
b e

a F e llo w

s ix m o n t h s W ittg e n s t e in h a d w r i t t e n

b e co m e
S o m e

an d

p re s tig io u s

h is

th ird

R em ark s

p re s e n te d

S o c ie ty

o f K i n g s , a s h i s s u p e r v i s o r .

a t th e
th e

o n

B rita in . A lth o u g h

L o g ic a l F o r m a n d

A s s o c ia tio n ,

c o n fe re n c e

h is

th o u g h t

d e liv e re d

it, h e

d e v e lo p in g

as

re c o rd

w as w ritte n

in

th e

gave

tim e

th a t,

d iffe re n t, s o m e th in g

to

an d
in

c o n fe re n c e

it.

S o

q u ic k ly

as s o o n
a t th e

o n

is

A ris to te lia n

p h ilo s o p h e rs

it as w o r th le s s , a n d

tra c e o f w h ic h

S o m e R e m a r k s o n
in g

a t th is

p ap er

m o s t im p o rta n t

o f a c a d e m ic

n e v e r a c tu a lly

d is o w n e d

re a d s o m e th in g q u ite
in fin ity , n o

th e

T h e

o f th e

th e p a p e r w as p u b lis h e d

p ro c e e d in g s , W ittg e n s te in
w as

th e p a p e r th a t

la s t p u b lic a tio n .

A n n u a l J o i n t S e s s io n

M in d

an n u al

an d

th e

as

he

m e e tin g

c o n ce p t o f

h a s s u rv iv e d .

L o g i c a l F o r m is n e v e r t h e l e s s i n t e r e s t

o f h o w

an d

w h y

th e

lo g ic a l

T r a c t tu s c a m e t u m b l i n g d o w n a n d w i t h

e d ific e

o f th e

it th e w h o le n o tio n

l o g i c a l f o r m t h a t p l a y e d s u c h a c e n t r a l r o l e i n

o f

W i t t g e n s t e i n s

e a rly th o u g h t.
T h e
h is

in itia l d a m a g e

re v ie w

o f

th e

W i t t g e n s t e i n s v i e w
s ity

th a t

e x is ts

is

w as d o n e

T r a c ta tu s

lo g ic a l

lo g ic a l i m p o s s i b i l i t y . I n

tw o
in

o n

to

say:

F ra n k

p o in te d

o u t

n e c e s s ity ,
th e o n ly

p ro b le m

W ittg e n s te in

im p o s s ib ility

fo r

says

in

t h a t e x i s t s is

th e fo llo w in g p r o p o s itio n , 6 .3 7 5 1 , h e

F o r e x a m p l e ,

th e

c o lo u r s a t th e s a m e p la c e in

s im u lta n e o u s

o f c o lo u r . H e

a ls o

p re se n c e

o f

t h e v i s u a l f i e l d is i m p o s s i b l e ,

f a c t l o g i c a l l y i m p o s s i b l e , s i n c e i t is r u l e d

s tru c tu re

R a m s e y , w h o , in

o f l o g i c a l n e c e s s i t y . J u s t a s t h e o n l y n e c e s

p r o p o s i t i o n 6 . 3 7 5 , s o t o o

goes

b y

says

a .little

o u t b y th e lo g ic a l
la te r

in

th e

sam e

p r o p o s i t i o n : I t is c l e a r t h a t t h e l o g i c a l p r o d u c t o f t w o a t o m i c
p ro p o s itio n s

can

n e ith e r b e

a ta u to lo g y

n o r a

c o n tra d ic tio n .

THE DISINTEGRATION OF LOGICAL FORM

59

T h e s ta te m e n t th a t a p o in t in th e v is u a l fie ld h a s tw o d if f e r e n t
c o lo u rs a t th e

sam e

tim e

is a c o n t r a d i c t i o n .*

p ro p o s itio n

a s c rib in g a c e rta in

fie ld

is

( T h i s

re d \

T h i s

is

c o lo u r to

b lu e * ,

e tc .)

It fo llo w s th a t a

a p o in t in

th e v is u a l

c an n o t

an

be

a to m ic

p r o p o s itio n , i.e ., s u c h a p r o p o s itio n m u s t b e c a p a b le o f f u r th e r


a n a ly s is . I n
v in c in g ly ,

th e
to

T r a c ta tu s , W i t t g e n s t e i n

p h y s ic a l

a n a ly s is

a p p e a ls , r a th e r u n c o n

o f c o lo u r

in

te rm s

o f th e

v e lo c itie s o f p a rtic le s ( o n e m u s t a s s u m e th a t h e d id n o t k n o w ,
a t th is p o in t, th e

th e o ry , n o w

u n iv e rs a lly a c c e p te d , th a t lig h t

a lw a y s h a s th e

s a m e v e lo c ity

b e

te rm s o f w a v e -fre q u e n c ie s ra th e r th a n

a n a ly s e d in

v e lo c itie s ).

T h e

an d

im p o s s ib ility

th a t d iffe re n t c o lo u rs a re to

o f s o m e t h i n g s b e i n g

p a rtic le
b o th

re d

a n d b lu e a t th e s a m e tim e th u s a p p e a rs as th e s ta te m e n t th a t a
p a r tic le c a n n o t h a v e tw o v e lo c itie s a t th e s a m e tim e . H o w e v e r,
as

R am sey

p o in te d

o u t,

th is

p u rp o rte d

e v e n i f it h a d a n y s c ie n tif ic b a s is ( w h i c h
g e t rid
th u s

o f th e

p r o b l e m : . . .

p ro v id e s

W ittg e n s te in

an

essa ry p r o p e r tie s
e x p lic itly
b e in g

in

tw o

p la c e s a t th e

to h is v ie w

If W ittg e n s te in
h o w

p h y s ic is t

w e

m ean

sam e

th e

m a tte r

by

re d ,

M r

th a t o f th e nec

o r th e

e th e r.

H e

im p o s s ib ility o f a p a r t i c l e

t i m e . I t is h a r d

to

see , says

th is i m p o s s i b i l i t y c a n b e a m a t t e r o f l o g i c r a t h e r

p h y s ic s , w h ic h

h o ld o n

does n o t

an d

u p o n

it d o e s n o t) -

o f w h a t

o f sp a c e , tim e

a n a ly s is

s u p p o s in g th a t th e

r e d u c in g th e d iffic u lty to

m a k e s it d e p e n d

R am sey, h o w
th a n

a n a ly s is

is o n l y

even

p h y s ic a l

it w o u ld

h av e to

th a t th e o n ly

is n o t

to

g iv e

u p

b e

if W ittg e n s te in

is t o

n e c e s s i t y is l o g i c a l n e c e s s ity .
th is

c la im ,

h e

h a s to

sh o w

t h e p r o p e r t i e s o f s p a c e , t i m e a n d m a t t e r c a n a p p e a r a s lo g

ic a l n e c e s s i t i e s .
I n S o m e R e m a r k s o n L o g i c a l F o r m W i t t g e n s t e i n a t t e m p t s
to

s o lv e th is p r o b le m

n o tio n

o f an

a to m ic

th e e n tire th e o ry

b y m a k in g

a fa irly d ra s tic c h a n g e to

p ro p o s itio n , a c h a n g e

o f th e

T r a c ta tu s c r a s h i n g t o

th a t w a s to

h is

b rin g

th e g ro u n d . T h e

60

THE DISINTEGRATION OF LOGICAL FORM

c h a n g e s o u n d s te c h n ic a l a n d m in o r. It c o n s is te d in s u r r e n d e r in g
th e v ie w
o n e

th a t a to m ic p ro p o s itio n s a re lo g ic a lly in d e p e n d e n t o f

a n o th e r.

h o ld s ,

a re

Som e

a to m ic

m u tu a lly

is r e d , it c a n n o t a ls o b e
T h i s
it

is

is r e d
a

a n d

o s itio n

has

1 . 2 1 : E a c h

W ittg e n s te in

p o in t in

th e

n o w

v is u a l fie ld

is a c o n t r a d i c t i o n , e v e n

o f a to m ic

to

If a

b lu e , o r g r e e n , o r y e llo w , e tc . T h u s ,

t h i s is b lu e *

c o n ju n c tio n

W ittg e n s te in

p ro p o s itio n s ,

e x c lu s iv e .

g iv e
ite m

u p

p ro p o s itio n s .
th e

c la im

T h is

ab o u t

th o u g h

m ean s

fa c ts

in

th a t

p ro p

c a n b e th e c a se o r n o t th e c a se w h ile

e v e r y t h i n g e ls e r e m a in s t h e s a m e . H e a ls o h a s t o g iv e u p w h a t
h e

say s a b o u t lo g ic , fo r n o w

s u ffic ie n t

to

te ll

u s

an

w h e th e r

a d e q u a t e
a

s y m b o l i s m is n o t

p a rtic u la r

c o n ju n c tio n

o f

p r o p o s i t i o n s is o r is n o t a c o n t r a d i c t i o n . N o t a ll c o n t r a d i c t i o n s
a r e l i k e I t is r a i n i n g a n d i t is n o t r a i n i n g . I .e ., n o t a ll o f t h e m
can

b e

s y m b o liz e d

b o liz e d

a s p

an d

a s p

an d

q , w h i c h

n o t - p . S o m e
is n o t v e r y

c o n j u n c t i o n s s y m b o l i z e d a s p
W ith

a re s y m

q a re

m ost

n o t c o n tra d ic tio n s .

th is a p p a r e n tly m in o r a n d te c h n ic a l c o n c e s s io n , th e n ,

th e w h o le th e o ry
th e

an d

o f th e m

h e lp fu l, b e c a u s e

p ro b le m

fa lls a p a r t , a n d W i t t g e n s t e i n is l e f t , n o t w i t h

o f re p a irin g

h o le s

in

th e

th e o ry

o f th e

T r a c ta tu s

b u t w ith

th a t o f f u n d a m e n ta lly r e th in k in g h is e n tir e a p p r o a c h

to

an d

lo g ic

lo w in g

h is

1930s, h e
w ith

la n g u a g e .

re tu rn
h ad

to

T h is

is w h a t h e

C a m b rid g e

d e v e lo p e d

in

a ra d ic a lly

p h ilo s o p h ic a l p ro b le m s , o n e

W i t t g e n s t e i n s l a t e r p h i l o s o p h y .

d id

1929,

in
an d,

th e
by

d iffe re n t w a y

th a t h a s b e c o m e

y e a rs fo l
th e

m id -

o f d e a lin g
k n o w n

as

THE NEW PHILOSOPHY: GIVING UP THE


CRYSTALLINE PURITY OF LOGIC

107. The more narrowly we examine actual language, the


sharper becomes the conflict between it and our requirement.
(For the crystalline purity of logic was. of course, not a result
of investigation: it was a requirement.) The conflict becomes
intolerable; the requirement is now in danger of becoming
empty. We have got on to slippery ice where there is no
friction and so in a certain sense the conditions are ideal, but
also, just because of that, we are unable to walk. We want to
walk; so we need friction. Back to the rough ground!
108. We see that what we call 'sentence' and language*
has not the formal unity that I imagined, but is the family
of structures more or less related to one another. But
what becomes of logic now? Its rigour seems to be giving
way here. But in that case doesnt logic altogether
disappear? For how can it lose its rigour? Of course not
by our bargaining any of its rigour out of it. The pre
conceived idea of crystalline purity can only be removed
by turning our whole examination round . . .
109. It was true to say that our considerations could not be
scientific ones. It was not of any possible interest to us to

THE NEW PHILOSOPHY

62

find out empirically 'that, contrary to our preconceived


ideas, it is possible to think such-and-such - whatever
that may mean. (The conception of thought as a gaseous
medium.) And we may not advance any kind of theory.
There must not be anything hypothetical in our con
siderations. We must do away with all explanation, and
description alone must take its place. And this description
gets its light, that is to say its purpose, from the philo
sophical problems. These are, of course, not empirical
problems; they are solved, rather, by looking into the work
ings of our language, and that in such a way as to make us
recognize those workings: in despite of an urge to misun
derstand them. The problems are solved, not by giving new
information, but by arranging what we have always known.
Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intel
ligence by means of language.
Philosophical Investigations, 1953
In

th e

su m m e r

C a m b rid g e
a w a rd e d

as

o f
an

P h .D .

p rin t fo r sev en

1 9 2 9 ,

th e

y ears a n d

a ttra c te d

c o m m u n ity

m o n th s

A d v a n c e d
fo r

p h i l o s o p h i c a l c la s s ic . I n
q u ic k ly

s ix

th e

a fte r

S tu d e n t* ,

T r a c ta t u s , a
w a s a lre a d y

h e

re tu rn e d

W ittg e n s te in

w o rk

th a t

re g a rd e d

h ad
by

b een

m an y

to
w as
in
as a

1 9 3 0 , h e b e g a n to g iv e le c tu r e s , w h ic h
a tte n tio n

o f th e

e n tire

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

a fte r it b e c a m e k n o w n th a t, in th e m , W ittg e n s te in

w a s d e v e lo p in g a n e n tire ly n e w

w a y o f a p p ro a c h in g p h ilo s o p h i

cal p ro b le m s .
F ro m
trie d

th e e a rly

a g a in a n d

h is n e w

c o n s tru c t a b o o k

p h ilo s o p h ic a l o u d o o k to

c o m p le tin g
lite ra ry

1 9 3 0 s u n til h is d e a th in

a g a in to

th e jo b

e x e c u to rs to

to

1 9 5 1 , W ittg e n s te in
th a t w o u ld p re s e n t

th e w o rld . H e d ie d w ith o u t

h is s a tis fa c tio n , a n d

p u b lis h

it w a s le ft to

P h ilo s o p h ic a l I n v e s ti g a tio n

in

h is
th e

THE NEW PHILOSOPHY


in c o m p le te
m an y

o f

s ta te

th e

in

w h ic h

m a n u s c rip ts
N a c h la s s

W ittg e n s te in s

W ittg e n s te in
a n d

have

63
le ft

it.

ty p e s c rip ts

b e e n

S in c e

th a t

p u b lis h e d

th e n ,

c o n s titu te

as

w o r k s b y

W ittg e n s te in -

P h ilo s o p h ic a l R e m a r k s , P h ilo s o p h ic a l G r a m m a r , T h e

B lu e a n d B r o u m

B o o k s , R e m a r k s o n th e P h ilo s o p h y o f M a th e m a tic s ,

R em a rks
C o lo u r ,

on
e tc .

s o p h ic a l

th e

P h ilo s o p h y

T h o u g h

w ritin g s ,

a ll

o f P s y c h o lo g y ,

o f th e s e

it s h o u ld

b e

O n

c o n ta in

b o rn e

in

C e r ta in ty ,

im p o rta n t
m in d

O n

p h ilo

th a t n o n e

o f

t h e m , n o t e v e n P h ilo s o p h ic a l I n v e s tig a tio n s , c a n b e r e g a r d e d a s a


b o o k

b y W ittg e n s te in .

T h e

d iffic u ltie s

p re s e n te d

W ittg e n s te in

h is la te r p h ilo s o p h y

o f th a t p h ilo s o p h y . I n
h ad

s a id

c o u ld

b e

in

fin is h in g

a re c o n n e c te d

a b o o k

w ith

th e

th a t

n a tu re

T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h ilo s o p h ic u s , W i t t g e n s t e i n

th a t p h ilo s o p h y

th a t th e re

h ad

n o

w as

su ch

an

a c tiv ity

n o t

d o c trin e

an d

th in g s as p h ilo s o p h ic a l p ro p o s i

tio n s . N e v e r th e le s s , d e s p ite th is , h e p r o d u c e d a b o o k c o n s is tin g


fo r th e

m o s t p a rt in

in te n d e d

to

b e

s e n te n c e s th a t c e rta in ly

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

lo o k s lik e a d o c tr in e , a th e o r y
w o rk ,

W ittg e n s te in

th e o ry

a n d

b ecau se
to

w as

p u rs u in g

p ro p o s itio n s ,

m u ch

m o re

p h ilo s o p h y

rig o ro u s

as

an

W ittg e n s te in

h is n e w

s id e b y s id e w ith

H e

in c lu d e in

to

in

h e

h ad

p u b lis h e d

th a t, h e fe lt th a t h is n e w
re fe re n c e

to

e s c h e w in g
P re c is e ly

d iffic u lt fo r h im

h ad

w a n te d

g o t c lo s e to
to

p u b lis h

it

T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h ilo s o p h ic u s , b e c a u s e s o m a n y

o f th e re m a rk s h e w a n te d to
v ie w s

w h at

m e th o d .

th o u g h t h e

P h ilo s o p h ic a l I n v e s tig a tio n s .

in

a c tiv ity .

o f th a t, h o w e v e r, it w a s in s u p e ra b ly

A t se v e ra l tim e s

e s p o u s in g

a re

a b o u t lo g ic a l f o r m . I n h is la te r

c o n s tr u c t a b o o k th a t p re s e n te d

fin is h in g

lo o k a s i f t h e y

w o rk

th e

th is n e w

b o o k a llu d e d

T r a c ta tu s . B u t ,

m o re

c o u ld b e u n d e rs to o d

th a n

o n ly w i t h

h is e a r ly w o r k .

T h i s is p a r t l y

b ecau se

o f th e

g re a t d iffe re n c e s b e tw e e n

h is

e a r ly a n d la te r w o r k , b u t a ls o b e c a u s e o f th e e q u a lly i m p o r ta n t

64

THE NEW PHILOSOPHY

c o n tin u itie s b e tw e e n

th e

tw o . W ittg e n s te in

n e v e r re p u d ia te d

th e re m a rk s a b o u t p h ilo s o p h y q u o te d e a rlie r fr o m
R a th e r, h e

b eg an

to

u n d e rs ta n d

th e

b e tte r w h a t w as

T r a c ta tu s .

re q u ire d

in

o r d e r to d o ju s tic e to th e in s ig h ts th a t th o s e r e m a rk s e x p re s s e d ;
fo r e x a m p le , th a t th e r e c a n b e n o s u c h

th in g as a p h ilo s o p h ic a l

p r o p o s i t i o n , a n d t h a t p h i l o s o p h y w a s e n tir e ly d iffe r e n t t o s c i e n c e .
H e

b eg an

to

th in k

th e s e in s ig h ts w h e n
c is e ly

th e

a m o n g

th e s e

l o g i c a l
w h ic h

w as

h is

th e

in

d iffic u ltie s

th o u g h t,

lo g ic a l

c a m e to
h ad

to

h e lp e d b y c o n v e rs a tio n s w ith

b e

P h ilo s o p h ic a l In v e s tig a tio n s


says th a t h e

e c o n o m is t

th is

v e ry

th e

la rg e

th a t

s in g le
w o rld ,

D u rin g

h is

w re sd e d

R am se y

h ad

th a t th e v e ry

In

s ta te m e n t

is

th is , h e

to

S raffa.

h e

w ro te

S ra ffa

c lu e as to

c o n ta in e d

to ld h is f r ie n d N o r m a n

s to ry , W ittg e n s te in , s o o n

P ie ro

th a t

is i n d e b t e d

c o n s e q u e n tia l id e a s o f th is b o o k . A

W ittg e n s te in

re v e a l.

fo rm

th e

1 9 2 9 , as h e

ab an d o n ed .

w ith

b y

an d
in

w as

an d

C h ie f

w as

R a m s e y a n d , s till m o r e , b y c o n

v e rs a tio n s

W ittg e n s te in

Ita lia n

th e re

th e c o n c lu s io n

p re fa c e

to

th a t

p h ilo s o p h y .

la n g u a g e

C a m b rid g e

a b o u t

o f lo g ic a l f o r m

u n d e rs ta n d in g

T r a c ta tu s , h e h a d f a l l e n i n t o p r e

m ig h t u n c o v e r

b ack

th e

p ro p e rly

th a t c h a ra c te riz e

b y

ra is e d , h e fa irly q u ic k ly
n o tio n

n o t

p re s u p p o s itio n

p h ilo s o p h e r
m o n th s

in

h e w ro te

o f e rro rs

fo rm sh ared

firs t s ix
w ith

k in d

th a t,

In

in

f o r t h e

th e

1945,
m ost

w h a t h e m ean t
in

s to ry

th a t

M a lc o lm . A c c o rd in g to

a f te r h is r e tu r n

to

C a m b rid g e ,

w a s e x p la in in g h is id e a s to S ra ffa a n d w a s in s is d n g -

as h e h a d

in s is te d

w h ic h

in

d e s c rib e s
m ad e

T r a c ta tu s m u st

have

N e a p o lita n

th a t
th e

p ro p o s itio n

sam e

g e s tu re

l o g i c a l

o f b ru s h in g

f i n g e r t i p s , a s k i n g : W h a t i s t h e l o g i c a l f o r m
T h e

s to ry

p ro v id e s

g o o d

e x a m p le

a n d

fo rm * .
h is

th a t
T o

th is ,

c h in

it

S ra ffa

w ith

h is

o f th a t? *

o f th e

k in d

o f th in g

W ittg e n s te in m e a n s w h e n h e say s in th e p a ssa g e q u o te d a b o v e


th a t c e r ta in p r e c o n c e iv e d id e a s in

p h ilo s o p h y c a n o n ly b e g o t

THE NEW PHILOSOPHY

65

r i d o f b y t u r n i n g o u r w h o l e e x a m i n a t i o n r o u n d * . W e n e e d t o
lo o k

a t th e

p ro b le m s a fre sh , as it w e re fr o m

a d if f e r e n t a n g le .

I n f a c t , t h i s is a ll t h a t w e n e e d i n p h i l o s o p h y ; w e d o
a n ew
d o
a

d is c o v e ry , w e

n o t n eed a n ew
n e w

d o

n o t n e ed

a n ew

m e ta p h o r,

n e w

(a n d rid ic u le s ) as th e
lo g ic . H is n e w

e x p la n a tio n

t h e o r y ; w h a t w e n e e d is a n e w
p ic tu re .

w h a t h e

a n d

w e

p e rs p e c tiv e ,

W ittg e n s te in s

T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h ilo s o p h ic u s r e f l e c t e d

n o t n eed

h e re

s ty le

in

d e s c rib e s

r e q u ir e m e n t fo r th e c ry s ta llin e p u r ity

o f

s t y l e is v e r y d i f f e r e n t . G o n e is t h e i c y r i g o u r o f

n u m b e r e d p r o p o s itio n s th a t g iv e th e a p p e a r a n c e o f w a n tin g to
b e lo n g to

a m a th e m a tic a l d e m o n s tra tio n , a n d

in

m o r e c o llo q u ia l s ty le , fu ll o f in v e n tiv e s im ile s a n d

its p l a c e is a
m e ta p h o rs .

T h e c o n v ic tio n th a t p h ilo s o p h y o u g h t to b e w ritte n


p o e tic
n o t o n

c o m p o s itio n
s h o w in g th e

g e ttin g th e

is s till a t w o r k , o n l y

n o w

th e

o n ly as a

e m p h a s i s is

r e a d e r th in g s th a t c a n n o t b e s a id , b u t o n

re a d e r to

see th in g s a fre s h .

122. A main source of our failure to understand is that we


do not command a dear view of the use of our words.
Our grammar is lacking in this sort of perspicuity. A
perspicuous representation produces just that understand
ing which consists in seeing connections'. Hence the
importance of finding and inventing intermediate cases.
The concept of a perspicuous representation is of
fundamental significance for us. It earmarks the form
of account we give, the way we look at things. (Is this a
Weltanschauung7)
W h erea s,

p re v io u s ly ,

th e o r y , a l b e i t o n e
its e lf fro m

W ittg e n s te in

o f a v e ry

h ad

o ffe re d

p e c u lia r s o rt -

o n e

th e

read er

th a t d e s tro y e d

w ith in , th a t s a id o f its e lf th a t it w a s n o n s e n s e -

n o w

h e e s c h e w s th e o r y a n d e x p la n a tio n a lto g e th e r , p u ttin g in th e ir

THE NEW PHILOSOPHY

66

p l a c e d e s c r i p t i o n a n d w h a t h e c a l l s b e r s ic h t, u s u a l l y t r a n s l a t e d ,
a s a b o v e , a s p e r s p i c u o u s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n .
A s h e
m e n ta l

says h e re ,
s ig n ific a n c e

p ro d u c e s

th e

n e c t i o n s ,

w h ic h

c o n tra s t h e re

th e

by

tw o

b e tw e e n

fo r

h is

is ,

is w i t h

th e

p h ilo s o p h y .

w h ic h

c o n s is ts in

h as s o m e th in g

c o m m o n

T h e

w ith

b e s a id a n d w h a t c a n

it d o e s n o t a p p e a l to

o u g h t

b e r s ic h t

s e e in g
th e
to

o f u n d e rs ta n d in g

e x p la n a tio n .

in

A n

b e lie v e s ,

p h ilo s o p h e rs

k in d

o r an

w h a t can

b e r s ic h t w a s o f f u n d a

W ittg e n s te in

a fte r w h ic h

a th e o ry

o f an

la te r

u n d e r s t a n d i n g

u n d e rs ta n d in g

d u c e d

th is n o tio n

c o n

k in d

o f

seek. T h e
t h a t is p r o

c o n tra s t b e tw e e n
h is e a r lie r c o n tr a s t

o n ly b e s h o w n , o n ly

a n y th in g m y s tic a l. W h a t it a p p e a ls to

s o m e t h i n g t h a t is a t o n c e m o r e c o m m o n

is

a n d , in o u r in c re a s

i n g l y s c i e n t i s t i c s o c ie ty , le s s w e l l u n d e r s t o o d , n a m e l y t h e k i n d
o f u n d e rs ta n d in g

w e

have

p ie c e o f m u s ic , a p o e m

th e

p o e try

an d

fic tio n

th e

w ith

w o rk

th a t e s ta b lis h e d

th e

th e

an d

h ad

m e c h a n is m

o f o n e

o f h is lit

as o n e

o f th e

o f n a tu re , w h ic h

b io lo g y . T h e s e

N e w to n ia n

re p la c e w h a t h e c o n s id e re d to
w ith

d is c ip lin e

o f P la n ts

as th e ir m o tiv a tio n
o f

ic a l

o f w h a t it c o u ld

h im

M e ta m o r p h o s is

w a n te d to
s tu d y

by,

he

th e m a th e m a tic a l m e th o d s fa v o u re d

M e ta m o r p h o s is o f A n i m a l s d is g u s t

us

G o e th e , w h o , in a d d itio n

o f a m o r p h o lo g ic a l s t u d y

s tu d ie s

to

o f a rt.

c o n v e n tio n a l p h y s ic s , c h e m is tr y

p h o lo g ic a l

g iv e n

w rite rs , w ro te a n u m b e r o f w o rk s o u t

c o n s id e r e d t o b e a riv a l to
by

b e

b e r s ic h t a n d

W o lfg a n g v o n

g re a te s t e v e r G e rm a n
lin in g h is n o tio n

o f an

can

in flu e n c e d b y

e ra ry h e ro e s, J o h a n n
to

an d

o r a w o rk

W i t t g e n s t e i n s n o t i o n
a c h ie v e w a s h e a v ily

o f,

m o r

a n d

th e

G o e t h e s

s c ie n c e .

H e

b e a d ead , m ech an

th a t s o u g h t to

r e c o g n i z e

liv in g

f o r m s a s su c h , to s e e in c o n te x t th e ir v is ib le a n d ta n g ib le p a rts ,
to p e rc e iv e th e m
G o e th e

d id

w as

a s m a n ife s ta tio n s o f s o m e t h i n g w i t h i n . W h a t
to

s tu d y

p la n ts

an d

a n im a ls , n o t b y

lo o k in g

THE NEW PHILOSOPHY


fo r

m a th e m a tic a l

re g u la ritie s

th e

c o n n e c tio n s b e tw e e n

an d

o n e

causal

p la n t a n d

67
la w s ,

b u t

by

a n o th e r, o n e

s e e in g
a n im a l

a n d a n o th e r. A s th e c u ltu ra l h is to ria n O s w a ld S p e n g le r to o k

G o e th e s

s tu d y

n o tio n

o f h u m a n

o f m o rp h o lo g y

c u ltu re

an d

c ite d b y W ittg e n s te in as a n
th e

W e s t:

T h e

M a th e m a tic a l

m ean s
L aw .

a p p lie d

an d

m ean s

to

id e n tify

w h e re b y

it

w h o

in flu e n c e p u t it in

w h e re b y

T h e

a n d

c iv iliz a tio n

to

th e

w as

a ls o

T h e D e c lin e o f
d ead

to

w h o

fo rm s

id e n tify

is

liv in g

f o r m s is A n a l o g y .
W ittg e n s te in

to o k

a n d a p p lie d it to
ife s ta tio n

th is

n o tio n

fro m

G o e th e

la n g u a g e , s e e in g la n g u a g e n o w

o f th e

c r y s t a l l i n e

p u rity

an d

S p e n g le r

n o t as a m a n

o f lo g ic b u t

as

ric h

v a r i e t y o f liv in g f o r m s t h a t r e s i s t e d t h e a t t e m p t s b y l o g i c i a n s t o
im p o s e

u p o n

W ittg e n s te in

it

u n ita ry

lo g ic a l

fo rm .

W h a t

g iv e ,

o n c e s a i d i n a l e c t u r e , i s t h e m o r p h o l o g y o f t h e

u s e o f a n e x p r e s s i o n . E l s e w h e r e , h e w r o t e : O u r t h o u g h t h e r e
m a r c h e s w i t h c e r t a i n v i e w s o f G o e t h e s w h i c h
th e

h e e x p r e s s e d in

M e ta m o r p h o s is o f P la n ts . . . W e a r e c o l l a t i n g o n e

la n g u a g e

w ith

n a tio n

as to

so

its e n v i r o n m e n t ,
g a in

a v ie w

s tr u c tu r e o f o u r la n g u a g e

o r tra n s fo rm in g

o f th e

w h o le

it in

s p a c e in

fo rm

o f

im a g i

w h ic h

th e

h a s its b e i n g .

In c re a s in g ly , W ittg e n s te in th o u g h t o f h im s e lf a s p u r s u in g a
c a m p a ig n
In

a g a in s t th e

1938, h e

ganda

to ld

fo r o n e

h o n esd y

d o m in a n t c u ltu r a l tr e n d s in o u r s o c ie ty .

h is s t u d e n t s : I a m

s ty le

o f th in k in g

d i s g u s t e d 'w i t h

th e

o th e r.

w h a t I t h i n k . N e v e r t h e l e s s I m
d o

in

a se n se m a k in g p ro p a

as o p p o s e d
A ls o

to

I m

a n o th e r.
try in g

to

I am
s ta te

s a y i n g : F o r G o d s s a k e d o n t

t h i s .
D o n t

d o

w h a t?

T h e

s c ie n c e .

Im m e d ia te ly

s a id

h is

in

le c tu re :

an sw er

b e fo re
J e a n s

M y s te r io u s U n iv e r s e a n d

th e
has

seem s

to

ab o v e

re m a rk , W ittg e n s te in

w ritte n

b e:

d o n t

b o o k

w o rs h ip

c a lle d

T he

I lo a th e it a n d c a ll it m is le a d in g . T a k e

THE NEW PHILOSOPHY

68

t h e title . T h i s a lo n e I w o u ld c a ll m is le a d in g . . .
title

T h e M y s te r io u s

U n iv e r s e i n c l u d e s a k i n d

th e id o l b e in g S c ie n c e a n d
T h e

se a rc h

W ittg e n s te in

fo r

fo rg o tte n
P e o p l e
h e

b y

w as

w ro te

th e re

in

an d

lin k e d

th e o rie s

w ith

in

th is

p h ilo s o p h y ,

w o rs h ip

o f s c i

th e s u c c e ss o f s c ie n c e , p h ilo s o p h e r s h a d
w as

n o w a d a y s th in k

o n c e

th e m

th a t

t h e S c ie n tis t.*

e x p la n a tio n s

b e lie v e d ,

e n c e . In to x ic a te d

I m ig h t say th e

o f id o l w o rs h ip ,

a n o th e r

k in d

o f

u n d e rs ta n d in g .

th a t s c ie n tis ts e x is t to

in s tr u c t th e m ,

a n o t e b o o k , p o e t s , m u s i c i a n s , e t c . t o

g iv e

p l e a s u r e . T h e i d e a t h a t th e s e h a v e s o m e th in g to te a c h th e m

th a t d o e s n o t o c c u r to

th e m .

R u s s e l l , o f c o u r s e , w a s h o r r i f i e d b y t h i s a t t i t u d e . T h e l a t e r
W i t t g e n s t e i n , h e w r o t e , s e e m s t o h a v e g r o w n
th in k in g a n d

to

tire d o f s e rio u s

h a v e in v e n te d a d o c tr in e w h ic h

w o u ld

m ake

s u c h a n a c t i v i t y u n n e c e s s a r y . I f o n e t h i n k s t h a t s e r i o u s t h i n k
in g a n d

s c i e n c e a r e

p re c is e ly

rig h t.

th e

A n o th e r

sam e

w ay

th in g ,

o f lo o k in g

th e n
at

it,

th is

re m a rk

th o u g h ,

is

is t o

th in k th a t p h ilo s o p h e r s c a n o n ly p o s s ib ly th in k s e r io u s ly w h e n
th e y fre e th e m s e lv e s fr o m

a n y lin g e rin g b e lie f th a t th e ir s u b

j e c t is , o r c o u l d p o s s ib ly b e , a k i n d

o f s c ie n c e .

LANGUAGE GAMES

I shall in the future again and again draw your attention to


what I shall call language games. These are ways of using
signs simpler than those in which we use the signs of our
highly complicated everyday language. Language games
are the forms of language with which a child begins to
make use of words. The study of language games is the
study of primitive forms of language or primitive languages.
If we want to study the problems of truth and falsehood,
of the agreement and disagreement of propositioQS with
reality, of the nature of assertion, assumption, and ques
tion, we shall with great advantage look at primitive forms
of language in which these forms of thinking appear with
out the confusing background of highly complicated
processes of thought. When we look at such simple forms
of language the mental mist which seems to enshroud
our ordinary use of language disappears. We see activities,
reactions, which are clear-cut and transparent. On the other
hand we recognize in these simple processes forms of
language not separated by a break from our more compli
cated ones. We see that we can build up the complicated

70

LANGUAGE GAMES

forms from the primitive ones by gradually adding new


forms.
Now what makes it difficult for us to take this line of
investigation is our craving for generality.
This craving for generality is the resultant of a number
of tendencies connected with particular philosophical con
fusions. There is (a) The tendency to look for something in common to all
the entities which we commonly subsume under a general
term. We are inclined to think that there must be some
thing in common to all games, say, and that this common
property is the justification for applying the general term
'game' to the various games; whereas games form a family,
the members of which have family likenesses. Some of
them have the same nose, others the same eyebrows and
others again the same way of walking; and these likenesses
overlap.
ib) There is a tendency rooted in our usual forms of expres
sion to think that the man who has learned to understand
a general term, say, the term 'leaf*, has thereby come to
possess a kind of general picture of a leaf, as opposed to
pictures of particular leaves. He was shown different leaves
when he learned the meaning of the word leaf; and show
ing him the particular leaves was only a means to the end
of producing in him an idea which we imagine to be some
kind of general image. We say that he sees what is common
to all these leaves; and this is true if we mean that he can
on being asked tell us certain features or properties which
they have in common. But we are inclined to think that
the general idea of a leaf is something like a visual image,
but one which contains what is common to all leaves.
(Galtonian composite photograph.) This again is connected

71

LANGUAGE GAMES

with the idea that the meaning of a word is an image, or a


thing correlated to the word. (This roughly means, we are
looking at words as though they all were proper names, and
we then confuse the bearer of a name with the meaning of
the name.)
(c) Again the idea we have of what happens when we
get hold of the general idea 'leaf', plant, etc., etc., is
connected with the confusion between a mental state,
meaning a state of a hypothetical mental mechanism,
and a mental state meaning a state of consciousness
(toothache, etc.).
(d) Our craving for generality has another main 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 questions in the way
science does. This tendency is the real source of meta
physics, and leads the philosopher into complete darkness.
The Blue Book, pp. 17-18
In th e a c a d e m ic y e a r o f 1 9 3 3 - 3 4 , W ittg e n s te in s le c tu re s w e re
a ttra c tin g fa r m o r e s tu d e n ts ( b e tw e e n th ir ty a n d fo rty ) th a n
fe lt c o m f o r ta b le
w o u ld

d ic ta te

w o u ld

th e n

T h e

le c tu rin g

h is le c tu r e s

co p y

s e t o f n o te s

b ecam e k n o w n
c a tio n

in

an y

th e m
h e

to ,
to

an d

d ic ta te d

an d
a

so

h e

a n n o u n ce d

s m a ll g r o u p

d is trib u te
w as

th a t h e

o f s tu d e n ts

th e m

b o u n d

in

to
b lu e

th e

h e

w h o

o th e rs .

c o v ers

an d

a s T h e B l u e B o o k . A s i t w a s t h e f i r s t p u b l i
fo rm

o f

W ittg e n s te in s

n e w

m e th o d

o f

p h ilo s o p h y , it c re a te d g re a t in te re s t. F u r th e r c o p ie s w e re m a d e

72

LANGUAGE GAMES

a n d , w ith in

fe w

y e a rs, it w a s

b e in g

d is trib u te d

in

O x fo rd ,

L o n d o n a n d e v e n i n c o lle g e s i n t h e U n i t e d S ta te s . T h e B lu e B o o k
w a s th u s re s p o n s ib le f o r in tr o d u c in g in to p h ilo s o p h ic d is c o u rs e
th e

n o tio n

th a t,

fo r m an y ,

is

th e

key

to

W ittg e n s te in s

la te r

p h i l o s o p h y : t h e l a n g u a g e g a m e .
T h e re
th e

a re

m an y

p re v a le n t m is c o n c e p tio n s

m o s t w id e s p re a d

o f w h ic h

is t o

ta k e

o f th is

it to

b e

n o tio n , a k e y c o m p o n e n t o f a g e n e ra l th e o ry
s h o u ld

b e

c le a r fro m

th e

p re v io u s

e v e ry th in g W ittg e n s te in
tio n

c h a p te r

o f la n g u a g e .

(a n d

fro m

It

a lm o s t

w r o te a fte r 1 9 3 0 ) th a t th e c o n s tr u c

o f a g e n e r a l t h e o r y o f la n g u a g e w a s t h e v e r y la s t t h i n g h e

w a n te d to

a c h i e v e . N e v e r t h e l e s s , it is n o t u n c o m m o n

c o m m e n ta to rs

ta lk

a b o u t W i t t g e n s t e i n s t h e o r y

la n g u a g e

gam es

th e re w o u ld

b e

as

w h a t th e

th e

is la n d s

th o u g h t o f

o f d is c o u rs e -

is o la te d

n o tio n

fro m

th e

o th e rs .

s o m e tim e s

ta lk

as

o f a

la n g u a g e

g am e

E ven

w e ll-

i f W ittg e n s te in
in

o rd e r

to

say

o f u n d e rs ta n d in g th e

use

c o n s titu e n t p a rts o f a la n g u a g e w e re .

It s e e m s to
W ittg e n s te in
th e

each

c o m m e n ta to rs

in tro d u c e d

s e p a ra te

re a d

a la n g u a g e g a m e o f s c ie n c e , a la n g u a g e g a m e

o f re lig io n , e tc . in fo rm e d

e n tire ly

to

o f la n g u a g e

g a m e s . S o m e t i m e s i t is i m a g i n e d t h a t W i t t g e n s t e i n

in

n o tio n ,
th e o r e tic a l

m e

th a t th e b e s t w a y

m akes

c o n s tru c tio n

p ro d u c in g

t h e

o f la n g u a g e
o f an

k in d

g am es

b e r s ic h t, a n d

o f u n d e rs ta n d in g

is

to

see

th e re b y

th e ir

ro le

th e ir ro le

th a t c o n s is ts in

in

s e e in g

c o n n e c t i o n s .
In

T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h ilo s o p h ic u s , W i t t g e n s t e i n

h ad

s a id

th a t

p h ilo s o p h ic a l p r o b le m s a ris e b e c a u s e th e lo g ic o f o u r la n g u a g e
is m i s u n d e r s t o o d .

H is

c o rre c t a c c o u n t o f th e
c o lla p s e d ,
q u e s tio n
lo g ic

h e

b eg an

to

w h e th e r th e re

o f o u r la n g u a g e .

a tte m p te d
lo g ic
see

s o lu tio n

w as

to

p ro d u c e

o f o u r la n g u a g e . B u t w h e n
th in g s

c o m p le te ly

is s o m e t h i n g
In d e e d ,

h e

d iffe re n tly ,

th a t c o u ld

n o w

ta k e s h is

b e

c a lle d

o w n

th is
to
th e

e a rlie r

LANGUAGE GAMES
w o rk

as a p e rfe c t e x a m p le o f h o w

73

p h ilo s o p h e r s a re m is le d . F o r

n o t i c e t h a t w h a t h e s a y s a b o v e a b o u t t h e c r a v i n g f o r g e n e r a l
i ty a p p lie s
m u c h

as

to

to

th e

an y

a u th o r

o th e r

o f

T r a c ta tu s

p h ilo s o p h e r.

L o g ic o - P h i lo s o p h ie s

W h e n ,

in

th e

T r a c ta tu s ,

W i t t g e n s t e i n h a d a t t e m p t e d t o a n a l y s e t h e g e n e r a l f o r m
p r o p o s i t i o n , h e h a d f a lle n v i c t i m
s o m e th in g in c o m m o n

H is
k eep

th a t w as c o m m o n

p ro p o se d

re m e d y

to

F o r

e x a m p le ,

c o rre la te d
nam es
n am e

n am es

th a t th e re

w ith

an d

(b )

a p e rso n
th e

k in d s

o f c o n fu s io n s

a re

m e a n in g fu l in

th e ir

o r

p e rso n

is n o t i t s e l f o r h e r s e l f t h e

n o t

d ie . T o

say

m e a n in g

o r o b je c t, b u t

th in g

k in d

is

is

th e sa m e w ay.
th ro u g h

th e

m e a n in g o f t h e

to

a s: n o t a ll

b e in g

(a ) n o t a ll w o r d s

th a t

R u s s e ll d ie d , th e

th is

m ust be a

a ll p r o p o s i t i o n s .

th e s e

a c q u ire

f o r e x a m p le , B e r tra n d
d id

to

w e c o m m o n ly

r e m in d in g th e p h ilo s o p h e r o f triv ia litie s , s u c h

m e a n in g fu l u se s o f la n g u a g e

o f th e

t o t h e t e n d e n c y t o l o o k f o r

t o a ll t h e e n t i t i e s w h i c h

s u b s u m e u n d e r a g e n e r a l t e r m , t h i n k i n g
s in g le f o r m

as

a re

b ea rer o f t h e
nam e. W h en ,

m e a n in g o f h is n a m e

o f th in g , W ittg e n s te in

b e lie v e s

( s u r e ly r i g h d y ) , is n o t t o a d v a n c e a th e o r y ; i t is j u s t t o p o i n t o u t
s o m e t h i n g t h a t is o b v i o u s l y t r u e b u t w h i c h
th e g rip , as h e o r s h e
tio n ,

is o f t e n

W ittg e n s te in

lia b le

to

fo rg e t.

w r o t e : A

its m e a n i n g , a n d

th e p h ilo s o p h e r , in

is , o f a p a r t i c u l a r p i c t u r e o r p r e s u p p o s i

n am e

In

th e

T r a c ta tu s , f o r

m ean s an

o b je c t. T h e

h e a ls o p u t f o r w a r d th e

e x a m p le ,
o b j e c t is

id e a th a t a n

a to m ic

p r o p o s i t i o n c o n t a i n e d n o t h i n g b u t n a m e s , t h a t a ll t h e w o r d s o f
w h ic h

i t is c o m p o s e d

o f c o u rse ,

n o t a ll w o r d s
u n a s s a ila b ly
c h o se to
T h e

a re th e re p re s e n ta tiv e s o f o b je c ts . N o w ,

W ittg e n s te in

k n e w

th a t,

w ere n a m e s , b u t , in

tru e

s o lu tio n

to

th e

in

th e

p u rs u in g
p ro b le m s

o rd in a ry

sense,

h is d e f in itiv e
o f p h ilo s o p h y ,

an d
h e

ig n o re th is o b v io u s tr u th .
w ay

th a t

W ittg e n s te in

p h ilo s o p h ic a l c o n fu s io n s

b e ars

n o w
so m e

p ro p o se s

to

c le a r

u p

s im ila ritie s

to

F re u d ia n

74

LANGUAGE GAMES

p s y c h o a n a ly s is

( T h e

p h i l o s o p h e r s t r e a t m e n t o f a p r o b l e m

lik e a d o c t o r s tr e a tm e n t o f a n
m e n ts
ta s te

in
o f

m o st

W ittg e n s te in
th e r a p y . I n
a tte n tio n
an d

i l l n e s s ) . T h e r e

W i t t g e n s t e i n s l a t e r w o r k ,
p ro fe s s io n a l

h is c o n v e r s a tio n s a n d
th e

F re u d s

a n a lo g y

In

fo r th e

m o st

cases,

le c tu re s , W ittg e n s te in

b e tw e e n

p s y c h o lo g ic a l

e n o u g h

a r g u m e n t, b u t r a t h e r a k i n d

d o e s n o t o ffe r a n

to

a re s o m e a rg u

b u t n o t

p h ilo s o p h e rs .

is

h is

m e th o d s ,

o f

d re w

p h ilo s o p h ic a l m e th o d
ev en

to

th e

e x te n t

o f

d e s c r i b i n g h i m s e l f a s a d i s c i p l e o f F r e u d . H o w e v e r , h e h a d n o
s y m p a th y

w h a te v e r

fo r

F r e u d s

a c h ie v e m e n t, a c c o rd in g to
o f p s y c h o lo g y .

F o r

re a liz e th a t F r e u d
tio n s

fo r,

e .g .,

in g

to

n o t g iv e n

d re a m s

at

o u rs e lv e s

w as
an d

it

w as

n e u ro se s.

n ew

th e

o f

a b s o lu te ly

h is

s c ie n c e

v ita l

to

u s a s e t o f s c ie n tific e x p la n a
H is

th a t, f o r w h a t F r e u d

W ittg e n s te in ,

lo o k in g

an d

c o n c e p tio n

h e h a d c re a te d a n e w

W ittg e n s te in ,

h ad

m u c h g re a te r th a n

o w n

w h ic h

a c h ie v e m e n t

h a d g iv e n

m y th o lo g y ,

p e o p le

a ro u n d

w as

us, a c c o rd

n e w

us,

w ay
w ay

o f

th a t

a llo w e d u s to s e e c o n n e c tio n s b e tw e e n th in g s th a t w e h a d n o t
seen

b e fo re .

A n d

th is is w h a t W i t t g e n s t e i n

m e th o d
m ig h t

o f in v e n tin g

p la y

p h ilo s o p h e r
th e o ry

u sefu l
to

la n g u a g e
ro le

in

th e

a c k n o w le d g e

is j u s t a c o n f u s i o n

h o p e d
g am es.

to

a c h ie v e

H e

h o p e d

t h e r a p y r e q u i r e d

th a t

b u ilt u p o n

h is

o r

h e r

w ith
th a t
to

th e
th e y

g et

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

a m is c o n c e p tio n . A

g u a g e g a m e is a ( u s u a l l y f i c t i t i o u s ) p r i m i t i v e f o r m

la n

o f la n g u a g e

in w h ic h o n e p a rtic u la r a s p e c t o f o u r o rd in a ry la n g u a g e -

say ,

th e ro le o f n a m e s -

th e

c o m p lic a te d
id e a

is h i g h l i g h t e d b y b e i n g s e p a r a t e d f r o m

c o n te x ts

is t h a t w e

w ill b e

in

w h ic h

a b le

to

i t is u s u a l l y
s e e

th e

em b ed d ed .

t h i s s i m p l i f i e d c a s e a n d l a n g u a g e a s i t is u s e d i n
T a k e , fo r e x a m p le , th e
v e ry

firs t p a r a g r a p h

la n g u a g e

T h e

c o n n e c tio n b e tw e e n

g am e

r e a l life .

th a t a p p e a rs in

o f P h ilo s o p h ic a l I n v e s tig a tio n s :

th e

LANGUAGE GAMES

75

Now think of the following use of language: I send someone


shopping. I give him a slip marked 'five red apples'. He
takes the slip to the shopkeeper, who opens the drawer
marked 'apples; then he looks up the word 'red' in a table
and finds a colour sample opposite it; then he says the
series of cardinal numbers - I assume that he knows them
by heart - up to the word five and for each number he
takes an apple of the same colour as the sample out of the
drawer. It is in this and similar ways that one operates
with words.
T h e

m o s t n a tu ra l re a c tio n

to

t h i s la s t s e n t e n c e is t o

i t i s n t ! W h o e v e r h e a r d o f a s h o p k e e p e r w h o
in

a d ra w e r? A n d

to

a c o lo u r c h a r t in

w h e n

have y o u

o rd e r to

s a y : N o ,

k e e p s h is a p p le s

ev er seen so m eb o d y appeal

d e c id e

w h a t is a n d

w h a t is n o t

re (R A d m i t t e d l y , s o m e p e o p l e d o s a y o u t l o u d o n e , t w o , t h r e e ,
fo u r, fiv e

w h e n

c o u n tin g

fiv e

th in g ? , b u t th e

c a s e is j u s t t o t a k e f iv e t h i n g ? , p u t t h e m
to
has

th e

h e re

is d e f i n i t e l y

n o rm a l

in a b a g a n d h a n d th e m

c u s to m e r , w ith o u t s a y in g a n y th in g .

d e s c rib e d

m o re

n o t th e

W h a t W ittg e n s te in

w ay

w e

o p e ra te

w ith

in v e n te d

la n

w o rd s!
C le a rly ,

W ittg e n s te in

d o es

n o t

in te n d

th is

g u a g e g a m e to

m i r r o r r e a l i t y i n a ll its c o m p l e x i t y , b u t n e i t h e r

w o u ld h e c la im

t o h a v e p r e s e n t e d a n y a s p e c t o f l a n g u a g e i n i t s

e s s e n c e (in th e

w ay , f o r e x a m p le , th a t h e c la im e d in

T r a c ta tu s

L o g i c o - P h i l o s o p h i c u s t o h a v e p r e s e n t e d t h e e s s e n c e o f t h e p r o p o s i
tio n ).

N o ,

s c e n a rio

th is

fic titio u s ,

is d e s i g n e d t o

in

so m e

w ays

u tte rly

u n re a lis tic ,

p r e s e n t so m e a s p e c ts o f o u r la n g u a g e in

a w a y t h a t is m o r e p r i m i t i v e t h a n

th a t in

w h ic h

o u r e v e r y d a y liv e s . A n d t h e p o i n t o f t h a t is t o

th e y a p p e a r in

e n a b le u s to se e

m o r e c le a rly th a n w e w o u ld o th e r w is e d o s o m e fe a tu re s o f o u r
la n g u a g e

th a t w e

m ig h t o th e rw is e

o v e rlo o k .

F o r, th o u g h

th e

76

LANGUAGE GAMES

scene

p la y e d

o u t

h e re

th a t m ig h t a c tu a lly
sh o p
s e e

w o u ld

h ap p en

n ev er b e

in

m is ta k e n

re a l life w h e n

fo r a

a m an

scene

g o e s to

t o b u y f iv e r e d a p p l e s , n e v e r t h e l e s s i t is q u i t e p o s s i b l e t o
th e

th e y

c o n n e c tio n s b e tw e e n

a re u s e d h e re a n d

th e

w o rd s

as th e y a re u s e d in

f i v e

re d

a p p le s as

o r d i n a r y life .

W i t t g e n s t e i n s p o i n t i n t h e a b o v e e x a m p l e i s t o d r a w
tio n

to

a tte n

w h a t p h ilo s o p h e r s c u s to m a r ily p a ss o v e r: n a m e ly , th e

d iffe r e n c e s i n

th e

W ittg e n s te in

w ays w e

d id

fu n d a m e n ta lly

in

th e

u se

w o rd s.

A n y o n e

w h o

c o u ld ,

as

T r a c ta tu s , r e g a r d a l l n a m e s a s o p e r a t i n g i n
sam e

w ay,

has

c le a rly

n o t

c o n s id e re d

th e

d iffe re n c e s b e tw e e n : a) th e n a m e s o f n u m b e r s , b ) th e n a m e s o f
c o lo u rs a n d c) th e n a m e s o f o b je c ts . E v e ry w o r d in th e p h ra s e
f iv e

re d

k in d
th e

a p p l e s is a

o f n am e

n am e, b u t h o w

is b r o u g h t o u t i n

c h a ra c te rs

in

th e

W ittg e n s te in s

d iffe re n d y

w e

p r i m i t i v e w a y

im a g in e d

la n g u a g e

use
in

each

w h ic h

g am e

go

a b o u t th e ir b u s in e s s .
T h e

sh o p k e e p e r

a p p l e s . T h i s
c o u ld

h e

c o lo u rs in
w o rd

seem s

k eep

k eep s
ab su rd ,

n u m b e rs

in

a d ra w e r m a rk e d

r e d i n

W ittg e n s te in

h is

a p p le s

b u t
a

i t is ,

d ra w e r

m a rk e d

a f t e r a l l , p o s s ib le . B u t ,

d ra w e r m a rk e d

c o l o u r s ? T h e n

a ta b le . I f th is s e e m s
w rite s in

in

n u m b e r s ? O r
h e

lo o k s u p

th e

rid ic u lo u s , c o n s id e r w h a t

T h e B lu e B o o k :

There is one way of avoiding at least partly the occult


appearance of the processes of thinking, and it is to replace
in these processes any working of the imagination by acts of
looking at real objects. Thus it may seem essential that, at
least in certain cases, when I hear the word red with under
standing, a red image should be before my mind's eye. But
why should I not substitute seeing a red bit of paper for
imagining a red patch? The visual image will only be more
vivid. Imagine a man always carrying a sheet of paper in his

LANGUAGE GAMES

77

pocket in which the names of colours are co-ordinated with


coloured patches.
In

o th e r w o rd s, w h e n

in

ta b le , h e

m an y
in

th e s h o p k e e p e r lo o k s u p

is d o i n g

s o m e th in g

p h ilo s o p h e rs a n d

s tric d y

t h e w o r d r e d

a n a lo g o u s

p s y c h o lo g is ts h a v e

c la im e d

to

w e

w h at
a ll d o

o u r m i n d s . O u r u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e w o r d r e d , i t is o f t e n

c la im e d ,

re q u ire s

us

im a g in a tio n , w h ic h
w e a s s o c i a t e w i t h
h o w

to
w e

have

u se to

k in d

o f c o lo u r

c o m p a re

ch art

as, if n o t b e tte r th a n , o n e

A s fo r th e
p o in t h e re
m e a n in g
T h e

o u r

t h e w o r d . W e l l , s a y s W i t t g e n s t e i n , i f t h a t is

w e u se th e w o r d , th e n s u re ly a c o lo u r c h a r t in

is a s g o o d

in

w h a t w e se e to w h a t

in

o u r m in d s .

s h o p k e e p e r c o u n tin g o u t th e

is t h a t t h e

w o rd

it does h a v e , th e
u sed ,

o u r h an d

n u m b e r s , w e ll th e

f i v e r e q u i r e s , f o r i t t o

e n tire
an d

s y s te m

w o rd

is

n o t

s o m e th in g

in

a d ra w e r o r fo r s o m e th in g

c a n n o t

have

th e

o f c a rd in a l n u m b e rs .

b e

u sed ,
o n

as

la b e l

fo r

a c h a rt; fo r it to

h a v e th e m e a n in g it h a s, th e a c tiv ity o f c o u n tin g h a s to b e p re


su p p o sed .

c o m m u n ity

c o m m u n ity
w h ic h

is t o

in

w h ic h

say, n o

W ittg e n s te in

w o rd

n o b o d y

c o u ld

f i v e w o u l d

c o u n t is a

have

n o

use,

in tr o d u c e s th e la n g u a g e g a m e d is c u s s e d a b o v e

a fte r

C o n fe s s io n s i n

w h ic h

firs t in

th e

w h ic h

m e a n in g .

im m e d ia te ly

speak

in

q u o tin g

A u g u s tin e

h is m o t h e r to n g u e .
L a tin ), th e

In

p assag e

fro m

d e s c rib e s

E n g lis h

h o w

S t

A u g u s t i n e s

h e

(W ittg e n s te in

le a rn e d

to

q u o te s it

p a s s a g e is a s f o ll o w s :

When they (my elders) named some object, and accord


ingly moved towards something, I saw this and I grasped
that the thing was called by the sound they uttered when
they meant to point it out. Their intention was shown by
their bodily movements, as it were the natural language of

78

LANGUAGE GAMES

all peoples: the expression of the face, the play of the eyes,
the movement of other parts of the body, and the tone of
voice which expresses our state of mind in seeking, having,
rejecting, or avoiding something. Thus, as I heard words
repeatedly used in their proper places in various sentences,
I gradually learned to understand what objects they signi
fied; and after I had trained my mouth to form these signs,
I used them to express my own desires.
I t is s o m e t i m e s s a i d

th a t W ittg e n s te in s p o in t in

q u o tin g

th is

p a s s a g e a t t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e in v e s tig a tio n s is t o a r t i c u l a t e t h e
th e o ry
h e

o f la n g u a g e t h a t f o r m s th e ta r g e t o f h is w o r k , a th e o r y

w ill

sh o w

to

C o n fe s s io n s is

n o t

b e
a

fa ls e .

T h is ,

th e o re tic a l

th in k ,

w o rk

is

q u ite

w ro n g .

o f p h ilo s o p h y ,

it

is a n

a u to b io g ra p h y ; a n d A u g u s tin e s p u rp o s e in th e p a ssa g e q u o te d
a b o v e is n o t t o
h e le a rn e d

to

H o w e v e r,
id e a l
a im

th e o riz e

a b o u t l a n g u a g e , i t is t o

p re c is e ly

s ta rtin g

p o in t

b eca u se o f th is ,

fo r

v ie w s

w o rk

p assag e

th e o rie s

c o n fu s io n s

a re
at

fa ls e ;
th e ir

is n o t

it

to

is , r a t h e r ,

so u rce.

fo rm s

In v e s tig a tio n s .
a rg u e

th e o rie s o f o th e r p h ilo s o p h e rs , to

an d

p h ic a l

th e

P h ilo s o p h ic a l

o f W ittg e n s te in s la te r

v ie w s a n d

d e s c rib e h o w

speak.

A t

th a t th e s e

a tta c k

tim e

th e
th e

a g a in s t t h e

sh o w

to

th e

F o r

o f

p h ilo s o
w ritin g

T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h i l o s o p h i c u s , W i t t g e n s t e i n h a d b e l i e v e d t h a t t o
b eco m e

in v o lv e d

in

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

d e b a te

(a s

R u s s e ll

had

b e c o m e in v o lv e d in th e d e b a te w ith B ra d le y a b o u t w h e th e r o r
n o t r e l a t i o n s e x i s t ) is a l r e a d y
th e o rie s a re

n o n s e n s e ; th e

le m s

c le a r th e

w as

th a t h a d

to

g iv e n

W ittg e n s te in
th o u g h

n o w

ris e

to

to

h a v e lo s t. A ll p h ilo s o p h ic a l

w ay to

c o n fu s io n s

s o lv e p h ilo s o p h ic a l p r o b
a b o u t lo g ic

th e m . A n a lo g o u s ly , in

t r e a t s a ll p h i l o s o p h i c a l d o c t r i n e s

a n d

la n g u a g e

h is la te r w o r k ,
as c o n fu s io n s ,

h e th in k s th e c o n fu s io n h a s a ris e n b e c a u s e , as h e

LANGUAGE GAMES
p u t s i t , a p i c t u r e

h e ld

79

u s c a p t i v e . H i s ta s k

th a t p ic tu re . B e c a u s e th e p ic tu re th a t h e ld
g a v e ris e to th e p h ilo s o p h ic a l p ro b le m

d eep

fre e

u s fro m

u s c a p tiv e a n d

th a t

is a s s u m e d i n e v e r y t h i n g

w e say, it c a n n o t u s u a lly b e d is lo d g e d b y
w e re , to o

is t o

a r g u m e n t . I t is , a s it

f o r t h a t . W h a t is r e q u i r e d

to

fre e u s fro m

th e

p i c t u r e t h a t h o l d s u s c a p t i v e is a n e n r i c h e d im a g in a tio n , a n d t h i s
can n o t b e

g iv e n

to

u s th ro u g h

a r g u m e n t, it m u s t b e a c q u ire d

t h r o u g h , a s i t w e r e , t h e r a p y . W i t t g e n s t e i n s l a t e r w o r k , t h e n , is
a im e d a t th e p re -p h ilo s o p h ic a l, ra th e r th a n

th e p h ilo s o p h ic a l,

le v e l.

fa c u ltie s ,

It

a d d re sse s,

n o t

o u r

a rg u m e n ta tiv e

b u t

o u r

im a g in a tio n .
b y

c o m m e n ta to rs ,

W ittg e n s te in c o u ld h a rd ly h a v e d o n e m o r e to

T h o u g h

m a k e it c le a r. I t

is

th is

s p e lle d

o u t

p o in t

in

is o f t e n

th e

v e ry

o v e rlo o k e d

th e

b o o k .

Im m e d ia te ly a fte r q u o tin g S t A u g u s tin e , W ittg e n s te in

firs t

s e n te n c e s

o f

w rite s :

These words, it seems to me, give us a particular picture of


the essence of human language. It is this: the individual
words in language name objects - sentences are combina
tions of such names. In this picture of language we find
the roots of the following idea: Every word has a meaning.
The meaning is correlated with the word. It is the object for
which the word stands, [my italics]
W h y
and

d o e s W ittg e n s te in
th e

d is tin g u is h

id e a ? B e c a u s e , I th in k , h e

h e re
w a n ts

b e tw e e n
to

th e

g e t a t th e

p ic tu re
ro o t o f

th e d iffic u lty . T o a r g u e a g a in s t th e id e a , w h ile le a v in g th e p ic


t u r e i n p l a c e , w o u l d b e a w a s t e o f t i m e . W h a t is r e q u i r e d is t o
re p la c e o n e
In

th e

p ic tu re w ith

sec o n d

W ittg e n s te in
im a g in e s

a n o th e r.

p a ra g ra p h

o f

P h ilo s o p h ic a l

I n v e s tig a tio n s ,

o ffe rs a n o th e r la n g u a g e g a m e , o n e , h e say s, th a t
la n g u a g e

fo r

w h ic h

th e

d e s c rip tio n

g iv e n

by

LANGUAGE GAMES

80

A u g u s t i n e i s r i g h t . I . e . , i t i s a l a n g u a g e t h a t c o n s i s t s e n t i r e l y o f
n o u n s:

The language is meant to serve for communication between


a builder A and an assistant B. A is building with buildingstones: there are blocks, pillars, slabs and beams. B has to
pass the stones, and that in the order in which A needs
them. For this purpose they use a language consisting of
the words block, pillar, slab, beam. A calls them
out; - B brings the stone which he has learned to bring at
such-and-such a call. Conceive this as a complete prim
itive language.
A

fe w

e x p a n s io n

p a r a g r a p h s la te r, W ittg e n s te in
to

ask s u s to

im a g in e a n

th is la n g u a g e :

Besides the four words block, pillar, etc., let it contain a


series of words used as the shopkeeper in (1) used the
numerals (it can be the series of letters of the alphabet);
further, let there be two words, which may as well be there
and 'this' (because this roughly indicates their purpose),
that are used in connection with a pointing gesture; and
finally a number of colour samples. A gives an order like:
d-slab there. At the same time he shews the assistant a
colour sample, and when he says there he points to a
place on the building site. From the stock of slabs B takes
one for each letter of the alphabet up to d, of the same
colour as the sample, and brings them to the place indi
cated by A. On other occasions A gives the order
this-there. At this he points to a building stone. And
so on.

LANGUAGE GAMES
N o w , W i t t g e n s t e i n a s k s , w h a t d o

81

th e w o r d s o f th is la n g u a g e

s ig n ify ? ' H e a n s w e r s : W h a t is s u p p o s e d t o s h e w
n ify , i f n o t t h e
d e s c rib e d
in s is te d

k in d

o f u se

th e y

th a t. I f w e w e r e

th a t

th e re

have?

A n d

n o t h a p p y w ith

m u st b e

m o re

to

th e

w h a t th e y s ig

w e

s to n e , so

th a t, ju s t as th e

b s i g n i f i e d

w o rd

a lre a d y

th is a n s w e r, i f w e

s ig n ific a tio n

w o rd s th a n th e w a y s in w h ic h th e y a re u s e d , th e n
fo r e x a m p le ,

have

w e c o u ld s a y ,

s l a b s i g n i f i e d

p a rtic u la r n u m b e r:

o f th e

k in d

o f

B u t a s s i m i l a t i n g

th e d e s c rip tio n s o f th e u se s o f w o rd s in th is w a y c a n n o t m a k e
th e u se s th e m s e lv e s a n y m o r e lik e o n e a n o th e r . F o r, as w e se e ,
th e y

a re a b s o lu te ly

In

T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o - P h i l o s o p h i e s , W i t t g e n s t e i n h a d i n v e s t i g a t e d

one fo rm
H is

u n lik e .

o f l a n g u a g e : t h e a s s e r t o r i e s e n t e n c e , o r p r o p o s i t i o n .

d e fe n c e

q u e s tio n s
tio n s , s o

o f th is

an d

th a t a

(e .g ., f r o m

w as

to

co m m an d s,
c o m m o n

say
can
c o re

th a t
b e

o th e r

fo rm s

re g a rd e d

to

a ll

o f la n g u a g e ,

as m o d ifie d

th re e

can

b e

a sse r

id e n tifie d

T h e d o o r i s s h u t , w e c a n d e r i v e I s t h e d o o r s h u t ?

a n d S h u t t h e d o o r ! ) . T h u s , b y i n v e s t i g a t i n g t h e l o g i c a l f o r m
p ro p o s itio n s ,

w e

th e

o f o u r w h o le

s tru c tu re

can

le g itim a te ly

c la im

la n g u a g e .

la n g u a g e g a m e , W ittg e n s te in n o w

to

U s in g

b e

o f

in v e s tig a tin g

th e

e x p o s e s th is v ie w

n o tio n

o f a

to a m e rc i

le s s a t ta c k :

But how many kinds of sentence are there? Say assertion,


question, and command? There are countless kinds:
countless different kinds of use of what we call symbols,
words, sentences. And this multiplicity is not something
fixed, given once for all; but new types of language, new
language games, as we may say, come into existence, and
others become obsolete and get forgotten. (We can get a
rough picture of this from the changes in mathematics.)
Here the term 'language game' is meant to bring into

82

LANGUAGE GAMES

prominence the fact that the speaking oi language is part


of an activity, or of a form of life.
Review the multiplicity of language games in the fol
lowing examples, and in others:
Giving orders, and obeying them
Describing the appearance of an object, or giving its
measurements
Constructing an object from a description (a drawing)
Reporting an event
Speculating about an event
Forming and testing a hypothesis
Presenting the results of an experiment in tables and
diagrams-^
Making up a story; and reading it
Play-acting
Singing catches
Guessing riddles
Making a joke; telling it
Solving a problem in practical arithmetic
Translating from one language into another
Asking, thanking, cursing, greeting, praying.
It is interesting to compare the multiplicity of the tools in
language and of the ways they are used, the multiplicity of
kinds of word and sentence, with what logicians have said
about the structure of language. (Including the author of
the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.)

CAN THERE BE A PRIVATE LANGUAGE?

243. A human being can encourage himself, give himself


orders, obey, blame and punish himself; he can ask himself
a question and answer it. We could even imagine human
beings who spoke only in monologue; who accompanied
their activities by talking to themselves. An explorer who
watched them and listened to their talk might succeed in
translating their language into ours. (This would enable
him to predict these peoples actions correctly, for he also
hears them making resolutions and decisions.)
But could we also imagine a language in which a person
could write down or give vocal expression to his inner expe
riences - his feelings, moods, and the rest - for his private
use? Well, can't we do so in our ordinary language?
But that is not what I mean. The individual words of this
language are to refer to what can only be known to the
person speaking; to his immediate private sensations. So
another person cannot understand the language.
244. How do words refer to sensations? There doesnt
seem to be any problem here; dont we talk about sensa
tions every day, and give them names? But how is the

84

CAN THERE BE A PRIVATE LANGUAGE?

connection between the name and the things named set


up? This question is the same as: how does a human being
learn the meaning of the names of sensations? - of the
word pain for example. Here is one possibility: words are
connected with the primitive, the natural, expressions of
the sensation and used in their place. A child has hurt him
self and he cries; and then adults talk to him and teach
him exclamations and, later, sentences. They teach the
child new pain-behaviour.
'So you are saying that the word "pain" really means
crying?' On the contrary: the verbal expression of pain
replaces crying and does not describe it.
245. For how can I go so far as to try to use language to get
between pain and its expression?
246. In what sense are my sensations private? Well, only
I can know whether I am really in pain; another person can
only surmise it. In one way this is wrong, and in another
nonsense. If we are using the word 'to know' as it is nor
mally used (and how else are we to use it?), then other
people very often know when I am in pain. Yes. but all
the same not with the certainty with which I know it
myself! It cant be said of me at all (except perhaps as a
joke) that I know I am in pain. What is it supposed to
mean - except perhaps that I am in pain?
Other people cannot be said to learn of my sensations
only from my behaviour - for / cannot be said to learn of
them. I have them.
The truth is: it makes sense to say about other people that
they doubt whether I am in pain; but not to say it about
myself.
247. 'Only you can know if you had that intention. One
might tell someone this when one was explaining the

CAN THERE BE A PRIVATE LANGUAGE?

meaning of the word 'intention' to him. For then it means:


that is how we use it.
(And here know means that the expression of uncer
tainty is senseless.)
248. The proposition 'Sensations are private is compara
ble to: One plays patience by oneself.
258. Let us imagine the following case. I want to keep a
diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation. To this
end I associate it with the sign 'S and write this sign in a
calendar for every day on which I have the sensation. I
will remark first of all that a definition of the sign cannot be
formulated. But still I can give myself a kind of ostensive
definition. How? Can I point to the sensation? Not in the
ordinary sense. But I speak, or write the sign down, and at
the same time I concentrate my attention on the sensation and so, as it were, point to it inwardly. But what is this
ceremony for? For that is all it seems to be! A definition
surely serves to establish the meaning of a sign. Well,
that is done precisely by the concentration of my attention;
for in this way I impress on myself the connection between
the sign and the sensation. But I impress it on myself
can only mean: this process brings it about that I remember
the connection right in the future. But in the present case
I have no criterion of correctness. One would like to say:
whatever is going to seem right to me is right. And that only
means that here we cant talk about right.
265. Let us imagine a table (something like a dictionary) that
exists only in our imagination. A dictionary can be used to
justify the translation of word X by a word Y. But are we also
to call it a justification if such a table is to be looked up only

85

86

CAN THERE BE A PRIVATE LANGUAGE?

in the imagination? Well, yes; then it is a subjective justi


fication. But justification consists in appealing to
something independent. 'But surely I can appeal from one
memory to another. For example, I dont know if I have
remembered the time of departure of a train right and to
check it I call to mind how a page of the timetable looked.
Isnt it the same here? No, for this process has got to pro
duce a memory which is actually correct. If the mental image
of the timetable could not itself be tested for correctness,
how could it confirm the correctness of the first memory? (As
if someone were to buy several copies of the morning paper
to assure himself that what it said was true.)
Looking up a table in the imagination is no more looking
up a table than the image of the result of an imagined
experiment is the result of an experiment.
293. If I say of myself that it is only from my own case that
I know what the word pain means - must I not say the
same of other people too? And how can I generalize the one
case so irresponsibly?
Now someone tells me that he knows what pain is only
from his own case! Suppose everyone had a box with
something in it: we call it a beetle. No one can look into
anyone else's box, and everyone says he knows what a
beetle is only by looking at his beetle. Here it would be
quite possible for everyone to have something different in
his box. One might even imagine such a thing constantly
changing. But suppose the word beetle had a use in
these people's language? If so it would not be used as
the name of a thing. The thing in the box has no place in
the language game at all; not even as a something: for the
box might even be empty. No, one can divide through'

CAN THERE BE A PRIVATE LANGUAGE?

87

by the thing in the box; it cancels out, whatever it is.


That is to say: if we construe the grammar of the expres
sion of sensation on the model of object and designation
the object drops out of consideration as irrelevant:
307. Are you not really a behaviourist in disguise? Arent
you at bottom really saying that everything except human
behaviour is a fiction? If I do speak of a fiction, then it
is of a grammatical fiction.
Philosophical Investigations, 1953
T h e

P r i v a t e L a n g u a g e A r g u m e n t h a s b e c o m e t h e b e s t k n o w n

a n d t h e m o s t c e l e b r a t e d s e c t i o n o f P h ilo s o p h ic a l I n v e s tig a tio n s . S o


im p re s s e d
re g a rd

its

a re

so m e

p riv a te la n g u a g e to

p h ilo s o p h e rs

c o n c lu s io n

th a t

as th e

th e re

by

th is

can

b e

a rg u m e n t
n o

such

th a t

th e y

th in g

as a

n e a re st th in g p h ilo s o p h y h a s e v e r h a d

a r e s u l t ( i n t h e s e n s e i n w h i c h a p r o v e n t h e o r e m

in lo g ic o r

m a t h e m a t i c s i s a r e s u l t ) .
H o w e v e r , t h e r e is s o m e c o n t r o v e r s y a b o u t w h a t t h e P r iv a t e
L a n g u a g e A r g u m e n t is , w h i c h s e c t i o n s o f t h e b o o k c o n t a i n i t ,
an d

w h a t,

b o d y

exacdy,

a g re e s

w h e re

it

i t is d e s i g n e d

th a t th e

en d s,

to

e s ta b lis h .

a rg u m e n t b e g in s a t p a ra g ra p h

n o b o d y

seem s

q u ite

su re .

T h e

a g re e , th e re
A m e ric a n

is s o m e a r b i t r a r i n e s s i n

243, b u t

P a ra g ra p h

o f te n g iv e n a s its f in a l p a r a g r a p h , b u t , a s 1 a m
w o u ld

A lm o s t e v e ry

315

is

s u re m o s t p e o p l

th is c h o ic e .

p h ilo s o p h e r S a u l K rip k e re g a rd s th e s e c tio n

2 4 3 - 3 1 5 , n o t a s t h e P r i v a t e L a n g u a g e A r g u m e n t i t s e l f , b u t a s
an

e la b o ra tio n

c o n ta in e d in

o f it.

T h e

a rg u m e n t

its e lf,

K rip k e

th in k s ,

is

p a r a g r a p h 2 0 2 : A n d h e n c e a l s o o b e y i n g a r u l e

is a p r a c t i c e . A n d t o

th in k o n e is o b e y i n g a r u l e is n o t t o o b e y a

r u l e . H e n c e i t i s n o t p o s s i b l e t o o b e y a r u l e p r i v a t e l y : o t h e r
w is e th in k in g o n e

w a s o b e y in g a r u le w o u ld b e th e s a m e th in g

88

CAN THERE BE A PRIVATE LANGUAGE?

a s o b e y i n g it. W h a t is a p p e a l i n g a b o u t t h i s p a r a g r a p h , n o t o n l y
to K rip k e b u t to

m a n y o t h e r p h i l o s o p h e r s a s w e l l , is t h a t i t is ,

a t l e a s t , i d e n t i f i a b l e a s a n a r g u m e n t, w h e r e a s m o s t o f t h e s e c t i o n
t h a t i s m o r e c o n v e n t i o n a l l y r e g a r d e d a s t h e P r i v a t e L a n g u a g e
A rg u m e n t d o e s

n o t

seem

to

c e n tre

o n

an

a rg u m e n t

at

a ll;

ra th e r, it s e e m s to b e a m ix e d b a g o f b a ld a s s e rtio n s , m e ta p h o r s ,
w r y jo k e s a n d e x e rc is e s o f th e im a g in a tio n .
If w e a re h a p p y to
w h e n

it

m e n t -

is

c a ll a s e c tio n

m a n ife s d y

t h a t is , t h e

p re m is e s

a lle g e d a r g u m e n t s e e m
re g a rd as th e
S o m e

h o ld

W e s te rn

p h ilo s o p h y

ra te d

D e s c a rte s

In d e e d ,
w a s to

an d

n o rm a lly

ev en

th e

s tr a n g e ly e lu s iv e -

th a t

its

fro m
to

p o in tin g

ta rg e t

th e

th e

W ittg e n s te in s

have u n d o n e

O th e rs ,

o f th e b o o k

is

an

a r g u m e n t

c a lle d

an

c o n c lu s io n

a rg u
o f th is

th e n w h a t a re w e to

ta r g e t o f t h e s e c t i o n b e g i n n i n g a t p a r a g r a p h 2 4 3 ?

p e o p le

by

not w h a t

is

e a rly

m id d le

th e

e n tire

m o d e rn
o f th e

tra d itio n

o f

p e rio d

in a u g u

tw e n tie th

c e n tu ry .

g re a te s t a c h ie v e m e n t,

i t is o f t e n

s a id ,

3 0 0 y e a rs o f C a rte s ia n is m .
o u t

th a t

W ittg e n s te in

n e v er

re a d

D e s c a r te s a n d h a d a f r a n k ly d is m is s iv e a ttitu d e to w a r d s th e h is
to ry

o f h is s u b je c t, h o ld

B e rtra n d

th a t h is ta r g e t w a s n o n e

p riv a te la n g u a g e ? T h e q u e s tio n
in

p h ilo s o p h y . A n d

y e t, in

w e

a rg u in g

w o u ld

b e

R u s s e ll
o n e

h is

1918

th a t

t h a t w a s v e r y

is h a r d l y o n e t h a t l o o m s l a r g e

p h ilo s o p h ic a l d e b a te a t a n y tim e

fin d

o th e r th a n

R u s s e l l . F o r , w h o e v e r t h o u g h t t h a t t h e r e c o u ld b e

in

th e

h is to ry

o f W e s te rn

L e c tu r e s o n L o g ic a l A t o m i s m ,
l o g i c a l l y

la rg e ly

p e rfe c t

p riv a te

to

R u s s e l l s a r g u m e n t f o r t h i s s t r a n g e c o n c l u s i o n

o n e

la n g u a g e
s p e a k e r .

g o e s lik e th is :

A moment ago I was speaking about the great advantages


that we derive from the logical imperfections of language,
from the fact that our words are all ambiguous. I propose
now to consider what sort of language a logically perfect

CAN THERE BE A PRIVATE LANGUAGE?

language would be. In a logically perfect language the


words in a proposition would correspond one by one with
the components of the corresponding fact, with the excep
tion of such words as 'or', not, if, then, which have a
different function. In a logically perfect language, there
will be one word and no more for every simple object, and
everything that is not simple will be expressed by a combi
nation of words, by a combination derived, of course, from
the words for the simple things that enter in, one word for
each simple component. A language of that sort will be
completely analytic, and will show at a glance the logical
structure of the facts asserted or denied. The language
which is set forth in Principia Mathematica is intended to
be a language of that sort. It is a language which has only
syntax and no vocabulary whatsoever. Barring the omission
of a vocabulary I maintain that it is quite a nice language.
It aims at being the sort of language that, if you add a
vocabulary, would be a logically perfect language. Actual
languages are not logically perfect in this sense, and they
cannot possibly be, if they are to serve the purposes of
daily life. A logically perfect language, if it could be con
structed, would not only be intolerably prolix, but, as
regards its vocabulary, would be very largely private to one
speaker. That is to say, all the names that it would use
would be private to that speaker and could not enter into
the language of another speaker. It could not use proper
names for Socrates or Piccadilly or Rumania for the rea
sons I went into earlier in the lecture [that all of these
things are complex, not simple, and therefore in need of
analysis into their constituent parts]. Altogether you would
find that it would be a very inconvenient language indeed.
Russell, Logic and Knowledge

90

CAN THERE BE A PRIVATE LANGUAGE?

Is th is w h a t W i t t g e n s t e i n h a d i n m i n d w h e n h e c o n s i d e r e d t h e
p o s s i b i l i t y o r o t h e r w i s e o f a p r i v a t e l a n g u a g e ? I t h i n k R u s s e l l s
p a s s a g e i s u s e f u l t o a n y o n e w a n t i n g t o u n d e r s t a n d t h e P r i v a t e
L anguage
a c tu a lly

A rg u m e n t in

e n te rta in in g

th a t

th e

it

sh o w s

n o tio n

th a t a

th a t w a s in to le ra b ly p ro lix , n o
v e ry

in c o n v e n ie n t)

m ig h t

m a jo r

p h ilo s o p h e r

la n g u a g e

(a lb e it o n e

u s e f o r d a ily life a n d a lto g e th e r

b e

p riv a te

to

s in g le

sp e a k e r.

H o w e v e r , R u s s e l l s g r o u n d s f o r s a y i n g t h a t t h i s l o g i c a l l y p e r
fe c t la n g u a g e w o u ld b e

p riv a te a re so id io s y n c ra tic

th a t th e y

a re p e rh a p s p e c u lia r to h im . T o a c c e p t th e s e g ro u n d s w o u ld b e
to

accep t

b ra n d

b o th

R u s s e l l s

o f s o lip s is tic

lo g ic a l

e m p iric is m .

a to m is m
T h e

and

a to m is m

h is

p a rtic u la r

is r e q u i r e d

to

m o t i v a t e t h e h u n t f o r t h i n g s t h a t a r e s i m p l e i n t h e s e n s e t h a t
th e y

a re

n o t

a n d

c a n n o t

b e

c o n s tru c te d

s m a lle r, a n d th e s o lip s is tic e m p ir ic is m


v ie w
O n e

th a t

th o s e

s i m p l e s c o u l d

fu rth e r n e e d s

b ecau se
w o rd s

o n ly

in

th e n

p riv a te

by

w o u ld

la n g u a g e

o n ly

fo r

p riv a te

o n e

in s is t th a t th e
to

b e

th e

s e n s e -d a ta .
o f m e a n in g ,

m e a n in g s o f th e

th in g s

to

w h ic h

th e

re fe r.

w o u ld

re m a rk s

in d e e d

p e rfe c t la n g u a g e . T h e

K rip k e ,

b e

h ad

o f W i t t g e n s t e i n s

l o g i c a l l y

o f a n y th in g

a d o p t a re fe re n tia l th e o r y

o n e s l a n g u a g e

w o rd s o f la n g u a g e
S o m e

to

o u t

is r e q u i r e d t o d e f e n d t h e

e x a m p le ,

w o u ld

o n

b e

th e

p o s s ib ility
to

R u s s e l l s

a rg u m e n t at 2 0 2

d is c u s s e d

b e

a p p lic a b le

o f a

e n o u g h

to

scu p p er

th e

id e a th a t th e r u le s o f th is la n g u a g e c o u ld b e f o llo w e d p riv a te ly .
T h e

s o m e w h a t s im ila r c o n s id e ra tio n s

258

c o n c e rn in g

p a ra g ra p h

2 6 5

th e
in

c o n n e c tio n

t e s t i n g o n e s m e m o r y
w o u ld s e e m
i n t o l e r a b l y
h e re n t.

to

im a g in e d

sh o w

w o u ld

can

b e

w ith

o u tlin e d
an d

th e

th o s e

in

p a ra g ra p h

d is c u s s e d

im a g in a ry

v e r y

n o

ta b le

in
fo r

a ls o b e a p p o s ite . T o g e th e r , th e y

th a t w h a t R u s s e ll p u r p o r ts to

p ro lix a n d

T h e re

d ia ry

su ch

i n c o n v e n i e n t is , i n
th in g

as th e

b e m e re ly
fa c t, in c o

p riv a te

la n g u a g e

CAN THERE BE A PRIVATE LANGUAGE?

91

im a g in e d b y R u s s e ll, b e c a u s e th e o n ly c rite ria fo r th e c o rre c t


o r

in c o rre c t

p riv a te

uses

c rite ria .

d e m o n s tra te s

o f th e
A n d ,

w ith

w o rd s

as

o f th is

la n g u a g e

W ittg e n s te in

b r illia n t a n a lo g ie s

a rg u e s

in

th e

g ra p h s m e n tio n e d , p riv a te c rite ria a re n o

w o u ld

in

b e

2 0 2

o th e r tw o

an d
p a ra

c r i t e r i a a t a ll.

I t i s h a r d t o b e l i e v e , h o w e v e r , t h a t t h e t a r g e t o f W i t t g e n s t e i n s
re m a rk s

in

th e

s e c tio n

2 4 3 -3 1 5

R u s s e l l s

d e e p ly

id io s y n c ra tic

lo g ic a lly

p e rfe c t

la n g u a g e .

W ittg e n s te in ,

in d e e d

it

at

su ch

le n g th

w o u ld

w o u ld

in

an

th e

v ie w s

It

ru n

c o n c e p tio n o f w h a t h e w as u p to
en g ag e

is

fa irly

a b o u t
b e

s m a ll

th e

o n e

n a tu re

o f

o f a

u n c h a ra c te ris tic

c o u n te r

to

h is

o f

e n tire

in h is la te r w o r k , f o r h im

a rg u m e n t

a g a in s t t h e

to

v ie w s

o f

a n o th r p h ilo s o p h e r.
M y o w n v ie w

is t h a t i t is b e s t t o f o r g e t t h a t t h e s e s e c t i o n s o f

P h ilo s o p h ic a l I n v e s tig a tio n s -

w h ic h

c o n ta in

so m e

o f th e

m ost

in n o v a tiv e m e ta p h o r s a n d s o m e o f th e m o s t in s p ire d w r itin g o f


th e e n tire b o o k -

a re s u p p o s e d to

c o n s titu te a s in g le s u s ta in e d

a r g u m e n t. T h e y q u ite c le a rly d o n o t. R a t h e r th e y a re a tte m p ts


to a p p ro a c h

fro m

tio n s

p riv a te ,

a b o u t

a v a rie ty o f d iffe re n t a n g le s v a rio u s a s s u m p


i n n e r e x p e r i e n c e

th a t

a re

c u s to m a rily

m a d e b y p r o f e s s io n a l p h ilo s o p h e r s a n d o r d i n a r y p e o p le a lik e .
F o r e x a m p l e , i t is n o t a t a ll u n u s u a l , e v e n
p h y s e m in a r ro o m s , to
k n o w

w h e th e r

I am

o u ts id e p h ilo s o

h e a r p e o p l e s a y t h i n g s lik e o n l y

re a lly

in

p a in ; a n o th e r p e rs o n

can

1 can
o n ly

s u r m i s e i t ( s e e p a r a g r a p h 2 4 6 , q u o t e d a b o v e ) . T o s a y t h i s is t o
f o r g e t t h e t r i v i a l i t y o f w h i c h W i t t g e n s t e i n r e m i n d s u s : I f w e
a re

u s in g

h o w

w o rd

e ls e a re w e t o

w h e n
w ith

th e

I am
w h ic h

sh o w n

to

k n o w

it

is

n o rm a lly

used

(a n d

u s e it? ) t h e n o t h e r p e o p l e v e r y o f te n k n o w

in p a in . I f w e th e n
w e

as

k n o w

o u r

o w n

th a t w h a t p ro m p ts su c h

g ra m m a tic a l re m a rk

an d

s t a r t t a l k i n g a b o u t t h e c e r ta in ty
p a in ,

ta lk

th e n

w e

is a c o n f u s i o n

a m a te ria l o n e .

O n e

n eed

to

b e

b e tw e e n

p la y s p a tie n c e

92

CAN THERE BE A PRIVATE LANGUAGE?

b y o n e s e l f is a g r a m m a tic a l r e m a r k . I w e n t t o
saw

th e film

used

to

b y m y s e l F is a m a te r ia l r e m a r k . T h e f i r s t m i g h t b e

e x p la in

S im ila rly

th e c in e m a a n d

to

so m eb o d y

th e s e n te n c e

w h a t k in d

o f g am e

p a tie n c e

is .

S e n s a t i o n s a r e p r i v a t e i s a g r a m m a t i

c a l re m a rk ; it say s w h a t k in d

o f th in g s s e n s a tio n s a re , it d o e s

n o t , e . g . , r e p o r t a p o s s i b l e d is c o v e r y a b o u t s e n s a t i o n s .
T h e re

is a

te n d e n c y

an d ,

a g a in , lik e

th e

p i c t u r e

o f th e

e s s e n c e o f h u m a n l a n g u a g e d i s c e r n i b l e i n A u g u s t i n e s d e s c r i p
tio n

o f h o w

te n d e n c y

h e

le a rn e d

ra th e r th a n

t h e p r i v a t e is s o m e h o w

to

s p e a k , t h i s is a p r e - p h i l o s o p h i c a l

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

o p in io n -

lo g ic a lly p r io r to

th e

to

th in k

th a t

p u b l i c . I k n o w

w h a t / s e e , t h i n k , f e e l , e t c . , i t i s c o m m o n t o b e l i e v e , b u t I h a v e
to

in fe r w h a t y o u

e tc . O n e
is t o
o rity

sh o w

o r an y b o d y

e ls e is s e e i n g , t h i n k i n g , f e e l i n g ,

o f W i t t g e n s t e i n s a i m s
th e in c o h e re n c e

o f th e

p riv a te

f a m o u s b e e t l e

in

an d

th e

in

P h ilo s o p h ic a l In v e s tig a tio n s

o f th is p ic tu r e

th e

p u b lic .

T h is

b o x o f p a ra g ra p h

o f th e
is t h e

2 9 3

re la tiv e p r i
p o in t o f th e

(q u o te d

ab o v e).

T h e t h i n g ( t h e b e e d e , o r w h a t e v e r ) t o w h i c h o n ly I h a v e a c c e s s
cannot b e th e m e a n in g -

o r even

th e re fe re n c e -

o f w o rd s th a t

h a v e a p u b l i c u s e . A n d , a s w o r d s l i k e b e l i e f , d e s i r e , i n t e n d o n ,
t h o u g h t , e t c .
n e ith e r

th e ir

u n d e n ia b ly
re fe re n c e

have

n o r

th e ir

p u b lic

use,

m e a n in g

it

can

fo llo w s

th a t

p o s s ib ly

be

s o m e t h i n g e s s e n tia lly p riv a te .


A s W ittg e n s te in

a n tic ip a te d

(se e 3 0 7

a b o v e ), h e w as in te r

p r e te d as a b e h a v io u ris t, as s o m e o n e w h o b e lie v e d th a t w e h a d
to

a c c e p t th a t w h a t w e

io u r

c h a ra c te ris tic

p a ra g ra p h

3 0 4

h e

m e a n t b y p a in

o f so m eo n e
trie d

to

in

p u ll

w a s s im p ly th e b e h a v

p a in
th e

and

ru g

n o th in g

fro m

e ls e .

u n d e r

e g re g io u s m is u n d e rs ta n d in g :

'But you will surely admit that there is a difference


between pain-behaviour accompanied by pain and pain-

In

th is

CAN THERE BE A PRIVATE LANGUAGE?

93

behaviour without any pain? Admit it? What greater dif


ference could there be? And yet you again and again
reach the conclusion that the sensation itself is a nothing.'
Not t all. It is not a something, but not a nothing either!
The conclusion was only that a nothing would serve just as
well as a something about which nothing could be said. We
have only rejected the grammar which tries to force itself
on us here.
The paradox disappears only if we make a radical break
with the idea that language always functions in one way,
always serves the same purpose: to convey thoughts which may be about houses, pains, good and evil, or any
thing else you please.
T h e

m is ta k e

W ittg e n s te in

h im s e lf m a d e

in

T r a c ta tu s

L o g ic o -

P h ilo s o p h ic u s a n d t h e m i s t a k e A u g u s t i n e m a d e i n C o n fe s s io n s is
th e

m is ta k e

io u ris m
d e s ire s ,

w e

w ith
e tc .

a ll m a k e
so m e

a re

n o t

w h e n

n o th in g .

th e y

a re n o t id e n tic a l w ith

th e y

th in g s , a n d

th a t w e

th e o n ly

a re c o m m itte d

th in k s th a t to

ev ery

w e

s u g g e s tio n

to

N o ,

o f

w a n t to
th e

th e y

a fa u lty v ie w

b e g in s

th is m is u n d e r s ta n d in g a b o u t th e
n o t th e

k in d

n o t

re a so n w e w a n t th e m

m e a n in g fu l w o rd

la te r p h ilo s o p h y

a re

th a t

b eh av

th o u g h ts ,

n o th in g ,

and

b e h a v io u r e ith e r. B u t n e ith e r a re

s o m e o b je c t. P h ilo s o p h ic a l I n v e s tig a tio n s e n tire

c o u n te r

so rt

an d

to

b e t h i n g s is

o f la n g u a g e , o n e
th e re

th a t

m u st c o rre sp o n d

in d e e d , W ittg e n s te in s
en d s

w ith

an

a tta c k

o n

n a t u r e o f l a n g u a g e . B u t i t is

o f m is ta k e th a t c a n b e

d is p e n s e d w ith

o n ce

and

f o r a ll w i t h a s i n g le a r g u m e n t , b e c a u s e i t r e a p p e a r s i n d i f f e r e n t
c o n te x ts u n d e r d if f e r e n t g u is e s , w h ic h
tiv e ly b e o p p o s e d w ith

a d o c tr in e .

is w h y i t c a n n o t e f f e c

READING WITTGENSTEIN IN THE RIGHT SPIRIT

This book is written for those who are in sympathy with the
spirit in which it is written. This is not, I believe, the spirit
of the main current of European and American civilization.
The spirit of this civilization makes itself manifest in the
industry, architecture and music of our time, in its fas
cism and socialism, and it is alien and uncongenial to the
author. This is not a value judgment. It is not, it is true, as
though he accepted what nowadays passes for architecture
as architecture or did not approach what is called modern
music with the greatest suspicion (though without under
standing its language), but still, the disappearance of the
arts does not justify judging disparagingly the human
beings who make up this civilization. For in times like
these, genuine strong characters simply leave the arts aside
and turn to other things and somehow the worth of the
individual man finds expression. Not, to be sure, in the way
it would at a time of high culture. A culture is like a big
organization which assigns each of its members a place
where he can work in the spirit of the whole; and it is per
fectly fair for his power to be measured by the contribution

READING WITTGENSTEIN IN THE RIGHT SPIRIT

95

he succeeds in making to the whole enterprise. In an


age without culture on the other hand forces become
fragmented and the power of an individual man is used up
in overcoming opposing forces and frictional resistances; it
does not show in the distance he travels but perhaps only
in the heat he generates in overcoming friction. But energy
is still energy and even if the spectacle which our age
affords us is not the formation of a great cultural work,
with the best men contributing to the same great end, so
much as the unimpressive spectacle of a crowd whose
best members work for purely private ends, still we must
not forget that the spectacle is not what matters.
I realize then that the disappearance of a culture does
not signify the disappearance of human value, but simply
of certain means of expressing this value, yet the fact
remains that I have no sympathy for the current of
European civilization and do not understand its goals, if it
has any. So I am really writing for friends who are scattered
throughout the corners of the globe.
It is all one to me whether or not the typical western sci
entist understands or appreciates my work, since he will '
not in any case understand the spirit in which I write. Our
civilization is characterized by the word progress. Progress
is its form rather than making progress being one of its fea
tures. Typically it constructs. It is occupied with building
an ever more complicated structure. And even clarity is
sought only as a means to this end, not as an end in itself.
For me on the contrary clarity, perspicuity are valuable in
themselves.
I am not interested in constructing a building, so much
as in having a perspicuous view of the foundations of pos
sible buildings.

READING WITTGENSTEIN IN THE RIGHT SPIRIT

96

So, I am not aiming at the same target as the scientists


and my way of thinking is different from theirs.
Early draft of the Foreword to P h i l o s o p h i c a l R e m a r k s , 1930
R e a d i n g t h e l a t e r W i t t g e n s t e i n a s a b e h a v i o u r i s t is a n a l o g o u s t o
re a d in g

th e

e a rly

W ittg e n s te in

as a L o g ic a l P o s itiv is t.

In

b o th

c a s e s , i t is a m i s t a k e t h a t c o u l d n o t p o s s i b l y b e m a d e b y a n y b o d y
w h o k n ew
he

w as.

W ittg e n s te in o r w h o u n d e rs to o d w h a t k in d o f m a n

A n d , ju s t

as P a u l E n g e lm a n n

d e c id e d

to

p u b lis h

h is

c o rre s p o n d e n c e w ith W ittg e n s te in in o r d e r to c o u n te ra c t w h a t


h e k n ew

w e re fu n d a m e n ta l m is c o n c e p tio n s a b o u t th e

T r a c ta tu s ,

so W ittg e n s te in s C a m b rid g e frie n d , M a u r ic e D ru ry , d e c id e d to


p u b lis h

n o te s

1930s an d

o f h is

1 9 4 0 s in

w e l l - m e a n i n g

c o n v e rs a tio n s

o rd e r to

w ith

n o w

o f th e

c o r r e c t th e e ffe c t o f , a s h e p u t it,

c o m m e n ta to rs w h o

w ritin g s w e re

W ittg e n s te in

m a k e

e a s ily a s s im ila b le

in to

it a p p e a r

th e

v e ry

th a t

h is

in te lle c tu a l

m i l i e u t h e y w e r e la r g e ly a w a r n i n g a g a in s t* .
D r u r y s c o n v e r s a t i o n s w i t h

W ittg e n s te in

a re in v a lu a b le fo r

s h o w i n g w h a t r e a lly i n t e r e s t e d h i m . T h e y a b o u n d w i t h r e f l e c
tio n s

o n

e th ic s ,

re lig io n

an d

c u ltu re

an d

sh o w

h o w

d e e p ly

o p p o s e d W ittg e n s te in w a s to th e w o rs h ip o f s c ie n c e c h a r a c te r
is tic

o f o u r

a b sen t
m u c h

fro m

age.

W ittg e n s te in

c la s s ic a l a g e . A
an

o c c a s io n

v e ry

T h e y

sh o w

w h a t

v e n e ra te d

th e

W ittg e n s te in

W h e n

is a l m o s t

p h ilo s o p h ic a l
g re a t

ty p ic a l e p is o d e r e c o u n te d

w h e n

d is tre s s e d .

W ittg e n s te in

a ls o

W i t t g e n s t e i n s

D ru ry

cam e

ask ed

e n tire ly

w ritin g s

c o m p o se rs
b y D ru ry

to

w h a t

see
w as

h o w
o f th e

c o n c e rn s

h im
th e

lo o k in g
m a tte r,

re p lie d :

I was walking about in Cambridge and passed a bookshop


and in the window were portraits of Russell, Freud and
Einstein. A little further on, in a music shop, I saw portraits

97

READING WITTGENSTEIN IN THE RIGHT SPIRIT

of Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin. Comparing these por


traits I felt intensely the terrible degeneration that had come
over the human spirit in the course of only a hundred years.
W ittg e n s te in

w o rrie d

d e e p ly

th a t w h a t h e

cared

m o st ab o u t

h a d f o u n d n o d ir e c t e x p r e s s io n in h is p h ilo s o p h ic a l w r itin g , s o
le a v in g h im

o p e n

to

b e in g fu n d a m e n ta lly

m i s u n d e r s t o o d . I t

is i m p o s s i b l e f o r m e t o s a y o n e w o r d i n m y b o o k
m u s ic
can

h a s m e a n t in

I h o p e

to

m y

U fe , h e o n c e

to ld

a b o u t a ll t h a t

D r u r y . H o w

b e u n d e rs to o d ?

T h i s is w h y h e w r o t e t h e k i n d o f p r e f a c e q u o t e d
try

to

h o w

c o m m u n ic a te
im p o rta n t

n o t th e

sam e

th e

it w a s

as th e

s p ir it i n

to

h im

w h ic h

th a t

s p irit w h ic h

O n

th e

o th e r

in v o lv e d

h an d ,
in

h e

w as

h e

w ro te

a b o v e : to
an d

th a t s p irit n o t

in fo rm s

c iv iliz a tio n , b u t w a s a c tu a lly o p p o sed to

p a ra d o x

th e n

a w a re

m o d e rn

to

o n ly

say
w as

W e s te rn

it.
o f a

c e rta in

k in d

o f

th is :

Telling someone something he does not understand is


pointless, even if you add that he will not understand it.
(That so often happens with someone you love.) 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 the
outside!
The honourable thing to do is to put a lock on the door
which will be noticed only by those who can open it, not by
the rest.
B u t , h e

ad d ed ,

n o th in g to

i t s p r o p e r t o

d o w ith

say

th a t I th in k

th e

b o o k

has

th e p ro g re s s iv e c iv iliz a tio n o f E u r o p e a n d

98

READING WITTGENSTEIN IN THE RIGHT SPIRIT

A m e r ic a . A n d t h a t w h ile its s p ir it m a y b e p o s s ib le o n ly i n th e
s u rro u n d in g s

o f th is

c iv iliz a tio n ,

th e y

have

d iffe re n t

o b je c

tiv e s .
T h a t W ittg e n s te in w a s r ig h t to b e c o n c e r n e d th a t th e s p irit
in w h ic h
even

h e w r o t e w a s u n d e r s t o o d is a t t e s t e d b y t h e f a c t t h a t ,

now ,

a fte r

th e

p u b lic a tio n

o f E n g e lm a n n s m e m o ir,

o f

D r u r y s c o n v e r s a t i o n s a n d o f W i t t g e n s t e i n s v a r i o u s d r a f t s o f a
p re fa c e
b e in g
h e ld ,

to

P h ilo s o p h ic a l R e m a r k s , p h i l o s o p h i c a l v i e w s

a ttrib u te d
g iv e n

h is

to

h im

g e n eral

p u t it, p a rt o f th e m ilie u

th a t

(a )

h e

c o u ld

W e lta n s c h a u u n g a n d
a g a in s t w h ic h

a re

n o t p o s s ib ly

s till
have

(b ) a re , as D r u r y

h is w o r k

is a w a r n i n g .

UNDERSTANDING OTHERS, UNDERSTANDING


OURSELVES: IMPONDERABLE EVIDENCE

Is there such a thing as expert judgment' about the gen


uineness of expressions of feeling? Even here there are
those whose judgment is better and those whose judg
ment is worse*.
Correcter prognoses will generally issue from the judg
ments of those with better knowledge of mankind.
Can one learn this knowledge? Yes; some can. Not.
however, by taking a course in it, but through *experience
Can someone else be a mans teacher in this? Certainly. From
time to time he gives him the right tip. This is what 'learn
ing' and 'teaching' are like here. What one acquires here is
not a technique; one learns correct judgments. There are
also rules, but they do not form a system, and only experi
enced people can apply them right. Unlike calculating-rules.
What is most difficult here is to put this indefiniteness,
correctly and unfalsified, into words . . .
It is certainly possible to be convinced by evidence
that someone is in such-and-such a state of mind, that, for
instance, he is not pretending. But evidence here includes
imponderable evidence.

100

UNDERSTANDING OTHERS

The question is: what does imponderable evidence


accomplish?
Suppose there were imponderable evidence for the
chemical (internal) structure of a substance, still it would
have to prove itself to be evidence by certain consequences
which can be weighed.
(Imponderable evidence might convince someone that a
picture was a genuine . . . But it is possible for this to be
proved right by documentary evidence as well.)
Imponderable evidence includes subtleties of glance,
of gesture, of tone.
I may recognize a genuine loving look, distinguish it
from a pretended one (and here there can, of course, be a
'ponderable confirmation of my judgment). But I may be
quite incapable of describing the difference. And this is
not because the languages I know have no words for it. For
why not introduce new words? If I were a very talented
painter I might conceivably represent the genuine and the
simulated glance in pictures.
Ask yourself: How does a man learn to get a nose for
something? And how can this nose be used?
Philosophical Investigations, Part II
W h a t is n o w
re m a rk s o n
s m a ll

P a r t I I o f P h ilo s o p h ic a l I n v e s tig a tio n s is a c o l l e c t i o n o f


th e p h ilo s o p h y o f p s y c h o lo g y th a t re p re s e n ts a v e ry

s e le c tio n

fro m

th e

m a n u s c rip ts

o n

th e

s u b je c t

th a t

W i t t g e n s t e i n w r o t e i n t h e la s t f e w y e a r s o f h is lif e . T h e s e m a n u
s c rip ts h a v e n o w

b e e n p u b l i s h e d a s R e m a r k s o n th e P h ilo s o p h y o j

P s y c h o lo g y a n d L a s t W r itin g s o n th e P h ilo s o p h y o f P s y c h o lo g y . T h e y
a re e x tr a o r d in a r ily in te re s tin g , n o t le a s t f o r th e lig h t th e y th r o w
o n

th e

s u g g e s tiv e

r e m a r k s a b o u t i m p o n d e r a b l e

a p p e a r a t t h e e n d o f P h ilo s o p h ic a l I n v e s tig a tio n s .

e v id e n c e th a t

UNDERSTANDING OTHERS
I

h av e

e m p h a s iz e d

th e m e s in
in te g rity

th a t

h is la te r w o r k
o f a

o n e

is t h e

W i t t g e n s t e i n s

im p o rta n c e

n o n - s c ie n tific f o r m

o f u n d e rs ta n d in g

o f

101
c e n tra l

o f p re s e rv in g th e

o f u n d e rs ta n d in g , th e

c h a ra c te ris tic

o f th e

a rts

a n d

th e

k in d

k in d

o f

u n d e rs ta n d in g th a t G o e th e , S p e n g le r a n d W ittg e n s te in s o u g h t
to

p ro te c t fro m

O n e
o f

o f th e

th e

e n c r o a c h m e n t o f s c ie n c e

an d

m o s t im p o r ta n t d iffe re n c e s b e tw e e n

s c ie n c e

a n d

th e

n o n -th e o re tic a l

s c ie n tis m .

th e

m e th o d

u n d e rs ta n d in g

th a t

is

e x e m p l i f i e d i n m u s i c , a r t , p h i l o s o p h y a n d o r d i n a r y lif e , is t h a t
s c ie n c e
th e s e

a im s

at

o th e r

le v e l

fo rm s

o f g e n e ra lity

u n d e rs ta n d in g

o f p e o p le

s ta n d

is t o

a p e rso n

th a t

o f u n d e rs ta n d in g .

b e

can

a b le

n ev er b e

to

n e c e s s a rily

A n d
a

th is

is

s c ie n c e .

e lu d e s

w h y

T o

th e

u n d e r

te ll, f o r e x a m p le , w h e th e r h e

m e a n s w h a t h e say s o r n o t, w h e t h e r h is e x p r e s s io n s o f f e e lin g
a re g e n u in e o r fe ig n e d . A n d h o w

d o e s o n e a c q u i r e th is s o r t o f

u n d e r s t a n d i n g ? T h i s is t h e q u e s t i o n W i t t g e n s t e i n
re m a rk s q u o te d
T h e

ra is e s in th e

above.

e v id e n c e

u p o n

w h ic h

e xp e rt ju d g m e n ts a b o u t p e o p le

a r e b a s e d i s , a c c o r d i n g t o W i t t g e n s t e i n , i m p o n d e r a b l e , r e s i s t
an t

to

even

th e

to

B u t th e
s h o u ld
s ta n d
W h e n

g e n eral

fo rm u la tio n

th e w e ig h in g u p
fa c t th a t w e

a re

n o t m is le a d u s in to
p e o p le

a re

s p u rio u s

W ittg e n s te in

c h a ra c te ris tic

o f s c ie n c e ,

o r

c h a r a c te r is tic o f le g a l e v id e n c e .
d e a lin g

h e re

w ith

im p o n d e ra b le s

b e l i e v i n g t h a t a ll c la im s t o
o r

w as o n c e

b u ilt

u p o n

d is c u s s in g

shaky

u n d e r

fo u n d a tio n s .

h is f a v o u r ite

n o v e l.

T h e B r o th e r s K a r a m a z o v , w i t h h i s f r i e n d M a u r i c e D r u r y , D r u r y
m e n tio n e d

th a t

h e

fo u n d

th e

c h a ra c te r

o f F a th e r

Z o s s im a

e x tr e m e ly im p re s s iv e . O f Z o s s im a , D o s to e v s k y w rite s :

It was said that, by permitting everyone for so many years


to come to bare their hearts and beg his advice and healing
words, he had absorbed so many secrets, sorrows, and

102

UNDERSTANDING OTHERS

avowals into his soul that in the end he had acquired so


fine a perception that he could tell at the first glance from
the face of a stranger what he had come for, what he
wanted and what kind of torment racked his conscience.
W h e n

D ru ry

Y e s , t h e r e

d ire c tly in to
A n
o n e

re a d

re a lly

o f

th e

th e n o tio n

m o st

o fte n

W ittg e n s te in
lik e

n eed

q u o te d

a p h o ris m

th a t, w h o

re m a rk e d :
c o u ld

see

a d v is e th e m .

o f o u tw a rd

a p h o ris m s

th a t m a n y

c rite ria ru n s

o f

h a v e c ite d

P h ilo s o p h ic a l
in

su p p o rt o f

th a t W ittg e n s te in w a s s o m e s o rt o f b e h a v io u ris t, a n

re a liz e

th a t n e e d s to b e re s is te d . O n e w a y o f r e s is tin g it
w h a t

an

e m p h a s is

n e e d f o r s e n s itiv e p e r c e p tio n
th e ir

o u t,

p e o p le

th e s o u ls o f o th e r p e o p le a n d

in te rp re ta tio n
to

p assag e

in n e r p ro c e s s s ta n d s in

In v e s tig a tio n s , a n

is

th is

have b een

im p o n d e ra b ility .

A n d

W ittg e n s te in

o f th o s e
w h e re

p la c e d

o n

th e

o u t w a r d c r i t e r i a i n

d o es

o n e

fin d

such

a ll

a c u te

s e n s itiv ity ? N o t , ty p ic a lly , in t h e w o r k s o f p s y c h o lo g is ts , b u t in


th o s e

o f th e

g re a t

a rtis ts ,

n o w a d a y s , W ittg e n s t e in
th a t s c ie n tis ts e x is t to
g iv e th e m
th e m

us?

d o es

W e ll,

n o t
to

in

a n d

C u ltu r e

n o v e lis ts .
and

P e o p l e

V a lu e ,

t h i n k

in s tr u c t th e m , p o e ts , m u s ic ia n s , e tc . to

p le a s u re . T h e

th a t

te a c h

m u s ic ia n s

w rite s

id e a

o c cu r

n am e

t h a t t h e s e h a v e s o m e t h i n g to te a c h

to

o n e

th e m . W h a t
c ru c ia lly

do th e y

im p o rta n t

have

th in g :

to
th e

im p o r ta n c e o f im p o n d e ra b le e v id e n c e fo r a n u n d e rs ta n d in g o f
th e

p e o p le a ro u n d
T h e

p e ry ,

n o tio n

an d

us.

o f i m p o n d e r a b l e

th e re

a re

s ig n s

th a t

e v i d e n c e is s o m e w h a t s l i p

W ittg e n s te in

tim e s a t le a s t, s o m e w h a t s c e p tic a l o f it. I n

h im s e lf w a s,

o n e

o f th e

at

m a n u

s c r i p t s p u b l i s h e d a s L a s t W r itin g s o n th e P h ilo s o p h y o f P s y c h o lo g y ,
h e

a sk s h im s e lf:

W h a t

a d d in g , as i f d e te r m in e d
goes on:

d o es
to

im p o n d e r a b le e v i d e n c e

m ean ?

c o m e c l e a n : L e t s b e h o n e s t ! H e

UNDERSTANDING OTHERS

103

I tell someone that I have reasons for this claim or proofs


for it, but that they are imponderable.
Well, for instance, I have seen the look which one person
has given another. I say If you had seen it you would have
said the same thing. Some other time perhaps, I might get
him to see this look, and then he will be convinced. That
would be one possibility.
W h a t d o e s im p o n d e ra b le
e n tid e s o n e to

e v i d e n c e a c c o m p lis h ? A n d : W h a t

c a l l i t e v i d e n c e ? T h e a n s w e r s h e g i v e s a r e p e r

h a p s d is a p p o in tin g ly

o p aq u e:

An important fact here is that we learn certain things only


through long experience and not from a course in school.
How, for instance, does one develop the eye of a connois
seur? Someone says, for example, 'This picture was not
painted by such-and-such a master - the statement he
makes is thus not an aesthetic judgment, but one that can
be proved by documentation. He may not be able to give
any good reasons for his verdict. How did he learn it?
Could someone have taught him? Yes. Not in the same
way as one learns to calculate. A great deal of experience
was necessary. That is, the learner probably had to look at
and compare a large number of pictures by various masters
again and again. In doing this he could have been given
hints. Well, that was the process of learning. But then he
looked at a picture and made a judgment about it. In most
cases he was able to list his reasons for his judgment, but
generally it wasnt they that were convincing.
T w o

p a ra g ra p h s

la te r:

c o n n o i s s e u r c o u l d n t

m ake

h im s e lf

u n d e r s t o o d t o a j u r y , f o r i n s t a n c e . T h a t is , t h e y w o u l d u n d e r s t a n d

104

UNDERSTANDING OTHERS

h is s ta te m e n t, b u t n o t h is re a s o n s . H e

c a n g iv e in tim a tio n s to

a n o th e r c o n n o is s e u r, a n d th e la tte r w ill u n d e r s ta n d
S o

w h a t

does

i m p o n d e r a b l e

e v id e n c e m e a n ?

th e m .
W e ll,

it

is

e v id e n c e th a t h a s th e s e c h a ra c te ris tic s :

1. it can be seen as evidence for a particular judgment, but


usually it cannot be described other than as evidence for
that judgment (e.g., How do you know your father dislikes
your boyfriend?' I could tell by the way he looked at him
And how did he look at him? Well,. . . as if he didnt like
him)
2. the value of the evidence varies with the experience and
the knowledge of the person providing it, and this is more
or less the only way of weighing such evidence, since
3. it cannot be evaluated, weighed, pondered, by appeal to
any system of general principles or universal laws.
In

a ll th e s e

r e s p e c ts it s ta n d s in

s ta rk

c o n tra s t to

s e n tific e v i

d en ce.
T h e n o tio n o f im p o n d e ra b le e v id e n c e se rv e s in W ittg e n s te in s
fin a l w r itin g s as a w a y o f d is ta n c in g h im
th o s e

w h o

an d , o n

th e

lo o k

to

s c ie n c e

o th e r, th o s e in

to

p ro v id e

th e

fro m , o n th e o n e h a n d ,
p s y c h o lo g ic a l

h u m a n itie s w h o

in s ig h t,

have b eco m e

c o n v in c e d th a t u n d e rs ta n d in g a n o th e r p e rs o n , h a v in g a c c e ss to
th e ir

in n e r

life ,

is

im p o s s ib le .

In

p h ilo s o p h ic a l

o f b i o g r a p h y , i t is s o m e t i m e s c l a i m e d
g ra p h e r a n d
so m eo n e

lite ra ry

th e o ris t D a v id

th a t (to

E llis ):

is l i k e in v o l v e s , a m o n g m a n y

d is c u s s io n s

q u o te

th e

D i s c o v e r i n g

b io
w h at

o th e r th in g s , a tte m p t

i n g t o r e c o n s t r u c t w h a t h a s b e e n c a lle d t h e i r i n te r n a l s o lilo q u y .
A s

w e

have

n o

access

to

a n y b o d y s i n t e r n a l

o u r o w n , E llis c a lls t h e c la im
h u m a n b e in g a n

th a t w e c a n

a f f a b l e p r e t e n c e * .

s o lilo q u y b u t

u n d e rs ta n d a n o th e r

UNDERSTANDING OTHERS
W ittg e n s te in s
lo g y

a re

la s t w r itin g s

e x tre m e ly

s c e p tic is m .

T ake

u sefu l

th is

o n

in

p h ilo s o p h y

w a rd in g

L a st

fro m

th e

o ff

W r itin g s

P s y c h o lo g y : T h e I n n e r a n d th e O u te r ,

105

on

o f p sy ch o

th is
th e

u n te n a b le

P h ilo s o p h y

o f

V o lu m e 2 :

Why cant you be certain that someone is not pretending?


'Because one cannot look into him. But if you could,
what would you see there? His secret thoughts. But if
he only utters them in Chinese - where do you have to look
then? 'But I cannot be certain that he is uttering them
truthfully! But where do you have to look to find out
whether he is uttering them truthfully?
Even if I were now to hear everything that he is saying to
himself, I would know as little what his words were refer
ring to as if I read one sentence in the middle of a story.
Even if I knew everything now going on within him, I still
wouldnt know, for example, to whom the names and
images in his thoughts related.
I t s

o n ly

in

p a rtic u la r cases

m e , W ittg e n s t e in

th a t th e

re m in d s u s a fe w

c a s e s i t is n o t h i d d e n

b ecau se

in n e r

I p e rc e iv e

in

it, b u t n o t h is o u te r . H e

m in d . I f s o m e b o d y

I m ig h t re p ly :
ask ed

H e

m e

th in k

asks m e

s c h o o l, I w o u ld

lo o k e d

h o w

m y

d o es

o f th e

h o w

n o t g iv e a n y e x a m
k in d o f th in g h e h as

m y s o n lo o k e d

o r

triu m p h a n t

p le a s e d

is

to

an d

w h e n

he

p la y in g a ll s u m m e r ,

tr iu m p h a n t. I f s o m e

d a u g h te r lo o k e d

r e p ly : S h e l o o k e d

T o say o f s o m e b o d y

fro m
th o s e

[ a p e r s o n s ] i n n e r , a s

fin is h e d th e c o m p u te r g a m e h e h a d b e e n

b o d y

in

i t is i n n e r .

I n d e e d , o f t e n , h e s a y s , I c a n d e s c r i b e

p l e s , b u t i t is n o t d i f f i c u l t t o

is h i d d e n

p a g e s l a t e r , a n d

o n

h e r firs t d a y

n e rv o u s a n d

at

h e s ita n t.

th a t th e y a re n e rv o u s , h e s ita n t, p le a s e d

a ttrib u te

to

th e m

m e n ta l

s ta te ,

and,

UNDERSTANDING OTHERS

106

th e re fo re , a c c o rd in g
th e

a f f a b le

to

p e o p le

i n n e r f e e l i n g s . B u t , w h e n
th a t

th e s e

d e s c rib e

lik e

p re te n c e o f h a v in g

w o rd s

h o w

a re

p e o p le

D a v id

access

E llis , to

to

en g ag e

a n o th e r

in

p e r s o n s

w e ta lk lik e th a t, w e a re fo r g e ttin g

u sed

in

p e rfe c tly

lo o k , a n d , t h e r e f o r e , i n

o rd in a ry

w ay

to

s o m e se n se th e ir

o u t e r a p p e a r a n c e .
W h a t i s s o w o n d e r f u l a b o u t W i t t g e n s t e i n s l a s t w r i t i n g s o n
p s y c h o lo g y
v a rie ty
w e

have

is t h a t t h e y

p re se rv e

o f p s y c h o lo g ic a l
at

o u r

d is p o s a l.

in

a ll t h e i r n u a n c e s t h e

d e s c rip tio n s
T h e

o f o th e r

g r a m m a t i c a l

p e o p le

fic tio n s h e

ric h
th a t
had

e x p o s e d i n t h e f i r s t h a l f o f t h e In v e s tig a tio n s a r e s h o w n t o b e o f
th e u tm o s t im p o r ta n c e b e c a u s e th e y g e t in th e w ay , n o t ju s t o f
p h ilo s o p h ic a l c la rity , b u t o f a fu ll u n d e r s ta n d in g o f a r t, m u s ic ,
l i t e r a tu r e a n d , a b o v e a ll, o u r s e lv e s .

CHRONOLOGY

2 6 A p ril 1 8 8 9 . b o r n

in

L e o p o ld in e

1 9 0 3 0 6 ,

a tte n d s

t h e

1 9 0 8 -0 8 , s tu d ie s
in

ie n n a ,

s tu d ie s

1 9 1 1 , a r r iv e s

t h e

R e a ls c h u le

e c h a n ic a l

C h a r l o t t e n b u r g ,

1 9 0 8 -1 1 ,

C a m

e i g h t h

a n d

y o u n g e s t c h ild

o f K a r l a n d

L in z .

a t

t h e

T e c h n is c h e

o c h s c h u le

t h e

C a m b r id g e

B e r lin .

b r i d g e

r e v ie w

a t

e n g i n e e r i n g

a e r o n a u tic a l

in

1 9 1 3 , p u b lis h e s
M

ittg e n s te in .

e n g i n e e r i n g

t o

s tu d y

a t

i t h

o f C o f f e y .

T h e

N o r w a y ,

h e r e

a n c h e s te r .

e r t r a n d

S c ie n c e

R u s s e ll.

o f L o g ic

in

a g a z in e .

1 9 1 3 -

1 4 , liv e s

a lo n e

in

h e

w o r k s

o n

s o lv in g

t h e

p r o b le m

o f lo g ic .

June 1 9 1 4 ,

a r r iv e s

a f te r

1 9 1 4 -

t h e

1 8 ,

t h e n ,

1 9 1 8 -

in

s u m

f ig h ts
t h e

f o r

t h e

I ta lia n

1 9 , s p e n d s

ie n n a ,

i t h

t h e

i n t e n t i o n

o f r e t u r n i n g

t o

o r w

a y

e r .

A u s tr ia n

a r m

o n ,

f ir s t,

t h e

R u s s ia n

F r o n t

a n d ,

F r o n t.

y e a r

a s

I ta lia n

p r i s o n e r

o f w a r ;

f in is h e s

T r a c ta tu s

L o g ic o -

I* h ilo s o p h ic u s .

1 9 1 9 -

2 0 , tr a in s

1 9 2 0 -

2 2 , te a c h e s
T r a c ta tu s

1 9 2 2 -2 4 ,

a s

a t

s c h o o l t e a c h e r

a n

e l e m

L o g ic o -P h ilo s o p h ic u s

te a c h e s

a t

a n

e le m

in

e n ta r y

e n ta r y

is

V ie n n a .

s c h o o l

in

T r a ttc n b a c h ,

s c h o o l

in

P u c h b e r g ;

is

v is ite d

R a m s e y .

1 9 2 4 -2 6 ,

te a c h e s

1 9 2 6 -2 8 ,

o r k s

1 9 2 9 , r e t u r n s

to

a t

a s

a n

a n

C a m

e le m

e n ta r y

a r c h ite c t

b r i d g e

t o

in

s c h o o l

L o w e r

A u s tr ia ;

p u b lis h e d .

in

t t e r t h a l .

ie n n a .

s tu d y

i t h

F r a n k

R a m s e y .

b y

F r a n k

108

CHRONOLOGY

1 9 3 0 ,

R a m

s e y

d ie s .

1 9 3 0 , W

i t tg e n s te in

1 9 3 3 -

3 4 ,

d ic ta te s

T h e

1 9 3 4 -

3 5 , d i c u t e s

T h e

1 9 3 5 , v is its

1 9 3 8 3 7 ,
o f

1 2

t h e

liv e s

S o v ie t

in

le c t u r i n g

B lu e

B ro w rt

a t

B o o k

C a m

to

B o o k

h is

t o

b r id g e .

s tu d e n ts

s e le c t

in s te a d

g r o u p

o f l e c t u r i n g .

o f s tu d e n ts .

n i o n .

N o r w a y ,

h e r e

h e

r i t e s

u c h

o f w

h a t

is

n o w

P a n

P h ilo s o p h ic a l In v e s tig a tio n s .

March 1 9 3 8 ,
b e c o m

A n s c h lu s s b e tw e e n

e s

A p ril 1 9 3 8 , b e c o m

11

s ta r ts

F e b ru a ry
C a m

e r m

e s

1 9 3 9 ,

a n

B r itis h

e le c te d

A u s tr ia

a n d

N a z i

G e r m

a n y ; W

ittg e n s te in

c itiz e n .

c itiz e n .

P r o f e s s o r

o f

P h ilo s o p h y

a t

t h e

n iv e r s ity

o f

b r id g e .

1 9 4 1 -

4 2 ,

o r k s

a s

p o r t e r

1 9 4 2 -

4 4 ,

o r k s

a s

la b o r a to r y

a t

u y s

o s p ita l,

a s s is u n t

o n

L o n d o n .

e d ic a l

r e s e a r c h

p r o j e c t

N e w c a s tle .

1 9 4 4 -4 7 , le c tu r e s

1 9 4 7 ,

r e s ig n s

1 9 4 7 -4 9 ,

h is

liv e s

a t

C a m

C a m

in

b r id g e .

b r i d g e

I r e l a n d ,

p r o f e s s o r s h ip .

h e r e

h e

P h ilo s o p h ic a l In v e s tig a tio n s .

1999,
21 April 1951,
v is its

A u s tr ia

d ie s

i n

f o r

t h e

C a m

la s t

tim

b r id g e .

e .

r i t e s

h a t

is

n o w

P a r t

I I

o f

a t

SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING

P rim a ry
R

M a te ria l

e v i e w

o f

( 1 9 1 3 ) ,
N o te b o o k s
W

P.

p .
o n

r i g h t ,

T r a c ta tu s

I X
A

o u t l e d g e ,

L e c tu r e

R o u t l e d g e ,
a r k s

o n

p p .

o n

P h ilo s o p h ic a l

R e m a r k s

B r o w n

th e

e d s .

.E .M

tr a n s .

tr a n s .

D .F .

F o r m

x f o r d ,
O

x f o r d ,

B o o k s ,

F o u n d a tio n s
O

x f o r d ,

o f P s y c h o lo g y ,

I,

P h ilo s o p h y

o f P s y c h o lo g y ,

I I ,

L a s t

W r itin g s

o n

th e

P h ilo s o p h y

L a s t

W r itin g s

o n

th e

P h ilo s o p h y

I V

a n d

g d e n

a n d

F .P .

B .F .

.H

v o n

R a m

s e y ,

a n d

c G

u in n e s s ,

o f th e

A r is to te lia n

S o a e ty ,

L X X I V ,

1 9 6 8 ,

p p .

4 - 1 4

B la c k w e ll,

1 9 6 7

1 9 7 4

1 9 5 3

x f o r d .
O

o f P s y c h o lo g y ,
o f P s y c h o lo g y ,

1 9 7 5

x f o r d ,

x f o r d ,

B la c k w e ll.
B la c k w e ll,

1 9 8 0
1 9 8 0

/,

x f o r d ,

B la c k w e ll,

1 9 8 2

I I ,

x f o r d .

B la c k w e ll.

2 0 0 1

M a te ria l
a n d

o u t l e d g e ,

e w

B la c k w e ll,

P h ilo s o p h y

1 9 7 5

o f M a th e m a tic s ,

th e

F r o m

b e

B la c k w e ll.

th e

o n a n t , J a m

n s c o m

P e a r s

B la c k w e ll,

x f o r d ,

o n

B la c k w e ll,

o n

A lic e

P r o c e e d in g s

R e m a r k s

C .K

R e m a r k s

C a r e y ,

1 9 6 1

P h ilo s o p h ic a l R e v ie w ,
O

In v e s tig a tio n s ,

S e c o n d a ry

R e v ie w ,

1 9 6 1

L o g ic a l

G r a m m a r ,

P h ilo s o p h ic a l

C a m b r id g e

1 6 2 - 7 1

E th ic s ,

a n d
o n

o f L o g i c ',

1 9 2 2

L o g ic o -P h ilo s o p h ic u s ,

1 9 2 9 ,

B lu e

B la c k w e ll,

P h ilo s o p h ic a l R e m a r k s ,

T h e

S c ie n te

1 9 1 4 - 1 6

x f o r d ,

R e m
,

T h e

L o g ic o -P h ilo s o p h ic u s ,

L o n d o n ,
S o m

L o g ic

L o n d o n ,
T r a c ta tu s

C o f f e y ,
3 5 1

u p e r t

e a d ,

e d s .,

T h e

N e w

W ittg e n s te in ,

L o n d o n ,

2 0 0 0

e s ,

T h e

F re g e

to

Y o r k ,

e t h o d

W ittg e n s te in :
U

P ,

2 0 0 2 ,

p p .

o f t h e

T r a c ta tu s ',

P e r s p e c tiv e s
3 7 4 - 4 6 2

o n

in

E a r ly

E r i c h

A n a ly tic

e c k ,

e d .,

P h ilo s o p h y

110
D

i a m

FURTHER READING
o n d ,

C o r a ,

T h e

R e a lis tic

S p ir it,

C a m

b r i d g e ,

a s s .,

I T

P r e s s ,

1 9 9 1
D

r u r y ,

E llis ,

E n g e l m
O
K

D a v id ,

r i p k e ,

o n k ,

P a u l,

L e tte r s

S a u l,

R a y ,

D a n g e r o f W o rd s,

B la c k w e ll,

B la c k w e ll,
M

T h e

L iv e s ,

a n n ,

x f o r d ,

.,

L ite r a r y

E d i n b u r g h
fr o m

L o n d o n ,
U

o u d e d g c ,

n iv e r s ity

L u d w ig

P re s s ,

ittg e n s te in

1 9 7 3

2 0 0 0
w ith

e m o ir ,

1 9 6 7

ittg e n s te in

o n

R u le s

a n d

P r iv a te

L a n g u a g e ,

x f o r d ,

1 9 8 4
L u d w ig

W ittg e n s te in :

T h e

u t y

o f

G e n iu s ,

L o n d o n .

C a p e ,

1 9 9 0
R a m

s e y ,

F .P .,

C r i t i c a l

P h ilo s o p h ic u s ,
R u s s e ll,
R

in d ,

B e r tr a n d ,

o u t l e d g e ,

1 9 9 2

N
X

L o g ic

o t i c e
X

a n d

I I ,

o f
O

L .

c t o b e r

K n o u d e d g e :

i t t g e n s t e i n s
1 9 2 3 ,
E s s a y s

p p .

T r a c ta tu s

L o g ic o -

4 6 5 - 7 8

1 9 0 1 - 1 9 5 0 ,

L o n d o n ,

INDEX

a e s th e tic s ,

2 1 - 2 ,

a lc h e m y , 3 , 9 ,

3 1 ,

51

c o lo u r,

a n a lo g y . 6 7

A ris to te lia n

in d

c u ltu re ,
C u ltu r e
1 1 .

D e

v a n , 4 2 , 9 7

8 7 , 9 2 - 3 ,

9 6 .

1 0 2

B ra d le y .
B ro a d ,

V a lu e ,

o r g a n ,

R e n ,

D ia m o n d ,

C o r a ,

7 1 - 2 ,

3 7 - 8 ,

C h a rlie
B o o k ,

7 8

D u n b a r ,

6 0 .

E lh s ,

c iv iliz a tio n ,
c la s s e s , 4 ,

5 7 - 8 ,

a u ric e , 9 6 - 8 ,

D a v id .

T h e

R ,

1 6 ,

B r o th e r s

1 0 1 - 2

1 0 4 ,

1 0 6

P a u l.

2 1 - 4 ,

2 4 - 7 ,

2 6 .

3 1 .

3 1 . 9 6 , 9 8
5 1 . 9 6 ;

C o lle g e ,

5 8 ;

o f,

2 8 - 9
E u c lid . 9

'

fa c ts .

F ra n o is ,

e s te rn ,

9 4 - 5 ,

3 9 - 4 2 .

S c ie n te

1 7 , 4 8

4 4 - 5 ,

4 8 ; e th ic a l.

9 7

F irs t W

9 7 - 8

F re g e . G o ttlo b , 6 . 8 .

o rld

W a r.

5 1 ; a rtific ia l
re s p o n s e

1 0

C o ffe y ,

T h e

1 0 1 - 2

1 2 - 1 3

c la s s ic s . 9 ,

7 - 1 2 ,

K in g s

2 . 5 - 7 ,

1 3 , 6 6

F r d r ic

2 7 , 2 9 , 4 0

a n d - c o n s e q u e n tia lis t v ie w

C o lle g e ,

c h e m is try , 3 , 9 ,
C h o p in ,

F y o d o r,

E n g le m a n n ,

U n iv e rs ity ,

6 2 , 6 4 , 9 6 ;

T rin ity

2 0 - 1 ,

E in s te in , A lb e r t, %
11

T h e , 6 3

R e v ie w ,

8 , 9

1 3 . 8 8

7 6 - 7

e th ic s . 2 0 .

C a m b r id g e

6 ,

H a c k e l, 3 0

D ru ry ,

F. H . .

5 3

K a ra m a zo v , 2 4 ,

6 6

C a m b r id g e

1 0 2

A u g u s tu s .

D o s to e v s k y .
1 0 4

T h e , 6 3 .

2 7 , 2 9 , 4 0

9 4 - 6
a n d

D e s c a rte s .

D ie

2 , 6

B o o k ,

2 0 - 1 ,

1 0 3 4

1 3

1 3

L u d w ig

b io g ra p h y ,
b io lo g y ,

c o n n o is s e u rs .

D a r w in , C h a rle s .

b e h a v io u r is m ,

B ro w n

1 0 6

B e e th o v e n ,

B lu r

th e

5 8

a s tro n o m y , 3 , 9 ,

B e rlin ,

a n d

9 4

3 . 6 . 9 .

1 0 1 ,

C o n a n t, J a m e s ,

o f th e

S o c ie ty

A s s o c ia tio n ,
a r c h ite c tu r e ,

a r t,

c o m p o s e r s . 9 6 - 7

A n n u a l J o in t S e s s io n

A ris to d c ,

5 9

c o m p le x e s ,

1 3

o f L o g ic , 3 - 5 ,

F re u d ,

to

1 1 - 1 3 ,

1 2

1 6 , 3 0 .

L a n g u a g e , 4 6 , 4 7 ;
T r a c ta tu s , 3 1 2

S ig m u n d , 7 3 - 4 ,

fu n c tio n s ,

51

2 . 2 2 . 4 2

112

INDEX

G a lic ia ,

s ig n - ,

2 4

g e n e ra lity ,

7 0 - 1 ,

7 3 ,

1 0 1

g e o m e try , 9

7 ,

o lfg a n g

L a st

v o n ,

1 0 1

W r itin g s o n

P s y c h o lo g y ,
L e ib n iz ,

H a b s b u rg s ,
H a rv a rd
H e g e l,

3 0

1 3 .

U n iv e rs ity , 6

G e o r g

H o lla n d . 2 3 .
H u m e ,

life ,

ilh e lm

3 2 .

F r ie d r ic h ,

1 3

3 9

D a v id , 6 ,

im a g in a tio n ,

m e a n in g

J a h o d a

(p u b lis h e r),

J a m e s ,

9 9 - 1 0 4

K a n t,

T h e

V a r ie tie s o f

p u r ity

U n i m e ,

illia m

K e y n e s . J o h n
K ie rk e g a a rd ,
k n o w le d g e ,

S ta n le y ,

1 4

a y n a rd ,

S o re n ,
th e o r y

K iir n b c r g e r ,

1 5 ,

5 3 . 7 2 ;
a n d

R u s s e ll),
o f,

5 8 , 6 3 4 , 6 7 , 8 1

8 ,

a lc o lm .

a n c h e s te r , 2 ,

5 8 - 9

o f,

N o r m

5 7 , 9 6

8 1 .
5 2 , 5 5

8 7 ;

m e th o d s

m e ta p h y s ic s .
M ill, J o h n

9 0

F e rd in a n d ,

la n g u a g e ,

2 ,

6 7 ;

e v e ry d a y

2 6

6 4 . 7 8 ;

7 4 , 8 3 ;

in d , 8 ,

o o r e .

lo g ic a lly

p riv a te ,

8 3 - 9 3 ;

8 8 - 9 1 ;

p r o p o s itio n s ,

7 4 - 6 ,

m a d e

1 9 ,

4 0 ,

6 4

1 1 ,

1 2 ,

1 7 ,

S tu a rt.

1 7 ,

5 0 . 7 1 ,

o f , 6 6 - 7
3 7 , 7 1

8 . 9 .

1 3

5 7
G . E ..

5 .

2 2 .

o r r e ll, O tto lin e ,


4 2 .

3 8

6 6 - 7

4 4 .

1 0 , 2 3

4 7 . 4 8 .

9 4 , 9 6 - 7 ,

1 0 1 ,

1 0 6

o f , 5 0 ;
o f.

7 2 ;

o f m u s ic ,

o f, 9 3 ; p o e tic ,

p rim itiv e , 6 9 - 7 0 ,

5 4 - 5 ,

8 6 ; lo g ic

4 8 ,5 1 ,5 3 ,

p e rfe c t,

n a tu r e

m u s ic .

4 6 - 8 ,

f o r m

6 9 . 7 2 - 8 2 ,

1 7 , 3 7 , 4 0 ,

a n a lo g y

o f , 7 9 , 9 2 ;

( o rd in a ry ),

6 9 ,

g a m e s .

1 8 , 2 1 ,

e s s e n c e

a n .
5

m a th e m a tic s , 9 - 1 1 ,

m o rp h o lo g y ,

9 4 ;

o f la n g u a g e ,

p r o p o s itio n s

lo g ic a l p o s itiv is m .

2 4

K rip k e . S a u l. 8 7 - 8 ,

1 5 ,

1 7 ;

8 , 9

K a rl. 3 0 - 2

6 1 - 2 ,

1 3 ,

L o n d o n , 7 2

I m m a n u e l,

a n d ,

2 6 - 7

o f , 6 1 , 6 5 , 6 7 ; as

(F re g e

lo g ic a l n e c e s s ity ,

T h e M y s te r io u s

1 1 ,

6 0 . 7 8 ;

5 1 .

1 1 - 1 3 ;

lo g ic a l f o r m ,

2 4 .

1 2 ,

4 9 . 5 1 ; s c h o la s tic ,

K ra u s .

ilh e lm . 6 .

4 9 - 5 3 .

1 7 . 3 7 . 4 0 . 4 8 .

3 0 -1

E x p e r ie n c e , 2 4

J e a n s , J a m e s ,

1 3

m a th e m a tic a l

illia m ,

P h ilo s o p h y o f

d is c ip lin e , 9 - 1 0 ;

e v id e n c e ,

3 , 8 - 9 ,

J e v o n s ,

o f,
o f,

1 0 2 - 5

A ris to te lia n , 8 - 9 ,

5 8

6 7 -

5 0 ; th e o r y

o f . 2 1 - 2 ,

lo g ic . 7 . 2 1 - 6 ,

1 3

th e

1 0 0 ,

G o ttf r ie d

L o c k e , J o h n ,

7 9

im p o n d e r a b le

R e lig io u s

5 2 ; s tr u c tu r e

1 7 , 3 7 - 8

c ry s ta llin e

in f in ity ,

5 0 ,

ta u to lo g y ,

7 2 . 7 8

G o e th e , J o h a n n
6 6 -

4 6 - 7 ,

8 1 ; a n d

2 7 ;

8 0 ;

u p
4 6 ;

o f

n a m e s , 7 3 ,

7 4 , 7 6

n a tu re , 6 6
N e w to n .

Isa a c ,

P r tn a p ia

M a th e m a tic a ,

8 9
n o n s e n s e ,
4 0 ,

5 3 .

1 8 - 1 9 ,

2 1 , 2 5 , 2 7 - 9 ,

5 4 . 6 5 .

7 8

N o rw a y , 2 ,

2 4

3 8 ,

INOEX
o b je c ts ,

3 7 - 4 2 ,

O g d e n ,

4 5 , 4 9

K ..

C e r ta in ty , 6 3

O n

C o lo u r , 6 3

O x f o r d , 6 ,

p s y c h o lo g y ,

5 7

O n

113

P u c h b e r g ,

7 2

R a m s e y ,
re a lity ,

P a ris ,

6 ,

in

o u tw a r d
6 4 ;

th e

P r i v a t e

8 7 - 8 ,

A r g u m e n t ',

a n a ly tic ,
2 2 - 3 ;

as

a n d

5 1 - 3 ;

7 1 ;

r e d u c e d

7 1 ;

n e w
to

in ,

v ie w
p h y s ic s ,

o f,

1 4

1 9 ,

5 3 ,

i t t g e n s t e i n s

4 6 ,

4 6 - 5 1 ,

o f,

e th ic a l,

la n g u a g e ,

4 0 ;

1 1 - 1 2 ,

5 1 ; c h a m p io n s

1 6 - 1 7 ,

to

a n d

1 1 - 1 2 ,

th o u g h ts ,

a n d

2 8 - 9 ,

4 7 ; in

P h ilo s o p h ic u s ,

5 5 .

m e e ts

2 3 . 3 2 .

B ra d le y . 3 7 - 8 ,

1 9 - 2 0 ,

4 6 ,

2 3 - 4 ,

to ,

ittg e n s te in

3 9 - 4 0 ;
7 8 ;

d e b a te

a rtific ia l

4 7 ; a to m ic
5 5 ;

h o r r if ie d

ittg e n s te in , 6 8 ; p riv a te

S c h lic k , M
S c h u b e r t,

f o r m ,

5 1 ;

4 7 ;

b y

la te r

la n g u a g e

lo g ic a l

9 0

4 9 . 5 1 ;

4 7 - 8 ;

5 0 ,

a n d

T r a c ta tu s L o g ic o -

6 3 - 4 ,

2 5 - 6 ,

2 8 - 9 ,

7 3 . 7 5 .

C o tfe s s io n s , 7 7 - 8 0 ,

o r itz .
F ra n z

s c ie n c e , 6 7 - 8 ,

a n d

p s e u d o -,

4 4 - 5 ,

1 8 - 2 1 ,

5 8 - 6 0 ,

1 7 . 3 7 - 8 ;

9 2 - 3

L e i b n i z s c o n c e p t i o n

4 2 - 3 ,

p h ilo s o p h y .

T r a c ta tu s .

2 2 - 3 ;

S t A u g u s tin e .

3 7 ; a to m ic ,

s ig n s ,

in

1 9 , 5 3 ; o b je c tio n s

i t t g e n s t e i n s l e t t e r

la n g u a g e ,

1 1 ,

8 - 9 ,

7 9

1 7 , 3 7 ; o f lo g ic .

as p ic tu re s ,

o f lo g ic ,

a r g u m e n t. 8 8 - 9 1 ;

4 7

A ris to te lia n

7 3 ; c o n te n t

1 0 0

m e th o d

H o lla n d .

w ith

i t t g e n s t e i n 's

2 7 - 8 ,

4 , 6 9 ;

c o n c e p tio n

3 5 - 5 6 ,

3 1 .

p ro p o s itio n s ,

'

p ro p o s itio n s ,

5 4 - 5 ;

2 ;

3 7 ;

s c ie n tific

1 6 - 1 7 ,

o f

ittg e n s te in , 6 - 8 ,

a to m is m . 8 8 .

4 1 - 4 ,

5 9 - 6 0 ,

3 2 - 3 ;

1 9 - 2 0 .

q u e s tio n ,

L e ib n iz .

in

8 8 ;

to

re s p o n s e

p e rs p e c tiv e , 6 2 - 5 ,

1 3 - 1 4 ,

P la to , 6 ,

o f.

o f.

6 6

p ic tu re s ,

5 4 - 5 ;

o f,

s in g le

1 0 - 1 1 ,

c o n tr ib u tio n ,

1 1 - 1 3 ,

to

p r o b le m

in , 2 5 - 6 ;

e s te rn ,

5 1 . 7 2 . %

P h ilo s o p h y o f

5 3 ; s y s te m

1 9 - 1 1 ,

a c tiv ity , 6 3 ;

c a rd in a l

e th o d

m e th o d

9 8

la n g u a g e , 6 2 ; n a tu r e

4 9 ,

r ig h t m

a n

5 7 ;

a ttitu d e

s c ie n tific

s ty le , 6 5

P h ilo s o p h ic a l R e m a r k s , 6 3 , 9 4 - 6 ,
p h ilo s o p h y :

th e

P s y c h o lo g y . 6 3 ,

1 7 ,

1 0 2 ; p re fa c e ,

L a n g u a g e

9 0 - 3 ;

2 4 . 3 1 .

P h ilo s o p h y

R u s s e ll, B e rtra n d . 2 , 5 , 3 0 , 7 3 , 9 6 ;

1 0 6 ;

e v id e n c e , 9 9 - 1 0 2 ;

c r i t e r ia ,

3 7 - 9 . 4 2 . 7 8

th e

R e m a rk s o n

1, 6 1 - 4 ,

b o x , 8 6 - 7 ,

g r a m m a t i c a l f i c t i o n s .

'i m p o n d e r a b l e

1 2 ,

4 9 - 5 0

M a th e m a tic s , 6 3

P h ilo s o p h ic a l I n v e s tig a tio n s ,


b e e d c

1 0 2 ,

2 0 , 5 7 - 9 , 6 4

4 6 - 7 ,

R e m a rk s o n

7 2

P h ilo s o p h ic a l G r a m m a r , 6 3

9 2 ;

F ra n k ,

4 .

r e lig io n , 2 1 - 2 ,

r e p re s e n ta tio n

( b e r s ic h t) , 6 5 - 6 ,

7 4 - 9 3 ;

1 0 0 ,

5 6 - 7

re la tio n s ,

4 2 . 4 9

p e r s p ic u o u s

5 2 - 3 , 7 4 ,

1 0 4 - 6

81

2 7 . 7 2 ;
1 9 .

5 7
P e te r, 9 7

1 0 1 ,

m e th o d .

1 0 4 ;

5 3 , 7 1 ; n a tu ra l,

N e w to n ia n ,

la n g u a g e .

1 9 - 1 1 ,

6 6

s c ie n tis ts , 9 - 1 0 ,

6 8 , 9 5 - 6 ,

s ig n s ,

5 2 , 6 9

4 4 - 8 .

5 0 ,

S ile s iu s , A n g e lu s ,
S o c ra te s , 4 9 , 8 9

1 6 - 1 7 .

5 2 - 3 ;

2 4

1 0 2

114

INDEX

S o m e

R e m a r k s

5 4 - 6 ,

o n

L o g i c a l F o r m ,

5 8 - 6 0

U n ite d

S p e n g le r, O s w a ld , 6 7 ,

1 0 1

S p in o z a ,

1 3

S ra ffa ,
s u m s ,

B e n e d ic t d e .

P ie ro ,
4 ,

s y n ta x .

6 4

4 5 - 7 ,

5 4 .

S u te s ,

V e n n , J o h n ,

5 4 , 6 0 ,

L u d w ig ,

2 5 , 2 6 - 8

7 2

u tilita ria n is m , 2 9

5 4

sy m b o ls ,

U h la n d , J o h a n n

8 1

8 9

8 , 9

V ie n n a ,

2 , 6 ,

V i e n n a

C i r c le , 5 7

v o n

F ic k e r,

3 0 , 5 6 - 7

L u d w ig ,

2 2 .

2 6 ,

2 9 , 3 1 ,

3 4
T ao

C h in g ,

T a rn o v ,

1 9

2 4

ta u to lo g ie s ,
th o u g h ts .
T o ls to y ,

4 9 5 1

4 1 ,

4 4 - 8 ,

L e o .

5 2 - 3 ,

6 4

2 4

D ia m

9 6 ;

C o n a n t

o n d s

4 0 ; c o n tro v e rs ie s
in te r p re ta tio n s ,

1 9 - 2 2 ,
2 3 ;

W a r, 2 2 ;

3 0 - 2 ,

3 0 ;

2 4 ,

as

2 6 ;

7 2 - 3 ,

R a m s e y s

3 5 - 6 ;
2 0 ,

7 8 ,

P h .D .

2 0 ,

s ty le ,

5 7 ; a n d

8 1 - 2 ,
th e s is ,

2 ,

6 2

fiv e s in

w a r s e rv ic e , 2 ,

2 .

5 6 - 7 ;

1 6 ,

r e p re s e n ta tio n

w o rk s

5 ;

as

to

5 7 - 8 ,

o u tp u t,

6 0 ,

la c k

6 2 ;

o f

g r o u n d in g

in

6 ,

1 0 ,

1 3 - 1 4 ,

R u s s e l l s a t t i t u d e

to ,

8 8 ;

1 1 .

1 7 ,

p h ilo s o p h y ,

w ith

5 3 ;

v ie w

1 3 - 1 4 ,

T r a d a tu s ,

R u s s e ll,

m e e ts

p h ilo s o p h y ,

P a u l

2 3 .

o f

2 7 - 8 ,
1 6 ; in

4 6 , 4 7 ;
H o lla n d

3 2 . 3 9 - 4 0 ;

E n g e lm a n n ,

T r a c ta tu s t o

2 4 ;

R a m s e y ,

la te r p h ilo s o p h y , 6 0 , 6 3 , 6 6 .
7 2 .

9 3 ; a w a rd e d

le c tu re s ,

6 2 ,

P h .D .,

in te re s ts , %

5 7 ;
6 8 .

6 2 ;

6 7 , 7 1 , 7 4 ;

c o n v e rs a tio n s , 7 4 , 9 6 ,
b e r s ic h t, s e e p e r s p i c u o u s

2 2 ,

as

2 . 5 7 ; r e tu r n s
2 ,

1;

2 , 5 , 6 ;

s tu d e n t o f
5 - 6 ;

2 4 ;

p h ilo s o p h y .

e x p la in s

9 3 ;

b ir th ,

s tu d ie s .

3 2 ; w o rk s

p u b lis h e s

in tr o d u c tio n ,

7 5 - 6 ,

i t t g e n s t e i n s

N o rw a y .

6 - 8 ,

i t t g e n s t e i n s l a t e r p h i l o s o p h y ,

6 3 - 4 ,

L u d w ig :

p u b lis h e d

o f th e o ry ,

s tr u c tu re ,

3 4 , 6 5 ; tra n s la tio n ,
W

3 8 ; f in a l

p re fa c e ,

5 6 ;

c o lla p s e

R u s s e l l 's

3 2 - 3 ;

ittg e n s te in ,

a rc h ite c t.

a n d

3 5 - 6 ;

p u b lic a tio n , 3 0 - 3 ,

5 7 - 6 0 ;

ilia m . 8 , 9

s c h o o lte a c h e r,

3 3 , 4 0 ;

s a y in g

in c o n s is te n c y ,

1 5 - 1 6 ,

a n d

H e r m in e ,

2 4 , 3 0 .

2 7 - 9 ,

2 3 - 5 ,

re v ie w

2 9 ,

im p a c t o f F irs t

m y s tic is m ,
1 8 ,

2 7 ,

a n d

2 9 - 3 0 ,

s h o w in g ,

o rld

p h ilo s o p h y , 2 .

2 0 - 1 ,

b e tw e e n

s e n te n c e ,
W

ittg e n s te in ,

u n d e r g r a d u a te

1 , 2 ,

a n d

c r itiq u e ,

d is tin c tio n

h e w e ll.

e n g in e e r in g

T r a tta to ! L o g o -P h ilo s o p h ic u s ,
1 6 - 5 3 ,

fe a r o f b e in g

lo v e

9 8 ;

o f m u s ic , 9 6 - 7 ;

m is u n d e r s to o d ,

9 7 - 8

Ihcugi VVittganMain w ic tf or it; u m i Mityecti tt l


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