Quotations From LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN


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  • The human body is the best picture of the human soul.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), British (Austrian born) philosopher. Philosophical Investigations, part II, iv (1953).
  • Nowadays it is the fashion to emphasize the horrors of the last war. I didn't find it so horrible. There are just as horrible things happening all round us today, if only we had eyes to see them.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. Personal Recollections, ch. 6, ed. Rush Rhees (1981). Conversation in 1934.

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  • It seems to me that, in every culture, I come across a chapter headed "Wisdom." And then I know exactly what is going to follow: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."
    Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. Conversation, 1934. Personal Recollections, ch. 6, ed. Rush Rhees (1981). Of philosophy books.

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  • What has history to do with me? Mine is the first and only world! I want to report how I find the world. What others have told me about the world is a very small and incidental part of my experience. I have to judge the world, to measure things.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. Notebooks 1914-1916, entry for September 2, 1915, ed. Anscombe (1961). In Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, sect. 5:63 (1921, trans. 1922), Wittgenstein paraphrased: "I am my world. (The microcosm)."

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  • Logic takes care of itself; all we have to do is to look and see how it does it.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. repr. In Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, sect. 5:473 (1921, trans. 1922). Notebooks 1914-1916, entry for October 13, 1914, ed. Anscombe (1961).
  • It would strike me as ridiculous to want to doubt the existence of Napoleon; but if someone doubted the existence of the earth 150 years ago, perhaps I should be more willing to listen, for now he is doubting our whole system of evidence.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. On Certainty, sect. 185, ed. Anscombe and von Wright (1969).
  • It is one of the chief skills of the philosopher not to occupy himself with questions which do not concern him.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. Notebooks 1914-1916, entry for May 1, 1915, ed. Anscombe (1961).
  • If you do know that here is one hand, we'll grant you all the rest.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. On Certainty, sct. 1 (1969). Opening sentence, a response to a lecture by the philosopher G.E. Moore, in which he refuted the premises of skepticism.
  • I sit astride life like a bad rider on a horse. I only owe it to the horse's good nature that I am not thrown off at this very moment.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. Culture and Value, 1939-1940 entry, eds. G.H. von Wright and Heikki Nyman (1980).

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  • Humor is not a mood but a way of looking at the world. So if it is correct to say that humor was stamped out in Nazi Germany, that does not mean that people were not in good spirits, or anything of that sort, but something much deeper and more important.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. Culture and Value, entry in 1948, eds. G.H. von Wright with Heikki Nyman (1980).

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