Wittgenstein | "you must keep silent about the unspeakable."

Wittgenstein | "you must keep silent about the unspeakable."

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Ludwig Wittgenstein was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary on April 26, 1889. His father, Carl Wittgenstein, was a European steel magnate, and his mother, Leopoudinet, was a cousin of Hayek's grandfather and the daughter of a banker. Ludwig, the youngest of eight children, was of 3/4 Jewish origin and became a British citizen after the Nazi annexation of Austria.

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Wittgenstein was educated at home with his brothers and sisters from an early age, but the results of family education could not make him meet the accepted standards of a formal high school. Until 1903, after passing the entrance examination, he went to a high school known for his skills in Linz and was a classmate with Adolf Hitler, but there was no conclusive evidence that the two important figures had any in-depth contact.

like some great people, Wittgenstein did not do well in high school, mostly at the lower-middle level. after three years of unhappiness, he left here with the defeat of the college entrance examination. Ludwig, a teenager who is fond of machinery and technology, made a simple and practical sewing machine at the age of ten. His original ambition was physics, and he was eager to learn from the famous physicist Boltzmann, but Wittgenstein's hopes were destroyed when he committed suicide in 1906. Wittgenstein then aspired to become an engineer.

in 1906, Wittgenstein went to Berlin to study mechanical engineering. In 1908, he entered the University of Victoria in Manchester to study for a degree in aeronautical engineering aerodynamics. During this period, to thoroughly understand the principle of the propeller and out of interest in the basis of mathematics, Wittgenstein read the principles of Mathematics co-written by Bertrand Russell and Whitehead and the basis of arithmetic by Gottlob Frege.

after visiting Flegg in the summer of 1911, Wittgenstein followed the logician's recommendation and went to Trinity College of the University of Cambridge to study under Russell and became a student and good friend of the British philosopher Russell. Russell called the acquaintance "one of the most exciting intellectual adventures" of his life.

Wittgenstein, who could have been exempted from military service after the beginning of World War I, actively joined the army as a volunteer and completed on the battlefield the "Theory of logical philosophy" (English version of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; German version: Logische-Philosophische Abhandlung)), which marked the linguistic turn of so-called philosophy. After the Theory of logical philosophy, he thought that the so-called philosophical problems had been solved, so he went to the mountains of southern Austria with aristocratic enthusiasm to join the Austrian school reform movement advocated by Glenker and became a primary school teacher. Wittgenstein, with an idealistic pursuit, lived an ascetic life here and was passionate about his students, but he was regarded as a "crazy guy" by incomprehensible parents. they turned down the eccentric's request to adopt one or two of the students. In 1926, Wittgenstein, who proved to be at odds with adults, left the "vulgar and stupid southern farmer" and ended his job as a rural teacher.

then Wittgenstein worked as a gardener's assistant in a monastery for a short time, and then his sister Margaret, worried about his mental state, managed to ask him to help design and be responsible for building a house of her own. The building, which was later used as a Bulgarian embassy, gave Wittgenstein the status of an architect.

in 1927, Wittgenstein met the members of the "Vienna Group" based on "logical philosophy" and was invited to participate in some activities, and had contacts with members such as Schlick and Waisman, but Wittgenstein refused to join their circle.

in the spring of 1928, after listening to the mathematician Brouwell's lecture on "Mathematics, Science and language" in Vienna, Wittgenstein regained a strong interest in philosophical exploration. In 1929, Wittgenstein returned to Cambridge and adopted "logical philosophy" as a paper by Russell and G.E. After presiding over the doctoral defense, Moore stayed at Trinity College to teach philosophy and succeeded Moore as professor of philosophy in 1939.

in 1947, Wittgenstein, who firmly believed that "philosophy professor" was "an absurd job", resigned from Cambridge to concentrate on thinking and writing.

on April 29th, 1951, Wittgenstein, suffering from prostate cancer, died at the home of his good friend Dr. Biwan (Edward Bevan). After his death, disciples Anskom (Elizabeth Anscombe) and Reese (Rush Rhees) published philosophical Studies, which is believed to have led to a new trend in the philosophy of language (English version: Philosophical Investigations; German version: Philosophische Untersuchungen)). Wittgenstein's life is so legendary that Russell calls it "the most perfect example of genius": passionate, profound, serious, pure, and outstanding.

Wittgenstein is the main representative of the linguistic school (roughly equivalent to analytical philosophy). The source of his thought mainly came from Frege's achievements in modern logic, Russell, Whitehead's principles of Mathematics, and G.E. Moore's principles of Ethics. His philosophy focuses on language, and he wants to reveal what happens when people communicate and express themselves. He argues that the essence of philosophy is language. Language is the expression of human thought and the foundation of the whole civilization. The essence of philosophy can only be found in language. He dispelled the only essence of traditional metaphysics and found a new direction for the development of philosophy. His main works, the Theory of logical philosophy and the study of philosophy, respectively represent the two contrastive stages of the philosophical path that runs through his life. The former is mainly deconstruction, making philosophy a linguistic problem. Philosophy must face language directly. Everything that can be said clearly, and what cannot be said should be silent. "philosophy is nothing more than explaining the problem clearly. The latter returns philosophy to philosophy and is constructed after deconstruction. it is impossible to create a set of strict language that can express a philosophy, because the language of daily life is endless, which is the foundation and source of philosophy. therefore, the essence of philosophy should be solved in daily life and understanding games in "games".


Wittgenstein's thoughts changed greatly in the earlier and later periods. In the preface to the study of philosophy, he explained that the early works had made serious mistakes. Of course, he also said that he would compare the previous and later works and use the previous works as the background to understand the later philosophy. Wittgenstein's ideological transformation stems from his long-term independent thinking and the help of his teachers or friends. The focus of his independent thinking is how to become a "metaphysical self", a self that can communicate with the world constantly. His teachers or friends, such as the economist Piero Slava, exposed him to the social side of language, and their views had an impact on the pure and quiet logical world, thus helping Wittgenstein to get out of the purely logical world and face the noisy world of daily language communication.

famous saying: you must keep silent about the unspeakable.


there is a very important term in Wittgenstein's mind, which is silence.

what is meant by silence is to keep silent about what is in front of you or what you want in your heart, and to keep your words in your heart without expressing them. Under what circumstances will you remain silent?

Wittgenstein believes that you should remain silent when the object is unspeakable. For example, although a short philosophical theory has only a few words, it is difficult to explain it thoroughly and clearly even if thousands of words are used to explain it, because often at this time, although people have an understanding of it in their hearts, there is no way to find the right words to explain the theory to the extent they think, so there is no way to explain the theory clearly. For example, if you talk about such empty things as life and ideals, even if you speak eloquently, it is difficult to speak clearly and clearly. Everyone has different ideas, which leads to different people's understanding of things, so the free talk about "life" or "ideal" will be varied, without an accurate, unified, and clear answer.

such things that are different from reality are called "mysteries" by philosophers. In front of these "mysteries", according to Wittgenstein, since it is unspeakable, the best choice is silence.