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99 Notable Ludwig Wittgenstein Quotes You Must Know

Famous As: One of the Greatest Philosophers of the 20th Century
Born On: April 26, 1889
Died On: April 29, 1951
Born In: Vienna, Austria
Died At Age: 62
Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was an Austrian-British born philosopher. Wittgenstein was born in a wealthy family in Austria in 1889 and after studying in Berlin, he earned his doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 1929. Bertrand Russell was one of his teachers at the University and called him the perfect example of a genius. He was employed as a teacher at the University of Cambridge for 18 years and during that time he worked on subjects like ‘the logic’, ‘philosophy of language’ and ‘philosophy of mathematics’ among others. His only published work was ‘Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus’ in 1921. However, it is also true that he conducted extensive research on the subject and all his manuscripts were published in the form of a book named ‘Philosophical Investigations’ after his death. Wittgenstein was a tortured genius, who suffered from depression and suicidal tendencies, which had also forced him to give up his academic pursuits plenty of times. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s books, work, manuscripts and other writings give an insight about his thoughts on several topics. We have scanned his works to collect some of his most famous quotes. Following are some of the most famous quotes from the life and works of Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of the great philosophers of the 20th century.
A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.

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

Ludwig Wittgenstein
The limits of my language means the limits of my world.

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

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

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

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Hell isn't other people. Hell is yourself.

Hell isn't other people. Hell is yourself.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
The real question of life after death isn't whether or not it exists, but even if it does what problem this really solves.

The real question of life after death isn't whether or not it exists, but even if it does what problem this really solves.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
I am my world.

I am my world.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.

Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.

If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Only describe, don't explain.

Only describe, don't explain.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.

If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Don't for heaven's sake, be afraid of talking nonsense! But you must pay attention to your nonsense.

Don't for heaven's sake, be afraid of talking nonsense! But you must pay attention to your nonsense.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that's unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.

A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that's unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Not how the world is, but that it is, is the mystery.

Not how the world is, but that it is, is the mystery.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have known since long.

The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have known since long.

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

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

Ludwig Wittgenstein
How small a thought it takes to fill a life.

How small a thought it takes to fill a life.

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

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

Ludwig Wittgenstein
We are asleep. Our Life is a dream. But we wake up sometimes, just enough to know that we are dreaming.

We are asleep. Our Life is a dream. But we wake up sometimes, just enough to know that we are dreaming.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
I act with complete certainty. But this certainty is my own.

I act with complete certainty. But this certainty is my own.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all.

We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
To imagine a language is to imagine a form of life.

To imagine a language is to imagine a form of life.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
What can be shown, cannot be said.

What can be shown, cannot be said.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
The world of the happy is quite different from that of the unhappy.

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

Ludwig Wittgenstein
What is troubling us is the tendency to believe that the mind is like a little man within.

What is troubling us is the tendency to believe that the mind is like a little man within.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
At the core of all well-founded belief lies belief that is unfounded.

At the core of all well-founded belief lies belief that is unfounded.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ethics and aesthetics are one.

Ethics and aesthetics are one.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
When we can't think for ourselves, we can always quote

When we can't think for ourselves, we can always quote

Ludwig Wittgenstein
For an answer which cannot be expressed the question too cannot be expressed.

The riddle does not exist.

If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered.

For an answer which cannot be expressed the question too cannot be expressed. The riddle does not exist. If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
An honest religious thinker is like a tightrope walker. He almost looks as though he were walking on nothing but air. His support is the slenderest imaginable. And yet it really is possible to walk on it.

An honest religious thinker is like a tightrope walker. He almost looks as though he were walking on nothing but air. His support is the slenderest imaginable. And yet it really is possible to walk on it.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Philosophers are often like little children, who first scribble random lines on a piece of paper with their pencils, and now ask an adult 'What is that?

Philosophers are often like little children, who first scribble random lines on a piece of paper with their pencils, and now ask an adult 'What is that?

Ludwig Wittgenstein
If in life we are surrounded by death, then in the health of our intellect we are surrounded by madness.

If in life we are surrounded by death, then in the health of our intellect we are surrounded by madness.

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

Don't think, but look! (PI 66)

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Language disguises thought.

Language disguises thought.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
If there were a verb meaning

If there were a verb meaning "to believe falsely," it would not have any significant first person, present indicative.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Sometimes, in doing philosophy, one just wants to utter an inarticulate sound.

Sometimes, in doing philosophy, one just wants to utter an inarticulate sound.

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

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

Ludwig Wittgenstein
The mystical is not how the world is, but that it is.

The mystical is not how the world is, but that it is.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
When you are philosophizing you have to descend into primeval chaos and feel at home there.

When you are philosophizing you have to descend into primeval chaos and feel at home there.

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

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

Ludwig Wittgenstein
The eternal life is given to those who live in the present.

The eternal life is given to those who live in the present.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
If you tried to doubt everything you would not get as far as doubting anything. The game of doubting itself presupposes certainty.

If you tried to doubt everything you would not get as far as doubting anything. The game of doubting itself presupposes certainty.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darber mu man schweigen.

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darber mu man schweigen.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably.

A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
You can't think decently if you're not willing to hurt yourself

You can't think decently if you're not willing to hurt yourself

Ludwig Wittgenstein
I give no sources, because it is indifferent to me
whether what I have thought has already been
thought before me by another.

I give no sources, because it is indifferent to me whether what I have thought has already been thought before me by another.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
This sort of thing has got to be stopped. Bad philosophers are like slum landlords. It's my job to put them out of business.

This sort of thing has got to be stopped. Bad philosophers are like slum landlords. It's my job to put them out of business.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
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.

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
The philosopher is not a citizen of any community of ideas, that is what makes him a philosopher.

The philosopher is not a citizen of any community of ideas, that is what makes him a philosopher.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly. Everything that can be said can be said clearly.

Everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly. Everything that can be said can be said clearly.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
The face is the soul of the body.

The face is the soul of the body.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Knowledge is in the end based on acknowledgement.

Knowledge is in the end based on acknowledgement.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
If I have exhausted the justifications, I have reached bedrock and my spade is turned. Then I am inclined to say: 'This is simply what I do.

If I have exhausted the justifications, I have reached bedrock and my spade is turned. Then I am inclined to say: 'This is simply what I do.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
This is how philosophers should salute each other: ‘Take your time.

This is how philosophers should salute each other: ‘Take your time.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Our greatest stupidities may be very wise.

Our greatest stupidities may be very wise.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Tell them I've had a wonderful life.

Tell them I've had a wonderful life.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Suppose someone were to say: 'Imagine this butterfly exactly as it is, but ugly instead of beautiful'?!

Suppose someone were to say: 'Imagine this butterfly exactly as it is, but ugly instead of beautiful'?!

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Language is a part of our organism and no less complicated than it.

Language is a part of our organism and no less complicated than it.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
The world is everything that is the case.

The world is everything that is the case.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
It's impossible for me to say one word about all that music has meant to me in my life. How, then, can I hope to be understood?

It's impossible for me to say one word about all that music has meant to me in my life. How, then, can I hope to be understood?

Ludwig Wittgenstein
A tautology's truth is certain, a proposition's possible, a contradiction's impossible.

A tautology's truth is certain, a proposition's possible, a contradiction's impossible.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Belief in the causal nexus is superstition.

Belief in the causal nexus is superstition.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
I think I summed up my attitude to philosophy when I said: philosophy ought really to be written only as a poetic composition.

I think I summed up my attitude to philosophy when I said: philosophy ought really to be written only as a poetic composition.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
It is not humanly possible to gather immediately from it what the logic of language is. Language disguises thought.

It is not humanly possible to gather immediately from it what the logic of language is. Language disguises thought.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
I am not interested in constructing a building, so much as in having a perspicuous view of the foundations of possible buildings.

I am not interested in constructing a building, so much as in having a perspicuous view of the foundations of possible buildings.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
The human body is the best picture of the human soul.

The human body is the best picture of the human soul.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Our life is endless in the way that our visual field is without limit.

Our life is endless in the way that our visual field is without limit.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
In philosophy it is always good to put a question instead of an answer to a question. For an answer to the philosophical question may easily be unfair; disposing of it by means of another question is not.

In philosophy it is always good to put a question instead of an answer to a question. For an answer to the philosophical question may easily be unfair; disposing of it by means of another question is not.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Just improve yourself; that is the only thing you can do to better the world.

Just improve yourself; that is the only thing you can do to better the world.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Where two principles really do meet which cannot be reconciled with one another, then each man declares the other a fool and a heretic

Where two principles really do meet which cannot be reconciled with one another, then each man declares the other a fool and a heretic

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Music conveys to us itself!

Music conveys to us itself!

Ludwig Wittgenstein
We are struggling with language.
We are engaged in a struggle with language.

We are struggling with language. We are engaged in a struggle with language.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Always come down from the barren heights of cleverness into the green valleys of folly.

Always come down from the barren heights of cleverness into the green valleys of folly.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.

Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
In the world everything is as it is and happens as it does happen. In it, there is no value, - and if there were, it would be of no value.

In the world everything is as it is and happens as it does happen. In it, there is no value, - and if there were, it would be of no value.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Nothing is more important for teaching us to understand the concepts we have than to construct fictitious ones.

Nothing is more important for teaching us to understand the concepts we have than to construct fictitious ones.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Most of the propositions and questions to be found in philosophical works are not false but nonsensical.

Most of the propositions and questions to be found in philosophical works are not false but nonsensical.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
It's not how the world is, but that it is, that is cause for astonishment.

It's not how the world is, but that it is, that is cause for astonishment.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
So in the end, when one is doing philosophy, one gets to the point where one would like just to emit an inarticulate sound.

So in the end, when one is doing philosophy, one gets to the point where one would like just to emit an inarticulate sound.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Christianity is not a doctrine, not, I mean, a theory about what has happened & will happen to the human soul, but a description of something that actually takes place in human life.

Christianity is not a doctrine, not, I mean, a theory about what has happened & will happen to the human soul, but a description of something that actually takes place in human life.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
People nowadays think that scientists exist to instruct them, poets, musicians, etc. to give them pleasure. The idea that these have something to teach them - that does not occur to them.

People nowadays think that scientists exist to instruct them, poets, musicians, etc. to give them pleasure. The idea that these have something to teach them - that does not occur to them.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Concerning that which cannot be talked about, we should not say anything.

Concerning that which cannot be talked about, we should not say anything.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
What stands fast does so, not because it is intrinsically obvious or convincing; it is rather held fast by what lies around it.

What stands fast does so, not because it is intrinsically obvious or convincing; it is rather held fast by what lies around it.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
There can never be surprises in logic.

There can never be surprises in logic.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
If a lion could speak, we could not understand him.

If a lion could speak, we could not understand him.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Religion is, as it were, the calm bottom of the sea at its deepest point, which remains calm however high the waves on the surface may be.

Religion is, as it were, the calm bottom of the sea at its deepest point, which remains calm however high the waves on the surface may be.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
There are no subjects in the world. A subject is a limitation of the world.

There are no subjects in the world. A subject is a limitation of the world.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
The primary question about life after death is not whether it is a fact, but even if it is, what problems that really solves.

The primary question about life after death is not whether it is a fact, but even if it is, what problems that really solves.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
I should not like my writing to spare other people the trouble of thinking. But, if possible, to stimulate someone to thoughts of his own.

I should not like my writing to spare other people the trouble of thinking. But, if possible, to stimulate someone to thoughts of his own.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Perhaps what is inexpressible (what I find mysterious and am not able to express) is the background against which whatever I could express has its meaning.

Perhaps what is inexpressible (what I find mysterious and am not able to express) is the background against which whatever I could express has its meaning.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
You must always be puzzled by mental illness. The thing I would dread most, if I became mentally ill, would be your adopting a common sense attitude; that you could take it for granted that I was deluded

You must always be puzzled by mental illness. The thing I would dread most, if I became mentally ill, would be your adopting a common sense attitude; that you could take it for granted that I was deluded

Ludwig Wittgenstein
The aspect of things that are most important to us are hidden because of their familiarity and simplicity.

The aspect of things that are most important to us are hidden because of their familiarity and simplicity.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
In art it is hard to say anything as good as saying nothing.

In art it is hard to say anything as good as saying nothing.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
It is so characteristic, that just when the mechanics of reproduction are so vastly improved, there are fewer and fewer people who know how music should be played.

It is so characteristic, that just when the mechanics of reproduction are so vastly improved, there are fewer and fewer people who know how music should be played.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Roughly speaking: objects are colourless

Roughly speaking: objects are colourless

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Language is a labyrinth of paths. You approach from one side and know your way about; you approach the same place from another side and no longer know your way about.

Language is a labyrinth of paths. You approach from one side and know your way about; you approach the same place from another side and no longer know your way about.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
If, for example, you were to think more deeply about death, then it would be truly strange if, in doing so, you did not encounter new images, new linguistic fields.

If, for example, you were to think more deeply about death, then it would be truly strange if, in doing so, you did not encounter new images, new linguistic fields.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Philosophy, as we use the word, is a fight against the fascination which forms of expression exert upon us.

Philosophy, as we use the word, is a fight against the fascination which forms of expression exert upon us.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Resting on your laurels is as dangerous as resting when you are walking in the snow. You doze off and die in your sleep.

Resting on your laurels is as dangerous as resting when you are walking in the snow. You doze off and die in your sleep.

Ludwig Wittgenstein