ArchivesSite MapSubmitOur GangContact UsHot Sites
1983-2015
tearing the rag off the bush again
Problems of Life: Wittgenstein PDF E-mail
 Problems of Life: Wittgenstein
Active Image

Young migratory mother, originally from Texas. On the day before the photo was made she and her husband traveled thirty-five miles each way to pick peas. They worked five hours each and together earned $2.25. They have two young children and are now living in an auto camp, Edison, Kern County, California: photo by Dorothea Lange, 1940 (National Archives and Records Administration)

The human gaze has a power of conferring value on things; but it makes them cost more, too.

(1929)


Don't play with what lies deep in another person!


The face is the soul of the body.

(circa 1932-1934)

Active Image
Rainclouds gathering over Bareina, desert village in southern Mauretania, West Africa: photo by Ferdinand Reus, 2006


If anyone should think he has solved the problem of life and feel like telling himself that everything is quite easy now, he can see that he is wrong just by recalling that there was a time when this "solution" had not been discovered; but it must have been possible to live then too and the solution which has now been discovered seems fortuitous in relation to how things were then. And it is the same in the study of logic. If there were a "solution" to the problems of logic (philosophy) we should only need to caution ourselves that there was a time when they had not been solved (and even at that time people must have known how to live and think).

(1930)

Active Image
Wolken: photo by BenTheWikiMan, 1980


You can't build clouds. And that's why the future you dream of never comes.

(1942)

Active Image
Farmer and his sons walking in the face of a dust storm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma: photo by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration, April 1936 (Library of Congress)



I once said, and perhaps rightly: The earlier culture will become a heap of rubble and finally a heap of ashes, but spirits will hover over the ashes.

(1930)

Active Image
Grand Prismatic Spring and Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone Park, Wyoming: photo by Mila Zinkova, 2008

Often it is only very slightly more disagreeable to tell the truth than to lie; about as difficult as drinking bitter rather than sweet coffee; and yet I still have a strong inclination to lie.

(1940)

Active Image
Small boat rescues a seaman from the burning U.S.S. West Virginia, with U.S.S. Tennessee inboard, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 1941: photo by US Navy Office of Public Relations, 1941 (Library of Congress)

The horrors of hell can be experienced within a single day; that's plenty of time.

(1937)


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

(1944)

Active Image
On U.S. 99, near Brawley, Imperial County, California: homeless family of seven, walking the highway from Phoenix, Arizona, where they picked cotton, bound for San Diego, where the father hopes to get relief because he once lived there: photo by Dorothea Lange, February 1939 (Library of Congress)

You cannot lead people to what is good; you can only lead them to some place or other. The good is outside the space of facts.

(1929)

Active Image
Tipas blowing in the wind, Buenos Aires: photo by blmurch, 2010

Why is the soul moved by idle thoughts? -- After all they are idle. Well, it is moved by them.

(How can the wind move the tree when it's nothing but air? Well, it does move it; and don't forget it.)

(1939-1940)


When I came home I expected a surprise and there was no surprise for me, so, of course, I was surprised.

(circa 1944)

Active Image
Methar Lam, Afghanistan: Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Alonzo Gonzales, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, walks through an alley in an operation to capture suspected Anti-Coalition Forces, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom: photo by Cpl. James L. Yarboro, U.S. Marines, April 6, 2005 (U.S. Government)

No cry of torment can be greater than the cry of one man.

Or, again, no torment can be greater than what a single human being may suffer.

A man is capable of infinite torment therefore, and so he too can stand in need of infinite help.

(circa 1944)

Active Image
House being moved through main street of town, deposited over a rainy Sunday at intersection of U.S. 99, Cottage Grove, Lane County, Oregon: photo by Dorothea Lange, October 1939 (Library of Congress)


An example that shows how monstrously vain wishes are is the wish I have to fill a nice notebook with writing as quickly as possible. I get nothing at all from this; I don't wish it because, say, it will be evidence of my productivity; it is no more than a craving to rid myself of something familiar as soon as I can; although as soon as I have got rid of it I shall have to start a fresh one and the whole business will have to be repeated.

(1939-1940)

Active Image
Aftermath of Galveston, Texas hurricane of 1900: house on Avenue N: photo by Griffith & Griffith, 15 October 1900 (Library of Congress)

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.

(1939-1940)

Active Image
Sunrise, Tesselated Pavement, Eaglehawk Neck, Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia: photo by Noodle snacks, 2009

Each morning you have to break through the dead rubble afresh so as to reach the living warm seed.

(1929)

Active Image
Pied Heron (Ardea picata), Great Flight Aviary, Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne, Australia: photo by Noodle snacks, 5 February 2010

My ideal is a certain coolness. A temple providing a setting for the passions without meddling with them.

(1929)


Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.


Longfellow:

In the elder days of art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part,
For the gods are everywhere.

(This could serve me as a motto.)

(1938)
Active Image
Goldenrod (Solidago graminifolia): photo by Adamantios, 2007


The delight I take in my thoughts is delight in my own strange life. Is this joy of living?


(1931)

Active Image
Light-mantled Sooty Albatross (Phoebetria palpebrata): photo by Vincent Legendre, 2005

Problems of Life: Ludwig Wittgenstein, excerpts from private notes in: Vermischte Bemerkungen (1977), edited by G.H. von Wright; translated by Peter Winch as Culture and Value, 1980
 
< Prev   Next >