Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

PHILOSOPHY – Ludwig Wittgenstein


A lot of unhappiness comes about in this world because we can’t let other people know what we mean clearly enough. One of the philosophers who can help us with our communication problems is Ludwig Wittgenstein. He was a recluse. He had a stutter, paused for ages in the middle of his sentences and had a habit of storming out if he didn’t like what people were saying. It was weirdly the ideal background for someone intent on studying how easily communication between people goes wrong. Ludwig Wittgenstein was born Vienna in 1889. The youngest child of a wealthy, highly cultured but domineering steel magnate. Three of Ludwig’s four brothers took their own lives, and Ludwig himself was frequently troubled by suicidal thoughts. When he was young, he was interested in engineering. After studying at Cambridge, his father died and he inherited a lot of money. He gave it all away, mainly to his already very rich relatives and went to live in spartan solitude in Norway. Then he started writing a book published in 1921 called Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. It was a short, beautiful and baffling work. The big question that Wittgenstein asks in it is: How do human beings manage to communicate ideas to one another? And his answer, which felt revolutionary, is that language works by triggering within us pictures of how things are in the world. Wittgenstein thought of this while reading a newspaper article about a Paris court case in which, in order to explain with greater efficacy, the details of an accident that had taken place a road junction, the court had arranged for the accident to be reproduced visually using model cars and pedestrians. It was a Eureka moment. In Wittgenstein’s view words enables us to make pictures of facts. To say: The palm tree is by the shore, paints a rapid sketch that like the model lets another person see the situation in their mind and understand. We’re constantly swapping pictures between us. But the Paris court needed to resort to an actual model for a very important reason. Because on the whole, we’re very bad at managing to make good pictures in the minds of others. Communication typically goes wrong because other people have, as we put it, the wrong picture of what we’re meaning. It can take an age for two people to realize divergences over quite basic things. Problems of communication typically start because we don’t have a clear and accurate enough picture of what we mean in our own heads. We say quite meaningless or modeled or unelaborated things which therefore can go nowhere in the minds of others. There’s another danger: That we read more meaning into the words of others than they ever intended or than is warranted. You tell your partner you had a conversation with an interesting person at the hotel reception. The picture in your mind is an innocent one. But your partner swiftly forms a very different impression. The Tractatus is a plea by a very taciturn, silent and precise Austrian philosopher to speak more carefully and less impulsively. As he famously put it: “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.” When he published it, Wittgenstein thought somewhat grandly that the Tractatus was the last work of philosophy that would ever need to be written. So he looked around for how to fill the rest of his life. He turned to architecture and spent a couple of years designing a house for his sister in Vienna. He spent ages getting the door handles and radiotors right. Very late on in the project, he got increasingly bothered about the ceiling in one of the rooms and came to the conclusion that is was too low. At immense inconvenience to everyone, he insisted on having it raised by three centimeters. It made all the difference, he thought. Then, in 1929 Wittgenstein suddenly returned to Cambridge and to philosophy because he realized he had some new things to say about language and communication. And so he began to write a second book published posthumously, and that we know know as Philosophical Investigations. Instead of thinking that language is only just about pictures, he developed the idea that language is like a kind of tool that we use to play different games, which doesn’t literally mean games, more patterns of intentions. So if a parent says to a frightened child: “Don’t worry – everything’s gonna to be fine”, they can’t know it really will be fine. They aren’t playing the Rational Prediction From Available Facts Game. They’re playing another game: The Words as an Instrument of
Comfort and Security Game Wittgenstein’s point is that all kinds of misunderstandings arise when we don’t see which kind of game someone is involved in. If one’s partner says: “You never help me. You’re so unreliable.” The natural inclination might be to hear this as a part of a Stating the Facts Game; like saying: The battle of Waterloo was in 1815. So one might respond by citing facts about how actually you got the car insurance yesterday, and you bought some vegetables at lunch time, too. But actually, this person is involved in a different language game. They’re using words not to capture facts. They’re playing The Help and Reassurance Game. So in the language game, they’re involved in, “You never help” means “I want you to be more nurturing.” Working out the game in question, is, Wittgenstein realized, key to good communication. In the Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein also wanted to draw attention to how much of our self-understanding depends on the words of others, on languages that have developed publicly and communally over many centuries long before we’re born. For example, on Sunday afternoon I might fall prey to a worried, confused mood as I think about the week ahead and everything I’ve got to do. My ability to know this very private side of myself and to help others know me will be hugely enhanced if I have to hand a word that’s been around a while: Angst. A word which was helpfully formulated by the philosopher Kierkegaard in 19th century, Copenhagen. Words like angst or also nostalgia, melancholy or ambivalent and many others help us to name elusive areas of our own experience. Language is a public tool for the understanding of private life. The richness of the language we’re exposed to is therefore really important to our self-knowledge. Reading many books gives us tools with which to help to know who we are. Though a lot of Wittgenstein’s philosophy is deeply complicated, it’s underpinned by a desire always to be helpful. The task of philosophy, said Wittgenstein, is to show the fly the way out of the fly bottle. The particular fly bottle, he was interested in, was language. And before his death from cancer in 1951, he managed to let out for us a lot of word flies usefully for us all.

100 Replies to “PHILOSOPHY – Ludwig Wittgenstein”

  • So um, can anyone tell me why the fly gets squished at 6:48? Wasn't the point of "letting the 'fly' out of the bottle" to give it the tools it could use to escape? True, that generally is the fate of most flies when in the vicinity of a human, but why kill Wittgenstein's metaphor?

  • Definitely enjoyed this. I've been loosely and distantly aware of him for a long time, but I'm reading Whitehead now, and I had the distinct impression that he was deeply opposed to Whitehead. Now that I've watched this video, I can see how he might get very frustrated by Whitehead, due to the incredible difficulty there is in tracking down what he truly means. And, perhaps, Whiteheads ability to multiply bottle-flies into infinite magnitudes is nearly unparalleled. On the other hand, I find Whitehead compelling in a way that I can't imagine ever feeling about Wittgenstein. I liked what was said here, but also can't imagine it ever jolting me out of mindset that's most attracted to the thought of people who have that enigmatic quality that strives to go farther and farther into the labyrinth of what it's possible to think — whether anyone can follow you or not. Here is what it comes down to: whether I can ever understand Whitehead with an accuracy he would be satisfied by or not, I'm very deeply interested in the wild thoughts I come across in my misunderstandings of him. However, maybe there's still a place for Wittgenstein here in trying to be as clear as possible in expressing that very difficult to fathom idea…. I can be very okay with high-quality illusions of agreement 😉

  • Language does not do justice to describe my abhorrence of this silly channel. It's that Allan de Button (sp?) guy all over again and his poor understanding of life, miseducating young people.

  • This is not a very good summary of the Tractatus. A quote from Wittgenstein's Introduction to the Tractatus (a title which Wittgenstein himself did not like and did not use when later speaking of the work) will give you more information than this video:

    "The book deals with the problems of philosophy and shows, as 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 somewhat as follows: What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent."

    He is most definitely not promoting a theory of communication or a theory of any sort. You will not find the word "theory" anywhere in the work except when talking about other philosopher's theories or when he is explicitly stating that philosophy and logic are not theories:

    "Philosophy is not a theory but an activity." (4.112)

    "Logic is not a theory but a reflexion of the world." (6.13)

    Understanding the fact that he is not proposing a theory and is, in fact, chiefly trying to show why proposing a theory does not make sense in philosophy and logic is fundamental to understanding the Tractatus.

    The book is about understanding the logic of language. He is trying to show that the way that philosophers formulate traditional philosophical problems is confused because they misunderstand the logic of language. He wanted the book to help philosophers come to an understanding of the logic of language. And he believed at the time of the writing of the Tractatus that if one comes to understand the logic of language, all of the major problems of philosophy are dissolved.

    I appreciate the efforts of those who want to make Wittgenstein accessible to a larger population. And to the extent these efforts lead one to actually pick up a text and study it for oneself it is a worthy project. But I offer this summary of what Wittgenstein said to a group of students in an Introduction to Philosophy Course:

    "I can't teach you anything that I know without your having to work just as hard as I did to learn it."

  • What the fuck is this summary of the tractatus, seriously? It’s an entire ontology not some cheap psychologist magazine article

  • If u wanna b smart den u gota use smart words 😎👌🏼 then peeple think smart pictures 😎😎👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼

  • This is an appalling analysis of Wittgenstein's early and later philosophies, which can be illustrated by the often idiotic comments posted in response to it. If someone wants to get a much better insight into Wittgenstein's profound philosophy, please bother to read Ray Monk's intellectual biography: Ludwig Wittgenstein: the duty of genius.

  • Rubbing below, atop and around the sides of your eyes every week can clean your eyes because skin and bacteria can settle inside the skins of the eye. The same can be said for the back of your nose where snot can settle and build.

  • so yes, the school of life is shit.
    took some sentences in the books, presented them in their own view, missed really essential facts about the book, wittgenstein s life, the introduction wrote to the book by bertrand russel, the structure of the book itself. treating one of the hardest books ever like it's a sunday newspaper…
    i will never watch your videos again, i think it;s pretty obvious by now that u are an impostor 🙂

  • How would you explain number theory with this because I don't think about it as a representation of any real thing when in further real analysis I think about how the things stand in relation to one another through cause and effect.

  • This channel feels like a catalouge where you can have some preinformation about philosophers and their interests, so you can pick one and start reading them !

  • i have never understood how blind people mange to communicate .!
    do they fully understand what they are talking about without having pictures in their minds?

  • This channel is while on the surface does a good service to introduce people to philosophers, actually does a disservice by introducing them in a limited too cursory of a way. I think most people who view this and even find the philosopher interesting will ever pick up a book written by him.

  • what are we doing with are lives and money to help other life forms through this brief and sorry life; that is the only question that needs to be asked

  • I dont see picture I see the words in my head. so at palm tree I visualize all the letters first, not the object itself. So… yeah.

  • Wittgenstein is such a fucking shithead, he writes complete nonsense, I read both of his books. Now I have to write an essay on this retard.

  • Yeah, but if communication is the exchange of images, how does it work for naturally blind people? I feel like that is the limit of his philosophy

  • suicide of three brothers broke my heart rip to Ludwig and brothers, may they return to loving parents and a loving world

  • Antwort Mir
    Wittgenstein was and is overrated. Wittgenstein is mostly nonsense. Most of his conclusions are inaccurate and therefore wrong. Actually, one should not spend too much time with his writings. If you don’t get paid for it, it’s a waste of time. It’s simply not worth it. I studied aesthetics and mathematics in Vienna.

  • THREE of FOUR brothers?? Like wow. What the eff were the odds?? Or was it because of the possible metal poisoning they all had from that industry? Oh my gosh.

  • That was a beautifully produced video which maintained the right balance of aesthetic appeal and information. Well done! 👌

  • Omitting some quite essential points of the late Wittgenstein. For mathematical rules and rules of deduction are nothing but what the language games happens to "decide". Wittgenstein believing that basically language constitutes reality. Which is different from saying that we can only understand reality through language. We do not only understand reality through language, according ti Wittgenstein, we form it.
    Far more radical than you make him out to be.

  • Anyone else thinks wittgenstein is overrated, he doesnt propose a coherent philosophy as much as he splits hair over dictionary definitions?

  • Missing many points of his life: Wittgenstein never lived in Norway. The "Tractatus" he wrote before & during World Word 1. He left World War 1 as a Leutnant. He chose to become a simple K12 Teacher, representing an important part of his life. The schools were in the country side in Austria.

  • Athanasius–
    "But as to Gentile wisdom, and the sounding pretensions of the philosophers, I think none can need our argument, since the wonder is before the eyes of all that while the wise among the Greeks had written so much, and were unable to persuade even a few from their own neighborhood concerning immortality and a virtuous life, Christ alone, by ordinary language and by men not clever with the tongue, has throughout all the world, persuaded whole churches full of men to despise death, and to mind the things of immortality; to overlook what is temporal and to turn their eyes to what is eternal; to think nothing of earthly glory and to strive only for the heavenly."
    "Christianity is not engrossed by this transitory world, but measures all things by the thought of eternity." [J. Gresham Machen]

  • You missed the most central experience of his life; that of being in the trenches during the First World War, where he also developed the Tractatus.

  • David Hume could out-consume Schopenhauer and Hegel,
    Wittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.
    (From the Australian Philosophers’ song) 😊

  • The Tractatus does not really speak about communication : there is never one person, talking to another, but there is just the language, the world, and (in a special meaning) I. It is about representation. Wittgenstein kept silent about people's life in this book, and so you can not speak of it…

    Would Wittgenstein be the philosophical god he is if there never were a second Wittgenstein ?
    Whatever, few are those who understood the Tractatus.

  • While Schopenhauer wasn't praise enough but had his influence on numerous great philosophers. I wish you make more videos on Schopenhauer. 💚

  • language is the closest we as human beings can come to sharing our complex and profound feelings the likes of which no other creature can reproduce . . . but even then it's often not enough.

  • I remember coming to these revelations when I was around 7, thinking about how people speak in other languages. I was so enamored by communication and language, then when I was 12 I saw this video and I was so mad cause this guy stole my idea lol

  • I think this is why meme's are becoming a great way of communication.
    You are amazing at the game of communication. Please keep it up.

  • All women have communication problems when talking to a man that they are interested in. They paint pictures that are just the opposite of what they're really trying to communicate.

  • What if we're not playing a game but we're being played in a game by some superior power. You know when you forget dreams and stuff this is probably because you had a similar thought of what I previously said and the superior power that is playing your character want you not to know about the 'game because we would stop playing the game and find a way out. You know in the dark ages people were killed for thinking in a different way and now we went from that to erasing minds it's basically an update. The church who had killed these people are part of this game and they are programmed by the developers of the game. We all are programmed but people are programmed in different ways. The superior powers…WTH I just forgot what I was going to say and it was something ground-breaking. All I can say is we're being played the rest is for you to think about. Good luck surviving I hope the game player plays the cards right. Lemme say again WE'RE BEING PLAYED.WE NEED TO FIND THE GLITCH OR FIND A WAY TO WIN. Science is just a way of proving the programmed world. There are different worlds, The multiverse it's just like a video game you chose a world and play. Instead of playing the game we are the characters being played. That's my perspective and way. It's all perception

  • The story-example you gave for "angst", I think, is more accurately described by, "the Sunday scaries" – but the PurpleBoys have the cure

  • From the first, Wittgenstein was my personal favorite. I guess because
    we cannot really get anywhere with
    'any' communication without first
    it. Even still, it can never be the same.

  • We seem to be going backwards. When we send text how that text is interpreted really depends on the person recieving that text mood. As to communicate well you need to be facing the person speaking. So you can tell if they are joking or being serious etc. How many people have got into an argument because of a message being misinterpreted by the reciever?

  • I’m going to switch social media off for reasons explained by Wittgenstein. It’s fucking up the world 🌎👍

  • twist and turn it as you want, knowledge comes from Germany. Think about it. The thing is why does it come from there. You cannot imagine how some German brains actually work. Do the test.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *