Meaning is use: Wittgenstein on the limits of language

Philosophy for change

LudwigWittgenstein Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951) was one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century. He made a major contribution to discussions on language, logic and metaphysics, but also ethics, the way that we should live in the world. Wittgenstein published only one book in his life, the Tractatus Logico Philosophicus (1921). The Philosophical Investigations (1953), the book for which he is most well known, is a posthumous document comprised of notes taken by students in his classes.

Wittgenstein was a difficult character. Those who knew him assumed that he was either a genius or a madman. He was known for working himself up into fits of frustration, pacing about the room decrying his own stupidity, and lambasting philosophers for their habit of tying themselves in semantic knots. In his favour, Wittgenstein was not afraid to admit his own mistakes. He once said: ‘If people never did anything stupid…

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