Wittgenstein's Quotes  I  Secondary Quotes  I  References  I  Comments


TLP 4.011: At first sight a proposition - one set out on the printed page, for example - does not seem to be a picture of the reality with which it is concerned. But neither do written notes seem at first sight to be a picture of a piece of music, nor our phonetic notation (the alphabet) to be a picture of our speech.  And yet these sign languages prove to be pictures, even in the ordinary sense of what they represent.

TLP 4.0141: There is a general rule by means of which the musician can obtain the symphony from the score, and which makes it possible to derive the symphony from the groove on the gramophone record, and, using the first rule, to derive the score again. That is what constitutes the inner similarity between these things which seem to be constructed in such entirely different ways. And that rule is the law of projection which projects the symphony into the language of musical notation. It is the rule for translating this language into the language of gramophone records.

OC 455: Every language-game is based on words ‘and objects’ being recognised again. We learn the same inexorability that this is a chair as that 2 x 2 = 4

TLP 2.0123: If I know an object (word) I also know all its possible occurrences in states of affairs. (Every one of these possibilities must be part of the nature of the object/word.)

TLP 3.141: A proposition is not a blend of words. -- (Just as a theme of music is not a blend of notes.) A proposition is articulate. 

TLP 3.13: A proposition includes all that the projection includes, but not what is projected. Therefore, though what is projected is not itself included, its possibility is. A proposition, therefore, does not actually contain its sense, but does contain the possibility of expressing it.  (‘The content of a proposition’ means the content of a proposition that has sense.) A proposition contains the form, but not the content, of its sense.

Z 74: A sentence is given me in code together with the key. Then of course in one way everything required for understanding the sentence has been given me. And yet I should answer the question “Do you understand this sentence?” : No, not yet; I must first decode it. And only when e..g. I had translated it into English would I say “Now I understand it.” If now we raise the question “At what moment of translating do I understand the sentence?”, we shall get a glimpse into the nature of what is called “understanding”. 

TLP 3.1: In a proposition a thought finds an expression that can be perceived by the senses.

TLP 3.34: A proposition possesses essential and accidental features. Accidental features are those that result from the particular way in which the propositional sign is produced. Essential features are those without which the proposition could not express its sense. 

TLP 4.03: A proposition must use old expressions to communicate a new sense. A proposition communicates a situation to us, and so it must be essentially connected with the situation. And the connexion is precisely that it is a logical picture. A proposition states something only in so far as it is a picture. 

TLP 4.031: In a proposition a situation is, as it were, constructed by way of experiment. Instead of, ‘This proposition has such and such a sense’, we can simply say, ‘This proposition represents such and such a situation.’

Z 73: Some sentences have to be read several times to be understood as sentences. 

CV: Often, when I have had a picture well framed or have hung it in the right surroundings, I have caught myself feeling as proud as if I had painted the picture myself. That is not quite right: not “as proud as if I painted it, but as proud as if I had helped to paint it, as if I had, so to speak, painted a little bit of it. It is as though an exceptionally gifted arranger of grasses should eventually come to think that he had produced at least a tiny blade of grass himself.

PI 280: Someone paints a picture in order to show how he imagines a theatre scene. And now I say: “This picture has a double function: it informs others, as pictures or words inform -- but for one who gives the information it is a representation (or piece of information?) of another kind: for him it is the picture of his image, as it can’t be for anyone else. To him his private impression of the picture means what he has imagined, in a sense in which the picture cannot mean this to others.” - And what right have I to speak in this second case of a representation or piece of information - if these words were used in the first case?

Secondary quotes  (back to top)

“We acquire our linguistic capacities and our ability to participate in human life rather by imitation and habituation, by drill and practice.” (Sluga, 2011, pg 107)

“It is ... possible to instruct people in the use of the language. Such instruction involves correction and drill that aims at some (unspecified) level of competence. It is no doubt pursued more doggedly and more dogmatically in some cultures than others.” (Garver, 1996, pg 165)

“We get a grasp of the grammar of our language through such simple things as learning to direct our attention, practising the voicing of sounds so uttering them becomes easy, establishing associations between words and objects, memory training, learning to use our fingers and to coordinate finger and eye movements, etc.” (Sluga, 2011, pg 107)

“ ‘The substratum of this experience is the mastery of a technique ... It is only if someone can do, has learnt, is the master of such-and-such, that it makes sense to say that he has this experience’ (PI, pp. 208 - 209) .... ” (Sluga, 2011, pg 69)

“The human language games is not based on knowledge but on practice.” (Sluga, 2011, pg 107)

“In training someone to play a language-game: ‘I do it, he does it after me; and I influence him by expressions of agreement, rejection, expectation, encouragement. I let him go his way or hold him back; and so on’ (PI, 208).The training involves gestures, smiles, grunts, frowns, the raising and lowering of the teachers voice and so on (OC, 208). The most general features of the world have conditioned the range of language-games which it is physically possible for people like ourselves to play.” (Phillips, 1979, pg 130)

“If a person lacks the ability to take pleasure in the game of spotting pictures hidden in puzzle-pictures, or in playing the game I Spy (in which shared words sought for what we together can see) then she may not be able to go on in language in ways our culture demands.” (Floyd, 2010, pg 315)

Eventually we learn, of course, also to reflect on our grammar and it is at this point that we learn to understand, use, and even construct surveyable representations of it. But these will always be partial or approximating representations since our practical capacity to use language is and remains essentially complex and hence unsurveyable. (Sluga, 2011, pg 107 - 108)

We can certainly orient yourselves in our grammar, we can maneuver forms of life, we can live a human existence but this does not mean we have or ever could have a comprehensive grasp of our grammar or of those forms of life. Our practical capacities systematically outrun, in other words, our ability to theorise about them. (Sluga, 2011, pg 145) 

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References  (back to top)

    • Floyd, J. (2010). On being surprised: Wittgenstein on aspect-perception, logic and mathematics. In W. Day and V. Krebs (Eds), Seeing Wittgenstein anew. (pp. 314 - 337). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    • Garver, N. (1996). Philosophy as grammar. In H. Sluga, H. and D. Stern (Eds.), The Cambridge companion to Wittgenstein. (pp. 139 - 170) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    • Phillips, D. (1977) Wittgenstein and scientific knowledge.  London: MacMillan Press
    • Sluga, H. (2011). Wittgenstein. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell
    • Wittgenstein, L. (2001). <em>Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. </em>Translated by D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness. London: Routledge.
    • _____________ (2001). Philosophical Investigations. 3rd Edition. Translated by G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
    • _____________  (1967) Zettel. Edited by G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright. Berkeley: University of California Press. 
    • _____________ &amp;nbsp; (1980). Culture and value;. Translated by Peter Winch. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
    • _____________ (1969). On Certainty. Edited by G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright. Translated by D. Paul and G.E.M. Anscombe. New York: Harper Torchbooks.