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Wittgenstein (1993) Poster

(1993)

Quotes

[first lines]

Young Ludwig Wittgenstein: If people did not sometimes do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.

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

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Young Ludwig Wittgenstein: Even to have expressed a false thought boldly and clearly is to have gained a great deal.

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Young Ludwig Wittgenstein: The horrors of hell can be experienced in a single day; that's plenty of time.

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Martian: Hail, Earthling.

Young Ludwig Wittgenstein: Earthling? I'm a philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein. Who are you?

Martian: You could call me Mister Green. May I ask you a question; how many toes do philosophers have?

Young Ludwig Wittgenstein: Ten.

Martian: Fascinating. That's how many humans have.

Young Ludwig Wittgenstein: Mister Green, philosophers are humans, and know how many toes they have.

Martian: Oh dear. Does that mean Martians can't be philosophers?

Young Ludwig Wittgenstein: Oh, god.

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Bertrand Russell: Why won't you just admit there's no rhinoceros in this room?

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Because, Professor Russell, the world is made up of facts, not things.

Bertrand Russell: Look for yourself.

[looking under table]

Bertrand Russell: I tell you for a fact, there is no rhinoceros in this room!

Ludwig Wittgenstein: The issue is metaphysical, not empirical.

Bertrand Russell: I thought the next big step in philosophy would be yours. Now, I am not so sure.

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Ludwig Wittgenstein: How can I be a logician before I'm a human being?

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Ludwig Wittgenstein: The nearness of death will bring me the light of life.

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Ludwig Wittgenstein: I know this world exists. But its meaning is problematic. Am I good, or am I evil?

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Young Ludwig Wittgenstein: Doubt comes after belief.

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Ludwig Wittgenstein: A dog cannot lie. Neither can he be sincere. A dog may be expecting his master to come. Why can't he be expecting him to come next Wednesday?Is it because he doesn't have language? If a lion could speak, we would not be able to understand what he said.

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Ludwig Wittgenstein: It makes no sense to speak of knowing something in a context where we could not possibly doubt it, therefore to say "I know I am in pain" is entirely senseless. When you want to know the meaning of a word, don't look inside yourself, look at the uses of the word in our way of life. Look at how we behave.

Bertrand Russell: Are you saying there are no philosophical problems?

Ludwig Wittgenstein: There are... linguistic, mathematical, ethical, logistic and religious problems, but there are no genuine philosophical problems!

Bertrand Russell: You're trivialising philosophy.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Philosophy is just a by-product of misunderstanding language! Why don't you realise that?

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Ludwig Wittgenstein: [performing a V-sign with his fingers] What does this mean?

Lady Ottoline Morrell: It's a gesture of contempt.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: A cyclist did this to me as I was crossing the road. I decided then and there to kill myself.

Lady Ottoline Morrell: Are you coming to the Palladium with us this evening?

Ludwig Wittgenstein: What's the logical structure of this gesture? It doesn't have one! That means I've spent most of my life groping down a blind alley.

Bertrand Russell: Isn't it rather an over-reaction to kill yourself because somebody gives you a V-sign?

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Philosophy hunts for the essence of meaning. There's no such thing. There's no such thing! Just the way we do things in everyday life and things like that.

[performing V-sign]

Ludwig Wittgenstein: The college porter knows that.

Lady Ottoline Morrell: Is that what you're planning to do for the rest of your life?

Ludwig Wittgenstein: I shall start by committing suicide.

Bertrand Russell: Champagne before you go?

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Um, do you know... I'd love a cup of tea.

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John Maynard Keynes: How like a philosopher to hate philosophy.

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Ludwig Wittgenstein: Why is there anything at all rather than just nothing?

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Ludwig Wittgenstein: I used to believe that language gave us a picture of the world. But it can't give us a picture of how it does that. That would be like trying to see yourself seeing something. How language does that is beyond expression. That is the mystery. That was all wrong. Language isn't a picture at all.

Bertrand Russell: What is it, then?

Ludwig Wittgenstein: It's... a tool. An instrument. There isn't just one picture of the world, there are lots of different language games, different forms of life, different ways of doing things with words. They don't all hang together!

Bertrand Russell: What do you mean?

Ludwig Wittgenstein: All I mean is the limits of my language are the limits of my world. We keep running up against the walls of our cage.

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Student: I just can't see it, Professor. It somehow just seems natural to me to say "I know I'm in pain."

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Oh... natural. Tell me, why does it seem more natural for people to believe that the sun goes round the earth, rather than the other way round?

Student: Well, obviously because it looks that way.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: I see. Then how would it look if the earth went round the sun?

Student: Erm... well, I suppose... Yes, I see what you mean.

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Ludwig Wittgenstein: You've been reading Sigmund Freud.

Bertrand Russell: What of it?

Ludwig Wittgenstein: It's dangerous stuff. Believe me, it takes one Viennese to know another.

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Ludwig Wittgenstein: Philosophical puzzles arise because we tend to mix up one language game with another. For example, people puzzle over the nature of something they call the "soul". But this may just be because they're thinking of the soul along the lines of a physical object. They're confusing one way of talking with another.

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Ludwig Wittgenstein: Don't think I'm afraid of dying. It's death that gives life its meaning and shape.

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Ludwig Wittgenstein: You know, I'd quite like to have composed a philosophical work which consisted entirely of jokes.

John Maynard Keynes: Why didn't you?

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Sadly, I didn't have a sense of humour.

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John Maynard Keynes: Let me tell you a little story. There was once a young man who dreamed of reducing the world to pure logic. Because he was a very clever young man, he actually managed to do it. When he'd finished his work, he stood back and admired it. It was beautiful. A world purged of imperfection and indeterminacy. Countless acres of gleaming ice stretching to the horizon. So the clever young man looked around the world he'd created and decided to explore it. He took one step forward and fell flat on his back. You see, he'd forgotten about friction. The ice was smooth and level and stainless. But you couldn't walk there. So the clever young man sat down and wept bitter tears. But as he grew into a wise old man, he came to understand that roughness and ambiguity aren't imperfections, they're what make the world turn. He wanted to run and dance. And the words and things scattered upon the ground were all battered and tarnished and ambiguous. The wise old man saw that that was the way things were. But something in him was still homesick for the ice, where everything was radiant and absolute and relentless. Though he had come to like the idea of the rough ground, he couldn't bring himself to live there. So now he was marooned between earth and ice, at home in neither. And this was the cause of all his grief.

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[last lines]

Martian: Hail Chromodynamics, Lord of Quantum. This is Quark, Charm and Strangeness reporting. Concerning the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, deceased. The solution to the riddle of life in space and time lies outside space and time. But as you know and I know, there are no riddles. If a question can be put at all, it can also be answered.

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