The opposition is indispensable. A good statesman, like any other sensible human being, always learns more from his opponents than from his fervent supporters. For his supporters will push him to disaster unless his opponents show him where the dangers are. So if he is wise he will often pray to be delivered from his friends, because they will ruin him. But, though it hurts, he ought also to pray never to be left without opponents; for they keep him on the path of reason and good sense.
Photographs have the kind of authority over imagination to-day, which the printed word had yesterday, and the spoken word before that. They seem utterly real. They come, we imagine, directly to us without human meddling, and they are the most effortless food for the mind conceivable. Any description in words, or even any inert picture exists in the mind. But on the screen the whole process of observing, describing, reporting, and then imagining, has been accomplished for you.
The war, of course, furnished many examples of this pattern: the casual fact, the creative imagination, the will to believe, and out of these three elements, a counterfeit of reality to which there was a violent instinctive response. For it is clear enough that under certain conditions men respond as powerfully to fictions as they do to realities, and that in many cases they help to create the very fictions to which they respond.
When all think alike, no one thinks very much.
It is often very illuminating...to ask yourself how you got at the facts on which you base your opinion. Who actually saw, heard, felt, counted, named the thing, about which you have an opinion?
There are portions of the sovereign people who spend most of their spare time and spare money on motoring and comparing motor cars, on bridge-whist and post-mortems, on moving pictures and potboilers, talking always to the same people with minute variations on the same old themes. They cannot really be said to suffer from censorship, or secrecy, the high cost or the difficulty of communication. They suffer from anemia, from lack of appetite and curiosity for the human scene. Theirs is no problem of access to the world outside. Worlds of interest are waiting for them to explore, and they do not enter.
Industry is a far better horse to ride a genius.
As you go further away from experience, you go higher into generalization or subtlety. As you go up in the balloon you throw more and more concrete objects overboard, and when you have reached the top with some phrase like the Rights of Humanity or the World Made Safe for Democracy, you see far and wide, but you see very little.
Only the consciousness of a purpose that is greater than any man can seed and fortify the souls of men.
For the real environment is altogether too big, too complex, and too fleeting for direct acquaintance. We are not equipped to deal with so much subtlety, so much variety, so many permutations and combinations. And although we have to act in that environment, we have to reconstruct it on a simpler model before we can manage it.
...A few executives here and there read them. The rest of us ignore them for the good and sufficient reason that we have other things to do....
When it comes to politics, the facts far exceed our curiosity."
We are concerned in public affairs, but immersed in our private ones.
We are unsettled to the very roots of our being. There isn't a human relation, whether of parent and child, husband and wife, worker and employer, that doesn't move in a strange direction. We don't know how to behave when personal contact and eternal authority have disappeared. There are no precedents to guide us, no wisdom that wasn't made for a simpler age. We have changed our environment faster than we can change ourselves.
The way in which the world is imagined determines at any particular moment what men will do.
What a myth never contains is the critical power to separate its truth from its errors.
Between ourselves and our real natures we interpose that wax figure of idealizations and selections which we call our character. We extend this into all our thinking. Between us and the realities of social life we build up a mass of generalizations, abstract ideas, ancient glories, and personal wishes. They simplify and soften experience. It is so much easier to talk of poverty than to think of the poor, to argue the rights of capital than to see its results. Pretty soon we come to think of the theories and abstract ideas as things in themselves. We worry about their fate and forget their original content.
To create a minimum standard of life below which no human being can fall is the most elementary duty of the democratic state.
Ignore what a man desires and you ignore the very source of his power.
The systems of stereotypes may be the core of our personal tradition, the defenses of our position in society. They are an ordered more or less consistent picture of the world, to which our habits, our tastes, our capacities, our comforts and our hopes have adjusted themselves. They may not be a complete picture of the world, but they are a picture of a possible world to which we are adapted. In that world, people and things have their well-known places, and do certain expected things. We feel at home there. We fit in. We are members.
We are told about the world before we see it. We imagine most things before we experience them. And those preconceptions, unless education has made us acutely aware, govern deeply the whole process of perception.
It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.
A sign, or representamen, is something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity. It addresses somebody, that is, creates in the mind of that person an equivalent sign, or perhaps a more developed sign. That sign which it creates I call the interpretant of the first sign. The sign stands for something, its object. It stands for that object, not in all respects, but in reference to a sort of idea, which I have sometimes called the ground of the representamen.
You are going to pay a price for every thing you do and every thing you don't do. You don't get to choose to not pay a price. You get to choose which poison you're going to take.
You could attach prices to thoughts. Some cost a lot, some a little. And how does one pay for thoughts? The answer, I think, is: with courage.
The philosopher treats a question; like an illness.
If we surrender the reins to language and not to life, then the problems of philosophy arise.
The older I grow, the more I realize how terribly difficult it is for people to understand each other, and I think that what misleads one is the fact that they all look so much like each other. If some people looked like elephants and others like cats, or fish, one wouldn’t expect them to understand each other and things would look much more like what they really are.
What a picture represents it represents independently of its truth or falsity, by means of its pictorial form.
The form is the possibility of the structure.
No pain can be greater than the pain of one person. [...] In other words, no suffering can be greater than that of one human being. [...} The whole planet cannot suffer more than a lone soul.
Pleasure and painPleasure and pain
If a sign is not necessary then it is meaningless. That is the meaning of Occam’s razor.
...the tendency of all men who ever tried to write or talk Ethics or Religion was to run against the boundaries of language. This running against the walls of our cage is perfectly, absolutely hopeless.
Just as we cannot think of spatial objects at all apart from space, or temporal objects apart from time, so we cannot think of any object apart from the possibility of its connexion with other things.
The world is the totality of facts, not of things.
We here touch one instance of Wittgenstein’s fundamental thesis, that it is impossible to say anything about the world as a whole, and that whatever can be said has to be about bounded portions of the world.
The difficulty in philosophy is to say no more than we know.
Philosophy is like trying to open a safe with a combination lock: each little adjustment of the dials seems to achieve nothing, only when everything is in place does the door open.
If you want to go down deep you do not need to travel far; indeed, you don’t have to leave your most immediate and familiar surroundings.
In order to make an error, a man must already judge in conformity with mankind.
The object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a theory but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations. The result of philosophy is not a number of “philosophical propositions”, but to make propositions clear. Philosophy should make clear and delimit sharply the thoughts which otherwise are, as it were, opaque and blurred.
Anything your reader can do for himself leave to him.
Another alternative would have been to give you what’s called a popular-scientific lecture, that is a lecture intended to make you believe that you understand a thing which actually you don’t understand, and to gratify what I believe to be on of the lowest desires of modern people, namely the superficial curiosity about the latest discoveries of science.
What we can't say we can't say, and we can't whistle it either.
What we find in philosophy is trivial; it does not teach us new facts, only science does that.
My life consists in my being content to accept many things.
In order to discover whether the picture is true or false we must compare it with reality. It cannot be discovered from the picture alone whether it is true or false. There is no picture which is a priori true.
It is so difficult to find the beginning. Or, better: it is difficult to being at the beginning. And not to try to go further back.
Don't get involved in partial problems, but always take flight to where there is a free view over the whole single great problem, even if this view is still not a clear one.
Problems and solutionsProblems and solutions
Christianity is not a doctrine, not, I mean, a theory about what has happened and will happen to the human soul, but a description of something that actually takes place in human life. For ‘consciousness of sin’ is a real event and so are despair and salvation through faith. Those who speak of such things (Bunyan, for instance) are simply describing what has happened to them, whatever gloss anyone may want to put on it.
It is humiliating to have to appear like an empty tube which is simply inflated by a mind.
The best for me, perhaps, would be if I could lie down one evening and not wake up again.
The world is independent of my will.
The man who said that one cannot step into the same river twice said something wrong; one can step into the same river twice.
Philosophy should make clear and delimit sharply the thoughts which otherwise are, as it were, opaque and blurred.
It is obvious that an imagined world, however different it may be from the real one, must have something - a form - in common with it.
We never arrive at fundamental propositions in the course of our investigation; we get to the boundary of language which stops us from asking further questions. We don't get to the bottom of things, but reach a point where we can go no further, where we cannot ask further questions.
The philosopher's treatment of a question is like the treatment of an illness.
Our civilization is characterized by the word progress. Progress is its form rather than making progress being one of its features. Typically it constructs. It is occupied with building an ever more complicated structure. And even clarity is sought only as a means to this end, not as an end in itself. For me on the contrary clarity, perspicuity are valuable in themselves.
When I am furious about something, I sometimes beat the ground or a tree with my walking stick. But I certainly do not believe that the ground is to blame or that my beating can help anything... And all rites are of this kind.
In practice, language is always more or less vague, so that what we assert is never quite precise.
The sense of the world must lie outside the world. In the world everything is as it is, and everything happens as it does happen: in it no value exists—and if it did exist, it would have no value. If there is any value that does have value, it must lie outside the whole sphere of what happens and is the case. For all that happens and is the case is accidental. What makes it non-accidental cannot lie within the world, since if it did it would itself be accidental. It must lie outside the world.
A new word is like a fresh seed sown on the ground of the discussion.
There is no such thing as an isolated proposition. For what I call a "proposition" is a position in the game of language.
Living with human beings is hard!
Human relationsHuman relations
Most propositions and questions, that have been written about philosophical matters, are not false, but senseless. ... (They are of the same kind as the question whether the Good is more or less identical than the Beautiful.)
We have got onto slippery ice where there is no friction and so in a certain sense the conditions are ideal, but also, just because of that, we are unable to walk. We want to walk so we need friction. Back to the rough ground!
The solution of logical problems must be neat for they set the standard of neatness.
Russell's books should be bound in two colours, those dealing with mathematical logic in red — and all students of philosophy should read them; those dealing with ethics and politics in blue — and no one should be allowed to read them.
To convince someone of the truth, it is not enough to state it, but rather one must find the path from error to truth.
There is no more light in a genius than in any other honest man—but he has a particular kind of lens to concentrate this light into a burning point.
The revolutionary will be the one who can revolutionize himself.
For philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday.
What is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc., & if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life, if it does not make you more conscientious than any ... journalist in the use of the DANGEROUS phrases such people use for their own ends.
The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.
A philosopher who is not taking part in discussions is like a boxer who never goes into the ring.
Just be indipendent of the external world, so you don't have to fear for what's in it.
The atmosphere surrounding this problem is terrible. Dense clouds of language lie about the crucial point. It is almost impossible to get through to it.
Nothing in the visual field allows you to infer that it is seen by an eye.
Philosophical problems can be compared to locks on safes, which can be opened by dialing a certain word or number, so that no force can open the door until just this word has been hit upon, and once it is hit upon any child can open it.
Logic is not a theory but a reﬂexion of the world.
More wisdom is contained in the best crime fiction than in philosophy.
A picture of a complete apple tree, however accurate, is in a certain sense much less like the tree itself than is a little daisy.
Il metodo giusto per la filosofia sarebbe questo. Non dire nulla se non ciò che si può dire, cioè le proposizioni della scienza naturale, cioè qualcosa che non ha nulla a che fare con la filosofia: e poi sempre, quando qualcun altro volesse dire qualcosa di metafisico, dimostrargli che non ha dato alcun significato a certi segni nelle sue proposizioni. Questo metodo sarebbe insoddisfacente per l'altro - non avrebbe la sensazione che gli stiamo insegnando la filosofia - ma sarebbe l'unico metodo rigorosamente corretto. Le mie proposizioni sono elucidative in questo modo: chi mi capisce le riconosce finalmente come insensate, quando si è arrampicato attraverso di esse, su di esse, su di esse. (Deve per così dire gettare via la scala, dopo esservi salito). Deve superare queste proposizioni; allora vede il mondo in modo corretto. Se non si può parlare, si deve tacere.
Reading the Socratic dialogues one has the feeling: what a frightful waste of time! What's the point of these arguments that prove nothing and clarify nothing?
The right method of philosophy would be this. To say nothing except what can be said, i.e. the propositions of natural science, i.e. something that has nothing to do with philosophy: and then always, when someone else wished to say something metaphysical, to demonstrate to him that he had given no meaning to certain signs in his propositions. This method would be unsatisfying to the other - he would not have the feeling that we were teaching him philosophy - but it would be the only strictly correct method. My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.) He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
Philosophy, as we use the word, is a fight against the fascination which forms of expression exert upon us.
The fact that we cannot write down all the digits of pi is not a human shortcoming, as mathematicians sometimes think.
Human natureHuman nature
We use judgements as principlesof judegement.
[Philosophy] must set limits to what can be thought; and, in doing so, to what cannot be thought. It must set limits to what cannot be thought by working outwards through what can be thought.
If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration, but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.
One age misunderstands another; and a petty age misunderstands all the others in its own nasty way.
It is difficult to describe paths of thought where there are already many paths laid down, and not fall into one of the grooves.
Religion as madness is a madness springing from irreligiousness.
No one can think a thought for me in the way that no one can don my hat for me.
All numbers in logic must be capable of justification. Or rather it must become plain that there are no numbers in logic. There are no pre-eminent numbers.
It is so characteristic, that just when the mechanics of reproduction are so vastly improved, there are fewer and fewer people who know how music should be played.
Genius is talent exercised with courage.
The philosophical I is not the man, not the human body or the human soul of which psychology treats, but the metaphysical subject, the limit - not a part of the world.
Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give any foundation either. It leaves everything as it is.