Fragments from Wittgenstein’s Culture and Value

“Are all men great?  No. – Well then, how can you have any hope of being a great man!  Why should something be bestowed on you that’s not bestowed on your neighbor?  To what purpose?  If it isn’t your wish to be rich that makes you think yourself rich, it must be something you observe or experience that reveals it to you!  And what do you experience (other than vanity)?  Simply that you have a certain talent.  And my conceit of being an extraordinary person has been with me much longer than my awareness of my particular talent.”

“It is only by thinking even more crazily than philosophers do that you can solve their problems.”

“Getting hold of difficulty deep down is what is hard.

Because if it is grasped near the surface it simply remains the difficulty it was.  It has to be pulled out by the roots; and that involves our beginning to think about these things in a new way.  The change is as decisive as, for example, that from the alchemical to the chemical way of thinking.  The new way of thinking is what makes it so hard to establish.

Once the new way of thinking has been established, the old problems vanish; indeed they become hard to recapture.  For they go with our way of expressing ourselves and, if we clothe ourselves in a new form of expression, the old problems are discarded along with the garment.”

“In former times people went into monasteries.  Were they stupid or insensitive people? – Well if people like that found that they needed to take such measures in order to be able to go on living, the problem cannot be an easy one!”

“‘A whole world of pain is contained in these words.’  How can it be contained in them? – It is bound up with them.  The words are like an acorn from which an oak tree can grow.”

“I believe that one of the things Christianity says is that sound doctrines are all useless.  That you have to change your life. (Or the direction or your life)

It says that wisdom is all cold; and that you can no more use it for setting your life to rights than you can forge iron when it is cold.

The point is that a sound doctrine need not take hold of you; you can follow it as you would a doctor’s prescription. – But here you need something to move you and turn you in a new direction. – (I.e. this is how I understand it.)  Once you have been turned round, you must stay turned round.

Wisdom is passionless.  But faith by contrast is what Kierkegaard calls a passion.

Religion is, as it were, the calm bottom of the sea at its deepest point, which remains calm however high the waves on the surface may be. -“

“If life becomes hard to bear we think of a change in our circumstances.  But the most important and effective change, a change in our own attitude, hardly ever occurs to us, and the resolution to take such a step is very difficult for us.”

“I read: ‘No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.’ [1 Corinthians, 12] – And it is true: I cannot call him Lord; because that says nothing to me.  I could call him ‘the paragon,’ ‘God’ even – or rather, I can understand it when he is called thus; but I cannot utter the word “Lord” with meaning.  Because I do not believe that he will come to judge me; because that says nothing to me.  And it could say something to me, only if I lived completely differently.

What inclines even me to believe in Christ’s Resurrection?  It is as though I play with the thought. – If he did not rise from the dead, then he decomposed in the grave like any other man.  He is dead and decomposed.  In that case he is a teacher like any other and can no longer help; and once more we are orphaned and alone.  So we have to content ourselves with wisdom and speculation.  We are in a sort of hell where we can do nothing but dream, roofed in, as it were, and cut off from heaven.  But if I am to be REALLY saved, – what I need is certainty – not wisdom, dreams or speculation – and this certainty is faith.  And faith is faith in what is needed by my heart, my soul, not my speculative intelligence.  For it is my soul with its passions, as it were with its flesh and blood, that has to be saved, not my abstract mind.  Perhaps we can say: Only love can believe in the Resurrection.  Or: It is love that believes the Resurrection.  We might say: Redeeming love believes even in the Resurrection; holds fast even to the Resurrection.  What combats doubt is, as it were, redemption.  Holding fast to this must be holding fast to that belief.  So what that means is: first you must be redeemed and hold on to your redemption (keep hold of your redemption) – then you will see that you are holding fast to this belief.  So this can come about only if you no longer rest your weight on the earth but suspend yourself from heaven.  Then everything will be different and it will be ‘no wonder’ if you can do things that you cannot do now. (A man suspended looks the same as one who is standing, but the interplay of forces within him is nevertheless quite different, so that he can act quite differently that can a standing man.)”

“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 courage.”


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1 Response to Fragments from Wittgenstein’s Culture and Value

  1. Pingback: Delineation « Active Philosophy

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