On the internet there is a site that combines philosopher’s ideas and T-shirt design:
They also have a newsletter related to Philosopher quotes or memes as they call them. I will select the parts that interested me (and that is allowed: “Of course, you can reuse the memes…“)
“The limits of language are the limits of my world.”
A quote from the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.
What did Wittgenstein mean by that anyway? Wittgenstein is implying a limit to language in the first place, making a clear distinction between “what can be said” and “what we cannot talk about”.
For example, it is not possible to talk about metaphysical things at all, since we are given the idea of them, but we can in no way find adequate words to describe the phenomenon accurately.
Wittgenstein also breaks radically with these very things, one could also say they are not worth talking about, since we cannot come to any generally valid conclusion about them anyway.
Wittgenstein himself comes from the analytic school for which formal logic and mathematical proof lead to the establishment of truth. “Poetic” (existentialist) assumptions about the nature of people, ethics, morality, religion do not seduce him. On the contrary, he declares these parts of philosophy as closed, precisely on the grounds that we cannot say anything about them.
The quote (“meme”) depicted here makes it clear that the indescribability of the “greater whole” is itself part of itself and that it therefore always “sloshes back” onto man, like a wave in the ocean. We thus turn Wittgenstein’s quotation around in its meaning, when it is we ourselves who set the limits of our world with our language. We are now limiting ourselves instead of reflecting on the fact that the world is limitless, but our language is not. (e.g. proposition 7 in de Tractatus: “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”)
This may be a human error that Wittgenstein himself also grasped in his later work. He now recalled parts of his “Tractatus” from which the in-depth quote comes. One therefore also speaks of Wittgenstein I and Wittgenstein II, in order to make clear from which premises we start, when we speak of Wittgenstein’s philosophy.
Wittgenstein was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. He is considered to be one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century.
During his entire life only one book of his philosophy was published, the relatively slim 75-page Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung (Logical-Philosophical Treatise) (1921) which appeared, together with an English translation, in 1922 under the Latin title Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
His voluminous manuscripts were edited and published posthumously.
The first and best-known of this posthumous series is the 1953 book Philosophical Investigations. A survey among American university and college teachers ranked the Investigations as the most important book of 20th-century philosophy, standing out as “the one crossover masterpiece in twentieth-century philosophy, appealing across diverse specializations and philosophical orientations“.