Category Archives: Wittgenstein

Philosophy: The meaning of life

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein by Anonymous ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As we celebrate Easter and the rebirth of nature in spring, I thought I’d share a few quotes from the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein:

I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves. 1

What do I know about God and the purpose of life?
I know that this world exists.
That I am placed in it like my eye in its visual field.
That something about it is problematic, which we call its meaning.
This meaning does not lie in it but outside of it.
That life is the world.
That my will penetrates the world.
That my will is good or evil.
Therefore that good and evil are somehow connected with the meaning of the world.
The meaning of life, i.e. the meaning of the world, we can call God.
And connect with this the comparison of God to a father.
To pray is to think about the meaning of life. 2

Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in just the way in which our visual field has no limits. 3

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 even occurs to us, and the resolution to take such a step is very difficult for us. 4

The World and Life are one. Physiological life is of course not “Life”. And neither is psychological life. Life is the world. 5

Notes:

  1. As quoted in The Beginning of the End (2004) by Peter Hershey, p. 109
  2. Journal entry (11 June 1916), p. 72e and 73e
  3. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922) (6.4311)
  4. Culture and Value (1980) p. 53e
  5. Journal entry (24 July 1916), p. 77e