Wittgenstein on the Self

“Think of a picture of a landscape, an imaginary landscape with a house in it. – Someone asks ‘whose house is that?’ – The answer, by the way, might be ‘It belongs to the farmer who is sitting on the bench in front of it.’” (PI, 398) Wittgenstein tells this story in the midst of a discussion on the self, the I, or better: on the ways we use the word “I”.

Simple Objects, Complex Questions

Summary: The essay examines Wittgenstein’s doctrine that there must be simple objects that form the substance of the world. Focusing on the 1914-1916 notebooks it seeks to determine the emergence of this doctrine and the reasons for its ultimate destruction.

From Moore’s Lecture Notes to Wittgenstein’s Blue Book

How many Wittgensteins are there? One, two, three, or even more? The question has no definite answer. There is surely more than one way to look at Wittgenstein’s work and to divide it up in this or that way – for instance, by distinguishing different themes and preoccupations, or different styles of writing, or different phases of thinking according to this or that time-line.

Beyond “the new” Wittgenstein

Where do we stand today vis-à-vis Wittgenstein’s work? The short answer is that we are caught in a spiral of ever more detailed, ever more exacting, ever deeper digging, ever more sophisticated, ever more scholarly exegeses of his writings: a self-sustaining process in which, so it seems, we are increasingly in danger of losing sight of the world — which, as we should know from the very first sentence of Wittgenstein’s first publication, was what engaged him first and foremost.


“Hier stossen wir auf die grosse Frage, die hinter allen diesen Betrachtungen steht. – Denn man könnte mir einwenden: ‘Du machst dir’s leicht! Du redest von allen möglichen Sprachspielen, hast aber nirgends gesagt, was denn das Wesentliche des Sprachspiels, und also der Sprache ist. Was allen diesen Vorgängen gemeinsam ist und sie zur Sprache, oder zu Teilen der Sprache macht.’ …. Und das ist wahr. – Statt etwas anzugeben, was allem, was wir Sprache nennen, gemeinsam ist, sage ich, es ist diesen Erscheinungen garnicht Eines gemeinsam, weswegen wir für alle das gleiche Wort verwenden, sondern sie sind miteinander in vielen verschiedenen Weisen, verwandt. Und dieser Verwandtschaft, oder dieser Verwandtschaften wegen nennen wir sie alle ‘Sprachen.’