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Major Works: Selected Philosophical Writings

av Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Selections of the influential philosopher's writings that span his career feature the full texts of "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus," "On Certainty," and "The Blue and Brown Books: Studies for 'Philosophical Investigations.'"

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Ludwig Wittgenstein was a hugely important philosopher of the 20th Century. I have only heard of him before, so I didn’t really know what to expect when reading this book of his Major Works. The book includes Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, The Blue and Brown Books: Studies for ‘Philosophical Investigations,’ and On Certainty. I don’t know what they cut out or included or anything, but the book states that it is a selection of his works. I’m going to describe the books by TLP and TBBB and OC if that is alright with everyone.

Anyway, TLP starts out by establishing simple ideas and then building on them step by step. In that sense it is similar to Ethics by Spinoza. The first page of the TLP talks about how the statements are organized. This is really important to me since I tend to lose track of what the man is saying. Thinking about thoughts is a sort of thing I don’t usually consider in a formal sense with logic. However, that is what Wittgenstein has done in this book. Once again, we start out with a statement, and then the following statements are numbered to elaborate on the main statement. There are only seven main statements in the TLP, but most of the book is made up of the supporting statements. It discusses Symbolic Logic and how to avoid Russell’s Paradox among other things.

TBBB is made up of paragraphs and is somewhat different from TLP. It begins with the idea of what we mean by meaning. What is the meaning of a word? Wittgenstein goes on to discuss the limitations in our thoughts by what we can describe in our language. Really good stuff. The same basic idea applies to both of the books in that set.

Finally, OC discusses our limitations of language in reference to what we can be certain of.

I really liked this one, so perhaps I can find other things similar to it. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
(before my review, I will say that I was slightly disappointed in the typos throughout the HarperPerennial x ModernThought publications. Be that as it may, I will not count it against my rating.)

This truly is a masterpiece of modern thought. It is little that Wittgenstein has been picked up as a predecessor to both right wing (analytic) and left wing (continental) philosophers. He leaves so much room for thought and there are so many facets that one can explore that, as I just mentioned, can be taken in many directions; much as what happened with Hegel and the schisms that bled into Fascist and Communist ideologies alike.

Whether or not you consider yourself a person interested in philosophy, I highly encourage you to read this. It is not some supercilious attempt at telling the reader how things "really are." Rather, Wittgenstein lays out some valuable insights in plain language the basic tenents of formal logic and how important it is to keep these in mind when considering just how it is we communicate with each other.

The Tractatus may be difficult for those who have never studied formal or symbolic logic, but don't let that deter you. If you are really interested in that piece I am sure there are resources online that can break down the general rules. The blue and brown book though are basically a walk through of the Tractatus and how such understanding can clear up the muddled concepts of age-old philosophical problems - which is interesting enough as it is.

Even as someone who has studied philosophy for some time though I would say the most interesting of all is in his "on certainty." I will warn you though, it is important to read the preceding material to get a solid understanding of what he is getting at here. This section has great insight into everyday/inductive/empirical "knowledge" that I think all people should take into consideration (given that probably 90 percent of all knowledge people commonly talk about is just of this type). We far too often take language for granted and base the premisses of our convictions and ideals that, though not necessarily wrong per se, are muddled and lead to faulty conclusions. At the very least this section offers valuable tools to the average person (without taking an epistemology class) to take a look at what it means to "know" something and how to better scrutinize those who try to tell us that they do.

Wonderful book! ( )
  PhilSroka | Apr 12, 2016 |
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Selections of the influential philosopher's writings that span his career feature the full texts of "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus," "On Certainty," and "The Blue and Brown Books: Studies for 'Philosophical Investigations.'"

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