Wittgenstein, Ludwig Josef Johann: Philosophy
Wittgenstein's philosophical thought is unified by a constant concern with the relationship between language, mind, and reality; but it divides into two importantly different phases. The first phase, expressed in the
state of affairs they represent. Language and thought work literally like a picture of the real, and to conceive or speak of any state of affairs is to be able to form a
picture of it.
To understand any sentence one must grasp the reference of its constituents, both to each other and to the real. Meaning in thought and language requires a direct reference to the real. The
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
The second phase of Wittgenstein's philosophy commenced with his return to Cambridge in 1929 and continued until his death in 1951; his major work of that period is the
language game, in which it was used. Wittgenstein's work greatly influenced, and indeed in a sense occasioned, what has come to be called ordinary language philosophy, that is, the position that maintains that all philosophical problems arise from the illusions created by the ambiguities of language. Philosophy, therefore, must be chiefly concerned with the analysis and proper use of language. This outlook still forms a powerful trend in Great Britain and the United States.
Other of Wittgenstein's posthumous works are
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Philosophy: Biographies