Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophy, Famous Philosopher. WSM gives Absolute Truth and Meaning to Language. Wittgenstein: For philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday.

Philosophy - Famous Philosophers - Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951)
The Metaphysics of Space and Motion and the Wave Structure of Matter (WSM) gives Absolute Truth and Meaning to Language
Explanation of Quotations from Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Philosophical Investigations

For philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday. ...
I should not like my writing to spare other people the trouble of thinking. But, if possible, to stimulate someone to thoughts of his own.
Naming appears as a queer connection of a word with an object - And you really get such a queer connection when the philosopher tries to bring out the relation between name and thing by staring at an object in front of him and repeating a name.
... the meaning of a word is its use in the language.
And the meaning of a name is sometimes explained by pointing to its bearer.
(Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations)


Wittgenstein's central point is that language is like a game that has imprecise rules that work well enough for us to communicate with one another. However, while we do not know reality then all these words are ultimately just human constructions without absolute meaning or truth (which comes from relating words to things that physically exist). This lack of knowledge of reality has led to our current postmodern (logical positivist / relativistic) belief that we can never know reality, that language is a tautology - words only have meaning relative to other words. The following quotes are pretty relevant to this postmodern position of no absolute truths (and show how this postmodern view has permeated both physics and philosophy).

Werner Heisenberg -  Light and matter are both single entities, and the apparent duality arises in the limitations of our language. The solution of the difficulty is that the two mental pictures which experiment lead us to form - the one of the particles, the other of the waves - are both incomplete and have only the validity of analogies which are accurate only in limiting cases. (Heisenberg, 1930)

Light and matter are both single entities, and the apparent duality arises in the limitations of our language.
It is not surprising that our language should be incapable of describing the processes occurring within the atoms, for, as has been remarked, it was invented to describe the experiences of daily life, and these consist only of processes involving exceedingly large numbers of atoms. Furthermore, it is very difficult to modify our language so that it will be able to describe these atomic processes, for words can only describe things of which we can form mental pictures, and this ability, too, is a result of daily experience. Fortunately, mathematics is not subject to this limitation, and it has been possible to invent a mathematical scheme - the quantum theory - which seems entirely adequate for the treatment of atomic processes; for visualisation, however, we must content ourselves with two incomplete analogies - the wave picture and the corpuscular picture. (Heisenberg, 1930)

As Berkeley elegantly states;

Berkeley on Philosophy, Skepticism, Truth, Reality, Knowledge, Metaphysics, Certainty , Meaning(George Berkeley, 1710) Nothing seems of more importance, towards erecting a firm system of sound and real knowledge, which may be proof against the assaults of scepticism, than to lay the beginning in a distinct explication of what is meant by thing, reality, existence: for in vain shall we dispute concerning the real existence of things, or pretend to any knowledge thereof, so long as we have not fixed the meaning of those words.

So what are these things that physically exist (reality) which cause us such confusion? Well the error has been the conception of the discrete and separate 'particle', and thus the idea of 'fields' to explain particle interactions. The solution is to replace the 'particle structure of matter in space-time with the Wave Structure of Matter in Space. As David Bohm explains;

The notion that all these fragments (particles) is separately existent is evidently an illusion, and this illusion cannot do other than lead to endless conflict and confusion. Indeed, the attempt to live according to the notion that the fragments are really separate is, in essence, what has led to the growing series of extremely urgent crises that is confronting us today. Thus, as is now well known, this way of life has brought about pollution, destruction of the balance of nature, over-population, world-wide economic and political disorder and the creation of an overall environment that is neither physically nor mentally healthy for most of the people who live in it. Individually there has developed a widespread feeling of helplessness and despair, in the face of what seems to be an overwhelming mass of disparate social forces, going beyond the control and even the comprehension of the human beings who are caught up in it. (David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980)

The Wave Structure of Matter in Space is explained in the articles listed on the side of the page. Below is a discussion of how this knowledge of Reality relates to the ideas of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

To begin, a fine article from Albert Einstein on the evolution and meaning of words and symbols.

The Common Language of Science (Albert Einstein, 1941)

The first step toward language was to link acoustically or otherwise commutable signs / symbols to sense impressions. Most likely all sociable animals have arrived at this primitive kind of communication - at least to a certain degree. ... If language is to lead at all to understanding, there must be rules concerning the relationships between the signs on the one hand, and on the other hand there must be a stable correspondence between signs and impressions.

In an early stage the words may directly correspond to impressions. At a later stage this direct connection is lost in so far as some words convey relations to perceptions only if used in connection with other words (e.g. 'is', 'or', 'thing'). Then word groups rather than single words refer to perceptions. When language thus becomes partially independent from the background of impressions a greater inner coherence is gained.

Only at this further development where frequent use is made of so called abstract concepts, language becomes an instrument of reasoning in the true sense of the word. But it is also this development which turns language into a dangerous source of error and deception. Everything depends on the degree to which words and word -combinations correspond to the world of impression.

Thus we may conclude that the mental development of the individual and his way of forming concepts depend to a high degree upon language. This makes us realise to what extent the same language means the same mentality. In this sense thinking and language are linked together.
What distinguishes the language of science from language as we ordinarily understand the word? How is it that scientific language is international? What science strives for is an utmost acuteness and clarity of concepts as regards their mutual relation and their correspondence to sensory data.

A Dialogue between Mathematical Physicist Milo Wolff, Philosopher of Science Geoff Haselhurst, with Quotes from Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Milo Wolff on the Wave Structure of Matter, Light , and Space as a Wave MediumMilo Wolff - For example, logic demands that fundamental concepts be carefully defined. But the meaning of "measurement", its basis in energy exchange, and the associated mechanism of energy exchange have been almost completely ignored. No one seems to have asked the related questions such as;
"What is energy exchange?"
"What is energy?"
"What are we measuring when we measure time, length and mass?"
You are beginning to lay out a logical structure for these fundamentals. I look forward to the next version of your logic.

Science Philosopher Geoff HaselhurstGeoff Haselhurst replied; Milo, this is exactly it. Philosophy of this century has largely focused on the use of language, and the meaning of words. What it has discovered is that (without true knowledge of reality) language is very imprecise; it has no foundation, it is all tautology - words only have meaning in relation to other words. (Hence the importance of mathematics.)

Milo Wolff: We are different here, Geoff. The philosophy of language is interesting to me but I do not get excited about analysing it. The fascination of a game, or of physics does not appear for me in philosophy.

Geoff Haselhurst: Milo, I read some things purely for pleasure. Generally I find intelligence shines through in good physics and philosophy, and I enjoy this. Some philosophy & physics is pretty dry and dull, but I read it because I know that I need this information to do what I am doing. If I am going to write about truth and reality, then I must understand language. That is the only reason I read this side of philosophy, you are wrong to say I get a buzz out of that - I don't. I am simply disciplined to learn what I need such that I can do what I have set out to do.
I hate having people say to me, as they have done!, that;
"You can't describe reality except with maths"
"What do you mean by waves in space?"
"Wittgenstein showed that language has no fundamental meaning, and hence can't be used to describe reality"

So this is why I study physics, philosophy and metaphysics. So I know more than these people, and can counter their arguments with true knowledge. I am disciplined and thorough when I choose Milo. This is why I am good at the things I do. This is why I have discovered reality, and why I have found you. I know what a wonderful asset you are, that is why I argue with you that making money is trivial compared with what we can do with the knowledge that we now have - that the knowledge you have acquired in life shall not be wasted.

So Milo, what I am trying to do, is to clearly define the meaning of my words, the fundamental foundation being Waves in Space. That this links language to reality, and hence removes the tautology. Thus we must construct a NEW language, from the solid foundation of WAVES IN SPACE. (This very rigid substance that we all exist in as complexly evolved Wave Centers of Universally large Spherical Standing Waves.)
Further, this then allows the construction of a logical argument that no-one can say is false. (As it is true!)

Milo Wolff: Now that you describe it, I see that a new sub-language is indeed a path to a better understanding of nature. It makes sense.

Geoff Haselhurst: Let me give you some quotes from Wittgenstein (the most famous 20th century philosopher - from 'Philosophical Investigations').

Geoff Haselhurst:

Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations - On Language and its MeaningWittgenstein: "But what are the simple constituent parts of which reality is composed? - What are the simple constituent parts of a chair? - The bits of wood of which it is made? Or the molecules or atoms?"

Geoff Haselhurst: His problem, as is philosophy's problem of Ontology (what exists) is that they don't know! We do Milo, this is the most profound discovery in human history. The world is busy, and does not yet understand this. We must help them. It is important. And it is simple - I point at the world around me and say "That is Space!" This is a fundamental statement which links language to the real world of what physically exists (space and its wave motions that form matter).

Milo Wolff: Yeah, The fact that we know sort of glows' and 'shines' inside of me. It is a strange feeling: simple, lonely, and profound - all at the same time. I sometimes ask myself WHY I want to know about the universe. I know I am strange and different from many others. Most of my fellow graduates from U Penn no longer care about research or new ideas but I do. I am driven to continually think about the origin of everything around me. Why? I suspect that my inner psychological mental computer programs connect 'knowing' with survival. I have to learn all the mechanisms that affect me so that I can cope with anything that attacks me. If I don't continually learn, I will die!

Wittgenstein: "For naming and describing do not stand on the same level: naming is a preparation for describing. We may say,: nothing has so far been done, when a thing has been named. It has not even got a name except in the language-game. This was what Frege meant too, when he said that a word had meaning only as part of a sentence."

Geoff Haselhurst: That is, pointing and saying "Space" doesn't really help, we must then explain what we mean by describing the properties of space (a wave medium). Then this must be formalised with mathematical precision as well, how spherically vibrating space has evolved into this complex world of objects and ideas. As Aristotle wrote;

The first philosophy (Metaphysics) is universal and is exclusively concerned with primary substance. ... And here we will have the science to study that which is just as that which is, both in its essence and in the properties which, just as a thing that is, it has. ...
The entire preoccupation of the physicist is with things that contain within themselves a principle of movement and rest. And to seek for this is to seek for the second kind of principle, that from which comes the beginning of the change. ...
There must then be a principle of such a kind that its substance is activity.

Wittgenstein: "For someone might object against me: "You take the easy way out! You talk about all sorts of language games, but have nowhere said what the essence of a language-game, and hence of language, is: what is common to all these activities, and what makes them into language or parts of language. So you let yourself off the very part of the investigation that once gave you yourself most headache, the part about the general form of propositions and of language."
"And that is true. - Instead of producing something common to all that we call language, I am saying that these phenomena have no one thing in common which makes us use the same word for all, - but that they are related to one another in many different ways. And it is because of this relationship, or of these relationships, that we call them all 'language'."

Milo Wolff: The notion of language as you describe it raises a question. Why do we (or YOU) want to have a correct or better language? There seem to be two reasons: One, to communicate with other persons, and two, to understand what we ourselves are thinking about.

Wittgenstein: "The fluctuation of scientific definition: what today counts as an concomitant of a phenomena will to-morrow be used to define it."

Geoff Haselhurst: The photon is a classic example of this, we think we understand once we use a name - but we don't! This is why Albert Einstein wrote to his friend Michael Besso expressing his frustration;

"All these fifty years of conscious brooding have brought me no nearer to the answer to the question, 'What are light quanta (photons)?' Nowadays every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks he knows it, but he is mistaken. ... I consider it quite possible that physics cannot be based on the field concept, i.e., on continuous structures. In that case, nothing remains of my entire castle in the air, gravitation theory included, [and of] the rest of modern physics." (Albert Einstein, 1954)

Wittgenstein: "But then how does an explanation help me to understand, if after all it is not the final one? In that case the explanation is never completed; so I still don't understand what he means, and never shall!"

Geoff Haselhurst: This is the tautological nature of language. The absolute solution is to connect language to what really exists - space and its wave motions. But for Wittgenstein (who obviously did not know what reality was) the only solution is to accept that language is imprecise, but nonetheless useable, as he writes;

Wittgenstein: "If I tell someone 'Stand roughly here' - may not this explanation work perfectly? But isn't it an inexact explanation? - Yes; why shouldn't we call it 'inexact'? Only let us understand what 'inexact' means. For it does not mean 'unusable'."
" Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language."

Geoff Haselhurst: More so with all the strange mathematical creations (Big Bangs, Wimps, Wormholes, Faster than light travel, Time Travel, etc.) of modern physics I think!

Wittgenstein: "The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. (One is unable to notice something - because it is always before one's eyes) The real foundations of his enquiry do not strike a man at all. Unless THAT fact has at some time struck him. And this means: we fail to be struck by what, once seen, is most striking and most powerful."

Geoff Haselhurst: What I call "normal" and have also written about, that humans are amazingly, frighteningly, able to not notice that which is normal. e.g. Gravity, how remarkable it is that we are stuck to the Earth!, and further, that we all exist in three dimensional space (we never seem to think about Space!) and that we can SEE stars across the universe - these are most profound things!

Milo Wolff: Very true. The human mind operates in that way.

Wittgenstein: "That is, the game with these words, their employment in the linguistic intercourse that is carried on by their means, is more involved - the role of these words in our language other - than we are tempted to think. This role is what we need to understand in order to resolve philosophical paradoxes."
"In our failure to understand the use of a word we take it as the expression of a queer process. As we think of time as a queer medium, of the mind as a queer kind of being."
"For we say that there isn't any doubt that we understand the word, and on the other hand its meaning lies in its use."

Geoff Haselhurst : 'On what is Serena?'
Milo, as a philosopher ( and a sensible human) I believe something must exist. I am trying to make the Wave Structure of Matter more "substantial / spatial" rather than just "mathematical" which is the natural inclination of the mathematical physicist's brain I think - and causes them all sorts of problems!
This description of reality must aim to link language to the world about us. Up until now, this has NEVER been done. Hence all words are ultimately tautologies, they only have meaning in relation to other words, or in relationship to objects we sense about us. This is a great problem for philosophy which needs to be solved. That is what I am trying to do.

Milo Wolff: I agree completely with that desirable goal and I see no objection to it from the side of pure physics. True, other physicists will doubt and demand 'proof' in their terms but all that can be done in an Appendix so there is no problem.

Geoff Haselhurst: So Milo, Some fun philosophy on the meaning of words: (These funny grunting noises we make)
Imagine an alien (who perhaps visits me in a wild dream, it is not important), who knows nothing of our world.
I say to alien, "Let my tell you about my daughter Serena, who is human like me."
Alien responds, (my dream allows us to communicate)
"What do you mean by human?"
I say, "Humans are animals."
Alien responds, "What are animals?"
I explain, "Animals are complexly evolved arrangements of matter."
(I could add here the whole Darwinian Evolution, but the tautology just becomes larger, so I will keep it simple.)
Alien is frustrated, perplexed, "What is matter?"
Thinking alien is pretty stupid, and needs to study physics, I say,
"Matter is made of protons, electrons, neutrons."
Alien, "What are protons electrons neutrons?"
Now eventually I begin to realise my own ignorance and that I can either say;
"I don't actually know!"
or I can complete the tautological circle by saying that
"Protons, electrons, and neutrons are the matter of which Serena, a human animal, is constructed."
Remarkably, most people don't realise that language has no underlying/fundamental meaning, that it is a tautology. (As is mathematics!) And this is the current state of Postmodern Philosophy. There only solution is to point at Serena and say, "That is Serena."
The Alien is then better satisfied, as Alien can now correctly relate the grunting noise I make (Serena) to the object Alien observes, that I am pointing at.
Alien says, "So that little object over there is Serena."

This is a partial solution to the problem, as we can relate words to objects, by grunting and pointing (without having to use other words) but it still does not completely answer our questions as to "What is Serena?"

Most remarkably though, Milo Wolff and Geoff Haselhurst have independently discovered what exists (Space) and what matter is (the Wave Center of Universally large Spherical Standing Waves in Space)
Hence we can complete this explanation to the alien in the following way, which I think is satisfactory to philosophy;

"Protons, electrons, and neutrons are caused by the Wave Centers of Spherical Standing Waves in Space."

Alien asks "What is space?"
I point to the world about me and say; "That is Space!"
Alien asks, "What are waves?"
I reply, "Space exists as a Wave Medium for waves.
Alien asks, what is a Wave-Medium.
I reply; "Space is a nearly rigid but slightly elastic substance that allows wave Motions. Waves are oscillating motions of Space where the energy of Motion is balanced by the energy of elasticity of Space.

The following quotes on Space (from some famous philosophers and physicists) makes us realise how close Humanity has been to understanding reality for the past several hundred years;

Spnoza Ethics Substance (Spinoza, Ethics, 1673) But if men would give heed to the nature of substance they would doubt less concerning the Proposition that Existence appertains to the nature of substance: rather they would reckon it an axiom above all others, and hold it among common opinions. For then by substance they would understand that which is in itself, and through itself is conceived, or rather that whose knowledge does not depend on the knowledge of any other thing.

Leibniz Reality One Substance Monad Space (Gottfried Leibniz, 1670)
Reality cannot be found except in One single source, because of the interconnection of all things with one another. I maintain also that substances, whether material or immaterial, cannot be conceived in their bare essence without any activity, activity being of the essence of substance in general.

David Hume Philosophy (David Hume, Treatise Concerning Human Understanding. 1737) If you insist that the inference is made by a chain of reasoning, I desire you to produce that reasoning. The connection between the two is not intuitive. There is required a medium, which may enable the mind to draw such an inference, if indeed it be drawn by reasoning and argument. What that medium is, I must confess, passes my comprehension; and it is incumbent on those to produce it, who assert that it really exists, and is the origin of all our conclusions concerning matter of fact.

Kant a priori(Immanuel Kant, 1781) Natural science (physics) contains in itself synthetical judgments a priori, as principles. … Space then is a necessary representation a priori, which serves for the foundation of all external intuitions.


Faraday Electric Force Field (Michael Faraday,1830) I cannot conceive curved lines of force without the conditions of a physical existence in that intermediate space.


Maxwell Equations (James Clerk Maxwell, 1876) In speaking of the Energy of the field, however, I wish to be understood literally. All energy is the same as mechanical energy, whether it exists in the form of motion or in that of elasticity, or in any other form. The energy in electromagnetic phenomena is mechanical energy.

Bradley33(Bradley, 1846-1924) We may agree, perhaps, to understand by Metaphysics an attempt to know reality as against mere appearance, or the study of first principles or ultimate truths, or again the effort to comprehend the universe, not simply piecemeal or by fragments, but somehow as a whole.

Lorentz(Hendrik Lorentz, 1906) I cannot but regard the ether, which can be the seat of an electromagnetic field with its energy and its vibrations, as endowed with a certain degree of substantiality, however different it may be from all ordinary matter.

Albert Einstein Physics Metaphysics (Albert Einstein, 1928) According to the general theory of relativity space is endowed with physical qualities; in this sense, therefore, there exists an ether. ... Physical objects are not in space, but these objects are spatially extended ... thus the concept of particles or material points cannot play a fundamental part.

Smolin(Lee Smolin, Life of the Cosmos, 1997) A successful unification of quantum theory and relativity would necessarily be a theory of the universe as a whole. It would tell us, as Aristotle and Newton did before, what space and time are, what the cosmos is, what things are made of, and what kind of laws those things obey. Such a theory will bring about a radical shift - a revolution - in our understanding of what nature is. It must also have wide repercussions, and will likely bring about, or contribute to, a shift in our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to the rest of the universe.
It can no longer be maintained that the properties of any one thing in the universe are independent of the existence or non-existence of everything else. It is, at last, no longer sensible to speak of a universe with only one thing in it.

Milo Wolff on the Wave Structure of Matter, Light , and Space as a Wave Medium (Milo Wolff, Exploring the Physics of the Unknown Universe, 1994) The Wave Structure of Matter (the Structure of fundamental 'Particles') evolved over five years. It began with a simple speculation that waves in Space could explain the de Broglie wavelength. It continued to agree with more laws and observations than I first expected and I was amazed.

The 'Particle' is two identical spherical waves traveling radially in opposite directions so that together they form a spherical standing wave. The wave which travels inward towards the center is called an In-Wave, and the wave traveling outward is an Out-Wave. The nominal location of the ‘Particle’ is the Wave-Center, but as must be true for any charged Particle, it has presence everywhere in Space because the charge forces extend throughout the Universe.

Solid Bodies from Waves - The solid crystal array is a matrix of atoms held rigidly in space. How are the atoms suspended in space? We must conclude that the crystal’s rigidity derives from fixed standing waves propagating in a rigid wave medium. Calculations for diamonds and nuclear structure yields an enormous rigidity. This is really a separate argument about the rigidity of space, which is one of its properties.

Light 'Photons' - Two Spherical Standing Waves (SSW) oscillators exchange energy much like classical coupled oscillators, such as electric circuits or joined pendulums. The coupling provided by the non-linear centers of the resonances (high mass-energy density of space Wave-Centers) allows them to shift frequency patterned by the modulation of each other's waves. Since significant coupling can only occur between two oscillators which possess the same resonant elements, the frequency (energy) changes are equal and opposite. This we observe as the law of conservation of energy. When opposite changes of frequency (energy ) takes place between two resonances, energy seems to be transported from the center of one resonance to another. We observe a loss of energy where frequency decreases and added energy where it increases. The exchange appears to travel with the speed of the In-Waves of the receiving resonance which is c, the velocity of light. When large numbers of changes occur together, we can sample part of it and see a beam of light (which causes the continuous electromagnetic waves of Modern Physics). When single exchanges occur we see "photons" as discrete Standing Wave interactions. Thus the transitory modulated waves traveling between two resonances create the illusion of the 'photon particle'

Wittgenstein Summary from One Hundred Twentieth-Century Philosophers

Ludwig Wittgenstein - I should not like my writing to spare other people the trouble of thinking. But, if possible, to stimulate someone to thoughts of his own.Wittgenstein, Ludwig Josef Johann (Logical atomist) 1889-1951
In 1911 he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, to study with Russell, on the advice of Frege. The themes which took life in his notebooks soon afterwards included some which had preoccupied Russell for many years: the nature and ingredients of a proposition; its relation to objects; logical truth. There was also concern with the will, the self and the place of value which Wittgenstein may have brought from his early readings of Schopenhauer.

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Despite the Russellian logical skeleton of the work, Wittgenstein's emphasis on the ethical aims of the Tractatus must be taken seriously. He believed that value stood outside what he thought of as 'the world' : If there is any value that does not have value, it must lie outside the whole sphere of what happens and is the case'

He needed to fit together 'what happens and is the case' with what can be said about it, and to set that apart from what cannot be said- about 'the sense of the world' and about the 'will in so far as it is the subject of ethical attributes'. Saying is possible. Saying- language- consists of 'the totality of propositions'. And 'only propositions have sense'. But: 'If the world has no substance, then whether a proposition had sense would depend on whether another proposition was true. In that case we could not sketch out any picture of the world (true or false)' But 'we' can do this.. so the world does have a substance... The argument is a Kantian transcendental one, leading to a world of objects, pictured in language.

'A proposition is a picture of reality' and 'The totality of true propositions is the whole of natural science.'

Wittgenstein relied on strong dichotomy: on one side was language consisting of articulated propositions, in which everything sayable depended on (without necessarily being reducible to ) the fact that elementary propositions can picture states of affairs; on the other side were the realms of the will, ethics and the mystical. Here, nothing could be said, though something might be shown. Logic and mathematics, which could not be seen as presenting facts about the world, were diagnosed as tautologies- the limiting case of the combination of signs. They were not- like attempts to say something about value or ethics-nonsensical (unsinnig). But they were empty of sense (sinnlos) because they said nothing. The contrast was between what was said and what was shown: 'Logical so-called propositions show [the] logical properties of language and therefore of [the] Universe, but say nothing' (Notebooks 1914-16, p107) Logic was 'not a body of doctrine but a mirror-image of the world.'

These views embodied radical implications for philosophy. It could not be a 'body of doctrine' or aim at 'philosophical propositions'. It could be an activity of elucidation- 'the logical clarification of thoughts'. And what was written in the Tractatus might well be elucidatory, but would have to be recognised as nonsensical itself: purporting to say what could only be shown. 'What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence'.

..his early view of necessity as tautological. 'A point cannot be red and green at the same time: at first sight there seems no need for this to be a logical impossibility.' (Notebooks 1914-16)

The Blue Book (1933-4) opened with the question 'What is the meaning of a word?' In the Tractatus he had written: 'A name means an object. The object is its meaning..' This single, direct, essentialist link between language and reality was denied later, or diminished to a special case.

His interest in meaning in social contexts has often been seen as a form of holism- sense would be determined by an indefinitely wide range of linguistic, social and cultural conditions ('use in language', Philosophical Investigations). But more probably, having held an extremely clear-cut theory of meaning, he now wanted to deny that any theory could cover the sufficient or necessary conditions for meaning or meaningfulness.
The most important area where this was applied was where words had been thought to stand for mental objects: 'red' somehow stands for my inner impression of redness; 'toothache' gets its sense for me because I have used it to stand for an ache in my tooth. Part 1 of the Philosophical Investigations is preoccupied with this theme.

One strand in these arguments is a suggestion that an understanding of the sense of any term cannot depend on personal acquaintance with its reference (what it stands for). Someone who has never had a toothache (seasickness, hangover) uses 'seasickness' just as intelligibly as someone who has. Its meaning 'for' the user of the word, which seems essential, 'drops out of consideration as irrelevant'. What matters is that the word is used in accordance with the rules of language, which have to be social, 'public' not 'private' inside the language-user. Otherwise the word could have no 'function'. Its use could have no 'criterion of correctness': ' whatever is going to seem right to me is right. That only means that here we can't talk about "right". 'The meaning of a word is not the experience one has in hearing or saying it, and the sense of a sentence is not a complex of such experiences.'

This thinking was fatal to the empiricist account of meaning, where words acquired their meanings by standing for mental contents (ideas, sense data, impressions). The whole view of language as a 'vehicle of thought' changed radically.

His work has had much influence in social anthropology, social theory and the philosophy of religion. The denial of clear foundations for meaning in the form of determinate links between language and reality could be widened from language to social or religious practice. A search for justifications in terms of objective, factual truth might be replaced by legitimation in terms of social or cultural use.

Like Kant, he believed that people have tendencies to think (speak) in ways which lead to erroneous illusory or misleading questions. The answer, he believed, was to see the normal uses of language perspicuously, to get a clear oversight. The aim was 'complete clarity. But this means that the philosophical problems completely disappear'. (1, S133)

On Certainty. Epistemological certainty could have its origins neither in theoretical foundations (as in classical empiricism) nor in unsupported, intuitive common sense (as asserted by G.E. Moore). Instead doubt, certainty, justification, evidence, knowledge and so on were associated with actual social practice, and that appeared to provide some kind of legitimation: 'Our knowledge forms an enormous system. And only within this system has a particular bit 'the value we give it'; 'I would like to reserve the expression "I know" for the cases in which it is used in normal linguistic exchange'.

Attempts to discover theories of meaning (or even reference) have continued unabated, in the face of the plain implication of the Philosophical Investigations that there can be no sufficient conditions for making sense. (p201-205)

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"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
(George Orwell)

"Hell is Truth Seen Too Late."
(Thomas Hobbes)

Help Humanity

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
(Mohandas Gandhi)

Albert Einstein"When forced to summarize the general theory of relativity in one sentence: Time and space and gravitation have no separate existence from matter. ... Physical objects are not in space, but these objects are spatially extended. In this way the concept 'empty space' loses its meaning. ... The particle can only appear as a limited region in space in which the field strength or the energy density are particularly high. ...
The free, unhampered exchange of ideas and scientific conclusions is necessary for the sound development of science, as it is in all spheres of cultural life. ... We must not conceal from ourselves that no improvement in the present depressing situation is possible without a severe struggle; for the handful of those who are really determined to do something is minute in comparison with the mass of the lukewarm and the misguided. ...
Humanity is going to need a substantially new way of thinking if it is to survive!" (Albert Einstein)

Biography: Geoffrey Haselhurst, Philosopher of Science, Theoretical Physics, Metaphysics, Evolution. Our world is in great trouble due to human behaviour founded on myths and customs that are causing the destruction of Nature and climate change. We can now deduce the most simple science theory of reality - the wave structure of matter in space. By understanding how we and everything around us are interconnected in Space we can then deduce solutions to the fundamental problems of human knowledge in physics, philosophy, metaphysics, theology, education, health, evolution and ecology, politics and society.

This is the profound new way of thinking that Einstein realised, that we exist as spatially extended structures of the universe - the discrete and separate body an illusion. This simply confirms the intuitions of the ancient philosophers and mystics.

Given the current censorship in physics / philosophy of science journals (based on the standard model of particle physics / big bang cosmology) the internet is the best hope for getting new knowledge known to the world. But that depends on you, the people who care about science and society, realise the importance of truth and reality.

It is easy to help - just click on the social network sites (below) or grab a nice image / quote you like and add it to your favourite blog, wiki or forum. We are listed as one of the top philosophy sites on the Internet (600,000 page views / week) and have a wonderful collection of knowledge from the greatest minds in human history, so people will appreciate your contributions. Thanks! Geoff Haselhurst - Karene Howie - Email

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'At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.' (Aristotle)
Ancient Greek Philosophy
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'I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.' (Spinoza)
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'The laws of Nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God.' (Euclid)
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