When I was a kid, I would lay in our back field at night, listen to the crickets, and look up at the stars. I would take in the world and everything that is the world, and I'd take in the universe and everything that is the universe, and it was a feeling that was simply overwhelming. I realized then, that my mouth just wasn’t big enough - that it would never be big enough to describe what was before me at that moment. There would never be the words. It was something that can only sink in.

Philosophers love logic and all its trappings, and one philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein - espoused by some as the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century, published only one book-length piece in his lifetime. The piece is titled Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Yeah, those philosophers have a way with words, and Wittgenstein himself claimed that TLP solves all of the problems of philosophy.

The entire work is written out one proposition at a time, one on top of the other for about 150 pages, and the propositions are set down in the order of their importance. Each proposition has many subcomponents, or addendum attached, which are notated numerically. For example, the proof begins with:

1. The world is everything that is the case.
1.1 The world is the totality of facts, not things.
1.11 The world is determined by the facts, and by these being all the facts.
1.12 For the totality of facts determines both what is the case, and also all that is not the case.
1.13 The facts in logical space are the world.

1.2 The world divides into facts.
1.21 Any one can either be the case or not be the case, and everything else remain the same.

2. What is the case, the fact, is the existence of atomic facts

On and on it goes, for 150 pages, proposition on top of proposition, convolution on top of convolution - and along the way, Wittgenstein also becomes incredibly complex mathematically (there aren’t even the keys on a keyboard to begin to replicate the formulas). Finally, Old Witt concludes his philosophical masterpiece with a simple proposition without addendum - number seven:

7. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

Brilliant conclusion, eh? Just let it think in.


- The Fool
- photo of the Witt, artist unknown