What can be said at all can be said clearly; and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"What can be said at all can be said clearly; and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence." ["Was sich überhaupt sagen läßt, läßt sich klar sagen; und wovon man nicht reden kann, darüber muß man schweigen"] is a dictum by by Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. The dictum is proposition 7 in Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

As the last line in the book, proposition 7 has no supplementary propositions. It ends the book.

It has acquired something of a proverbial quality in German, employed as aphorisms independently of discussion of Wittgenstein.

Wittgenstein's conclusion in echoes the Old Testament Aphocrypha words of Jesus ben Sirach (ישוע בן סירא, Yešwaʿ ven Siraʾ): What is too sublime for you, do not seek; do not reach into things that are hidden from you. What is committed to you, pay heed to; what is hidden is not your concern. (Sirach 3: 21-22). Saint Thomas Aquinas addressed ben Sirach—and, by extension, Wittgenstein—in the First Article, First Part, of his Summa Theologica:

I answer that, it was necessary for man's salvation that there should be a knowledge revealed by God, besides philosophical science built up by human reason. Firstly, indeed, because man is directed to God, as to an end that surpasses the grasp of his reason: The eye hath not seen, O God, besides Thee, what things Thou hast prepared for them that wait for Thee (Isaiah 64:4). But the end must first be known by men who are to direct their thoughts and actions to the end. Hence it was necessary for the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should be made known to him by divine revelation. Even as regards those truths about God such as reason could have discovered, it was necessary that man should be taught by a divine revelation; because the truth about God such as reason could discover, would only be known by a few, and that after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors. Whereas as man's whole salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of this truth. Therefore, in order that the salvation of men might be brought about more fitly and more surely, it was necessary that they should be taught divine truths by divine revelation. It was therefore necessary that, besides philosophical science built up by reason there should be a sacred science learned through revelation.

Following Aquinas, moral philosophers and theologians have addressed the problem of religious language for centuries. Moreover, there has been extensive commentary on the relationship between the respective treatises of Wittgenstein (the Tractatus) and Aquinas (Summa Theologica). In addition, Fergus Gordon Kerr, a Roman Catholic priest of the Order of Preachers founded by Saint Dominic, notes that "theological questions lie between the lines of all of Wittgenstein's writing. It is hard to think of a great philosopher, at least since Nietzsche, whose work is equally pervaded by theological considerations."

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "What can be said at all can be said clearly; and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools