Wittgenstein’s riddle of life



The magnificent ending of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico Philosophicus:

…The solution of the riddle of life in space

and time lies outside space and time.

(It is not problems of natural science which have to be


6.432 How the world is, is completely indifferent for what is higher.

God does not reveal himself in the world.

6.4321 The facts all belong only to the task and not to its performance.

6.44 Not how the world is, is the mystical, but that it is.

6.45 The contemplation of the world sub specie aeterni is its contemplation

as a limited whole.

The feeling of the world as a limited whole is the mystical


6.5 For an answer which cannot be expressed the question too cannot

be expressed.

The riddle does not exist.

If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered.

6.51 Scepticism is not irrefutable, but palpably senseless, if it would

doubt where a question cannot be asked.

For doubt can only exist where there is a question; a question

only where there is an answer, and this only where something

can be said.

6.52 We feel that even if all possible scientific questions are answered,

the problems of life have still not been touched at all. Of course

there is then no question left, and just this is the answer.

6.521 The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of

this problem.

(Is not this the reason why men to whom after long doubting the sense

of life became clear, could not then say wherein this sense consisted?)

6.522 There is indeed the inexpressible. This shows itself; it is the


6.53 The right method of philosophy would be this. To say nothing

except what can be said, i.e. the propositions of natural science,

i.e. something that has nothing to do with philosophy: and then

always, when someone else wished to say something metaphysical,

to demonstrate to him that he had given no meaning to

certain signs in his propositions. This method would be unsatisfying

to the other—he would not have the feeling that we

were teaching him philosophy—but it would be the only strictly

correct method.

6.54 My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands

me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out

through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw

away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)

He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world


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

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