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Wittgenstein: The Great Philosopher of the Unity of Knowledge and Action

  The unity of knowledge and action is a common personality characteristic of ancient thinkers. What they think comes from what they do, and what they do expresses what they think, so they are called sages. Mozi’s “non-attack” and “death without turning his heels” ran for peace between countries. Diogenes, a “cynic,” who lived in a barrel, asked Alexander the Great to “don’t block my sunshine.” Laozi, Zhuangzi and Confucius; Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Sakyamuni, and so on. However, since modern times, especially with professional philosophers, thinking can be used as a means of making a living, and knowledge and action have gradually separated. As Kierkegaard sighed at the end of the 19th century: “How rare is the unity of knowledge and action in our time” (“Fear and Trembling”). But Wittgenstein, one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century, is outstanding and unique, and his brilliance first comes from the “unity of knowledge and action”.
  After he finished writing “On the Philosophy of Logic” in a prisoner of war camp in 1918, he believed that all philosophical problems had been solved and there was no need to engage in philosophical research. He confidently stated in the “Preface”: “The truth stated here is irrefutable and certain in my opinion. Therefore, I think the (philosophical) problem has basically been finally solved.” Therefore, a After the war, he participated in a teacher training course, and after obtaining a certificate, he went to Trattenbach, a remote mountain area in Austria, as a local primary school teacher. However, it seems that his career as a primary school teacher was not very successful, so he went to the monastery to work as a gardener. Interestingly, 10 years later, he believes that the ideas expressed in the book “On Logic and Philosophy” are wrong, and he is far from solving the philosophical problems that he thinks have been solved. So, I returned to Cambridge, England, as a researcher and professor, and discussed philosophy again. After more than 20 years of hard work, thinking that his thinking has matured, he planned to publish his second book “Philosophical Research”, which was actually published two years after his death.
  Wittgenstein’s father was an Austrian industrial magnate and his family was very wealthy, but he believed that excess money would corrupt people; therefore, he donated all his father’s huge inheritance to him, while he lived a very simple life. In 1919, he was going to meet Russell, the most famous philosopher in the world at the time, in The Hague to discuss his “Treatise of Logic and Philosophy”, but he had no travel expenses and was unwilling to accept gifts; Russell had to leave Wittgenstein in Cambridge The furniture was sold for money and sent to him. He was a professor at Cambridge University after the 1930s, and his student Norman Malcolm recalled: “[His residence in Cambridge] was very simply furnished, there were no easy chairs or lamps, … in the living room there were Two canvas chairs and an ordinary wooden chair, and a cot in the bedroom. An old-fashioned iron heating stove is placed in the middle of the living room. … There is an iron safe for manuscripts, and a square table on which he writes. .” Because he often taught at home, the people who came to the lecture, whether it was a student or a colleague of Cambridge professors, had to bring their own chairs. After he retired in 1947, he suffered from cancer and had some financial difficulties. But when he learned that the “Rockefeller Foundation” was going to give him a research grant, he replied: “The thought of being able to live in a place I like without being a burden and burden to others, . . . is certainly pleasant to me. Things…but I can’t receive a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation…because I’m getting older and my mind is obviously powerless…I can’t accept a grant for false reasons.”
  He is sincere to himself and to others. As a profound and highly original philosophical classic, The Treatise on Logic and Philosophy was very difficult to publish because at that time he was not known to the world except for a few who thought he was a genius. He had no degree, no professional title, and no Fame, and, at that time, few people could read his books. Russell was both his teacher and his friend, and at that time Russell’s reputation was in full swing; in order to help him publish this book, he wrote a long introduction to it and recommended it to the publisher. However, Wittgenstein believed that Russell misunderstood or failed to understand his ideas, and was even prepared to give up publishing. The great ethicist Moore is also his mentor and friend, and he is one of the very few people in his Cambridge colleagues who can be respected by him. It is precisely because of Moore’s strong recommendation that he can “go through the motions” to obtain a doctorate and succeed Moore. Serve as “Lecturer”. After Moore retired and was in poor health, Mrs. Moore strictly followed the doctor’s orders and did not allow Moore to engage in philosophical discussions with anyone for more than an hour and a half. Wittgenstein was very angry about this. He believed that since Moore loved the truth, it should not be interrupted before the discussion reached a valid result. He even thought that if Moore died of a stroke during the discussion, it was the right death. Like a soldier dying on the battlefield. Likewise, when he felt that his intellect had been exhausted and that it was difficult for him to do philosophical research, he seriously considered whether he should continue to live.
  Wittgenstein is a maverick. From the perspective of philosophy and the history of philosophy, the most unique thing about him is that he proposed two philosophical ideas that are very different from each other, and even have opposing viewpoints. There are many changes in the process of thought development of great philosophers, but it is only seen that he has created two important philosophical schools with two books. With The Treatise on Logic and Philosophy, he influenced Schlick, Wechmann and Carnap. Schlick and others founded “logical positivism”, an important philosophical school in the 20th century. When Carnap and others immigrated to the United States, it became popular for a while after combining with the American native philosophy “pragmatism” and has an influence to this day. The Treatise on Logic and Philosophy is extremely peculiar in both thought and language form. The book has more than 20,000 words and puts forward 7 propositions. The corresponding sub-propositions are further demonstrated under the 7 propositions. and subpropositions of subpropositions, and are marked with symbols such as 1, 1.1, 1.11… 2, 2.01, 2.012, etc. There are two important ideas in this book. One is to divide all the problems in the world into two categories: “speakable” and “unspeakable”, which not only defines the limit for language, but also defines the limit for thought. He believes that “everything that can be said can be said clearly.” If it cannot be said clearly, it can be solved with the development of human thought. Secondly, and also the seventh proposition of this book, there is only one sentence: “If you cannot speak, you should remain silent.” This is perhaps the most quoted philosophical saying of the 20th century. Together with Heidegger, he promoted the “language turn” of Western philosophy in the 20th century, opening up a new path and creating a new world for philosophy. Interestingly, there is no mutual influence from their books, although they are both German-language authors.
  Another of the most valuable ideas in this book is the treatment of logical problems, especially the truth function of propositions. This is Russell’s favorite idea. He has praised it many times, and believes that it is one of the ideological foundations of the “logical atomism” he founded. Wittgenstein’s discussion greatly promoted the development of contemporary logic. Together with Russell and Frege, he created a new era of logic. It can be said that this is the most important development of logic in the West since Aristotle.
  His second book, “Philosophical Studies”, created the “philosophy of linguistic analysis”. So far, this group of philosophers is still the mainstream of philosophy departments in British and American universities. At least in American university philosophy departments, it is not enough to speak of philosophy without understanding “philosophy of linguistic analysis”. In this book, his ideas about “language games” and “family resemblance” have become the core propositions and classic discourses of contemporary philosophy.
  As a great philosopher, especially a contemporary philosopher, his writings are rare and unique. During his lifetime, he only published two books, one is “On the Philosophy of Logic” and the other is a dictionary for elementary school students; only one paper, “Some Views on Logical Forms”, was published, and it was published in the “Supplement” . The dissemination and influence of his ideas are mainly through the students who listen to his classes and some philosophical seminars in which he takes part in speaking. Books published after his death, including Philosophical Investigations, were compiled by his friends and students from his manuscripts, transcripts of lectures, and his usual oral discourses. Another very famous “Blue Book and Brown Book” is directly compiled from the class notes of 8 students.
  He lectures and listens to his classes, it is a kind of hard work for him and for the students. He lectures, not to teach pre-existing ideas, but each time a philosophical struggle, a new intellectual adventure, a creative study. Before giving a lecture, he spends a few minutes to roughly organize his thoughts, without using handouts or using existing notebooks. In class, he had a serious expression, and even his “eyes were often fierce”, and he was completely focused, and there were often long periods of coldness. He either stared at the audience, forced them to march with him, or even rudely behaved if anyone was acting unsatisfactorily, even if that person was his colleague, a professor at Cambridge University. He is either immersed in his own thinking and forgets the world. There are only his occasional murmurs and the silent stares of everyone in the class, and no one dares to make a sound. He also often doubted whether he could hold on, saying to himself “I’m really stupid today” and “I’m a fool”. He was exhausted during each two-hour lecture. This comes from his love of truth and stoic honesty in his work. It is not easy to listen to his class. To participate in the class, you must obtain his consent. The number is limited, and you often cannot understand it. You can only try to write down every word he said. However, including the masters such as Moore, they are not willing to miss any opportunity to listen to his class.
  His lifelong work is highly abstract, and he constructs a peculiar world that only a few people have access to and, most likely, cannot really understand. Eminent men such as Russell declared that Wittgenstein’s later philosophy was incomprehensible to him. However, Wittgenstein also seems to want to withdraw from this metaphysical world, and even, he once planned to go to the former Soviet Union as an industrial worker. He persuaded one of his most trusted students, Norman Malcolm, to give up being a philosophy teacher and go to manual work on a farm or ranch. When Norman Malcolm was about to return to the United States, Wittgenstein said to him: “Anything, I hope you don’t marry a woman philosopher”. In places like Cambridge and Oxford, where there are weird people, Wittgenstein is considered to be the weirdest among weirdos. In fact, he treats people and things with a high degree of sincerity and undisguised the unity of knowledge and action.
  He is not only a philosophical genius, but also versatile. Do whatever work he is willing to do, he will devote himself wholeheartedly and make achievements. He was a postgraduate student at the University of Manchester in England, studying aeronautics and designing a jet recoil engine and thruster that was very advanced at the time. The house he designed and built for his sister is still a Vienna landmark. “Its beauty,” said von Wright, “is the same simple, quiet beauty of the lines of the Treatise.” During World War II, he considered himself a British citizen (when Germany annexed Austria, he chose British nationality) should not be on the sidelines, because of his age, he could not participate in the war, so he went to London Guy’s Hospital to be a janitor, and did not think it was wrong for a famous professor at Cambridge University. He later worked as a laboratory technician at St. Victoria’s Hospital until the end of the war. In such ordinary work, his casual medical insights surprised the doctors who used him as an assistant. During this period, he invented some medical techniques and instruments, such as a technique for simply estimating the injured area, which has been proven to be very effective in helping to treat trauma.
  His highest evaluation of man is: he is a man! When he entered a state of death in 1951, he sighed to the caregivers beside him: “Tell them that I have lived a very good life.”

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