The quote “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” is from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s work “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.” In this philosophical work, Wittgenstein presents a theory of language and philosophy and explores the limits of language.
This specific quote emphasizes the idea that language has inherent limitations, and there are certain aspects of reality or existence that cannot be adequately expressed or described through language. In other words, some subjects or experiences lie beyond the scope of linguistic representation.
Wittgenstein’s philosophical investigation led him to conclude that there are meaningful statements that can be expressed in language and those that cannot. He argued that propositions or statements can only be meaningful if they can be verified or falsified based on empirical evidence or logical analysis. If a statement cannot be empirically tested or logically analyzed, it becomes meaningless or nonsensical.
When he says, “thereof one must be silent,” Wittgenstein suggests that when faced with topics that cannot be expressed meaningfully in language, it is best to refrain from attempting to speak about them. Instead of trying to articulate the ineffable or inexpressible, one should acknowledge the limitations of language and remain silent on those matters.
This quote reflects Wittgenstein’s later philosophical thinking, where he moved away from some of the views presented in the “Tractatus” and focused more on the use of language in everyday contexts and language games in his later work, “Philosophical Investigations.” Nonetheless, the idea expressed in this quote remains a significant point in the philosophy of language and the study of the boundaries of human understanding.