Mist in the forest of Ae.

Thought's Clothes

Language disguises the thought; so that from the external form of the clothes one cannot infer the form of the thought they clothe...

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1918)

Mist insinuates into the forest with the evening, moving up the valley wrapping the trees, clothing them with its soft cool white embrace. But it is very partial, very unevenly distributed. The trees grow in the ground with which we are familiar, although it is mostly hidden by the trees themselves. Way below lie utterly hidden depths which no one knows or can see, but which are part of that ground. This metaphor for the relation of language, thought, consciousness, and the noumenal world, might help avoid some pitfalls - while indubitably providing others. However, it does remind us that words can hang free of thought, and that thought certainly extends well beyond language, while remaining bound into consciousness. And that in turn consciousness is set in a larger arena to which we have no access.


Evening mist creeping up the valley in Ae Forest, Southern Scotland. Wittgenstein’s Tractatus was translated into English in 1922. In paragraph 4.002 he is talking about some of the complex jobs language does, here he is not focused primarily on the relation between language and thought.


Saturday 13th July 2019

Murphy on duty

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