"Schopenhauer has got quite a crude mind. Where real depth begins, his ends."

What does Wittgenstein mean by this?

  • Hello. What is the source? Nov 4 '15 at 23:50
  • 1
    Wikipedia article on Wittgenstein , section on faith
    – shrey
    Nov 5 '15 at 7:26
  • Are you asking for the 'literary' meaning or wishing to get some background on the statement? Nov 5 '15 at 8:19
  • some background . I wanted to know in what context was this spoken.
    – shrey
    Nov 5 '15 at 18:01
  • I've added background to my answer since it has been requested by you and others.
    – hellyale
    Nov 6 '15 at 18:05

He is calling Schopenhauer dumb.

One could call Schopenhauer a quite crude mind. I.e., he does have refinement, but at a certain level this suddenly comes to an end & he is as crude as the crudest. Where real depth starts, his finishes. One might say of Schopenhauer: he never takes stock of himself.

The full text of the quote can be found here

Philosophy unravels the knots in our thinking; hence its results must be simple, but its activity is as complicated as the knots that it unravels. -- Ludwig

From the link above with the entire quote you can find the following passage :

enter image description here

You can try to say there is more here, claim that is how it is, that there is some deeper meaning to this quote, but I have yet to encounter any reason why there is more here. In fact those that have made such claims, have the very knots that Wittgenstein is trying to untangle within their thoughts.

From Culture and Value - L.W : Culture and Value - L.W

He is calling Arthur dumb, plain and simple. Not just dumb, but among the dumbest. His choice of the word crude adds yet another jab, as it was one of Schopenhauer's go to words when taunting the intellect of those he thought beneath him.

  • Interesting. Are there any other examples of distinguished philosophers slagging each other off? :)
    – Bumble
    Nov 4 '15 at 19:20
  • 1
    @Bumble Tons, here are some others flavorwire.com/469065/… I do wonder if there is anyone that Nietzsche did not take a jab at in some way or another.
    – hellyale
    Nov 4 '15 at 19:30
  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. Nov 4 '15 at 20:11
  • @JamesKingsbery what do you mean it does not provide an answer to the question? Did you read the question?
    – hellyale
    Nov 4 '15 at 20:46
  • And Wittgenstein is smart. When he encountered the real depth around 1921 he discovered the grand "mystique". lol.
    – John Am
    Nov 4 '15 at 21:59

No one can enter Wittgenstein's mind of course, there is however a bit of history to it. In his youth Wittgenstein was enamored with Schopenhauer's epistemology (largely inherited from Berkeley and Kant), but when he became interested in logic and mathematics he found it wanting on account of their nature and role. In particular, he was impressed by Frege's critique of "psychologism" about logic and converted into his conceptual realism. Youthful disappointments cast a long shadow.

  • 1
    Hi. Can you provide a source for this biographical datum? Nov 4 '15 at 23:53
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    @Ram Tobolski Wikipedia mentions it with reference to Malcolm's biography Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Wittgenstein#Faith
    – Conifold
    Nov 5 '15 at 18:57
  • 1
    Thanks. Yet the opening quote still seems a riddle. Witt. undoubtedly believed that Schop. was wrong. But why would he attribute to Schop. a lack of depth? What did Witt. mean by "real" depth? Nov 6 '15 at 0:32
  • 1
    @Ram Tobolski If it is a reference to something specific (which I am not at all sure it is) one guess would be the inability of psychologistic epistemology to account for universality of logic. After all, Wittgenstein grew dissatisfied with Frege on this account too, and Tractatus was his own vision of logicism. From that perch Schopenhauer might have looked like a simpleton. Alternatively, it could refer to Schopenhauer's "crude" and glossy style of reasoning, as opposed to Frege's and Russell's precision drilling. But these are speculations.
    – Conifold
    Nov 6 '15 at 20:22

Late Wittgenstein wrote that because he was very critical of Schopenhauer's philosophy. You may think his criticism was maybe too strong, but it is natural among philosophers to employ that kind of strong criticism. Wittgenstein has also been heavily criticized by the philosopher Mario Bunge, who said "Wittgenstein is popular because he is trivial" (Bunge 2020). So no philosopher, not even Schopenhauer or Wittgenstein, are free of that kind of "rude criticism".

It is, though, a bit surprising, because early Wittgenstein adopted Schopenhauer's epistemological idealism, and some traits of Schopenhauer's influence (particularly Schopenhauerian trascendentalism) can be observed in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (Glock 2000; Glock 2017).


Bunge, Mario (2020): Mario Bunge nos dijo: «Se puede ignorar la filosofía, pero no evitarla». URL = https://www.filco.es/mario-bunge-no-evitar-filosofia/

Hans-Johann (2000). The Cambridge Companion to Schopenhauer. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Hans-Johann (2017). A Companion to Schopenhauer. West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell.


That is simple.

Schopenhauer in hes works wrote about deep and not deep way of writing. Aristotle for exemple was not a deep philosopher.

Second intepretation can be, that genius of this autor is never in full potential. Kant and Berkeley was hard to understand but u always can see what is a point of Schopenhauer works.

So that is not negative opinion, this is what Wittgestein would say abot matter of facts.

  • Please provide quotes & references to back your points
    – CriglCragl
    Aug 15 at 14:30

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