Philosophy for our times: cutting edge debates and talks from the world's leading thinkers

Wittgenstein's Collection of Nonsense:

Philosophy, language and expressing the impossible

Welcome to iai tv. You are limited to 20 minutes of video a month without signing up. X
Membership is completely free, and gives you unlimited access to our videos, articles, courses and much more
Already a member?
You have used half of your monthly limit of videos. Sign up to continue watching. X
Membership is completely free, and gives you unlimited access to our videos, articles, courses and much more
Already a member?
You’ve reached your monthly video limit.

Want to see more?

Sign up to continue watching. Membership is completely free, and gives you unlimited access to our videos, articles, courses and much more.
Already a member? .
IAI TV videos are for personal use only. For commercial or educational licensing please contact TVF International
  • The Talk

    Wittgenstein's Collection of Nonsense

    Inspired by Wittengstein's insights on the philosophy of language, Jonathan Rée asks whether any nonsense really is just nonsense, or an attempt to say something that might be impossible.

    'An unquestionable triumph' Independent

  • Speaker

Want to learn more about our speakers?
Join the conversation

to post comments or join now (only takes a moment). Don't have an account? Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or Google to get started:

jimpliciter on 16/12/2014 2:52am

@17:25 In saying one shows what can be said, in saying one says in showing’s stead.

AvProtestant on 19/09/2014 3:57pm

In an essay entitled "Was he trying to whistle it" ( Dr Peter Hacker writes:

"If, as Wittgenstein wrote in the preface [to the Tractatus], what lies on the other side of the limit of language is simply nonsense, then metaphysics is simply nonsense and there is nothing to be silent about."

Metaphysics may be nonsense but that "there is nothing to be silent about" still strikes me as metaphysical position. I wonder what moves Hacker towards that position and away from the "pay attention to your nonsense" view that, Ree tells us, was Wittgenstein's.

Maybe it's ultimately a matter of temperament?

I think Ree and Hacker are two of the best speakers at IAI. I prefer the story told by J Ree about Wittgenstein and nonsense. It would be very interesting to hear them in conversation.

Jaakko on 16/08/2013 11:16pm

I was partly annoyed by this talk because it spends so much time on the theme that Wittgenstein was some sort of a genius savant. His being a genius is of course irrelevant. Focusing too much on his intelligence erects an artificial barrier of awe between his thoughts and the people who could benefit from them.

I could be wrong, but I don't think the speaker knows enough philosophy to make Wittgenstein's ideas clear for the general listener. The average listener probably comes out of this with a sense that W was some sort of mystic who liked to the confuse people with obscure opinions.

Luckily there is a large body of secondary literature on W, and a lot of it is suitable for the general reader. Fogelin's book "Wittgenstein" (2nd ed) is great, Hacker's "Insight and Illusion" is also good, there are also many newer ones like David Sterns books, Glock's "A Wittgenstein Dictionary" is also a great reference for the beginner. This is just a small sample of the material available.

Alastair on 18/06/2013 11:28pm

Great that we can hear people like Jonathan Ree speak. I have approached Wittgenstein indirectly. For example, finding in Popper's work a defence of "nonsense", concluding that eliminating metaphysics eliminates science. Popper never got caught in the problems of the meaning of words, but directed himself and others to problems, some of which are resolutely philosophical. Wittgenstein does seem to have been caught in problems of meaning (I think of him driven by the idea that mathematics is in direct contact with the world, so might language be) but saw through to things having meaning and yet being unutterable. In spite of the clash they apparently had at their only meeting, they would seem to have had compatible aims.

Hayman on 06/03/2013 1:16pm


Yes it was! At the HowTheLightGetsIn philosophy and music festival

Kswanwick2 on 23/02/2013 6:04pm

Was this lecture given inside of a yurt?

Copy and paste the code below to embed or link to this video.

Embed options
  • Video Seek
    Converted to a link which jumps to that point in the video
    Example: 00:34
  • Bold Text
    Example: [b]Bold[/b]
  • Italic Text
    Example: [i]Italics[/i]
  • Underlined Text
    Example: [u]Underlined[/u]
  • Website link
    Link to another website or URL
    Example: [url][/url]

Rate this talk with three clicks. You can choose 3 words, or vote for the same word 3 times.

Why sign up for the iai?
  • Discover new ideas
    Free and unlimited access to hundreds of hours of debates, talks and articles from the world's leading minds, as well as courses that rival top academic institutions.
  • Have your say
    Join the iai community and engage in conversation and debate around the issues that matter.
  • Hear it first
    Be the first to hear about our video releases, articles and tickets to our upcoming events.
Sign me up