Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus  

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"What can be said at all can be said clearly; and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence"

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) is the only book-length work published by Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in his lifetime. He wrote it as a soldier and a prisoner of war during World War I. First published in German in 1921 as Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung, it is now widely considered one of the most important philosophical works of the twentieth century. The Latin title was originally suggested by G. E. Moore, and is a homage to Tractatus Theologico-Politicus by Benedictus Spinoza. The reason for Wittgenstein's "notorious" literary style—his utterly sober and succinct manner of expressing himself—has generated much speculation by commentators. Though Wittgenstein in later writings sharply differed with the philosophical ideas he expressed in the Tractatus, he retained the basic writing style—short sentences or paragraphs rather than narrative exposition in all of his writings.

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