Wittgenstein: How to Change the World

Later, they were joined in these musical sessions by a local coal-miner called Heinrich Postl, a member of the village choir. Postl, who became a good friend and a kind of protégé of Wittgenstein’s, was later employed as a porter and caretaker by the Wittgenstein family. Wittgenstein gave him copies of some of his favourite books – Tolstoy’s Gospel in Brief and Hebel’s Schatzkästlein – and sought to impress upon him his own moral teaching. Thus, when Postl once remarked that he wished to improve the world, Wittgenstein replied: ‘Just improve yourself; that is the only thing you can do to better the world.’

Source: Ray Monk, Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius (London: Vintage, 1991), p. 213.


2 thoughts on “Wittgenstein: How to Change the World

  1. Cristina @Linguavert March 2, 2017 / 11:06 pm

    It seems easier to change oneself than to change the world, but (it seems to me) too many people prefer to look outward than to look inward, when looking for things they could improve.


    • georgiosscholarios March 4, 2017 / 9:15 pm

      I’ve been thinking about your comment and the Wittgenstein quote and it reminded me of Luke 6:42: “Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter in your brother’s eye.”


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