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Mysterious Nothing! how shall I define
Thy shapeless, baseless, placeless emptiness?
Nor form, nor colour, sound, nor size is thine,
Nor words nor fingers can thy voice express;
But though we cannot thee to aught compare,
A thousand things to thee may likened be,
And though thou art with nobody nowhere,
Yet half mankind devote themselves to thee.
How many books thy history contain!
How many heads thy mighty plans pursue!
What labouring hands thy portion only gain!
What busy bodies thy doings only do!
To thee the great, the proud, the giddy bend,
And — like my sonnet — all in nothing end.
– Richard Porson, in Morning Chronicle, March 4, 1814
As the last line in the book, proposition 7 has no supplementary propositions. It ends the book with a rather elegant and stirring proposition: “What we cannot speak of we must pass over in silence.” (In German: “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen.”) The Ogden translation renders it: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”
Both the first and the final proposition have acquired something of a proverbial quality in German, employed as aphorisms independently of discussion of Wittgenstein.
<this was the illustration in the original article on; it’s an interesting illustration of silence. Or John Cage’s 4′33, without the timings>
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