Georg Christoph Lichtenberg’s aphoristic thinking

Abstract

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799) was one of the most prominent Enlightenment figures in Germany - alongside with Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Moses Mendelssohn, Immanuel Kant. During his lifetime he was best known as a professor of physics, popularizer of science, witty mind, and thought-provoking essayist. His enduring philosophical legacy is based on his posthumously published so-called wastebooks (rough notebooks) which gather together countless observations and remarks and which founded a tradition of aphoristic writing that was continued by the Schlegel brothers, Novalis, Schopenhauer, and especially Ludwig Wittgenstein. The characteristic feature of the aphoristic method is not to pointedly sum up or to cast a thought in a concise witty form. Instead, the aphorism provides a pregnant formulation that occasions a movement of thought. This paper picks up on extant characterizations of Lichtenberg’s Sprachdenken (thinking of, by, and through language) and seeks to develop them further. The following movement of thought is occasioned by one of Lichtenberg’s playful remarks which suggests the idea of a language in which “any blunder in matters of truth would be a grammatical blunder as well”.

About the authors

Alfred Nordmann

Darmstadt Technical University, Darmstadt, Germany
Peter the Great St.Petersburg Polytechnic University, St.Petersburg, Russia

Author for correspondence.
Email: nordmann@phil.tu-darmstadt.de
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2173-4084

Professor of the Institute of Philosophy

Germany, Karolinenplatz 5, Darmstadt, 64289, Germany Peter the Great St.Petersburg Polytechnic University, Russia, 195251, St.Petersburg, Polytechnicheskaya, 29

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