Thursday, 2 June 2011

Ludwig Wittgenstein: “I have always thought that Darwin was wrong”

Ludwig Wittgenstein in 1910. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Whereof one cannot speak, one must pass over in silence” was one of the main insights of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s famous book Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 –1951), one of the leading philosophers of the 20th century, doubted Darwinian evolution and did not hesitate to say so.

In a recent article at, Dr. Jerry Bergman examines this aspect of the Austrian-born Jewish-Christian philosopher who became a household name early in his life although he did not publish much.

What he did publish was not trivial, however. The same applies to his spoken ideas. Once, when visiting a zoological garden and admiring the variety of animal and plant life, he said:

“I have always thought that Darwin was wrong: his theory doesn’t account for all this variety of species. It hasn’t the necessary multiplicity. Nowadays some people are fond of saying that at last evolution has produced a species that is able to understand the whole process which gave it birth. … you can’t say [that today].”

Instead of believing in the blind forces of nature, Wittgenstein thought that design was a much better alternative. For him, the Designer meant the God of the Bible. He was convinced that intelligent people could believe in Genesis.

He obviously thought that Darwinian just-so stories belonged to the category that one should pass over in silence since there is no evidence for them.


Bergman, Jerry. 2011. Ludwig Wittgenstein: Darwin doubter. (31 May).

Rhees, Rush, ed. 1981. Ludwig Wittgenstein: Personal Recollections. Oxford: Blackwell.