Big Book (thought experiment)

Big Book (thought experiment)

The "Big Book" is a thought experiment developed by Ludwig Wittgenstein about the nature of ethics and the verifiability of ethical knowledge.

Summarization of The Experiment

Wittgenstein's thought experiment goes as follows: Suppose there were an omniscient being who knew the position and movements of all of the physical bodies in the world (i.e. all of the natural properties of the world). Suppose further that this omniscient being wrote all of these natural facts in an large book, such that the book contained a thorough and comprehensive description of all of the things in the world. Wittgenstein argues that nothing in this book would even reference the idea of ethics or contain any statement that could logically be construed to imply an ethical judgment. His conclusion is that the concept of a moral fact is nonsensical, since even if one were to know every fact concerning the world that person still would not know anything factual about the realm of ethics.

In Wittgenstein's Words

"No statement of fact can ever be, or imply, a judgment of absolute value. Suppose one of you were an omniscient person and therefore knew all the movements of all the bodies in the world dead or alive and that you also knew all the states of mind of all human beings that ever lived, and suppose you wrote all you knew in a big book, then this book would contain the whole description of the world; and what I want to say is, that this book would contain nothing that we would call an ethical judgment or anything that would logically imply such a judgment." [Lecture on Ethics (1997) Ludwig Wittgenstein - Printed in Darwall, Gibbard, and Railton, “Moral Discourse and Practice: Some Philosophical Approaches, New York: Oxford University Press, pg. 67]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Big Book — may refer to:* The book Alcoholics Anonymous : the story of how many thousands of men and women have recovered from alcoholism , known in the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship as the Big Book. cite book | author = Alcoholics Anonymous | title =… …   Wikipedia

  • Thought experiment — A thought experiment (from the German Gedankenexperiment ) is a proposal for an experiment that would test a hypothesis or theory but cannot actually be performed due to practical limitations; instead its purpose is to explore the potential… …   Wikipedia

  • Big Brother (UK) — Big Brother UK sidebar| Big Brother is a reality television series broadcast in the United Kingdom and Ireland on Channel 4 and E4, and on S4C in Wales. Internationally, it is broadcast in on The Polish station TVN. [… …   Wikipedia

  • Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot — The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot is a comic book by Frank Miller and Geof Darrow and an eponymous animated television series.Comic Book Big Guy and Rusty, the Boy Robot appeared under Dark Horse Comics now defunct Legend imprint as a large… …   Wikipedia

  • Big Ben — For other uses, see Big Ben (disambiguation). Big Ben is i …   Wikipedia

  • Big Bang — This article is about the cosmological model. For the sitcom, see The Big Bang Theory. For other uses, see Big Bang (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

  • History of evolutionary thought — This article is about the history of evolutionary thought in biology. For the history of evolutionary thought in the social sciences, see Sociocultural evolution. For the history of religious discussions, see History of the creation evolution… …   Wikipedia

  • Anarchist schools of thought — Part of the Politics series on Anarchism …   Wikipedia

  • Stanford prison experiment — The Stanford prison experiment was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted in 1971 by a team of researchers led by psychologist Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. Twenty four… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Sonic the Hedgehog comic book characters — This article lists the fictional characters in the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series. Contents 1 Cast creation and influence 2 Main characters 2.1 Antoine D Coolette 2.2 …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.