I saw this expression:

"the aim of the activity is "to show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle". "

(It is connected with this other expression: "I don't know my way about".)

I grasped the general sense of the expression but I don't understand clearly how it is formed, i.e. it's logical analysis (e.g, is "fly" a noun in this case?).

  • Which are the logical analysis and the literal meaning of the expression "to show the fly the way out ot the fly-bottle"?

1 Answer 1


Wittgenstein thought that the pursuit of philosophy in its traditional sense is pointless. Philosophers who scoured far and wide for a structured logical form applicable to everything were deluded and wasting their time, much like a fly who constantly tries to escape a transparent bottle by banging against the side. Wittgenstein saw it as his job to show these tenacious philosophers out of the top of the fly-bottle and to see philosophy for what it really is – a futile attempt to find an all-encompassing logical form of thought behind the mess that is ordinary language…

  • 2
    And if you've ever actually seen a fly in a bottle, they are pretty much incapable of finding their way out, and will generally resist your attempts to assist them.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 12:45

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