Schlechter's activity as chess player and composer coincided with one of the
more emblematic periods of Vienna as cultural center - one of his
contemporaries, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (born in Vienna, in 1889),
made many references to Chess in his work, but, as Alexander George researched,
the following is the only one that mentions both Chess AND Chess Problems
(from "Philosophical Investigations"):
33. Suppose, however, someone were to object: "It is not true that you must
already be master of a language in order to understand an ostensive definition:
all you need – of course! – is to know or guess what the person giving the
explanation is pointing to. That is, whether for example to the shape of the
object, or to its colour, or to its number, and so on." – And what does
'pointing to the shape', 'pointing to the colour' consist in? Point to a piece
of paper. – And now point to its shape – now to its colour – now to its number
(that sounds queer). – How did you do it? – You will say that you 'meant' a
different thing each time you pointed. And if I ask how that is done, you will
say you concentrated your attention on the colour, the shape, etc. But I ask
again: how is that done?
Suppose someone points to a vase and says "Look at that marvellous blue – the
shape isn't the point." – Or: "Look at the marvellous shape – the colour doesn't
matter." Without doubt you will do something different when you act upon these
two invitations. But do you always do the same thing when you direct your
attention to the colour? Imagine various different cases. To indicate a few:
* "Is this blue the same as the blue over there? Do you see any
* You are mixing paint and you say "It's hard to get the blue of this
* "It's turning fine, you can already see blue sky again." * "Look what
different effects these two blues
* "Do you see the blue book over there? Bring it here. "
* "This blue signal-light means ...."
* "What's this blue called? – Is it 'indigo'?"
You sometimes attend to the colour by putting your hand up to keep the
outline from view; or by not looking at the outline of the thing; sometimes by
staring at the object and trying to remember where you saw that colour before.
You attend to the shape, sometimes by tracing it, sometimes by screwing up your
eyes so as not to see the colour clearly, and in many other ways. I want to say:
This is the sort of thing that happens while one 'directs one's attention to
this or that'. But it isn't these things by themselves that make us say someone
is attending to the shape, the colour, and so on. Just as a move in chess
doesn't consist simply in moving a piece in such-and-such a way on the board –
nor yet in one's thoughts and feelings as one makes the move: but in the
circumstances that we call "playing a game of chess", "solving a chess problem",
and so on.