• Home   /  
  • Archive by category "1"

Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations Bibliography

The Published Works of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Bemerkungen über die Philosophie der Psychologie I, Remarks on the Foundations of Psychology, I, G.H. von Wright and Heikki Nyman, eds. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980. [1968]

 Bemerkungen über die Philosophie der Psychologie II, Remarks on the Foundations of Psychology, II, G.H. von Wright and Heikki Nyman, eds. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980. [1968]

 Bemerkungen über Frazer's The Golden Bough, Rush Rhees, ed. Synthese 17 (1967) 233-253. [1967]

 Bemerkungen über die Grundlagen der Mathematik, G.E.M. Anscombe, Rush Rhees and G.H. von Wright, eds. in Schriften 6, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1974. [1956]

 The Blue and Brown Books, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958. [1958]

 Letzte Schriften, G.H. von Wright and Heikki Nyman, eds. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1982. [1913]

 A Lecture on Ethics, Philosophical Review 74 (1965) 3-12. [1965]

 Notebooks 1914-1916, G.H. von Wright and G.E.M. Anscombe, eds. 2nd ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1979. [1916]

 Notes Dictated to G.E. Moore in Norway, Appendix II of Notebooks 1914-1916, 2nd ed. G.H. von Wright and G.E.M. Anscombe, eds. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1979. [1914]

 Notes for Lectures on 'Private Experience' and 'Sense Data', Philosophical Review 77 (1968) 275-320. [1968]

 Notes on Logic, Appendix I of Notebooks 1914-1916, 2nd ed. G.H. von Wright and G.E.M. Anscombe, eds. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1979. [1914]

 On Logic, And How Not to Do It": Review of P. Coffey, The Science of Logic,, E. Homberger et al., The Cambridge Mind, London: Jonathan Cape, n.d. (C) Copyright 1970 by the Cambridge Review. [1913]

 Philosophische Bemerkungen, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1964 [1913]

 Eine philosophische Betrachtung, Rush Rhees, ed. in Schriften 5, 117-237. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1970. [1913]

 Philosophische Grammatik, Rush Rhees, ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1969. [1913]

 Philosophische Untersuchungen, Philosophical Investigations, 2nd ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958. [1958]

 Remarks on Colour, G.E.M. Anscombe, ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1977. [1977]

 Some Remarks on Logical Form, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. vol. 9 (1929) 162-171. [1929]

 Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, London: Routledge &Kegan Paul Ltd, 1961. [1913]

 Über Gewissheit, G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright, eds. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1969. [1969]

 Ursache und Wirkung: Intuitives Erfassen, Philosophia 6 (1976): 392-445. [1976]

 Vermischte Bemerkungen, Culture and Value, G.H. von Wright, ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980. [1977]

 Zettel, G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright, eds. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1967. [1913]

"Wittgenstein" redirects here. For other uses, see Wittgenstein (disambiguation).

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Portrait of Wittgenstein on being awarded a scholarship from Trinity College, Cambridge, 1929

BornLudwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein
(1889-04-26)26 April 1889
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died29 April 1951(1951-04-29) (aged 62)
Cambridge, England
NationalityAustrian and British
Notable workTractatus Logico-Philosophicus
Philosophical Investigations
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
Linguistic turn
Logical atomism
InstitutionsTrinity College, Cambridge

Main interests

Logic, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of mind, epistemology

Notable ideas

Picture theory of language
Truth functions
States of affairs
Logical necessity
Meaning is use
Private language argument
Family resemblance
Rule following
Forms of life
Wittgensteinian fideism
Wittgenstein's philosophy of mathematics
Ordinary language philosophy
Ideal language analysis


  • Gottlob Frege, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Søren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, G. E. Moore, Frank P. Ramsey, Oswald Spengler, Ludwig Boltzmann, Karl Kraus, Adolf Loos, Piero Sraffa, Otto Weininger, Bertrand Russell, Arthur Schopenhauer, Baruch Spinoza, Leo Tolstoy, L. E. J. Brouwer, Heinrich Hertz,[1]Hermann von Helmholtz[2]


  • Alvin Plantinga, Rogers Albritton, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, Frank P. Ramsey, Vienna Circle, Rudolf Carnap, Alan Turing, G. E. M. Anscombe, Peter Geach, Barry Stroud, John McDowell, Daniel Dennett, Cora Diamond, Alice Crary, James F. Conant, Gilbert Ryle, Saul Kripke, John Searle, Hans Sluga, Peter Hacker, Ian Hacking, Stephen Toulmin, Quentin Skinner, Paul Feyerabend, Jean-François Lyotard, Richard Rorty, Jules Vuillemin, Jacques Bouveresse, Reuben Goodstein,[3]Casimir Lewy,[4]Thomas Kuhn[5]


Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (;[6]German:[ˈvɪtgənˌʃtaɪn]; 26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language.[7] From 1929 to 1947, Wittgenstein taught at the University of Cambridge.[8] During his lifetime he published just one slim book, the 75-page Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921), one article, one book review and a children's dictionary.[9]His voluminous manuscripts were edited and published posthumously. Philosophical Investigations appeared as a book in 1953, and has since come to be recognised as one of the most important works of philosophy in the twentieth century.[10] His teacher, Bertrand Russell, described Wittgenstein as "the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived; passionate, profound, intense, and dominating".

Born in Vienna into one of Europe's richest families, he inherited a fortune from his father in 1913. He initially made some donations to artists and writers and then, in a period of severe personal depression after the First World War, he gave away his entire fortune to his brothers and sisters.[12][13] Three of his brothers committed suicide, with Wittgenstein contemplating it too.[14] He left academia several times—serving as an officer on the front line during World War I, where he was decorated a number of times for his courage; teaching in schools in remote Austrian villages where he encountered controversy for hitting children when they made mistakes in mathematics; and working as a hospital porter during World War II in London where he told patients not to take the drugs they were prescribed while largely managing to keep secret the fact that he was one of the world's most famous philosophers.[16] He described philosophy as "the only work that gives me real satisfaction".[17]

His philosophy is often divided into an early period, exemplified by the Tractatus, and a later period, articulated in the Philosophical Investigations. The early Wittgenstein was concerned with the logical relationship between propositions and the world and believed that by providing an account of the logic underlying this relationship, he had solved all philosophical problems. The later Wittgenstein rejected many of the assumptions of the Tractatus, arguing that the meaning of words is best understood as their use within a given language-game.[18]

A survey among American university and college teachers ranked the Investigations as the most important book of 20th-century philosophy, standing out as "the one crossover masterpiece in twentieth-century philosophy, appealing across diverse specializations and philosophical orientations."[19] The Investigations also ranked 54th on a list of most influential twentieth-century works in cognitive science prepared by the University of Minnesota's Center for Cognitive Sciences.[20] However, in the words of his friend Georg Henrik von Wright, he believed "his ideas were generally misunderstood and distorted even by those who professed to be his disciples. He doubted he would be better understood in the future. He once said he felt as though he was writing for people who would think in a different way, breathe a different air of life, from that of present-day men."[21]


The Wittgensteins[edit]

Further information: Karl Wittgenstein

According to a family tree prepared in Jerusalem after World War II, Wittgenstein's paternal great-grandfather was Moses Meier, a Jewish land agent who lived with his wife, Brendel Simon, in Bad Laasphe in the Principality of Wittgenstein, Westphalia.[23] In July 1808, Napoleon issued a decree that everyone, including Jews, must adopt an inheritable family surname, and so Meier's son, also Moses, took the name of his employers, the Sayn-Wittgensteins, and became Moses Meier Wittgenstein.[24] His son, Hermann Christian Wittgenstein—who took the middle name "Christian" to distance himself from his Jewish background—married Fanny Figdor, also Jewish, who converted to Protestantism just before they married, and the couple founded a successful business trading in wool in Leipzig. Ludwig's grandmother Fanny was a first cousin of the famous violinist Joseph Joachim.

They had 11 children—among them Wittgenstein's father. Karl Otto Clemens Wittgenstein (1847–1913) became an industrial tycoon, and by the late 1880s was one of the richest men in Europe, with an effective monopoly on Austria's steel cartel.[22][27] Thanks to Karl, the Wittgensteins became the second wealthiest family in Austria-Hungary, only behind the Rothschilds.[27] As a result of his decision in 1898 to invest substantially in the Netherlands and in Switzerland as well as overseas, particularly in the US, the family was to an extent shielded from the hyperinflation that hit Austria in 1922. However, their wealth diminished due to post-1918 hyperinflation and subsequently during the Great Depression, although even as late as 1938 they owned 13 mansions in Vienna alone.[29]

Early life[edit]

See also: Paul Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein's mother was Leopoldine Maria Josefa Kalmus, known among friends as Poldi. Her father was a BohemianJew and her mother was Austrian-SloveneCatholic—she was Wittgenstein's only non-Jewish grandparent.[30][31][33] She was an aunt of the Nobel Prize laureate Friedrich Hayek on her maternal side. Wittgenstein was born at 8:30 pm on 26 April 1889 in the so-called "Wittgenstein Palace" at Alleegasse 16, now the Argentinierstrasse, near the Karlskirche.[34] Karl and Poldi had nine children in all. There were four girls: Hermine, Margaret (Gretl), Helene, and a fourth daughter Dora who died as a baby; and five boys: Johannes (Hans), Kurt, Rudolf (Rudi), Paul—who became a concert pianist despite losing an arm in World War I—and Ludwig, who was the youngest of the family.[35]

The children were baptized as Catholics, received formal Catholic instruction, and raised in an exceptionally intense environment.[36] The family was at the center of Vienna's cultural life; Bruno Walter described the life at the Wittgensteins' palace as an "all-pervading atmosphere of humanity and culture." Karl was a leading patron of the arts, commissioning works by Auguste Rodin and financing the city's exhibition hall and art gallery, the Secession Building. Gustav Klimt painted Wittgenstein's sister for her wedding portrait, and Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler gave regular concerts in the family's numerous music rooms.

For Wittgenstein, who highly valued precision and discipline, contemporary music was never considered acceptable at all. "Music," he said to his friend Drury in 1930, "came to a full stop with Brahms; and even in Brahms I can begin to hear the noise of machinery."[39] Ludwig Wittgenstein himself had absolute pitch,[40] and his devotion to music remained vitally important to him throughout his life: he made frequent use of musical examples and metaphors in his philosophical writings, and was unusually adept at whistling lengthy and detailed musical passages. He also learnt to play the clarinet in his thirties.[42] A fragment of music (three bars), composed by Wittgenstein, was discovered in one of his 1931 notebooks, by Michael Nedo, Director of the Wittgenstein Institute in Cambridge.[43]

Family temperament and the brothers' suicides[edit]

Ray Monk writes that Karl's aim was to turn his sons into captains of industry; they were not sent to school lest they acquire bad habits, but were educated at home to prepare them for work in Karl's industrial empire. Three of the five brothers would later commit suicide.[45] Psychiatrist Michael Fitzgerald argues that Karl was a harsh perfectionist who lacked empathy, and that Wittgenstein's mother was anxious and insecure, unable to stand up to her husband.[46] Johannes Brahms said of the family, whom he visited regularly: "They seemed to act towards one another as if they were at court."[27] The family appeared to have a strong streak of depression running through it. Anthony Gottlieb tells a story about Paul practicing on one of the pianos in the Wittgensteins' main family mansion, when he suddenly shouted at Ludwig in the next room: "I cannot play when you are in the house, as I feel your scepticism seeping towards me from under the door!"[47]

The family Palace housed seven grand pianos[48] and each of the siblings pursued music "with an enthusiasm that, at times, bordered on the pathological."[49] The eldest brother, Hans, was hailed as a musical prodigy. At the age of four, writes Alexander Waugh, Hans could identify the Doppler effect in a passing siren as a quarter-tone drop in pitch, and at five started crying "Wrong! Wrong!" when two brass bands in a carnival played the same tune in different keys. But he died in mysterious circumstances in May 1902, when he ran away to America and disappeared from a boat in Chesapeake Bay, most likely having committed suicide.[50]

Two years later, aged 22 and studying chemistry at the Berlin Academy, the third eldest brother, Rudi, committed suicide in a Berlin bar. He had asked the pianist to play Thomas Koschat's "Verlassen, verlassen, verlassen bin ich" ("Forsaken, forsaken, forsaken am I"),[51] before mixing himself a drink of milk and potassium cyanide. He had left several suicide notes, one to his parents that said he was grieving over the death of a friend, and another that referred to his "perverted disposition". It was reported at the time that he had sought advice from the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, an organization that was campaigning against Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code, which prohibited homosexual sex. His father forbade the family from ever mentioning his name again.[52]

The second eldest brother, Kurt, an officer and company director, shot himself on 27 October 1918 at the end of World War I, when the Austrian troops he was commanding refused to obey his orders and deserted en masse. According to Gottlieb, Hermine had said Kurt seemed to carry "...the germ of disgust for life within himself."[53] Later Wittgenstein wrote: "I ought to have... become a star in the sky. Instead of which I have remained stuck on earth."

1903–1906: Realschule in Linz[edit]

Realschule in Linz[edit]

Wittgenstein was taught by private tutors at home until he was fourteen years old. Subsequently, for three years, he attended a school. After the deaths of Hans and Rudi, Karl relented, and allowed Paul and Ludwig to be sent to school. Waugh writes that it was too late for Wittgenstein to pass his exams for the more academic Gymnasium in Wiener Neustadt; having had no formal schooling, he failed his entrance exam and only barely managed after extra tutoring to pass the exam for the more technically oriented k.u.k.Realschule in Linz, a small state school with 300 pupils.[55] In 1903, when he was 14, he began his three years of formal schooling there, lodging nearby in term time with the family of Dr. Josef Strigl, a teacher at the local gymnasium, the family giving him the nickname Luki.[57]

On starting at the Realschule, Wittgenstein had been moved forward a year. Historian Brigitte Hamann writes that he stood out from the other boys: he spoke an unusually pure form of High German with a stutter, dressed elegantly, and was sensitive and unsociable.[58] Monk writes that the other boys made fun of him, singing after him: "Wittgenstein wandelt wehmütig widriger Winde wegen Wienwärts"[42] ("Wittgenstein strolls wistfully Vienna-wards due to adverse winds"). In his leaving certificate, he received a top mark (5) in religious studies; a 2 for conduct and English, 3 for French, geography, history, mathematics and physics, and 4 for German, chemistry, geometry and freehand drawing. He had particular difficulty with spelling and failed his written German exam because of it. He wrote in 1931: "My bad spelling in youth, up to the age of about 18 or 19, is connected with the whole of the rest of my character (my weakness in study)."


Wittgenstein was baptized as an infant by a Catholic priest and received formal instruction in Catholic doctrine as a child, as was common at the time.[36] In an interview, his sister Gretl Stonborough-Wittgenstein says that their grandfather's "strong, severe, partly ascetic Christianity" was a strong influence on all the Wittgenstein children.[59] It was while he was at the Realschule that he decided he had lost his faith in God and became an atheist.[60] He nevertheless believed in the importance of the idea of confession. He wrote in his diaries about having made a major confession to his oldest sister, Hermine, while he was at the Realschule; Monk speculates that it may have been about his loss of faith. He also discussed it with Gretl, his other sister, who directed him to Arthur Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation.[60] As a teenager, Wittgenstein adopted Schopenhauer's epistemological idealism. However, after his study of the philosophy of mathematics, he abandoned epistemological idealism for Gottlob Frege's conceptual realism.[21] In later years, Wittgenstein was highly dismissive of Schopenhauer, describing him as an ultimately "shallow" thinker: "Schopenhauer has quite a crude mind ... where real depth starts, his comes to an end."[61]

Wittgenstein's religious faith and his relationship with Christianity and religion, in general (for which he professed a sincere and devoted reverence[citation needed]) would change over time, much like his philosophical ideas. In 1912, Wittgenstein wrote to Russell saying that Mozart and Beethoven were the actual sons of God. However, Wittgenstein resisted formal religion, saying it was hard for him to "bend the knee",[63] though his grandfather's beliefs continued to influence Wittgenstein—as he famously said, "I cannot help seeing every problem from a religious point of view".[64] Wittgenstein referred to Augustine of Hippo in his Philosophical Investigations. Philosophically, Wittgenstein's thought shows fundamental alignment with religious discourse.[65] For example, Wittgenstein would become one of the century's fiercest critics of Scientism.[66]

With age, a deepening personal spirituality led to several elucidations and clarifications, as he untangled language problems in religion, attacking, for example, the temptation to think of God's existence as a matter of scientific evidence.[67] In 1947, finding it more difficult to work, he wrote, "I have had a letter from an old friend in Austria, a priest. In it he says that he hopes my work will go well, if it should be God's will. Now that is all I want: if it should be God's will."[68] In Wittgenstein's Culture and Value, he writes, "Is what I am doing [my work in philosophy] really worth the effort? Yes, but only if a light shines on it from above." His close friend Norman Malcolm would write, "Wittgenstein’s mature life was strongly marked by religious thought and feeling. I am inclined to think that he was more deeply religious than are many people who correctly regard themselves as religious believers."[69] At last, Wittgenstein writes, "Bach wrote on the title page of his Orgelbüchlein, ‘To the glory of the most high God, and that my neighbour may be benefited thereby.’ That is what I would have liked to say about my work."[68]

Influence of Otto Weininger[edit]

While a student at the Realschule, Wittgenstein was influenced by Austrian philosopher Otto Weininger's 1903 book Geschlecht und Charakter (Sex and Character).

Weininger (1880–1903), who was also Jewish, argued that the concepts male and female exist only as Platonic forms, and that Jews tend to embody the platonic femininity. Whereas men are basically rational, women operate only at the level of their emotions and sexual organs. Jews, Weininger argued, are similar, saturated with femininity, with no sense of right and wrong, and no soul. Weininger argues that man must choose between his masculine and feminine sides, consciousness and unconsciousness, Platonic love and sexuality. Love and sexual desire stand in contradiction, and love between a woman and a man is therefore doomed to misery or immorality. The only life worth living is the spiritual one—to live as a woman or a Jew means one has no right to live at all; the choice is genius or death. Weininger committed suicide, shooting himself in 1903, shortly after publishing the book. Many years later, as a professor at Cambridge, Wittgenstein distributed copies of Weininger's book to his bemused academic colleagues. He said that Weininger's arguments were wrong, but that it was the way they were wrong that was interesting.[71] In a letter dated 23 August 1931, Wittgenstein wrote the following to G. E. Moore;

Dear Moore,

Thanks for your letter. I can quite imagine that you don’t admire Weininger very much, what with that beastly translation and the fact that W. must feel very foreign to you. It is true that he is fantastic but he is great and fantastic. It isn’t necessary or rather not possible to agree with him but the greatness lies in that with which we disagree. It is his enormous mistake which is great. I.e. roughly speaking if you just add a “∼” to the whole book it says an important truth.

In an unusual move, Wittgenstein took out a copy of Weininger's work on 1 June 1931 from the Special Order Books in the university library. He met Moore on 2 June where he probably gave Moore the copy of Weininger's work.

Jewish background and Hitler[edit]

Further information: History of the Jews in Austria

There is much debate about the extent to which Wittgenstein and his siblings, who were of 3/4 Jewish descent, saw themselves as Jews. The issue has arisen in particular regarding Wittgenstein's schooldays, because Adolf Hitler was, for a while, at the same school at the same time.[73]Laurence Goldstein argues it is "overwhelmingly probable" the boys met each other: that Hitler would have disliked Wittgenstein, a "stammering, precocious, precious, aristocratic upstart ..."[74] Other commentators have dismissed as irresponsible and uninformed any suggestion that Wittgenstein's wealth and unusual personality may have fed Hitler's antisemitism, in part because there is no indication that Hitler would have seen Wittgenstein as Jewish.[75]

Wittgenstein and Hitler were born just six days apart, though Hitler had to re-sit his mathematics exam before being allowed into a higher class, while Wittgenstein was moved forward by one, so they ended up two grades apart at the Realschule.[76] Monk estimates they were both at the school during the 1904–1905 school year, but says there is no evidence they had anything to do with each other.[77] Several commentators have argued that a school photograph of Hitler may show Wittgenstein in the lower left corner,[78] but Hamann says the photograph stems from 1900 or 1901, before Wittgenstein's time.[79]

In his own writings[80] Wittgenstein frequently referred to himself as Jewish, at times as part of an apparent self-flagellation. For example, while berating himself for being a "reproductive" as opposed to "productive" thinker, he attributed this to his own Jewish sense of identity, writing: "The saint is the only Jewish genius. Even the greatest Jewish thinker is no more than talented. (Myself for instance)."[81] While Wittgenstein would later claim that "[m]y thoughts are 100% Hebraic,"[82] as Hans Sluga has argued, if so, "His was a self-doubting Judaism, which had always the possibility of collapsing into a destructive self-hatred (as it did in Weininger's case) but which also held an immense promise of innovation and genius."[83]

1906–1913: University[edit]

Engineering at Berlin and Manchester[edit]

He began his studies in mechanical engineering at the Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg, Berlin, on 23 October 1906, lodging with the family of professor Dr. Jolles. He attended for three semesters, and was awarded a diploma (Abgangzeugnis) on 5 May 1908.

During his time at the Institute, Wittgenstein developed an interest in aeronautics. He arrived at the Victoria University of Manchester in the spring of 1908 to study for a doctorate, full of plans for aeronautical projects, including designing and flying his own plane. He conducted research into the behavior of kites in the upper atmosphere, experimenting at a meteorological observation site near Glossop. Specifically, the Royal Meteorological Society researched and investigated the ionization of the upper atmosphere, by suspending instruments on balloons or kites. At Glossop Wittgenstein worked under Professor of Physics Sir Arthur Schuster.[86]

He also worked on the design of a propeller with small jet engines on the end of its blades, something he patented in 1911, and which earned him a research studentship from the university in the autumn of 1908. At the time, contemporary propeller designs were not advanced enough to actually put Wittgenstein’s ideas into practice, and it would be years before a blade design that could support Wittgenstein’s innovative design was created. Wittgenstein’s design required air and gas to be forced along the propeller arms to combustion chambers on the end of each blade, where it was then compressed by the centrifugal force exerted by the revolving arms and ignited. Propellers of the time were typically wood, whereas modern blades are made from pressed steel laminates as separate halves, which are then welded together. This gives the blade a hollow interior, and therefore creates an ideal pathway for the air and gas.[86]

Work on the jet-powered propeller proved frustrating for Wittgenstein, who had very little experience working with machinery.[88] Jim Bamber, a British engineer who was his friend and classmate at the time, reported that “when things went wrong, which often occurred, he would throw his arms around, stomp about, and swear volubly in German.”[89] According to William Eccles, another friend from that period, Wittgenstein then turned to more theoretical work, focusing on the design of the propeller — a problem that required relatively sophisticated mathematics.[88]

It was at this time that he became interested in the foundations of mathematics, particularly after reading Bertrand Russell's The Principles of Mathematics (1903), and Gottlob Frege's The Foundations of Arithmetic, vol. 1 (1893) and vol. 2 (1903).[90] Wittgenstein's sister Hermine said he became obsessed with mathematics as a result, and was anyway losing interest in aeronautics. He decided instead that he needed to study logic and the foundations of mathematics, describing himself as in a "constant, indescribable, almost pathological state of agitation." In the summer of 1911 he visited Frege at the University of Jena to show him some philosophy of mathematics and logic he had written, and to ask whether it was worth pursuing. He wrote: "I was shown into Frege's study. Frege was a small, neat man with a pointed beard who bounced around the room as he talked. He absolutely wiped the floor with me, and I felt very depressed; but at the end he said 'You must come again', so I cheered up. I had several discussions with him after that. Frege would never talk about anything but logic and mathematics, if I started on some other subject, he would say something polite and then plunge back into logic and mathematics."[93]

Arrival at Cambridge[edit]

Wittgenstein wanted to study with Frege, but Frege suggested he attend the University of Cambridge to study under Russell, so on 18 October 1911 Wittgenstein arrived unannounced at Russell's rooms in Trinity College.[94] Russell was having tea with C. K. Ogden, when, according to Russell, "an unknown German appeared, speaking very little English but refusing to speak German. He turned out to be a man who had learned engineering at Charlottenburg, but during this course had acquired, by himself, a passion for the philosophy of mathematics & has now come to Cambridge on purpose to hear me." He was soon not only attending Russell's lectures, but dominating them. The lectures were poorly attended and Russell often found himself lecturing only to C. D. Broad, E. H. Neville, and H. T. J. Norton. Wittgenstein started following him after lectures back to his rooms to discuss more philosophy, until it was time for the evening meal in Hall. Russell grew irritated; he wrote to his lover Lady Ottoline Morrell: "My German friend threatens to be an infliction." Russell soon came to believe that Wittgenstein was a genius, especially after he had examined Wittgenstein's written work. He wrote in November 1911 that he had at first thought Wittgenstein might be a crank, but soon decided he was a genius: "Some of his early views made the decision difficult. He maintained, for example, at one time that all existential propositions are meaningless. This was in a lecture room, and I invited him to consider the proposition: 'There is no hippopotamus in this room at present.' When he refused to believe this, I looked under all the desks without finding one; but he remained unconvinced." Three months after Wittgenstein's arrival Russell told Morrell: "I love him & feel he will solve the problems I am too old to solve ... He is the young man one hopes for." Wittgenstein later told David Pinsent that Russell’s encouragement had proven his salvation, and had ended nine years of loneliness and suffering, during which he had continually thought of suicide. In encouraging him to pursue philosophy and in justifying his inclination to abandon engineering, Russell had, quite literally, saved Wittgenstein’s life. The role-reversal between Bertrand Russell and Wittgenstein was soon such that Russell wrote in 1916, after Wittgenstein had criticized Russell's own work: "His [Wittenstein]'s criticism, tho' I don't think you realized it at the time, was an event of first-rate importance in my life, and affected everything I have done since. I saw that he was right, and I saw that I could not hope ever again to do fundamental work in philosophy."[98]

Cambridge Moral Sciences Club and Apostles[edit]

In 1912 Wittgenstein joined the Cambridge Moral Sciences Club, an influential discussion group for philosophy dons and students, delivering his first paper there on 29 November that year, a four-minute talk defining philosophy as "all those primitive propositions which are assumed as true without proof by the various sciences."[99] He dominated the society and for a time would stop attending in the early 1930s after complaints that he gave no one else a chance to speak.[100]

The club became infamous within popular philosophy because of a meeting on 25 October 1946 at Richard Braithwaite's rooms in King's, where Karl Popper, another Viennese philosopher, had been invited as the guest speaker. Popper's paper was Are there philosophical problems?, in which he struck up a position against Wittgenstein's, contending that problems in philosophy are real, not just linguistic puzzles as Wittgenstein argued. Accounts vary as to what happened next, but Wittgenstein apparently started waving a hot poker, demanding that Popper give him an example of a moral rule. Popper offered one—"Not to threaten visiting speakers with pokers"—at which point Russell told Wittgenstein he had misunderstood and Wittgenstein left. Popper maintained that Wittgenstein 'stormed out', but it had become accepted practice for him to leave early (because of his aforementioned ability to dominate discussion). It was the only time the philosophers, three of the most eminent in the world, were ever in the same room together.[101] The minutes record that the meeting was "charged to an unusual degree with a spirit of controversy."[102]

John Maynard Keynes also invited him to join the Cambridge Apostles, an elite secret society formed in 1820, which both Russell and G. E. Moore had joined as students, but Wittgenstein did not enjoy it and attended infrequently. Russell had been worried that Wittgenstein would not appreciate the group's unseriousness, style of humour, or the fact that the members were in love with one another. He was admitted in 1912 but resigned almost immediately because he could not tolerate the level of the discussion on the Hearth Rug; they took him back though in the 1920s when he returned to Cambridge. (He also had trouble tolerating the discussions in the Moral Sciences Club.)

Frustrations at Cambridge/Pre-war[edit]

Wittgenstein was quite vocal about his depression in his years at Cambridge, and before he went to war; on many an occasion, he told Russell of his woes. His mental anguish seemed to stem from two sources: his work, and his personal life. Wittgenstein made numerous remarks to Russell about logic driving him mad. Wittgenstein also stated to Russell that he "felt the curse of those who have half a talent". He later expresses this same worry, and tells of being in mediocre spirits due to his lack of progress in his logical work.[105] Monk writes that Wittgenstein lived and breathed logic, and a temporary lack of inspiration plunged him into despair. Unless he was lying, Wittgenstein tells of his work in logic affecting his mental status in a very extreme way. However, he also tells Russell another story. Around Christmas, in 1913, he writes: "how can I be a logician before I'm a human being? For the most important thing is coming to terms with myself!" He also tells Russell on an occasion in Russell’s rooms that he was worried about logic and his sins; also, once upon arrival to Russell's rooms one night Wittgenstein announced to Russell that he would kill himself once he left.[108] Of things Wittgenstein personally told Russell, Ludwig’s temperament was also recorded in the diary of David Pinsent. Pinsent writes "I have to be frightfully careful and tolerant when he gets these sulky fits", and "I am afraid he is in an even more sensitive neurotic state just now than usual", when talking about Wittgenstein's emotional fluctuations.

Sexual orientation and relationship with David Pinsent[edit]

From left, Helene, Rudi, Hermine, Ludwig (the baby), Gretl, Paul, Hans, and Kurt, around 1890
Ludwig sitting in a field as a child
Ludwig (bottom-right), Paul, and their sisters, late 1890s
Ludwig Wittgenstein, aged about eighteen
Ludwig with Eccles at the Kite-Flying Station in Glossop

One thought on “Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations Bibliography

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *