Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: Biography And Works

Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: Biography And Works
Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: Biography And Works

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Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (German Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein; April 26, 1889, Vienna - April 29, 1951, Cambridge) - Austrian philosopher and logician, representative of analytical philosophy, one of the greatest philosophers of the XX century. He put forward a program for constructing an artificial "ideal" language, the prototype of which is the language of mathematical logic. He understood philosophy as "criticism of language." He developed the doctrine of logical atomism, which is a projection of the structure of knowledge on the structure of the world [1].

Wittgenstein Ludwig
Wittgenstein Ludwig


Born April 26, 1889 in Vienna into the family of a Jewish steel magnate Karl Wittgenstein (German Karl Wittgenstein; 1847-1913) and Leopoldina Wittgenstein (née Kalmus, 1850-1926), was the youngest of eight children. His father's parents, Hermann Christian Wittgenstein (1802-1878) and Fanny Figdor (1814-1890), were born to Jewish families from Korbach and Kittse respectively [2], but adopted Protestantism after moving from Saxony to Vienna in the 1850s, successfully assimilated into the Viennese Protestant professional strata of society. The male mother came from the famous Prague Jewish family Kalmus - she was a pianist; her father converted to Catholicism before his marriage. Among his brothers is the pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm during the war, but was able to continue his professional musical career. A portrait of his sister Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein (1882-1958) by Gustav Klimt (1905) is known.

There is a version, set forth in the book of Australian Kimberly Cornish "The Jew of Linz", according to which Wittgenstein studied in the same school and even in the same class with Adolf Hitler [3].

Starting to study engineering, he became acquainted with the works of Gottlob Frege, which turned his interest from designing aircraft (he was engaged in the design of an aircraft propeller [1]) to the problem of the philosophical foundations of mathematics. Wittgenstein was a talented musician, sculptor and architect, although he only partially managed to realize his artistic potential. In his youth, he was spiritually close to the circle of the Viennese literary-critical avant-garde, grouped around the publicist and writer Karl Kraus and the magazine Fakel published by him [1].

In 1911 he went to Cambridge, where he became Russell's apprentice, assistant and friend. In 1913 he returned to Austria and in 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War, volunteered for the front. In 1917 he was captured. During the hostilities and stay in the prisoner of war camp, Wittgenstein wrote almost completely his famous "Logical and Philosophical Treatise" [4]. The book was published in German in 1921 and in English in 1922. Its appearance made a strong impression on the philosophical world of Europe, but Wittgenstein, believing that all the main philosophical problems in the "Treatise" were solved, was already busy with another matter: he worked as a teacher in a rural school. By 1926, however, it had become clear to him that problems still remained, that his Treatise had been misinterpreted, and, finally, that some of the ideas it contained were erroneous.

From 1929 he lived in Great Britain, in 1939-1947 he worked in Cambridge as a professor [5]. In 1935 he visited the USSR [6].

From that time until his death in 1951, interrupting his studies to work as an orderly in a London hospital during World War II, Wittgenstein developed a fundamentally new philosophy of language. The main work of this period was Philosophical Investigations, published posthumously in 1953.

Wittgenstein's philosophy is divided into "early", presented by the "Treatise", and "late", set out in "Philosophical Investigations", as well as in "Blue" and "Brown Books" (published in 1958).

He died in Cambridge on April 29, 1951 from prostate cancer [7]. He was buried according to the Catholic tradition at the local cemetery near the chapel of St. Egidius.

Logical-philosophical treatise

Structurally, the "Logical-Philosophical Treatise" consists of seven aphorisms, accompanied by a ramified system of explanatory sentences.Substantially, he offers a theory that solves the main philosophical problems through the prism of the relationship between language and the world.

Language and the world are central to the entire philosophy of Wittgenstein. In the "Treatise" they appear as a "mirror" pair: language reflects the world, because the logical structure of language is identical to the ontological structure of the world. The world consists of facts, and not of objects, as it is supposed in most philosophical systems. The world represents the entire set of existing facts. Facts can be simple or complex. Objects are that which, interacting, form facts. Objects have a logical form - a set of properties that allow them to enter into certain relationships. In language, simple facts are described with simple sentences. They, not names, are the simplest linguistic units. Complex sentences correspond to complex facts. The whole language is a complete description of everything that is in the world, that is, all the facts. The language also allows the description of possible facts. Thus, the presented language is entirely subject to the laws of logic and lends itself to formalization. All sentences that violate the laws of logic or are not related to observable facts are considered by Wittgenstein to be meaningless. Thus, the proposals of ethics, aesthetics and metaphysics turn out to be meaningless. What can be described can be done.

At the same time, Wittgenstein did not at all intend thereby to deprive the significance of the areas that worried him extremely, but asserted the uselessness of language in them. "What it is impossible to talk about, about that should be kept silent" - such is the last aphorism of the Tractatus.

The philosophers of the Vienna Circle, for whom the "Treatise" became a reference book, did not accept this last fact, deploying a program in which the "meaningless" became identical with the "subject to elimination." This was one of the main reasons that prompted Wittgenstein to revise his philosophy.

The revision resulted in a complex of ideas, in which language is already understood as a mobile system of contexts, "language games", subject to the emergence of contradictions associated with the ambiguity of the meanings of the words and expressions used, which should be eliminated by clarifying the latter. Clarification of the rules for the use of linguistic units and the elimination of contradictions is the task of philosophy.

Wittgenstein's new philosophy is more a collection of methods and practices than a theory. He himself believed that this was the only way a discipline could look like, constantly forced to adapt to its changing subject. The views of the late Wittgenstein found supporters primarily in Oxford and Cambridge, giving rise to linguistic philosophy.


The significance of Wittgenstein's ideas is enormous, but their interpretation, as shown by several decades of active work in this direction, is very difficult. This applies equally to his "early" and "later" philosophy. Opinions and assessments differ significantly, indirectly confirming the scale and depth of Wittgenstein's work.

In the philosophy of Wittgenstein, questions and topics were posed and developed that largely determined the nature of the latest Anglo-American analytical philosophy. There are known attempts to bring his ideas closer to phenomenology and hermeneutics, as well as to religious philosophy (in particular, Eastern). In recent years, many texts from his extensive handwritten heritage have been published in the West. Every year in Austria (in the town of Kirchberg-na-Veksel), Wittgenstein symposia are held, bringing together philosophers and scientists from all over the world [1].


Books [edit | edit code]

L. Wittgenstein Logical and Philosophical Treatise / Per. with him. Dobronravova and Lakhuti D.; Common ed. and foreword. Asmus V.F. - Moscow: Nauka, 1958 (2009). - 133 p.

L. Wittgenstein Philosophical works / Per. with him. M. S. Kozlova and Yu. A. Aseev. Part I. - M.: Gnosis, 1994. - ISBN 5-7333-0468-5.

L. Wittgenstein Philosophical Works. Part II. Notes on the foundations of mathematics. - M.: 1994.

Wittgenstein L. Diaries, 1914-1916: With adj.Notes on Logic (1913) and Notes dictated to Moore (1914) / Trans., Entry. Art., comment. and after. V. A. Surovtseva. - Tomsk: Aquarius, 1998.-- ISBN 5-7137-0092-5.

Dr. ed.: Wittgenstein L. Diaries 1914-1916 (edited by V. A. Surovtsev). - M.: Canon + ROOI "Rehabilitation", 2009. - 400 p. - ISBN 978-5-88373-124-1.

L. Wittgenstein Blue Book / Per. from English V.P. Rudnev. - M.: House of intellectual books, 1999.-- 127 p. - ISBN 5-7333-0232-1.

Wittgenstein L. Brown Book / Per. from English V.P. Rudnev. - M.: House of Intellectual Books, 1999.-- 160 p. - ISBN 5-7333-0212-7.

Dr. ed.: Wittgenstein L. Blue and Brown books: preliminary materials for "Philosophical studies" / Per. from English V. A. Surovtseva, V. V. Itkina. - Novosibirsk: Siberian University Publishing House, 2008.-- 256 p. - ISBN 978-5-379-00465-1.

L. Wittgenstein Lectures and conversations about aesthetics, psychology and religion / Per. from English V.P. Rudnev. - M.: House of Intellectual Books, 1999. - ISBN 5-7333-0213-5.

Wittgenstein L. Notes on the philosophy of psychology. - M.: 2001.

Wittgenstein L. Selected Works. M., Territory of the Future, 2005.

Wittgenstein L. Culture and value. About reliability. - M.: AST, Astrel, Midgard, 2010.-- 256 p. - ISBN 978-5-17-066303-3, ISBN 978-5-271-28788-6.

Articles and journal publications [edit | edit code]

L. Wittgenstein "On reliability" [fragments] / Prev. AF Gryaznova // Questions of Philosophy. - 1984. - No. 8. - S. 142-149.

L. Wittgenstein Philosophical studies // New in foreign linguistics. Issue XVI. - M., 1985.-- S. 79-128.

L. Wittgenstein Lecture on Ethics // Historical and Philosophical Yearbook. - M., 1989.-- S. 238-245.

L. Wittgenstein Lecture on ethics // Daugava. - 1989. - No. 2.

Wittgenstein L. Notes on Frazer's "Golden Branch" / Translated by ZA Sokuler // Historical and Philosophical Yearbook. - M: 1990.-- S. 251-263.

Wittgenstein L. Diaries. 1914-1916 (abridged translation) // Modern analytical philosophy. Issue Z. - M., 1991. - S. 167-178.

L. Wittgenstein "Blue Book" and "Brown Book" (abridged translation) // Modern analytical philosophy. Issue 3. - M., 1991.-- S. 179-190.

L. Wittgenstein On reliability // Questions of philosophy. - 1991. - No. 2. - S. 67-120.

L. Wittgenstein Culture and values ​​// Daugava. - 1992. - No. 2.

Wittgenstein L. Notes on the philosophy of psychology / Per. V. Kalinichenko // Logos. - 1995. - No. 6. - S. 217-230.

Wittgenstein L. From "Notebooks 1914-1916" / Per. V. Rudneva // Logos. - 1995. - No. 6. - S. 194-209.

L. Wittgenstein A few notes on the logical form / Translation and notes by Y. Artamonova // Logos. - 1995. - No. 6. - S. 210-216.

L. Wittgenstein Lectures on Religious Faith / Preface. to publ. ZA Sokuler // Problems of Philosophy. - 1998. - No. 5. - S. 120-134.

L. Wittgenstein Logical-philosophical treatise / Translation and parallel philosophical-semiotic commentary by V.P. Rudnev // Logos. - 1999. - No. 1, 3, 8. - P. 99-130; 3 ° C. 147-173; 8 ° C. 68-87. - part 1, part 2, part 3.

Wittgenstein L. Secret Diaries 1914-1916 (PDF) / Preface and translation by V. A. Surovtsev and I. A. Enns // Logos. - 2004. - No. 3-4 (43). - S. 279-322.

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