Ludwig Wittgenstein Additional Biography


Edmonds, David, and John Eidenow. Wittgenstein’s Poker. New York: Ecco Press, 2001. Starting with a ten-minute confrontation between Wittgenstein and fellow philosopher Karl Popper in 1946, the authors present a wide-ranging exploration of the philosophies of the two men and the biographical contexts that produced the altercation.

Fann, K. T., ed. Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Man and His Philosophy. New York: Dell, 1967. A collection of articles by friends, students, and scholars of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Included are articles on Wittgenstein as a person, a teacher, and a philosopher, and treatments of various aspects of Wittgenstein’s philosophical work.

Hacker, P. M. S. Wittgenstein. New York: Routledge, 1999. An excellent biographical introduction to the thoughts of the philosopher, clearly presented and requiring no special background. Bibliography.

Hacker, P. M. S. Wittgenstein’s Place in Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy. Oxford, England: Blackwell, 1996. A monumental work by a leading authority of Wittgenstein. This book thoroughly treats philosophical history before, during, and after the time of Wittgenstein.

Hallett, Garth L. Essentialism: A Wittgensteinian Critique. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991. Strictly speaking, this book is an...

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Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (VIHT-guhn-stin) has been a controversial figure in philosophy, but he is second only to Bertrand Russell among philosophers of the twentieth century. Though his academic career was spent largely in England, he was born in Vienna to a wealthy and talented family, originally Jewish but for two generations Christian. He was at first educated by tutors but in 1903 was sent to a Realschule, or technical school, at Linz. The choice of a nonclassical school indicates that his father considered his son suited to a career such as engineering; in fact, he did study engineering in Berlin and, after 1908, in Manchester, where he also interested himself in aeronautics. (He was to put his technical knowledge to good use during World War I and later practiced briefly as an architect.) His interests, however, shifted to mathematics and philosophy, and on the advice of the distinguished philosopher Gottlob Frege, a professor at the University of Jena, he went to the University of Cambridge to study under Bertrand Russell. Russell was at first puzzled by the young man but before long thought that he should abandon the field of logic to Wittgenstein, who combined abject feelings of unworthiness with an arrogant aggressiveness on professional subjects.

In early 1914 Wittgenstein was staying in an isolated hut in Norway, but when World War I broke out he returned to Austria and immediately volunteered for active service. He proved to be a loyal, brave, and capable soldier and officer, who ended the war in an Italian prisoner-of-war camp. His period of active service was far from being an intellectual vacuum. In part as a result of reading such authors as Leo Tolstoy, he developed a mystical bent that annoyed Russell when they were reunited. Throughout the war he carried with him notebooks in which he recorded his philosophical reflections;...

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(Survey of World Philosophers)

Article abstract: Wittgenstein, who criticized many aspects of traditional philosophy, developed an account of the logical structure of language in his early period, then largely abandoned this view for one involving language-games. In his later years, he came to view philosophy as a therapeutic practice.

Early Life

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was born into a prominent and highly cultured family in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Vienna. His father, Karl Wittgenstein, was a leading Austrian industrialist and had in fact made a fortune in the iron and steel industry. Originally educated at home, at the age of fourteen Wittgenstein entered school at Linz in Upper Austria and later...

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(Critical Survey of Ethics and Literature)

Author Profile

Wittgenstein’s philosophy is divided into early and later periods. The early period is marked by his interest in the formal semantics for possible languages. Wittgenstein believed that language could only be meaningful if sentences are analyzable into ultimate atomic constituents that, in a one-one correspondence, exactly mirror possible facts, thereby providing a picture of the world. The sentence that describes a fact about the world is a concatenation of names for simple objects that corresponds to a juxtaposition of the named objects. The implication is that language is meaningful only if it describes contingent empirical states of affairs. This means that sentences that purport to express...

(The entire section is 1005 words.)