in deutscher und englischer Sprache
in Kooperation mit dem Friedrich A. von Hayek Institut
Dienstag, 19. Juni 2018, 19:00 Uhr
Capital Bank-GRAWE Gruppe AG
Palais Esterházy, Wallnerstraße 4, 1010 Wien
"Wittgenstein und Hayek haben mich im positiven Sinne meine ganze bisherige diplomatische Karriere hindurch begleitet. Oft ging es nur um die Neugier anderer, die wissen wollten, warum die wirklich großen Ideen des 20. Jahrhunderts gerade von Österreichern erfunden wurden. Anders war dies am Ende der realsozialistischen Welt in Europa, als politisch ganz direkt nach Wegen zur Freiheit gesucht wurde. Ich lebte damals nach 1989 in Krakau und die jungen Philosophen fragten nach Wittgenstein und die jungen Politiker riefen nach Hayek."
Botschafter Dr. Emil Brix, Direktor der Diplomatischen Akademie
Einleitung: Prof.Raoul Kneucker und Prof. Allan Janik
Moderation: Dr. Barbara Kolm (Friedrich A. von Hayek Institut) Prof. Marjorie Perloff (Stanford University, University of Southern California, American Academy of Arts and Sciences) Prof. Lothar Höbelt (Universität Wien) Prof. Allan Janik (Universität Innsbruck, Brenner Archiv) Dr. Richard Zundritsch (Friedrich A. von Hayek Institut)
Österreicher, die in der Welt Anerkennung fanden, sind zu Hause oft unterschätzt oder falsch interpretiert worden. Das trifft auch auf Friedrich von Hayek und Ludwig Wittgenstein zu. Hayek war auch der erste, der eine Biographie Wittgensteins verfassen wollte, gleich nach seinem Tod.
Um dem entgegenzuwirken und um einem breiteren Publikum Zugang zum Denken dieser beiden großen Österreicher zu ermöglichen, findet diese Veranstaltung in Kooperation von Hayek Institut und der Wittgenstein Initiative statt.
Die 2. Ausgabe der schon längst vergriffenen Briefe zwischen Ludwig Wittgenstein und seinen Geschwistern mit:
teils nie zuvor veröffentlichte Briefe und Fotografien
exklusive Auszüge aus der “Nonsens-Sammlung” Ludwig Wittgensteins
mit einem neuen Vorwort von Brian McGuinness
erscheint im September 2018
Mit ihrer ganz eigenen Qualität offenbaren Wittgensteins Familienbriefe eine Seite Ludwig Wittgensteins, die kaum bekannt ist. Die Vertrautheit und Intimität der Briefe bieten neue Einblicke in die Entwicklung seiner Beziehungen und Ideen während vierzig Jahren.
In seiner gewohnt offenen und manchmal brutal ehrlichen Art erklärt er seine Entscheidung, ein Leben in absoluter Übereinstimmung mit dem zu führen, was er für richtig hält. In der Korrespondenz mit seinen Geschwistern erfahren wir über Ludwigs Weigerung, in seiner Zeit als Schullehrer als “Wittgenstein” bekannt zu sein, und seine Beharrlichkeit, Weihnachten nicht mit der Familie, sondern mit Freunden zu feiern. Für jeden seiner Geschwister hat er einen eigenen Ton und so entstehen spezifische Portraits der Geschwister. Der offene und einfache Ton zu Hermine, eine Mutterfigur zu Ludwig; der praktische und manchmal scherzhafte Ton zu Paul; und, am auffallendsten, den zärtlichen und witzigen Ton zu Helene Salzer, die Schwester, mit der Ludwig am engsten verbunden war und mit der er in Kontakt bis zu seinem Tod blieb. Die intellektuellste und originellste seiner Schwestern, Margaret, wird vor allem durch ihre Briefe an Ludwig gesehen, da fast keine Briefe von ihm an sie überlebt haben.
Die zweite, erweiterte, Edition inkludiert mehrere noch nie veröffentlichte Briefe zwischen Ludwig und Paul Wittgenstein, die Licht auch auf den intellektuellen Diskurs zwischen den Brüdern werfen.
Diese persönlichen Briefe beleuchten nicht nur den Philosophen Wittgenstein, sie bringen uns dem Menschen Ludwig Wittgenstein näher.
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Extract from the Nomination Form International Memory of the World Register
Philosophical Nachlass of Ludwig Wittgenstein
(Austria, Canada, Netherlands, UK)
The subject of this joint nomination is the complete philosophical Nachlass of Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) is today widely recognized as one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century. His philosophy was the essential impulse to what was later called the “linguistic turn” in modern philosophy, but even beyond philosophy had a deep impact to many branches of the humanities and even in the arts.
His famous Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (written 1918, published1921), the only philosophical book he published during his lifetime, is one of the most influential philosophical books ever written. After a break of ten years – teaching as a primary school teacher and working as architect – Wittgenstein continued his philosophical work at the University of Cambridge and developed a new philosophy of ordinary language, which became one of the leading philosophical movements especially in the Anglo-American world. Wittgenstein was unable to realize his intention to publish his new ideas before his death in 1951. In 1953 his literary executors published the Philosophische Untersuchungen / Philosophical Investigations posthumously, which is seen as the magnum opus of his later philosophy and has become one of the most important books in the history of modern philosophy.
Wittgenstein’s philosophical development from 1914 to the Tractatus and his continuous philosophical work from 1929 till the end of his life is documented in detail in his philosophical Nachlass. It was listed in a systematic and complete form in 1969 by Georg Henrik von Wright, his student and successor in his chair in Cambridge (“The Wittgenstein Papers” in: Philosophical Review Vol 78,4.1969, p 483-503). Von Wrights Nachlass index contains 83 manuscripts, 45 typescripts an 11 dictations, all together about 20.000 pages.
Based on von Wright’s list Wittgenstein’s Nachlass is nominated in its entirety (not including his letters).
In 2000 an electronic edition was published by the Wittgenstein Archives at Bergen (No): Wittgenstein’s Nachlass. The Bergen Electronic Edition. Oxford University Press, University of Bergen, The Wittgenstein Trustees on 6 CDs.
The original items of the Wittgenstein Nachlass are kept in the following five institutions, who apply for this joint nomination:
a) Trinity College, Cambridge (UK)
b) Austrian National Library, Vienna (AUT)
c) Bodleian Library, Oxford (UK)
d) Noord Hollands Archief, Haarlem (NL)
e) Bertrand Russell Archives, McMaster University Library, Hamilton (Canada)
Identity and description of the documentary heritage
a) Items of Wren Library, Trinity College Cambridge (UK)
In 1969 the Wittgenstein Trustees, the three literary executors named by Wittgenstein in his last will, had handed over all of Wittgenstein’s original manuscripts remaining England to Trinity College, Cambridge. Others from the Austrian part of the Nachlass were added as a gift from members of the Wittgenstein family. Since then, as more materials have been discovered, further donations have been made, both by the literary executors and by relatives of Wittgenstein’s friends and pupils.
b) Items of Austrian National Library, Vienna (AUT)
When Wittgenstein died in England in 1951 not all of his manuscripts were in Cambridge; some had stayed in Austria with his siblings. This “Austrian estate”– as von Wright called it – was finally divided into two parts. One part was entrusted by members of the Wittgenstein family at the request of the Trustees to Trinity College (Mss 101, 102, 103, 108, 109, 110, 111), the other part was finally sold in 1979 by Thomas Stonborough (son of Wittgenstein’s sister Margret Stonborough) to the Austrian National Library. That was made up of the abovementioned Mss 105, 106, 107, 112, 113, and TS 203. Additionally the ANL could by four important items from the estate of Wittgenstein’s close friend Rudolf Koder in 2004 (Ms 139b, Ms 142, Ms 183, TS 204) and from the Wittgenstein student Theo Redpath (Dic 310), and from the heirs of Margret Stonborough (Dic 309).
c) Items of Bodleian Library, Oxford (UK)
The Bodleian’s typescript, with annotations, of Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung (MS. German d. 6), was given by Wittgenstein to Paul Engelmann, whose executors donated it to the Bodleian in 1967. The Bodleian’s manuscript in pencil of Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung (“Prototractatus”)c. 1918 (MS. German d.7) was purchased in 1969 with the aid of a grant from the Pilgrim Trust.
d) Items of Noord Hollands Archief in Haarlem (NL)
The items are owned by Mr G.M.H. van de Velde and Mrs E.B.B. van der Wolk, given to the Noord Hollands Archief for custody. They are the grand children of Moritz Schlick, who was the owner of the originals.
e) Item of the Bertrand Russell Archives, McMaster University Library, Hamilton (Canada)
The documents were created by Russell in 1913. They were translations into English of a manuscript of Wittgenstein’s that no longer exists (Wittgenstein had shown the manuscript to Russell). Russell first created a manuscript version that was later typed in both full length and summary versions, and Wittgenstein supplied annotations by hand. McMaster University acquired the Bertrand Russell archives from Bertrand Russell in 1968. The items relating to Wittgenstein formed part of that acquisition.
Assessment against the selection criteria
The authenticity and completeness of the Nachlass is guaranteed by the individual history and provenance for each of the collection of the five owners, and by the Nachlass description list of G.H. von Wright, as quoted in his publication in no. (1.0).
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) today is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential philosophers of the 20th century. His Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (written 1918, published1921), the only philosophical book he publish during his lifetime had an enormous influence on the modern philosophy of language. In 1929, after a break of ten years working as a teacher and as an architect, Wittgenstein continued his philosophical work teaching at the University of Cambridge and developed a new philosophy of ordinary language, which became one of the leading philosophical movements especially in the Anglo-American world. Wittgenstein changed our view of language, meaning and the aim and method of philosophy profoundly. The main elements of his new view of language are the concepts of “language games” based in “forms of life” and “family resemblances” replacing Platonic essences and his concept of meaning, based in the use of words. Wittgenstein could not realize his intention to publish his new ideas till his death in 1951. In 1953 the Wittgenstein Trustees (literary executors) published the Philosophische Untersuchungen / Philosophical Investigations, which can be recognized as the opus magnum of his later philosophy, and is till today one of the most influential books in the history of modern philosophy.
Wittgenstein’s reputation as arguably the greatest Western philosopher of the twentieth century was secured by the publications by his literary executors. These, however, were quite selective and since access to his papers became more widely available the debate over Wittgenstein’s philosophy has received new impetus as new material has made its way into the public domain and more nuanced readings of published texts are now possible. As a record of the process of composition, the Nachlass is vital in bringing us to a greater understanding of this process and through this in interpreting the development of Wittgenstein’s philosophy over several decades. Indeed, the Nachlass stands as an exemplar to academics approaching other archives in the academic field of the potential intellectual profits from a philological approach to such material. The whole Nachlass was listed in a systematic form in 1969 by Georg Henrik von Wright, his student and follower on his chair in Cambridge (“The Wittgenstein Papers”, Philosophical Review, Vol 78.1969,4, p 483-503.). Von Wrights Nachlass index contains 83 manuscripts, 45 typescripts an 11 dictations, all together about 20.000 pages.
While the early Wittgenstein is closely associated with Logical Positivism and the later Wittgenstein with the Philosophy of Language, Phenomenology and the Foundations of Mathematics, his work has been applied in many other areas such as the philosophy of science, art and aesthetics, psychology and cognition, information and the information society, folklore and belief. He thus appears not as a philosopher with narrow interests but one who speaks to academics in many disciplines.
Wittgenstein was essentially a product of early twentieth-century Vienna and later of Cambridge and it is unsurprising that his work first took root in Europe and the English-speaking world. However, there are emerging schools of Wittgenstein’s thought in South America, where Portuguese and Spanish translations of his work are available. However, in addition to translations into many European languages, the fact that editions his work have in the last two decades become available in Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Turkish indicate an ever-increasing and truly international interest in his philosophy.
IWittgenstein’s philosophy was the essential impulse to what was later called the “linguistic turn” in modern philosophy, but even beyond philosophy had a deep impact to many branches of the humanities and even in the arts. His early philosophy of the Tractatus had a great impact in a normative theory of language, the theory of formal logic (in the tradition of Bertrand Russel and Gottlob Frege), whereas his later philosophy can be recognized as the origin of the so call “ordinary language philosophy “, which became one of the dominant movements of the philosophy in the second half of the 20th century.
Ludwig Wittgenstein was recognized as a prominent thinker of the Fin de siècle culture of Vienna (see: Alan Janik & Stephen Toulmi: Wittgenstein’s Vienna, New York 1973).Wittgenstein was born in Vienna in one of the most wealthy families of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The house of his father Karl Wittgenstein, the dominating figure of the Austrian steel industry, was at the same time one of the leading private cultural centres of Viennese culture at that time, especially interested in music. Wittgenstein was also working as an architect; together with Paul Engelmann, a scholar of Adolf Loos, he built a city house for his sister Margret Stonborough in the 3rd district of Vienna in 1926-28, which belongs to the most interesting buildings of early modernism in Vienna.
With longer breaks in Norway (Skolden) and Irland Wittgenstein spent the second half of his life, from 1929 to his death in Cambridge. He became a dominating, charismatic figure in the academic life of Cambridge and followed George Edward Moore on his chair of philosophy in 1939.
4 Subject and theme
Wittgenstein’s philosophy of ordinary language changed profoundly our view of language and meaning, of mental acts and consciousness and also the task and method of philosophy in general. It had a strong impact on modern formal logic and the philosophy of mathematics as well.
5 Form and style
Wittgenstein writing style in his Tractatus is highly original and had a big impact also on modern poetry. His later texts are written in the form of short remarks, following in n natural order and try to show the readers “sketches of mental landscape”. This style of his later manuscripts from 1929 is based on ordinary language , vivid and full of impressive similes and metaphors. It is appreciated as belonging to the best German prose ever written. According to one of his own remarks, philosophy actually can only be done as poetry.
6 Social/ spiritual/ comunity significance:
From 1927- 1936 Wittgenstein was in close contact with members of the “Wiener Kreis” (mainly Moritz Schlick and Friedrich Waismann), and had an strong influence on the development of Logical Empiricism.
Since his times as a student in Cambridge (1911-14) he was a close friend and in a regular intellectual exchange with Bertrand Russell and George E. Moore.
All manuscripts are unique, the Wren Library owns some copies of typescripts, the so called Blue Book (DIC 209) and Brown Book (DIC210) were produced in an limited number of identical copies for his students.
The philosophical Nachlass of Ludwig Wittgenstein nominated here does not include his letters. It is complete according to von Wright’s Nachlass list with the exception of three items: 201b, 234, and 301, which must be acknowledged as missing.
The subject of this joint nomination is the complete philosophical Nachlass of Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951). His philosophical development from 1914 to the Tractatus and his continuous philosophical work from 1929 till the end of his life is documented in detail in his philosophical Nachlass. It was listed in a systematic and complete form in 1969 by Georg Henrik von Wright, his student and successor in his chair in Cambridge (“The Wittgenstein Papers” in: Philosophical Review Vol 78,4.1969, p 483-503). Von Wrights Nachlass index contains 83 manuscripts, 45 typescripts an 11 dictations, all together about 20.000 pages. Based on von Wright’s list Wittgenstein’s Nachlass is nominated in its entirety (not including his letters). In 2000 an electronic edition was published by the Wittgenstein Archives at Bergen (No): Wittgenstein’s Nachlass. The Bergen Electronic Edition. Oxford University Press, University of Bergen, The Wittgenstein Trustees on 6 CDs.
Der Philosoph ist ein Fixpunkt, wenn Wien 2018 die Moderne groß feiert.
Kurier, 17. Juli 2017, Werner Rosenberger
Spurensuche im hohen Norden nach dem vielleicht bedeutendsten österreichischen Denker des 20. Jahrhunderts. Einem Mann von besonderem Ruf, über dessen Ankunft in Cambridge John Maynard Keynes Anfang 1929 sagte: “Gott ist angekommen. Ich traf ihn im Fünf-Uhr-Fünfzehn-Zug.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889– 1951), Millionenerbe eines schwerreichen Stahlindustriellen, ein Grübler und Zweifler, ein Sonderling, der mit Schafen und Kühen sprach, kein verrücktes Genie, aber ein hypersensibler, innerlich zerrissener und zeitweise depressiver Mensch.
“Der Fliege den Ausweg aus dem Fliegenglas zu zeigen” sei das Ziel seiner Philosophie, so Wittgenstein. Sein Credo war: “Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.”Foto: KURIER/Werner Rosenberger
Österreich in Norwegen
Norwegen war für ihn das Land der Ruhe und der Zuflucht. Die erste Urlaubsreise 1913 brachte ihn auf die Idee, dort für einige Zeit zu bleiben, um an seinen philosophischen Theorien zu arbeiten und dem für ihn belastenden Universitätsalltag zu entfliehen.
Und dass Österreich im Südwesten Norwegens am Ende des mehr als 200 Kilometer langen Sognefjord liegt, kam so: Dort hatte sich der Philosoph mit dem übergroßen Bedürfnis nach Einsamkeit rund 30 Meter über dem See Eidsvatnet gegenüber von Skjolden, einem 300-Seelen-Dorf, nach eigenen Plänen ein Holzhaus bauen lassen.
Die Ortsbewohner nannten das Refugium Østerrike: “Österreich”. Er genoss den “stillen Ernst” der norwegischen Fjordlandschaft und arbeitete dort, fernab des Universitätsbetriebs, außer an den “Philosophischen Untersuchungen” vor allem an seiner Logisch-Philosophischen Abhandlung: Das Werk, 1921 erschienen, erlangte unter dem Titel “Tractatus logico-philosophicus” Weltruhm und beeinflusste zahlreiche Werke der Literatur, Musik, Malerei, Architektur und des Films.
In Skjolden, 2500 km von Wien, 350 km von Oslo und 250 km von Bergen entfernt, wo es übrigens an der Universität eine Wittgenstein-Forschungsstelle gibt, lebte er als Einsied- ler asketisch und spartanisch. Nur einmal in der Woche ruderte er mit dem Boot von seinem Haus über den See ins Dorf zum Einkaufen. Im Winter ging er in Schneeschuhen über den gefrorenen See.
“Als ich übrigens in Norwegen war, im Jahre 1913-14, hatte ich eigene Gedanken, so scheint es mir jetzt wenigstens”, schrieb der oft von Selbstzweifeln geplagte Wittgenstein. “Ich meine, es kommt mir so vor, als hätte ich damals in mir neue Denkbewegungen geboren (aber vielleicht irre ich mich). Während ich jetzt nur mehr alte anzuwenden scheine.”
Er lieferte bedeutende Beiträge zur Philosophie der Logik, der Sprache und des Bewusstseins. Und prägte den viel zitierten Satz: “Was sich überhaupt sagen lässt, lässt sich klar sagen; und wovon man nicht reden kann, darüber muss man schweigen.” Die vordringlichste Aufgabe der Philosophie müsse es sein, unsere Sprache und ihre Funktionsweise zu verstehen. Denn so verstehen wir zugleich, was über die Welt überhaupt zu verstehen ist.
Wittgensteins große Bedeutung vor allem außerhalb der akademischen Zirkel auf Kunst und Kultur werde noch immer unterschätzt, heißt es in Fachkreisen.
Und Wittgenstein selbst fand: “Die Arbeit an der Philosophie ist – wie vielfach die Arbeit in der Architektur – eigentlich mehr die/eine Arbeit an Einem selbst. An der eigenen Auffassung. Daran, wie man die Dinge sieht (Und was man von ihnen verlangt).”
Sigmund Freud hat schon ein Museum und Arnold Schönberg ein Center in Wien. “Wie sie soll hier in Zukunft auch Wittgenstein sichtbar, greifbar und präsent sein”, wünscht sich Radmila Schweitzer von der Wittgenstein Initiative.
“Ein erster Schritt dazu wäre – mit Zugang zu allen Quellen weltweit – eine permanente Ausstellung, die eventuell auch nach Norwegen und England exportiert werden könnte. Möglichst mit Unterstützung von der Stadt Wien und dem Bund.”
2018 feiert Wien die Moderne unter dem Motto “Schönheit und Abgrund”. Denn 100 Jahre zuvor starben mit Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Otto Wagner und Koloman Moser vier Protagonisten der Wiener Moderne.
Aber neben anderen Persönlichkeiten wird auch Wittgenstein im Mittelpunkt einer Ausstellung stehen: “Die Tractatus-Odyssee” (15.10. bis 30. 11. 2018) im Grillparzerhaus (Österreichisches Staatsarchiv) wird das Leben des Philosophen mit Fotos, Dokumenten und Multimedia die Entstehung des Tractatus sowie dessen Wirkung auf die Kulturgeschichte des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts nachzeichnen.
“Die Logik ist ein Hund”. Für den Philosophen lag Österreich an einem norwegischen Fjord.
Wo geht’s hier zum Genie? Ein hölzerner Wegweiser mit der Aufschrift “Wittgenstein” schickt uns in den Wald und dann einen steilen Abhang hinauf. Und oben weht ein rot-weiß-roter Wimpel.”Immer wenn Wittgenstein hier in seinem Häuschen mit dem fantastischen Blick in die Natur, Berge, Wälder und Wasserfälle, aber in totaler Abgeschiedenheit arbeitete”, erzählt der Lokalhistoriker Harald Vatne in Skjolden, “dann sagten die Dorfbewohner: Der Philosoph ist in Österreich.’”
“Unglaublich”, sagt Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, Mitbegründer des weltweit aktiven Architekturbüros Snøhetta, “er hat sich eine Stelle ausgesucht, wo es neben der Vertikale der Berge zwei Horizonte gibt, die Oberflächen des Sees, aber auch des Fjords.”
Foto: KURIER/Werner RosenbergerHarald Vatne – für Wiederaufbau vom Haus in Østerrike am Fjord
1950 war Wittgensteins letzter Besuch in Skjolden am Ende des malerischen Lustrafjords. Eigentlich hatte er vor, sich längere Zeit in Norwegen niederzulassen, aber bereits ein Jahr später starb er. Sein etwa acht mal acht Meter großes Holzhäuschen in Østerrike am Fjord hatte er einem Einheimischen geschenkt. Der holte es ein paar Jahre später vom Hang, wo heute nur noch das Steinfundament übrig ist, und ließ es am Ortsrand wieder aufstellen. Wo es bis heute steht.
“Der Originalzustand ist zu 90 Prozent erhalten”, sagt Vatne. Ohne Balkon, aber dafür mit Eternitverkleidung steht das Haus jetzt da. Sogar die Originalfenster sind noch in einem Schuppen gelagert.
Wo einer einmal die Gesetze der Logik lösen wollte, gehorchen Vatnes Pläne einer durchaus eigenen Logik. Mit Lokalpolitikern und Philosophen der Uni Bergen, unterstützt von Schriftstellern wie Jon Fosse und Jostein Gaarder, soll das Häuschen bereits 2018 wieder dort errichtet werden, wo es einst stand. Auf dass dann die Welt dorthin komme, wohin Wittgenstein dem eitlen Getriebe der Welt entfloh.
Dienstag, 26. September 2017, 19 Uhr
Grillparzerhaus (Literaturmuseum), Johannesgasse 6, 1010 Wien
Modernism in the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire
Karl Kraus, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Joseph Roth, Robert Musil, Elias Canetti, Paul Celan
Marjorie Perloff in Gespräch mit Christoph Limbeck-Lilienau (Universität Wien)
Um Anmeldung unten wird gebeten.
Eintritt: freiwilliger Unkostenbeitrag.
Among the brilliant writers and thinkers who emerged from the multicultural and multilingual world of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were Joseph Roth, Robert Musil, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. For them, the trauma of World War I included the sudden loss of the geographical entity into which they had been born: in 1918, the empire was dissolved overnight, leaving Austria a small, fragile republic that would last only twenty years before being annexed by Hitler’s Third Reich. In this major reconsideration of European modernism, Marjorie Perloff identifies and explores the aesthetic world that emerged from the rubble of Vienna and other former Habsburg territories—an “Austro-Modernism” that produced a major body of drama, fiction, poetry, and autobiography.
Perloff explores works ranging from Karl Kraus’s drama The Last Days of Mankind and Elias Canetti’s memoir The Tongue Set Free to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s notebooks and Paul Celan’s lyric poetry. Throughout, she shows that Austro-Modernist literature is characterized less by the formal and technical inventions of a modernism familiar to us in the work of Joyce and Pound, Dada and Futurism, than by a radical irony beneath a seemingly conventional surface, an acute sense of exile, and a sensibility more erotic and quixotic than that of its German contemporaries. Skeptical and disillusioned, Austro-Modernism prefers to ask questions rather than formulate answers.
Prof. Dr. Marjorie Perloff, born in Vienna as Gabriele Mintz, is Professor Emerita of English at Stanford University and at the University of Southern California, Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She is author of, a.o. Wittgenstein’s Ladder and The Vienna Paradox.
Østerrike über dem Fjord: In einem Kaff in Norwegen schrieb der große Philosoph einige seiner wichtigsten Texte Österreich heißt auf Norwegisch Østerrike. Für die Bewohner eines kleinen, eher abgelegenen Dorfs in Norwegen ist damit freilich nicht nur ein kleines Land in Mitteleuropa gemeint, sondern ein ganz besonderer Ort in ihrer unmittelbaren Nähe. Um dorthin zu gelangen, ist freilich eine längere Reise vonnöten, die man am besten in der Stadt Bergen an der Südwestküste Norwegens beginnt. –
Wer auf Wittgensteins Spuren wandert, kann nicht nur Logik lernen: In der Welt des Philosophen lag Österreich an einem Fjord.
Clemens Panagl, Salzburger Nachrichten, 22.5.2017
SKJOLDEN. Der Weg zur Erkenntnis ist steinig. Und er ist stellenweise ziemlich schmal. „Aber allzu leicht sollten es sich die Besucher ja auch gar nicht machen“, erläutert Harald Vatne. Der Lokalhistoriker führt eine Besuchergruppe durch ein Waldstück nahe dem Örtchen Skjolden. Mitten in Norwegen, am Endpunkt des längsten Fjordes von Europa, liegt die Gemeinde. Hinter den Häusern von Skjolden ruht ein kleiner See, begrenzt von steil abfallendem Wald. Und mitten im Wald weht eine österreichische Fahne.
Freitag, 12. Mai 2017, 18:30 Uhr
BKI “Haus Wittgenstein”, Galerie-Parterre Saal
Parkgasse 18, 1030 Wien
Podiumsgespräch mit anschließender Diskussion
Eintritt frei, um Anmeldung unten wird gebeten.
Form, Experience, and Meaning: Wittgenstein and Loos as Architects
School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin
In recent years, several prominent architectural historians and cultural critics have observed that the similarities between the architectural works of Adolf Loos and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s villa for his sister Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein on Kundmanngasse in Vienna are mostly superficial—that both spatially and formally Loos’s houses and Wittgenstein’s design are, in fact, very different. This is unquestionably correct, but there are important shared features in their works that at first glance are not readily apparent. This is especially true when one begins to examine the ways in which their buildings functioned and the underlying strategies that informed each man’s choices. For if their houses were manifestly different, they were informed by closely related modes of thinking. In this lecture, Christopher Long probes how Wittgenstein and Loos shared essential assumptions that shaped their idiosyncratic approaches to building.
Dr. Christopher Long is University Distinguished Teaching Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. He has published widely on modern architecture and design in Central Europe and the United States. His books include Josef Frank: Life and Work (2002), The Looshaus (2011), Kem Weber: Designer and Architect (2014), and The New Space: Movement and Experience in Viennese Modern Architecture (2016).
Prof. Allan Janik (Universität Innsbruck)
Autor von Wittgensteins Wien und Wittgensteins Wien Revisited, Projektleiter der Wittgenstein und Paul Engelmann-Projekte des Brenner Archivs Innsbruck.
ETHICS AND AESTHETICS ARE ONE. EGON SCHIELE IN THE LIGHT OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN AND THE THEORY OF MUSICAL COMPOSITION OF ARNOLD SCHÖNBERG
by Carla Carmona
The question of the limits of language is deeply connected to one of the pillars of modern art, that is, the desire to extend the formal possibilities of an artistic medium. One could read under that light the relationship between the ready-made and modern sculpture. As Hermann Broch pointed out, the development ought to take place from within the medium itself:
ALL ART STRIVES FOR THE EXTENSION OF ITS MEDIUM. THAT END MUST ALSO BE ITS FULFILLMENT; IT MUST GIVE ART ALL ITS METHODS. THE WORK OF ART CAN ONLY FOLLOW THE LAW OF INNER NECESSITY . . . IN THAT LAW LIES [ITS] UNITY . . . BALANCE . . . [AND] UNIVERSALITY. . . . STYLE, THE CONCISE EXPRESSION OF BALANCE, WILL [THUS] BE VANQUISHED AND WITH IT ORNAMENT.
This is precisely how the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein approached both ethics and language in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. What appeared to be a treatise on logic was much more than that. Wittgenstein wrote that the purpose of the book was ethical and explained that it consisted of two parts, the written and the unwritten. Wittgenstein considered that the unwritten part was the most important. The key was the very thing that was missing in the text, and the gesture to keep quiet about it. One of the aims of the Tractatus was to delimit the field of ethics, and that could only be done from within. Wittgenstein thought he had settled those limits by precisely remaining silent about ethical issues. His demarcation between the world of facts and the world of value intended to make clear that logic, and consequently philosophy, could only deal with facts. The language of logic could not go further than that, and thus the world of value – that is, of ethics – was out of its reach. Facts belonged to the realm of saying, and value to that of showing. There were certain things that could only be shown, and art was an appropriate path toward that domain.
Carla Carmona is a professor of philosophy at the University of Extremadura in Spain. She specializes in aesthetics, philosophy of language and fin de siècle Vienna. She has published numerous articles on the paintings and the worldview of Egon Schiele, as well as the thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein and its aesthetic dimension. In recent years she has also dedicated herself to the study of aesthetic and political thought by Peter Sloterdijk. In 2014 she edited the Siruela Voluntary Taxation and Citizen Responsibility. Her books include Egon Schiele’s pictorial idea: An essay on representational logic (Genueve Editions, 2012), On the tightrope of the eternal: On the hallucinated grammar of Egon Schiele (Cliff, 2013), Egon Schiele: Writings 1909- 1918 (La Micro, 2014), and Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Consciousness of the Limit (Library Discover Philosophy, The Country, 2015). Carmona is also editor of the Egon Schiele Jahrbuch.
Wir danken dem Leopold Museum für die freundliche Genehmigung zur Veröffentlichung.
TAGUNGSBAND ZUM EGON SCHIELE-SYMPOSIUM IM LEOPOLD MUSEUM
29. und 30. September 2016, Leopold Museum, Wien
Herausgeber: Hans-Peter Wipplinger
A dialogue between Allan Janik and Carla Carmona 30 September 2016, Leopold Museum
I will begin with the remark that the Schiele-Wittgenstein connection is very important, not only for research on Schiele but also for research on Wittgenstein. I think that the connection makes Schiele appear as less of an expressionist and Wittgenstein’s philosophy seems to be closer to everyday human concerns, thus less intellectual, existential. I also think that the Schiele-Wittgenstein connection shows that much has to be done in both directions and would forge a closer link between philosophy and art.
Wir danken dem Leopold Museum für die freundliche Genehmigung zur Veröffentlichung.
TAGUNGSBAND ZUM EGON SCHIELE-SYMPOSIUM IM LEOPOLD MUSEUM
29. und 30. September 2016, Leopold Museum, Wien
Herausgeber: Hans-Peter Wipplinger
“Hegel seems to me to be always wanting to say that things which look different are really the same. Whereas my interest is in showing that things which look the same are really different.” (Recollections of Wittgenstein)
CALL FOR PAPERS
Some slots are reserved for contributed papers. There are no parallel sections. We invite submissions for a 30 minute presentation followed by a 20 minute discussion. Papers may be submitted on any issue falling within the conference theme. Please send an abstract in English or in German as attachment (about 500 words), prepared for multiple blind review, to email@example.com by March 31, 2017.
James Conant (Chicago)
Rico Gutschmidt (Chicago)
Bruno Haas (Dresden)
Herbert Hrachovec (Vienna)
Karl-Friedrich Kiesow (Hannover)
David Kolb (Bates College)
Ingolf Max (Leipzig)
Aloisia Moser (Linz)
Ludwig Nagl (Vienna)
Thomas Rentsch (Dresden)
Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer (Leipzig)
Alexander Berg (TU Dresden)
Jakub Mácha (Masaryk University Brno)
Louisa Frintert (TU Dresden)
Marco Kleber (TU Dresden)
Alexander Romahn (University of Leipzig)
An international symposium on the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein will be held on June 8, 9 and 10th 2017 at the Faculty of Philosophy and the Humanities of Caceres at the University of Extremadura. The conference will examine the fundamental aspects of the problems discussed in On Certainty, such as the issues regarding the concept of certainty or the role that the animal plays in man and its relationship to language. The concept of limit in Wittgenstein’s work will also be addressed, and in particular how it relates to the animality of the human being.
CALL FOR PAPERS
Those interested in participating with a paper can send the definitive article (max. 2500 words) accompanied by a brief abstract (150 words) until February 28, 2017 to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who have not completed the article by then can send a long abstract of about 1200 words accompanied by an abstract of about 150 words by the same date.
Papers are accepted in Spanish, English, Italian and Portuguese. The brief abstract should be sent in English and in the language in which the paper will be given.
Isidoro Reguera, Universidad de Extremadura
António Marques, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Juan José Acero, Universidad de Granada
Chon Tejedor, University of Hertfordshire
Nuno Venturinha, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Luigi Perissinotto, Università Ca’Foscari
Carla Carmona (Universidad de Extremadura), David Pérez (Universidad de Zaragoza), Vicente Sanfélix (Universidad de Valencia).
Luis Arenas (Universidad de Zaragoza), Manuel de Pinedo (Universidad de Granada), Antoni Defez i Martí (Universitat de Girona), Óscar González-Castán (Universidad Complutense), Nicolás Sánchez (Universidad de Valencia) y Stella Villarmea (Universidad de Alcalá de Henares).
Max Hadersbeck (München), Allan Janik (Innsbruck), Michael Nedo (Cambridge), Alois Pichler (Bergen), Nuno Venturinha (Lissabon)
Moderation: Herbert Hrachovec (Wien)
Welche Bedeutung haben Wittgensteins philosophischer Nachlass und seine Korrespondenz für die heutige Kulturwelt und in welchen Formen werden sie herausgegeben: Buchform, elektronische Medien oder durch interaktive dynamische Präsentationen?
Nach seinem Tod 1951 hinterließ Ludwig Wittgenstein einen philosophischen Nachlass von rund 20.000 Seiten. Abgesehen vom Tractatus waren diese Papiere unveröffentlicht und weitgehend unbekannt. Das Ausmaß des Materials war auch für Wittgensteins Freunde überraschend. Ihr Erstaunen war noch größer, als sie erfuhren, dass Wittgenstein weitere Papiere zerstört hatte. Die Originalmanuskripte und Typoskripten werden heute an verschiedenen Orten aufbewahrt: in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek in Wien, in der Bodleian Library in Oxford und im Bertrand Russell Archive in Hamilton, Ontario. Der größte Teil befindet sich in der Trinity College Library in Cambridge.
“Doch kann nur der Künstler das Einzelne so darstellen daß es uns als Kunstwerk erscheint; jene Manuskripte verlieren mit Recht ihren Wert wenn man sie einzeln und überhaupt wenn man sie unvoreingenommen, das heißt ohne schon vorher begeistert zu sein, betrachtet.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, MS 109, Seite 29
Do, 15. Dezember 2016, 15:00-18:00 Uhr
BKI “Haus Wittgenstein”, Parkgasse 18, 1030 Wien
Konferenz-Saal 1. Stock
Walter Fanta (Klagenfurt), Max Hadersbeck (München), Herbert Hrachovec (Wien), Allan Janik (Innsbruck), Peter Keicher (Wien), Volker Munz (Klagenfurt), Michael Nedo (Cambridge), Alois Pichler (Bergen), Martin Pilch (Wien), Nuno Venturinha (Lissabon), Joseph Wang (Innsbruck)
Moderation: Alfred Schmidt (Wien)
Im Expertengespräch wurden eine Reihe aktueller Editionsprojekte kurz vorgestellt und anschließend diskutiert . Dabei stand das Spannungsfeld analog-digital im Zentrum und die Idee zu einer Wittgenstein-Editionsplattform durch die Wittgenstein Initiative wurde vorgestellt.
Eintritt Experten-Gespräch: Kostenlos
Da es nur eine begrenzte Zahl an Sitzplätzen gibt, ist für das Expertengespräch eine Anmeldung unbedingt erforderlich.
Egon Schiele presented against the background of ethical and formal affinities that Toulmin and Janik identified as Wittgenstein’s Vienna. In particular, Schiele’s art will be read in the light of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy and Adolf Loos’ architecture. It will be shown how Wittgenstein’s notion of use applies to Schiele’s depiction of chairs in his oeuvre, and the ethical implications that are derived from such an application.
Allan Janik (Brenner Archiv Innsbruck) Carla Carmona Escalera (Universidad de Extremadura)
in englischer Sprache
Anschließend offene Diskussion
Im Rahmen des SYMPOSIUM EGON SCHIELE
Leopold Museum im MuseumsQuartier Wien, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien
CONTRASTS AND LEGACIES by Steven Beller (Washington DC)
It is now more than forty years since one of the greatest books about the history of Viennese modern culture at the turn of the 20th century was published: Wittgenstein’s Vienna. Its insights remain vital at a time when the heuristic power of “fin-de-siècle Vienna” has increasingly been found wanting by scholars (if not by sellers of Klimtiana). Much excellent work has been done on Wittgenstein since 1973, but there is still much that we can learn about Wittgenstein and his Vienna, and I think it is high time that we reinvest our time and attention in Wittgenstein’s Vienna, both conceptually, as a work in the history of ideas, and, historically as a subject of immense contemporary relevance, especially to the Vienna of today.
The reason why this is so effective is due to the great compass of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s own world. He himself, and his family, were not confined to a parochial Viennese context. The family had roots in Germany and there was also the fact of Jewish descent on both sides of Wittgenstein’s family tree. Ludwig’s father had gone off to America for some time as a young man, and Ludwig himself went to Berlin and Manchester to further his education, and then, most significantly, Cambridge. He became fascinated with Scandinavia and especially Norway. His world extended far beyond Vienna’s city limits or the Habsburg frontier. Put another way, “Wittgenstein’s Vienna” was a very cosmopolitan, internationally open and outward-looking one, expansive and inclusive at the same time. Partly this was due to the immense wealth and economic power and connections that the family had accumulated, but partly it was due to the fact that the family lived beyond the local, on the global plane. This is an aspect that should make Wittgenstein’s Vienna most attractive to contemporary Vienna, emphasizing as it does its role as an international (UN/OPEC/OSCE) city, open to the world.
Karl Wittgenstein and the Austrian Steel Industry
One aspect of Wittgenstein’s Vienna that remains insufficiently researched and understood, and yet was a necessary condition of Ludwig’s upbringing, experience and career as well as one of the largest legacies to modern Vienna and Austria, is the material underpinning of it. The source of the family’s immense wealth was the father, Karl Wittgenstein’s, phenomenal success in developing the Austrian steel industry. Had the father not amassed such economic power and created such a strong, advanced industry, the son would not have had the opportunities for studying abroad, or the time for studying and thinking, that contributed to his intellectual achievement, nor would modern Austria have had the sort of steel industry that proved so vital in creating and maintaining Austrian prosperity after 1945. Ludwig might still have proved himself a genius without the material support, and there were other sources for technological advantage in the Austrian steel industry, but I think it fair to say that Karl Wittgenstein’s economic achievement made much more likely his son’s achievement and modern Austria’s chances for economic well-being. Some research has been done on Karl’s career, but much more could be done, and the question of what the entrepreneurial culture, what the economic, technological and financial context was that allowed him to have such a stellar career, remains intriguing, and of central importance to Austrian history, given the economic prominence in Austria of the heir to Wittgenstein’s company, VOEST-Alpine.
Vienna’s First and Second Societies
Another, closely related aspect of Wittgenstein’s Vienna that is still only fuzzily understood is the social setting of the family which was supported by Karl’s economic success, and in which Ludwig grew up. The Wittgenstein family has usually been seen to have been part of Vienna’s “second society”, but how exactly has not been all that clear. Partly this is because it is not quite clear what constituted the “second society”. We have a fairly good idea that it meant the elite of Habsburg society that was excluded from the “first society” (the high nobility). An eyewitness from the turn of the century put this quite succinctly. Talking of Carlsbad as a socializing centre, Lady Paget commented: “Princes, statesmen, and diplomats went there, and many members of great Austrian families, also some of the bankers and rich merchants came from the capital; but these latter formed a completely different society, for then, as now, the line was clearly and firmly drawn, and when Viennese society is spoken of, it must be understood that it means the score or two of noble families, some of which have been mentioned, and that no exception is made to this rule. A second society does exist; it is wealthy and very fashionable, and said to be amusing, and some of the young men belonging to the first society frequent it. It consists of bankers, artists, merchants, architects, engineers, actors, employés, and officers, with their families. The only occasions on which the two societies meet are the great public charity balls; but even then they have hardly any intercourse.” [Lady Paget, “Vanishing Vienna. A Retrospect” in The Living Age, vol. 246 (Boston: 1905), p. 796.]
The Protestant Class
It is less clear what the composition of this second society was, because not all members of those categories listed necessarily belonged to a second society, and the term has come to cover a host of various groups, some of which were connected, some not. The “Ringstrasse society” included a large percentage of the “second society”, but not all. The Protestant industrial class, consisting of families such as Krupp and von Schoeller of which the Wittgensteins were prominent members (despite Karl’s children being Catholic), had its own annex of the second society, as did the academic world, the bureaucratic world, and the theatrical and musical worlds. Quite who did and did not belong here was a question of familiarity and connection, snobbery and exclusivity, style, intelligence and charm—or the lack of it, that made for a very extended, yet sometimes patchy network (perhaps like all social elites).
The Wittgensteins and the Jewish Aspect of the Second Society
The complexity of the question is increased by the Jewish aspect of it. Another vignette of Viennese society, with a similar sense of a divided “first/second society” elite, puts the division somewhat differently. In “Paul Vasili”’s [probably Catherine Radziwill], Die Wiener Gesellschaft [Leipzig, 1885], the same absolute division between the high aristocracy and the banker/merchant elite is there, but it is made an ethno-religious one, namely between the “high aristocracy” and the Jewish “barons of finance”. “Der Finanzadel hat sehr wenig Beziehungen zur wirklichen Aristokratie. (…) Im Allgemeinen…äussern die Wiener Aristokraten die entschiedenste Missachtung vor den Söhnen Israels, die ihre Freiherrnkrone nur kraft ihres Geldes erlangt haben.” [p. 358-359] According to Vasili the finance barons are not themselves very intelligent or creative, but their families are the ones in whose salons artists, writers, and “other interesting people” circulate, much as Lady Paget described.
So one question about the Wittgensteins and the “second society” was how much their Jewish descent was a normal feature of this society. When we talk of Vienna’s “second society” are we, in effect, talking of the social world of the (Jewish) financial elite, perhaps their Protestant industrialist allies, and the various cultural and intellectual figures who gravitated to the financial and social power of this society? It is striking that recent research into the Ringstrasse development has shown that around half of the owners of properties in the “project” were Jewish or of Jewish descent, and that is before we even look at the more specific groups of families, such as the Wertheimsteins, Liebens and Gomperzes, that supported the cultural and intellectual life of the Ringstrasse society.
Understanding the extent to which this Second Society was Jewish, and then tracing the social strategies that the members of this group employed to establish and confirm their social position, by, for instance, marrying members of “respectable” groups in Viennese society, such as government officials, or even perhaps successful scholars, musicians or writers—or marrying within the group of financiers and industrialists (Jewish or not), is a fascinating long-term research project of the Wittgenstein Initiative.
The Wittgensteins and Patronage of Culture – Then and Today
One major way in which the members of the “Second Society” chose to secure and foster their social position was through patronage of, and engagement with, the various intellectual and cultural worlds of Vienna, whether artists, writers, musicians, architects, scientists and professors, or the like.
In many respects the Wittgensteins were exemplary, such as in Karl’s funding of the Secession building, and the very active musical salon that was held in the Palais Wittgenstein for many years and with many prominent composers, performers, and guests. In other respects, though, the Wittgensteins were just being typical of their social peers in the (largely Jewish) financial and industrial elite. Margaret Stonborough’s is one of Klimt’s finest portraits, but is only one of many other (second) society ladies, most of them Jewish. The same could be said for the Wittgensteins’ patronage of the musical world. There has been much work done on the patrons of Vienna 1900, especially when it comes to art, but there is more to do in terms of understanding the reasons for the patronage and the mechanism by which the arts were supported by this group, how significant (or not) the support was compared to that of the state, and yet also the extent of the influence that this group (in league with their favoured artists) exercised over government cultural policy, one example being the founding of the “Modern Gallery” in 1903 in the (Lower) Belvedere. In music, perhaps the classic instance would have been Mahler’s successful campaign to be director of the Court Opera House, and the way it was facilitated by his supporters outside the government, but close to the government officials who purportedly made the decision. There are obvious parallels and contrasts here with how cultural policy and support is decided in modern day Austria.
Ludwig in Vienna 1900
Beyond the question of material and social support for modern culture in Vienna, is the way in which the Wittgensteins, especially Ludwig, interacted with the larger world of Vienna 1900. The Wittgenstein family members took a lively interest in what was going on intellectually and culturally in Vienna, so that their patronage was aimed at cultural groups they wished to encourage, such as the Secession. We know that Ludwig read and was influenced by, among others, a particular subset of intellectuals and artists in Vienna 1900, those around Karl Kraus and his critical and satirical journal, Die Fackel. Ludwig might have been directly linked to figures such as Paul Engelmann (Ludwig’s co-designer of the Wittgenstein Haus), through his interest in the work and thought of Adolf Loos, but indirectly he was also linked in with the whole of Vienna’s cultural and intellectual society, with one coffeehouse Stammtisch, one set of academics (the Vienna Circle) connected by various individuals to others. There were really not that many degrees of separation to much of this, even though there were famous examples where people apparently lived parallel, unconnected, lives, as in the case of Sigmund Freud and Arthur Schnitzler. The networks out of which Vienna 1900 arose, and the more material aspects by which those networks were facilitated, such as coffeehouses, salons, journals and seminars, have been researched, but more could be done.
High and Low Culture
Then there were the links between the modern high culture of Vienna 1900 and the more quotidian world in which most Viennese lived, whether it was the popular secular culture of the various ethnic groups that immigrated into Vienna, or the various religious cultures that they brought with them, or encountered once they got here, chief among them being the Catholic-Habsburg Baroque culture that appears to have still been predominant in the Viennese populace around 1900. One of the more significant of the links between high and “low” culture was that of the quasi-mass popular culture of the commercial theatre, especially Viennese operetta, and then, even before 1914, film. The Wittgenstein family might have thought themselves beyond such mundane interests, but, one way or another, they were also tied to, involved, and subject to, the consequences of how this popular culture developed in the first half of the twentieth century, and especially the mutual interactions between it and the politics of the time.
Here again, it is difficult to understand what was going on within the high cultural world of Vienna 1900 or in mass popular culture and “middlebrow” pursuits such as operetta without recognizing the very large Jewish participation in these areas. We have seen Jews as prominent members of the “Second Society”, but Jews were also very prominent in many, perhaps most, of the intellectual and cultural fields of Vienna 1900’s modern culture. What is perhaps not so well known is that this was also true of Viennese popular and “middlebrow” culture, at least as far as the modern mass popular cultural fields were concerned, including operetta and film. That the Wittgenstein family was largely of Jewish descent but thoroughly assimilated, members of the financial and industrial elite that was such a significant part of the “Second Society”—and provided not only patronage for, but also participants in the modern cultural and intellectual world of Vienna 1900, makes it almost a paradigmatic example of the “Jewish” part to Vienna 1900.
Today’s Vienna Embarrassment with Its Own Past
This legacy was an exceptionally positive one, one that modern-day Vienna should do all it can do to recognize and indeed emulate. It should not be denied, nor should it be usurped or downplayed, even if in many respects it is an awkward legacy, because of the other side, the antisemitic and reactionary side of Viennese and Central European history, that culminated in the Holocaust, and destroyed this positive, largely Jewish side to Vienna 1900. The embarrassment of today’s Vienna about its own past should not be an excuse for denying the good side of that past, nor for not claiming that past as the source of inspiration in the future.
Wittgenstein’s Vienna Anticipating the Future
Ultimately the legacy that Vienna 1900 left, that Wittgenstein’s Vienna bequeathed, was a moral one that anticipated, and even partly inspired, much of the critical modernism that keeps, or attempts to keep, our modern world honest. It stressed the individual’s place in economics and politics, Austromarxism did this even in Marxian theory, and it emphasized how in a modern, civil society, truth had to be spoken to power, in order to get beyond the illusions of absolute value systems, such as integral nationalism or the closed ideology that emanated from the Soviet Union after 1917. Wittgenstein’s Vienna was about recognizing the limits of socio-political absolutes and the falseness of partial totalities such as the nation. And it also anticipated the other, post-modern, side of our world, in its embrace of and respect for difference, and its instinctive emphasis on bringing disparate aspects, disparate groups and different viewpoints together, an emphasis on inclusive logic rather than the exclusive variety. One can see this in the multi-ethnic and even multi-racial character of operetta protagonists, where love relations crossed class, religious, and racial lines in surprising frequency, anticipating the similar, liberal pluralism of the classic American musicals. One can also see this in the logic of Otto Neurath’s embrace of the encyclopaedic method, whereby separate fields with their own languages could nonetheless communicate across the purported linguistic barriers, just as had been the case with the original encyclopaedists of the French Enlightenment. Difference was not a complete barrier to practical understanding. Karl Popper’s idea of a (positive) clash of cultures similarly was a typical product (Popper’s feud with Wittgenstein notwithstanding) of the embrace of pluralism and difference by the world of Wittgenstein’s Vienna.
Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “Two Philosophies”
And here, as a final link to Ludwig Wittgenstein himself, is the irony that both of Ludwig’s philosophies reflected and perpetuated this legacy. Wittgenstein I of the Tractatus set the limits of scientific knowledge and the truths of the intersubjective world of politics and society, at a place where it could not reach the aesthetic and ethical, but primarily ethical, values by which the individual should live. When Wittgenstein radically revised his outlook, in “Wittgenstein II” of the Philosophical Investigations, language became a far more functional phenomenon, with meaning based on usage rather than any language, even scientific language, being a perfect mirror of reality. In its basic moral implications for the place of individuals in politics and society, however, this philosophy maintained its denial of the absolute truth of any political system, any “partial totality”. There was never one, entirely right answer to any question, there were always other possibilities, depending on a panoply of complex circumstances. Hence the lists of possible answers Wittgenstein offered to the questions that he posed about the meaning of apparently simple sentences.
Both of these philosophies end up denying the possibility of straightforward answers to what is higher, and in that sense they are classically liberal pluralist, even when Wittgenstein’s own views, as expressed in his notes, put together in Culture and Value, could appear (aesthetically at least) quite conservative at times. But then one person’s conservative is another person’s liberal pluralist, which is as it should be. That is why, I think, the arguments that I have often witnessed as to whether someone was “Austrian” or “Jewish” is at some level beside the point, because they were both. Wittgenstein’s philosophies, both of them, have many aspects that reflect Austrian approaches (as well as German and Central European ones), but they are also both, in their emphasis on the limits of knowledge and the lesson of the diversity and different, multiple meanings of languages, very much within a Central European Jewish tradition.
And that over-determination is what makes them still such influential and powerful systems of thought. They, and the world that produced them, Wittgenstein’s Vienna, should remain a lodestar and an inspiration to the Vienna of today.
Washington DC, April 2016
Steven Beller is a historian and independent scholar. He is author of: Vienna and the Jews 1876 – 1938, Cambridge University Press (1989), Theodor Herzl, Peter Halban Books, London (1991), Francis Joseph, Addison Wesley Longman (1996), A Concise History of Austria, Cambridge University Press (2006), Antisemitism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press (2007)