Category Archives: News

Bernard Francis (Brian) McGuinness (1927-2019)

Obituary and a Short Memoir

by Allan Janik

Brian McGuinness (Queen’s College, Oxford University, History of Scientific Thought, Università degli studi di Siena) was for several decades the world’s leading authority on the life and writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the 20th century’s most influential philosopher.

Professor McGuinness’ pre-eminence among Wittgenstein scholars was the result of nearly sixty years of acribic research into every aspect of Wittgenstein’s life and work as well as the social and philosophical context in which he developed his highly distinctive mode of philosophizing. In that period he translated Wittgenstein’s most famous work, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus with David Pears, edited the so-called Prototractatus and a number of publications from the Nachlass of the (then) young Viennese philosopher Friedrich Waismann, Wittgenstein’s most important interlocutor during the gestation of his mature philosophy in the Philosophical Investigations, and an important philosopher in his own right despite undeserved neglect in the philosophical community at large.

In addition Professor McGuinness edited several sets of correspondence that are crucial for understanding Wittgenstein’s philosophical and personal development. These include his correspondence with Paul Engelmann, Bertrand Russell, John Maynard Keynes, G.E. Moore and his other Cambridge acquaintances in particular Frank Ramsey and Piero Sraffa, who exerted a particularly strong influence on Wittgenstein, as well as his extensive correspondence with his family. McGuinness has commented extensively and with great refinement and subtlety upon the most central philosophical themes in Wittgenstein’s oeuvre such as mysticism, solipsism, nonsense and the status of science as well as delicate matters in his personal background such as his (and his family’s) relation to Judaism. His crowning achievements are his (still) unsurpassed account of Wittgenstein’s life up to the publication of the Tractatus in 1922, Young Ludwig, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for the year’s best biography in 1988 and his collected papers, Approaches to Wittgenstein, in 2002. The intention behind the biography was nothing less than to give an account of Wittgenstein’s life as he saw it himself. That is a challenge of the first order and Brian McGuinness rose admirably to meet its demands. The book was, and remains, an absolute delight to read and, having read, to dip into for information about this or that episode in Wittgenstein’s life, pausing to admire the elegance of expression.

Brian McGuinness also deeply enriched international understanding of the philosophical atmosphere in Austria from the late 19th century to World War II that stands in the background to Wittgenstein’s philosophizing, which has frequently been treated superficially or misunderstood outright, in his capacity as general editor of the Boston University Center for the Philosophy and History of Science’s Vienna Circle Collection. He has insured that the two most prominent Viennese philosophers of science in Wittgenstein’s youth – Ernst Mach and Ludwig Boltzmann – have reached the English speaking philosophical community in reliable, well edited scholarly editions. He himself edited volumes in that series dedicated to Josef Schächter, Otto Neurath, Hans Hahn and Karl Menger. He has also edited English editions of philosophical papers and correspondence by Gottlob Frege, the most important influence upon Wittgenstein’s philosophizing.

In short, Brian McGuinness left no stone unturned in supplying the international community of scholars with materials of all sorts that have profoundly deepened our understanding and appreciation of this difficult philosopher and the tasks that he set himself. No one has more fully and profoundly documented Wittgenstein’s Denkbewegung than Brian McGuinness.

In all of this Brian McGuinness had a long-standing relationship to Innsbruck and an increasingly close relationship with its university. He first made the acquaintance of Walter Methlagl, the founder of the Brenner Archives, in Vienna in the mid-sixties when he was doing his early research at the National Library where Methlagl was learning the archivist’s métier. The meeting led to a visit to Innsbruck to interview Ludwig von Ficker. I myself made the acquaintance of Brian McGuinness in Vienna in 1969 when I was doing research on my doctoral dissertation. Contact with the Brenner Archives continued regularly up to 1997 when Professor McGuinness became an active partner with the Brenner Archives in matters of historical and biographical background to Wittgenstein’s thought. He contributed copies of numerous rare documents in his possession and his own unparalleled knowledge about Wittgenstein correspondents to a number of editorial projects culminating in the Institute’s electronic publication of Wittgenstein’s complete correspondence in 2004 of which he was editor. In 2016 the Brenner Archives acquired the McGuinness Nachlass, which is arguably the most extensive, best organized collection of materials relating to Wittgenstein in private hands anywhere. These materials will provide a cornerstone for further state-of-the-art historical research into the genesis and reception of Wittgenstein’s philosophy. We have much to remember Prof. McGuinness today and our reasons for remembering him will not diminish in the future.

His eloquence and mastery of languages (perfect French and Italian as well as German as well as in classical Latin, Greek and Arabic and high degree of competence in a number of other modern languages) have made him a welcome guest at universities and seminars throughout Europe and the United States. Moreover, his willingness to assist and to co-operate other scholars have also contributed to the deep impact that his work has internationally during more than half a century.

My next meeting with Brian McGuinness was at the 2nd International Wittgenstein symposium in Kirchberg am Wechsel in Lower Austria in 1977, adjacent to the villages where Wittgenstein was active as a primary school teacher in the early and mid-twenties. This was the first large-scale meeting devoted exclusively to Wittgenstein with world-wide participation. I remember Brian McGuinness posing a question about the appropriate greeting in Italian upon meeting a man working in a field. I remembered it because it struck me as so unusual. I subsequently came to realize that awareness of the mot juste on a given occasion was central to his way of looking at the world. I came to realize also that as he corrected my English over the years (something that miffed me a bit in the early days), it was more matter of deep concern, and deeply genuine, concern for linguistic nicety than it was a mere assertion of superiority and something I came to appreciate as a sign of friendship. One of the first things I was told about Brian McGuinness by an old Oxonian was that he was one of a kind, “the sort of tutor, who might take off his shoes and cut his toenails during the tutorial.” My esteemed colleague was something of a character, an Origineller, as we say in German. But he can be complemented also with other stories, if we want an accurate picture of this extraordinary scholar. For example, a former student of his who told me that Brian McGuinness’s tutorial on Wittgenstein’s Notebooks 1914-1916 was the most extraordinary intellectual experience in the course of his Oxford education. Brian McGuinness was not the sort of person that you easily forget.

We also met on a number of occasions as the wave of interest in Vienna 1900 swelled into Austria’s capital itself and interest in Wittgenstein’s philosophy mounted in the mid 1980s and 1990s.

From 1977 up to 1982, we would encounter one another in Boston at the Boston University Center for the Philosophy and History of Science. Brian McGuinness was a respected editor of the Vienna Circle Collection, which made important texts from that group available in reliable translations to the English-speaking public; whereas I was but a lowly research associate of that very exciting institution. By this time, it was clear that Wittgenstein and matters Austrian would bring us together regularly.

Other encounters between us over the years have taken place in Paris, where we both were frequently invited by Antonia Soulez and other French Wittgenstein scholars as well as researchers into Vienna 1900, who arranged meeting in collaboration with Dr. Rudolf Altmüller, the legendary director of the Austrian Cultural Institute there. In the course of one such Parisian encounter in the spring of 1979 we arranged to continue our private discussion of Wittgenstein in Oxford that summer. In the event that meeting turned out to be absolutely unforgettable. I arrived in Oxford in the later morning and proceeded to Queen’s College, where Professor McGuinness invited me for lunch. Being outside of term time, the meal was served in a small refectory where there were only a few people and a modest meal was served. Brian McGuinness began by apologizing profusely for the mediocre quality of the food before springing into a discussion of some topic or other with his colleagues a good part of which took place in classical Greek. That made to me completely clear, if I had to be reminded, that I was no longer in Kansas, as Dorothy says in The Wizard of Oz. Then our conversation turned to the Boston University Center for the Philosophy and History of Science and its two directors, Robert Cohen and Marx Wartofsky. “Imagine being named after Karl Marx,” Professor McGuinness remarked loudly and with certain incredulity. “If he had been born five years later, they would have called him Stalin!” he exclaimed. Upon my relating the anecdote to him a couple of months later, Marx, who counted among the most respected and admired philosophers in America those days, simply shrugged his shoulders and sighed, “absolutely right!” Towards the end of the meal, after many more apologies for the quality of the food, McGuinness said, “Well at least we have an excellent desert,” as he showed me a large bowl of berries. “These strawberries are the best strawberries that you can get in these parts. They were picked just this morning very close to here. They are really superior strawberries and continued to praise the fruit. Do have some of these wonderful strawberries…actually they are raspberries!” So I experienced a little touch of Monty Python in the early afternoon air at Queen’s College that day!

Cordial as our relationship was in those early days, it was only with our encounter at the new quarters of the Brenner Archives in the context of a small symposium on Wittgenstein’s friend, the architect Paul Engelmann in 1997, when Brian McGuinness got to see our digitalized version of Wittgenstein’s correspondence, which was then a work-in-progress, that it became clear that close collaboration between us would provide many mutual advantages. So we entered into a sort of partnership, which entailed increasingly close contacts. Those meetings transformed collegial co-operation into a friendship that I have grown to cherish deeply over time. As we got to work more closely I began to learn how to learn from this extraordinary scholar, something that had a deep effect upon my scholarship.

For example, in commenting upon the huge literature that had developed searching for key figures in Wittgenstein’s background, who might help to explain the idiosyncratic character of his thought, the “Wittgenstein and…” literature, if you will, he once simply remarked that most of it was beside the point simply because Wittgenstein himself made clear who the figures were who had the played the most important role in forming his mind. The problem was that readers did not take his verba ipsissima seriously enough. That meant taking seriously not simply the bare facts of what he’d said but the precise nature of his mode of expression. These hints opened my eyes to a number of things that were of crucial importance to my basic project of chronicling the development of Wittgenstein’s concept of philosophy, which I’d been working on for over thirty years at that point.

Having learned how to learn from McGuinness made the subsequent contacts between us increasingly profitable and pleasurable occasions that I always looked forward to with delight. In recent years as we both have battled with various sicknesses and old-age in general we have had only sparse contacts with one another, which has certainly been a source of great regret to me. Like the members of the Wittgenstein family that were closest to him, I am deeply saddened to be deprived to his wit and wisdom. The international scholarly community too has suffered an irreplaceable loss with his passing.


Panel discussion and Workshop in English
10 December 2019, 14:00 – 17:00
Diplomatic Academy Vienna, Kreisky Saal
Favoritenstraße 15a, 1040 Wien /

Please register below. Admission: voluntary contributions

New ways to an adequate contemporary understanding, presentation and dissemination of Wittgenstein’s philosophy, thinking and personality. Based on new digitalization and structuring of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Nachlass and related sources

“The Wittgenstein Corpus – the overall significance”

Prof. Arthur Gibson (University of Cambridge, Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics)
Prof. Alois Pichler (Wittgenstein Archives, University of Bergen)
Dr. Jonathan Smith (Trinity College, Wren Library, University of Cambridge)
Prof. Nuno Venturinha (Department of Philosophy, IFILNOVA Lisbon)
Chair: Dr. Alfred Schmidt (Austrian National Library)

The Wittgenstein Nachlass, as it is commonly conceived, is a group of items put together and numbered in the 1960s by Georg Henrik von Wright, one of Wittgenstein’s literary heirs. Von Wright’s catalogue The Wittgenstein Papers bears the mark of certain historical and geographical limitations. Since von Wright’s death in 2003 a lot of highly important and relevant new material has come to light which is not included among the Wittgenstein Papers as catalogued by von Wright (e.g. the Francis Skinner and the Yorrick Smythies papers). A new perspective has developed, about how we can truly understand Wittgenstein and his thinking process through simultaneous analysis of his various activities.

Today we know that an adequate understanding of Wittgenstein’s philosophy, mental process and personality can only be achieved when studying the Nachlass both from its philosophical and its biographical side. This is done in combination with the lectures’ notes taken by his students (Wittgenstein considered his lectures equal to his philosophical publications), with his correspondence, his Cambridge pocket diaries (currently in possession of Michael Nedo), marginalia in books read, as well as with the “Nonsense Collection”.

Thus, we indeed need what Wittgenstein himself claimed for his Philosophical Investigations (1953): “A criss-cross approach”. As a consequence, a truly modern approach to Wittgenstein will permit us to break up the historical and geographical limitations which even currently ongoing Nachlass research still seems to be confined by. We will be able to see his life and work synoptically: all the records which we have for a year / a month / a week / a day in Wittgenstein’s life. So we can achieve what Wittgenstein himself would have called Übersicht: Which book was he reading today? What newspaper fragment did he read or reflect upon? Who was he meeting? Whom did he write to? From whom did he get a letter? What was he writing? What was he lecturing? Where was he on this specific day? etc.

The TRACTATUS ODYSSEY exhibition in Warsaw & a visit to the historical original places in Kraków and Tarnów

4 – 7 November 2019

Under the auspices of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Warsaw and the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, the exhibition The Tractatus Odyssey travels to its first station abroad.

4 November 2019, 18:00
Exhibition opening at the Warsaw University Library

4-5 November 2019
Conference Ludwig Wittgenstein and his Tractatus: Text, Biographical Setting, and Contemporary Perspectives
Austrian Cultural Forum, Próżna Street 7/9, Warsaw

6-7 November 2019
Visit to Kraków and Tarnów
Session on Wittgenstein and Religion during World War 1
Jagiellonian University

Ambassador Dr. Emil Brix, Dr. Jacek Purchla, Prof. Ray Monk, Prof. Alois Pichler, Prof. Volker Munz, Dr.Martin Pilch, Dr. Krzysztof Meissner, Dr. Marcin Poręba, Dr. Jozef Bremer, Dr. Urszula Idziak-Smoczyńska, Prof. Adam Lipszyc

Wittgenstein's wartime diary 1914-1915, in a notebook he bought in Kraków copyright Copyright The Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge; The University of Bergen

Georg Trakl, around 1912   Tolstoy's Gospel in Brief, 1st German edition 1894

In August 1914 Wittgenstein was assigned to one of the Vistula ships, the Goplana, in Kraków “for the operation of a spotlight”. On 28 October 1914 he  received a letter from the poet Georg Trakl – the connection was established through Wittgenstein‘s donation to poor artists in July 1914. Trakl was in the garrison hospital in Kraków and asked Wittgenstein to visit him. But when he reached Kraków on 5.11., he noted:

“In the morning in the city to the garrison hospital. There I learned that Trakl died a few days ago! This hit me very hard. How sad, how sad!!! I wrote immediately to Ficker about it. Made errands & then returned to the ship about 6 o‘clock. Didn’t do any work. Poor Trakl! ––– ! Thy will be done. ––––.”

“I always carry Tolstoy‘s “Gospel in Brief” around with me like a talisman.”
Wartime Diaries, 11 October 1914

Wittgenstein must have reached the town of Tarnów while the ship was being loaded or unloaded. In any case, he acquired the only German-language book available there in a bookshop: Tolstoy‘s “Gospel in Brief”. It had a great influence on Wittgenstein‘s moral self-image during the war and until the end of his life.


The Quiet Seriousness of the Sognefjord

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s house 30 steep meters aboven Lake Eidsvatnet Lake in Skjolden in Sogn is finally rebuilt after 60 years

Knut Olav Åmås
Columnist, director of the Fritt Ord Foundation

June 19, 2019

Exactly 200 years ago, Norway was truly discovered by the artists who traveled to Sogn. A hundred years later, the same landscape was rediscovered by the 20th century’s foremost philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein.

These were two essentially different discoveries – carried out by the Norwegian forerunners of national romance and a philosopher in exile from the intellectual metropolises of Vienna and Cambridge.

The pictures of Norway

One of the greatest exhibitions of national romantic art opened in June 2019 in the splendor of the Munthe House in Ytre Kroken in Luster. Three miles farther, inwards the Sognefjord’s inner arm Lustrafjord, Wittgenstein’s small log house was reopened after being dismantled for 60 years. Two different houses in the same strong landscape.

What happened in Sogn 200 years ago was the start of a new phase in Norwegian identity history. What happened at the same place a hundred years ago was a new direction for philosophy – not just one historic philosophical turn, but two.

The artists Johannes Flintoe and William Maximilian Carpelan left the mountain from Christiania separately in the summer of 1819. They exhibited their pictures the following year at Tegneskolen and aroused attention: this art, these images of Norwegian nature and people came to play a key role in art history and culminated in the national romanticism flowering around 1850.

View of Johannes Flintoe’s painting Skjolden with Eidsvatnet, against Fortundalen in Sogn, 1834. Owner: Norsk Kultursenter, Pål Sagen.
The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s house is today on the mountainside to the left.

The mountains, the fjords, the people

The military and artistic family Munthe created contacts between the parish and the artists in Christiania in the years after 1814, and both Norwegian and foreign painters continued to travel there in the decades beyond the 1800s.The Munthe house became thus an intense and rich artist environment, located where they found their main motives: the mountains, the waterfalls, the fjords, the folk culture and the people’s life.

Among the works of art EXHIBITED in the Munthe house from 1763 are also Tidemand, Gude, JC Dahl – and Carl Johan Fahlcrantz’s lithographs for Esais Tegnérs Frithiofs saga from 1825, based on the Icelanders’ story about Fridtjov the maiden, who grew up in Sogn.

And there is another cultural-historical connection between the two markings in Luster: in the wake of many Germans’ and Austrians’ “Drang nach Norden” and Emperor Wilhelm II’s annual travel to Sogn for 25 years, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein also sailed into the Sognefjord in the fall of 1913 and saw the Emperor’s gift to the Norwegian people at Vangsnes, the 22 meter high Fridtjov statue.

Philosopher in exile

The 24-year-old Wittgenstein was a philosopher in exile, on a voluntary “escape” both from one of Austria-Hungary’s greatest family fortunes, which he wanted to be independent from, as well as from England’s sharpest philosophers at Cambridge – a place which the genius apparently found distracting.

Wittgenstein exiled himself several times in his life – went to Wales, Ireland and Norway. In Skjolden in Sogn, he spent altogether two years between 1913 and 1950. The foundation of his early thinking was laid there (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus) and important parts of the late philosophy were written (Philosophical Investigations).

Wittgenstein’s travels astonished many in Vienna and Cambridge, not least his teacher and friend Bertrand Russell: “I said it would be dark, and he said he hated daylight. I said it would be lonely, and he said he prostituted his mind talking to intelligent people. I said he was mad, and he said God preserve him from sanity. (God certainly will.)”

Wittgenstein’s house can be seen in the mountainside on the left. © Jon Bolstad

Calm and concentration

But Wittgenstein traveled back, again and again, and achieved his most productive periods in Skjolden: “I can’t imagine that I could have worked anywhere as I do here. It’s the quiet and, perhaps, the wonderful landscapes; I mean, its quiet seriousness.”

For 60 years, there was only the empty foundation of Wittgenstein’s house on a steep mountain side, called “Austria” (Østerrike) by the locals. In 1919 Wittgenstein gave the house as a gift to a friend in Skjolden, but continued to live there himself when visiting Norway.

Fortunately, after the demolition, care was taken of all the timber, roof tiles and windows, and now the solid, small house has finally been restored and opened. Perhaps it can be a place of work for thinkers and artists for part of the year.

1819 and 1919. Two houses. Two centuries. Quite different people created the basis for national romance and for new philosophy. But they saw the same landscape: the quiet seriousness of the Sognefjord.

Knut Olav Åmås is Executive Director of the Fritt Ord Foundation. He is also a columnist in Aftenposten. Dr. Åmås is member of the Board of Directors of the Wittgenstein Initiative.

This article was first published in Aftenposten on 20 June 2019.
Translation by Knut Olav Åmås and Radmila Schweitzer

Wittgenstein’s Dictionary for Elementary Schools

“Only a dictionary makes it possible to hold the student completely responsible”

by Désirée Weber

From the fall of 1920 until spring 1926, Ludwig Wittgenstein was as an elementary school teacher in the small, isolated villages of Trattenbach, Puchberg am Schneeberg, and Otterthal in Lower Austria. He was responsible for teaching his students in grades 4 through 6 all subjects, ranging from writing to mathematics, from science to music. He had renounced his significant inheritance a few years earlier and so Wittgenstein lived an ascetic life – an “entirely rural affair” as he described it.

The (renamed) Wittgenstein Schule in Trattenbach, Lower Austria. © Désirée Weber
The school in Otterthal in which Wittgenstein taught from 1925-1926, © Désirée Weber

During this time, he produced the second of only two works that were published in his lifetime. Throughout 1925, he worked on producing a small dictionary of German words for his students, which would turn out to be the Wörterbuch für Volksschulen [Dictionary for Elementary Schools]. This volume of 42 pages and nearly 6,000 word entries was meant to fill a pedagogic need for his students, but the Preface that Wittgenstein wrote also indicates his keen interest in how his students were learning the use of words and their spelling. In the spring of 1926, after a particularly harrowing corporal punishment incident in which Wittgenstein struck a student which led the student to collapse, he abruptly abandoned his teaching career and moved back to Vienna.

The Wörterbuch remains not just as an artifact of Wittgenstein’s time teaching, but an artifact that gives insight into his thinking about language during the years that he had all but given up doing philosophy as he had done it at Cambridge. His goal was to give his students a resource of word usage that they would be familiar with and which would put the responsibility for their use on their shoulders: “Only a dictionary makes it possible to hold the student completely responsible … because it furnishes him with reliable measures for finding and correcting his mistakes…. It is, however, absolutely necessary that the student corrects his compositions on his own. He should feel that he is the only author of his work and he alone should be responsible for it” (Preface, p. 15). Wittgenstein’s Wörterbuch thus served a clear purpose in his teaching method, but also points to his careful contemplation of how one becomes a member of a language-using community and the responsibility that this carries.

Wittgenstein also stressed the importance of his decision to include words used in Austria and in the local dialect over and above foreign words. Many words that relate to the alpine terrain, common occupations in the region at that time and colloquial descriptions of people (even including insults) appear in the book. One such example is “Sennerin” (alpine shepherdess) which not only refers to a common, geographically-specific occupation, but is also a word used specifically in Austria that is much less often in other German-speaking regions (where “Almenhirtin” would be used). There are several other examples where he included the Austrian word instead of the word more commonly used in High German: these include “Ribisel” (red currant) instead of “Johannisbeere” “Paradeisapfel” (tomato) instead of “Tomate” and “bähen” (baking or toasting) instead of “backen”. Sometimes Wittgenstein also included the regional or dialect variation in addition to the proper German. One example here is the entry for the word squirrel which reads: “das Eichhörnchen, Eichkätzchen.”After the widely used proper German word, this entry includes the regional variation “Eichkätzchen” (which translates to oak kitten).

The landscape in lower Austria in which Wittgenstein taught, © Désirée Weber

Some words are evidence of Wittgenstein’s attention and sensitivity to the regional context of a word’s usage in another way: a few words refer to specific social practices that were common in rural Austria (but few other places) during his time there. One of those entries is “Schnaderhüpfel”: an improvised spoken word performance that consists of at least two singers or speakers who take turns addressing 4-line stanzas to each other. The content is often celebratory, comical, or insulting. Well-known musical refrains accompany the speakers and they are performed at gatherings or celebrations; they have been analogized to the Alpine version of modern rap battles – and are today making a return in Austria. In entries like these, Wittgenstein captured not only the specificity of the rural Austrian dialect that his students were familiar with, but also words that pertained to cultural practices that were part of their community and with which they would have been well-acquainted.

Evidence for Wittgenstein’s care in constructing the Wörterbuch can also be found in a series of proof pages which contain copy-editing notes and other hints about the publication process. These little-known documents reveal not just the choices that were made about word entries, but also the Wörterbuch manuscript’s connection to the K.u.K. Hof & Universitätsdruckerei and how it made its way through the editorial offices of Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky under the editorial direction of Adolf Holzhausen. One further manuscript – a student-made word book from 1923/1924 – indicates that Wittgenstein setting out to produce a dictionary came at the heels of him leading his students in a similar exercise in class.

First page of a corrected proof page of the Wörterbuch. © Martin J. Gross Family Foundation, produced here by their kind permission.

The Wörterbuch and the virtually unknown manuscripts related to it will shortly be made available on the Wittgenstein Source online archive. Additionally, the Wörterbuch will be published by Badlands Unlimited  in June 2020 and will for the first time include an English translation.


Désirée Weber is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the College of Wooster. She researches and writes about political theory and the impact of language on politics with a special focus on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s later works. She is working on a forthcoming book about the role of teaching and learning in Wittgenstein’s biography and later work – and the implications for understanding our capacity to make meaning and judgments about meaning. She has also extensively researched Wittgenstein’s Wörterbuch für Volksschulen and related manuscripts and documents.


Dienstag, 20. November 2018, 19:00 Uhr
Grillparzerhaus (Staatsarchiv), Johannesgasse 6, 1010 Wien

Um Anmeldung unten wird gebeten.
Eintritt: freiwilliger Unkostenbeitrag.

Dr. Joachim Schulte (Zürich)
Prof. Dr. Allan Janik (Innsbruck)
Moderation: Radmila Schweitzer (Wittgenstein Initiative)

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 neue 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.

Für unsere Mitglieder und Förderer bieten wir das Buchzum ermäßigten Preis mit 20% Rabatt:
Wittgenstein. Eine Familie in Briefen: € 23,92 (zuzgl. Versand)

Am 29. November 2018 erscheint die englischsprachige Edition der Familienbriefe

Wittgenstein’s Family Letters Corresponding with Ludwig

Editor: Brian McGuinness; Translator: Peter Winslow
ISBN 9781474298131
256 pages, hardcover




Donnerstag, 15. November 2018, 19:00 Uhr
Grillparzerhaus (Staatsarchiv), Johannesgasse 6, 1010 Wien

Podiumsdiskussion in englischer Sprache

Um Anmeldung unten wird gebeten.
Eintritt: freiwilliger Unkostenbeitrag.

Prof. Ray Monk (Southampton)
Dr. Steven Beller (Washington DC)
Dr. Eran Guter (Max Stern Yezreel Valley College)
Prof. Dr. Carla Carmona Escalera (Universidad de Sevilla)
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Allan Janik (Innsbruck)

Following Bertrand Russell’s lead, the Vienna Circle pronounced Wittgenstein, along with Albert Einstein and Russell himself, to the paradigmatic representatives of their “scientific conception of the world,” i.e. modern scientific rationality par excellence. Wittgenstein’s emphatic objection at being included in this group fuelled the fires of those contemporaries who were inclined to perceive him as a kind of idiot savant, a prodigy with profound insights that he could not really articulate, the Douannier Rousseau of philosophy as it were. Nevertheless, for some forty-odd years the picture of him as the epitome of modernity in philosophy was scarcely question among analytical philosophers. More than a decade after his death, as it became abundantly clear on the basis of his biography that the idiosyncratic character of his thinking was linked to his dramatic life, the first questions about the appropriateness of including him in the modernist Pantheon began to be called into question. With the growth of the so-called Post-Modernism, a passionate but superficial response to the end of Communism and the Socialist Dream, which sought assiduously to demonstrate that more or less everything in the bourgeois world was in reality in fact exactly the opposite of how it was normally represented, a picture of Wittgenstein as a virulently post-modernist irrationalist came into being. So we are left with a plethora of views about Wittgenstein’s relationship to modernity that tend to confuse our thinking about him right down to this day.

Our distinguished panel, consisting of Ray Monk, author of comprehensive biographies of both Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, Steven Beller, whose chef d’oeuvre, Vienna and the Jews spotlights Wittgenstein as an extraordinary representative of Jewish Enlightenment as it vivified Viennese culture, Eran Guter, who has devoted his energies to working out the many and varied profound points of comparison with Arnold Schoenberg and, last but not least, Carla Carmona Escalera, who has convincingly described how Wittgenstein’s notion of silent showing facilitates elucidating Egon Schiele’s moral dimension of challenging pictures will explore the puzzles and conundrums surrounding the ways that Wittgenstein’s attitudes and intentions as well as his explicit arguments and positions exemplify and illuminate the complexity of the Modern.


Was ist modern an der Wiener Moderne?

Mittwoch, 14. November 2018, 19:00 Uhr
Grillparzerhaus (Staatsarchiv), Johannesgasse 6, 1010 Wien


Um Anmeldung unten wird gebeten.
Eintritt: freiwilliger Unkostenbeitrag.

Christian Witt-DörringPatrick WerknerAnselm Wagner und Sebastian Smallshaw stellen sich unter der Moderation von Gregor Schmoll der Frage, wie weit es legitim ist, den Begriff “Moderne” auf die Wiener Kunstproduktion zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts anzuwenden. Hatte die “Wiener Moderne” tatsächlich einen proklamatorischen Anspruch auf Erneuerung oder verhalf sie nicht vielmehr den tradierten gesellschaftlichen Machtverhältnissen zu einem neuen “Anstrich”? Wie weit lebt der Begriff der “Moderne” von seiner Mythologisierung und welche Folgen bzw. welche Parallelen lassen sich in der Situation der Kunstproduktion heute ableiten?


16. Oktober – 30. November 2018
Grillparzerhaus, Johannesgasse 6, 1010 Wien

100 Jahre Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

In Kooperation mit
Trinity College Cambridge
Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Universität Bergen
Forschungsinstitut Brenner Archiv
University of Iowa
Österreichisches Staatsarchiv
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Wittgenstein Stiftung Skjolden
Bundesgymnasium und Bundesrealgymnasium Wien 3

Im August 1918, während seines letzten Fronturlaubs, diktierte Ludwig Wittgenstein die endgültige Fassung seiner Logisch-Philosophischen Abhandlung, ein Werk, das später unter dem Titel Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus Weltruhm erlangte. Wittgenstein arbeitete an diesem epochalen Werk seit seinem selbst auferlegten Exil in Norwegen 1913 während seiner gesamte Zeit als Soldat im Ersten Weltkrieg.

„Alles das, was viele heute schwefeln, habe ich in meinem Buch festgelegt, indem ich darüber schweige.“


Die Begleitpublikation zur Ausstellung: 

Brian McGuinness
Marjorie Perloff
Allan Janik
Ray Monk
Knut Olav Åmås

Urzula Idziak-Smoczyn’ska
Alfred Schmidt
Alois Pichler
David Stern
Martin Pilch

Max Hadersbeck
Schüler des Kundmanngasse-Bundesgymnasiums

Preis: € 39,90 zzgl. Versand weltweit
20% Rabatt für Studierende und für Mitglieder der Wittgenstein Initiative

Der Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus zählt zu den bahnbrechenden Werken der Philosophiegeschichte und ist in seine Einzigartigkeit noch heute eine Herausforderung für uns. Wittgensteins Intention war zugleich eine streng philosophische und literarische. Wie in der Dichtung, lässt sich das, was der Philosoph eigentlich sagen will, nicht sagen – es muss gezeigt werden.

Die von Wittgenstein entwickelte komplexe Theorie der Sprache hatte einen enormen Einfluss nicht nur auf die Philosophie, sondern auch auf Literatur, Musik, Film, Malerei, Architektur, Anthropologie und Ökonomie.

„Wie kann ich Logiker sein, wenn ich noch nicht Mensch bin! Vor allem muß ich mit mir selbst in‘s Reine kommen!“

Ludwig Wittgensteins persönliche und philosophische Reise von 1912-1924 wird durch Multimedia, Fotos und Briefe beleuchtet, vor der Kulisse einer der dramatischsten Epochen der europäischen Geschichte.

Wittgenstein Source: exklusive Präsentation des Wittgenstein Nachlasses in Faksimile. Ein Open Access Projekt der Universität Bergen.
OdysseeReader: eine speziell entwickelte Suchmaschine zum Wittgenstein Nachlass. Ein Open Access Projekt der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität-München.
Tractatus Map: Karten in U-Bahn Stil des Hypertext-Nummerierungssystems, das Wittgenstein im Tractatus verwendet. Ein Online Tool der University of Iowa.

HE Kjersti E. Andersen, Botschafter des Königreichs Norwegen
HE Bente Angell-Hansen, Präsident von EFTA
Allan Janik, Universität Innsbruck
Monica Nagler-Wittgenstein, PEN Club Sweden
Eva Nowotny, Botschafterin i.R., Vorsitzende des Universitätsrats der Universität Wien
Marjorie Perloff, Stanford University, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Friedrich Stadler, Institut Wiener Kreis, Österreichische Ludwig Wittgenstein Gesellschaft
HE Peter Stoyanov, ehemaliger Präsident der Republik Bulgarien
Christian Witt-Dörring, Neue Galerie New York

Rune Falch, Wittgenstein Stiftung Skjolden
Urzula Idziak, Jagiellonien-Universität Krakau
Christoph Limbeck-Lilienau, Universität Wien
Ray Monk, Universität Southampton
Alois Pichler, Universität Bergen
Martin Pilch, Bundesministerium für Digitalisierung und Wirtschaftsstandort
Alfred Schmidt, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
Jonathan Smith, Trinity College Cambridge
David Stern, University of Iowa
Ulrike Tanzer, Forschungsinstitut Brenner Archiv

SPECIAL CONSULTANCY: Valentina Kraleva-Vassileva


Images from Wittgenstein’s Nachlass are reproduced here by permission of The Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, Oxford, and the University of Bergen, Bergen. The sale, further reproduction or use of this image for commercial purposes without prior permission from the copyright holder is prohibited. © 2018 The Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge; The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford; The University of Bergen, Bergen; Wittgenstein Initiative, Vienna.



Call for Papers – Wittgenstein: Beyond the Inner–Outer Picture, Seville 12-14 December 2018

In spite of Wittgenstein’s well known critique of its application to the problems of other minds and self-knowledge, the philosophical picture of the relation between the inner and the outer continues to exercise philosophers from the analytic and non-analytic European traditions.The conference Wittgenstein: Beyond the Inner–Outer Picture, to be held at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Seville, on 12-14 December 2018, will bring together prestigious academics and early career researchers working on the impact of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy of psychology on areas including epistemology, aesthetics, ethics and cultural studies. The conference aims to find ways of overcoming the picture of the inner and the outer in contemporary philosophical debates, such as those on intercultural understanding, the meaning of a work of art, the legitimacy of testimony as a source of knowledge, and feminism.

Invited speakers:
Josep Corbí (Universitat de València)
Alfonso García Suárez (Universidad de Oviedo)
Modesto Gómez Alonso (University of Edinburgh)
Michel ter Hark (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

António Marques (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
Elise Marrou (Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV)
Sofia Miguens (Universidade do Porto)
David Pérez Chico (Universidad de Zaragoza)
Manuel de Pinedo (Universidad de Granada)
Neftalí Villanueva (Universidad de Granada)

Organizing committee: Carla Carmona (University of Seville), Jesús Navarro (University of Seville), Chon Tejedor (University of Valencia).

Scientific committee: Ángeles Jiménez Perona (Complutense University of Madrid), Óscar González Castán (Complutense University of Madrid), Nicolás Sánchez Durá (University of Valencia), Manuel Heras (University of the Basque Country).

Financed by:
VI Plan Propio de Investigación y Transferencia de la Universidad de Sevilla; Department of Metaphysics, Contemporary Philosophy, Ethics and Political Philosophy of the University of Seville; the researchs projects “Self-Knowledge, Moral Responsibility, and Authenticity” (FFI2016-75323-P)and “The Constitution of the Subject in Social Interaction” (FFI2015-67569-C2-1-P) funded by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. In cooperation with the Wittgenstein Initiative.


Please send your final text (max 4000 words) or a comprehensive summary (2000 words) plus a 100-word abstract by 15 September 2018 to: Papers will be accepted in English, Spanish or Portuguese. If you submit in Spanish or Portuguese, please include a 300-word abstract in English. All submissions to be formatted for blind review, including contact details on a separate page. Communication of acceptance: October 1st, 2018.

Ludwig Wittgenstein und Friedrich A. von Hayek: das halb vergessene intellektuelle Leben der Zwischenkriegszeit

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.

Ludwig Wittgensteins Briefe an seine Geschwister


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.

Datenschutzerklärung / Privacy Policy Update

Um der EU-Datenschutz-Grundverordnung zu entsprechen, benötigen wir Ihre ausdrückliche Zustimmung, unsere Newsletter weiterhin an Sie zu senden. Sie erhalten unsere E-Mails entweder weil Sie sie abonniert haben, Mitglied der Wittgenstein Initiative sind, Interesse an ihre Aktivitäten und/oder Interesse und Teilnahme an das intellektuelle Kulturleben Wiens gezeigt haben. Als kleiner, unabhängiger Verein sind Abonnenten unserer E-Mail-Liste wichtig für uns. Ihre Unterstützung stellt sicher, dass wir Ihnen weiterhin Neuigkeiten über Events, Veröffentlichungen und andere interessanten Ereignisse betreffend Ludwig Wittgenstein, sein Erbe und der Wiener Moderne vermitteln können. Danke, dass Sie Teil unserer Gemeinschaft sind.

In order to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, we will need your explicit consent to continue sending our newsletters to you. You are receiving our emails because you are member of the Wittgenstein Initiative, have shown interest in its activities and/or have shown interest and participation in Viennese intellectual cultural life.
As a small, independent publisher, subscriptions to our email list are important to us. Your support ensures that we can continue bringing you news about Ludwig Wittgenstein, his legacy, and Viennese Modernism related events, publications, and other items of interest. Thank you for being part of our community.

Who we are

In this policy ‘we’ or ‘our’ refers to the Association Wittgenstein Initiative. If you would like to contact us, please email us:

Data Protection

The Wittgenstein Initiative is committed to protecting your personal information within the guidelines set out by law. The principles of how we protect and manage your data are set out below. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss Wittgenstein Initiative’s approach, please contact us via email:


When you use this website, we may collect personal information about you when you:

– email us, for example to request information
– sign up to our e-newsletter
– book tickets for events

We will only use this information for the purpose for which it has been gathered, for example to send you our regular newsletter or to deliver your event booking confirmation.

Any information you provide is held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Specifically, personal information is never shared with any third-party organisation. We take appropriate measures to safeguard databases against unauthorised access and the personal details you submit to us will only be used for the specified purposes indicated to.

Our website may contain links to other websites which are outside our control and are not covered by this privacy notice. If you access other sites using the links provided, the operators of these sites may collect information from you which will be used by them in accordance with their privacy policy, which may differ from ours.

Specific consent

Consent is where you have given us permission to use your information in a certain way, for example when you sign up to receive our newsletter and other information about our activities via email, post or telephone.  Where we use your information for a purpose based on consent, you have the right to withdraw consent for any future use of your information for this purpose at any time.

How do we keep your information safe?

We take all appropriate technical and organisational controls to keep your data safe, including encrypting our online forms and holding information on a protected network.

UNESCO Certificate and Nomination Form

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).

World significance
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.

Comparative criteria
1 Time
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.
2 Place
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.

Contextual information
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.

UNESCO Memory of the World Register: Nachlass Ludwig Wittgenstein

Philosophical Nachlass of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Documentary heritage submitted by Austria, Canada, Netherlands and the United Kingdom and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2017.

© Mr G.M.H. van de Velde and Mrs E.B.B. van der Wolk–van de Velde ,Bertrand Russell Archives, McMaster University Library, Bodleian Library University of Oxford, Austrian National Library,Trinity College Library, Cambridge. Philosophical Nachlass of Ludwig Wittgenstein

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.


Ludwig Wittgenstein: Von der Fliege im Fliegenglas

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.” Wittgenstein… 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 seltsame Reise des Wittgenstein-Häuschens

“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.”

Wittgenstein… Foto: KURIER/Werner Rosenberger Harald 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.