Wittgenstein’s Heirs and Editors
First published online: September 2020
Abstract: Ludwig Wittgenstein is one of the most widely read philosophers of the twentieth century. But the books in which his philosophy was published – with the exception of his early work Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus – were posthumously edited from the writings he left to posterity. How did his 20,000 pages of philosophical writing become published volumes? Using extensive archival material, this Element reconstructs and examines the way in which Wittgenstein’s writings were edited over more than fifty years, and shows how the published volumes tell a thrilling story of philosophical inheritance. The discussion ranges over the conflicts between the editors, their deviations from Wittgenstein’s manuscripts, other scholarly issues which arose, and also the shared philosophical tradition of the editors, which animated their desire to be faithful to Wittgenstein and to make his writings both available and accessible. The Element can thus be read as a companion to all of Wittgenstein’s published works of philosophy.