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1. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
2. Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty
3. Philosophical Investigations
4. Wittgenstein's Lectures on the
5. Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Man and
6. Logic and Sin in the Writings
7. Wittgenstein: A Very Short Introduction
8. Philosophical Investigations (3rd
9. On Certainty
10. Notebooks, 1914-1916
11. Wittgenstein's Vienna Revisited
12. Wittgenstein's Lectures, Cambridge,
13. Letters from Ludwig Wittgenstein
14. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
15. Major Works: Selected Philosophical
16. Culture and Value
17. Wittgenstein's Lectures: Cambridge,
18. Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir
19. Remarks on Colour: 30th Anniversary
20. Taking Wittgenstein at His Word:

1. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
Paperback: 98 Pages (2010-01-09)
list price: US$7.75 -- used & new: US$7.75
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Asin: 1440424217
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is the only book-length philosophical work published by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein during his lifetime. It is an ambitious project to identify the relationship between language and reality and to define the limits of science. It is recognized as one of the most important philosophical works of the twentieth century. Tractatus employs a notoriously austere and succinct literary style. The work contains almost no arguments as such, but rather declarative statements which are meant to be self-evident. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (44)

1-0 out of 5 stars Seven Treasures Publications NEEDS a new Editor
Terrible editing.Printed in the USA?Wittgenstein himself could have done a better job of translation and grammar correction.Poor quality.This is a piece of LITERATURE, not an article.GET IT RIGHT!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Seminal Philosophy
Wittgenstein was our 20th century Descartes. From propositions and reality modeling to fin-de-sicle accretion of his entire Vienna period, Tractatus is a post-modernist declaration of principles, even more profoundly reasoned than Martin Luther's 95 Theses. Any close (or contingent upon the reader, perfunctory) reading of this book will disclose why Wittgenstein is sui generis, the rightful paterfamilias of modern philosophy.

5-0 out of 5 stars A sophisticated tool set for handling ideas
Wittgenstein changed his views after he wrote the Tractatus and rejected the conclusions found in it. What is wonderful about the book is the experience of seeing how a great philosopher explores philosophical questions. If you read the book uncritically enough times that you understand what is being said then you will gain a tool set for handling ideas that few possess.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is the ONLY worthy review
The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is a riddle that only makes sense whence you understand it.He makes this point clear, saying that the Tractatus consists in two works, that which he has written and that which he obviously did not write.And that if one person read the book with understanding, the Tractatus would achieve its proper place in history.

So, after 80 years of misunderstandings, I will tell you the mystery is no more.

That which he obviously did not write was the Bible.And if you put the first 7 lines of Genesis before Wittgenstein's 7 propositions, then the meaning of his words and propositions take on something wholly new- especially the line: whereof one cannot speak, one must remain silent.

Of course, his dying words also take on a whole new meaning as well: "Tell them that I lived a wonderful life."

I leave this review somewhat cryptip, but hopefully you find it obvious enough.Read it again!


Edit: People don't like being told what Wittgenstein means.Too bad.

Tautologies and contradictions, like, God exists and God doesn't exist, are a natural part of the logic of our language.There is no fact or case that could disprove a religious person's commitment to the notion of God, and thus, their statements about God are tautological.The negation of a tautology is a contradiction.This is what truth tables show.

Nonsense is meaningless is senseless.tautologies and contradictions, when dialog gets to them, are nonsense.They are the limits of language, and so do not contradict.And the nonsense of "Ab sur ah" is no different than that of a contradiction or tautology.There are not different kinds of nonsense.

The propositions of the Tractatus, whence properly understood, are not contradictory as so many would profess, but tautological.Prop 7 is a tautology in the classical sense, and Prop 1 describes the world as a tautology.

Good Luck...................................................................

1-0 out of 5 stars This is my very first review.

I ordered this book as a gift for a friend.I bought a used one to save money - we are in an economic downturn.When I received the book, I was shocked just how old it is.The pages are positively yellowed by age.Moreover, the previous reader has scribbled in quite many pages.

If you can help me, tell me how I can return this item.

I can be reached at apollostrasse@hotmail.com

Thank you. ... Read more

2. Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius
by Ray Monk
Paperback: 672 Pages (1991-11-01)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$3.50
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Asin: 0140159959
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Wittgenstein possessed one of the most acute philosophical minds of the 20th century. In this incisive portrait, Monk offers a unique insight into the life and work of a modern genius who radically redirected philosophical thought in our time. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

5-0 out of 5 stars Portrait of the Philosopher as a Young Man
"Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius" is a fascinating biography of the philosopher as a deeply conflicted human being. Wittgenstein came from a wealthy, talented Austrian family. Brahms played piano for them; one of his brothers lost an arm in war and had concertos composed for him. His sister was immortalized in a painting by Gustav Klimt. His father was an industrialist. What was Wittgenstein to do? Two of his brothers also committed suicide, so there is a tragic sensibility.

Wittgenstein was at once a mystic and ordinary man. He advised his boyfriends against taking up philosophy as a profession. He fought in WWI, and wrote Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus while imprisoned at Monte Cassino. He struggled with being Jewish, he struggled with Christianity (St. Augustine and Tolstoy were his favorite authors) He struggled with his homosexuality... something well-illustrated in Wittgenstein (Special Edition) by the late Derek Jarman. Fundamentally, he struggled with his identity and this informed his philosophy.

"The Duty of Genius" humanizes the great philosopher. It shows that behind every great mind, there is a man. No man is a single role; he is an aggregate, a kaleidoscope, and one must appreciate the spectrum.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good job
I very much enjoyed this look into the not always happy life of L Wittgenstein. I can't say that I understand his philosphy any better after eading the book, but I don't think that that was the purpose of the book. After reading about his problems with his sexual preference, his father, his Jewish background and his conflict with his family wealth, the question remains how each of these factors contributed to his philosophy.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Duty of a Biographer
Ray Monk's book on Wittgenstein is an excellent introduction to Wittgenstein and his thinking. I found reading this biography is helping me read Wittgenstein's "remarks" on psychology and other topics. Monk does an admirable job of providing the cultural context outside of which characters like Wittgenstein or Russell are hard for Americans to understand. That said, it does seem that Monk bends over backward to apologize for Wittgenstein's contradictory self-centeredness. Wittgenstein didn't seem to care much for other people outside of his ability to bully them intellectually. I imagine a good case could be made for Wittgenstein fitting the profile of Asperger's Syndrome. Also, for a man who doubted the ability of language to convey experience, Wittgenstein doesn't seem to doubt himself very much or if he did, it was in the wrong areas. Monk needed the cooperation of the Wittgenstein estate to do the masterful job he did and if that means overly apologizing for Wittgenstein's "sins" (of ommission or commission) so be it - Monk has met the duty of a biographer in protraying a fascinating mind and helping elucidate Wittgenstein's more obscure writing.

2-0 out of 5 stars Very biased
I am surprised by how, it seems to me, Monk distorts or reinterprets what the memoirs and reports of others have to say about Wittgenstein. He slanders and discounts anyone who reports how introverted and self absorbed W was. I have many questions about the validity of his contributions to philosophy, but it seems to me that he was an extremely self centered and not very nice man. After dismissing practically everything Russell says about and in responce to W, I am curious how he handles this in the bio of Russell.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fine Biography
This is a very good biography of the brilliant, very influential, and rather odd Ludwig Wittgenstein.Monk sets out to provide a thorough narrative that depicts both Wittgenstein's career as a philosopher and his unusual personal life in a way that shows the unity of this life.Monk presents Wittgenstein as a man in constant search of an elusive goal of authenticity or a very demanding form of self-fulfillment.Wittgenstein seems to have been driven by a virtually religious need to pursue some form of meritorious life.This doesn't appear to be in any ordinary sense a desire to be useful to others but rather a sense that life would be misspent if not devoted to some kind of higher calling. This is the "Duty of Genius" referred to by the title of the book. Wittgenstein attempted to do this in various ways throughout his life.In addition to what was at times an obsessive preoccupation with philosophical issues, Wittgenstein sought fulfillment by serving as an enlisted man in the Austro-Hungarian Army, as an elementary school teacher, and as a hospital porter in London during the Blitz.In a particularly telling episode, he signed over all of his considerable wealth (his father had dominated the Austrian steel industry) to his equally wealthy siblings, apparently because he regarded affluence as an obstacle to self-fulfillment.Much of this search for fulfillment had an irrational or even mystical element, and its clear that he spent much of his life profoundly unhappy with himself.One gets the sense that if Wittgenstein had had conventional religious views, he might well have found satisfaction in a cloistered religious life.

Wittgenstein's personal relationships reflected his rather self-involved focus.In addition to his intellectual brilliance, he must have possessed considerable charisma.Throughout his life, he was able to attract the friendship and support of intelligent, and in many cases, remarkably patient individuals who were able to tolerate his often odd and sometimes thoughtless behavior.While he clearly had strong hermetic impulses, he clearly had a strong need for friends.In later years, he actually attracted disciples, and seems to have had somewhat homoerotic relationships with at least 2 of them.

How does this fit in with Wittgenstein's work in philosophy?Monk points out the strange way that Wittgenstein came to philosophy.In his early 20s, Wittgenstein had apparently embarked on a career as an engineer.He then became interested in basic questions of logic, influenced by the work of Frege and Russell.He sought out Russell, who accepted him as a disciple at a time when Russell felt that someone else needed to take up the task of continuing the work that Russell had started.Wittgenstein had little prior knowledge of philosophy.As Monk points out, while he later read some important philosophers, Wittgenstein had read little philosophy at this point in his life.Wittgenstein does seem to have been influenced by Schopenhauer but probably more importantly by figures from the Viennese milieu of his youth like the critic Karl Kraus.A particular favorite seems to have been an obscure Viennese writer named Weininger, of whom Wittgenstein remained very fond, and who originated the duty of genius notion.In later years, Wittgenstein would look to other unconventional thinkers for inspiration including Goethe's writings on biology and perhaps most surprisingly, the pseudo-historical analysis of Oswald Spengler.

Wittgenstein, then, was both congenitally and by choice, an outsider to the Western philosophical tradition. This accounts partly for his apparently unique approach to philosophy.

Monk emphasizes Wittgenstein's primary preoccupations with ethical self-transformation, the irrational, and methods, as opposed to conclusions in philosophy.This is one aspect of this book I found disappointing.The descriptions of Wittgenstein's philosophic work and the context in which they arise are not as good as the narrative about his personal life and psychology.To get the most out of this biography, I recommend reading Monk's concise book, How to Read Wittgenstein, which is about 100 pages and quite clear.Taking both the biography and Monk's other book together, Monk shows very well how Wittgenstein's personal life and philosophic work come together.If the point of life was a search or struggle for ethical self-fulfillment rather than attaining a given goal, its not surprising that Wittgenstein's analysis would stress methods and the limits of reason rather than scientifically oriented conclusions.If what made life valuable was aesthetic concerns and somewhat Romantic ideals of culture, then its not surprising that there would be mystical, even contradictory element in Wittgenstein's work.

Monk records that Wittgenstein's last words were, "Tell them I've had a wonderful life." An odd statement for a man who was so often profoundly unhappy.Yet, if the search for self-fulfillment rather than any definite piece of knowledge is the measure of success, Wittgenstein was one of the most successful men of his time. ... Read more

3. Philosophical Investigations
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
Hardcover: 592 Pages (2009-10-20)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$23.25
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Asin: 1405159286
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Incorporating significant editorial changes from earlier editions, the fourth edition of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is the definitive en face German-English version of the most important work of 20th-century philosophy

  • The extensively revised English translation incorporates many hundreds of changes to Anscombe’s original translation
  • Footnoted remarks in the earlier editions have now been relocated in the text
  • What was previously referred to as ‘Part 2’ is now republished as Philosophy of Psychology – A Fragment, and all the remarks in it are numbered for ease of reference
  • New detailed editorial endnotes explain decisions of translators and identify references and allusions in Wittgenstein's original text
  • Now features new essays on the history of the Philosophical Investigations, and the problems of translating Wittgenstein’s text

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Innovative Investigations
This is Wittgenstein's posthumous book. The original German is given side by side with the English translation by G.E.M. Anscombe, which has undergone many corrections for this edition. Philosophical Investigations, like the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus of 1918, is unconventionally organized. There are no chapters and no subheadings. Each numbered paragraph tells its own story. Large blocks of paragraphs deal with a single topic. For instance, the first thirty-eight paragraphs of Part I deal with the question of meaning. A given theme is treated at some length, dropped and is picked up again later on and in connection with another problem. This, plus Wittegnstein's unorthodox views may make the book difficult reading.

Wittgenstein's chief philosophical principle is that there are no philosophical problems. There are only philosophical muddles engendered by inattention to the proper uses of linguistic expressions. All of his main discussions in the book are general questions about language; not that language is the subject matter of philosophy but rather that an important, but not the only, function of philosophy is to clear away philosophical puzzles by tracing them to their source in linguistic muddles. Beyond the therapy lies the possibility of proposing different ways of talking, each of which, insofar as it is free of linguistic puzzles, may be a profitable way of looking at things analogous to "a new way of painting..." (p. 128, paragraph 401).

Wittgenstein's therapeutic method is best understood by seeing it in use. However, an inadequate idea of it may be conveyed by means of a general characterization. In the space allotted, I can do no more. To understand a linguistic expression in a given context describe the way(s) in which that expression functions in that context. Context is, in the last analysis, social context because languages that communicate, i.e., languages that are languages, cannot be private. This is not an empirical hypothesis but a statement of logical necessity. In the philosophy of psychology, this thesis is usually called logical behaviorism. Another way of putting Wittgenstein's general therapeutic prescription is this. To learn the "proper" meaning of a linguistic expression, investigate the ways in which we would learn or teach the use of the expression in specific contexts. We must pay particular attention to the ways in which the learner could get the wrong ideas about how to use the expression. We must also remember that the same utterance may function in many different kinds of contexts. Wittgenstein takes great pains to show the rich variety of usages. Clarifying meanings can be done only within an already existing language. This principle relates not to the ways in which language comes into existence but rather to the ways in which it functions as a means of communication.

The question of meaning in a way underlies every other question in the book. Here is a partial list of the many philosophical problems discussed: meaning, use and understanding; logical behaviorism and its consequences for the conception of philosophical analysis; thoughts, things and words; states of mind and conduct (as against involuntary action); sameness and difference of meaning, induction, deduction, memory. One would have to write such an extensive article even to begin exploring the method and cogency of Wittgenstein's philosophizing on these questions.

When one mentions philosophical analysis nowadays, Russell, Moore and Wittgenstein come to mind as the three fountainheads of three important 20th-Century styles of philosophical analysis. Wittgenstein's influence on Oxford philosophers and through them, and also directly, his influence on some 20th-Century American philosophers is enormous. These philosophers have used, though by no means slavishly, the Wittgenstein way of doing philosophy and their work is very suggestive. One need not agree with one's philosophical colleagues in order to admire the quality of their work. Suggestive philosophical processes and products, even if alien to our own ways of doing philosophy are, unless prima facie absurd, oftentimes more stimulating than agreement. For this reason, if for no other, Wittgenstein and the Wittgensteineans deserve serious attention.

5-0 out of 5 stars Finally, a significantly revised translation
Even though Wittgenstein's German is nothing like Kant's, providing a good translation of his work is a challenge given all that one must bring into consideration.Anscombe's original translation had its merits, but it also had a number of frustrating flaws.

One of the many problems with Anscombe's translation of PI is her translation of both "hinweisende Erklärung" and "hinweisende Definition" as "ostensive definition," where the former is more literally read as "ostensive explanation" and the latter as "ostensive definition."See, e.g., §§27 and 28 of an earlier edition.And as one can see from Wittgenstein's discussion, there are times when he uses "hinweisende Erklärung" to mean "ostensive explanation" as opposed to actually ostensively defining a word, e.g., §31.And sometimes he uses them together almost interchangeably, e.g., the last two lines of §28.One of the most glaring cases of Anscombe ignoring the distinction is in §6 where the German reads, "Dies will ich nicht `hinweisende Erklärung', oder `Definition', nennen...." and the English translation reads simply "I do not want to call this `ostensive definition'...."
One way this difference, and Anscombe's failure to track it, is important is that giving an explanation is a much more open ended activity than giving a definition in a somewhat similar way as the German word for "game," "das Spiel," is more open than the English word, since "das Spiel" can also mean the more open concept of play.

One small "problem" presented by the updated translation is that the changes make past expressions no longer so apt, e.g., talk of a "no stage-setting" interpretation of the failure of the private ostensive definition in §258, based on the remarks about stage-setting in §257, is now problematic, since the new translation does not make use of the expression "stage-setting."This is a small problem, however.

While I respect Hacker's work, I do not agree with how easily he attributes substantive views to Wittgenstein; so I worry about how Hacker's methodological assumptions about Wittgenstein influence his input on the revisions.Nevertheless, I do not have a similar worry about Schulte, and I know that both Hacker and Schulte took into consideration the suggestions of other Wittgenstein scholars when making the revisions.

It is too soon to tell now, but I am excited to see what kind of an effect this new edition has on Wittgenstein studies. ... Read more

4. Wittgenstein's Lectures on the Foundations of Mathematics, Cambridge, 1939
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
Paperback: 300 Pages (1989-10-15)
list price: US$22.50 -- used & new: US$18.79
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Asin: 0226904261
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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From his return to Cambridge in 1929 to his death in 1951, Wittgenstein influenced philosophy almost exclusively through teaching and discussion.These lecture notes indicate what he considered to be salient features of his thinking in this period of his life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lucid, ... and Smells like Cookies!
In most ways I've found this book easier going than his "Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics," though of course there is some overlap.The continuity of the examples and discussion is well worth any confusion in the presentation (these are, after all, lecture notes by his students).It's also fairly strange to see, in the middle of a lecture, Alan Turing ask a question...

The best part, however, is that this is perhaps the sweetest-smelling book I have ever read.And what, to be honest, goes better with abstract investigations into the basis of mathematics than the smell of cookies?Nothing, that's what. ... Read more

5. Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Man and His Philosophy
 Paperback: 415 Pages (1978-06)
list price: US$7.50
Isbn: 039100865X
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6. Logic and Sin in the Writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein
by Philip R. Shields
Paperback: 153 Pages (1998-02-28)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$19.97
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Asin: 0226753026
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Philip R. Shields shows that ethical and religious concerns inform even the most technical writings on logic and language, and that, for Wittgenstein, the need to establish clear limitations is both a logical and an ethical demand. Rather than merely saying specific things about theology and religion, major texts from the Tractatus to the Philosophical Investigations express their fundamentally religious nature by showing that there are powers which bear down upon and sustain us. Shields finds a religious view of the world at the very heart of Wittgenstein's philosophy.

"Shields argues that the appearance throughout Wittgenstein's writings of such concepts as ritual, limit, transgression, a change of will, pride, temptation, and judgment implies a relation between religion and the logical aspects of Wittgenstein's philosophy."—Choice

"Of the many recent books about Wittgenstein, Logic and Sin is one of the very few that are well worth having"—Fergus Kerr, Modern Theology

"What Shields has uncovered in Wittgenstein's religious sensibility is something genuine and profound. . . . Shields has not just written an important book on Wittgenstein but an enlightening work that invites further reflection."—Eric O. Springsted, Cross Currents
... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Convincing
After reading most of the popular literature available on Wittgenstein, I came across Logic and Sin. I cannot praise this book enough. It convincingly points to aspects of Wittgenstein's writings that have not yetbeen properly addressed by other commentators. Informed, inspired andfresh. I am in debt to the author for a truly moving analysis. I hope youwill join me in appreciating this book. It deserves your attention. Youwill not read Wittgenstein the same way again. ... Read more

7. Wittgenstein: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by A. C. Grayling
Paperback: 160 Pages (2001-07-28)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$5.00
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Asin: 0192854119
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) was an extraordinarily original thinker, whose influence on twentieth-century thinking far outside the bounds of philosophy alone. In this engaging Introduction, A.C. Grayling makes Wittgenstein's thought accessible to the general reader by explaining the nature and impact of Wittgenstein's views. He describes both his early and later philosophy, the differences and connections between them, and gives a fresh assessment of Wittgenstein's continuing influence on contemporary thought. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good summary, vulgar criticism
I have to give Dr.Grayling his due - this is a *good* summary of Wittgenstein's thought, given its size. But only if you ignore the last part (more on that later).

Grayling is correct to note in the beginning that Wittgenstein is philosopher's philosopher and thus somewhat unappealing to the general public. He attempted to outline the background in which Wittgenstein worked in his early period to allow the readers to appreciate the importance and novelty of Tractatus, and then proceeded from Tractatus to his later works.

Tractatus part was solid and lucid, but already one could notice Grayling's quaint insistance that Wittgenstein made little to no impact on the Vienna Circle. Oh well. When he discussed the later Wittgenstein, I apprecitated how he tied together the related but different strands of Wittgenstein's thought and demonstrated their coherence and mutual necessity. I would have said that Grayling has a good grasp on Wittgenstein had it not been for the last 30 pages of this book due to which I give this introduction 3 starts instead of 4 or even 5. It may even seem like these 30 pages were written by a different author.

My personal opinion is that an introduction to some philosopher should present a consensus-based summary of his views and place in the history of thought; and inspire the reader to study this philosopher further. This introduction degenerated in the last 30 pages (and that's almost a quarter of the book!) to unrelenting and spiteful criticism of Wittgenstein's later views and Wittgenstein's value as a philosopher. I have read authors critical of Wittgenstein but they never allowed themselves to claim that his philosophy is 'unquestionably' unjustified, that his texts are obscurantist, that his theoires (whatever that is) are self-contradictory, that so far his influence is minimal and his value as a philosopher is questionable, that his works are not even philosophy by contemporary standards, but poetry, etc. He allows himself too much based on a series of pedantic and predominantly strawmen arguments which have been successfully dismantled by another reviewer here.

This is bad taste. Why they would pick someone so biased against Wittgenstein to write an introduction to him, I do not understand.

4-0 out of 5 stars Wittgenstein Overrated
AC Grayling, who is a supremely rational and talented philosopher and essayist, has in this little book laid out the basic ideas of Wittgenstein's philosophy, and has clearly demonstrated that they do not make sense. Wittgenstein is accused of anti-realism (he is vague about whether there is an external reality independent of thought and language) and of cognitive relativism (different communities may experience different truths and realities). So, Mr. Wittgenstein, who in the popular mind is a genius of philosophy, is in reality a paragon of irrationality rivaling Derrida or Foucault. Thanks to Grayling, I will never again trouble myself to wonder whether it would be worth the effort to study Wittgenstein. Thank you, AC, for this nice little book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The little voice in my head says, "read it..."

The criteria for what make these sorts of books successful is whether they can cover a significant amount of information in a brief enough form and still be comprehensible. By this yardstick, I'd say that *Wittgenstein: A Very Short Introduction* does, indeed succeed.

A little biographical info on Ludwig, a section each on his early and later work, some critical remarks, and, a final summation...then you're sent off on your own to pursue further study--or not, as you choose.

Grayling also successfully walks that dangerous tightrope between rendering the life's work of a notoriously difficult philosopher into readily digestible bite-sized chunks for the reasonably intelligent adult...and pureeing them into the intellectual equivalent of babyfood.

Grayling is no big fan of Wittgenstein, certainly no fawning apostle, as is made clear in his closing remarks (in which he doubts whether history will even regard W as a major philosopher), if it isn't already clear to the reader by the critical challenges Grayling makes to W's philosophy earlier in this book.

However, I don't think Grayling's lack of adulation gets in the way of the book's general purpose (to inform the reader of what Wittgenstein had to say); in fact, if anything, I found Grayling's objections stimulating, if, by the way, largely unpersuasive. In any event, they encourage the reader's active engagement with the ideas under discussion, which is something to be applauded; after all, philosophy should be engaging; ideas should stimulate, thought should matter enough to be reason for debate...or what's the point?

So there you have it. A nice, neat, very (very) short (120-pages in the used edition I have) introduction to Ludwig Wittgenstein. If you're interested in this brainy dude, I say go for it. This book is a good place to start.

4-0 out of 5 stars a good introdution from a different perspective
A very short introduction indeed with detailed explanation but not indepth critics. But at least it should be treated as a good starting point of demystifying Wittgenstein's works and also their impact on 20th century philosophical scenes.

1-0 out of 5 stars Review of Grayling's Wittgenstein
This book is really only useful for lecturers offering a course on Wittgenstein and looking for a book that neatly exhibits a number of misconceptions about his work that can be used for the purpose of discussion in class to clarify what Wittgenstein actually did say.

The book aims to sketch Wittgenstein's early and later philosophies, and then offer an evaluation of them. In what follows, for reasons of space and what I consider to be the most important aspect of Wittgenstein's work, I will only review Grayling's engagement with Wittgenstein's later philosophy. My review will focus exclusively on the criticisms Grayling makes of Wittgenstein in his evaluation of the later philosophy. These concern Wittgenstein's account of meaning in terms of use, the methodological claim that philosophy does not consist of proffering theories or theses about its subject of investigation, and the claim that language (as opposed to empirical, fact-stating claims made in language) cannot be justified by reference to a language independent reality, viz, the remark that grammar is autonomous.

The first criticism Grayling makes is of Wittgenstein's account of meaning in terms of use. Grayling gives two examples which he considers refute Wittgenstein's account. First, he claims that someone can know that the Latin word 'jejunus' means hungry but not know how to use the word. Second, conversely, a person may know how to use 'Amen' and 'QED' without knowing their meanings. These two examples are meant to show that Wittgenstein is wrong to give an account of meaning in terms of use.

These criticisms are not cogent. Firstly, Wittgenstein does not equate meaning and use, but expressly acknowledges that use is broader ("not every use is a meaning" - Last Writings in the Philosophical Psychology, volume 1, remark 289). He would therefore happily acknowledge that there are aspects to the use of words that have no bearing on their meaning, for instance, where I use a word effectively, insolently, or musingly. Secondly, none of these examples (jejunus, Amen and QED) suffice to refute Wittgenstein's account. In the case of the person who learns that the Latin word 'jejunus' means hungry, but is not able to use the word in Latin, that person must nevertheless be able to use the word 'hungry' in English in order to properly grasp the meaning of the word in Latin. He knows what 'hungry' means, and this is why he is able to know what 'jejunus' means. And his knowledge of what 'hungry' means is manifested in his capacity to use the word correctly in English, as well as in his capacity to explain the word correctly to others. In short, it is only because he has mastered the use of 'hungry' in English - he does not, for instance, use the word to indicate that he needs a drink and where others would use the word 'thirsty' - that he is able to understand the meaning of 'jejunus' in Latin. His ability to know the meaning of the Latin word is therefore parasitic on his ability to know the meaning of, and hence use, its equivalent in his native tongue.

In the case of 'Amen' and 'QED', these examples have a ritualistic use, so it is possible to use them correctly without knowing their meaning. We know, for example, that 'Amen' is used at the end of a prayers, and so we can do likewise when we pray. It is therefore no accident that Grayling should choose these examples. Would Grayling say the same thing, however, of 'dog', 'retina', 'supercilious' or 'understanding'? I think not. If I look up the word 'dog' in a dictionary, I find it's meaning. But I haven't grasped its meaning if I apply it to hummingbirds. Similarly, if I look up 'supercilious' and start using it where other people use 'superficial', this is good evidence for concluding that I think that 'supercilious' means 'superficial' and that I therefore do not understand - and hence know - the meaning of the word. Using the word correctly is a criterion for whether I understand the word, that is, for whether I know its meaning. It is for this reason that Wittgenstein highlights the conceptual connections between meaning, understanding and explanation. If you want to know what meaning is, he says, then a good place to start is to look at what we do when we explain the meaning of a word to someone. Instead of asking what meaning is, let's ask what an explanation of meaning is. Once you understand what an explanation of meaning is, you will understand what meaning is. For meaning is what is explained when someone gives an explanation of meaning (if there were theses in philosophy, everyone would agree with them).

The second criticism Grayling makes is of Wittgenstein's claim not be offering philosophical theses. Famously, Wittgenstein claimed that if there were theses in philosophy, everyone would agree with them. Elsewhere, he insisted that philosophy has nothing to do with having opinions about things.At first glance, these claims seem to be naïve, since there is so much disagreement among philosophers. However, the statement is made in the context of Wittgenstein's methodological reflections about the nature of philosophy as he is practising it and, in particular, in the context of a discussion of how philosophy, as an enterprise, differs from science. In philosophy, one is concerned not with factual but with conceptual explanations: "What is time?" and "what is meaning?", for example, reflect an unclarity about our concepts of time or of meaning and are not capable of being answered by scientific investigations. Some of the puzzlement can be removed by reminding ourselves, for example, that time is what is measured by a clock. In the case of meaning, we can remove our puzzlement by reminding ourselves that meaning is what is explained when someone gives an explanation of meaning, and then go on to look at what someone's understanding the explanation of the meaning consists in - how we tell when someone understands the meaning of a word - to shed further light on the question. These questions led Wittgenstein to clarify meaning in terms of rule-following: we know someone understands a word when he can use it correctly, that is, makes his own linguistic practice with that word conform to its rule-governed use. As can be seen, these quasi-tautologous explanations (time is what is measured by a clock, meaning is what is given by someone's explanation of meaning) are hardly controversial - hence the claim that if there were theses in philosophy, everyone would agree with them - yet they do shed light on a domain of inquiry that has consistently generated puzzlement, by opening up further domains of inquiry to which they are conceptually linked (meaning, understanding, rule-following). Further, until someone (i.e. Wittgenstein) points these apparent trivialities out, they are not obvious. No one before Wittgenstein had thought to approach the puzzle of meaning by looking at what is given by an explanation of meaning.

The next step after reminding ourselves of some of important trivialities, is to look around for the source of our puzzlement. Augustine's puzzlement concerning time stemmed from his adoption of a picture of time as a river. In other cases, it may be that the use of a substantive makes us look for a substance that corresponds to it. None of these claims, however, are meant to be controversial (for instance, if Augustine did not acknowledge that he was picturing time as a river, then the search for the source of the puzzlement would not be over). It is here that the analogy with psychoanalysis is important, because the criterion for whether the source of the puzzlement is correctly identified is the person's acknowledgement that a given candidate is the source of their puzzlement. This is another sense in which Wittgenstein is not proffering a thesis - there is no holding onto it in the face of recalcitrant evidence. It is immediately abandoned if it is not acknowledged as the source of someone's puzzlement.

The claim not to be in the business of offering theories in philosophy does not prevent Wittgenstein from giving an account of meaning. That account, however, is a description of concepts, not empirical phenomena, and the aim is to give a perspicuous overview of the relations between a number of concepts in order to resolve puzzlement about some of the concepts in question. In the case of meaning, Wittgenstein did this by exhibiting the connection between meaning and understanding and the following of rules. To that extent, the investigation is conceptual, not factual and so differs from scientific inquiry. In this sense, there are no (scientific) theses/theories in philosophy. In making his criticism, Grayling appears to have missed this dimension of Wittgenstein's philosophy entirely, which, given its centrality to Wittgenstein's later philosophy, is a serious defect in Grayling's evaluation.

The third criticism Grayling makes - of Wittgenstein's remark that language (as opposed to claims made in language, the fact-stating language game, for example) cannot be justified by reference to reality - is puzzling. Wittgenstein's claim is that concepts, unlike statements of fact, are not the bearers of truth, and so cannot be said to be true or false. Statements of fact presuppose the concepts deployed in them. Grayling does not understand Wittgenstein's claim in this way at all. At one point he attributes to Wittgenstein a linguistic version of Berkelean idealism, by claiming that Wittgenstein held "reality is not, as he had thought in the Tractatus, independent of language and thought". He then has an easy time of retorting "if we accept some such view we are obliged to explain what appears to us, in our ordinary experience of it, to be the independent character of the world. Why, if there isn't a genuinely independent world constraining the way we act, think, and talk, does it seem as if there were one?" (p 117). To attribute to Wittgenstein such a claim is astonishing, and anyone familiar with the discussion of solipsism in the Blue and Brown Books, his discussion of Russell's scepticism (the world may have been created 5 minutes ago, complete with records of the past) in the Cambridge lectures, and his discussion of philosophical scepticism in On Certainty, will know that it is ludicrous to attribute this view to Wittgenstein, so much so that it is not worth belabouring the point here, other than to say that, in attributing this claim to Wittgenstein as a claim that Wittgenstein consciously made, Grayling has not demonstrated sufficient familiarity with Wittgenstein's texts and a sufficient standard of exegesis to justify the opportunity he has been afforded to contribute to this otherwise excellent series of introductions.

... Read more

8. Philosophical Investigations (3rd Edition)
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
Paperback: 250 Pages (1973-03-11)
list price: US$45.40 -- used & new: US$34.00
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Asin: 0024288101
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Written by one of the century's truly great thinkers, Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is a remarkable--and surprisingly approachable--collection of insights, statements, and nearly displayed thinking habits of the philosopher's work on language, symbols, categories, and a host of other topics. Organized into nearly 700 short observations, this book is a treasure trove for anyone who needs to think carefully about objects, categories, and symbols, especially in relation to structured logic applications in computer programming.

The short (and sometimes aphoristic) observations in Philosophical Investigations allow the reader to ponder basic questions on what describes a category, how language works in everyday situations, and how symbols function to represent our world.

Originally a series of notes to himself as he lectured on philosophy, the book is a brilliant grab bag of thought and example. Often framed as a question ("How do I recognize that this is red?"), the philosopher provides short answers in a sentence or two, never more than a paragraph. (The second part of the book uses longer answers of several pages to develop its arguments.) An index lets the reader browse on topics of interest--such as language, concept, games, or naming.

Any artificial intelligence researcher looking to understand human language will be intrigued by Wittgenstein's ideas on how symbols and language operate. And for anyone who designs software with objects, this book's careful attention to thinking about what makes a good category demonstrates rigorous thinking about everyday objects and things. Philosophical Investigations is at times a strange and often wonderful book that reveals the thought processes of one of history's finest minds. It exposes the fundamental problems of using language as a means of teaching machines to think using words. --Richard Dragan

Topics covered: Theory of language and language games, meaning and symbols, concepts and categories, behavior, games (including chess), color, images and perception, grammar and language, sensations, theory of mind and thinking. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars Innovative Investigations
This is Wittgenstein's posthumous book. The original German is given side by side with the English translation by G.E.M. Anscombe. Philosophical Investigations, like the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus of 1918, is unconventionally organized. There are no chapters and no subheadings. Each numbered paragraph tells its own story. Large blocks of paragraphs deal with a single topic. For instance, the first thirty-eight paragraphs of Part I deal with the question of meaning. A given theme is treated at some length, dropped and is picked up again later on and in connection with another problem. This, plus Wittegnstein's unorthodox views may make the book difficult reading.

Wittgenstein's chief philosophical principle is that there are no philosophical problems. There are only philosophical muddles engendered by inattention to the proper uses of linguistic expressions. All of his main discussions in the book are general questions about language; not that language is the subject matter of philosophy but rather that an important, but not the only, function of philosophy is to clear away philosophical puzzles by tracing them to their source in linguistic muddles. Beyond the therapy lies the possibility of proposing different ways of talking, each of which, insofar as it is free of linguistic puzzles, may be a profitable way of looking at things analogous to "a new way of painting..." (p. 128, paragraph 401).

Wittgenstein's therapeutic method is best understood by seeing it in use. However, an inadequate idea of it may be conveyed by means of a general characterization. In the space allotted, I can do no more. To understand a linguistic expression in a given context describe the way(s) in which that expression functions in that context. Context is, in the last analysis, social context because languages that communicate, i.e., languages that are languages, cannot be private. This is not an empirical hypothesis but a statement of logical necessity. In the philosophy of psychology, this thesis is usually called logical behaviorism. Another way of putting Wittgenstein's general therapeutic prescription is this. To learn the "proper" meaning of a linguistic expression, investigate the ways in which we would learn or teach the use of the expression in specific contexts. We must pay particular attention to the ways in which the learner could get the wrong ideas about how to use the expression. We must also remember that the same utterance may function in many different kinds of contexts. Wittgenstein takes great pains to show the rich variety of usages. Clarifying meanings can be done only within an already existing language. This principle relates not to the ways in which language comes into existence but rather to the ways in which it functions as a means of communication.

The question of meaning in a way underlies every other question in the book. Here is a partial list of the many philosophical problems discussed: meaning, use and understanding; logical behaviorism and its consequences for the conception of philosophical analysis; thoughts, things and words; states of mind and conduct (as against involuntary action); sameness and difference of meaning, induction, deduction, memory. One would have to write such an extensive article even to begin exploring the method and cogency of Wittgenstein's philosophizing on these questions.

When one mentions philosophical analysis nowadays, Russell, Moore and Wittgenstein come to mind as the three fountainheads of three important 20th-Century styles of philosophical analysis. Wittgenstein's influence on Oxford philosophers and through them, and also directly, his influence on some 20th-Century American philosophers is enormous. These philosophers have used, though by no means slavishly, the Wittgenstein way of doing philosophy and their work is very suggestive. One need not agree with one's philosophical colleagues in order to admire the quality of their work. Suggestive philosophical processes and products, even if alien to our own ways of doing philosophy are, unless prima facie absurd, oftentimes more stimulating than agreement. For this reason, if for no other, Wittgenstein and the Wittgensteineans deserve serious attention.

5-0 out of 5 stars Language games: controversial notion, but most thought provoking
One aspect of this book that makes it important for simply that contribution is the notion of "language games."If language produces reality, different languages produce different realities. In this book, German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein developed the related notion of "language games,"islands of language, unique each to itself, not wholly translatable one into another.Each of us inhabits a particular language game, he claims, which channels how we see things and understand the world and our places within it.Again, language shapes meaning and understanding and interpretation.The world is disclosed to us through our specific language game.If we live in different language games, we see different worlds. This concept entails, as philosopher Chantal Mouffe says, ". . . a critique of the rationalist conception of the subject [i.e., the knowing, reasoning human mind] that indicates that the latter cannot be the source of linguistic meanings since it is through participation in different language games that the world is disclosed to us."

This is a serious attack on the Modern conception of the human as a reasoning being who can affect change in desired directions through the exercise of that reason.Thus, reason does NOT allow us to see the world as it is and to change it as we wish in a manner leading to progress.The concept of language games is key for many postmodern thinkers.

If we think through language and the use of language is thought itself, what is perceived is indistinct from language use.The two cannot be separated, since language governs interpretation and perception and thought.To revisit the phrase from Wittgenstein, different people play and live in different "language games," that is, their languages lead them to see the world differently, to conceptualize things differently from those in different language games.So what for the person interested in politics?

In the final analysis, this means that whenever we try to understand the world, it is through language, through interpretation, since we cannot directly perceive reality outside of our language.This begins to suggest the likelihood that one's own culture or society or polity does not have universally "true" answers to key questions of human existence; our culture develops answers within its language game that make sense at that particular time for that culture.All is interpretation of uncertain texts within different language games.

Certainly, this is a strong argument.Many disagree that language per se shapes our views of reality.And that argument needs to be taken seriously.Nonetheless, the argument about "language games," although only a small part of this book, is a provocative concept, well worth thinking about.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting short read, but not challenging
I think many readers are turned off by the broken up nature of the text. The format does not bother me. Wittgenstein freely admits in the preface that he did not have time to finsh the book or do it justice. Instead we have a series of numbered paragraphs/thoughts/ideas/questions. My favorite investigateion, if I were to pick one, was #47, that was a highpoint of the book for me. Look that one up for a taste of the book.

He is boiling down communication to its bare essentials or building blocks. He focuses on what it takes to truly convey a meaning to someone else. Most of the thoughts seem to explore language as a communication tool coupled with shared experience and intuition.

Maybe I've read other authors who explored these concepts before I've read Wittgenstein. Maybe this truly was ground breaking at the time, I'm no historian or profesional philosopher (if there is such a thing). It is certainly worth reading but it is not on my list of favorites. The book didn't change my world view. Maybe I just agree with him and look through a similar projectory as his world view. I was really optimistic going into this book, but can only give it a 3 because I will probably never read it again. 4 is for books I will probably read again, 5 are my favorites.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not one of the great books.
Wittgenstein was cryptic in the extreme.This has been mistaken for wisdom.Though he was considered an oracle by the 20th century he is likely, as was Herbert Spencer, famous in his own day, to be ignored by the subsequent generation.

This is not a book to spend much time on if you have real philosophical problems to solve.If you are looking for curios in the history of philosophy, by all means spend an hour.

5-0 out of 5 stars Learn from it but there is no need to worship it
This is a book which at one time was worshipped. It was taken to be the holy text that gave the true answers to the philosophical puzzles that graduate students in philosophy were puzzling over. Wittgenstein was the hero and his manner of ' doing philosophy' of walking and holding his forehead, and waiting in silence and thinking for long stretches of time while puzzling it out was imitated by his many followers. The 'Investigations' did not like the 'Tractatus ' before it present the system that would tell the whole truth , answer it all , as it were. It instead put the focus on philosophizing as an activity. And it is a remarkable, enigmatic, aphoristic text rich in suggestions and quandaries. It truly is a book that presents perplexing questions and makes it seem as if ' thinking' is a most serious and difficult business.
From the work come key concepts which have been added to ' vocabulary ' of philosophical. Wittgenstein 'Seek the use not the meaning' puts him of course in the company of the pragmatists. The concept of ' family resemblance' in defining a concept in which one does not see a single clear definition, but rather sees 'variations'whose ' meanings overlap' as in a Venn diagram is another powerful tool of analysis. ' Letting the fly out of the fly bottle' another metaphor for philosophizing too suggested the turn to ordinary language and everyday common experience as central for philosophizing. And this away from the formal abstract logical thinking of 'The Tractatus'.
Another point. The 'Philosophical Investigations' is a hard book to understand. And part of the mystique of Wittgenstein is the sense of his incredible ' genius mind' which most of us even those studying philosophy, cannot grasp.
My own sense is that if you ask trivial questions you get trivial answers. And that of course much of the metaphysical and religious discourse philosophical analysis, logicalpositivism dismissed as nonsense is precisely what is important. 'The Investigations' opens more in the direction( I believe) of allowing for these kinds of meaning. But I am not sure about this.
Another point. I do not pretend to understand not only not fully, not even ' largely' 'The Investigations'. The sense of not understanding though puzzling over it of course said something to me about my own ' lesser powers' in philosophy.
Years later I would simply recommend to readers of the work to not take it with the kind of seriousness we did then. Take it as an interesting text, even a poetic text, and parse it and find meanings in it which hopefully will enrich your life and philosophical understanding.
Do not pray to it. Wittgenstein was a great mind , but a mind to be studied and understood, a frail and fragmented mind also, and not to be worshipped. ... Read more

9. On Certainty
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
Paperback: 208 Pages (1991-01-15)
list price: US$45.95 -- used & new: US$24.13
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Asin: 0631169407
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Written over the last 18 months of his life and inspired by his interest in G. E. Moore's defence of common sense, this much discussed volume collects Wittgenstein's reflections on knowledge and certainty, on what it is to know a proposition for sure. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars New Strategies for an Ancient Problem
In ON CERTAINTY, Wittgenstein re-visits the age-old question as to whether we actually know that there is world external to our minds.Well, not quite.In this short and quirky, imaginative and profound book, Wittgenstein attempts to turn the tables on the ancient debate between the Skeptic ("you don't know...") and her anti-skeptical interlocutor ("yes, I DO know...").

An anti-skeptic, such as G.E. Moore who claimed to know all sorts of the things about the external world (e.g. This is a hand), does NOT know, according to Wittgenstein, in part because Moore's question-begging response to the skeptic is wholly inadequate.But noting this does not mean that the skeptic wins the battle because, for Wittgenstein, it does not make sense to doubt the existence of the external world.We must affirm certain propositions in order to have inquiry at all, Wittgenstein argues, and among these are those claims which Moore alleges to know, aka 'Moorean facts.'Wittgenstein takes himself to show that we must believe the Moorean facts, but that, contrary to Moore, we do not know them.

As bewitching as the Wittgensteinian effort is, it does strike me that he, in no way, demonstrates his central claim - namely, that we cannot sensibly doubt Moorean facts.Despite this rather damning criticism, I highly recommend delving into this brilliant attempt.

5-0 out of 5 stars Grammar and Natural History
If it's okay to talk about "favorite" philosophy books, On Certainty is on my list. I've come back to it over and over since first reading it about 30 years ago.

Two themes stood out this time, maybe the two themes that I've always thought were most important.

1) Distinguishing "grammatical" propositions from empirical ones
It's hard to talk about this briefly, but, roughly, "grammatical propositions", for Wittgenstein, are statements about how we speak. Elsewhere and here, he remarks on our commonly mistaking the one for the other. For example, he remarks on the physicist Eddington having "discovered" that tables (and other physical objects) aren't really solid, given that they are mostly made up of the space within and between atoms. He says that Eddington is actually proposing a change in the way that we speak, changing how we use the word "solid", rather than simply reporting an empirical observation. The line is blurry -- certainly empirical observations are relevant to the proposed change in the way we speak. Nevertheless, it is a powerful distinction. Wittgenstein is interested in correcting our tendency to be misled by such statements into some sort of false mysterious profundity, as here, in the kinds of skepticism and idealism under examination in his time.

But the distinction may also be useful in more common circumstances -- what about the statement "Life begins at conception (or quickening or birth or . . . )"? Is that statement empirical, or is it more a recommendation about how we should use the word "life"? If the latter, how does that change the debate about the rightness or wrongness of abortion rights? Both sides try to lend their argument more weight by treating such a statement as an empirical one, a "fact". Likewise G.W. Bush saying that "The US doesn't torture." Did that function for him as a factual statement, or a decision about how we are going to use the word "torture"?

2) The "natural history" of human beings
On Certainty responds to Wittgenstein's reading of Moore's "common sense" papers, particularly "Proof of an External World" and "A Defense of Common Sense". Moore in turn was responding to Kant's declaration of a "scandal to philosophy" that we can't (in quasi-ordinary words) prove the existence of a world outside our minds. Moore believed he could provide such a proof. But it's really the picture behind the felt need to provide such a proof that is bothersome and important. It calls up a picture of human beings creating "knowledge" in their minds by observing and reasoning about a world "outside their minds". Wittgenstein's arguments tend toward a less intellectualized and more natural relationship between human beings and the world, something more akin to what gets called "coping" by later writers (e.g., Heidegger).

We don't need to "know" or "prove" the existence of an external world, since we live in the world. In fact, the very attempt to prove its existence makes its existence questionable, now that these propositions (e.g., "There is a world external to my mind") are articulated. The compulsion to ask, now that we've articulated them, whether we know them or knew them before we articulated them, seems already to be a mistake. Such propositions weren't there before articulating them, and what they try to express didn't function as "knowledge" per se. Our situation is much more akin, as Wittgenstein says (jokes?), to a squirrel's apparent knowledge that winter will come and so he'd better store nuts against it -- squirrels don't infer that winter will come from past winters coming. Nor we do we, as Moore tries to do, establish the existence of a "world external to our minds" by inferring its existence from some more primitive facts that we know to be true.

5-0 out of 5 stars After reading ON CERTAINTY, you will want to use your enlightened state to re-read PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS.
TWO LANGUAGE GAMES.The main purpose of the book is to determine the use of the word "to know."This goal is set forth in paragraph 589, "For how does a man learn to recognize his own state of knowing something?"One method for addressing this goal is to contrast to know with to believe.

Here is some late-breaking news.A couple of years after posting this review, I actually published a paper about Wittgenstein.My article concerns Wittgenstein's analysis of the word, "expectation."My article got published early in 2010:

Brody, T. (2010) Obviousness in patents following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision of KSR International Co. v. Teleflex, Inc. in Journal Patent Trademark Office Society 92:26-70.

ON CERTAINTY concerns only two language games, namely, to know and to believe.In contrast the Philosophical Investigations concerns many language games, for example, actual games (board games; card games) (para 66 of PI), games of giving an order, reporting an event, play-acting, making a joke (para 23 of PI), game of interpreting (page 171 of PI), game of obeying a rule (para 199), game of remembering (para 305 of PI), game of recognizing (para 604 and page 169 of PI).Other language games not discussed in ON CERTAINTY are "performatives" or "speech acts," such as promising, christening a ship, or verbal contracts.Performatives are described inWittgenstein by Robert J. Fogelin (page 158) and in Speech Acts by John Searle.

TO KNOW VERSUS TO BELIEVE.The book ON CERTAINTY obviously concerns what it means to be certain or to believe.W. discloses what it means to know by contrasting it with what it means to believe.The contrast between the two can be set forth by providing Moore's Paradox.Moore's Paradox goes like this: "He believes that it is raining, but it is not raining."The corresponding version in the past tense is: "He believed that it was raining, but it was not raining."The first statement is absurd.But the second statement is reasonable.Moore's Paradox is discussed in para 42 of ON CERTAINTY.Another difference is that it is not absurd to say, "I thought I knew such and such, but I was wrong" but it is absurd to say, "I thought I was certain about such and such (or believed such and such), but I was wrong."(para 12).The difference between to know and to believe is further given, where we are told that it make sense to say, "He is in a position to know such and such," and that it does not make sense to say, "He is in a position to believe such and such" (paras 555-556).We are told, "If someone believes something, we needn't always be able to answer the question `why he believes it' but if he knows something, then the question `how does he know?' must be capable of being answered (para 550).

Moore's Paradox is further discussed in para 520 (example of a tree) and para 549 (example of a chair), 550.Wittgenstein writes, "Moore has every right to say he knows there's a tree there in front of him.Naturally he may be wrong.For it is not the same as with the utterance, I believe there is a tree there." (para 520).According to para 569, inner experiences are not relevant to using the term, to know (para. 569).In contrast, inner experiences are the basis of using the term, to believe or to be certain.If to know does not depend on any inner experience, then what is the condition precedent for knowing.The answer lies in Wittgenstein's notion of the "system of evidence."(see below)

A SYSTEM OF EVIDENCE.Commentary on "a system of evidence" is used to define what it means to know something.This system of evidence is not relevant to use of the term, to believe something.Although ON CERTAINTY does not dwell much on mental pictures, as does the Philosophical Investigations, commentary on "a system of evidence" does constitute an argument that knowing does not require any mental pictures.W. discloses the concept of a "system of evidence," family of connections, or a world picture throughout the book.This system of evidence is necessary for us to know something.In other words, if we weren't aware of the elements in this system of evidence, we would not be able to assert that we know anything, we wouldn't be able to use the word, to know.In para. 140, we find, "we are taught judgments and their connexion with other judgments."In para. 144, we find, "the child learns . . . bit by bit there forms a system of what is believed . . . it is rather held fast by what lies around it."

In para. 185, we find "It would strike me as ridiculous to want to doubt the existence of Napoleon . . ."To do so would be "doubting our whole system of evidence."In para. 279, we find, "This system is something that a human being acquires by means of observation and instruction."In para. 518, we find commentary on this system of evidence, "Wouldn't a mistake topple all judgment with it." In para. 572, we learn that to know something means that, "If that is wrong, then I am crazy," in other words, that our entire system of evidence is wrong.In para. 594, we find, "My name is L.W.And if someone were to dispute it, I should straightaway make connexions with innumerable things . . ."

In para. 613, we find that the use of the term, to know, is where "a doubt would seem to drag everything with it and plunge it into chaos."

In para 356, we read that to know means "that I should not understand where a doubt could get a foothold."

In para. 614, we find, "If I were contradicted on all sides and told that this person's name was not what I had always known . . . the foundation of all judging would be taken away from me."In para. 617, we find that "Certain events would put me into a position in which I could not go on with the old language-game any further.In which I was torn away from the sureness of the game."

Elegant descriptions of this system of evidence include, "what I hold fast to is . . . a nest of propositions." (para 225), and "this system is something a human being acquires" (para 410).Wittgenstein tells us that when we are confronted with something that casts doubt on something that we know, we usually react by doubting the doubt (paras 516-517).

PAIN.Further evidence as to the difference between to know and to believe comes from commentary about pain.In short, pain is not something you know, but it is something you believe."For to say one knows one has a pain means nothing." (para 504)In other words, under ordinary circumstances, saying "I am in pain" makes sense, but saying "I know that I am in pain" does not add anything further and, in fact, it seems like a nonsense statement.(But it does make sense to say, "I know that he is in pain." (para 535))Thus, it appears that Wittgenstein is saying that "I know that I am in pain" is like uttering, "I believe such and such."Here, the utterance is valid and cannot be questioned, and here it is not relevant to point to the system of evidence, to "connexions with innumerable things," or to "a nest of propositions."Pain is frequently discussed in PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS (para 244, 288, 303, 310, 351, 403, 404, 666, 667, of the PI).The value of reading ON CERTAINTY, is that its focused effort in contrasting to know with to believe, as well as its (all-too-brief) commentary about pain, should inspire a better understanding of the PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS, especially on the PI's comments about pain.

4-0 out of 5 stars Certain to be rewarding
These late jottings express a range of philosophical innovations, any of which could prompt manic marginalia and the rattling insomnia of influence. I am also grateful that the editors have supplied parallel-page German passages. Reading time well spent, and a superb use of paper and ink.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read For Anyone Interested In Epistemology
Not much to add given the reviews already put up. I'd just suggest reading Hilary Putnam's RENEWING PHILOSOPHY and THE MANY FACES OF REALISM as a companion to this volume. I probably interpret Witt a little differently than most. I take this book to be an affirmation that ultimately all epistemology bottom's out in VALUES, in what we care about and what we think is important. Ultimately, "reasonableness" is a value judgment. Witt doesn't tell us to avoid always warring against the underlying values of another epistemic system, but does want us to be careful when we do so. An interesting and important read if for no other reason to understand more fully the work of men like William Alston, who emphasize the essentially social nature of all knowledge. Its one of Witt's easier books and I highly recommend it. ... Read more

10. Notebooks, 1914-1916
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
Paperback: 140 Pages (1984-01-15)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$15.00
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Asin: 0226904474
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This considerably revised second edition of Wittgenstein's 1914-16 notebooks contains a new appendix with photographs of Wittgenstein's original work, a new preface by Elizabeth Anscombe, and a useful index by E.D. Klemke. Corrections have been made throughout the text, and notes have been added, making this the definitive edition of the notebooks. The writings intersperse Wittgenstein's technical logical notations with his thoughts on the meaning of life, happiness, and death.

"When the first edition of this collection of remarks appeared in 1961 we were provided with a glimpse of the workings of Wittgenstein's mind during the period when the seminal ideas of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus were being worked out. This second edition provided the occasion to be struck anew by the breadth, rigor, and above all the restlessness of that mind."—T. Michael McNulty, S. J., The Modern Schoolman
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5-0 out of 5 stars A Thankful Supplement to Wittgenstein's Most Difficult Text
In 1950, Wittgenstein tried to have all of his old notebooks destroyed. Thankfully, three sets of texts escaped this unhappy fate. The first two are some of Wittgenstein's personal notebooks from August 1914 to October 1915, found at the house of his sister; these comprise the main content of this book. The third set consists of three texts from the collection of Bertrand Russell, which are printed as appendices. The first appendix is Wittgenstein's 1913 "Notes on Logic," which was his first attempt to formulate a comprehensive, proto-Tractatus. The second is a few pages of notes that Wittgenstein dictated to G.E. Moore in 1914, who came to visit while Wittgenstein was living isolated with his thoughts in Norway. The third appendix consists of extracts of Wittgenstein's letters to Russell.

In the second edition of this book, images of a few passages of Wittgenstein's symbolism are printed in a fourth appendix; these were omitted from the first edition because no one could make heads or tails of them. (As far as this reviewer knows, no progress has been made there.)

In a lovely preface to the first edition of this text, first published in 1961, the editors give expression to the role that this text can play for the students of Wittgenstein. Unfortunately, it was omitted from the second edition, and so I quote from it here:

"We publish this material as an aid to students of the Tractatus. Most of it is no easier than the Tractatus itself; it naturally shews development; thus when it appears to present views different from those of the Tractatus, there is no need to reconcile the two. It should not be used without more ado as evidence for particular interpretations of the Tractatus. It does shew clearly, however, what problems formed the context of Wittgenstein's remarks in the Tractatus; in this way it will serve to cut short some argument where wholly irrelevant contexts are supposed by an interpretation." (v)

Indeed, this book is simply invaluable to any serious student of the Tractatus; I cannot imagine studying one without the other. Passages in the notebooks are cross-referenced with similar or identical ones found in the Tractatus, and helpful comments are given in footnotes by the editors. Although not all of Wittgenstein's cryptic personal remarks shed light on his published work, many of them provide the blessing of context for propositions in the Tractatus that are otherwise maddenlingly opaque.

As for the extent to which the Notebooks might reduce some of the extensive dispute about how to interpret Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: that much remains, appropriately, in extensive dispute. But if you have ever tried to tackle what may be Wittgenstein's most difficult work, only to find yourself banging your head against the pages, I guarantee that you will find great satisfaction in reading this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Insight into the Early Wittgenstein
This book shows well the development of Wittgenstein's early thought.It is easier to see where his influences effected his thought.The metaphysical nature of his early thinking and his debt to Schopenhauer areclearer in this text than they are in any other.I have substracted onestar only because I prefer his later thinking, and these notes, as thetitle states, are only from 1914 through 1916. ... Read more

11. Wittgenstein's Vienna Revisited
by Allan Janik
Hardcover: 287 Pages (2001-04-12)
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Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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4-0 out of 5 stars Wittgenstein and Fin-de-Siecle Vienna
This book is a follow-up to Janik and Toulmin's earlier study, "Wittgenstein's Vienna".Unlike the earlier book, this book consists of a series of essays which are loosely connected by some transitional passages and melded into a book.In spite of its somewhat patchwork character, this book is a good study of Vienna and the influence of its writers, psychologists, and composers on Wittgenstein.A major goal of the book is to place Wittgenstein's thought in the context of European culture and thought rather than seeimg him solely within the context of the English (and American) analytical philosophy which he influenced profoundly.

Of the twelve chapters in the book, the first six have little to do with an analysis of Wittgenstein's thought.Rather they consist of expositions of certain turn-of-the century Viennese thinkers.Chief of these, and probably the most fascinating figure in the book is Otto Weininger who wrote a book called "Sex and Character" at the age of 23 just before his suicide.Weininger is known as an influence on Wittgenstein.He is also remembered, when he is thought of at all, for his anti-feminism and anti-semitism.Janik attempts to capture something of the complexity of Weininger's thought by placing him in the Kantian tradition and as a practitioner of what Janik terms "critical modernism."

There are also good discussions in the first half of the book of Arnold Schoenberg and, surprisingly to me Jacques Offenbach.These composers are juxtaposed with Weininger for their critical, deflatonary tendency in art and thought.They are presented as challenging the tendencies of turn-of-century Vienna towards an entertainment, theatrical culture -- shades of the present.

The second half of the book deals more directly with Wittgenstein.It discusses the thought of the logical positivists, of the philosopher of science Hertz, the satirist Karl Kraus (the focus of the earlier "Wittgenstein's Vienna), Freud, and the Viennese poet Trakl.Here again, Janik does not analyze Wittgenstein's thought in detail.Instead, he takes certain broad themes suggested by Wittgenstein such as the distinction between saying and showing, "the mystical", the nature of religous experience, and the living of the everyday and shows possible sources of these themes in the thinkers he examines.The material is interesting and valuable, probably more for the light it casts on the thinkers Janik discusses than for the light it casts on Wittgenstein.

This is a good, difficult book about an important creative period in the early 20th Century and about an important and difficult 20th Century philosopher. ... Read more

12. Wittgenstein's Lectures, Cambridge, 1930-32 (Midway Reprint)
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
 Paperback: 136 Pages (1989-06-15)
list price: US$10.95
Isbn: 0226904407
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13. Letters from Ludwig Wittgenstein with A Memoir (English and German Edition)
by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Paul Engelmann
Paperback: Pages (1974-03)
list price: US$2.95
Isbn: 0818013192
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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5-0 out of 5 stars Friendship
Paul Engelmann was an architect who studied under Adolf Loos in Vienna.In Vienna he saw a lot of Karl Kraus and Wittgenstein the preface informs us, (although he had met Wittgenstein earlier).Josef Schacter describes Engelmann as a mystic.The letters cover the period of the preparation and publication of the TRACTATUS.

In October 1919 Wittgenstein admits that he is attending a teachers' training college.He writes that since returning from prison camp he does not pursue goals directly, but proceeds along byways.He is looking for a publisher for his book.Wittgenstein is heartened by the offer of Bertrand Russell to write an introduction to it.

Wittgenstein reports he has been in a terrible state of mind and he has suffered through such a condition at earlier times.He says a symptom of the condition is not being able to get over a particular fact.He believes the remedy is to come to terms with the fact.He reports that for his holiday he has taken a job as an assistant gardener at a monastery.

Next we learn Wittgenstein is working at a primary school and he claims to need the work in terms of his mental state.He feels he has been morally dead for more than a year.He says he had a task, did not do it, and now his failure is wrecking his life.

By August, 1925, Wittgenstein is staying at Lewes with Maynard Keynes.In 1937 he writes from Trinity College, Cambridge.

It seems that Engelmann is from Olmutz where his parents, after a business failure, feel declasse.They are cultured people, nonetheless, and a group of young intellectuals enjoy their company and appreciate the hospitality provided.It comes to pass that Wittgenstein is very receptive to the tone of warmth of the Engelmann circle.In 1916 his interest in Engelmann and his parents seemed notable because he was a resident of Vienna from a prominent millionaire's family.Wittgenstein underwentmilitary training at Olmutz in 1916.

The positive achievement of Wittgenstein, Engelmann asserts, is his pointing to what is manifest in a proposition.Wittgenstein encountered Russell's logic, his philosophy, as a mature mind.In school he had shown exceptional technical gifts.Engelmann feels Wittgenstein wrote TRACTATUS after being stimulated by the ideas of Russell and Frege.It was philosophy that mattered to Wittgenstein, not logic, he says in conclusion.

1-0 out of 5 stars Letters from Ludwig
Engelmann was an architect who collaborated with Wittgenstein in building a house in Vienna.The actual letters are without any value, being a short postcard paragraph usually saying that Ludwig was not well, apologising fornot writing and craving for human contact. There is some backgroundbiographical information which is inferior to accounts by von Wright andNorman malcolm. A chapter by Engelmann, a non philosopher, on the Tractatusis tortuous. The only value is some insight into Wittgestein's religiousinterests - which are marginal to his philosophy ... Read more

14. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-10-04)
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This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more

15. Major Works: Selected Philosophical Writings
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
Paperback: 448 Pages (2009-03-01)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$6.71
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Asin: 0061550248
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Major Works is the finest single-volume anthology of influential philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's important writings. Featuring the complete texts of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, The Blue and Brown Books: Studies for 'Philosophical Investigations,' and On Certainty, this new collection selects from the early, middle, and later career of this revolutionary thinker, widely recognized as one of the most profound minds of all time.

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5-0 out of 5 stars A fantastic bargain: the best one-volume Wittgenstein ever published in English
In brief, this is simply the best single-volume representation of Wittgenstein's work ever compiled in English, and it represents an incredible bargain for students, teachers, and general readers -- perhaps the most philosophy for the buck that one could find outside of a paperback Plato.

The volume is a compilation of Wittgenstein's work, selected in order to give readers an idea of his whole career: the vitally important Tractatus represents his early work, while his "middle" period is represented by the "Blue and Brown Books" (studies for the Philosophical Investigations, which is not included in this volume) and his late work by the posthumously published On Certainty.This is a fairly comprehensive selection: certainly every reader will want to grapple with the Tractatus, and while it would be nice to have the Investigations themselves represented here, the preliminary studies in the Blue and Brown Books deserve equal attention -- these are actually often richer, more full of examples and explorations into the philosophy of language and mind, than the finished product.(Still, if you're supplementing this with another volume, the Investigations would be the obvious choice.)On Certainty is the least important text of the three on its own merits, but this gnomic late work's inclusion here will help readers see Wittgenstein's full intellectual trajectory, the directions his late work moved away from the earlier writings, more clearly.

No translators are prominently credited here, sadly, but all these works appear to be given in their original English versions as earlier published by Blackwell.The Tractatus, in particular, is definitely C.K. Ogden's early version rather than the later translation by Pears and McGuinness (both these are widely used; the later version is also cheaply available in Routledge's edition for readers interested in comparing the two). ... Read more

16. Culture and Value
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
Paperback: 195 Pages (1984-05-15)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$8.42
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Asin: 0226904350
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Peter Winch's translation of Wittgenstein's remarks on culture and value presents all entries chronologically, with the German text alongside the English and a subject index for reference.

"It was Wittgenstein's habit to record his thoughts in sequences of more or less closely related 'remarks' which he kept in notebooks throughout his life. The editor of this collection has gone through these notebooks in order to select those 'remarks' which deal with Wittgenstein's views abou the less technical issues in his philosophy. So here we have Wittgenstein's thoughts about religion, music, architecture, the nature of philosophy, the spirit of our times, genius, being Jewish, and so on. The work is a masterpiece by a mastermind."—Leonard Linsky
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Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Untangling the web
"Culture and Value" is a fascinating compilation of tidbits on art, religion and culture by the great 20th century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein grew up in the culture milieu of Vienna. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had self-destructed in WWI, but Vienna was still a center of culture and philosophy. Wittgenstein absorbed culture readily- Brahms had played for his family, Freud and Jung debated psychoanalysis in Viennese coffee shops. It was one of the epicenters of 20th century philosophy.

"Culture and Value" is a compilation of Wittgenstein's personal quotations. Wittgenstein struggled with his Jewishness, Christianity, and being gay. He was an extremely conflicted man, and this book shows it. He saw himself as an unforgivable sinner. He wrote his own confessions. He was a fan of St. Augustine Confessions (Penguin Classics) along with Leo Tolstoy Leo Tolstoy: Spiritual Writings (Modern Spiritual Masters). Tolstoy and Augustine were extremely ascetic. Augustine renounced a life of pleasure for a celibate one, who even denounced the marital embrace as "overthrowing man's reason." Tolstoy had been promiscuous as a youth, and after fathering several children with his wife, withheld the marital embrace from her to show his superiority. Wittgenstein struggled with his desires for natural human things-emotions, relationships- and his desire for the divine.

"Culture and Value" is a fascinating book. It shows that Wittgenstein's thinking was labyrinthine. He compares philosophers to children, and he had the capacity for childlike wonder. Wonder is, after all, the beginning of philosophy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Smarter Than Einstein
I read Wittgenstein's commentary found in this Culture & Value shortly after reading Einstein's The World As I see It, and there were obvious similarities to be found-- but what else could one expect from such creative intellects?

The commentaries of both are priceless, and truly help the reader in [i]seeing[/i] the world as these mammoth intellects did in the time on earth they shared.For there was much to be found akin these two in terms not only of time periods and political views, but religious sentiments and classical reverence.

What separated the two works is something I can only now say, and it is quite profound: Whereas Einstein made brilliant commentary of the present, Wittgenstein commented on the whole of Western Civilization-- and of its future, too.

It is easy to find in these short sentences the truth that W never was a Logical Positivist just as easily as it is to find in The Duty of Genius.CV was the first book I purchased in regards to W, foolishly thinking it was one of his works.However, I do not regret the purchase, as the words found therein are as priceless as any of his others.

As for the essentially LW, I would also highly recommend "The Vision of Wittgenstein" by H.L. Finch, as no other Author to date has grasped the man as well as Mr. Finch.Believe me, I've been through them all.

3-0 out of 5 stars Minor work by our greatest psychologist
This is Wittgenstein's leastinteresting book, being onlyrandom notesdealing with art, music, religion and other areasof culture,taken from hisnotebooks over the course of hislife.But W is never dull and it's a measure ofthe awe in whichhe is held that this book was even published. I can't imagine publishing such a book by anyone else,--certainly no philosopher.
Those interested in W should go to nearly any of the other 20,000 odd pages of his works (butNOTthe Tractatus!)- but those with little acquaintance be forewarned, though W may seem a shallow tepid pool, if you jump in you may never stop swimming.You might wish to consult my other reviews such as that of Hofstadter's "I am a strange loop" for detailed comments on W and his revelations on language, thought and reality.Nearly all of W's writings are contained on a searchable CD issued by Blackwell and available for about $100 from Intelex while his vast and largely untranslated nachlass costs about $1000 on CD and another $1000 for the CD's with images of the 20,000 odd pages of the original manuscripts.However, like hundreds of other psychology books, they are also available via interlibrary loan or on p2p.
AlthoughI've never seen anyone say so, W was a history making pioneer in cognitive and evolutionary psychology--the first person (and arguably one of the few to this day!) to see the structure of our innate intentional psychology.As a philosopher (armchair psychologist), all of his research was thought experiments and introspection.It is an easily defensible view that he is the greatest natural psychologist to date and nobody has ever matched his talent for describing the mind at work.
Nearly all the meatiest items from his papers have been culled for other works, and mostly the dregs remain for this book, butI have selected a few comments that seemedto me of generalphilosophical interest.
``There is no religious denomination in which the misuse of metaphysicalexpressions has been responsible for so much sin as it has in mathematics.``
``People say againandagain that philosophy doesn't really progress, that we are still occupied with the same philosophical problems as were the Greeks.But the people who say this don't understand why is has to be so. It is because our language has remainedthe sameand keeps seducing us into asking the same questions.As longas there continues to be a verb 'to be'that looksas if itfunctionsin the same way as 'to eat' and 'to drink',as long as we stillhavethe adjectives 'identical', 'true','false','possible',as long as we continueto talk ofa river of time, of an expanse of space, etc., etc., peoplewill keepstumbling over the samepuzzlingdifficulties andfind themselves staring atsomethingwhich no explanationseemscapable of clearing up. And what's more,this satisfies a longing for the transcendent, because, insofar as people think they can see `the limits ofhuman understanding',they believe of course thatthey can see beyondthese.``

``Philosophersoften behave like little children who scribble some marks onapiece of paper at random and then ask the grown-up'whatsthat?`It happenedlike this: the grown-up had drawn picturesfor the childseveral times and said`this is a man', 'thisis a house',etc.And then thechild makes some marks too and asks `whatsthis then?'

'' A curiousanalogycould be based on the fact that even the hugesttelescopehasto have an eyepiece no bigger than the human eye.''

''The power of language has to make everything look the same, whichis mostglaringly evident in the dictionary and which makes thepersonification of timepossible: something no less remarkable than wouldhave been making divinities ofthe logical constants.``

``Philosophers say 'after death a timeless state will begin', or:'at deatha timeless state begins', and do not notice that they haveusedthewords'after', and 'it'and 'begins' in a temporalsense and thattemporality isembedded in theirgrammar.``

''Thequeer resemblance betweena philosphical investigation and(perhapsespecially in mathematics) an aesthetic one. (E.g., what isbadabout thisgarment,how should it be, etc.).

''Unshakeablefaith (E.g.,in a promise). Is it any less certain thanbeingconvinced of a mathematical truth? -But does that make the languagegames anymore alike?''

``Nothing ismore importantfor teaching us to understand theconcepts wehavethan toconstruct fictitious ones.``

``It'sonly bythinking even more crazily than philosophers do thatyoucan solve their problems.``

``Ambitionis the deathof thought.``

5-0 out of 5 stars Just A Tip
Pay close attention to Witt's writings on religion. Not systematic or consistent, but some of what he says is really informative.

4-0 out of 5 stars Delightful
A hugely enjoyable collection of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's comments about art, music, language, culture, Jewish life, religion in general, and a number of other topics. These writings were certainly never intended to be published, and one gets the slightly uncomfortable (though pleasurable) impression that Wittgenstein would not want them to be read. It's not in the same league as his more serious woks of philosophy, but it's an excellent way to understand his views on more earthly topics. The book is divided into dated quotes, and they're almost all interesting, and sometimes quite bizarre. I'll leave you with some of his insights:

"Someone who knows too much finds it hard not to lie."

"The problems of life are insoluble on the surface and can only be solved in depth. They are insoluble in surface dimensions."

"Genius is what makes us forget the master's talent."

"Genius is what makes us forget skill."

"Language sets everyone the same traps; it is an immense network of easily accessible wrong turnings. And so we watch one man after another walking down the same paths and we know in advance where he will branch off, where walk straight on without noticing the side turning, etc. etc. What I have to do then is erect signposts at all the junctions where there are wrong turnings so as to help people past the danger points." ... Read more

17. Wittgenstein's Lectures: Cambridge, 1932-1935 (Great Books in Philosophy)
by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Alice Ambrose, Margaret MacDonald
Paperback: 225 Pages (2001-03)
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Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein had an enormous influence on twentieth-century philosophy even though only one of his works, the famous "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus", was published in his lifetime. Beyond this publication, the impact of his thought was mainly conveyed to a small circle of students through his lectures at Cambridge University. Fortunately, many of his ideas have survived in both the dictations that were subsequently published, and the notes taken by his students, among them Alice Ambrose and the late Margaret Macdonald, from 1932 to 1935. These notes, now edited by Professor Ambrose, are here published, and they shed much light on Wittgenstein's philosophical development. Among the topics considered are the meaning of a word and its relation to common usage, rules of grammar and their relation to fact, the grammar of first person statements, language games, and the nature of philosophy. This volume is indispensable to any serious discussion of Wittgenstein's work. ... Read more

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5-0 out of 5 stars Needed for every work but the PI
This selection of notes is a mandatory purchase for anyone interested in Wittgenstein.It is a thorough introduction to the style of Ludwig, and the notes herein clarify immensely upon what was written in the Tractatus, the Philosophical Remarks, the Philosophical Grammar, and the Blue and Brown Books.Roughly everything but the Philosophical Investigations.

Ambrose concludes in her introduction that what is contained is substantially correct.Her least valued lectures, the ones on Philosophy and Philosophy for Mathematicians, are so because she mostly copied what Wittgenstein said verbatim-- hardly a fault in my view.However, these two sets of lectures are better served as compliments to the Philosophical Remarks (and TLP) and Grammar, respectively.

The Yellow Book is ample by its self, however, and is as cogent of an introduction to Wittgenstein as the Blue and Brown Books.The other set of lectures (no title, just years) are equally a breeze to read, but I have yet to put them under my thumb in the literature of Wittgenstein.Regardless, their addition makes this book a fountain of ideas.

5 Stars. ... Read more

18. Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir
by Norman Malcolm
Paperback: 144 Pages (2001-10-18)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$27.00
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Asin: 0199247595
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Ludwig Wittgenstein remains one of the most powerful influences on contemporary philosophy, yet he shunned publicity and was an extremely private man. His friend Norman Malcolm (himself an eminent philosopher) wrote this remarkably vivid personal memoir of Wittgenstein--first published in 1958 to wide acclaim for its moving and truthful portrait of the gifted yet difficult man. And, although much has been published about Wittgenstein since his death, nothing brings us closer to the philosopher himself than this modest classic. Now in a new edition, it includes the complete text of the fifty-seven letters that Wittgenstein wrote to Malcolm over a period of eleven years, revealing how friendship deeply mattered to Wittgenstein: he advises, warns, jokes, and is grateful and affectionate. The volume also features a concise biographical sketch by Georg Henrik von Wright, another leading philosopher and friend of Wittgenstein. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars tell them I've had a wonderful life...
Erich Heller, a Germanist at Northwestern who left very readable and witty essays on Nietzsche, Kafka, Rilke, Wittgenstein and others, commented on the difficulty of understanding Wittgenstein in these words: ""Do you understand Kant?" is like asking "Have you been to the summit of Mont Blanc?" The answer is *yes* or *no*. "Do you understand Nietzsche?" is like asking "Do you know Rome?" The answer is simple only if you have never been there. The trouble with Wittgenstein's thinking is that it sometimes looks like Descartes's: you believe you can learn it as you learn logic or mathematics; but it almost always is more like Pascal's: you may be quite sure you cannot."

When it comes to the thought of Nietzsche, Pascal, Kierkegaard or Wittgenstein, he notes, its "temperature is of its essence, in its passion lies its seriousness, the rhythm of the sentences that express it is as telling as is that which they tell, and sometimes a semicolon marks the frontier between a thought and a triviality." If what we see in their philsophies are indeed the "destinies of souls," then an intimate understanding of the people they were should be essential for an understanding of their thought. And, in Wittgenstein's case, this memoir will be of not a small help.

An anecdote from this memoir seems to have become almost a legend, often quoted as exemplary Wittgensteinian integrity. One day on a walk with Wittgenstein in 1939, Malcolm mentions something about how what he believes to be the British "national character" would make it unlikely that they invade Germany. Wittgenstein remembers this and reproaches Malcolm 5 years later in a letter. To Wittgenstein, using a phrase like "national character" betrays a primitiveness and inability to be honest in thinking. And the very reason one studies philosophy is to improve thinking about important questions of everyday life. To quote him from the letter: "thinking about these things is not thrilling, but often downright nasty. And when it's nasty then it's most important ... You can't think decently if you don't want to hurt yourself."

A good life to Wittgenstein was living for the thing for which one has a talent with all the energy all life long. That way, the idea of immortality may assume a meaning. As Malcolm tells us, such was what Wittgenstein thought of one's "duty": "Wittgenstein once suggested that a way in which the notion of immortality can acquire a meaning is through one's feeling that one has duties from which one cannot be released, even by death. Wittgenstein himself possessed a stern sense of duty."

Early in Ray Monk's biography, we read about a discussion about "soul" between Russell and Wittgenstein. As to Wittgenstein's question of why it is so hard not to lose one's soul sometime in life, Russell's answer was perhaps the best way not to lose it is to have a purpose to devote oneself to. Wittgenstein disagrees and says it is a matter of suffering, how to endure suffering. Here we see an incompatible difference in the characters of these two thinkers. This also reminded me what he said upon his death, "tell them I've had a wonderful life." I think he really thought he had a wonderful life and it had to do with his talent for suffering.

5-0 out of 5 stars Biographical Overview plus Intimate Memoir
This volume contains two independant pieces of writing about the giant of 20th Century philosophy, Ludwig Wittgenstein. The first, shorter Biographical Sketch by Cambridge colleague, Georg Henrick Von Wright covers the broad outlines of Wittgenstein's life and work in the first 22 pages of this slim volume. The remaining 78 pages are occupied by one of Wittgenstein's more influential and dedicated American students, Norman Malcolm, and it deals only with Malcolm's personal experiences with Wittgenstein from mid-1938 at Cambridge to Wittgenstein's death on April 27, 1951.

While Von Wright's piece is an essential introduction, it is Malcolm's memoir which had me reading this slim volume over and over as I began my studies of modern Philosophy in 1963. This was before any of the several long biographies now available, and long before the notority of the little book 'Wittgenstein's Poker'. At this time, we only had Wittgenstein's two major works, the 'Philosphical Investigations' and the earlier 'Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus' plus the 'Blue and Brown Books' and, I believe, another slim volume of aphorisms, 'Zettel' (German for 'notes').

Malcolm was one of a core group of students who seemed to see be apostles to Wittgenstein's philosophical Messiah. I especially recall meeting another of Wittgenstein's students, Stephen Toulmin, who spoke of Wittgenstein with a particular reverence reserved for only two or three of the century's greatest thinkers such as Einstein, Stravinsky, and Picasso.

Wittgenstein's life seemed to be a great contradiction, as he seemed to suffer great bouts of depression and anxiety, and working on philosophy seemed to give him all the pain of childbirth. And yet, when he was told he had but a few days to live, he said 'Great! Tell them I've had a wonderful life.'

After all these years, I still find lessons from Wittgenstein's life in this little book. That may be because I practically memorized it 40 years ago, but one can find much worse exemplars for life than the memorable Ludwig Wittgenstein.

I'm surprised to see how pricy this little book has become. Fortunately it is durably bound, as my 40 year old copy is still in good shape, so don't be too reluctant to acquire a used copy, as long as it is not marked up.

5-0 out of 5 stars Human side of an Austere Philosopher
Norman Malcolm's memoir of his friend and colleague, Wittgenstein, is a very personal account of the man that gives the reader a human side to this enigmatic and austere philosopher. Malcolm's descriptions of Wittgenstein delivering his unorthodox lectures in the philosopher's minimalist rooms at Cambridge - students crammed sitting and standing shoulder to shoulder, the philosopher glaring at any late comer, gesticulating in silence like a suffering mime to achieve a crystalline synthesis of thought, has now become legend. Wittgenstein was an extemporaneous lecturer, never using notes, uncannily picking up the thread of his thoughts from the previous weeks lecture. Malcolm admits that he didn't really begin to understand Wittgenstein until years after attending these "conversations". However this memoir is not about Wittgenstein's philosophy, but about Wittgenstein the man, by way of personal anecdotes and an eleven-year correspondence up until only thirteen days before Wittgenstein's death from prostate cancer.

There are many moving and humorous anecdotes in this memoir, however two in particular really stand out: While visiting Cambridge, Malcolm and his wife would occasionally have Wittgenstein over for dinner. More often than not, he would insist on doing the dishes, but preferred to do them in the bathtub with extremely hot water and a fair amount of soap. This way, he insisted, was the only method to wash dishes to ensure their utter cleanliness. He would often scold Malcolm for not drying the plates properly.This incident may seem minor, but it really exemplifies Wittgenstein's intense character, and what ever he put his attention on, it would be done to the best of his ability.

On one spring evening, after washing up, Wittgenstein, Malcolm and his wife set off on one of their many walks around campus. Wittgenstein began talking about the planets in the solar system and their relationships. He told Malcolm's wife that she was the sun and to continue walking; Malcolm was told he was the earth and to run around her, orbit, counter clockwise; Wittgenstein took the role of the moon, the most difficult, and ran around Malcolm at top speed. Anyone observing this spectacle from afar must have thought they were crazy, but Malcolm said it was extremely difficult and exhilarating experience.

Overall the text is divided into three sections: a well-written biographical sketch by Wittgenstein's colleague at Cambridge, G.H. von Wright. The second section is Malcolm's moving and humorous memoir, ending in the third section with a collection of correspondence from Wittgenstein to Malcolm spanning over eleven years. It is these letters that show the human side of Wittgenstein, his tireless work ethic and his concern for the well being of his friends.

If you have any interest in the character of this interesting philosopher, Malcolm's memoir is an excellent text.

5-0 out of 5 stars Have Monk?Still buy the Malcolm
I read the Monk biography first, then the McGuinness.They are both extremely valuable.But, O my, the Malcolm!Do get this one too.It is wonderful.


5-0 out of 5 stars A vivid memory
Norman Malcolm was a close friend of Ludwig Wittgenstein's. They exchanged many letters and the reader can discover the 56 letters that Wittgenstein sent to Malcolm between March 26 1940 to April 16 1951 in this book.
Norman Malcolm does not discuss Wittgenstein's philosophical works - although he attended a respectable number of his lectures - but describes the philosopher in his daily life, his tastes, his talks with his fellows in Cambridge. It is interesting to learn that Wittgenstein was an emphatic talker both while lecturing and conversing privately, that he dressed as simply as possible although he had rigorous standards of cleanliness and that his room at Trinity College was austerely furnished.
His lectures were quite original. He didn't address his audience in a formal way but the meetings - in his room where the members of the class had to bring chairs - were rather a conversation during which Wittgenstein carried on original research. He was usually impatient and easily angered and his students often feared him. Making friendship with Wittgenstein was very exacting since his extreme harshness could rebuke a friend. Malcolm often experienced that Wittgenstein had a tendency to be suspicious of motives and character. It was always a strain to be with Wittgenstein because of the intellectual demands of his conversation and his ruthless severity. This was due to his passionate love of truth and that is the reason why his philosophical thoughts tortured and exhausted him. He detested academic life, he could not stand the society of his academic colleagues and could not suffer all forms of affectation and insincerity. His mood was often sombre because of the difficulty of achieving understanding in philosophy. As he struggled to work through a problem, his listeners felt that they were in the presence of real suffering. That may explain his strong inclination to pessimism, a feeling that was often close to despair. Another source of torment was that he felt himself to be a failure as a teacher, a profession he abandoned after a few years to devote himself exclusively to philosophy.
Towards the end of his life, Wittgenstein spent long months with Malcolm and his wife in America where Malcolm could witness Wittgenstein's increasing difficulty to concentrate and think, mainly because of his fragile health. A moving memory of one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. ... Read more

19. Remarks on Colour: 30th Anniversary Edition
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
Paperback: 130 Pages (2007-03-21)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$15.03
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0520251792
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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This book comprises material on colour which was written by Wittgenstein in the last eighteen months of his life. It is one of the few documents which shows him concentratedly at work on a single philosophical issue. The principal theme is the features of different colours, of different kinds of colour (metallic colour, the colours of flames, etc.) and of luminosity--a theme whichWittgenstein treats in such a way as to destroy the traditional idea that colour is a simple and logically uniform kind of thing.
This edition consists of Wittgenstein's basic German text, together with an English translation. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Color as a Way in to Discuss the Status of Concepts
I've had this book for so long (without ever having read it) that the price on it is $2.95.So it's an earlier edition than the one here.

Color had at one time been a kind of standard philosophical topic. The empiricists had deemed color a "secondary quality" of objects, something that arises and is dependent on our perceptual interaction with objects rather than a "primary" quality of objects themselves.Goethe's Theory of Color, in the context of advances in optical theory, had provoked the question of how physical explanations of color relate to the experience of color.

What especially interests Wittgenstein is what always interests him -- what is the status of our color concepts?Is the fact that white is not included among the primary colors, or that we never speak of "bluish yellow" reflective of facts in the world, or are they more like the logic of our linguistic behavior?If the latter, are they changeable? The Remarks on Color come from the same time as the remarks in On Certainty, just before Wittgenstein's death from prostate cancer.Those questions about the grounding of apparently empirical statements were very much on his mind.

One of the discussions reading the book stimulated for me goes against the idea that precision is a requirement for "understanding" or for competence, as if the application of concepts (like our color concepts) were governed by rules held up against our experience of reality.People are generally very competent at telling the colors of objects, but very few could give you definitions of colors or say precisely where one color ends and another begins.And even the definitions and boundaries that some could give would be questionable.Defining a color in terms of a wavelength of light, for example hardly captures what is meant by the color.Pointing to a spot along a spectrum and saying, "Here is where orange ends and yellow begins" will always seem declarative, not factual.

Surely some of this is what the empiricist philosophers were getting at by treating color as a "secondary quality" of objects .But it won't do just to say that, well, color is an imprecise thing because it isn't completely objective.Other qualities -- hardness, softness, slickness, . . . we operate confidently with all of these but we can't set boundaries to them or recite confident definitions.

All of this has to do with a kind of autonomy of speech, something overdone in the postmoderns, maybe, but valid nevertheless.The application of terms (or better maybe, the practice of language) isn't bound by objects and their properties in any simple way.

But then some (thank God, only some) will see all of this as a "problem" -- confusion, disorder, imprecision, lack of clarity.And they will propose to solve the problem with precise definitions and strict boundaries.Such things, they say, are needed for clarity and accuracy in our concepts.All that precision and clarity are really needed only in extraordinary circumstances, as when a painter color-matches paints.The extraordinary circumstances don't reveal a flaw in the ordinary circumstances.

Worse yet, others (like traditional AI researchers) will say that, whether we can articulate it or not, we do have an implicit, precise understanding of what colors are and where one color stops and another begins.It's as though it must be that way because they can only imagine it that way.Failures of the imagination are hardly the key to truth.

Wittgenstein also discusses color-blindness, and since I am color-blind, I always get caught up by the topic -- peoplewho are curious about color-blindness often ask me "what do you see?" as if that were a question I could make sense of in a way that would make them understand something.Suppose I ask them "What do you see?"They say, "I see red."So do I . . . when I see red.

Here's one way to explain it, maybe.Suppose you are sitting with an artist, one with a great sensitivity to colors, and you have a bunch of red color samples in front of you.The artist sees many different reds, while you see red in each one.To you they just seem so close together as to be indistinguishable.To her, they seem different.Then imagine it's you and me sitting in front of the color samples, but this time they aren't all red.To you, they seem different.To me, they don't.It's not a matter of seeing something different from color-sighted people; it's a matter of not seeing distinctions that others see, just as you don't see distinctions that the artist sees.Don't know if that works, but . . . wth.

3-0 out of 5 stars Wittgensteinian stream of consciousness on aspects of color
This is not a polished, coherent work but simply, as the title suggests, collected scattered thoughts, questions and observations on color. Wittgenstein is most interested in issues of clarity, purity, transparency, luminosity, muddiness, mixing and shading of colors. Also in the nature of individual colors, such as brown, which can't be "pure" and is not a rainbow color; in how white and black, light and shadow can affect colors; and in the nature of being sighted, blind and colorblind. He mentions a game in which one would arrange shades of a color with differing amounts of another color mixed in, e.g. "reddish green".

The book is quite repetitive and very out of date - there are many things that physics at its current level of development could have clarified for W. One interesting bit: W says that people on the street often took him to be blind, which I guess one can sort of see in his gaze in the cover portrait of him.

The edition featured here, like the Basil Blackwell one I read (I think the content is the same; the translators are Linda L. McAlister and Margarete Schättle), is a German-English bilingual edition, a definite convenience, since I could always look back on the original German when either the English was ambiguous, or there was some unusual term for which I wondered what the German was. The English translation is overall very well done and faithful to the original. I finished the whole book since it is short and I am interested in color theory, but I can't say I really recommend the book unless you're a die-hard Wittgenstein fan. I haven't read much W, and this book has not succeeded in motivating me to try anything else by him for now.

2-0 out of 5 stars Unfair to Goethe, Witty disappointingly missed Schopenhauer
**** - Four Stars, and not two as shown above.

--Remarks on Colour-- is the last fruit of one of the greatest intellectuals of the XXth century. It is a book that allows a most clear view of how intuitively brilliant Wittgenstein is; but in more than one sense, it is disappointing. Above all because he writes it largely on the shoulders of Goethe's --Farbenlehre-- and Runge's observations, without dedicating a single comment to him who has been increasingly disclosed as his mentor and master of youth: the unsurpassed creature of insight named Schopenhauer.

As a whole, Wittgenstein's book can be considered a bundle of topic additions and observations to the Farbenlehre. As everything he wrote, it is extremely sharp and illuminating, indeed of inestimable value. However, it lacks what Goethe's readers would be expecting to see: a personal position on those which were Goethe's main aims; firstly, the critique of Newton's famous spectrum of colors: two centuries ago, Goethe brilliantly challenged the Newtonian notion, still held in utmost esteem in our days, that white is composed by a melange of seven colors through a prism. Secondly, an appreciation of Goethe's attempt to postulate what he intuited as the original phenomenon, Urphaenomen, without being able to explain why: colors complement each other qualitatively in pairs - the most important examples would be orange and blue; yellow and violet; and, above all else, green and red.

Wittgenstein is also unfair to Goethe: criticizes him for not having presented a finished theory (III, 125) as if he had ambitioned that; whereas Goethe expressly states in his work that what he has to offer is but "Data zu einer Theorie der Farben". In fact, to translate --Farbenlehre-- in any language as "Theory" of Colors would be a similar mistake. The gap between Goethe's objective observations and subjective self-awareness is bridged precisely by Schopenhauer's treatise of 1816, --On Vision and Colors--, an attempt to account for the subjective forms of colours; Wittgenstein does not mention it once.

Maybe one could, very scholarly speaking, call this a case of bad bibliographical review by a genius thinker. For --Remarks on Colour-- does bring the impression that Wittgenstein did not really know Schopenhauer's treatise at all. But this can only bring astonishment to the reader: the same astonishment that arises when one sees how unnoticed the book has slipped through almost 200 years; for example by Rudolf Steiner, the brilliant thinker who prepared and commented the intents of Goethe in the present edition of the Farbenlehre (3 vols. Verlag Freies Geistesleben). In the case of Wittgenstein, this is especially striking when one considers how much he dwelled with the philosopher's works as he prepared his earlier projects, particularly as the Tractatus was written (a good account can be found at Bryan Magee's --Philosophy of Schopenhauer--, 2nd. ed.). Had Wittgenstein read --On Vision and Colors--, things would have been a lot different, and maybe this entire book would have followed a completely alternate path, since it would have to rise up to the task of judging the treatise of 1816. A sad instance of his neglect can be seen when, at page III-26, Wittgenstein makes comments which he does believe are quite decisive and original, and which would be indeed, had Schopenhauer not already explained why. Witty writes: "Blue and yellow, as well as red and green, seem to me to be opposites - but perhaps that is simply because I am used to seeing them at opposite points on the colour circle". It is something to be truly mourned that a man with such a marvelous intuitive grasp of this fact has missed the chance to meditate the theory that seeks to account for his perceptions. Because they bring no novelty to whomever has had the chance to read Schopenhauer's thoughts of why colors are qualitatively complementary.

At the end, the general impression that remains is that, theoretically, Wittgenstein's comments about colors stand one step below Schopenhauer's treatise, corroborating and indeed confirming it; exactly in the same way in which the --Tractatus-- stands one step below the --Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason--, corroborating and confirming it; and, likewise, not mentioning it.

Schopenhauer's treatise has been for many years out of print in English. Shouldering and even surpassing the Farbenlehre, it is perhaps the most important but, at once, the least read human study of the borderline where philosophy and physiology meet. Which is where Wittgenstein also stands with this little red book, so acclaimed by his own fans. ... Read more

20. Taking Wittgenstein at His Word: A Textual Study (Princeton Monographs in Philosophy)
by Robert J. Fogelin
Hardcover: 200 Pages (2009-11-02)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$29.01
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Asin: 069114253X
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Taking Wittgenstein at His Word is an experiment in reading organized around a central question: What kind of interpretation of Wittgenstein's later philosophy emerges if we adhere strictly to his claims that he is not in the business of presenting and defending philosophical theses and that his only aim is to expose persistent conceptual misunderstandings that lead to deep philosophical perplexities? Robert Fogelin draws out the therapeutic aspects of Wittgenstein's later work by closely examining his account of rule-following and how he applies the idea in the philosophy of mathematics.

The first of the book's two parts focuses on rule-following, Wittgenstein's "paradox of interpretation," and his naturalistic response to this paradox, all of which are persistent and crucial features of his later philosophy. Fogelin offers a corrective to the frequent misunderstanding that the paradox of interpretation is a paradox about meaning, and he emphasizes the importance of Wittgenstein's often undervalued appeals to natural responses. The second half of the book examines how Wittgenstein applies his reflections on rule-following to the status of mathematical propositions, proofs, and objects, leading to remarkable, demystifying results.

Taking Wittgenstein at His Word shows that what Wittgenstein claims to be doing and what he actually does are much closer than is often recognized. In doing so, the book underscores fundamental--but frequently underappreciated--insights about Wittgenstein's later philosophy.

... Read more

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