Who is Ludwig Wittgenstein?June 25, 2021
Ludwig Wittgenstein, also known as Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein, was an Austrian-born philosopher who lived from 26 April 1889 to 29 April 1951.
Ludwig Wittgenstein made important contributions to modern philosophy with his studies on logic and philosophy of language. Ludwig Wittgenstein is considered one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century.
Although many articles selected from his notebooks, articles and lecture notes were published after his death, the only book he published in his lifetime is “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”, which was published in 1921 when he was a student at Cambridge under the supervision of Bertrand Russell.
Ludwig Wittgenstein was born in Vienna in 1889 into a wealthy family. Vienna at that time was extremely culturally vibrant, and writers and artists of the time were among the visitors to the house where Ludwig grew up.
Ludwig’s father was an engineer and industrialist. His mother was very fond of music. In Ludwig, he had the opportunity to develop his talents in many fields, including music. On the other hand, there were people in the family’s history who had psychological problems and therefore committed suicide. Ludwig himself had to grapple with some psychological problems throughout his life.
When he reached university age, Wittgenstein went first to Berlin and then to Manchester to study engineering. He worked on kites and aircraft propeller design for a while. His interest gradually shifted to mathematics and later to problems related to the foundations of mathematics.
He had a meeting with Frege, and Frege suggested that he go to Cambridge and work with Russell. Wittgenstein took Frege’s advice and went to Cambridge in 1911. Russell describes Wittgenstein’s visit to him at the end of his first term at Cambridge and asking his opinion on whether to pursue philosophy:
At the end of his first term at Cambridge, he came to me and said: “Can you please tell me if I’m a complete idiot?” So I replied: “Dear friend, I don’t know. Why are you asking me?” He said, “Because if I’m a complete idiot, I’ll go and become a pilot, if I’m not, I’ll be a philosopher.”
I told him to write something on a philosophical topic on vacation and then I could tell him if he was a complete idiot. At the beginning of the second term, he brought me completed what he offered. After reading just one sentence, I said to him: “No, you shouldn’t be a pilot”. (“Philosophers and Idiots”, pp.26-27)
When the First World War began, Wittgenstein was working on the Tractatus Logic-Philosophicus. Wittgenstein enlisted in the Austrian army. During the war, he spent about a year as a prisoner of war in an Italian prison camp. During this captivity, he completed the Tractatus.
In this work, language, logic, happiness and so on. he covered many subjects, and when he finished the work, convinced that he had finally solved the subjects he was dealing with, he left philosophy and began teaching in the Austrian villages. During this period, he took up various jobs, from gardening in a convent to designing and building a house for a sister.
Later, at the invitation of Moritz Schlick and Friedrich Waismann, he had discussions with a group of scientists and philosophers known as the Vienna Circle between 1924 and 1932. (We consider the historical course and significance of the Vienna Circle’s work in the next section.)
As a result of the discussions he had with his friends during this period, he changed his mind that there was nothing left to do in the field of philosophy. Upon the invitation he received from Cambridge in 1929, he presented the previously published Tractatus as his doctoral thesis and returned to academic life.
He spent the rest of his life in Cambridge, except for one period during the Second World War. He did not make any publications during this period. Some of his works have been read unofficially in philosophical circles. Philosophical Investigations, his second major work after the Tractatus, was published posthumously in 1953.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, believing that he had solved all the problems of philosophy with the publication of the “Tractatus”, which gave him his doctorate, left his studies and took up various jobs such as primary school teacher, gardener in a convent and architecture of his sister’s house in Vienna.
In response to this, he returned to Cambridge in 1929 to take up a teaching position and review his previous work. He developed a new philosophical method and understanding of language that reached its peak in his second work, “Philosophical Investigations”, which was published after his death.
His early work was heavily influenced by Russell’s studies of logic, a brief study with the German philosopher Gottlob Frege, and Arthur Schopenhauer. When “The Tractatus” was published, it had a great impact on the positivist group called the Vienna Circle. However, Wittgenstein did not consider himself a member of this school, and logical positivism’s “Tracta