Ludwig Wittgenstein

Philosopher, Academic

1889 – 1951


Who was Ludwig Wittgenstein?

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. From 1929–1947, Wittgenstein taught at the University of Cambridge. During his lifetime he published just one slim book, the 75-page Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, one article, one book review and a children's dictionary. His voluminous manuscripts were edited and published posthumously. Philosophical Investigations appeared as a book in 1953 and by the end of the century it was considered an important modern classic. Philosopher Bertrand Russell described Wittgenstein as "the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived; passionate, profound, intense, and dominating".

Born in Vienna into one of Europe's richest families, he inherited a large fortune from his father in 1913. He gave some considerable sums to poor artists. In a period of severe personal depression after the first World War, he then gave away his entire fortune to his brothers and sisters. Three of his brothers committed suicide, with Wittgenstein contemplating it too.

Famous Quotes:

  • "What is your aim in philosophy?---To shew the fly the way out of the fly-bottle."
  • Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.
  • We regard the photograph, the picture on our wall, as the object itself (the man, landscape, and so on) depicted there. This need not have been so. We could easily imagine people who did not have this relation to such pictures. Who, for example, would be repelled by photographs, because a face without color and even perhaps a face in reduced proportions struck them as inhuman.
  • There are remarks that sow and remarks that reap.
  • Humor is not a mood but a way of looking at the world. So if it is correct to say that humor was stamped out in Nazi Germany, that does not mean that people were not in good spirits, or anything of that sort, but something much deeper and more important.
  • For a truly religious man nothing is tragic.
  • You get tragedy where the tree, instead of bending, breaks.
  • Our greatest stupidities may be very wise.
  • A new word is like a fresh seed sewn on the ground of the discussion.
  • Resting on your laurels is as dangerous as resting when you are walking in the snow. You doze off and die in your sleep.

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Apr 26, 1889
Also known as
  • Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein
  • Ludwig "Lucki" Wittgenstein
  • Catholicism
  • Judaism
  • Jewish people
  • United Kingdom
  • Austria
  • United States of America
  • Trinity College, Cambridge
  • University of Cambridge
  • Victoria University of Manchester
Lived in
  • Vienna
Apr 29, 1951
Resting place
Ascension Parish Burial Ground

on July 23, 2013


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