Wittgenstein and Biography

Brian McGuinness

in The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199287505
Published online January 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Wittgenstein and Biography

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There are obvious ways in which the study of Ludwig Wittgenstein's thought must have recourse to the facts of his life. Much of the most intimate part of Wittgenstein's own diaries was written in a simple code understood in his family, as if it were addressed to them, like one of the ‘confessions’ he often talked about and more than once made. In the notebooks in which he recorded his thoughts for future reflection or use, personal reflections abound. He interrupts his philosophical writing to exclaim, sometimes but not always in code, on his weaknesses, his vanity, his sins, or his aspirations — all of which of course might infect his philosophical writing as much as any other aspect of his life. He constantly felt that he could easily relapse into vanity, in philosophy as elsewhere. In the case of autobiography itself (he said, reflecting on his current activity), this would compound his faults, make him yet schmutziger (sully him yet further).

Keywords: Ludwig Wittgenstein; philosophy; diaries; family; confessions; personal reflections; autobiography

Article.  5938 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy

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