Wittgenstein Reads Russell

Gregory Landini

in The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Wittgenstein Reads Russell

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Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein both left voluminous work notes and letters and they knew a great many people — statesmen, poets, academicians, lovers, and friends — who themselves wrote memoirs. Russell regarded Wittgenstein as a protégé and did much to establish a career for him. He secured the publications of Wittgenstein's oracular and unorthodox Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. He presided over the Viva which accepted Tractatus as a dissertation for Wittgenstein's Ph.D. degree (1929). Two theses have dominated the understanding of Russell's philosophy. First, in Principia Mathematica, Russell advanced a ramified type-theory of entities. Second, Russell's logical atomism is a form of reductive empiricistic epistemology. With the help of the volumes of manuscripts that Russell left, it now appears that both are false. In later years, Russell described his thoughts on the philosophy of logic and mathematics as a reluctant ‘retreat from Pythagoras’. Wittgenstein's Tractatus certainly did not intend to surrender logic to psychology, conventionalism, naturalism, or any empirical science.

Keywords: Bertrand Russell; Ludwig Wittgenstein; Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; logic; philosophy; Principia Mathematica; type-theory; logical atomism; mathematics

Article.  16138 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic

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