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Cambridge Philosophers II: Ludwig Wittgenstein

  • G.E.M. Anscombe (a1)

Extract

Ludwig Wittgenstein was born in 1889, son of parents of Jewish extraction but not Jewish religion. Asked how his family came by the name ‘Wittgenstein’ Ludwig said they had been court Jews to the princely family and so had taken the name when Jews were required by law to have European-style names. The father, Karl, was a Protestant, the mother a Catholic. The Jewish blood was sufficient to bring the family later on into danger under Hitler's Nuremberg Laws. They did not think of themselves as Jews or belong to the Jewish community in Vienna. The children were brought up sort-of Catholic though so far as I know only the eldest, Hermine, towards the end of her life, took this seriously and made a profession of faith before friends and household. At 9 years of age Ludwig and Paul, a year or two older than Ludwig, talked together and decided that their religion was all nonsense. Paul became a pianist of some fame, but soon after his debut in Vienna he became a wounded prisoner on the Russian front and his arm was lopped off by a surgeon who did not know he was a pianist.

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1 The works of Wittgenstein referred to here are as follows: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ramsey tr. Frank, ed. Odgen K. (London: Kegan Paul; New York:Harcourt Brace, 1922); Remarks on theFoundations of Mathematics, ed. von Wright G., Rhees R. and Anscombe, G. (Oxford: Blackwell, revised edition 1978); Philosophical Investigations, tr. Anscombe, G. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1953); Philosophical Remarks, ed. Rhees R. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1964); Last Writings on Philosophy and Psychology, ed. von Wright G. Nyman H. and (Oxford: Blackwell, 1982);Zettel, ed. von Wright G. and Anscombe G. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1981), 2nd edition.

2 Translated as ‘Function and Concept’ and ‘What Is a Function?’ respectively in Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege, tr Geach, P. and Black, M., (Oxford: Blackwell, 1952)

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