Wittgenstein, Ludwig

   Though he spent much of his career in England, Wittgenstein had important ties to Vienna and Austria generally. The son of an aesthetically and intellectually gifted industrialist, he volunteered for service in the Austro–Hungarian army in World War I. It was during this time that he completed his most influential philosophical work, the Tractatus LogicoPhilosophicus, though it was not published until 1921. Spared by inherited wealth from any financial pressures, Wittgenstein taught school in Lower Austria between 1920 and 1926 out of a sense of social duty. He also worked as a gardener, including stints at the monastery of Klosterneuburg and with a group of monks in Hütteldorf, a suburb of Vienna. A man of many talents, he helped to design the modernistic Wittgenstein house in Vienna’s Third District for his sister, Margarethe Wittgenstein-Stonborough.
   As a student before World War I at Cambridge University in England, Wittgenstein was close to the mathematician and logician Bertrand Russel1. The Tractatus betrayed those influences, though its general thrust went well beyond Russell’s work. An analysis of the conditions that Russell claimed were needed for a logically perfect language, the book sought to establish what could be meaningfully said. If something could not be said with perfect clarity, it could not be said in philosophical discourse at all. The epistemological reliability of language was narrowed considerably; the work was enthusiastically received by the Vienna Circle of philosophers, whose queries paralleled Wittgenstein’s own. His work would also have a significant influence on the American school of logical positivism. Wittgenstein returned to Cambridge on a fellowship in 1929 at the invitation of Russell and another philosopher, G. E. Moore. Here he continued his critical speculation about language, which appeared posthumously in 1953 as Philosophical Investigations. In 1939 he was appointed to Moore’s chair, which he held until 1947.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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