Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Life and Language 1/3 (Section #8)

I do not want to spoil my 2nd and 3rd installments, so I will only give a brief background. Ludwig Wittgenstein was probably one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. He was born in 1889 to a very wealthy family in the city of Vienna, Austria. In 1908 he went to Manchester University where he started studying aeronautical engineering but that’s also where philosophy of pure mathematics sparked his interest.  He met the German philosopher Gottlob Frege a couple of years later where he advised him to attend Cambridge and study with Bertrand Russell (probably one of his best decisions). Russell stated “…I love him and feel he will solve the problems I am too old to solve”. And boy, was he accurate. During his short time at Cambridge (1911-1913) Wittgenstein had an intense “relationship” with Russell; they partook in several conversations of philosophy and the foundation of logic. But, for months at a time he would go to Norway to think deeply and privately about philosophical [problems] and work out their solutions. He returned to Austria in 1913 and a few months later joined the Austrian army for WW1 (1914-1918). During the last few months of that war, he was taken captive at a prison camp. This is where the drafts for one of his most known books, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, were written. Having feel like all his philosophical issues were solved in that book, in 1920 he took a break from philosophy, gave away his family fortunes, and became an ordinary person. Nine years later he went back to Cambridge to continue his study in philosophy. During the next twenty years Wittgenstein conducted seminars there where he also developed more ideas (most in which he wanted to publish in his second book, Philosophical Investigations. This book included reflections on psychology and mathematics, general skepticism concerning philosophy’s pretensions, as well as the Private Language Argument. Wittgenstein says in Philisophical Investigations, “The words of this language are to refer to what can be known only to the speaker; to his immediate, private, sensations. So another cannot understand the language.”

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