Wittgenstein, Ludwig Josef Johann (1889–1951)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD072-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 21, 2024, from

2. Works and method of writing

Throughout his life Wittgenstein wrote down his thoughts in notebooks, returning to the same topics many times, trying to get the most direct and compelling formulation of the ideas. He then made selections and arrangements from these remarks, followed by yet further selection, reworking and rearrangement. The Tractatus was the only book published during his lifetime. In 1930 he assembled what we now know as the Philosophical Remarks, a work still having much of the outlook of the Tractatus and also showing considerable sympathies with verificationism, and in 1932–4 he wrote the Philosophical Grammar, in which some central themes of the later philosophy are foreshadowed. But he was not satisfied with either of these, and from 1936 onwards worked on various versions of what we now know as the Philosophical Investigations (1953), which he hoped would provide a definitive presentation of his thought. The earlier half of the volume is the part of his work with which he was most nearly satisfied, but he was never fully content with any of it, and in 1949 he abandoned the project of completing it.

The other books we have under his name are all early or intermediate versions of material, left in his papers and edited and published after his death. The Notebooks are preliminary versions of ideas which later became the Tractatus. The Blue and Brown Books were prepared so as to help his students in 1932 and 1933. Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics (1956) contain ideas he worked on from 1937 to 1944 and which he intended at that time to form the second part of the Investigations (rather than the psychological topics we now have). From 1944 onwards he worked mainly on philosophical psychology: Zettel (1967), Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology I and II (1980) and Last Writings on Philosophical Psychology I and II (1982) are from these years. From 1950 to 1951 we also have On Certainty (1969) and Remarks on Colour (1977). Another source for his views is records of his conversations and lectures taken by friends and pupils.

Citing this article:
Heal, Jane. Works and method of writing. Wittgenstein, Ludwig Josef Johann (1889–1951), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD072-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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