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Norman Malcolm

Norman Malcolm author of Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir, is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Cornell. He is at present visiting Professor of Philosophy at King’s College, London.

Wittgenstein’s Confessions

Norman Malcolm, 19 November 1981

Rush Rhees has put together a wonderful book. These Recollections are a rich portrayal of Wittgenstein’s extraordinary character and personality, moral force, stunning intelligence. The contributions are by Wittgenstein’s sister, Hermine; Fania Pascal, who taught him Russian in the 1930s; F.R. Leavis, the literary critic; John King, who attended Wittgenstein’s lectures and became a friend; M.O’C. Drury, a close friend over many years, who gives an unmatched account of Wittgenstein’s spiritual concerns; Rush Rhees, another close friend, who provides a thoughtful, restrained discussion of two topics that have provoked much speculation: Wittgenstein’s visit to Russia, and his ‘confessions’.

Wittgenstein’s Bag of Raisins

Norman Malcolm, 19 February 1981

In the huge amount of writing left by Wittgenstein there often occur notes that do not belong directly to his treatment of particular philosophical problems. The notes pertain to a wide variety of topics, including music, art, architecture, poetry, dreams, humour, culture, civilisation, philosophy, faith, God, talent, originality, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Schubert, Wagner. It seemed to Georg Henrik Von Wright, one of Wittgenstein’s literary executors, that many of these reflections would be of interest to people who would not read Wittgenstein’s philosophical work, even though the best understanding of most of them requires the background of that work. Fifteen years ago Von Wright began selecting this material, the first result being several hundred pages of remarks. This was felt to be too bulky for publication and, regrettably, it was drastically reduced. This shortened version, first published in the original German as Vermischte Bermerkungen (Miscellaneous Remarks), now appears with facing English translation by Peter Winch. (The title Culture and Value will make Wittgenstein turn in his grave.)

Wittgenstein and the Simple Object

Norman Malcolm, 21 February 1980

Wittgenstein’s famous Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is written in a style that is austere and sometimes aphoristic. ‘The world is everything that is the case.’ ‘A picture presents a possible situation in logical space.’ ‘A logical picture of facts is a thought.’ ‘We cannot think of anything illogical, for to do so we should have to think illogically.’ ‘The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.’ ‘Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.’

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