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Ghost Artists

J.I.M. Stewart, 18 December 1980

The Case of the Philosophers’ Ring by Dr John H. Watson 
by Randall Collins.
Harvester, 152 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 85527 458 1
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... as extremely odd. In addition to Holmes and Watson the main characters are Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, A.N. Whitehead. J.M. Keynes and G.E. Moore. Rather in the role of what are coming to be known as ‘guest artists’, room is also found for Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf. All these, together with Annie Besant, turn out to be ...

Private Lives

Ray Monk, 22 November 1990

... last two weeks, during which time most quality newspapers have carried a review of my biography of Ludwig Wittgenstein. The impact on me has been that of saturation coverage, but that’s because I’ve bought every single paper or journal that has carried a review. The cumulative effect has been to provide me, momentarily, with the delightful illusion ...

Seething

Colin McGinn, 21 March 1996

Ludwig WittgensteinCambridge Letters 
edited by Brian McGuinness and Georg Henrik von Wright.
Blackwell, 349 pp., £45, November 1995, 0 631 19015 5
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... Wittgenstein to John Maynard Keynes: When I saw you last I was confirmed in a view which had arisen in me last term already: you then made it very clear to me that you were tired of my conversation etc. Now please don’t think that I mind that! Why shouldn’t you be tired of me, I don’t believe for a moment that I can be entertaining or interesting to you ...

You are not helpful!

Simon Blackburn: Wittgenstein in Cambridge, 29 January 2009

Wittgenstein in Cambridge: Letters and Documents 1911-51 
edited by Brian McGuinness.
Blackwell, 498 pp., £75, March 2008, 978 1 4051 4701 9
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... Brian McGuinness has edited and compiled many collections of writings by Wittgenstein and about him, and his 1988 biography, reissued a few years ago as Young Ludwig, as well as being a fascinating account of Wittgenstein’s life up until 1921, also provides one of the best short introductions to the ideas and the style of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus ...

The Young Man One Hopes For

Jonathan Rée: The Wittgensteins, 19 November 2019

Wittgenstein’s Family Letters: Corresponding with Ludwig 
edited by Brian McGuinness, translated by Peter Winslow.
Bloomsbury, 300 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 1 4742 9813 1
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... intelligent’ after all.A few weeks more and Russell was completely won over, treating Ludwig Wittgenstein as a brilliant colleague rather than a tiresome student, and as living proof that ‘making machines’ is a better preparation for work in philosophy than a British classical education. On the other hand he didn’t want to accept ...

My Wicked Heart

Colin McGinn, 22 November 1990

Ludwig WittgensteinThe Duty of Genius 
by Ray Monk.
Cape, 654 pp., £20, October 1990, 0 224 02712 3
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Ludwig WittgensteinA Student’s Memoir 
by Theodore Redpath.
Duckworth, 109 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 9780715623299
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... Was Wittgenstein a spiritual as well as a philosophical genius? Ray Monk’s exceptionally fine and fat biography puts us in a better position to answer this question than we have been hitherto. Perhaps the best place to begin trying to understand Wittgenstein’s character is with the photographs that exist of his face ...

Whereof one cannot speak

George Steiner, 23 June 1988

Wittgenstein. A Life: Young Ludwig 1889-1921 
by Brian McGuinness.
Duckworth, 322 pp., £15.95, May 1988, 0 7156 0959 9
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... Laertius, plainly exemplifies the dilemmas and superfluities of the enterprise. In respect of Wittgenstein – and the primary sense of ‘in respect’ seems to me of the essence – the case is particularly awkward. There were three possibilities. The first is that of simple abstention from biography for, say, a century or so. We do not have a proper ...

Wittgenstein and the Simple Object

Norman Malcolm, 21 February 1980

Notebooks 1914-16 
by Ludwig Wittgenstein, edited by G.H. von Wright and G.E.M. Anscombe, translated by G.E.M. Anscombe.
Blackwell, 140 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 631 10291 4
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Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle: Conversations Recorded by Friedrich Waismann 
edited by Brian McGuinness, translated by Joachim Schulte and Brian McGuinness.
Blackwell, 266 pp., £9.95, August 1980, 0 631 19470 3
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The Central Texts of Wittgenstein 
by Gerd Brand, translated by Robert Innis.
Blackwell, 182 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 631 10921 8
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... 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 ...

Past, Present and Future

A.J. Ayer, 21 January 1982

Collected Philosophical Papers. Vol. I: From Parmenides to Wittgenstein 
by G.E.M. Anscombe.
Blackwell, 141 pp., £10, September 1981, 0 631 12922 7
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Collected Philosophical Papers. Vol. II: Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind 
by G.E.M. Anscombe.
Blackwell, 239 pp., £15, September 1981, 0 631 12932 4
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Collected Philosophical Papers. Vol. III: Ethics, Religion and Politics 
by G.E.M. Anscombe.
Blackwell, 160 pp., £12, September 1981, 0 631 12942 1
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... of importance that she has published, apart from her work as literary executor and translator of Ludwig Wittgenstein and her three books: Intention, An Introduction to Wittgenstein’s ‘Tractatus’ and Three Philosophers, written in collaboration with Professor Peter Geach, and containing studies of ...

Wittgenstein’s Bag of Raisins

Norman Malcolm, 19 February 1981

Culture and Value 
by Ludwig Wittgenstein, edited by G.H. von Wright, Heikki Nyman and Peter Winch.
Blackwell, 94 pp., £9.50, September 1980, 0 631 12752 6
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... 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 ...

Wittgenstein’s Confessions

Norman Malcolm, 19 November 1981

Ludwig WittgensteinPersonal Recollections 
edited by Rush Rhees.
Blackwell, 235 pp., £9.50, September 1981, 0 631 19600 5
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... 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 ...

Impatience

J.P. Stern, 30 August 1990

Unmodern Observations 
by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Herbert Golder, Gary Brown and William Arrowsmith.
Yale, 402 pp., £30, February 1990, 0 300 04311 2
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The Importance of Nietzsche 
by Erich Heller.
Chicago, 200 pp., £23.95, February 1989, 0 226 32637 3
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... them; and this curious opinion Heller attributes not just to Nietzsche but, less justifiably, to Ludwig Wittgenstein. The ‘and’ in the titles of several of these essays has of course more than one meaning. ‘Yeats and Nietzsche’ (1969), on the poet’s marginal notes in his copy of a Nietzsche anthology, is an outstandingly successful example of ...

You would not want to be him

Colin McGinn, 19 November 1992

Bertrand Russell: A Life 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 596 pp., £20, September 1992, 9781856191807
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... its limitations: a solid core of rigorous truth surrounded by a murky penumbra of unruly forces. (Wittgenstein’s distinction between saying and showing has a similar architecture.) If this sounds romantic or pretentious, it is entirely in keeping with Russell’s own attitude to his life. High-flown, intense, earnest, idealistic, tragic – this was the ...

How many grains make a heap?

Richard Rorty: After Kripke, 20 January 2005

Philosophical Analysis in the 20th Century. Vol. I: The Dawn of Analysis 
by Scott Soames.
Princeton, 432 pp., £15.95, February 2005, 9780691122441
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Philosophical Analysis in the 20th Century. Vol. II: The Age of Meaning 
by Scott Soames.
Princeton, 504 pp., £15.95, March 2005, 0 691 12312 8
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... of sand.’ Some philosophers, such as Crispin Wright, respond to this paradox in the spirit of Wittgenstein. They argue that (as Soames puts it) ‘the rules governing ordinary vague predicates simply do not allow for sharp and precise lines dividing objects to which the predicates apply from objects of any other sort.’ Others, such as Timothy ...

Vienna discovers its past

Peter Pulzer, 1 August 1985

Refugee Scholars in America: Their Impact and their Experiences 
by Lewis Coser.
Yale, 351 pp., £25, October 1984, 0 300 03193 9
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The Viennese Enlightenment 
by Mark Francis.
Croom Helm, 176 pp., £15.95, May 1985, 0 7099 1065 7
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The Jews of Vienna, 1867-1914: Assimilation and Identity 
by Marsha Rozenblit.
SUNY, 368 pp., $39.50, July 1984, 0 87395 844 6
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... scholars brought about by the rise of Nazism in the 1930s – though some intellectuals, like Wittgenstein and Schumpeter, had departed independently of this. They not only left behind a vacuum of creativity that has not been filled: they transferred their crafts and disciplines to the English-speaking world, where they flourish to this day. Their story ...

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