Ludwig Wittgenstein

1889 - 1951

Wittgenstein, Ludwig, b. Vienna, April 26, 1889, d. Cambridge (United Kingdom), April 29, 1951, philosopher.

Came from a family of rich entrepreneurs; studied engineering at Berlin University from 1906; research student at Manchester University from 1908, at Cambridge University from 1911 (where he made friends with B. Russell, J. M. Keynes and G. E. Moore); served as a volunteer in World War I from 1914-1918.

His father Karl Wittgenstein was one of the most important promoter of the Vienna Secession. Josef Hoffmann realized a series of projects for various family members until 1914, among them was also the well-known furnishing of Karl Wittgenstein's hunting lodge on the Hochreith, made by the Wiener Werkstätte.

An outstanding musician as well as philosopher. Used the fortune he had inherited for social aims (for example, supported G. Trakl), also respected lowly occupations and worked as a primary school teacher in Lower Austria from 1920-1926.

Together with the architect P. Engelmann he designed a house for his sister Margarethe W. Stonborough (Wittgenstein House, today's Cultural Institute of Bulgaria) in the 3rd district of Vienna from 1926-1928, which constitutes a splendid example of early modern architecture in Vienna.

His philosophies influenced the (see) Vienna Circle, Neo-Positivism and the development of mathematical logic. In his early years W. tried to prove the existence of the irrational (in his "Tractatus logico-philosophicus", written in 1918, published in 1921); with his well-known statement "Wovon man nicht reden kann, darüber muß man schweigen" ("We have to be silent about what we cannot talk about") he expressed his belief that no reasonable observations can be made about metaphysical matters.

Later he turned to the usage and existing forms of language in his work "Philosophical Investigations" ("Philosophische Untersuchungen") (1930-1949), in which he tried to explain the workings of language as a game (thereby taking into consideration the activities with which language is interwoven).

Professor at Cambridge University (United Kingdom) from 1939-1947. His language philosophy was particularly propagated in Anglo-American countries and greatly influenced modern Austrian literature. (I. Bachmann, Wiener Gruppe). - A Ludwig Wittgenstein Prize has been awarded by the Austrian Ministry of Science or Ministry of Education in 1996 for outstanding research in any academic discipline. The prize comprises ATS 10-20 million to be spent on research over a period of 5 years.

Foto: Karolinsky-Archive