Description: Macintosh HD:Users:witt:Desktop:PI2.gif     About Ludwig Wittgenstein and Philosophical Investigations

There are many places on the Web to find biographical information about Wittgenstein. For a site with much to offer in this regard, click here.  Also, see my Links page for other biographical sites on Wittgenstein.

Philosophical Investigations is perhaps the most influential single book of philosophy in the 20th century. It is not, however, a book that reads like most 20th century philosophy books. Wittgenstein's style is aphoristic and oracular, a kind of 20th century Heraclitus, if Heraclitus had read Frege and Russell and Moore (not to mention the early Wittgenstein!)  Like Heraclitus, Wittgenstein's work is not "sophisticated" in the sense of employing big words and detailed arguments.  Indeed, anyone can read PI without feeling as if s/he has entered a bizarre, inhumane realm of thought.  This is something that cannot always be said of philosophical books and articles.
However, beginners will often be unable to make heads or tails of Wittgenstein's points or arguments (yes, there are indeed arguments in PI) because doing so requires an acquaintance with a variety of philosophical positions which Wittgenstein is trying to topple, like a house of cards.  Surprisingly, Wittgenstein's masterpiece is at many points attacking a variety of ideas that he presented in his first book, Tractatus logico-philosophicus. However, in both books, the concern is with language, logic, mind, and world.

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Last modified October 5, 2012
JAH, Professor
Dept. of Philosophy