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Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (26.4.1889, Vienna – 29.4.1951, Cambridge) was one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century. He is associated mainly with analytic philosophy and the philosophy of language.


Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was born on 26 April 1889 in Vienna as the youngest of eight children. His family was extremely wealthy, as his father, Karl Wittgenstein, was one of the most successful businessmen in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Following graduation from school in Linz, Ludwig studied engineering mechanical engineering in Berlin. Over time his interests expanded to include mathematics, logic, and the philosophical foundations of mathematics.


After the First World War broke out he volunteered for the Austrian army and during the war he earned several medals for bravery at the Eastern Front. In 1916 Wittgenstein spent several months in Olomouc as a soldier and worked in the city on his philosophical work Tractatus.


He continued his research after the war and in 1922 published Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung (later known under the title Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus). It was to be his only philosophical work published while he was alive. Wittgenstein claimed that his work resolved all the problems of philosophy and he subsequently withdrew into seclusion. In 1929 he arrived at Trinity College at Cambridge, where he returned to his philosophical work and began to teach. In 1939 he was appointed professor at the college. During the Second World War he worked in a hospital in New Castle as a technical assistant. At the end of the war he returned to the university. In 1947 he resigned from teaching and devoted himself entirely to his writing. The majority of the material later published as Philosophische Untersuchungen (Philosophical Investigations) dates to the following two years. This book is regarded as Wittgenstein’s most important work. He spent the next two years immersed in writing in Vienna, Oxford, and Cambridge, where he died of cancer in April, 1951.


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