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Wittgenstein’s World War I Notebooks and the Making of the Tractatus

Tuesday, January 18, 2022, 5:00 pm – 6:40 pm

This colloquium talk is planned as an online event on Zoom. Please note that this colloquium talk is going to start at 5 PM because of timezone differences.

Wittgenstein served in WWI as an ordinary foot-soldier. It was a very difficult emotional time for him. His 1914-16 Notebooks—personal coded pages on the left, philosophical observations on the right---show him struggling with his projected treatise on Logic—the field he had studied at Cambridge with Bertrand Russell. But as the war went on, the treatise changed from being an impersonal statement about logic and truth statements, to a set of aphorisms on questions of ethics and aesthetics, life and death. By war’s end, the great book TRACTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSOPHICUS was essentially written, although it was not published until 1922. I have recently translated the Private Notebooks (the left-hand pages) into English for publication in the U.S. and want to talk about the relation of the personal (the biographical) to the philosphical in Wittgenstein.