Some books are much harder to write than others. This one has been particularly difficult to write because Ludwig Wittgenstein is a difficult philosopher and his writings are not straightforward or easy to undertand. We have struggled, together and alone, over a considerable period to come to terms with Wittgenstein's philosophy. The date handwritten on the flyleaf of a copy of Philosophical Investigations indicates that one of us started reading this text in 1972. Consistently, over the next 25 or so years we have returned to his work. Over that period each of us independently completed work on the philosophy of Wittgenstein in relation to education. James Marshall has written and published on Wittgenstein in relation to his notion of rule-following, on Wittgenstein's views of mathematics, and on Wittgenstein's view of philosophy; Michael Peters has focused on contemporary interpretations of Wittgenstein by analytic, postanalytic, and poststructuralist philosophers.
Scholarship on Wittgenstein is painstaking. The secondary literature is intimidating in its depth and scope. In writing this book, at different times we felt that Wittgenstein was looking over our shoulders. It is impossible to study Wittgenstein and not be transformed by his writings.
The corpus of his writings -- the sheer range of topics he covers and the different styles and philosophical genres he adopts -- marks Wittgenstein (despite his own doubts) out as one of the most original philosophers of the twentieth century. To view Wittgenstein against the background of Viennese modernism and in relation to the writings of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Freud is to establish a line of argument that