Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir

Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir

Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir

Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir

Excerpt

I first saw Wittgenstein in the Michaelmas term of 1938, my first term at Cambridge. At a meeting of the Moral Science Club, after the paper for the evening was read and the discussion started, someone began to stammer a remark. He had extreme difficulty in expressing himself and his words were unintelligible to me. I whispered to my neighbour, 'Who is that?': he replied, 'Wittgenstein.' I was astonished, because, for one reason, I had expected the famous author of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus to be an elderly man, whereas this man looked young -- perhaps about thirty-five. (His actual age was forty-nine.) His face was lean and brown, his profile was aquiline and strikingly beautiful, his head was covered with a curly mass of brown hair. I observed the respectful attention that everyone in the room paid to him. After this unsuccessful beginning he did not speak for a time but was obviously struggling with his thoughts. His look was concentrated, he made striking gestures with his hands as if he were discoursing. All the others maintained an intent and expectant silence. I witnessed this phenomenon countless times thereafter and came to regard it as entirely natural.

I attended Wittgenstein's lectures, which were on the philosophical foundations of mathematics, in the Lent term of 1939. He continued on this topic in the Easter and Michaelmas terms of 1939. I think that I understood almost nothing of the lectures, until I restudied my notes approximately ten years later. Nevertheless I was aware, as others were, that Wittgenstein was . . .

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