Text: English, German (translation)
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About the Author
Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (1889–1951) was an Austrian philosopher who held the professorship in philosophy at the University of Cambridge from 1939 until 1947. He is known for having inspired two of the century's principal philosophical movements, logical positivism and ordinary language philosophy, though in his lifetime he published just one book review, one article, a children's dictionary, and the 75-page Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921). In 1999 his posthumously published Philosophical Investigations (1953) was ranked as the most important book of 20th-century philosophy. Born into one of Austria-Hungary's wealthiest families in Vienna at the turn of the century, he gave away his inheritance, and was at one point forced to sell his furniture to cover expenses when working on the Tractatus. Three of his brothers committed suicide, with Wittgenstein and the remaining brother contemplating it too. Bertrand Russell described him as the most perfect example of genius, "passionate, profound, intense, and dominating", while Richard Rorty wrote that he took out his intense self-loathing on everyone he met. He grew angry when his students wanted to teach philosophy, and was famously overjoyed when G.E. Moore's wife told him she was working in a jam factory—doing something useful, in Wittgenstein's eyes. He tried to leave philosophy himself several times, serving during the First World War on the front lines with the Austrian Army, and commended for his courage; teaching in schools in Austrian villages, where he found himself in trouble for hitting the children; and working during the Second World War as an orderly in Guy's Hospital, London, where only a few of the staff were told that the new porter was the professor of philosophy at Cambridge.
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