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Hermann-Böse-Gymnasium Bremen

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11, Dr. Jörg Helmke, 2014

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Ludwig Wittgenstein


Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was born as the youngest of eight children on the 26th of April 1889 in Vienna to a jewish family.

His father, Karl Wittgenstein, was one of the biggest steel industrialist and therefore he raised in one of the richest families in Europe. His mother, Leopoldina Wittgenstein, was a famous pianist, and thus he and his siblings showed an extraordinary artistic talent. Wittgenstein first was educated private but then he visited Junior High in Linz at he same time as Adolf Hitler.

During this time, Wittgenstein lost his faith in god. After having served in World War I and being decorated many times, Wittgenstein got into a depressive phase. Three of his brothers committed suicide and Wittgenstein tinkered with the idea to do it. Wittgenstein got his engineer diploma after having studied in 1908 and moved to Manchester. In the University of Manchester Wittgenstein dealt with airplane engines but shorty gave up this and started attending to airport screws and received an patent on his findings.

Henceforward philosophy dominated his life, after the animation of his friend Gottlob Ferges from Jena. Wittgenstein primarily attended to the work of Bertrand Russel. He wanted to investigate the deductions of mathematically axioms out of logical principles. After their first meeting Russel was not that taken by Wittgenstein and even called him a waste of time. But after having met him for a long time he changed his mind and said that Wittgenstein is one of the most exciting intellectual adventures of his life.

In 1912, Wittgenstein started forming his first philosophical work, named „Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus“. Wittgenstein produced the idea of a perfect artificial language. His new language consisted of symbols similar to symbols the logic is using and claimed that he had solved every philosophical problem with this new language.

One of his central ideas was, that the human is only able to talk about perceptible things and not about abstract ones. Since he believes that he had solved every philosophical problem he stopped working as a philosophical until he moved to Cambridge and started attending philosophy at the University. In this time, Wittgenstein wrote his second work „“Philosophical Researches“, which was published post mortem.

In there, he condemned almost everything from Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and replaced his idea of one perfect language with the combination of different language types, such as orders, prayers or telling fictional stories.

In his opinion a mistake is made, when the human accidentally leaves the borders of language types. From 1939 on he started teaching at the University of Cambridge and gave up his academic work three years after the second World War. Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein died on the 29th of April 1951 from prostate cancer in Cambridge.

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