The life and workings of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein was an influential thinker in the way we perceive interaction. As a philosopher he published two books, one posthumously, about the reception and meaning of words.
Wittgenstein was born in the late 1880's into minor aristocracy with his father a steel magnate. His family were troubled, three of his brothers committed suicide and he himself is documented to have been of a depressed disposition on many occasions. The family were said to have had a stern demeanour about them and a heavy focus on attainment in industry. 

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Because of this, Ludwig was sent to the 'Berlin Institute of Technology' at the age of seventeen, with an interest in mechanical engineering. He then progressed to study aeronautical engineering in the UK. 


At the university of Manchester he also found a passion for mathematics and became immersed in self study. This thirst for knowledge led him to the pool of Cambridge, where he studied mathematics and logic. During these studies depression found him again, both his lack of ability to produce consistent work and logical flaws and fallacies that filled his day to day life left him unsatisfied and at times downright miserable. This lacking lust for life proved useful when war broke out however. Wittgenstein was quick to enter the battlefield of the first World War and by all accounts fought valiantly. He saw disaster and chaos and from which momentary salvation came in the works of Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. 


A short time later, Ludwig lost his father. In 1918, he took leave from the military and used his father's inheritance to travel to a remote part of Norway, where he lived for a period. The reading he had done while at war had instilled within him a philosophical yearning. He had ideas of his own. 


Before long, Wittgenstein began to produce a work of his own. In this he spoke about theories behind interaction between people. Language is a crucial component of communication but the words we use, Wittgenstein argued, aren't the creator of meaning. Humans draw meaning from images created; words are the vehicle to help to that. A fantastic example of this is the plethora of metaphorical idioms that our language consist's of. The problem occurs when the wrong image is created. This either comes about as a result of the communicator using the wrong words which, consequently, create the wrong image. Alternatively the listener may have not been focused enough. 


The book produced was titled 'Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus' and published in 1921. This is his seminal work and the only one he published in his lifetime. Of course he wrote elsewhere, many academic papers were published by him and later in life he began working on a work which was published after his death. 


This work was named 'Philosophical Investigations' and served as something of sequel to his former work. This novel extended his previous work in that it spoke about the intentional meaning of words rather than just their perceived meaning.

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