Retour à Wittgenstein
l Retour à la page Portraits
i t t g e n s t e i n
"Wittgenstein est né en Autriche, dans une famille
de la grande bourgeoisie. Après des études d'ingénieur,
il étudie la philosophie auprès de Bertrand
Russell. Engagé volontaire dans l'armée autrichienne
pendant la Priemière Guerre mondiale, il écrit
alors le seul ouvrage publié de son vivant, le Tractatus
logico-philosophicus. Après avoir été
instituteur et jardinier, il renoue avec la philosophie en
1939. Il finit sa vie dans une hutte de la côte irlandaise."
- La philosophie de A à Z, Hatier, Paris, 2000,
Edmonds, John Eidinow,
London: Faber and Faber, 2001. p. 267
par Paddy Salmon
Did Wittgenstein really threaten Popper with a red-hot poker
on the only occasion they ever met to discuss their conflicting
visions of philosophy? This odd question forms the basis of
a fascinating survey of the ideas and background of two of the
most important philosophers of the twentieth century.
Ludwig Wittgenstein (who incidentally attended the same school
in Vienna as Adolf Hitler) and Karl Popper both came from Austria,
but from very different backgrounds. Wittgenstein was born into
one of the wealthiest families in Europe and from an early age
showed a deep interest in mathematics and engineering. He gave
up his fortune and became a humble village schoolmaster, living
a life that was austere and free of luxuries. He became interested
in philosophy and came to Cambridge in England to study under
Bertrand Russell, one of the leading thinkers on the philosophy
of mathematics and logic. He became fascinated with language:
for him the problems of philosophy were not metaphysical or
ethical so much as linguistic puzzles.
Karl Popper, younger and from a more modest background, was
far more concerned with the political and historical problems
of his age and thought that concepts like freedom and justice
were at the heart of philosophy, as he saw it, and were not
just linguistic puzzles. He too was a friend of Bertrand Russell.
The scene is set for their meeting on the 25th October 1946
at the invitation of the Moral Sciences Club of Cambridge. Whose
ideas would prevail, those of Popper, invited to speak that
evening, or those of Wittgenstein, the difficult logician and
darling of his student disciples (who all copied his open shirts
with no tie – unheard of in England in those days - and
his often rude outbursts against those who did not immediately
appreciate his ideas)?
And the poker? Was it red-hot? Was it even picked up by Wittgenstein?
Did it actually exist? You will have to read the book to find
out. Borrow it from Paddy Salmon (Sections Inter) but leave
your poker behind!
Head of English, English International Section, Lycée
publications de Paddy Salmon sur notre site :
Proposal for a Project for
Distance Educational Exchanges (translation)
The Project Europe Education
Qui sommes-nous? (Translation)