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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein is generally considered as the greatest philosopher since Immanuel Kant, and his personal life, work, and his historical moment intertwined in a fascinating, complex web. Noted scholar Edward Kanterian explores these intersections in Ludwig Wittgenstein, the newest title in the acclaimed Critical Lives series.

Wittgenstein’s works—from Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus to the posthumously published Philosophical Investigations­—are notoriously dense, and Kanterian carefully distills them here, proposing thought-provoking new interpretations. Yet the philosopher’s passions were not solely confined to theoretical musings, and the book explores Wittgenstein’s immersion in art and music and his social position as a member of the sophisticated Viennese upper class at the turn of the century. His personal and professional relationships also offer insights into his thoughts, as he was friends with the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century, including John Maynard Keynes, George Edward Moore, Bertrand Russell, and Gilbert Royle. The philosopher was also deeply tormented by ethical and religious questions, and his internal turmoil, Kanterian argues, gives us a deeper understanding of the important conflicts and tensions of his age. Ultimately, the author contends, Wittgenstein’s life reveals insights into the ethical quandaries of our own time.

A readable and concise account, Ludwig Wittgenstein is an informative, accessible introduction to the one of the greatest thinkers of our age.

222 pages | 30 halftones | 5 x 7 7/8 | © 2007

Critical Lives

Biography and Letters

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"[Kanterian's book] gives one an overview of Wittgenstein’s life which is very well synthesized with an overview of his philosophical thought, in a way that any intelligent reader would be comfortable with. It makes very clear what an extraordinary man he was, but also what extraordinary originality he had. It explains the contours of his philosophical work with admirable clarity. . . . The best work to start with."

Peter Hacker | Five Books

"Beautiful. . . . Well produced, compact. . . . With outstanding illustrations."


Table of Contents

   1   Family and Early Years, 1889-1911
   2   Cambridge, Norway and Philosophy, 1911-1914
   3   In the Trenches, 1914-1918
   4   Logic and Mysticism: The Tractatus
   5   The Wilderness Years, 1918-1929
   6   Return to Cambridge and Philosophy, 1929-1939
   7   Professorship and Wartime, 1939-1947
   8   Nothing is Hidden: Philosophical Investigations
   9   The Last Years, 1947-1951
 10   The Aftermath

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