April 29, 2011

Rediscovered Wittgenstien archive


A cache of newly rediscovered papers from Austrian-born British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein sheds new light on his thought. According to this report by the BBC:

Professor Arthur Gibson, from the University of Cambridge, has been examining books and papers which disappeared from public view in 1941.

He believes that one of these could be the ‘pink’ or ‘yellow’ book Wittgenstein’s pupils thought existed. He said there was also a handwritten Brown Book which differs from the version that was published.

Wittgenstein, who taught philosophy at Trinity College in Cambridge, was a prolific writer but published very little. The work now being examined has been described by Prof Gibson as “entirely original philosophy whose existence, apart from the Brown Book was totally unknown to scholars”.

The work in the find was all unpublished and dates from Wittgenstein’s “middle period”, November 1932 to July 1936. It is thought to be a significant addition to Wittgenstein scholarship and understanding of his thought. “This archive is at least as important as the Blue and Brown Books which were published after Wittgenstein’s death and has other important unpublished manuscripts,” Prof Gibson told the BBC.

“Among these is one with a pink cover containing some ‘unknown narrative and many visual illustrations’. Prof Gibson believes that this is the hoped-for ‘pink book’,” According to the BBC report, “Another ‘significant’ find was a handwritten version of Wittgenstein’s Brown Book with a revised opening and an extra 60 pages. ‘It’s a unique, new version that no-one has ever seen,’ Prof Gibson said.”

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.