James C. Klagge

Simply Wittgenstein

«There are many introductions to the life and work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, but I think James Klagge has produced the very best. Taking as his premise that his reader may know nothing about Wittgenstein or, for that matter, about philosophy, Klagge gives a lucid, charming, and wholly convincing account of Wittgenstein’s basic ideas, his way of thinking, his views on religion, culture, ethical behavior, and so on. He is especially good at explaining the root concepts like “language game,” «form of life,” and “private language.” But perhaps the highlight of this book is its set of applications: that is, how do Wittgenstein’s concepts and writings help us to understand the events of our time from courtroom cases to the bombing of the Twin Towers on 9/11. Wittgenstein, Klagge shows, literally helps us to live our lives: he is the philosopher par excellence of the twentieth—and now the twenty-first—centuries. Klagge’s own clarity is exemplary: he never condescends to the reader and yet makes Wittgenstein’s thought wonderfully clear
—Marjorie Perloff, Sadie Dernham Patek Emerita Professor of Humanities at Stanford University

Born in Vienna into an extremely wealthy and highly cultured family, Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951) grew up surrounded by art, music, and a disturbing amount of dysfunctional behavior. After studying mechanical engineering and developing an interest in aeronautics, he became obsessed with mathematics and logic, which led to his life’s work exploring the relationship between language, philosophy, and reality.

In Simply Wittgenstein, James Klagge presents a fascinating portrait of this brilliant and troubled man, while exploring his two extraordinary books—the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Philosophical Investigations—in which he gave concrete form to his singular and perplexing ideas. Drawing on 30 years of teaching about Wittgenstein at both the undergraduate and graduate level, Klagge provides a clear and accessible introduction to these seminal works, helping the reader understand the revolutionary nature of Wittgenstein’s insights and the reason they continue to resonate in our own time.

Though Wittgenstein himself was convinced that he would never be properly understood, Simply Wittgenstein shows, with brevity and lucidity, that his ideas have had a profound and enduring effect on how we think about language and life.
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  • Sananhar citeretfor 5 måneder siden
    The book’s seven main propositions are as follows:

    The world is all that is the case.
    What is the case—a fact—is the existence of states of affairs.
    A logical picture of facts is a thought.
    A thought is a proposition with sense.
    A proposition is a truth-function of elementary propositions. (An elementary proposition is a truth-function of itself.)
    The general form of a truth-function is [p̄, ξ̄, N(ξ̄)]. This is the general form of a proposition.
    What we cannot speak abou
  • Sananhar citeretfor 5 måneder siden
    But as important as Wittgenstein is taken to be, I have not met a person who has tried to read either of his two great books and come away without a feeling of deep frustration. This is especially true of readers with little background in philosophy, but it is even true of those with a good deal of background and experience in philosophy. Invariably, the problem is that the context is missing.

    Context is everything

  • Sananhar citeretfor 5 måneder siden
    It is most common to put the book down after several pages and wonder what Wittgenstein could be talking about.
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