In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

118 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY Wittgenstein's Vienna. By Allan Janik and Stephen Toulmin. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973. Pp. 314. $3.95) At a time when the early part of the twentieth century has become a subject of broad historical and philosophical interest, the general cultural spirit of imperial Vienna in its last days attracts particular attention. Not only its writers and composers but also its scientists (e.g., Mach and Boltzmann) and philosophers (primarily, but not onIy, Brentano) strongly influenced at least two generations of thinkers later to be famous as adherents or opponents of the Vienna Circle. The literary and musical history of pre-war Vienna is known well enough. Its scientific life is under constant though largely unsystematic scrutiny (e.g., the controversial work by A. Koestler on the Lamarckian biologist Kammerer, The Case of the Midwife Toad). P. A. Schilpp has edited both Carnap's and Popper's volumes in his Library of Living Philosophers . However, somewhat surprisingly, Wittgenstein has been, until recently, treated for the most part as a British philosopher. His cultural background was all but eliminated from interpretations of his earlier and later philosophy. His philosophical and logical teachers were reduced to Frege and Russell. Rather as an exception, R. Kuhns (Structure o] Experience : Essays on the Affinity between Philosophy and Literature) has recently offered a very interesting analogy between the endeavors of the symbolist movement and those of Wittgenstein: "Linguistic forms fascinated both Val6ry and Wittgenstein, and the possibility that language might achieve necessity in that it produced sentences held together by bonds of absolute security and irrevocability operates in the logical forms of the Tractatus as it does in Val6ry's art" (p. 226). Janik and Toulmin's text is an attempt by two trained philosophers to cope with an assignment demanding simultaneously a deep understanding of the history of philosophy, of science, of art and of general history. Faced with such a wealth of material, they elect to give a short political survey and then plunge straight into the literary and musical life of the times. The central personality in their conception of Viennese culture is Karl Kraus, the literary critic, who, due to his universal erudition, stands out as "a representative ethical spokesman for the mulieu" (p. 10). Kraus' articles in Die Fackel became so influential and famous in Viennese intellectual life that his fight against the leading iournal of the establishment, Die Neue Freie Presse, was at one point treated as a case of Oedipal frustration and analyzed at a local psychoanalytic conference. The discussion of intellectual life in Vienna centered on Kraus serves to prepare the stage for Janik and Toulmin's primary goal, to show the soundness of the "typically" Austrian interpretation of Wittgenstein's work which would see the Tractatus as a primarily "ethical treatise" (p. 24). The authors try to show that "in order to understand the book in a way which coincides with Wittgenstein's own intentions, one must accept the primacy of the 'ethical' interpretation" (p. 25) over the "logical" interpretation. The clash of these two interpretations can be characterized as the clash between neoHumean and neo-Kantian positions, "the clash between a Viennese thinker whose intellectual problems and personal attitudes alike had been formed in the neo-Kantian environment of pre-1914, in which logic and ethics were essentially bound up with each other and with the critique of language (Sprachkritik), and an audience.., whose philosophical questions had been shaped by the neo-Humean (and so pre-Kantian) empiricism of Moore, Russell and their colleagues" (pp. 22-23). Such a "cultural clash," the authors claim, has led to a radical misinterpretation of the Tractatus within the English speaking world. If the authors are right, and the Tractatus is not only of primarily ethical orientation but also often a direct response to problems widely discussed in Viennese cultural circles of the day, then not only may Wittgenstein's whole philosophical development be subject to a new approach but also the relations between Continental and British analytical philoso- BOOK REVIEWS 119 phy may take on completely new dimensions and provide much better ground for popular comparisons of, for example, phenomenology and hermeneutics...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 118-121
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.