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How many grains make a heap?

Richard Rorty: After Kripke, 20 January 2005

Philosophical Analysis in the 20th Century. Vol. I: The Dawn of Analysis 
by Scott Soames.
Princeton, 432 pp., £15.95, February 2005, 9780691122441
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Philosophical Analysis in the 20th Century. Vol. II: The Age of Meaning 
by Scott Soames.
Princeton, 504 pp., £15.95, March 2005, 0 691 12312 8
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... of sand.’ Some philosophers, such as Crispin Wright, respond to this paradox in the spirit of Wittgenstein. They argue that (as Soames puts it) ‘the rules governing ordinary vague predicates simply do not allow for sharp and precise lines dividing objects to which the predicates apply from objects of any other sort.’ Others, such as Timothy ...

Vienna discovers its past

Peter Pulzer, 1 August 1985

Refugee Scholars in America: Their Impact and their Experiences 
by Lewis Coser.
Yale, 351 pp., £25, October 1984, 0 300 03193 9
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The Viennese Enlightenment 
by Mark Francis.
Croom Helm, 176 pp., £15.95, May 1985, 0 7099 1065 7
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The Jews of Vienna, 1867-1914: Assimilation and Identity 
by Marsha Rozenblit.
SUNY, 368 pp., $39.50, July 1984, 0 87395 844 6
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... scholars brought about by the rise of Nazism in the 1930s – though some intellectuals, like Wittgenstein and Schumpeter, had departed independently of this. They not only left behind a vacuum of creativity that has not been filled: they transferred their crafts and disciplines to the English-speaking world, where they flourish to this day. Their story ...

At Tate Liverpool

Peter Campbell: Gustav Klimt, 3 July 2008

... accented. In some portraits – those of Rose von Rosthorn-Friedmann and Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein, for example (the first of these and a study for the second are in the exhibition Gustav Klimt: Painting, Design and Modern Life, until 31 August) – a hint of the imagined type may be preserved, but the faces in his portraits are more usually ...

Unquiet Deaths

Patrick Parrinder, 3 September 1987

Two Lives and a Dream 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Walter Kaiser.
Aidan Ellis, 245 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 85628 160 3
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The Wedding at Port-au-Prince 
by Hans Christoph Buch, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Faber, 259 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 571 14928 6
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Saints and Scholars 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 145 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 86091 180 2
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Imperial Patient: The Memoirs of Nero’s Doctor 
by Alex Comfort.
Duckworth, 206 pp., £10.95, June 1987, 0 7156 2168 8
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... only to find himself caught up in a sort of Shavian house-party consisting of Leopold Bloom, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Nikolai Bakhtin (the brother of Mikhail), and a trooper called Molloy, all of whom just happen to fetch up in a lonely Connemara cottage. What follows is often highly amusing, since Eagleton is (as one had suspected) pretty good at the ...

Self-Made Aristocrats

Adam Phillips: The Wittgensteins and Their Money, 4 December 2008

The House of WittgensteinA Family at War 
by Alexander Waugh.
Bloomsbury, 366 pp., £20, September 2008, 978 0 7475 9185 6
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... quickly. It is also, of course, a remark about the limits of what we can use language to do, but Wittgenstein is unusual as a philosopher because he so often writes about the difficulties a child has growing up in a family. His wish to clarify the world as he finds it, his stress on ‘perspicuous representations’ and ‘just that understanding which ...

Liberation Philosophy

Hilary Putnam, 20 March 1986

Philosophy in History: Essays in the Historiography of Philosophy 
edited by Richard Rorty, J.B. Schneewind and Quentin Skinner.
Cambridge, 403 pp., £27.50, November 1984, 0 521 25352 7
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... and by Husserl. The very question, ‘How does thought hook on to the world?’ was undermined by Wittgenstein. Yet, by and large, these attacks on the epistemological model – and without question they represent much of the best philosophy done in the last hundred years – have had zero effect on European culture, or on the thinking of scientists and ...

Solipsism

Ian Hacking, 4 February 1988

The False Prison: A Study of the Development of Wittgenstein’s Philosophy, Vol. I 
by David Pears.
Oxford, 202 pp., £19.50, September 1987, 0 19 824771 0
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Wittgenstein’s Nephew 
by Thomas Bernhard.
Quartet, 120 pp., £8.95, February 1987, 0 7043 2611 6
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... This is the first half of a survey of Wittgenstein’s philosophy. The division into two quite slim volumes does not mean that Professor Pears accepts a received view: that the man had two philosophies. The split is practical. University courses are commonly about either Philosophical Investigations or Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, published in 1953 and 1921 respectively ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1999, 20 January 2000

... if it’s easier to be good if you don’t care whether you’re wearing knickers or mind, as Wittgenstein didn’t, living on porridge; goodness more accessible if you’re what my mother used to call ‘a sluppers’. Nobody explains (or seems to think an explanation required) how this unworldly woman managed to be made a dame by Mrs Thatcher and was ...

Determinacy Kills

Terry Eagleton: Theodor Adorno, 19 June 2008

Theodor Adorno: One Last Genius 
by Detlev Claussen.
Harvard, 440 pp., £22.95, May 2008, 978 0 674 02618 6
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... while keeping faith with the dead. Before Adorno began to write, another part-Jewish thinker, Ludwig Wittgenstein, a man who once observed that his thought was Jewish all the way through, had questioned the limits of representation in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, faithful among other things to the traditional Judaic ban on graven ...

Yeats and Violence

Michael Wood: On ‘Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen’, 14 August 2008

... or refinement or loosening of those workings. ‘How does language hook on to the world?’ Wittgenstein asked early in his career. One answer is that it never does, quite. Another would be that it does it in all kinds of ways, and that particular contexts determine how the act of hooking works, so that at this moment you know, for various contingent ...

City of Blood

Peter Pulzer, 9 November 1989

The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph 
by Robert Wistrich.
Oxford, 696 pp., £45, June 1989, 0 19 710070 8
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Vienna and the Jews, 1867-1938: A Cultural History 
by Steven Beller.
Cambridge, 271 pp., £27.50, August 1989, 0 521 35180 4
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The German-Jewish Economic Elite 1820-1935: A Socio-Cultural Profile 
by W.E. Mosse.
Oxford, 369 pp., £35, October 1989, 0 19 822990 9
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Decadence and Innovation: Austro-Hungarian Life and Art at the Turn of the Century 
edited by Robert Pynsent.
Weidenfeld, 258 pp., £25, June 1989, 0 297 79559 7
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The Torch in My Ear 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Deutsch, 372 pp., £13.95, August 1989, 0 233 98434 8
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From Vienna to Managua: Journey of a Psychoanalyst 
by Marie Langer, translated by Margaret Hooks.
Free Association, 261 pp., £27.50, July 1989, 1 85343 057 9
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... between Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler, Karl Kraus, Arnold Schoenberg, Otto Weininger and Ludwig Wittgenstein. They felt an imperative to penetrate through a veil of appearance to a core of truth, to understand and explain, to assimilate aesthetics and ethics and to elaborate a code of personal integrity. Hence Mahler’s campaign against ...

Taking Bad Arguments Seriously

Ian Hacking, 21 August 1997

... distinct items in which ‘Sokal Affair’ was a key phrase. For comparison, it found 7767 for Ludwig Wittgenstein and 11,334 for Quantum Mechanics, the science whose abuse furnished Sokal’s illustrations. I find the whole event rather embarrassing. Do I want to live in a scholarly community where so many bad arguments are taken seriously? Many ...

Heat Death

Simon Schaffer: Entropists v. Energeticists, 13 April 2000

Ludwig Boltzmann: The Man who Trusted Atoms 
by Carlo Cercignani.
Oxford, 329 pp., £29.50, September 1998, 0 19 850154 4
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... a first law’. For an unproblematic description of this law is neither easy nor straightforward. Ludwig Boltzmann, the greatest physicist of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, spent most of his career trying to define its meaning and clarify its basis. Now Carlo Cercignani, a mathematical physicist working in Milan, tries to explain the importance of Boltzmann’s ...

You Dying Nations

Jeremy Adler: Georg Trakl, 17 April 2003

Poems and Prose 
by Georg Trakl, translated by Alexander Stillmark.
Libris, 192 pp., £40, March 2001, 1 870352 51 3
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... In the spring of 1914 Wittgenstein gave a third of the annual income from his inheritance – 100,000 Austrian crowns – to Ludwig von Ficker, the editor of the journal Der Brenner, to be shared out between worthy poets. When Ficker chose Georg Trakl as one beneficiary, Wittgenstein said that he didn’t understand Trakl’s poems, but felt they bore the stamp of ‘genius ...

Is Wagner bad for us?

Nicholas Spice, 11 April 2013

... orchestra, had a blazing row with von Bülow, stomped out of the pit and had to be coaxed back. Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld, who sang Tristan to his wife’s Isolde, caught a chill on stage and subsequently died; on his deathbed he is said to have called out Wagner’s name. His wife abandoned her career after his death. ‘I drove you to the ...

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