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I really think this is impossible — and I mean that: I do not mean just inadvisable. Indeed, in answer to Kenny's criticism, Rhees wrote a letter explaining the reason for his editing. In it, he summarised his overall guiding editorial principle: In any editing I have done I have asked again and again what Wittgenstein would have wanted. This has guided me in what I have decided to leave out and what I have decided to include.


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Rhees' approach to editing Wittgenstein originated from an understanding of Wittgenstein and his philosophy. He had gained his special insight through knowing and discussing with Wittgenstein and from observing him working on his writings. Like Wittgenstein himself, Rhees cared most of all about paving the way for the right understanding of the remarks, while most of all fearing misunderstanding and abuse.

In fact, Rhees was convinced that his own empathetic attitude was one of the reasons why Wittgenstein named him as his executor. This conviction is like a red thread running through all the editions Rhees created.


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Even so, when taken to the extreme, the attempt to be faithful to Wittgenstein's intentions and to prevent the abuse of his writings could be used to legitimise massive editorial intervention. Such passages on Wittgenstein's method belong to the most popular remarks in the PI today. But this, it seems, was exactly what Rhees feared, as he explained to von Wright: You will agree that you cannot tell anyone what philosophy is, if he has never been near enough the water to get his feet wet.

And it is impossible to tell anyone what Wittgenstein's conception of philosophy is, if he has made no long or serious study of what Wittgenstein has written. It would have been impossible for Wittgenstein himself to do this. And the remarks in that section of the Typoscript [sic] can have force or sense only against the Hintergrund of the philosophizing which Wittgenstein does, or has done.

Wittgenstein used to say something in this sense to people who wanted to come to his lectures. When I asked him first if I could come to his lectures, he asked if I had any idea of what went on in them.

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Of course those remarks in Typoscript will be published sometime, and people will quote them to show sic what Wittgenstein said doing philosophy was. And they will think this is all fairly easy to understand. We cannot prevent this. Rhees held the opinion that those who actively followed Wittgenstein in his way of treating philosophical problems would recognise in any of his remarks what kind of activity philosophy was for him, but that for those who had not already entered into this way of philosophising, there was no point in trying to describe it.

Rhees' development as an editor stood in some contrast to the development of the two other literary executors. Anscombe, for example, was not as fascinated by the middle Wittgenstein as Rhees and von Wright were, and she did not translate Rhees' editions of Wittgenstein's writings from that period.

Thus, Anscombe was in lively philosophical discussion with the material she edited and translated. Instead of completely devoting her professional life to the task of editing the papers of her teacher, she increasingly worked on her own writings and lectured internationally in the s. She kept her sense of the spirit of Wittgenstein's philosophising alive, not by incorporating it into her editorial work, but by pursuing her own thinking in a way that was inspired by him. However, together with von Wright, she also continued publishing texts from Wittgenstein's Nachlass, and by no means without editorial intervention.

Zettel Z , as the name suggests, is made from yet another collection of Wittgenstein's cuttings.

Wittgenstein 2.0. Philosophical reading and writing after the mediatic turn

Most of its contents stem from documents written between and Wittgenstein had reworked the remarks in the collection of Zettel and had partly bundled them into groups. Yet the organisation in the printed edition does not entirely follow Wittgenstein's own arrangement: what had been clipped together by Wittgenstein remained so, but the rest was posthumously woven into an arrangement by Anscombe's husband Peter Geach. Critics have pointed out that the edition does not distinguish clearly enough between the parts that follow Wittgenstein's arrangement and those arranged by Geach.

The editions On Certainty OC and Remarks on Colour ROC , edited by Anscombe alone may be discussed together because, in a certain sense, they belong together: both are made from manuscripts dating from the last 18 months of Wittgenstein's life. OC is a selection of remarks from five manuscripts, three of which are also the source for ROC. According to the editors, the different remarks were marked off by Wittgenstein as belonging to different topics. Although a later edition, namely Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology, Volume 2 , seems to relativise this opinion, the main editorial issue in creating these two volumes was not selection, but rather giving them a name.

Especially in the case of OC , the title might suggest a separate or even new thematic focus, a view which was controversially discussed, for example by Rhees. In a long letter written in March , Rhees responded to a draft for a preface that opened up the possibility of understanding OC as a new work in Wittgenstein's oeuvre — one which had emerged after he made his last modifications to the PI. In the letter, Rhees showed how the remarks in OC were embedded into the whole of Wittgenstein's development; instead of beginning to work on a new topic, Wittgenstein returned to a line of thinking that had been there for a long time.

Von Wright was so impressed by this letter that he asked Rhees to write a new preface to OC using the letter as a starting point. Rhees did so, but Siegfried Unseld, director of the German publisher of Wittgenstein's works, eventually refused to publish it. Unseld wanted OC to address a wide audience and regarded Rhees' introduction as too scholarly for this purpose. Although von Wright also disliked much of what was classified as Wittgensteinian scholarship, he was a natural academic and developed his own rather scholarly approach to editing Wittgenstein's papers.

He was sympathetic to Rhees' concerns yet favoured quite a different editorial policy. Von Wright increasingly believed that the documents would speak for themselves when they were presented to the academic community, but that supplementing the documents with historical facts would help readers comprehend them correctly. Thus, in contrast to Rhees' approach of crafting a unified book based on an internal understanding, von Wright sought to preserve and present the historical documents just as they were, but to illuminate them by providing external information on their originary contexts.

In the early s, von Wright searched the whole of Wittgenstein's Nachlass for coded remarks and endeavoured to decode them. This resulted in the edition called Vermischte Bemerkungen VB VB was closely linked to von Wright's own philosophical development and personal acquaintance with Wittgenstein; it presented Wittgenstein as a man in touch with the currents of his time and as a critic of contemporary civilisation.

Erbacher forthcoming. According to von Wright, it was important to recognise Wittgenstein as a person responding to a cultural context in order to understand his philosophy. Thus, although the remarks in VB do not belong to Wittgenstein's philosophical remarks in a strict sense, they provide a frame of cultural criticism for interpreting Wittgenstein's philosophising.

However, publishing a selection such as VB is rather untypical for von Wright's editorial work. His approach is most often characterised by little editorial intervention or interpretation. During the first 15 years of the literary executors' custody of Wittgenstein's Nachlass, some manuscripts were lost or sold, while others were discovered for the first time.

On a visit to Austria in , von Wright discovered an early version of the Tractatus.

Bibliographic Information

This find revived his desire to describe the origins of the Tractatus. He followed through by preparing his study of The Origins of the Tractatus 48 48 Von Wright : 63— Experiences such as this increased von Wright's awareness of both the historicity and vulnerability of the original documents, convincing him that the fate of the material should not depend only on the three literary executors.

He then started negotiations which eventually led to a complete microfilm copy of the Nachlass and to the institutionalised preservation of the originals. This in turn gave rise to research into the Nachlass by scholars who stood outside the narrow circle of the literary executors and their collaborators. Von Wright's friend at Cornell University, Norman Malcolm, who had also been a student and friend of Wittgenstein, became intrigued by Wittgenstein's middle period while writing an encyclopaedia paper about him. However, Rhees was against this proposition because he feared that the manuscripts would be copied and privately circulated, as had been the case with Malcolm's notes from Wittgenstein's lectures on the foundations of mathematics.

In accordance with his editorial approach, Rhees grounded his refusal in what he thought Wittgenstein himself would have wanted: When I spoke to Wittgenstein about the task ten days before his death he was particularly anxious that care should be taken in what was published and how it was presented. This is vague, I know. In , von Wright agreed that it might be too early to create a complete copy of Wittgenstein's Nachlass, yet he was determined that efforts to preserve the original material would eventually be necessary. Thus, he and Malcolm worked on a scheme to accomplish this aim.

Malcolm whetted Cornell University's interest in the project, and the university library made an offer to microfilm the entire Nachlass. I discussed once again with Norman Malcolm the possibility of depositing copies of the Wittgenstein Nachlass in the Cornell Library. We also consulted an expert. I became convinced that the right thing to do is to have the entire Nachlass microfilmed.

This plan seems to me good. And I hope you will agree to it. It would solve, once and for all, the problem of taking copies of the originals. The existence of the microfilm, moreover, would be a safeguard of the preservation of the Nachlass in case of a disaster. With Rhees finally agreeing to the plan, all the parties signed a contract by the turn of — Thus in , the parts of the Nachlass that Anscombe and Rhees kept at their homes and the parts that Wittgenstein's family kept in Austria were filmed under the supervision of Malcolm and von Wright.

This collection amounted to bound volumes of photocopies. Libraries could purchase from Cornell University the microfilm or photocopy volumes made from it. In the official Cornell copy, the passages written in Wittgenstein's personal code were covered up. However, the literary executors also produced a second uncensored set, which was later used for publishing coded remarks without the executors' consent.

Although the microfilm was never considered to be a true edition, it made Wittgenstein's Nachlass almost entirely available to the public. Furthermore, as a result of negotiations between the three literary executors and Trinity College, it was resolved that the originals should eventually be deposited at the college, and that a consortium, consisting first of the literary executors and then of their chosen successors, should be consulted in questions of publishing. Wittgenstein's writings were thus preserved for future scholarship. After the Cornell microfilm had been made, a catalogue of the material was produced at Cornell University.

When von Wright received this catalogue, he discovered many mistakes. He therefore returned to Cornell to check all the copies. This resulted in the production of his own catalogue. Von Wright structured the corpus by using a numbering system that assigned an unambiguous reference to each item. Thus far in the 18 years of editing Wittgenstein's Nachlass, this had not happened. In particular, von Wright distinguished between three categories: he referred to manuscripts using numbers starting with ; for typescripts, he used numbers starting with ; and for dictations, he started with The first steps towards a scholarly treatment of Wittgenstein's Nachlass were taken by von Wright himself.

Maury's studies on the sources of the remarks in Zettel : — and Philosophical Investigations : — Moreover, von Wright and his assistants produced a kind of critical edition of the PI which is sometimes called the Helsinki Edition. The text itself mostly presents a single remark on each page.

An apparatus of variants, deletions and so forth are added in footnotes, and a commentary is included on separate pages or even in a separate volume.

NORWAY: Wittgenstein archives available on line

The Helsinki Edition has never been published, but several copies have been given to libraries and individual researchers in privately bound volumes. Von Wright's assistant Nyman, in addition to being involved in creating the Helsinki Edition , also assisted in editing the volumes that might be seen as critical supplements to Part II of the PI. Wittgenstein wrote intensively on the philosophy of psychology after he had finished the remarks that became PI Part I. The notebooks that he wrote during the last months of his life from which OC and ROC had been edited also contained remarks on this topic.

Before , only Part II of the PI and fragments in Zettel were published from this extensive corpus on the philosophy of psychology. Von Wright now promoted the publication of Wittgenstein's remaining writings on this topic, and his efforts resulted in four volumes:. Together, the four volumes display a new critical awareness that resulted from experiencing the editorial difficulties of publishing Wittgenstein's Nachlass. At the same time, they round off the series of printed works produced under the auspices of the literary executors.

Anscombe, Rhees and von Wright had developed each their own attitude towards the task they had inherited from Wittgenstein. Anscombe chose to concentrate on the two main works and used them as the starting points for new philosophical discussions; Rhees used his understanding of Wittgenstein's philosophy to produce unified books that presented intermediate stages in the development of that philosophy; von Wright ensured access to the whole corpus of historical documents and provided insight into their historical contexts. The unique personal relationships, not just to their teacher but to his philosophy, contributed to their respective understandings of what their duty was in caring for the publication of his writings.

By contrast, the subsequent rounds of editing often consist of large international editorial projects involving many participants who did not know Wittgenstein personally. This new generation of scholars has had to comply with new editorial standards in academia: in particular, to present an unbiased projection of the original manuscripts or typescripts onto the printed page. To meet these demands, the scholars started including variants, footnotes, commentaries and appendices in the editions — precisely those elements the literary executors had deliberately avoided.

The rise of computer technology also fuelled these critical editing developments, thus affecting both the preparation and presentation of Wittgenstein's writings. The subsequent rounds of editing may therefore be characterised as the transference of Wittgenstein's Nachlass into the digital age of scholarship.

The aim of these archives was to produce a complete transcription of the Nachlass using the Cornell microfilm as the basis.

Wittgenstein After His Nachlass | SpringerLink

Unfortunately, the team of researchers broke up because of internal disagreements, so the archives were closed in Rumours about the circumstances of these events spread to the wider academic community and the public press, thus damaging the scholarly reputation of the whole endeavour of editing Wittgenstein's Nachlass. Nevertheless, the project of transcribing the corpus could continue through other projects. Nedo had moved to Cambridge and continued the work that would lead to the WA. In the introductory volume, he states that all the manuscripts and typescripts written between and referred to as the middle period are to be published in this series.

Somewhere between 10 to 15 volumes, each covering to pages, were planned. The first five volumes WA 1—5 are accompanied by a concordance , a register and a synopsis The WA presents Wittgenstein's writings with three different critical apparatuses: one at each margin and a third in the footnotes. Additionally, different underlinings, insertions, variants and deletions are represented by different fonts and brackets. The great amounts of time and resources invested into finding this typographic form surely indicate the tremendous challenge faced by any project with editorial ambitions similar to that of the WA.

The WA has presented volumes that satisfy the demands of a printed, critical and scholarly edition, but academic philosophers have noted that a more usable complete edition could have been produced using fewer resources and more conventional procedures. In , the philosophy departments of four Norwegian universities bought a photocopy set of the Cornell microfilm. After negotiations with the literary executors and with the support of von Wright, this aim could be pursued; the Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen WAB were established in By that time, the idea of using computer technology to make Wittgenstein's Nachlass available had become rather definite.

The BEE also contains facsimiles of 96 manuscripts, 53 typescripts and eight dictations, plus functions for searching all the documents according to names, dates or formulae. Through this rich array of functions, the BEE provides all means necessary for comparing printed editions and their sources. Thus, after the BEE 's publication, there have in principle been no more grounds for speculating about the possible repression or restriction of access to the Nachlass. In fact, one motivation for producing the BEE has been to bring clarity to such debates. One might expect that editorial problems have finally come to an end with the publication of the BEE.

Indeed, today the BEE has come to be seen as a standard source for Wittgenstein scholarship, not least because it provides a complete facsimile edition. It has also prepared the ground for further developing von Wright's reference system by creating new sigla, not only for each item, but for each remark. Nevertheless, with the BEE , a Pandora's box full of new editorial difficulties has opened. The way in which the BEE 's creators have coped with the technological requirements, such as by inventing a coding language for complex documents, has brought the project to the forefront of digital scholarly editions.

Despite the BEE including an extensive user guide, few users have been able to fully exploit the search functions, and most have been dissatisfied when trying to copy or print the pages they found of special interest. Moreover, it has now become impossible to run the BEE with the latest operating systems. Thus, while the printed editions have presented readers with one set of challenges, now with digitisation, new challenges related to technological developments and usability have emerged.

Since WAB released the BEE , it has treated these new challenges as opportunities for developing new forms of digital scholarly editions, including converting the BEE to web standards and linking it with other online resources. WAB thereby actively welcomes new opportunities for both online editions and philosophical archives in the transition from the digital age to the Internet age.

Not all the editorial projects after round one have been sorties into new technological worlds. The latest round of editing Wittgenstein's main work has resulted in a more conventional publication. Von Wright always envisioned a complete printed edition of the Nachlass, the production of which he considered the literary executors' duty.

Such a complete edition has not yet been realised, and it is questionable whether it is still desirable, given the many repetitions in Wittgenstein's Nachlass and the digital solutions available for handling them. It shows the different ideas Wittgenstein had for the form of his book. Research on discrepancies between the published editions and their actual sources has created a heightened alertness to the implications of editorial interventions and promoted the demand for scholarly editions. It has also led to a critical understanding of the early editions and to an idea of what a complete printed edition would amount to.

The BEE provides a complete digitised and searchable transcription with a corresponding complete facsimile collection. In addition, there are now also critical book editions of Wittgenstein's main works that form the basis for new reading versions. The editors of Wittgenstein's Nachlass have created a ladder consisting of seven rungs of editing, and all interested readers should be glad for it.

Editors of future projects will add more rungs to the ladder, and it is likely that they will continue to discuss how Wittgenstein's later writings may be appropriately represented. This paper has aimed to open yet another perspective on the history of editing Wittgenstein's Nachlass. Now that editorial projects have provided access to Wittgenstein's writings with as little filtering and interpretation as possible, Wittgenstein scholarship has reached a stage where it is easier to relaxedly recognise the earlier, more interpretive editing.

It is hoped that the selected quotes from the literary executors' letters have shown that it is worth following the development of their unique ways of editing. With precisely this objective, a research project at the University of Bergen has begun to prepare a systematic and comprehensive presentation of the literary executors' archived correspondence. Volume 38 , Issue 3. The full text of this article hosted at iucr.

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Article Open Access. Many people have aided me in my research and writing. I am deeply grateful that Peg Smythies permitted me to quote from Rush Rhees' letters; sadly, she passed away while this paper was in preparation. The Richard Burton Archives at the University of Swansea granted permission to quote from the letters of Rhees that are in their possession.

An earlier version of this paper was presented to the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bergen; I thank all participants of that seminar for their valuable contributions. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access.

Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Abstract Building on the unpublished correspondence between Ludwig Wittgenstein's literary executors Rush Rhees, Elizabeth Anscombe and Georg Henrik von Wright, this paper sketches the historical development of different editorial approaches to Wittgenstein's Nachlass.

Anscombe and R. Rhees and G. Anscombe NB Schriften Band 2. Philosophische Bemerkungen Zettel , ed. Anscombe and G. Wittgenstein und der Wiener Kreis On Certainty , ed. Rhees PG Schriften Band 4. Philosophische Grammatik Schriften Band 5. Rhees PG Schriften Band 6. Rhees PB Vermischte Bemerkungen , ed. Nyman Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology , Vol. Nyman LW 1 Schriften Band 8.

Editions based on lecture notes are not presented. Figure 1 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Rung 1: Wittgenstein's Chef d'ouvre: Philosophical Investigations PI After Wittgenstein's death in April , the appointed literary executors immediately wanted to make available what they considered to be the book Wittgenstein envisioned: Philosophical Investigations PI. Rung 2: Early Editorial Dispositions Wittgenstein himself had almost finished the text of the PI , but subsequent books published from his Nachlass have required more editing.

Remarks on the foundations of mathematics Even before the PI was published, the literary executors decided to proceed with publishing further selections from Wittgenstein's Nachlass. Philosophische Grammatik The natural candidate for the next edition was the document that the literary executors called the Big Typescript.

Zettel, On Certainty and Remarks on Colour Rhees' development as an editor stood in some contrast to the development of the two other literary executors. The Cornell microfilm Von Wright's friend at Cornell University, Norman Malcolm, who had also been a student and friend of Wittgenstein, became intrigued by Wittgenstein's middle period while writing an encyclopaedia paper about him.

The Helsinki Edition The first steps towards a scholarly treatment of Wittgenstein's Nachlass were taken by von Wright himself. Anscombe, G.

Wittgenstein after his Nachlass

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