A Wonderful Life’

Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius

by Ray Monk
Free Press, 654 pp., $29.95

This is a wholly admirable biography. It is not easy to combine a continuous and intelligible story of a man’s life with a succinct account of his changing philosophical doctrines. Ray Monk succeeds both with the life and with the doctrines and he is the first person to make entirely clear the substantial interaction between them. He reports that he has had the full cooperation of Wittgenstein’s literary executors and he quotes freely from the more intimate and unphilosophical parts of Wittgenstein’s unpublished manuscripts. It is an odd fact about Wittgenstein that his peculiar nature as a person, and his true ambitions as a philosopher, have only been gradually revealed to an inquiring public, who for many years were provoked to ever-increasing curiosity by the mysteries and rumors surrounding his reputation, mysteries that even extended to the name itself. The step-by-step unraveling of the mysteries over the years has certainly contributed to his fame and perhaps also to the continuing enchantments of his philosophy.

Wittgenstein was the youngest child of an immensely rich industrialist in Vienna, whose grandfather had been the originally Jewish land agent of the princely family of Seyn-Wittgenstein; the agent took his employer’s name. It is reported that the eight Wittgenstein children, of whom Ludwig was the youngest, enjoyed the services of twenty-four private tutors at one time. From the middle of the nineteenth century onward the Wittgensteins no longer regarded themselves as Jewish. Ludwig was later to say that he was “German through and through,” and he quite naturally joined the Austrian Army at the outbreak of the Great War without any sense of divided loyalties. In Britain after the war, he was sometimes happy and at ease in Wales and staying in Ireland, where he found that people in the street smiled in an acceptable way. He disliked England, and particularly Cambridge, where people could be heard saying “Oh, really” in a quite unacceptable way.

Ray Monk makes clear by quotation how intensely Wittgenstein despised formality, artifice, and stiffness in social relations, and he found English academia particularly repellent. He thought English culture was entirely deplorable and degenerate. He liked to eat in eating places without table cloths, and if possible always the same food. He gave much of his considerable fortune to his family and the rest to assist writers, including the poet Trakl, and later, if he was not being paid by Cambridge, he sometimes did not have the money needed for his simple life. These tastes and predilections emerge as his biographer tells the story which begins with Wittgenstein’s arrival in England to work in Cambridge with Russell on logic before the First World War, and which continues after the war when he finally returns to Cambridge and then becomes, rather unhappily, professor of philosophy there. After the Nazis invaded Austria, he applied for and finally received a British passport.

Wittgenstein’s upbringing in the Vienna of Karl Kraus, Mahler, Schoenberg, Freud, and the avant-garde architect Adolf Loos, his close friend, has been well explained by several writers, most recently by B. F. McGuinness in the first volume of his biography, published in 1988. That they were all living in the sultry last days of mankind, before the coming storm, and waiting for the final collapse of European civilization, was at that time a commonplace among the Viennese intelligentsia. Schopenhauerian pessimism was all the vogue in cafés, theaters, and in the newspaper feuilletons. Friedrich Waismann used to describe young men and women sitting in cafés composing world-weary aphorisms, in the manner, as they hoped, of Karl Kraus and Lichtenberg, and then sending them to the Neue Freie Presse, which printed whole columns of them.

For different reasons and at different times three of Wittgenstein’s brothers committed suicide, and suicide was recommended by Otto Weininger in his best seller, Sex and Character, which was greatly admired by Wittgenstein. Weininger, himself a Jew, denounced Jews and women for their typically unmasculine feelings, and he argued that only the possession of genius made life worth living. While a famous young man, he famously committed suicide in the house where Beethoven died. Monk quotes Spengler’s statement that the suicide was “one of the noblest spectacles ever presented by a late religiousness.” Wittgenstein greatly admired Spengler’s Decline of the West (1918): a deplorable fact perhaps, but one which helps to explain his remark, quoted by Monk, that “the philosopher’s nimbus is disappearing” in this “age of declining culture or without culture.”

Wittgenstein so far accepted Weininger’s argument about suicide that he constantly pressed Russell, during their early prewar meetings in Cambridge, to reassure him that he possessed philosophical genius. I have not read Sex and Character, but Monk conscientiously summarizes its conclusions because of their lifelong influence on Wittgenstein. It seems to have been the kind of fin-de-siècle cultural hodge-podge that requires “Man” and “Woman” to be printed in capital letters. Man should love not Woman, but his own soul, the “God who in my bosom dwells,” and he must resist the pairing instinct of the woman and free himself from sex, and so forth in sub-Nietzschean vein. How fortunate England was to have Wilde and Beardsley, who could lighten these heavy Strindbergian themes of sexual derangement and death.

A serious philosophical concept emerges from this faded Viennese café culture, the concept of genius, which is the main theme of Ray Monk’s book, duly marked in the title. It is an important fact that Wittgenstein, no less than Frege and Russell, was a genius in philosophy. But Monk shows by relevant quotation that a much more important fact in understanding Wittgenstein’s philosophy is that he thought of himself as a philosophical genius, and that he would not have continued as a philosopher if he had not thought of himself as authentically inspired. Philosophy, he thought, demands inspiration or it is a counterfeit. The concept of genius became the secularized equivalent in the Romantic movement, particularly in Germany, of the Christian concept of a saint. Kant had introduced the contrast between genius and talent in the Critique of Judgment. From that date (1790) onward the contrast has dominated almost all thinking about the arts and humanities, including philosophy. Coleridge and the German Romantics lived by this contrast, which was the center of their faith, and so did Wittgenstein. The genius, as previously the saint, has direct access to truth by an invisible and unexplained route, while the person of talent must use regular and repeatable methods to find his way forward step by step, rather than by a singular flash of insight. A genius arrives at truth by grace, and not by works.

Around the turn of the century the universal model of genius was either Shakespeare or Beethoven, Romain Rolland’s Beethoven: in the popular image a genius was typically frowning, stormy, harsh, unpredictable, disdaining formalities, uncontrollable, and divine. Music is the art in which the contrast between genius and talent is most vivid and irresistible, because “the marks of contrivance” (Kant’s phrase), the calculation of effect, are never altogether concealed in a talented but unoriginal work of music, and are always concealed in a work of genius, when form and expression are perfectly fused. Wittgenstein told Russell about Beethoven heard cursing, howling, and singing, and not eating for thirty-six hours because the servants had fled from his rage as he composed. “That’s the sort of man to be.” Of Mozart and Beethoven he said to Russell, “These are actual sons of God.”

Having been born into a family that was always surrounded by musicians, both composers and performers, he recognized classical music as the center of his moral universe, the standard by which other human activities are to be judged. He told Russell in one of his many confessions of self-disgust that “nothing is tolerable except producing great works or enjoying those of others.” Certainly any lapse into merely talented and academic work in philosophy, which would necessarily be imitative in its methods, would have been intolerable and humiliating for Wittgenstein. Acting always under the title of genius, one must always despise the formalities of one’s contemporaries, whether in life or in philosophy, and despise particularly the slavish regularity of their academic routines. In philosophy as in music, according to this view, mere cleverness or cultivated talent amount to nothing, and they can even become a kind of desecration. German Romanticism and “late religiousness” are still at full tide in Wittgenstein’s thought. The insights that make life bearable are implicit in great music and in moments of philosophical illumination, and of their nature they cannot be adequately rendered in clear propositions, and even less in the set forms of argument. The vulgarities of academic moral philosophy are the effect of making a career from writing and talking about deep and solemn themes in a sprightly rational manner and with a deadening fluency. Reason as argument is out of place with norms and values: reason as argument cannot explain why portraits of Russell, Freud, and Einstein, seen in a Cambridge shop window, show, as Wittgenstein claimed, a terrible degeneration in our culture over a century when placed alongside the portraits of Beethoven, Schubert, and Chopin.

The concept of genius dominates both the form and the substance of Wittgenstein’s philosophy in all its phases from The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1918) up to and including his now classical, posthumous work Philosophical Investigations (1953). The nonargumentative, aphoristic style of the Tractatus is designed to show that the deliverances of genius are to be accepted as “perceptions” (his later word), and not as the testable and reversible conclusions of argument. Russell described the assertions in the Tractatus as being like the Ukases of the tsar. Either the Tractatus contained the final truth about philosophy, which need be no longer discussed, as Wittgenstein believed at the time, or the whole conception of the relation between language and reality in that work was mistaken, as he came to believe in the 1920s: philosophical perceptions are either perceptions of reality or they alight upon mirages which tempt you with false likenesses. There is no halfway success, and that is why it does not help to read even the great philosophers of the past, who are only a distraction from direct vision, or epiphany.

According to the Tractatus the multiplicity of elements in a sentence ought to be a picture of the multiplicity of elements in a state of affairs. The formal correspondence secures for us the reference to a particular point in reality. Asserted sentences ought to have the determinateness of a map reference, which tells us where to look on the ground for a bridge or for a tree. In the later works, including Philosophical Investigations, a reversed set of similes replaces this first simile, which made language an autonomous picture, or map, aimed at determinateness of reference and at immediate legibility. In the later image language in action is a multipurpose instrument aimed at social communicativeness of many different kinds, and the determinateness of meaning in a statement is only one subsidiary purpose which it may occasionally serve. The unhappy dominance of natural science in our culture caused Russell, and Wittgenstein while still Russell’s pupil, to overestimate both the need and the possibility of a transparent intelligibility and veracity in, for instance, matching color words to patches of color, the names of shapes to shapes, the names and description of numbers to numbers, and so forth.

Transparency in a notation is only one kind of clarity among many others, and it plays a comparatively small part in our lives outside philosophy, and virtually no part in our day-to-day, unprofessional, family and social lives. There we require the clarity that comes from an immediate recognition of the full context and background, as well as the purpose, of a person’s utterance. Abstracting a sentence from any particular social setting in which it is used, and forgetting the various typical interchanges in which it can occur, is the very worst way at arriving at the sentence’s meaning; it is also the worst way of clearing up any philosophical puzzles which the sentence, taken by itself, has previously suggested.

If you are interested in the nature of thought, imagine the following sentences inserted in a context: (1) “I tripped on the stairs because I thought there was another step”: thought as disposition; (2) “I thought about the problem for a half hour, and got nowhere”: thought as mental process; (3) “For a second I thought I had won”: thought as mental event. Notice the differences and do not look for the essence of thought.

From the mid-1920s onward, working, often in solitude, while living in a hut near a Norwegian fjord or in Western Ireland, when not among friends and disciples in Cambridge, Wittgenstein poured into notebooks a continuous stream of perceptions about language’s part in generating insoluble metaphysical problems, inventing new similes as he went along, to supplant the old false assimilations, and exploiting his extraordinary flair for visual imagery. He seems generally to have thought in diagrams, like an engineer. Before he turned to philosophy, captivated by Russell’s inquiries into the foundations of mathematics, he had started to be an architect in Austria and had trained in Lancashire as an engineer, and he had successfully designed a house in Vienna for one of his sisters. He had a strong feeling for radical cleanness in design as in abstract thought, and he hated the insincerity and weakness of added decoration solely designed to please, as in rich Viennese houses prettified in the style of Der Rosenkavalier. For his sister’s house he prescribed naked light bulbs, and he designed the interior furnishing in harsh and exact detail, certainly leaving no place open for jolly Baroque moldings, scallops, or cherubs. The accoutrements of the house, such as door-knobs and window fastenings, had to be simple and their function legible. Appearance and reality must coincide: no affectation or social pretense.

Wittgenstein’s pursuit of the ideal of true genius has had large consequences in contemporary philosophy. The new ideal entailed that painstaking argument, which has always been the bread and butter of academic philosophy, had no decisive part to play in reaching clarity. In fact clever argument, according to this ideal, is only a distraction, liable to corrupt and to prevent the simplicity and purity of sudden insight. The clever argument of a talented thinker becomes mechanical and routine. The ideal also entailed that the technical elaborations and discoveries of symbolic logic are irrelevant to philosophy, as Wittgenstein at different times told Russell, Frank Ramsey, and Alan Turing, all men of genius who had used their genius in pursuit of scientific truth, as they conceived it. This was a confrontation of equals, and for Russell and for Turing, inventor of artificial intelligence, as for Wittgenstein, the value of a whole life’s work was at stake. Ramsey died very young, and left British philosophy without a genius who would have wanted to contribute both to technical problems in logic as Russell no longer did, and also to general problems of philosophy.

The search for truth in any of the sciences, including logic and mathematics, is a collaborative enterprise. It is essential to science that a scientist’s discovery does not count as an ascertained scientific truth unless it is finally recognized as such by his peers. A logician such as Turing or, an even greater logician, Gödel, is accounted a genius because of the magnitude of his contribution to a developing body of knowledge, and not because the abruptly new style and manner of his thought placed him altogether above and beyond the established criteria of evaluation. Wittgenstein did not want merely talented followers who would carry on the subject from the point at which he left it. His conception of philosophy excluded this possibility, because philosophy does not make assertions, prove theorems, or advance theories.

Not only that, but philosophy, as he conceived it, has no substantial future, except as the shadow of its past self. When he wrote the Tractatus he was sure, like Hegel before him, that he had finished philosophy once and for all, and in his later years he prescribed another end for true philosophy. Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, Philosophical Grammar, Philosophical Investigations, all insistently deny any place for further methodical researches. The purpose of these works is to end the morbid fascination with philosophy and to make it possible for Wittgenstein himself, and his friends and pupils, to abandon the subject. Followers of Russell and Carnap, such as Professor Nelson Goodman in the US, tried to move philosophy in directions which Russell and Carnap would not have expected and would not have approved, but they were generally building on some parts of Russell’s work. Russell’s work always called for further contributions along the same lines, and not for the formation of a circle of admirers, who were to be introduced to esoteric manuscripts and to intimate discussions, and kept away from the trivializing influence of philosophical faculties.

Those who have been chosen as members of an esoteric circle around a single genius are naturally to be recognized by their mannerisms rather than by the substance of what they say, which has to be narrowly confined. Monk skillfully describes the intensity of Wittgenstein’s concentration in philosophical discussion, as he poured a beam of light on a few salient points which had become all-important to him in his solitary stations. There is a sense in which Wittgenstein pictured philosophy as a very particular kind of talking to oneself, whether in lectures or among friends or in a manuscript journal. The mode is confessional, and the genre was established by Saint Augustine talking to himself about time and personal identity.

An audience with respondents was an accident, although sometimes a helpful one. After a lecture Walter Pater, who similarly communed with himself in prose, asked whether he had been heard. “We overheard you, Master,” Oscar Wilde replied. Wittgenstein was overheard in the extraordinary Cambridge of the 1920s and early 1930s by Ramsey, Turing, the Italian economist Piero Sraffa, Keynes, G. E. Moore, all of whom he talked with seriously. With the exception of Moore, they all had to break away from him, and to avoid further philosophical discussions, having realized that Wittgenstein attached no value to the procedures of argument. W. E. Johnson, a distinguished Cambridge philosopher who was a friend and admirer, remarked that Wittgenstein was “a man who is quite incapable of carrying on a discussion.” Wittgenstein recognized the superb talent or genius of some of his Cambridge friends, but he was always on his own and he had to remain so.

The unavoidable questions therefore arise, “What is the value of argument in philosophy? How far, if at all, can the confessional mode replace the academic disciplines of philosophy?” Few would doubt that Wittgenstein made original contributions of great importance to the philosophy of language, to several aspects of the theory of knowledge, and to the philosophy of psychology. Some of his contributions have been developed and applied by subsequent philosophers without his knowledge, and this merely talented building on his foundations will continue, however much he might have disapproved of it. His insights are inevitably turned into teachable methods of thought within an academic setting.

But there are large parts of philosophy, as philosophy is at present described, where the confessional mode is out of place and helpless. By far the most extensive and important of these areas is the philosophy of mathematics together with the philosophy of logic, which is where Wittgenstein had started his philosophical life with Russell before the Great War. The nature of mathematical knowledge has always been one of the two or three wonders of the world that has set philosophy in motion, at least Western philosophy. It is the same mystery as the nature and origins of human reason. Plato first responded to the mystery, and Kant introduced the cycle of modern thought by reclassifying the nature of mathematical thought and the operations of the mind that are involved in it. No empiricist philosopher, whether writing before or after Kant, has proposed an acceptable account of the nature of mathematical knowledge, and for this reason no empiricist philosopher has so far proposed an acceptable account of human knowledge in general.

Knowing this, Russell, working with Whitehead on Principia Mathematica, and writing his own Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (1911–1913), tried to fill the gap in the years between 1895 and 1918. He then acknowledged failure, and abandoned his efforts, partly because of exhaustion and partly because Wittgenstein told him that he was wasting his time on a question which ought not to be asked. Human knowledge, including mathematics, does not have, and does not need to have, foundations. Wittgenstein’s descriptions of commonplace day-to-day knowledge can also be applied, he claimed, to the procedures of mathematicians in discovering or inventing proofs. There is no need, he argued, to look for justifications, or further validations of these procedures. It is part of human nature that we inherit and possess them, and that we continue to add to them in ways that seem natural and acceptable to the community of mathematicians, even though the naturalness cannot be further analyzed and explained.

Monk wrote his thesis on Wittgenstein’s philosophy of mathematics, and was trained in mathematical logic. In a footnote he says that Wittgenstein’s comments in his Remarks on the Foundation of Mathematics on Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem “appear at first sight, to one trained in mathematical logic, quite amazingly primitive”: strong words from a discreet writer. Gödel had proved by a rigorous method that within any formal system there will be a sentence that can neither be proved true nor proved false, and, secondly, that the consistency of a formal system of arithmetic cannot be proved within that system. This is generally believed to be the most important single result, from a philosophical point of view, that has ever been obtained in logic since Aristotle, because it seems to undermine the best-known theories about the foundations of mathematics. But it was a result obtained by strictly formal methods of logical argument, and for this reason its importance for philosophy is hard to reconcile with Wittgenstein’s claim that formal methods, and symbolic systems, are trivial irrelevancies in philosophy.

Wittgenstein’s fierce concentration throughout his life was directed toward one traditional aspect of philosophy: self-examination. This confessional and Augustinian mode brought with it another limitation, apart from logic and mathematics. Philosophy has today, and always has had in Europe, an institutional aspect, first, as being inseparably linked to other disciplines, and secondly, as a normal constituent in education in universities, seminaries, institutes of law, of theology, and of science. Because of the Viennese apocalyptic sense that the last days have arrived and classical music has ended with Schoenberg, so, for Wittgenstein, institutionalized philosophy is to end with Wittgenstein’s disclosure of philosophy as a morbid condition of doubt, suitable only for an occasional genius who finally liberates himself and then returns to normality.

But surely there is no such thing as normal, healthy, unphilosophical life, unless law, physics, social science, psychology, politics, the study of history, are counted as features of normal life. All these activities provoke and involve substantial questions about the nature of causes: causes in law, causes in physics, causes in social science, causes in the relations between minds and bodies, in politics, in history, and causes, obviously, in the fortunes and disasters of private life. Men and women will certainly continue to make distinctions, to analyze and to speculate about the differing nature of causes and of explanations in these various fields; and this will continue to be philosophy, even if it is not the pursuit of an ultimate personal enlightenment in the confessional mode. It is an unavoidable part of day-to-day thinking and of personal and political life. The contrast between the sickly philosopher and the “blue-eyed,” normal, upright craftsman or man in the street is a purely sentimental contrast, as in Thomas Mann’s story “Tonio Kröger.”

Monk’s clear achievement is to have finally shown that Wittgenstein’s thought belonged to another world from that of the Vienna Circle, with which he has so often been associated in the past. His interests and aims were not only different from those of Carnap, Neurath, and Schlick in the Vienna Circle; they were diametrically opposed. For the Vienna Circle the supreme values are to be found in the objectivity of scientific investigation, in systematic theory building, in exact and refutable argument, in a clear expository style, and in a public commitment to rationality and to social planning. The Vienna Circle’s polemic against metaphysics was the voice of radical hostility to the Church and to all its spiritual pretensions. For objectivity Wittgenstein substituted subjectivity as the supreme value, that is, the state of a person’s soul, the degree of purity and of goodness and of Tolstoyan unworldliness, which he or she might attain. Natural science is an irrelevance, and true goodness, and its opposite, are not to be articulated in language. Religion, and particularly Christianity, is to be taken seriously, and true philosophy makes no assertions, advances no theories, and has no interest in politics and social planning.

Wittgenstein told his friends to make themselves good, and not to look away from themselves toward improvements in society and the external world. He did want, as a village schoolmaster, to find methods of improving teaching in Austrian schools. He was not interested in large-scale political movements. Monk illustrates by example Wittgenstein’s contempt for politics. Before the First World War Wittgenstein said about women’s suffrage that he was “very much against it” for no particular reason except that “all the women he knows are such idiots.” He evidently did not change this view of women, because toward the end of his life he said to a close friend, who was also a woman, at a lecture, “Thank God we have got rid of the women.” He addressed this friend, with rather wild charm, as “old man.”

Monk exhibits some distaste for Wittgenstein’s occasional use of the phrases and slogans of anti-Semitism—“most shocking,” he finds this. He comments on Wittgenstein’s “quite breathtaking naivety” in politics, because Wittgenstein refused to believe that Hitler would invade Austria. “He doesn’t want Austria. Austria would be of no use to him,” he said. Monk gives a convincing account of Wittgenstein’s unhappiness when he was serving as a village schoolmaster, and also of his bravery and deliberate risking of his life in action in the First World War, which seems to have given him a new moral assurance. Monk has the testimony of some of those who knew him when he worked as an orderly in hospitals in England in the Second War, and who recalled the grave and impressive, sometimes awkward, always conscientious, obviously self-contained, and naturally solitary figure, who could occasionally relax in a boyish heartiness.

A moving theme in Monk’s book runs parallel to some passages in Andrew Hodges’s life of Alan Turing: the theme of love and loneliness. Love was for Wittgenstein “the pearl of great price which one prizes above all else,” and he fell in love completely, and also with agony, three or four times; the last time, when he was fifty-seven, he was in love with an undergraduate, who was apparently unaware of the passion he had inspired. He seems to have loved men who were gentle, serious, affectionate, and also young. The loved burned in his head, and for some time it would mitigate the loneliness of his thinking, but it never threatened his natural solitude. Monk has the evidence in journals and manuscripts and he uses it with care and tact. Wittgenstein’s famous words just before his death: “Tell them [his friends] I’ve had a wonderful life,” may be taken to refer not only to philosophy and to music, but also to love and to friendship.

Why did Wittgenstein have such a narrow view of religion, philosophy, and goodness, as concerned only with a person’s probing of his own soul? Why was he forced back into such extreme subjectivity, poised always on the edge of solipsism? Obviously these questions cannot be answered decently on a psychological level, even with all this new evidence, but they are worth considering from a historical point of view. As “a German through and through,” and as a child of end-of-century Vienna, he was heir to the tradition of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, inheriting their reverence for music and their contempt for politics, particularly for democratic politics, and their cult of genius. It was a tradition of philosophical disdain, which found the banalities of the good bourgeois and the progressive thinkers intolerable, and which paraded its genius in eloquent flashes of insight to be understood only by “the happy few.” The radical intelligentsia is also to be despised, principally because of its shallow belief in enlightenment and in political reform and because of its admiration for the natural sciences. Spiritual egotism, romantic pessimism, frenzies of self-accusation and hair-tearing, can also be parts of a period style no less than the flat, dry, analytical manner typical, until recently, of philosophy in our time and place.

The contrast between the deep and the shallow in thought—a contrast familiar in Wittgenstein’s Vienna—is apt itself to be shallow, resting too often on the surface characteristics of writing. A prophetic, stammering, and aphoristic utterance, and public groanings, are apt to be taken as signs of depth, giving off literary fumes, like the oracle at Delphi. Particularly in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Hume attains a depth of thought not approached by any philosopher since his time except Kant, or so it seems to me. But because of his cheerful ironies and the fluidity of his sentences, his thought may seem less subtle and less deep than it is.

Hume followed the maxim “surtout pas trop d’emphase” which does not fit Wittgenstein’s philosophy or Mahler’s music. Again with religion, as with philosophy, there are different criteria of depth. To a friend Wittgenstein said: “I am not a religious man but I cannot help seeing every problem from a religious point of view.” Spinoza might have said this if he had been more liable to confession than he in fact was. But Spinoza thought of religious reverence as an overcoming of egotism and of sickening subjectivity (called “passive emotions”), and as directed toward the cosmic laws and recurrences and particularities to be found in the natural world, and also in oneself, but only as a minute part of the world. This is also a kind of religion, and a no less valid one.

This is certainly a fascinating book about a great philosopher, who had “a wonderful life” and, like Turing, a dramatic one. I have only one minor complaint about the book. In view of Wittgenstein’s intense feelings about the great classical composers up to Brahms, who was a family friend, it is frustrating to learn nothing about his attitude to Wagner, whose name is not even in the index. Perhaps there is no evidence.