MS 155



General note on MSS 153a to 155

These are the first items in the series of what Georg Henrik von Wright called “pocket notebooks”: they are of the right size to be carried in a jacket pocket, and it seems quite likely that on occasion Wittgenstein actually did carry them this way when out of doors. Use of the small letters “a” and “b” indicates that b is a continuation of a.

            In the particular case of this series, however, work on the very voluminous pocket notebook 153a was interrupted for a lengthy period: the sequence of remarks is continued in MS 155. But what is correct is that MS 153b constitutes the continuation of MS 153a. MS 154, for its part, comes soon (but not directly) after MS 153b.

            In studying these notebooks one will wonder again and again whether any of the original notebooks were lost or destroyed by Wittgenstein himself. The notebooks themselves contain occasional (apparent) references to other manuscripts that could be interpreted as alluding to material that is no longer extant. However, in the context of our descriptions, speculation over these issues will be kept to a minimum.


As was pointed out in the description of MS 153a, the first 60 pages of MS 155 fill part of the gap of correspondences between pocket notebooks and Band VII (MS 111). After a few pages, Wittgenstein uses MSS 153a and 155 alternately in the process of writing Band VII. The first short series of correspondences between MS 153a and MS 112 is continued in MS 155 (p. 31r—112:7, 5 October 1931), where it runs on up to the last page proper (95r), which corresponds to MS 112:196 (16 November 1931).

            A couple of remarks from MS 155 was later collected in Vermischte Bemerkungen / Culture and Value. There are a few remarks written in English. They deal with the nature of philosophy and were evidently written in preparation for a lecture (cf. pp. 36v-38r).