MS 112

VIII. Bemerkungen zur philosophischen Grammatik


General note on MSS 105-122 (Bände I to XVIII)

Between 1929 and 1940 Wittgenstein produced 18 large manuscript volumes. He himself numbered them as Bände I to XVIII and gave most of them general titles like “Philosophical Remarks” or “Philosophical Grammar”. This indicates that he himself perceived these volumes as belonging to a series. Some of them evidently contain new material spontaneously written down and not drafted in other notebooks. Parts of several of these volumes, however, are based on earlier remarks recorded in pocket notebooks, for example, while other parts contain revisions of earlier manuscript volumes or typescripts. The best-known case of this last kind are MSS 114ii and 115i (Bände X and XI), which contain a revision (erste Umarbeitung) of parts of TS 213 (The Big Typescript). The same typescript forms the basis of the first section of volume XII (MS 116), but the process of selecting remarks from the TS and transferring them into Band XII is such that most people would not feel inclined to speak of a process of revision. At any rate, there are clear breaks between the earlier portion of MS 114 and the subsequent revision of TS 213 contained in the same ledger as well as between the first half (winter 1933-34) of volume XI and its second half, which was written in the late summer and the autumn of 1936 (containing the German revision of the Brown Book, entitled “Philosophische Untersuchungen”).


General note on MSS 105-114 (Bände I to X)

There are good reasons for treating the series of volumes from I to X (or, more exactly, up to MS 114i) as forming a separate, or separable, part of Wittgenstein’s oeuvre. However, as has been pointed out above, even these volumes were not produced according to one uniform pattern. Some of the remarks were written spontaneously, as it were, that is to say without a basis in earlier drafts. Other remarks contained in these volumes were copied, or transferred in revised form, from earlier writings. Most of these volumes are punctuated by personal remarks of a private or confessional nature as well as by reflections on music, literature, religion and a few other kinds of topic. Sometimes, but by no means always, these reflections are separated from the more straightforwardly philosophical material by certain marks (e.g. “||…||”) or by being written in Wittgenstein’s usual code. But in spite of these and other qualifications that might come to mind it is helpful and surely not misleading to view volumes I to X as the central record of Wittgenstein’s strikingly  original and continuous production between his return to Cambridge in January 1929 and a new stage in the process of articulating and arranging his ideas. But even if we are agreed that these ten manuscript volumes are to be regarded as the core record of his thought during the early middle period of his philosophical development, it will be useful to divide this material into three parts, corresponding to interruptions of the writing process motivated by an urge to have his handwritten remarks typed up. Once in possession of a typed version, Wittgenstein was prepared to think about the order of his individual remarks, about possible arrangements and re-arrangements. Moreover, he could now proceed to actually carrying out such arrangements and re-arrangements by way of cutting typescript or carbon copy into fragments that were subsequently put together in a new order and, in some cases, supplemented by handwritten changes or explanations or exemplifications giving the older material a new twist. — There are three interruptions of the kind alluded to in the previous paragraph:

(1)     24 March 1930: Easter vacation, in Vienna Wittgenstein dictates selected remarks from vol.s I to IV. The result is TS 208, which is soon cut into fragments that are subsequently re-arranged so as to form TS 209 (Philosophical Remarks).

(2)     The material written down in the remainder of volume IV (MS 108) between 25 April and 9 August 1930 is dictated and typed sometime in the summer of this year (TS 210).

(3)     The contents of MSS 109-114i are sifted and dictated to a typist while on vacation in Austria. The resulting typescript (TS 211) comprises ca. 800 pages and may have been dictated in the course of two or more series of sessions. But most of the work of producing this typescript was surely done after 5 June 1932 (the last date to be found in MS 114i).

It is likely that TS 211 was completed in the summer or autumn 1932. So we may assume that in the course of less than four years (1929-32) Wittgenstein managed to fill ca. 3000 pages of manuscript volumes and dictated almost 1100 pages of this material to a typist. The story of this material is continued in other parts of this account (see especially MSS 114-15, 140, TSS 208-13), but at this point readers should allow the message to sink in: if we remember that much of this material was absolutely new and the result of reflections that stood in contrast, or were diametrically opposed, to the author’s earlier convictions, we find that we are dealing with a unique document witnessing to Wittgenstein’s stunning creative powers.


Notes on MS 112 (Band VIII)

The 270 pages of this manuscript volume cover the period between 5 October and 28 November 1931. As in MSS 111 and 113, Wittgenstein relies heavily on material written earlier, partly on pocket notebooks 153a, 153b, and 155, partly on remarks collected in TS 208 (pp. 2-17), here used towards the end of Band VIII.

            The questions discussed in this manuscript volume cover a wide range of philosophical problems. There is a good deal on the philosophy of mathematics, e.g. number-theoretical considerations as well as discussions of central concepts (like those of proof and infinity) and methods of proof (like mathematical induction and construction). Some basic concepts examined have a bearing both on the philosophy of mathematics and the philosophy of language, as for example the central notion of Spiel (game or play). A great number of Wittgenstein’s remarks centre around questions concerning possible links between language and world. So there are observations on ostension, in particular a long discussion of the notion of a Muster (sample or paradigm) and the relations between Muster and words. Other familiar topics include the question whether bearerless proper names can be said to have meaning (“Moses”) and what the contribution of techniques of verification to linguistic meaning could be seen to consist in. Attempts are made to distinguish between explanation and description, and there are a number of remarks on colour and visual space. It almost goes without saying that there are general observations on the practice and point of philosophy and the confusions engendered by metaphysical ways of asking questions.

            There are more than a dozen remarks that appear in the collection Culture and Value. Names mentioned include Cantor, Eddington, Frege, Hilbert, Lichtenberg, Ramsey, Russell, Sheffer, Skolem, Tolstoy, and Whitehead.

            Most but by no means all the remarks contained in this volume were transferred to TS 211.