MS 153a



General note to 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.


MS 153a is the only item in this series to carry a date: on p. 4v one finds the note “10.5.[1931]”. It is not difficult, however, to ascribe rough dates to all of this material. The simple reason is that most of the remarks contained in these notebooks were used in the process of writing the large Bände VI to IX (MSS 110 to 113), which in their turn served as the basis of typescripts leading up to TS 213 (BT). And as these Bände contain many dates, it is not difficult to estimate in more or less rough terms when these pocket notebooks were written.

  • p. 1r bears the inscription “Anmerkungen / Ludwig Wittgenstein / Trinity College”.
  • pp. 1v ff. contain remarks corresponding to MS 110:223 (25 June 1931) ff.  These correspondences run all the way up to the last page of Band X (p. 300, 6 July 1931).
  • The next entry (p. 59r-60r, “a picture representing the coronation of Napoleon”) corresponds to MS 111:9. This series of correspondences arrives at 153a:65v—111:28. Then there is a gap, and the next set of correspondences can be found between 155:1r—111:92
  • From this point onwards, Wittgenstein evidently used MSS 153a and 155 alternately to serve in the process of writing MS 111. In MS 153a the last entry of this alternating series of correspondences can be found on p. 129v(—111:200, 13 September 1931).
  • The next entry in MS 153a corresponds to the first remark of Band VIII (MS 112, 5 October 1931). But the series of correspondences reaches only up to p. 137r(—112:7); it is then continued in MS 155.
  • The next series of correspondes begins on p. 137v, and the first remark of this series matches up with a remark on pp. 198-9 of MS 112. This series is continued up to the last page of MS 153a, which corresponds to MS 112:229 (22 November 1931).


A fairly large number of remarks from MS 153a was later collected in Vermischte Bemerkungen / Culture and Value. A couple of remarks (p. 141r) are similar to remarks in MS 183 (p. 130).