Friday, February 19, 2010


What is this cover trying to say? It's in the rather stylishly designed HarperPerennial ModernThought series, and contains the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, the Blue and Brown Books and On Certainty. Is the message that Wittgenstein didn't have major works, or that these aren't those major works, or that he didn't believe in major works? Each of these contains an element of truth. Or is it that his was a debunking, disenchanting, deconstructing philosophy? There's some truth to that, too, but it's less than half the truth about especially the later work. Yet there's no apparatus to explain - not even a one-page editor's preface indicating when these works appeared! Only on the back cover is the reader told that the works selected are from the "early, middle, and later career of this revolutionary thinker," but without followup inside it hardly seems significant. Pity the reader who doesn't already know that Wittgenstein repudiated the project of his earlier work in the later philosophy rather than building on it!

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