Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers
David Edmonds, John Eidinow
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
On October 25, 1946, in a crowded room in Cambridge, England, the great twentieth-century philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper came face to face for the first and only time. The meeting -- which lasted ten minutes -- did not go well. Their loud and aggressive confrontation became the stuff of instant legend, but precisely what happened during that brief confrontation remained for decades the subject of intense disagreement.
An engaging mix of philosophy, history, biography, and literary detection, Wittgenstein's Poker explores, through the Popper/Wittgenstein confrontation, the history of philosophy in the twentieth century. It evokes the tumult of fin-de-siécle Vienna, Wittgentein's and Popper's birthplace; the tragedy of the Nazi takeover of Austria; and postwar Cambridge University, with its eccentric set of philosophy dons, including Bertrand Russell. At the center of the story stand the two giants of philosophy themselves -- proud, irascible, larger than life -- and spoiling for a fight.
assumed that Wolffs comment was a metaphor about the M S C paper and replied, "I can't see what that has to do with the question." J6 WITTCENSTEINS POKER To make M S C meetings as productive as possible, Wittgenstein had firm views on how thev should be run. In 1912, a year after his arrival at the university to study under Russell, he had imposed his will on the club, pushing through a plan for there to be a chairman to "guide" discussion. G. E. Moore was elected to fulfill this role (a
a word about a modernist building project with Loos or about twelve-tone music with Alban Berg? Try the Cafe Museum or perhaps the Herrenhof. Looking to pick a bone with Karl Kraus over one of his coruscating articles in Die Fackel? He gives permission to meet him in the Cafe Central in the evening, when he eats his dinner—a very sharp sausage. Remember, he works all night and sleeps into the dav. You can meet Peter Altenberg, the poet, there too. Probably he'll be writing one of the stream of
furnishing of his Cambridge rooms, that was not the case before the First World War. Pinsent records how in October 1912 he helped Wittgenstein move his furture into his Trinity rooms. T h e furniture came from London: Wittgenstein had rejected what Cambridge had to offer as "beastlv." "He has had his furniture all specially made for him on his own lines—rather quaint but not bad." On their return from Iceland, " W e dined —in style with Champagne." Wittgenstein's father died of cancer in 1 9 1
second sentence, of the First Reich Citizenship Order is likewise not applicable. Since then origins rulings have been made regarding the numerous descendants of Hermann Wittgenstein, so that their racial classification for the purposes of the Reich Citizenship Act should not manifest any further difficulties. If necessary, corresponding origins rulings can be sought in doubtful cases from the Office of Genealogical Research. Signed Dr. Kurt Meyer T h e second sentence of section 2(2)
However, delivering a paper to the club could be destructive for the speaker even when it was not punctuated with jeers. On 12 June 1940, just as German tanks stormed through the French defenses and opened the way to Paris and the Channel, Isaiah Berlin ventured from All Souls College, Oxford, to the M S C . His biographer Michael Ignatieff describes the scene: » All the C a m b r i d g e philosophers turned out—Braithwaite, Broad, E w i n g , M o o r e , W i s d o m and a sixth figure, small