A Conversation for Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Post 1


Thinking great and elevated thoughts are of no importance. It is how you treat and behave to those around you that is the main thing.
Wittgenstein was abominable to all and sundry, it has been said that he was a hebrephrenic schizophrenic. He was in his study on his birthday when his housekeeper came in with a birthday cake and said "Many happy returns, Ludwig" He sprang up, dashed the cake from her hands onto the floor and shouted at her "You will think about what you just said extemely carefully!"
He worked on a building site when he first came to England, the other workers ostracised him as he was so belligerent and intense.
Then of cause, there was the famous story of his poker? When Karl Popper came to lecture, our Ludwig tried to clout him with a poker while screaming out eyeball popping insults.
And this man is supposed to be a great thinker? He does fit the clinical definition of paranoid delusion, in that it is not a split between 2 sides of one's brain, it is a split between the outside world and ones thoughts, they do not mesh and give the sufferer a very distorted view of existence. And this muppet had great thoughts did he? Yeah, right.

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Post 2


The insight that "great and elevated thoughts are of no importance" is one that Wittgenstein agreed with. Being kind to people is the only thing that matters -- that he believed, and lived by it. His friends were treated with extreme thoughtfulness and loyalty; what he despised were those who said "I can go to the worst of places and it is all right because I am of superior intellect".

He could also be abrasive and rude. The last house he stayed in, where he died, the housewife (Mrs Bevan), when she heard he had just come back from the States, said to him "How lucky for you to go to America!" She realised at once she had said the wrong thing. Wittgenstein fixed her with an intent stare: "What do you mean, lucky?".

He did become friendly with Mrs Bevan after that. They would go to the local pub and order two ports (at 6 o'clock every evening). Mrs Bevan recalled "one I drank and the other he poured with great amusement into the aspidistra plant".

Of the various stories you mention, the only one I have heard before is the one about the poker and Karl Popper. Have you seen the book Edmonds and Eidinow made out of that incident? Curiously, though they found several eye-witnesses, none of them agreed on the events of that evening. It seems clear to me that Popper embroidered the story in the account he gave afterwards.

A good guy, Wittgenstein, and no fool, and he shared your low opinion of philosophy. Give him a read.

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