Free-Range Philosophers #1: Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
This is the first in a series. “Free-Range Philosophers” is a light-hearted look at some philosophers whose work is/was not confined solely to the academy.
Philosophical Education: Cambridge, 1911-1913, under Bertrand Russell.
Attitude to Professional Philosophy: Became infuriated whenever his students wanted to be professional philosophers. Encouraged them instead to become psychologists, doctors, bricklayers…
Dissertation: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921), which he wrote in the trenches and POW camp during WWI and published seven years before his “defense.”
Academic Career: Spotty. Left philosophy in 1920, having solved all (!) philosophical problems in the Tractatus. Worked as a gardener, a teacher, and an architect. Returned to Cambridge in 1929 for his “defense,” was granted PhD. Left again, this time for Norway, 1936-1937. Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge, 1939-1947. Resigned professorship in 1947 to focus on writing.
Publishing Record: Published only one book (Tractatus) during his lifetime. Also published an article, a book review, and a dictionary for children. Other works, including the Philosophical Investigations, were published posthumously.
Teaching Evaluations: Range from the horrible (he was known for shouting at and beating his primary school students in Norway) to the creepy (he inspired a cult following at Cambridge).