26 May 2015

Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

No - not Byron, but Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose biography I have just finished. He might have been an important philosopher; he might have invented one of the first jet engines; and he might have come from one of the most illustrious families in Europe - but he lived at the bizarre end of the social spectrum. He was writing all the time, but only published one book in his own lifetime. He drove his colleagues to distraction with non-stop ranting. He physically assaulted his students. Suicide was never far from his mind. He inherited millions but lived like a hermit. He ruined the professional careers of his most promising students. And in the end he repudiated his own work. There is lots more here.