Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein pictured in Swansea in 1947.

The life and work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian-British philosopher regarded by many as the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, is to be celebrated with a series of events hosted by Swansea University in partnership with the Austrian Cultural Forum London and the Wittgenstein Initiative in June 2022.

Born in Vienna in 1889, Wittgenstein’s two major works have inspired a vast secondary literature and have done much to shape subsequent developments in philosophy, especially within the analytic tradition.

His charismatic personality has, in addition, exerted a powerful fascination upon artists, playwrights, poets, novelists, musicians, and even filmmakers, so that his fame has spread far beyond the confines of academic life.

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s association with Swansea University came about through his relationship with Rush Rhees, his former student, confidant, and literary executor, who worked at the Department of Philosophy between 1940-1966. Wittgenstein was a regular visitor to Swansea between 1942-1947 and it was during this period that his perpetual dialogue with Rhees led to the development of many of his strands of thought which would appear in his posthumously published work Philosophical Investigations. One of the most notable photographs of Wittgenstein is of him in a train shelter on Swansea Promenade, taken by his partner Ben Richards in September 1947.  

On Thursday 16 June, some of the world's leading authorities on Wittgenstein and intellectual thought, including Professor Ray Monk, Dr Alfred Schmidt, and James Kelman will feature in a conference entitled Ludwig Wittgenstein: An Austrian in Swansea. Held at The Mall in Swansea’s Taliesin Arts Centre between 9.30am-4.30pm, the conference will explore how important Wittgenstein’s years in Swansea were to the development of his later philosophy. There is no need to register in advance for this event. 

At 6pm on 16 June, Professor Ray Monk, author of the acclaimed biography Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius, will deliver a free public lecture titled Wittgenstein in Swansea in the Wallace Lecture Theatre on the Singleton campus. The lecture will offer a great introduction to those who may be unfamiliar with Wittgenstein or his connection with Swansea.

An exhibition entitled The Tractatus Odyssey and Wittgenstein’s Swansea Years will be on display at the library on Swansea University’s Singleton Park campus between 9-23 June. The free exhibition, presented in conjunction with Vienna’s Wittgenstein Initiative and the Austrian Cultural Forum London, covers the early years of Wittgenstein and the build-up to the publication of his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. The exhibition will also offer audiences a look at Wittgenstein's time at Swansea and the legacy that he left through Rush Rhees and the Swansea School of Philosophy.

Those attending the lecture on 16 June are invited to the official opening of the exhibition at Singleton Library at 5.15pm.

Dr Alan Sandry, a political philosopher at Swansea University’s School of Management, and organiser of the events, said: "We are delighted that the forthcoming events will explore and celebrate Ludwig Wittgenstein's relationship with Swansea University, and with Swansea more generally. He is a world-renown figure whose time at Swansea in the 1940's has, unfortunately, often gone under the radar. His academic and intellectual legacy at Swansea University in the second half of the twentieth century was substantial, and we hope to revive some of that interest for our contemporary times."


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