Below is an introduction to the life, work, and legacy of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. There is little doubt that he was a towering figure of the twentieth century. Wittgenstein has been credited with being the greatest philosopher of the modern age, a thinker who left not one but two philosophies for his successors to argue over. The early Wittgenstein said, “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world”; the later Wittgenstein replied, “If God looked into our minds he would not have been able to see there whom we were speaking of”. Language was at the heart of both.
Wittgenstein stated that his purpose was to finally free humanity from the pointless and neurotic philosophical questing that plagues us all. As he put it, “To show the fly the way out of the fly bottle”. He was something of a philosopher’s philosopher. But how did he think language could solve all the problems of philosophy? How have his ideas influenced contemporary culture? And could his thought ever achieve the release for us that he hoped it would?
In this video Melvyn Bragg discusses Wittgenstein and these questions with Ray Monk (Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southampton), Barry Smith (Lecturer in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London), and Marie McGinn (Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of York).