FOM: Wittgenstein: two clarifications

Charles Parsons parsons2 at
Thu Mar 26 22:50:27 EST 1998

Steve tells me that he didn't intend to say that Wittgenstein in general is
a fad, only that "the current interest in his later work in philosophy
of math is a fad." It seems I took him too literally. I still don't agree,
because I don't think the interest is great enough to be a fad. Also,
although I haven't gone deeply into it myself, I do think it of
philosophical interest. But I won't try to articulate what I think its
interest is.

In my posting, when I talked about the limited interest in Wittgenstein's
philosophy of mathematics, I was impicitly thinking of his later work. The
_Tractatus_ is another matter; it's view of logic was the model for the
Vienna Circle's view of mathematics, and so indirectly it had very great
influence. Moreover, the _Tractatus_ was the point of departure for F. P.
Ramsey's work in the foundations of mathematics.

I might also have said that Kreisel talked quite a bit with Wittgenstein
while an undergraduate and wrote reviews of a couple of his posthumous
publications. I haven't looked at these for many years, but my impression
is that Kreisel's reaction to Wittgenstein's philosophy was on the whole

Charles Parsons

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