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Wittgenstein in 90 Minutes (Philosophers in 90 Minutes) [Paperback]

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Item Number 119375  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   89
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.95" Width: 5.16" Height: 0.3"
Weight:   0.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 1996
Publisher   Ivan R. Dee, Publisher
ISBN  1566631319  
EAN  9781566631310  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Each of these little books is witty and dramatic and creates a sense of time, place, and character....I cannot think of a better way to introduce oneself and one s friends to Western civilization. Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe. Well-written, clear and informed, they have a breezy wit about them....I find them hard to stop reading. Richard Bernstein, New York Times. Witty, illuminating, and blessedly concise. Jim Holt, Wall Street Journal. These brief and enlightening explorations of our greatest thinkers bring their ideas to life in entertaining and accessible fashion. Philosophical thought is deciphered and made comprehensive and interesting to almost everyone. Far from being a novelty, each book is a highly refined appraisal of the philosopher and his work, authoritative and clearly presented."

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More About Paul Strathern

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Paul Strathern is author of the popular and critically acclaimed Philosophers in 90 Minutes series. Highlights from the series include Nietzsche in 90 Minutes, Aristotle in 90 Minutes, and Plato in 90 Minutes. Mr. Strathern has lectured in philosophy and mathematics and now lives and writes in London. A former Somerset Maugham prize winner, he is also the author of books on history and travel as well as five novels. His articles have appeared in a great many newspapers, including the Observer (London) and the Irish Times. His own degree in philosophy came from Trinity College, Dublin.

Paul Strathern currently resides in London. Paul Strathern was born in 1940.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General   [14516  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Modern   [2055  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
By now I have read several of Paul Strathern's "90-minute" introductions to individual philosophers, each no longer than the average magazine article. Strathern always sketches the philosopher's life and personality vividly, but there is so little detail or substance you wind up with only the vaguest idea of the man's philosophy. Such was the case here with Wittgenstein, whose work is skated over with laughable superficiality. Avoid this silly series.
Philosophy is letting the fly out of the fly bottle -twice  Mar 20, 2005
This narrative of Wittgenstein's life brilliantly illuminates his character and his philosophy. Wittgenstein as a character fascinates. His principled approach to reality, his mad determination to fight to the end to know the ' truth'are at the heart of the story. The son of one of the wealthiest families in Austria of the thirties his overpowering and dominant father apparently paralyzed Wittgenstein's three brothers and did a good job of helping make him one of the strangest great philosophers of all. Wittgenstein is according to Strathern the only one of the great philosophers aside from Leibniz who had two different total answers to the questions of philosophy. One of the faults of the book is that Strathern does not do justice to the second philosophy that of ' The Philosophical Investigations' which he understands to be a nitpicking kind of wordplaying. And this when he does an excellent job of explaining Wittgenstein's first work ' The Tractatus'.
I found one of the most interesting parts of the work to be the story of Wittgenstein's relationship with Russell. How Russell who had attempted to in the ' Principia ' with Whitehead found all Mathematics on the basis of Logic was first corresponded with, then visited, then somehow forced into endless philosophical dialogue with Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein would not leave Russell or the truth alone, and as far as Strathern could discern succeeded eventually in finishing off Russell as a philosopher as he went beyond him.
Wittgenstein was a soldier in the first world war and a heroic one. The 'Tractatus' in which he thought he had answered all the problems of philosophy was completed when he was in a prisoner- of -war camp. 'The world is everything that is the case' he begins. And in a series of aphoristic staccato declarations he believes himself to polish off the whole of the Western philosophical tradition. He then retires from philosophy and goes off to be a village schoolteacher where his highly principled approach turns out to be absolutely inappropriate to the simple village children he teaches. He returns to philosophy when he understands that he has not really solved it all. He even reluctantly goes back to Cambridge where he teaches for fifteen years in the style which so entranced many of his devotees. The little room , the long silences, the pained expression, the waiting, and then the eruption of the ' thought'. Strathern says that the only who ever dared to contradict him in these sessions was another brilliant suicidal mind , Turing. In any case out of these probings came the 'Philosophical Investigations ' with its obsession with ordinary language. By the way a bit ironically one of the concepts Wittgenstein developed in that work is that of - family resemblance- which has to do with defining the essence of a concept and understanding that it does not have a simple single essence ordinarily but ' overlapping characteristics ' with a ' family of other concepts' as if were a series of 'Venn diagrams'.That is to say it is doubtful that Strathern or anyone else has defined the ' essence' of Wittgenstein in his particular effort.
Another side of Wittgenstein illuminated in the work is his turn to religion, and his mystical connection with the work of Tolstoy and the idea of a kind of holy simplicity. Saint Wittgenstein canonized by his university acolytes aimed perhaps more to be something like Saint Tolstoy who too had a predilection for divesting himself of the family fortune.
Wittgenstein, Strathern makes clear was arrogant to the point of insensitivity to the feelings of others. And yet there was something touching childlike in his arrogance, and certainly something great in his determination to think out the problem to the end.
He is one of the remarkable originals of philosophy and I think Strathern is correcting in discerning that his work verges on a kind of poetry.
It is ironic that so many have tried to follow the example of one who was truly a 'singularity' and a great one at that.
One negative moral note. Wittgenstein unfortunately had the habit of interfering in other peoples lives, and ruining them. His arrogance was that he knew for everyone what was best for themselves, understood music better than Mahler and literary criticism better than F.R. Leavis.
How strange and paradoxical that God often gives the greatest gifts of genius to those who are not particularly wonderful in their relations with their fellow human beings.
Among the Wittgensteinian gems which have become part of common philosophical parlance are :
" A philosophical problem has the form. I don't know my way about"
" What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence."
" Philosophy is letting the fly out of the fly bottle"
Ninety minutes you'll never get back  Jul 11, 2003
Glib and condescending. The writer seems unwilling or perhaps just unable to come to terms with Wittgenstein's thought, so the whole book is nothing more than a series of snipes and jabs at Wittgenstein and his philosophy. When the author cannot come to terms with Wittgenstein's post-Tractatus thought, he simply dismisses it as bad philosophy. This is second-rate journalism, and gives innocent readers nothing intellectual to feed upon. I am disgusted that someone with such an obvious axe to grind regarding this particular philosopher, should be given the job of providing an overview of Wittgenstein's thought and genius. Well, I guess it takes one to know one. As Albert Einstein once said: "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
Get Monk's bio for a real depiction of the philosopher, one that actually comes to grip with his thought.
Don't waste your time on this book. Unless you need something to line the bottom of your birdcage.
appalling  Feb 6, 2001
I must have misunderstood the title -- I thought it meant that you could read the book in 90 minutes, not that it had been written in 90 minutes. The biographical sketch is fine, and a bit entertaining, though Strathern too often goes in for easy sarcasm and makes too many jokes at the expense of his subject. But his pretension to have dealt in any way whatsoever with Wittgenstein's thought is simply outrageous. There are in total about 7 pages devoted to Wittgenstein's work, which do not even provide the barest bones of the beginnings of the glimmerings of an understanding of this profound and difficult thinker. In this age, of course, the idea that one can attain a deep comprehension of a difficult topic with almost no effort is almost irresistible; but I fear greatly that this glib and shallow work will make people who might well have enjoyed reading Wittgenstein feel that they no longer need to. Of course, if all you are interested in is being able to drop the name of a famous philosopher at cocktail parties, this may be the book for you.
Entertaining Introduction  Jul 1, 2000
Strathern has a real gift for "putting the cookies on the lowest shelf." Unfortunately, with a thinker of the complexity of Wittgenstein, that can often lead to shallowness. This book suffers more from its narrowness of scope, though. While its biographical aspects are complete, its description of Wittgenstein's philosophy focuses almost entirely on the Tractatus, only mentioning briefly his later developments of linguistic theory, which more than anything else he produced has influenced postmodernism. In fact, I don't recall ever seeing the term "language game" used in the book! Nevertheless, because the book requires such a minimal investment of time, it is probably a good place to start. Just don't end there.

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