Welcome to the International Conference

Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle - After 100 Years


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Program of the conference


Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus logico philosophicus (TLP) inspired the renowned Vienna Circle around Moritz Schlick after WW I as was the case with the literary avant-garde of the „Vienna Group” (Wiener Gruppe) after WW II, followed by the famous Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann. In architecture, the family resemblance with Adolf Loos and Paul Engelmann is well known and obvious. The lifework of Wittgenstein beginning with his path-breaking Tractatus amounts to a sort of world cultural heritage, which initiated at the same time the digital logic in the epoch of our computer age. In addition, in the arts we find the impact of the Tractatus in minimal art or in contemporary music. The basic question of this work focuses on the meaning of life with values in the technological modern world dealing with the limits of what can be expressed and shown.  Even if Wittgenstein has moved from picture theory to game theory of language in his later life, the issue of human language remains in the center of his thinking, which according to him cannot be transcended.  Hereby Wittgenstein remains an intellectual challenge for any human orientation in contemporary civilization between philosophy, science, and the arts. The oeuvre of Wittgenstein belongs to the cultural heritage like Robert Musil’s “Man without Qualities”, Karl Kraus’ “The Last Days of Mankind”, or Kurt Gödel’s incompleteness proof in formal logic and human thinking up to artificial intelligence.  

In 2021, the centenary of the first publication of Wittgenstein’s Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung (1921) will be commemorated. One year later, the German-English edition appeared as Tractatus logico-philosophicus, which exerted an enormous influence on the intellectual history and philosophy of the 20th century until the present. In addition, next year we are also thinking of the 70th anniversary of Wittgenstein’s death in 1951.

The principal aim of this conference is to focus on the origin and content of the TLP in context, and to critically deal with the influence and diverse reception of the TLP within the Vienna Circle, besides Moritz Schlick and Friedrich Waismann, but also to draw on mutual impacts. Additional important philosophers for Wittgenstein like Frege, Frank P. Ramsey and Bertrand Russell are taken into regard, too. All these topics will be addressed with reference to Viennese modernity and in the context of general intellectual and cultural history.

On all these occasions, we are organizing this international conference in Vienna, June 10-12, 2021 together with the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society (ALWS). The aim of the Vienna conference is a critical re-evaluation of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus in scientific and cultural contexts just in his home city, where he and his family are still manifest so impressively, e.g. with the sponsored Secession Building, or the Wittgenstein House in the 3rd district. The Austrian National Library, which owns a most valuable collection of Wittgensteiniana, classified as World Document Heritage (Weltdokumentenerbe), hosts the Wiener Vorlesung by Marjorie Perloff (Stanford/USA).