Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type




First Advisor

Barry Ferst

Second Advisor

Murphy Fox

Third Advisor

John Ries


This essay begins with the claim the reader must grant the author: no person is without a past. Yet the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein has often been split into two distinct periods of thought titled “The Early Wittgenstein” and “The Later Wittgenstein” as ifthere was no development from one period to the next, thus removing his past as a source of development for his later philosophy. It is as if some Wittgenstein scholars wish to view the later work as spontaneously growing out of nothing, void of any school ofthought or influence. And Wittgenstein has not helped. The time between his two periods was spent in various activities which are difficult to account for and whose impact on Wittgenstein remains unclear. The result from this error of bifurcation is a philosophy from a great thinker that I argue has been misunderstood and whose philosophic contribution has yet to be fully cultivated. Furthermore, people are thus unjustifiably ignoring his earlier work. One cannot just go and see what he believed in the last years since it was his wrestling with axiological questions that shapes how we are to understand both the question he is asking and the conclusions he is attempting to draw us towards.

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