Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Edward Fullbrook — My evening with Joan Robinson and the Tractatus

Fun if you are interested in Joan Robinson, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Cambridge of the Twenties, and enjoy personal anecdotes.

Incidentally, I am surprised and not surprised that Joan Robinson confessed to not understand the first propositions of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. I am not surprised in that they sound like metaphysical statements and many if not most readers are at least initially confused by this appearance. 

I am surprised, however, than Robinson did not realize that they are logical propositions and therefore definitions, rules or, tautologies rather than descriptive statements. 

Taking the Tractatus as a metaphysical work is like taking Euclid's Elements as a metaphysical work instead of a mathematical one. Moreover, it contradicts what Wittgenstein says in the final propositions, as well as his purpose in offering an alternative to Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica, which in Wittgenstein's view had foundered on the theory of types.

There is also an anecdote that Joan Robinson tells about Piero Sraffa's influence on Wittgenstein's later work, which Wittgenstein himself credited.

Cambridge was certainly an interesting place in those years.

Real-World Economics Review Blog
My evening with Joan Robinson and the Tractatus
Edward Fullbrook


Matt Franko said...

“As an undergraduate I cut classes as often as I attended them and waited till the night before an exam to open the textbook. Sometimes I only managed a C but in economics it was always an A“


Clint Ballinger said...

I read "Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers" (Popper v Wittgenstein) just as I arrived to Cambridge; it's true that just being there is immensely interesting and thought provoking. Pints in the Eagle (where AA Milne, Crick and Watson etc have history) right by the old Cavendish, with the Methuselah Mouse Man a few tables over. If I remember right there is a painting or bust of Keynes in the ADC theatre lobby. Great place to spend 4 years, looking forward to reading this

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Note on Edward Fullbrook’s My evening with Joan Robinson and the Tractatus

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