LUDWIG Wittgenstein was born in Vienna with “a silver spoon in his mouth.” Coming from an aristocratic family among which were intellectuals, Wittgenstein had the promise of a bright future.
After completing basic education in Austria, the young man ventured into England to study aeronautic engineering at Cambridge University; there he soared into the rarefied heights of pure mathematics and philosophy.
One day, witnessing the legal hearing of a road accident, he saw the court officers and barristers displaying miniature cars to replicate the mishap that took place in the street. This experience led him to the “picture theory” of reality, namely, we present reality in the context of pictures or images of “that which is the case” (reality), a theory forming the core of his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
A colleague and a friend, the mathematician Bertrand Russell, wrote his review of the Tractatus. Surprisingly, Wittgenstein dismissed Russell saying that the latter failed to understand the Tractatus. Thus, losing a friend.
As a lecturer Wittgenstein was, to use a kind word, “strange,” for he took his students, mostly male, to his room for classes. Thus rumors and innuendoes swirled around this brilliant but highly eccentric professor.
After some years of university teaching in England, an exasperated Wittgenstein returned to Vienna and volunteered to teach in high school. Even that was a disappointment.
Later, he presented himself to his sister to build her house then serve as gardener: activities that proved to be his joy.
Towards the last years of his life he confessed that while his works: Tractatus, Philosophical Investigations, On Certainty, and The Blue and Brown Books, gained for him worldwide fame, he admitted that for the only work that really mattered for him would be a book of jokes. In 1951 he passed away, a picture of joy.