Wittgenstein's Lectures on the Foundations of Mathematics, Cambridge, 1939

For several terms at Cambridge in 1939, Ludwig Wittgenstein lectured on the philosophical foundations of mathematics. A lecture class taught by Wittgenstein, however, hardly resembled a lecture.

He sat on a chair in the middle of the room, with some of the class sitting in chairs, some on the floor. He never used notes. He paused frequently, sometimes for several minutes, while he puzzled out a problem. He often asked his listeners questions and reacted to their replies. Many meetings were largely conversation.

These lectures were attended by, among others, D. A. T. Gasking, J. N. Findlay, Stephen Toulmin, Alan Turing, G. H. von Wright, R. G. Bosanquet, Norman Malcolm, Rush Rhees, and Yorick Smythies. Notes taken by these last four are the basis for the thirty-one lectures in this book.

The lectures covered such topics as the nature of mathematics, the distinctions between mathematical and everyday languages, the truth of mathematical propositions, consistency and contradiction in formal systems, the logicism of Frege and Russell, Platonism, identity, negation, and necessary truth. The mathematical examples used are nearly always elementary.

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By Harry (Athens, Greece) · ★★★★☆ · October 28, 2010
A great treat for all Wittgenstein enthusiasts. Alan Turing, who had also taught a course with the same title (but not the same subject, it turns out) is present at most of the lectures, and their disagreements form a large part of the book. In page 95 Turing says "I see your point", to which Wit... ...more
By Erik (Chicago, IL) · ★★★☆☆ · June 09, 2012
While at Loyola University Chicago I served as a teaching assistant for a number of their philosophy faculty and one member of the linguistics department, but mostly I worked for Father Bill Ellos either full- or, if shared with someone else, part-time. Since there were so many Jesuit collegians... ...more
By stephen (Essex, MA) · May 29, 2008
it is hard to make one of these reviews about these lectures.
a chatty wittgenstein is very interesting to read.
if you've read much of his work, you'll know where this is heading, and it heads to those places--but you get some of the riffing, which is not present in the same way in even the more... ...more
By David (The United States) · ★★★★★ · August 04, 2012
I got this when our County Library system still had inter-library loan before the budget cuts took that perk away. The book looked as though it had never been opened, and I suspect it may be the only copy in the entire State, having come from a small college library collection. The interchanges b... ...more
By Nick (New York, NY) · April 30, 2011
Started reading this in March or so, but put it down and can't find it now...argh! ...more