Open Access to transcriptions of the Wittgenstein Nachlass (2016-)

On his death in 1951, the Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein left behind a significant volume of some 20,000 pages which were written between 1913 and 1951. This Nachlass contains Wittgenstein's unpublished philosophical notebooks, manuscripts, typescripts and dictations. At the time of Wittgenstein's death this body of work was largely unknown. In his will Wittgenstein appointed three literary heirs - Rush Rhees, Elizabeth Anscombe and Georg Henrik von Wright - to publish from the Nachlass as they thought fit. This leads to fascinating questions about the content of Wittgenstein's philosophy and how its perception was affected by the literary heirs' editorial work in bringing the content to a wider public through publication such as Philosophical Investigations (1953) or Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics (1956). As the practice of bringing the Nachlass to modern readers continues through digital editing, the deep issues about the relation between the meaning of philosophical writings and their interpretation plays out in more complex formats, for example, via interactive digital media. With the Wittgenstein Nachlass transcriptions site linked from below, we invite you to explore the Nachlass in digital format via our transcriptions. You can produce linear, clean copy versions of the Nachlass or versions closer to the original, recording all deletions, insertions, overwritings etc. The first we call linear, the second diplomatic versions.

At first you may simply want to access, read and search the Nachlass items. But then you may also want to make use of our "Interactive Dynamic Presentation" mode and combine diplomatic and linear parameters. You can apply a selection of filters and presentation modes and, for example, filter the Nachlass texts according to Wittgenstein's "section marks" ("Randzeichen"), include or omit the section marks themselves, include or omit handwritten revisions in typescripts, or order the remarks of a text chronologically. It is this feature which lets you toggle filters and presentation modes that we call interactive dynamic presentation.

In order to access our transcriptions, simply use the drop-down menu under "Select a Wittgenstein Nachlass item" and pick one of the Ms/Ts items on the list. The single items bear the numbers they were given by Georg Henrik Wright in his Nachlass catalogue "The Wittgenstein papers" (first published in 1969). To begin with, we suggest that you simply accept the default settings (= linear transcription with some normalizing parameters) by clicking the "OK" button. The site will soon after that display the transcription of the item you selected in HTML format, and according to the parameters selected. The transcription will, under the page names (e.g. "Ms-101,1r"), also include hyperlinks to the Nachlass facsimiles in the Bergen Nachlass Edition on Wittgenstein Source. Please note that Wittgenstein Source is not working well with Internet Explorer; for full use of the site on Windows systems we therefore recommend Chrome or Firefox, on Mac systems Safari. For use on iPad, iPhone and Android mobile devices we have good user experiences with Puffin and Dolphin.

We refer to Wittgenstein's Nachlass by the Wittgenstein Source Bergen Nachlass Edition (BNE) convention which makes use of von Wright's Nachlass catalogue and furnishes each Nachlass page and Bemerkung with a unique and unambiguous name or siglum. The Bemerkung siglum is composed of a sequence of "subnames": The name of the overarching Nachlass item in which the Bemerkung is found; the name of the page(s) on which it stands; and the name(s) for the segments of which the Bemerkung consists. The Nachlass item is identified through a prefix "Ms-" (for manuscripts) or "Ts-" (for typescripts), respectively, followed by the von Wright Nachlass catalogue number. "Ms-101" for example refers to the Nachlass item, which in the catalogue has the number 101, belonging to the class of manuscripts. Page names are given through following either Wittgenstein's or the librarian's pagination, or introducing a new pagination. In the siglum, the page name follows after the name of the Nachlass item, separated from it by a comma; "Ms-101,1r" e.g. is the page in Ms-101 which has the page name "1r" ("r" for recto). But, as said, the reference system does not stop here; it continues down to Bemerkungen-level. "Ms-101,1r[1]" is then the siglum for a specific single Bemerkung and refers to the first block of text on page 1r in Ms-101, thus to the remark: "Vorgestern bei der Assentierung genommen worden ...", dated by Wittgenstein August 9, 1914. A Bemerkung can go across page breaks and sometimes goes over several pages; also this will be mirrored in the siglum. In the end, each of the more than fifty thousand Bemerkungen in the Wittgenstein Nachlass is identified through such a unique siglum. Our names for the single Bemerkungen can be made visible through selecting the parameter "Display metadata". The same system of reference is also applied to the facsimiles. Ms-101,1r_f is thus a file with a facsimile of Ms-101,1r and can be inspected on,1r_f.

Please cite the site in the following way:

Wittgenstein, Ludwig (2016-): Interactive Dynamic Presentation (IDP) of Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophical Nachlass []. Edited by the Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen under the direction of Alois Pichler. Bergen: Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen

Most Wittgenstein scholars will already be familiar with some of the Nachlass texts from the earlier publications produced by the heirs, or also from Wittgenstein's own publication of the Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung / Tractatus logico-philosophicus (1921/22). Whenever an item or even only a part of an item is published in one of these publications, this is indicated in the list after the dating of the item. Parts of Ms-110, for example, are published in the Remarks on Frazer's 'Golden Bough'. Publications in Culture and Value, however, are not indicated since this would have made the list cumbersome. For detailed information about publication sources, see Pichler's catalogue in Biggs & Pichler 1993 or use the "Published in" facet on our site for semantic faceted search and browsing of Wittgenstein metadata. Regarding the datings of the items, note that these are estimated where Wittgenstein did not himself provide a date; for arriving at these estimates we have often consulted the editorial introductions to the editions of Wittgenstein's "works" and publications by G.H. von Wright, L. Bazzocchi, E. De Pellegrin, S. Edwards-McKie, A. Gibson, St. Hilmy, P. Keicher, J. Klagge, H.W. Krueger, B. McGuinness, R. Monk, M. Nedo, A. Pichler, M. Pilch, R. Rhees, B. Rogers, M. Rosso, J. Rothhaupt, A. Schmidt, J. Schulte, J. Smith, D. Stern, N. Venturinha, P.K. Westergaard, K. van Gennip. Also note that the dating of the typescripts refers to the typed text and not to later revisions. It must be generally remembered that the dating always refers to the first writing / composition of an item, not to later changes therein or thereof.

Note that not all technical features are fully operational, including hyperlinks to Wittgenstein Source where the facsimile linked to is not yet available on the Wittgenstein Source site. Equally note that different browsers may render the same HTML content differently or even faultily. We have noticed that especially Internet Explorer does not consistently display format features, e.g. underlining. Also note that the transcriptions may contain mistakes and that the datings for a great number of remarks (especially those added by hand in typescripts) as well as many renderings of graphics and logical / mathematical notation need correction and improvement. While global corrections and improvements are continuously being carried out for all items, items marked in the list with a plus (e.g. +Ms-105) have undergone focused proofreading of the linear transcription since the publication of the Bergen Electronic Edition (2000).

This site had a precursor in the Using XML to generate research tools for Wittgenstein scholars by collaborative groupwork project (2002-03) where interactive dynamic presentation was applied to a part of Ms-101. With the Discovery (2006-09) and COST Action A32 (2006-10) projects, further items amounting to approx. 5000 pages were included; these items constituted the beginning of Wittgenstein Source. Since May 27, 2016, the site offers access to all of WAB's transcriptions of the Wittgenstein Nachlass, always with the most recent corrections and improvements included. An important part of the programming for the site was produced within the Norwegian Clarino project. For the site's maintenance and further development, WAB cooperates with the University of Bergen Library Section for Digital Services.

The texts are made available by permission of The Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge and the University of Bergen, Bergen, and in agreement with Oxford University Press with whom WAB cooperates towards producing a new Bergen Electronic Edition. Please pay special attention to the fact that only the 5000 pages of the Discovery project items (Ts-201a1, Ts-201a2, Ms-139a, Ts-207, Ms-114, Ms-115, Ms-153a, Ms-153b, Ms-154, Ms-155, Ms-156a, Ms-148, Ms-149, Ms-150, Ts-212, Ts-213, p.39v of Ms-140, Ms-141, Ms-152, Ts-310) are made available under the CCPL BY-NC 4.0 license. For all other items standard copyright regulations and permission restrictions apply. The copyright holders are: The Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge; The University of Bergen, Bergen.

If you are interested in the underlying XML encoding of the transcriptions, you can find slightly simplified samples here.

We are deeply grateful for any communication of transcription and other mistakes. Users who have already notified us of mistakes which led to corrections include: Almut Kristine v. Wedelstaedt, Bernt Österman, Brian McGuinness, Brian Rogers, Cameron McEwen, Daphne Bielefeld, Denis Paul, Dinda L. Gorlee, Elena Tatievskaya, Frederic Kettelhoit, Herbert Hrachovec, Hugh Knott, Ilse Somavilla, Jasmin Trächtler, Joachim Schulte, Jonathan Smith, Josef Rothhaupt, Katalin Neumer, Katharina Neges, Konrad Bucher, Nicolas Reitbauer, Nicole Immler, Nuno Venturinha, Pascal Zambito, Peter K. Westergaard, Sarah Uffelmann, Simo Säätelä, Sool Park, Tuomas W. Manninen, Victor Rodych, Wolfgang Kienzler.

For questions and comments write to Alois Pichler. Go here to the Wittgenstein Nachlass transcriptions site.