On his death in 1951, the Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein left behind a significant volume of some 20,000 pages 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 This Nachlass contains Wittgenstein's unpublished philosophical notebooks, manuscripts, typescripts and dictations.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 publications 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, deep issues about the relation between the meaning of philosophical writings and their interpretation play out in more complex formats, for example, via interactive digital media. With the Wittgenstein Nachlass transcriptions site, we invite you to explore the Nachlass in digital format via our transcriptions. You can produce linear, clean copy HTML versions of the Nachlass or versions closer to the original, recording all deletions, insertions, overwritings etc. The first we call the linear version and the second the diplomatic version.
In order to access our transcriptions, simply use the drop-down menu under "Select a single Wittgenstein Nachlass item or an entire Wittgenstein Nachlass item group" and pick one of the single Ms/Ts items or item groups 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). For beginners, we suggest that you simply accept the default settings (= linear transcription with some normalizing parameters) by clicking the "OK" button. The site will then soon display, in HTML format, the transcription of the item(s) you selected, 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.
While you first may simply want to access, read and search a specific single Nachlass item in linear version, you may then also want to make use of our "Interactive Dynamic Presentation" mode and combine diplomatic and linear parameters for work on this item. 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. We call this feature that offers you toggle filters and presentation modes the interactive dynamic presentation.
Note that the transcriptions may contain mistakes and that some of the datings of remarks (especially those added by hand in typescripts) may be incorrect. While global improvements are continuously being carried out for all transcriptions, transcriptions of items marked in the list with a plus (e.g. +Ms-105) have undergone focused proofreading of the linear transcription subsequently to the publication of the Bergen Electronic Edition (2000). The rendering of graphics and logical and mathematical notation is currently undergoing general revision and for several instances only preliminary.
Most Wittgenstein scholars will already be familiar with some of the Nachlass texts from the earlier publications produced by the heirs, or 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 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 himself did not 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 and not to later changes therein or thereof.
Note that not all technical features are yet fully operational, including hyperlinks to Wittgenstein Source where the facsimile linked to is not yet available on the Wittgenstein Source site. Please also note that different browsers may render the same HTML content differently or even inaccurately; we have noticed that especially Internet Explorer does not consistently display format features, e.g. underlining. For use of both the Wittgenstein Source and the Wittgenstein Nachlass transcriptions site, we have very good user experiences with Google Chrome. Be aware that working with the Nachlass HTML content offline in word processors may distort some of the original markup and format features; we have noticed that Microsoft Word versions of our Nachlass HTML files often omit underlinings, merge separate words et al. Also, please note that our transcriptions are continuously improved and thus it it is only on our site that you will always have access to their most recent version.
In addition to processing and downloading HTML files of single Nachlass items, we also offer processing and downloading HTML files of entire Nachlass item groups. The groups option is under development, and features like chronological sorting within groups will be added soon. A first set of groups is guided by von Wright's Nachlass catalogue and is the following:
Items in English or with parts in English brings together the Nachlass items in English or with parts written in English (Ms-139a, Ms-139b, Ms-147, Ms-148, Ms-149, Ms-150, Ms-151, Ms-158, Ms-159, Ms-160, Ms-161, Ms-166, Ms-181, Ms-301, Ms-309, Ms-310, Ts-201a1, Ts-201a2, Ts-206, Ts-207, Ts-226, Ts-247).
Tractatus corpus collects all Nachlass items belonging to the Tractatus corpus (Ts-201a1, Ts-201a2, Ms-301, Ms-101, Ms-102, Ms-103, Ms-104, Ts-204, Ts-202, Ts-203).
The Big Typescript corpus, including volumes MSS 105-115, Ms-140, notebooks MSS 153a-156b and MSS 145-147, typescripts / typescript cuttings TSS 208-219 and Ts-236, already exemplifies some of the challenges involved in creating and using such collections since some parts of the items included actually belong to other corpora. Two examples are Ms-115, whose second part belongs to the Brown Book corpus, and Ms-140 whose last page is part of the PI corpus.
The Brown Book corpus, including loose sheets Ms-141, notebook Ms-152, dictation typescript Ts-310 and volume Ms-115, exemplifies the same shortcoming since again actually only parts of Ms-115 and Ms-152 belong to this corpus. An additional factor is that much more belongs to the Brown Book corpus than is preserved in the Nachlass as catalogued by von Wright. Items still lacking here include Francis Skinner's and Alice Ambrose's handwritten dictation notes, as well as other typescript versions of the dictation.
A more adequate grouping as it definitely will become required for a philosophy of mathematics corpus or a Philosophical Investigations corpus groupings is possible only if it is conducted on lower granularity levels - eventually on the Bemerkungen (remarks) level. While we continue our work towards creating and offering these more fine-graded collection groups, it is also our intention that at some point users themselves shall be able to put together collections from the list of single Nachlass Bemerkungen (as also entire Nachlass items). This is fully in line with our policy of offering interactive dynamic presentation. Naturally, some of the groupings can only make full sense if one is able to include materials from the archives of others, as is the case with the already mentioned Brown Book corpus, and would also be the case for a Wittgenstein Nachlass "Friedrich Waismann and Moritz Schlick" corpus.
Please note that processing and downloading an entire group rather than a single item file may require a fair amount of time, depending on the internet connection speed, our server status as well as your device capacities. Choosing to download a group will load the entire group file in your browser as one block of text; we recommend that you wait until the HTML file is completely loaded in your browser before you start a search in the file.
Reference system, history and rights
We refer to Wittgenstein's Nachlass by the Wittgenstein Source Bergen Nachlass Edition (BNE) convention that 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 and belongs to the class of manuscripts. Page names are given following either Wittgenstein's or the librarian's pagination, or by introducing a new pagination. In the siglum, the page name follows after the name of the Nachlass item, separated from the letter 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 mentioned, the reference system does not stop here; it continues down to Bemerkungen-level. "Ms-101,1r" is then the siglum for a specific single Bemerkung and refers to the first block of text on page 1r in Ms-101 and 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 and this will be mirrored in the siglum. Ultimately, 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 http://www.wittgensteinsource.org/Ms-101,1r_f.
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.
We are deeply grateful for any notification of transcription errors 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, Hanoch Ben-Yami, 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.
If you are interested in the underlying XML encoding of the transcriptions, you can find slightly simplified samples here. Please cite the site in the following way:
Wittgenstein, Ludwig (2016-): Interactive Dynamic Presentation (IDP) of Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophical Nachlass [http://wittgensteinonline.no/]. Edited by the Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen under the direction of Alois Pichler. Bergen: Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen.
For questions and comments write to Alois Pichler.