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

Access to the Wittgenstein Nachlass

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 This Nachlass contains Wittgenstein's unpublished philosophical notebooks, manuscripts, typescripts and dictations.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). The list also gives access to items not yet included in von Wright's catalogue; they are given numbers that continue von Wright's numbering convention. These items are: Ms-183, Ts-246, Ts-247, Ts-248, Ms-312.

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 Nachlass item or entire group of Nachlass items 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.

Nachlass groups

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. Processing entire groups rather than single items has many advantages and permits, for example, to work with a text which puts all remarks of (Band) Series I (MSS 105-122), or all "Geheimschriftstellen" in their alleged chronological order. A first set of groups is guided by von Wright's Nachlass catalogue and is the following:
  • The group Notebooks and loose sheets (1914-51) includes Ms-101, Ms-102, Ms-103, Ms-139a, Ms-139b, Ms-140, Ms-141, Ms-143, Ms-145, Ms-146, Ms-147, Ms-148, Ms-149, Ms-150, Ms-151, Ms-152, Ms-153a, Ms-153b, Ms-154, Ms-155, Ms-156a, Ms-156b, Ms-157a, Ms-157b, Ms-158, Ms-159, Ms-160, Ms-161, Ms-162a, Ms-162b, Ms-163, Ms-164, Ms-165, Ms-166, Ms-167, Ms-168, Ms-169, Ms-170, Ms-171, Ms-172, Ms-173, Ms-174, Ms-175, Ms-176, Ms-177, Ms-178a, Ms-178b, Ms-178c, Ms-178d, Ms-178e, Ms-178f, Ms-178g, Ms-178h, Ms-179, Ms-180a, Ms-180b, Ms-181, Ms-182, Ms-183.
  • The group (Band) Series I (1929-40) includes Ms-105, Ms-106, Ms-107, Ms-108, Ms-109, Ms-110, Ms-111, Ms-112, Ms-113, Ms-114, Ms-115, Ms-116, Ms-117, Ms-118, Ms-119, Ms-120, Ms-121, Ms-122.
  • The group (Band and notebook) Series II (1940-49) includes Ms-123, Ms-124, Ms-125, Ms-126, Ms-127, Ms-128, Ms-129, Ms-130, Ms-131, Ms-132, Ms-133, Ms-134, Ms-135, Ms-136, Ms-137, Ms-138.
  • The group Typescripts and typescript cuttings (1913-49) includes Ts-201a1, Ts-201a2, Ts-206, Ts-207, Ts-208, Ts-209, Ts-210, Ts-211, Ts-212, Ts-213, Ts-214a1, Ts-214a2, Ts-214b1, Ts-214b2, Ts-214c1, Ts-214c2, Ts-215a, Ts-215b, Ts-215c, Ts-216, Ts-217, Ts-218, Ts-219, Ts-228, Ts-229, Ts-230a, Ts-230b, Ts-230c, Ts-231, Ts-232, Ts-233a, Ts-233b, Ts-235, Ts-236, Ts-241a, Ts-241b, Ts-244, Ts-245, Ts-248.
  • The group Dictations (1914-35) includes Ms-301, Ts-302, Ts-303, Ts-304, Ms-305, Ts-306, Ts-309, Ts-310.
  • The group Works includes items pertaining to the works of the Tractatus (1915/16/17-18), Woerterbuch fuer Volksschulen (1925) and Philosophical Investigations (1936-46); in detail: (for the Tractatus corpus) Ms-104, Ts-202, Ts-203, Ts-204; (for the Woerterbuch corpus) Ts-205; (for the Investigations corpus) Ms-142, Ts-220, Ts-221a, Ts-222, Ts-223, Ts-224, Ts-225, Ts-226, Ts-227a, Ts-227b, Ts-237, Ts-238, Ts-239, Ts-240, Ts-242a, Ts-242b, Ts-243, Ts-247 as well as Ms-144.
A second set of groups is called collections. In contrast to the above division, which cuts the Nachlass like a cake into separate parts, collections are much more flexible and cut across the above grouping. Thus, they can be used to group together items that according to the "parts"-division are in separate groups, or to assign a specific item to more than one group. Nine first such collection groups made available are the following:
  • Passages in code ("Geheimschriftstellen") (1914-50)
  • Texts in English (1913-41)
  • Tractatus corpus (1913-19)
  • Big Typescript corpus (1929-34)
  • Brown Book corpus (1933-36)
  • PI corpus (1936-46)
  • RFM corpus (1938-44)
  • RPP corpus (1946-49)
  • Last Writings corpus (1948-51)
Passages in code collects secret code passages from the manuscript groups 'Notebooks and loose sheets', 'Series I' and 'Series II'.

Texts in English brings together 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 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, and dictations TSS 302-304, 306, and Ms-305, already exemplifies some of the challenges involved in creating and using such collections since 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, notebooks Ms-150 and Ms-152, dictation typescript Ts-310 and volume Ms-115, exemplifies the same challenge since of Ms-115 and Ms-152 actually again only parts 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.

The PI corpus collects Nachlass items belonging to the PI corpus, including Ms-142, Ms-152, Ms-157a, Ms-157b, Ts-220, Ts-225, Ts-226, Ts-227a, Ts-227b, Ts-237, Ts-238, Ts-239 and Ts-247. Again, of some of these items (e.g. Ms-157a and Ms-157b) only parts belong to this corpus.

The RFM corpus collects manuscripts and typescripts that have (at least partly) been published in the Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics second edition of 1974 and includes Ms-117, Ms-121, Ms-122, Ms-124, Ms-125, Ms-126, Ms-127, Ms-164, Ts-221a, Ts-222, Ts-223 and Ts-224, as well as drafts thereof and other related manuscripts. Again, of some of these items (e.g. Ms-157b) actually only parts belong to this corpus. For easy identification of the parts published, please toggle the "Publication in 'work'" parameter to "Yes".

The RPP corpus collects manuscripts and typescripts that have (at least partly) been published in the Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology and includes MSS 130-138, Ts-229, Ts-232, Ts-244, Ts-245.

The Last Writings corpus collects all the manuscripts that have been published in Last Writings (2 vols., 1982 and 1992), On Certainty (1969) and Remarks on Colour (1977), i.e. Ms-137, Ms-138, Ms-169, Ms-170, Ms-171, Ms-172, Ms-173, Ms-174, Ms-175, Ms-176 and Ms-177.

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[1]" 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,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 or other mistakes and deficiencies. Users who have already notified us of mistakes and deficiencies which led to corrections and improvements, include: Almut Kristine v. Wedelstaedt, Bernt Österman, Brian McGuinness, Brian Rogers, Cameron McEwen, Daniele Vittorio Genner, Daphne Bielefeld, David G. Stern, Denis Paul, Dinda L. Gorlee, Elena Tatievskaya, Florian Franken Figueiredo, Frederic Kettelhoit, Hanoch Ben-Yami, Herbert Hrachovec, Hugh Knott, Ilse Somavilla, Jasmin Trächtler, Joachim Schulte, Jonathan Smith, Josef Rothhaupt, Julian Braunwarth, Katalin Neumer, Katharina Neges, Konrad Bucher, Lars Hertzberg, Mauro Engelmann, Michele Lavazza, Nicolas Reitbauer, Nicole Immler, Nuno Venturinha, Pascal Zambito, Peter K. Westergaard, Robert Vinten, Sarah Uffelmann, Severin Schroeder, Simo Säätelä, Sool Park, Sorin Bangu, Swithin Thomas, Tuomas W. Manninen, Victor Rodych, Wolfgang Kienzler.

Samples of WAB's transcriptions in XML TEI format are available from the Bergen CLARINO Repository site.

Please cite the IDP 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.

For questions and comments write to Alois Pichler.