Monday, January 14, 2008

Adolf Hitler and Ludwig Wittgenstein

Borrowed from Wikipedia, this has to win Photograph of the Day.

It shows the young Adolf Hitler and the young Ludwig Wittgenstein at school together at the Linz Realschule in 1903/4.

You have probably heard of Hitler, but Wittgenstein may need some introduction. When I studied for a Philosophy degree in the late seventies and early seventies, Wittgenstein - particularly the later Wittgenstein of the Philosophical Investigations - was the dominant figure in the discipline (though that dominance was drawing to a close).

Many journal papers tackled philosophical problems through an exegesis of one of his gnomic remarks. As a tutor at Cambridge just after the War he had clearly exerted a crushing effect on an entire generation of British academic philosophers.

Read more about Wittgenstein and his work in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

One further thing: Hitler came from a humble background whereas Wittgenstein's family owned the Austrian steel industry. Is their being at school together a tribute to the egalitarian education system that pertained in fin de si├Ęcle Vienna?

5 comments:

Larry Gambone said...

That Wittgenstein and Hitler went to the same school is mind-boggling! Someone could make a good short story out of that...

Tristan said...

From reading von Mises's biography I get the impression that Wittgenstein's family would not have been upper class (Jewish professionals), so its likely that children from more humble backgrounds would go to the same school.
Especially as this was a technical school, not one of the more elite schools which were more along the lines of a classical grammar school.

Tristan said...

Also, I don't think Hitler was from that lowly an origin. At least, he wasn't a peasant, his parents were civil servants (fairly prestigious back then).
The opportunities were reasonable for the middle classes.
The lower classes probably did not have the opportunities.

Anonymous said...

No wonder Wittgenstein was a beery old swine...

liadnan said...

In Wittgenstein's Poker (Faber & Faber 2001) Edmonds and Eidinow indicate that Ludwig's father Karl was insistent that the family live without ostentation and modestly, also that he "saw himself as a radical" so that might have had something to do with it as well. They also say (in chapter 12) that Hitler was a couple of grades below Wittgenstein.