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Ludwig Wittgenstein


Worldwide Publisher:
Oxford University Press

From the Publisher:


  • The first full-length essay on Wittgenstein’s life and thought together
  • Puts Wittgenstein’s religious mysticism into an entirely new key, beyond ‘God’, ‘Belief’, ‘Proof’, and ‘Existence’
  • Offers a radical new way of understanding Wittgenstein’s sexuality and attitude to sex as the key to his spiritual and intellectual identity
  • Challenges the view of Wittgenstein as a damaged schizoid


After his intellectual biography, Saint Augustine of Hippo, Miles Hollingworth now turns his attention to one of Augustine’s greatest modern admirers: The Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein’s influence on post-war philosophical investigation has been pervasive, while his eccentric life has entered folklore. Yet his religious mysticism has remained elusive and undisturbed.

In Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hollingworth continues to pioneer a new kind of biographical writing. It stands at the intersection of philosophy, theology and literary criticism, and is as much concerned with the secret agendas of life writing as it is with its Subjects. Here, Wittgenstein is allowed to become the ultimate test case. From first to last, his philosophy sought to demonstrate that intellectual certainty is a function of the method it employs, rather than a knowledge of the existence or non-existence of its objects — A devastating insight that appears to make the natural and the supernatural into equally useless examples of each other. This biography proceeds in the same way. Scattered in every direction by this challenge to meaning, it attempts to retrieve itself around the spirit of the man who could say such things. This act of recovery thus performs what could not otherwise be explained, which is something like Wittgenstein’s private conversation with God.




Chapter 1 – On the Spirit of a Man

Chapter 2 – Biography versus Genius

Chapter 3 – Numbers Station

Chapter 4 – When the Camera Is on Us

Chapter 5 – Sex and the Last Stand


Index of Names




 “This is a staggeringly original book, huge in ambition and achievement alike.” — Rowan Williams


“In short, this book is a tour de force — it’s all here: philosophy, mathematics, aesthetics, psychology, literature, words, love, sex, God, silence. Reading Ludwig Wittgenstein is like waking up from a dream and knowing you will never see the world in the same way again.”
—Todd Breyfogle, Director of Seminars for the Aspen Institute


“Hollingworth swivels often—and so gracefully—from his subject to our subjectivity that you’ll come quickly to see how much fun humanistic learning can be. He brings you originality, surprise, provocation, and a Wittgenstein you’ll not be expecting and will not soon be forgetting.”  — Peter Iver Kaufman, Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and George Matthews & Virginia Brinkley Modlin Chair in Leadership Studies, University of Richmond