The Illustrated Wittgenstein: A Study of the Diagrams in Wittgenstein's Published Works

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This study compares the reproduction of Wittgenstein's diagrams in his published works in English and in German, with their sources in his manuscripts and typescripts. To facilitate this comparison, the relationship of the published works to Wittgenstein's Nachlaß is discussed. There are considerable limitations to the available microfilm records and they are compared to other records, such as Nedo's typographical Wiener Ausgabe. Particular reference is made to the forthcoming electronic publication of a colour facsimile edition and machine-readable transcription by The Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen.

The term ‘diagram’ is briefly described as a graphic element which cannot be entered from the normal keyboard. The diagrams' largely syntactic, as opposed to illustrative, function in Wittgenstein's works is discussed. The consequential difficulties posed by the requirement for computer graphic files in addition to text files is also described. This is placed in the general context of diagrammatics provided by Twyman and Richards.

The study focuses on the use of colour in Wittgenstein's diagrams. The precedent for this use is sought in his Nachlaß, and in Waismann's notes. The use of colour is discussed in relation to Wittgenstein's general remarks on colour and colour theory, and its effect on the meaning of the text in Philosophical Investigations (§48). The study also examines in detail the use of diagrams in relation to Wittgenstein's remarks on ostensive definition and the use of samples.

A catalogue of the 480 diagrams in Wittgenstein's published works is appended, together with their sources. A detailed bibliography of the published works is also appended. Approximately 10% of the diagrams in the published works are found to be infelicitously transcribed. No precedent for the use of colour in the published works is found, and its desirability in relation to the texts is questioned.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Reading
Publication statusPublished - 1994


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