FOM: Wittegenstein and Brouwer

Torkel Franzen torkel at
Fri Feb 6 03:52:54 EST 1998

  Bill Tait writes:

   >The influence of Brouwer, often refered to, puzzles me. The analysis of 
   >`following a rule' in _Phil Investigations_ would seem, whether 
   >accidently or not, to be aimed precisely at Brouwer's doctrine of 
   >mathematics as a lnanguage-less activity.

  Undoubtedly Wittgenstein's thinking about rules is incompatible with
Brouwer's doctrines. Nevertheless, (i) there is much that is
reminiscent of Brouwer in Wittgenstein's earlier writings, in
particular in the Philosophical Grammar and the Philosophical Remarks,
and (ii) according to contemporary sources, Brouwer made a considerable
impression on Wittgenstein. Thus, in Monk's biography:

     In March 1928 Brouwer came to Vienna to deliver a lecture entitled
     'Mathematics, Science and Language', which Wittgenstein attended,
     together with Waismann and Feigl, and, reports Feigl: was fascinating to behold the change that had come over
     Wittgenstein that evening...he became extremely voluble and began
     sketching ideas that were the beginnings of his later writings..."

Torkel Franzen

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