Project:70 Years of Editing Wittgenstein/Programme

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The 7th Symposium of the International Ludwig Wittgenstein Society

Università degli Studi di Milano, 7–8 October 2022

70 Years of Editing Wittgenstein. History, Challenges and Possibilities

Programme and Abstracts


Friday, 7 October 2022: Symposium

9:00-9:15 Paolo Spinicci, Jasmin Trächtler: Institutional welcome and opening
9:15-10:15 History
Moira De Iaco: “New philosophical aspects and some philological questions emerging by exploring the digital edition of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass” (Abstract ↓)
10:25-11:25 Challenges
Peter Winslow: “Daring not to mend: some thoughts on translating intertextualities and rhetorical figures in Wittgenstein’s Investigations” (Abstract ↓)
11:35-12:35 Possibilities
Yrsa Neuman: “Future open scholarship in Wittgenstein studies in the light of current open science policy” (Abstract ↓)
14:30-15:30 History
Ilse Somavilla: “Wittgenstein’s Noteboooks/Diaries” (Abstract ↓)
15:40-16:40 Challenges
Alois Pichler: “30 years of editing Wittgenstein at the Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen: Developments and future perspectives” (Abstract ↓)
17:00-18:00 Possibilities
David Stern: “From the Iowa Tractatus Map to the first complete translation of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and its German sources” (Abstract ↓)

Saturday, 8 October 2022: Workshop

9:00-9:15 Welcome and introduction
9:15-9:30 Challenges
Laura Duparc: “Explicit and implicit references in Wittgenstein: A work in progress for a crowdsourcing and visualisation tool in the history of philosophy” (Abstract ↓)
9:30-9:45 Challenges
Sacha Raoult: “NLP exploration of the Tractatus” (Abstract ↓)
10:00-12:00 Michele Lavazza: ”The Ludwig Wittgenstein Project – New possibilities for Wittgenstein’s texts online” (Abstract ↓)

Abstracts – Symposium

New philosophical aspects and some philological questions emerging by exploring the digital edition of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass

Moira De Iaco

As well known, Wittgenstein’s writings are affected by some critical issues. Excluding the Tractatus, in their original state, they are not thought for publication and, therefore, they are not ready for it. The works of Wittgenstein published posthumously by his trustees are the product of sometimes-opaque choices and of a selection of parts of writings that often does not consider the entire and later developments of Wittgenstein’s thought. In the Nachlass we find several versions of the same ‘project of work’ or the same thought. These versions can present little linguistic variations or important conceptual modifications. So, editing Wittgenstein’s writings for publishing a work can mean considering an incomplete part of the development of his thought on a topic or only an intermediate phase of his looking through a phenomenon.

The opportunity of exploring Wittgenstein’s thought directly through the digital edition of the Nachlass and the web resources such as those provided by the Bergen Wittgenstein Archives (WiTTFind, Interactive Transcriptions Platform e Wittgenstein Ontology Explorer), permits, for instance, to keep some concepts of Wittgenstein’s philosophy from new perspectives by observing their development and changes emerging through Wittgenstein’s writing. Nevertheless, this opportunity shows some philological questions related to the interpretation of the different uses of a concept by Wittgenstein and the problems of translating its nuances.

Starting from the advantages of the philosophical opportunity of exploring Wittgenstein’s Nachlass which have been personally experienced thanks to the editing of two discovered letters from Wittgenstein to Sraffa and taking into account the partial results of a project for a Wittgenstein’s dictionary created from the Nachlass, this contribution intends to highlight some philological questions that the edition of Wittgenstein’s works and Wittgenstein’s scholars need to consider.

Future open scholarship in Wittgenstein studies in the light of current open science policy

Yrsa Neuman

Open science is a trendy notion. It’s an ideal as well as a set of practices and policies developed in the wake of the first decades of digitization with the aim of making scholarship more transparent overall – throughout the research cycle, including the infrastructures for scholarship. In this presentation, I present some strands of current open science policy, which have bearing on the practices and needs of Wittgenstein scholars, and draw out some points of action for accelerating the possibilities of open scholarship.

30 years of editing Wittgenstein at the Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen: Developments and future perspectives

Alois Pichler

Since its beginnings in 1990, the Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen (WAB) have gone through a series of developments. These include the following:

  1. complementing the then existing copies of the Nachlass with high quality colour images (1995-99, 2014-)
  2. developing with Mecs-Wit a system for the transcription of the Wittgenstein Nachlass, transcribing the Nachlass according to this system into a “machine-readable version” (1990-99) and preparing from the transcriptions an edition published at Oxford University Press (BEE, 1998-2000)
  3. continuously correcting and improving the transcriptions and supplementing WAB’s facsimile of the Nachlass with facsimiles of items still missing in the BEE (2000-)
  4. recognizing that WAB’s real treasure is not the BEE but the machine-readable version which not only is the most comprehensive and detailed existing representation of the Wittgenstein Nachlass, but also serves as a basic edition for yet other editions
  5. migrating the transcriptions from Mecs-WiT (samples available from to XML-TEI format (2006-09, XML-TEI samples available from and organizing the transcriptions around the single Nachlass Bemerkung as their basic units
  6. expanding WAB’s focus from the Nachlass to all parts of the Wittgenstein domain and working towards interlinking them (2019-)
  7. entering cooperations with external partners on complementing WAB’s work on making the Nachlass best possible available (e.g., 2011-)
  8. complementing access restricted with gratis open access and partly also CC licensed offers (2009-)
  9. complementing static editions with dynamic research platforms such as “interactive dynamic presentation” ( and “semantic faceted search and browsing” ( (2006-)
  10. complementing editorial philology services with semantic web and ontology services (2006-, see

While I will be happy to respond to queries regarding any of the above points in the Q&A session, in my presentation I will focus on developments and perspectives in (9)-(10).

Wittgenstein’s Notebooks/Diaries

Ilse Somavilla

In my paper I will first discuss the difference between Wittgenstein’s Notebooks, personal diaries and his so-called diaristic remarks scattered throughout the Nachlass.

This also means to distinguish between his philosophical and his diaristic entries.

Secondly, I will speak about the history of editing concerning Wittgenstein’s Notebooks 1914-1916, his Secret Diaries (Geheime Tagebücher 1914-1916), Culture & Value and his diaries of the 1930ies (Denkbewegungen).

Finally, I will focus on Wittgenstein’s coded remarks (in the Wartime Notebooks and in his diaristic remarks found in the Nachlass) and then discuss their significance not only as concerns his personal attitude toward life, ethics and religion, but also as regards their role in the context of his philosophizing.

This means to raise the question in how far Wittgenstein’s method of encoding could be seen as a means for a special type of text conceived for a sphere not easily accessible by normal language and by science – a sphere he avoided to speak about in strict philosophical dispute.

From the Iowa Tractatus Map to the first complete translation of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and its German sources

David Stern

The Iowa Tractatus Map, on the web at since 2016, makes available the text of the Tractatus and ProtoTractatus in the form of a pair of tree-structured networks.  Clicking on the nodes and lines in each map brings up the associated text; the reader can choose to view the original German, the translations by Pears and McGuinness (of both texts) or the Ogden-Ramsey translation (of the Tractatus).  The pair of maps enables the reader to explore the tree-structured arrangement that the author used to arrange its numbered remarks, and to visualize the step-by-step assembly of the ProtoTractatus.

However, the Map does not chart the relationship between these stages of the book’s composition and the three surviving wartime notebooks which contain earlier drafts of much of this material.  In part, this is because the Map is based on the book’s numbering system, which is not used in the notebooks, and so there is no straightforward way of extending the Map to include this material, and in part because there is no suitable translation: the only English translation of the parallel passages, by GEM Anscombe, is so different from the others that it is not suitable for such a task. For the last few years, I have collaborated with Joachim Schulte and Katia Saporiti on the first complete translation of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and its German sources (MSS 101-104). One aim has been to produce a translation that can facilitate a digital edition that will enable readers to explore the relationship between Wittgenstein’s wartime philosophical notes, his personal coded diaries, and the path that led to the final text of the Tractatus.  In this talk, I will discuss our work on this project.

Daring not to mend: some thoughts on translating intertextualities and rhetorical figures in Wittgenstein’s Investigations

Peter Winslow

The undertaking of a translation is itself a kind of Wittgensteinian activity: a translation is an object of comparison (PI § 130). Where possible and apt, the resulting text ought to correspond to its source to the greatest extent possible, and its translator must resist the urge to mend apparent faults. Thus conceived, the translator’s task involves the retention of all pertinent constituents of the source text, including, among other things, intertextualities and rhetorical figures. In their revised 2009 translation of Philosophical Investigations, P.M.S. Hacker and Joachim Schulte fail to improve upon G.E.M. Anscombe’s original English text on both counts. In a sense, Hacker and Schulte have mended Wittgenstein’s text. A case in point is their rendition of PI § 122.

After introducing two metrics of translation and offering a survey of where and how Hacker and Schulte go wrong, I conclude with a proposed new translation of § 122 that captures the relevant intertextualities and the rhetorical figures used by Wittgenstein. This re-revised translation is synecdochical of translation as a Wittgensteinian activity. As an object of comparison, a translation can be conceived of as a parable; unpacked, each part of a parable corresponds to a part of its teaching. So too with translation: each part of a translation corresponds to a part of its source text. In Wittgensteinian terms, this correspondence is surveyable. One might even go so far as to say that a translation is a kind of surveyable representation of its source. Accordingly, translation, like philosophy, leaves everything as it is, puts everything before us, and, ideally, resists the urge to mend, or otherwise interfere with, the text.

Abstracts – Workshops

Explicit and implicit references in Wittgenstein: A work in progress for a crowdsourcing and visualisation tool in the history of philosophy

Laura Duparc

I will present a work in progress website that aims to create a digital tool to visualize the links between philosophical texts, in particular, the explicit and implicit references that a philosophical work makes to previous works. The project involves a team of engineers on the one hand, and on the other hand teachers and researchers in philosophy, specializing in an author or a work, who identify, in each text, the implicit and explicit references to other works, and justify their choice. It is a collaborative project: for each reference identified by a contributor, it will be possible for other specialists to open a discussion to comment on the reference, add new elements to confirm the connection, or debate around the identified reference in case of disagreement on the link. The discussion aims at generating community criteria for establishing different degrees of connectedness between texts. The final product will offer students and researchers a unique visualization of the history of philosophy in the form of a “Great Conversation”, an aid to the study of the most difficult texts, and will allow for the valorization of the work of historians of philosophy. The proof of concept is on the Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein.

NLP exploration of the Tractatus

Sacha Raoult

I will present a work in progress natural language processing tool built for the Tractatus. The dynamic thesaurus is the main effort of the project and its main innovation. This method allows to replace any expression in the text by one of its definitions, and then to correct grammatically the concerned paragraph in order to make the reading perfectly fluid. The result is an interface to explore semantically equivalent proposition in te book. This method allows the reader not to have to remember all the definitions that the author has given as he reads, and thus to considerably lighten the cognitive load that can make certain fundamental texts inaccessible. I will show its early results and perspectives for the future.

The Ludwig Wittgenstein Project. New possibilities for Wittgenstein’s texts online

Michele Lavazza

The Workshop will focus on “Possibilities”. The Ludwig Wittgenstein Project (LWP) case study will be presented and participants will be encouraged to ask questions, raise objections and share proposals and ideas about the ways in which the LWP could be improved or could collaborate with similar existing projects.

Part 1 – Wittgenstein in the public domain

The LWP was launched at the beginning of 2022, when Wittgenstein’s works entered the public domain in most countries. It is common for the expiry of intellectual property rights to strongly influence an author’s editorial vicissitudes. In light of this, the copyright status of Wittgenstein’s writings will be discussed. Additionally, it will be argued in favour of the importance of what could be called “the enforcement of the public domain” and the goals of the LWP will be described.

Part 2 – Translations

The LWP is unlike similar projects aiming to make public-domain philosophical works available online in that it also publishes translations of Wittgenstein’s works and, often, original translations. From the editorial point of view, the publication of classics and their translations entails a set of risks and rewards, including financial, that is quite different from that of the publication of new books. It will be argued that it is somewhat unfair for publishers to profit for decades from low-risk translations that they pay for one time; it will also be argued that a new model could be introduced whereby translators do get paid as they would if they worked for a traditional publisher, but their work is then made available to the public for free.

Part 3 – The promises of technology

Making Wittgenstein’s published works available in electronic form brings along fascinating possibilities in terms both of accessibility and of digital manipulation potential. The steps that have already been taken by the LWP will be presented and some of the possibilities that lie ahead will be discussed, while seeking the audience’s input as to what the academic community feels would be particularly interesting or useful.

Organised by

Ludwig Wittgenstein Project Logo

Hosted by

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Dipartimento di Filosofia