Partially Attended

an irregularly updated blog by Ian Mulvany

blog posts about philosophy

Wittgenstein and Physics, Cross College Oxford one day seminar

(image via peternijenhuis) Last year I attended a one day seminar on Wittgenstein and Physics. It was held at Cross College Oxford and was the first in a planned series of talks on the history and philosophy of science. It’s been a long time since I’ve done physics seriously, and longer still since I took classes on the history and philosophy of science, so I attended very much in the mode of the interested outsider. ... (more)

The Tractaus, a mini-review

This is the only book that Wittgenstein published in his lifetime. At the onset of the first world war Wittgenstein enlisted in the Austrian army. He was captured and served out the end of the war in a POW camp. It was here that the manuscript for the Tractatus was completed (footnote, I can’t recall where I read this, either in an encyclopaedia entry on Wittgenstein, or in Wittgenstein’s Poker, either way perhaps someone can otherwise confirm this statement? ... (more)

Robert Bunsen's Birthday

Google’s homepage cartoon today tells me that it’s Robert Bunsen’s birthday. He is famous for the invention of the burner named after him, but his contribution to our understanding of the universe around us runs much much deeper than that. He co-created the science of spectroscopy with Gustav Kirchhoff. This is something I learned about when I was living for a while in Heidelberg, one of the university building’s along the Hauptstrasse is named after Bunsen. ... (more)

Our gospels define us

I’m reading a fascinating book about the Wittgenstein family. It’s called House Wittgenstein, a family a war. The book main focuses on Paul Wittgenstein, the left armed concert pianist, nonetheless there are many things detailed in this book that have dramatically informed my opinion on both Ludwig Wittgenstein and his philosophy. Two things I want to mention here, firstly much of Ludwig’s approach to life was influenced by Tolstoy’s work The Gospel in Brief (The parallels between the two works are drawn out very nicely here), secondly Wittgenstein’s close family constantly refer to him as being a saint in their personal correspondences. ... (more)