Grillparzerhaus, Johannesgasse 6, 1010 Wien

Talks at the Grillparzerhaus


12 and 13 April 2016

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) is recognised as the most influential philosopher of the 20th century. His impact continues to be strong not only in philosophy, but also in literature, aesthetics, economics and social sciences. Born and educated in Vienna into one of the most affluent and culturally active families of the Habsburg Empire, Wittgenstein spent the most productive and happy periods in his life in Norway, where he produced some of his major writings. Wittgenstein was influenced by Norwegian culture already in the family circle in Vienna - Ibsen was a beloved author of the Wittgensteins. What Ludwig inherited from them and it remained deeply rooted in him throughout his life, was the feeling of duty towards cultural values and social responsibility. As his father had financed the Vienna Secession and the Academy of Sciences, so Ludwig Wittgenstein made in 1914 a large financial contribution to artists in need, among them Rainer Maria Rilke, Adolf Loos and Georg Trakl.

In this symposium, a major emphasis will be put for the first time in Vienna on Wittgenstein's connection with Norway and the recent Norwegian contributions to Wittgenstein research - in general education, as well as at the Wittgenstein Archives in Bergen. Leading Norwegian intellectuals will debate his relevance today, thus setting an example in his city of birth.

An emphasis will be put also on the tradition of Wittgenstein's family as patrons of modern art, Ludwig Wittgenstein's own example highlighted, and parallels will be drawn between his time and cultural funding in today's world. In addition the Literature Museum in Vienna will contribute towards Wittgenstein's importance as a writer and a representative of Modernism.



Knut Olav Åmås (Stiftung Fritt Ord, Moderation)
Marjorie Perloff (Stanford University)
Alois Pichler (Wittgenstein Archiv, Universität Bergen)
Kjetil Trædal Thorsen (Snøhetta Architektur)

Ludwig Wittgenstein spent some of his most important and productive periods in Skjolden in the Norwegian Sognefjord between 1913 and 1950. What did he find and accomplish there? And why did one of the most important thinkers of the last century chose, on several occasions, to leave privileged circles in Vienna and Cambridge and to live in rural parts of Austria, Ireland, and Norway? Was Wittgenstein a philosopher in exile? How would such a person be regarded today? Would he ever get a position at a university?


Knut Olav Åmås (Stiftung Fritt Ord, Moderation)
Steven Beller (Washington DC, Historiker)
Ilyas Khan (Stanhill Foundation)
Eva Nowotny (Österreichische Kommission für UNESCO)
Bjørn Øiulfstad (Norwegischer Stiftungsverband)
Christian Witt-Dörring (Neue Galerie New York)

In what ways are arts, culture and science/research funded today? And how do the different funding models influence the activities and results? The relation between public and private funding is quite different from country to country. What is the situation today in Scandinavia/Norway, Austria, Great Britain, and the United States? And what can we learn from the philanthropists today and the last hundred years?


James Conant (University of Chicago)
Ray Monk (University of Southampton)
Alfred Schmidt (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Moderation)

In the early twentieth century, Vienna’s artistic and cultural landscape experienced an unprecedented shift toward modernity: Adolf Loos and the Secession movement, Arnold Schönberg, Jung Wien and Karl Kraus, Sigmund Freud, Ernst Mach and the Vienna Circle—just to mention the most important names. Proceeding from Janik’s and Toulmin’s thesis in Wittgenstein’s Vienna, the question will be explored regarding to what extent Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophical work is deeply rooted in this very specific culture of Viennese modernity.


In co-operation with the Literaturmuseum of the Austrian National Library and Der Standard

Isolde Charim (Moderation)
László F. Földényi
Allan Janik (Brenner Archiv)
Robert Menasse
Marjorie Perloff (Stanford University)

„Philosophie dürfte man eigentlich nur dichten“
(Wittgenstein: Vermischte Bemerkungen / Culture and Value, 12.12.1933)

What is the connection between poetry and philosophy? What do literary and philosophical texts have in common? —Representatives from science and literature will be discussing the reciprocal relationships between literature and philosophy.

Secretary General
Wittgenstein Initiative
Kriehubergasse 15/23, 1050 Wien
Tel: +43 699 19238373