Introduction: Zwischen Dichtung und Wissenschaft

  • Gisela BengtssonEmail author
Part of the Nordic Wittgenstein Studies book series (NRWS, volume 3)


“Simple, forceful, strict” are the words Georg Henrik von Wright uses to describe Gottlob Frege’s style of writing (von Wright 1993, 60). He adds that it often contains an element of ice-cold irony, and this description seems to capture well the style that had such a great impact on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s sentences (cf. Wittgenstein 1981, § 712). In a later essay, von Wright (1994) borrows a distinction between two different human intellectual approaches from Friedrich Waismann (1940), and gives it a central role in an outline of the origin and development of analytic philosophy. The distinction is between a scientific approach that has the search for knowledge and true propositions as a primary guideline, and a philosophical approach that views clarity as the ultimate goal. Those guided by a philosophical approach seek to make clear what propositions mean. Characteristic of this approach is the conception that philosophy is distinct from science, as it neither is directed at the construction of theories, nor guided by a search for knowledge in the form of true proposition. The scientific approach, on the other hand, is characterized by a unified view of science according to which philosophy forms a part of it. Interaction and conflict between these two approaches characterize the development of analytic philosophy, according to the picture von Wright presents. Without hesitation, von Wright lets Bertrand Russell represent the first approach and G. E. Moore the second. Frege is spoken of much more cautiously. It is as if von Wright does not quite know what to say or where to place Frege with regard to the distinction between the two different intellectual approaches.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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