Wittgenstein's Whewell's Court Lectures
Offers new insight into the development of Wittgenstein's ideas, in particular his ideas about certainty and concept-formation The lectures include more than 70 illustrations of blackboard drawings, which underline the importance of visual thought in Wittgenstein's approach to philosophy Challenges the dating of some already published lecture notes, including the Lectures on Freedom of the Will and the Lectures on Religious Belief
Volker A. Munz is Assistant Professor at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria. He is the editor of Language and World (with Klaus Puhl and Joseph Wang, 2010), Mind, Language and Action (with Daniele Moyal-Sharrock and Annalisa Coliva, 2015), the author of Satz und Sinn. Bemerkungen zur Sprachphilosophie Wittgensteins (2005), as well as numerous essays. Bernhard Ritter is University Assistant at the University of Klagenfurt. He has published articles on Kant and Wittgenstein and is the author of the forthcoming Kant and Post-Tractarian Wittgenstein: Transcendentalism, Idealism, Illusion.
Wittgenstein's Whewell's Court Lectures
I first met Rush Rhees when I came to Swansea as an exchange student in autumn, 1988. He allowed me join his PhD seminar, and from then on we saw each other regularly. That winter, Rhees spent some time in hospital, and I visited him almost every day to talk about Wittgenstein's philosophy. The first day he was allowed out of bed, I saw him sitting in an armchair with Wittgenstein's Philosophical Grammar on his lap. This made a great impression on me. After his discharge from hospital, Rhees and I continued our meetings at his home, where I first came into contact with his wife, Peg Smythies Rhees. She had been Yorick Smythies' wife before marrying Rhees, after Smythies' death, in 1980. From then on, I kept in close contact with Peg over the years until her own death in 2014.
Some time in the mid-1990s, she gave me around 30 typescripts of lecture notes Smythies took during lectures held by Wittgenstein mostly between 1938 and 1941, all in all about 700 pages. Additionally, Peg signed over to me the rights to work on and publish these notes. In 1998, she engaged Bernard Quaritch, a London antiquarian, to sell Smythies' original notes of Wittgenstein's lectures, in sum about 2000 notebook pages, plus 23 tapes of recordings of the same material dictated by Smythies, based on those notes. Quaritch then got in contact with me and asked if I could make an inventory of the material. With respect to the notes, this was only possible because I already possessed the corresponding typescripts; the notes just by themselves were hardly legible. And since I owned the copyright, Quaritch allowed me to make photocopies of all the relevant notes and copy the tapes. All the other Smythies' notebooks, manuscripts, and typescripts not directly related to Wittgenstein's lectures, Quaritch sent to my private address in Austria.
In 2001, the original lecture notes were sold to Kagoshima International University, Japan, where they have been kept under wraps since then. A microfilm of the whole handwritten material is held by Trinity College Cambridge and myself. The microfilm had been made for legal reasons before the material was sold to Japan.
Through Peg Smythies Rhees, I also came into possession of a few items that shed light on Smythies' personality, some of which are written by Wittgenstein. Since they have not appeared in print, I would like to include them here. When Smythies applied for a position as a librarian at Barnett House, in 1950, he collected various testimonials by Georg Henrik von Wright, G. E. Moore, Wittgenstein, and others. Wittgenstein wrote:
Mr. Yorick Smythies attended my classes on philosophy for over three years during the time when I was first lecturer and later Professor of Philosophy in Cambridge. I came into personal contact with him about eleven years ago and soon became greatly impressed by his mind and his personality. He is a man of very great intelligence, scrupulous honesty and conscientiousness, and of a kindly and obliging nature. He has a vivacious mind and is widely read. I have, in the last ten years, had innumerable discussions with him on a wide range of subjects and have always found his remarks most stimulating. 1
Already 10 years earlier in 1940, Wittgenstein had written his first reference for Smythies:
Mr. Yorick Smythies has attended my classes for four years; I have also had a great many discussions and conversations with him outside these classes. He has always impressed me by his uncommon intelligence as well as by his seriousness and sincerity. He is a kindhearted, gentle, and even-tempered man. 2
Although Smythies had already joined Wittgenstein's Lectures on 'Personal Experience ' in the academic year 1935/36, he only made his acquaintance in 1938 through James C. Taylor, another student. The most probable reasons for this delay are, on the one hand, Wittgenstein's absence from Cambridge af