In the following conversation with Bryan Magee, Professor Quinton attempts the very difficult task of explaining the importance of that all-too-elusive German thinker Ludwig Wittgenstein, the man who Bertrand Russell once referred to as "the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived, passionate, profound, intense, and dominating."
Wittgenstein's life was tragic, and to a large extent, it is difficult to understand precisely how it affected his intellectual development, so we'll skip that for now (but feel free to follow the links to The Philosopher's Zone to get an idea).
You'd think that coming up with a brand new system of philosophy that would consign you to intellectual posterity would be enough. Not so for Wittgenstein. After revolutionizing the world of philosophy of language with his Tractatus Logicus-Philosophicus, and consequently giving up on philosophy for a number of years, he became dissatisfied with his early work and decided to do it again with his highly aphoristic publication Philosophical Investigations. The result is a work that simultaneously seems self-evident and bizarrely counter-intuitive.
Check out more of these fascinating conversations with Bryan Magee.