MS 119



General note on MSS 116-122 (Bände XIII to XVIII)

Chronologically speaking, the first two (of four) parts of MS 116 (= 116i and 116ii), the first part of MS 117 (= 117i), the whole of MS 118 and most of MSS 119 and 120 are very closely connected, even interrelated; at some points one might speak of overlap. Many entries bear a date or are easy to date.

            The connections between the relevant parts of MSS 117-120 can, very roughly speaking, be described as follows: MSS 117i-120i are Wittgenstein’s notebooks from the time he spent in Norway after his return there in August1937. The earliest entries can be found in MS 118 (continuously dated from 13.8. to 24.9.37). Similar observations apply to MS 119, which is the immediate continuation of MS 118 (beginning on 24.9., running on to 19.11.), and virtually all of MS 120i (beginning on 19.10. and running on to 10.12. — the day before Wittgenstein’s departure from Skjolden).

            MSS 118 and 119 resemble each other in several respects: both of them are used by Wittgenstein as notebooks from which he picks certain remarks which are then transferred and revised in MS 117; both of them contain a fair number of diary remarks chronicling the history of Wittgenstein’s contemporary writings as well as of his moods, impressions, and feelings. MS 117i, on the other hand, is basically a reservoir of more or less polished remarks selected from MS 118 and to a small extent from MS 119, and in contrast to these latter two does not contain a journal.

            Owing to the existence of this journal we are informed about an interruption in Wittgenstein’s work, which can be dated as having occurred more or less exactly on 23 October 1937. The interruption is due to his having taken out his »old typescript« (as he calls it now), that is to say, a copy of the Big Typescript (= TS 213). From this point onwards he re-reads large parts from the first half of this typescript and works on it in the following sense: he selects remarks that arouse his interest and copies them in more or less revised form into a very large and so far unused manuscript book. This is MS 116i, which as it were contains the result of Wittgenstein’s temporary loss of interest in the work he was doing in MSS 117-119.

            One of the most striking features of volumes XIV to XVI is the journal Wittgenstein keeps in these manuscript volumes. Many, but by no means all, of the remarks forming this journal were written in code. This habit of regular journal-writing was interrupted around the time Wittgenstein spent in Dublin in February and March 1938. This was the time of the Anschluss and increased worries about the safety of his relatives. These worries and the difficulty, or impossibility, of concentrating on his own problems and writings may have been a crucial factor contributing to Wittgenstein’s giving up on his journal.

            Of course, this is not the only difference between volumes XIII to XVI, on the one hand, and the last two (XVII and XVIII), on the other, but it is a convenient way of marking a break. At the same time, we must remember that volume XIII (= MS 117) itself forms a composite structure made up of heterogeneous parts: its first part is closely connected with MSS 118 and sections of 119, but other parts of MS 117 are in no way connected with this conglomerate, while its last part (= MS 117v) even brings up the rear inasmuch as it constitutes the continuation and terminus of the train of remarks making up MS 122. This latter manuscript volume is the last one of those Bände Wittgenstein marked as belonging to a special series by assigning Roman numbers to them. Perhaps there is a certain irony in the fact that the tail end of the series is not to be found in the as it were »officially« last volume but was tucked away in an earlier one.


Notes on MS 119 (Band XV)

As was pointed out before, this manuscript volume forms the immediate continuation of volume XIV. The latter was completed on 24 September 1937, and on the same day Wittgenstein entered his first remark in MS 119 — a remark which much later became §415 of the Investigations.

            In this volume, the pagination given in transcriptions may be a little confusing. Basically, it is Wittgenstein’s own page numbers that are assigned up to p. 147 (21 October 1937), but at this point Wittgenstein discontinues his previous way of allotting a number to every single page. So, from this point onwards, pages are counted according to a system of foliation, starting from p. 74v (up to 148r, 11 November).

            Again, the manuscript volume serves as a kind of journal. It records two visits: Francis Skinner, after spending just over a week in Skjolden, leaves on 30 September, and on 1 October Wittgenstein gratefully records that the last five days have been »beautiful«. (In MS 118, the journal records that Wittgenstein had left Skjolden on 18 September to meet Skinner in Bergen, and that by 22 September they had arrived in Skjolden.) A second visitor was Hermann Hänsel, the son of Wittgenstein’s old friend Ludwig Hänsel, whose presence is recorded on 10 October and who is said to have left on 12 October. In his journal, Wittgenstein states that Hänsel made »a good impression« (cf. letter to Hänsel 12.10.37).

            Philosophically speaking, this volume is a veritable treasure house. It includes remarks on the »hardness of the logical must«, an important allusion to Tractatus 6.1261 (25.9.) as well as valuable observations on language-games, forms of life, and various aspects of the idea of privacy. Moreover, MS 119 contains the bulk of the material edited and published by Rush Rhees under the title »Cause and Effect: Intuitive Awareness« (see the version published in Philosophical Occasions [1993], pp. 368-426). Half a dozen general remarks have been published in Culture and Value.

            At one point (p. 77v) a remark is entitled »Nachtrag aus einem Heft« (»supplementary observation from an exercise book«). This is taken from MS 152: 29.