Ian Mulvany

March 18, 2021

Even Wittgenstein had a hell of a time getting published

#philosophy #publishing #genius #wittgenstein 

I'm working my way through 
"Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius" by Ray Monk, it's a great book that merges biography with philosophy. 

I'm fascinated by the history behind the publication of the Tractatus. It was really nearly damn impossible for Wittgenstein to get it published initially. He was advised by Frege, of all people, to salami slice the work:

You write in your preface that the truth of the thoughts communicated seems to you unassailable and definitive. Now could not one of these thoughts, in which the solution to a philosophical problem is contained, itself provide the subject for an article and thus the whole book be divided into as many parts as the number of philosophical problems with which it deals?

Wittgenstein was led to despair by the many rejections he received for the manuscript 

I don’t know where I can get my work accepted either. If I were only somewhere else than in this lousy world!

It's a salutary lesson that even the greatest of works have often struggled to see the light of day. 

About Ian Mulvany

Hi, I'm Ian - I work on academic publishing systems. You can find out more about me at mulvany.net. I'm always interested in engaging with folk on these topics, if you have made your way here don't hesitate to reach out if there is anything you want to share, discuss, or ask for help with!