Ludwig Wittgenstein and Cambridge

Wittgenstein, Ludwig

Portrait of Wittgenstein (Moritz Nähr via Wikimedia Commons)

Earlier this summer I wrote a blog post about Erasmus, Calvin and Bucer in Cambridge. This set me thinking about other significant German speakers who spent time here and the first one to spring to mind was the influential philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951). In his lifetime he only had one book published, the highly significant Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, but he wrote a huge amount. His papers are held at the Wren Library, Trinity College; there is also a separate archive in Cambridge which holds facsimiles of his manuscripts.

With a background in the study of mechanical engineering, Wittgenstein had come to Britain from his native Austria in 1908 to work on aeronautics at the University of Manchester. Continue reading

Umberto Eco, 1932-2016


Picture by Università Reggio Calabria (GFDL), via Wikimedia Commons.

In the book Vertigine della Lista (S950.c.200.947 and S950.c.200.802 for the English version) published on the occasion of the exhibition he curated in 2009 at the Louvre in Paris, Umberto Eco (5 January 1932 – 19 February 2016) discusses the value and meaning of lists throughout history. The Italian author and philosopher argued in an interview with Der Spiegel that “through lists, through catalogues, through collections in museums and through encyclopaedias and dictionaries” human beings attempt to make infinity comprehensible. People describe the sky and try to list stars; poets and lovers endlessly search for words to describe their feelings, often making a list of things they love as a way of starting their pursuit. Continue reading

Jürgen Habermas wins Kluge prize

508px-JuergenHabermas_retouchedThe German philosopher Jürgen Habermas was recently awarded with the Kluge Prize by the Library of Congress in Washington DC. The prize rewards lifetime achievement in disciplines not covered by the Nobel prizes, with its main criteria being deep intellectual accomplishment in the human sciences. Habermas was chosen for his scholarly work as much as for his deep engagement with public debate. He shares the prize with Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor.

Habermas is one of the most renowned contemporary philosophers worldwide who is mostly known for his work on communicative rationality and the public sphere. After studying philosophy, history, psychology, German literature and Economics, Habermas gained his PhD in 1954 with his thesis Das Absolute und die Geschichte. Von der Zwiespältigkeit in Schellings Denken (9500.d.1076). He started his Habilitation at the University of Frankfurt under Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, but differences with Horkheimer prompted him to transfer to the University of Marburg. There, he completed the work on his Habilitations-thesis Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft (9003.d.2511) in 1961 under Wolfgang Abendroth.

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Early European Books Collections 3 and 4


The University Library is delighted to announce that the JISC has negotiated with ProQuest to make available to UK HE institutions collections 1-4 of the Early European Books resource.   This extends the access for Cambridge to include collections 3 and 4.

Collection 3 is substantially larger than the previous collections, containing 3 million pages in total, from more than 10,000 volumes scanned at four different libraries. It encompasses works in all major European languages, printed in the cities which led the explosion of the print industry in the early modern era, such as Nuremberg, Basel, Leiden, Paris and Venice. This breadth of scope gives a wide-ranging overview of the intellectual life and historical upheavals of early modern Europe. The collection contains the founding works of modern sciences such as botany, anatomy and astrology, together with accounts of travel, exploration and warfare, and influential works of literature, philosophy and humanist thought…

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