Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, was born in Vienna in April, 1889, the youngest of eight children. While the house of Wittgenstein had been prominent in Austria since the early nineteenth century, Ludwig’s father, Karl, an engineer, moved it from prominence to great riches with his brilliant manipulations of the steel industry. When he died, in 1913, The Times of London eulogized him as “The Carnegie of Austria.” Though the Wittgensteins were of Jewish ancestry—a fact that Ludwig would later take considerable pains to conceal—they had been Protestant for two generations. His mother, Leopoldine, was Roman Catholic and Ludwig, like his brothers and sisters, was baptized Catholic. Though there are good reasons to describe his Weltanschauung as fundamentally religious—Bertrand Russell went so far on one occasion as to...


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