Chains of Life: Turing, Lebensform, and the Emergence of Wittgenstein’s Later Style

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Juliet Floyd


This essay accounts for the notion of Lebensform by assigning it a logical role in Wittgenstein’s later philosophy. Wittgenstein’s additions of the notion to his manuscripts of the PI occurred during the initial drafting of the book 1936-7, after he abandoned his effort to revise The Brown Book. It is argued that this constituted a substantive step forward in his attitude toward the notion of simplicity as it figures within the notion of logical analysis. Next, a reconstruction of his later remarks on Lebensformen is offered which factors in his reading of Alan Turing’s “On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem“ (1936/7), as well as his discussions with Turing 1937-1939. An interpretation of the five occurrences of Lebensform in the PI is then given in terms of a logical “regression” to Lebensform as a fundamental notion. This regression characterizes Wittgenstein’s mature answer to the question, “What is the nature of the logical?”

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Lebensform; form of life; Wittgenstein Ludwig; logic; Turing Alan; Philosophical Investigations; Früfassung; Urfassung
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