Thursday, 24 October 2013

Wittgenstein's Birmingham Notes, 1913

Before the month has passed I thought I would share a work in progress - still in progress, that is, from the original blog entry made some four years ago. The 7th October 2013 was the 100th anniversary of Ludwig Wittgenstein's dictation of the Birmingham part of his Notes on Logic; the first summary of his philosophy. This was made at the Berlitz School of Language which, in 1913, was housed at Albert Chambers, 32 Paradise Street, Birmingham. With the recent opening of the new Birmingham library in the nearby Centenary Square, it is perhaps apt to mark the occasion of this particular centenary. I should emphasise that this is a work in progress and it is presented very roughly, otherwise the month would pass without any such post.

There is a simple rule for verifying the genuineness of your life - to ask yourself whether what you are feeling and thinking at the moment would retain its strength if you knew that you were about to die. Would you continue to do what you are doing? Ask yourself this always about everything.
I call this measuring everything by the just measure of death.
Only that has right to being which stands this test, which comes out of it unscathed and justified anew. And whatever, at this touch, pales, droops and withers only counterfeits life and ought to be torn out and thrown away.
Purified of these waste products, life will become divinely intense.
[from 'In Praise of Death' in Nicholas Bachtin - 'Lectures and Essays' (University of Birmingham, 1963), p145]

He is morbidly afraid he may die before he has put the Theory of Types to rights, and before he has written out all his other work in such a way as shall be intelligible to the world and of some use to the science of Logic.
[from David Pinsent’s Diary 17/9/1913] 

Ludwig Wittgenstein

When Ludwig Wittgenstein [1889-1951] became a pupil of Bertrand Russell [1872-1970], he was a man in search of a purpose, and being a member of one of the wealthiest families in Europe did not make this task an easy one. Three of his brothers committed suicide. Compounding the grief felt in the household was the demand by their father never to speak of those whom they had lost.

Karl Wittgenstein was a self-made man; a tough yet cultured steel magnate who ran away from home to spend two adventurous years in America. He returned to the continued disapproval of his father, despite having survived on those very qualities of which his father valued. Karl was hardworking and resourceful. When he returned he studied engineering and became a draughtsman for the Teplitz Rolling Mill. By the time he was thirty he had become a company director, and proceeded to gamble on supplying Russia with railway track, despite not having the means to do so until the deal was actually struck. He became seriously rich over the years, possessing a wealth in comparison to few men – Carnegie and Rothschild, for instance.

To fit with his father’s desire for his sons to follow him into engineering or business, Ludwig Wittgenstein chose to study engineering in Berlin followed by aeronautics in Manchester. It was during his first three years in Britain that his interest in the philosophy of mathematics grew and compelled him to seek out the logician Gottlob Frege (1848-1925). At their meeting, Frege promptly wiped the floor with Wittgenstein's arguments. However it was not a complete disaster as Frege was sufficiently impressed to recommend Russell as a suitable teacher. And so, one day in October 1911, Bertrand Russell, Lecturer in Logic and Principles of Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, opened his door to find the man he would later proclaim to be his successor in mathematical logic.

Bertrand Russell

It was good timing for Russell. Since the turn of the century he had worked himself to breaking point, and when Wittgenstein entered his life, he had been doubting his ability to carry on in a subject which required, above all, a high aptitude for technical precision. Russell's interest in carrying on was nearly exhausted. In future his work would utilise a particularly attuned skill for communicating complex ideas intelligibly by writing a series of philosophy books intended for the masses. The type of which he called a 'shilling shocker'. In the years of the First World War he came to feel he had made the right decision in taking the path which would engage him most with the people. Even if he received a hostile reception, he did so outside of the ivory tower of Cambridge academia.
      Bertrand Russell’s search for certainty in mathematics had begun in childhood when his older brother introduced him to Euclid’s axioms of geometry. Fascinated that a whole world could be built upon a group of simple assertions, he nevertheless remained unsatisfied that these had to be accepted without proof. For Russell, mathematics was entwined with the Pythagorean mystical realm which gave all knowledge its foundations. To be able to describe these foundations would bring the absolute certainty to Russell’s world which had been tragically removed in childhood when both his parents and his sister died, leaving him in the care of his grandmother. The prospect of the elderly Countess Russell also dying and leaving him alone in the world kept Bertrand awake at night, isolated and frightened.

After finding the study of mathematics at Cambridge to be disappointing for a man so concerned with the foundations of the subject, Russell switched to philosophy, but once again, it was geometry which drew his attention, and this time from the perspective of Kantian transcendental idealism. The accepted Platonic position of Euclidean geometry, which had been so important to Russell, was being challenged by the non-Euclidean systems as proposed by Georg Riemann and Nikolai Lobachevsky. Negotiating his Kantian position in light of the new developments, Russell wrote The Foundations of Geometry (1895) which proposed the idea that space had a constant curvature. Unfortunately, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity utterly refuted this with its varied curvature of space. Russell, though, had moved on. He had begun to contemplate the unity of logic and mathematics. This time he was under the influence of Hegelian dialectics which sought to remove contradictions by synthesis of opposites and embrace Reality as one Absolute Idea. The contradictions which Russell sought to resolve were those of continuity, infinity and the infinitesimal. Soon he discovered that others had been doing just that, and after acquainting himself with the work of Karl Weierstrass, Georg Cantor and Richard Dedekind, he abandoned his Hegelian approach.

The task of philosophy, then, was no longer to demonstrate the interconnectedness of everything, to prove that Reality was an indivisible whole; rather the task was to identify, through analysis, the discrete atoms – material, psychological and logical – of which the world is constructed. [MONK (1997), p21-22]

Shoring up the foundations of mathematics was a challenge evidently suited to Wittgenstein. The way in which it consumed him was indicative of the all-or-nothing trait in his character. Once he had got to grips with the subject, he first became Russell's equal and then his master. The succession which Russell had hoped for, was on course. After a year of their relationship, Russell was keen for Wittgenstein to hear his ideas and needed his pupil to give him a positive response. Later still however, Russell was not at all receptive to his protégé's brutal honesty. It undermined Russell's confidence in his own work.

Russell had been working on Theory of Knowledge which, until Wittgenstein learnt of it, had been progressing satisfactorily over 80 pages. However, it did not take much to stop Russell in his tracks. Without knowing why Wittgenstein's objections were correct, he believed 'in his bones' they were because he believed in Wittgenstein. From his pupil's perspective, Russell's stumbling block was the need of 'a correct theory of propositions' which Wittgenstein may have considered beyond his master who indeed was coming to the same conclusion. Russell had wanted such a theory to be developed by his successor, and it was this which formed the basis of Wittgenstein's Notes on Logic.

The succession would have been complete if only Wittgenstein had not been suffering from (and making others suffer the consequences of) an 'artistic temperament' which manifested itself in a perfectionism that made him reluctant to commit himself to paper. The frustration this was causing came to a head in 1913, not just for Wittgenstein, but particularly for Russell who was not just investing time with Wittgenstein but was preparing him as his philosophical heir. In order for Russell to have a successor, the candidate had to learn from his master and match him in ability. In order for the pupil to advance in his field, he would have to become his master's master by progressing through the problems which had defeated him. It was always going to be a difficult transition.

As Wittgenstein's work developed, the friendliness in his relationship with Russell declined. Although this fact may have been beyond the emotionally myopic Wittgenstein's comprehension. A state of cordiality remained, but the moodiness and intensity of Wittgenstein regularly drained Russell, though he was not without sympathy. He imagined that this was what life with a philosopher was like, which forced him to realise something of how his own family would have felt during his all-consuming devotion to the completion of Principia Mathematica.

A page from Principia Mathematica

          It was thanks to Russell that Wittgenstein found his purpose by engaging in a philosophical journey with the blessing of a man respected amongst the leaders of his field. The blessing was taken very seriously by Wittgenstein, it allowed him the justification to be utterly dedicated to a task which might satisfy that all-or-nothing character trait. If Russell had relieved Wittgenstein of the loneliness with which he had been suffering from for years, there was a danger of its return without him, but this was averted by a new friendship begun at one of Russell's informal social gatherings, known as 'squashes', in the summer term of 1912.

          Just over a year later, Wittgenstein made a breakthrough in his work on logic, and it was to his new friend, David Pinsent, that he first explained it. Unfortunately no record exists of what the breakthrough entailed, however, it was deemed by Pinsent to 'clear everything up'  no less, and we know this because Pinsent kept a diary. When eventually published, it was entitled A Portrait of Wittgenstein as a Young Man.

David Pinsent

David Hume Pinsent (1891-1918), who was in his second year at Cambridge reading mathematics, came from a respected middle-class family in the Birmingham suburb of Harborne. Lordswood House was a large, three-storeyed 'turreted building standing in four acres of orchards and grassland' [BIRMINGHAM EVENING MAIL 14/8/1970]. It was demolished in the early 1970s after falling into ruin. Located at 44 Lordswood Road, its neighbour at 42 would later become the family home of W.H. Auden. This too was demolished.

Hume Pinsent

David's father, Hume Chancellor Pinsent, was a descendent of the philosopher David Hume, a solicitor and also a treasurer of Birmingham University. His mother was born Ellen Frances Parker (1866-1949), a rector's daughter, the youngest of his thirteen children. She became the first woman to be elected to Birmingham City Council in 1911, and was later made a dame in 1938 particularly for her work in the care of mentally impaired children. Her concern in this area was part of her involvement in the eugenics movement which had begun when she fell under the spell of Karl Pearson, the statistician and eugenicist, a friend of her brother Robert Parker. When Pearson joined Robert on a visit to the family home at Claxby in Lincolnshire, Ellen, then a young woman, absorbed his 'unorthodox views' [INTRODUCTION TO DIARY PXII, ANNE PINSENT KEYNES]. Soon she became a member of the Men's and Women's Club founded by Pearson, and it was here that Ellen met her husband-to-be who was studying law with Robert at Cambridge. Ellen and Hume married in 1888 and moved to Birmingham where he joined his brother Richard's firm, Pinsent & Co, based then at 6 Bennett's Hill, and she wrote novels.

Ellen Pinsent

We know from David Pinsent's diary that Wittgenstein visited Birmingham a year before he dictated his Notes on Logic. It was on return from a holiday they had spent together in Iceland, when Pinsent persuaded Wittgenstein to stop in the city and stay the night at Lordswood House. 

They arrived at New Street Station at seven in the morning of 4th October 1912, and breakfasted at Lordswood where they showed their photographs from the trip to the rest of David's family before hurrying by bus and taxi back to the city centre to attend the very last concert of the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival at the Town Hall. Established in 1784 to help raise funds for the General Hospital on Summer Lane, the festival had grown over the years. The Town Hall itself had been built in 1834 to accommodate its expanding audience, but by 1912 the money it generated barely, if at all, covered the costs of staging the festival. Consequently the General Hospital received no funds that year and, with the intervention of the First World War, the festival was never held again.

The Last Triennial Festival, Birmingham Town Hall 1912

The Pinsents and their Austrian guest arrived too late for the beginning of Brahms' Requiem. Nevertheless it was too their liking, "Wittgenstein said he had never enjoyed it more - and he has heard it pretty often." [DP's Diary] During the lunchtime interval the party retired to the offices of Pinsent & Co nearby on Bennett's Hill for refreshments. 

6 Bennett's Hill (Pinsent & Co in 1912)
They returned to hear excerpts from Strauss's Salome, except, that is, for Wittgenstein who refused to listen to any such thing. Instead he left the Town Hall and stood outside the front of the building on Paradise Street. However, he returned for Beethoven's 7th Symphony, but left again, and, intriguingly, made his own way back to Harborne.

Together again at Lordswood House they took tea and went out for a walk with David's mother Ellen, his sister Hester and his aunt Beatrice Craycroft who was Ellen's elder sister. It took a while for Wittgenstein to relax in the company of David's family, but after dinner he seems to have overcome his initial shyness enough to respond positively to David's request to explain some of his work in Logic to his father Hume. "I think father was interested, and certainly he agreed with me afterwards that Wittgenstein is really very clever and acute." [David Pinsent's diary, p34]

Remaining boundary wall of Lordswood House, 2010

Perhaps in one way the timing of Wittgenstein's 1913 breakthrough was unfortunate. It came shortly before the friends set sail together for a holiday in Norway in September, and, although Wittgenstein had time to meet with Russell for a brief explanation of his new ideas, the sojourn to Norway gave Wittgenstein time to ruminate before the ghastly business of publication could begin.

They had not even set sail when Wittgenstein's anxious state of mind became apparent. His portmanteau of manuscripts had been misplaced, which put his head into a spin, and when they arrived in Norway, he was being difficult with Pinsent whose normal patience with Wittgenstein would be pushed to the limit on holiday. 'He is a chaotic person. I have to be frightfully careful and tolerant when he gets these sulky fits.' [p64, David Pinsent's diary] During the long train journey to Bergen they discussed the friction between them which was, they seemed to agree, emanating largely from Wittgenstein. For a man on holiday, he was in desperate need of relaxation. But it was both their intentions to spend as much time working as walking. Pinsent had now completed his mathematics degree, obtaining a first and the enviable position as a Senior Wrangler. He was to study law in Birmingham with a view to following in the family's footsteps.

Wittgenstein on holiday in Norway, 1913

Pinsent's diary of their holiday together is almost painfully routine in nature. Working, walking, supper at 8, dominoes, playing Schubert, and throughout are references to Wittgenstein's nervous tension and morbidity. Pretty soon Pinsent's exasperation begins to show. Despite Wittgenstein's extreme focus on logic, he is anything but rational about his own fears of his approaching and imaginary death:

He is really in an awful neurotic state: this evening he blamed himself violently and expressed the most piteous disgust with himself. At first I was rather annoyed with him - it seemed to me that his feelings were silly and rather selfish. But afterwards I could only pity him - it is obvious he is quite incapable of helping these fits. I only hope that an out of doors life here will make him better: at present it is no exaggeration to say he is as bad - (in that nervous sensibility) - as people like Beethoven were. He even talks of having at times contemplated suicide. [p67 DP diary 4/9/1913]

It was as if Wittgenstein was cutting his tethers to the living world, even pushing Pinsent away with his impossible sulkiness, until there would only be one reason to live, the most important one of all - resolving the fundamental problems of logic, the task he alone inherited from Russell. The Theory of Types and the problem of living had become intimately entwined, and to Wittgenstein it was not 'decent' that this precarious existence should be brought about by the threat of death by his own hand. In a sense, it was sinful. After a fortnight of this, David states simply that Wittgenstein is mad, but he never renounced their friendship. And despite all this, Wittgenstein stated to Pinsent that 'he has never before enjoyed a holiday so much as this' [p79, DP diary, Tues 23/9/1913].

When the holiday was nearing its end, Wittgenstein decided to return to Norway as soon as possible to isolate himself and devote himself entirely to his work on logic. When he learnt of his plan Russell was appalled. He thought that Wittgenstein would go insane. He also feared he may commit suicide, and from the Wittgenstein family history, this was not a groundless fear. Worryingly, Wittgenstein had become convinced that he was going to die soon, and that all his work over the last two years would have been for nothing. So, prudently, Russell demanded that before he returned to Norway, he must get his ideas down on paper. The results would come to be known as Notes on Logic. Although this was not published until later, it is the earliest record of the philosophical work of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Wittgenstein caught up with Russell immediately on his return to Cambridge on 2 October, and read him extracts from his notebooks. Russell was impressed, but left for London the next day with nothing having been written down. The following Monday Wittgenstein himself left Cambridge, and travelled to Birmingham. It was during this second visit to the city as a guest of the Pinsents that Wittgenstein began to commit his philosophy to paper.

David Pinsent met Wittgenstein at New Street Station from where they caught a taxi to Harborne in time for dinner. Afterwards Wittgenstein talked of his return to Norway, with a plan to travel the following Saturday. He seems to have played down Russell's reaction to his scheme of monastic isolation:

He had dreaded talking to Russell about it - fearing that Russell might be unpleasant and think him a silly ass: but nothing of the sort seems to have happened. [DP diary (Mon 6/10/1913), p86]

The next day Pinsent took Wittgenstein into the city centre to shop for suitable clothing. It is hard to imagine a more incongruous sight than that of Ludwig Wittgenstein wandering through the Bullring with bags of clothes. There was an outlet of Oswald Bailey on the corner of High Street and Moor Street, perhaps he went there to be kitted out for his next Norwegian adventure.

October 1913 was an important time for the Pinsents. Hume retired, allegedly to avoid being made vice-chancellor of Birmingham University [INTRO TO DIARY, pXII], and the family were due to move to Foxcombe Hill, Oxfordshire. Impending elections in November had forced Ellen to step down from her seat on Birmingham City Council earlier in October to prevent a clash with the resulting by-election in her Edgbaston ward. It was much to her regret that she was cutting ties with the city. And so it would have been if the First World War had not intervened. Her main area of concern on the council was the special schools subcommittee which she chaired. Since her conversion to the eugenics movement, the provision of mental health care had been her political focus. As a young married woman she had embarked on a career as a novelist. Amongst the four novels which she had written was Job Hildred, about a mentally ill artist. From 1904 to 1908 she sat on the royal commission for 'the care and control of the feeble minded' and had campaigned for the Mental Deficiency Act which had passed in July of 1913 with only three votes against it. One of those was cast by Josiah Wedgwood IV who made an astonishing 150 speeches in 3 days only sustained on barley water and chocolate. The effect of this opposition was to impose the condition of being able to look after oneself as a determination of 'fitness'. The Act drove the categories of fit and unfit permanently into the structure of society. Birmingham was not unique to have the lunatic asylum, the workhouse and the prison built back-to-back. There were a variety of levels of existence within this draconian complex, where essentially everyone within its parts, to those outside, were condemned to control, irrationality and silence.

Lordswood House shortly before demolition

To mark the occasion of Hume's retirement, the Pinsents held a lunchtime party at Lordswood House, but David and Wittgenstein managed to avoid much of the festivities. At the house, the Pinsents' player piano was an enjoyable distraction for Wittgenstein, and, as the telephone was out of order, the two friends took a walk to the post office in Harborne in a fruitless attempt to contact Professor A.N. Whitehead, Russell's collaborator on Principia Mathematica. On return it was time for tea after which they performed Schubert in the special way which they had developed over the course of their month-long Norwegian holiday. David Pinsent would play the piano and Wittgenstein would accompany him with his highly accomplished whistling. It is a touching image of a friendship and to imagine this particular performance produces a melancholic feeling when one realises that this was the very last time they did it.

Albert Chambers, 32 Paradise Street (DJ Norton)

Once the incessant ritual of afternoon tea was out of the way, Wittgenstein went off on his own to the Berlitz school of language at 5.30. The school was then located in Albert Chambers, 32 Paradise Street, see above. Perhaps it had been during his one-man protest against Strauss when he stood outside the front of the Town Hall a year previously, that he noticed the Berlitz school on the opposite side of the street, although it appears to have been David's father who arranged for Wittgenstein to dictate in German to a stenographer. 

On Tuesday 7 October 1913, between 6 and 8pm, Wittgenstein put down his work so far in analytical philosophy. The dictation evidently proved cathartic, for when he returned to Lordswood House "he was quite cheerful and in very good form". [p87 DP diary, Tues 7/10/1913]

It was time to see Russell again. The next morning Wittgenstein said his goodbye to David Pinsent at Lordswood House and departed in a taxi for New Street Station, catching the 7.30 to Cambridge. Pinsent noted in his diary:

It was a sad parting from him - but it is possible he may pay a short visit to England next summer... when I may see him again. Our acquaintance has been chaotic but I have been very thankful for it: I am sure he has also. [p88 DP diary, Wed 8/10/1913]

The next summer came, and with it war. Up until the outbreak there were still plans to take another holiday together, possibly to Andorra, despite Pinsent's vow to never go on holiday with Wittgenstein again. They never did see eachother again, the friends were now citizens of two opposing empires. When war broke out Wittgenstein was at home in Vienna, and once he realised that he could not leave Austria to return to Norway or England, he volunteered for the army. The patriotic urge was useful for him to break free of the confinements of an intellectual life and to reappraise the death instinct which was never far from his conscious self.

He told me that all his life there had hardly been a day, in which he had not at one time or other thought of suicide as a possibility. [p81 DP diary, Thurs 25/9/1913]

Troops at New St Station, 4th August 1914

In facing death at the front, he was seeking a transcendental experience. Rather than the ignominy of death by his own hand, the prospect of a heroic death in battle would bring relief from the constant nervous tension Pinsent had witnessed in Norway. That had come about from the co-existence of the intractable problems in logic and of being-in-the-world, with all its sensual frustrations. Insufferably entwined, a corporeal entity and a conscious being had their limits, and this was where Wittgenstein placed himself. Only there could he justify the annoyance he brought upon others, and paradoxically, the suffering he himself endured. The overwhelming need for Wittgenstein to transform himself under the shadow of conflict began to replace his all-consuming drive to solve the underlying problems in logic. Through the 'decent' risk of being a soldier under mass mobilisation, standing shoulder to shoulder in jeopardy with his fellow man, he sought to jettison the baggage of self-destruction as a 'sinful' self-indulgence and transform his relationship to death into something possibly glorious or heroic, i.e. guiltless. With the resolution of the Theory of Types no longer bound to a suicidal failure, the self-imposed pressure could be released. Not coincidently, a strain of mysticism would enter his life and his philosophy under these conditions.

After enlisting, Wittgenstein was sent to an artillery regiment in Kraków. Despite standing shoulder to shoulder with his fellow Austro-Hungarians, the son of one of the richest in the Hapsburg Empire, and a neurotically-focused intellectual, felt nothing but contempt for those around him, with whom, unsurprisingly, he felt little in common. The isolation returned, and with it, notions of suicide. However, relief was at hand in the form of a copy of Tolstoy's Gospel in Brief, which he read again and again. The mystical transformation was beginning and he was starting to feel alive to the world. Through the darkness of war, a light was emerging to guide him, and the more he approached death, the stronger the light. He was leaving the period of isolation of his time at Cambridge and especially in Norway when he had developed a individualistic philosophy of language as ‘an instrument for reporting to oneself, for describing.’ [ANTHONY QUINTON in ‘MEN OF IDEAS: SOME CREATORS OF CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHY’ – BRYAN MAGEE (BBC, 1978), p109]

After graduation from Cambridge, David Pinsent studied law in Birmingham and worked at Pinsent & Co. As his family had moved to Oxfordshire, David took lodgings with Miss Dale a family friend who lived at 105 Harborne Road, Edgbaston, not far from Lordswood House. Today, Miss Dale's former home carries a Blue Plaque, to mark another former resident, the novelist Francis Brett Young. Continuing his studies in law, David Pinsent moved to London to continue his studies and to work with his uncle, Ellen's brother, Robert Parker who had become a Chancery judge. At the outbreak of hostilities, he failed to be enlisted by the army due to his slight build, whereas his younger brother Richard gave up his place at Balliol College and received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was killed in France in October 1915, four months after his deployment. Their cousin Philip had also been killed a few weeks previously. Again David tried to enlist, and again he was refused. He returned to Birmingham and trained as a toolmaker in a local munitions factory before being sent to RAF Farnborough to work in the factory there. Fatefully, some of his Cambridge contemporaries were working there in research and persuaded Pinsent to join them. After the rejections of the army, he was pleased to have found something to which he was so suited in that time of national emergency. Even his slight build was an advantage for the cramped conditions in an observer's cockpit. These experimental flights were risky however, and in 1918 he wrote home in a flimsy attempt to reassure his family:

There are a lot of experiments we've only recently been able to do because the old pilots refused to do them - said they were too dangerous... We've had if anything fewer accidents with these new men than we had with the old lot. Please don't worry. It really is absurdly safe, and I sometimes wish it wasn't quite so safe and then I might feel I was sharing some of the risks of these days. [INTRO TO DP DIARY, PXVII]

David Pinsent in the front observer's seat

On 8 May 1918, David Pinsent and his pilot were investigating the cause of a previous accident when their aircraft broke up in flight. Both were killed. For a while his body was missing until it was found in the canal. On 6 July Ellen wrote to Wittgenstein from Birmingham. With the death of two of his nephews, Hume had come out of retirement to help out at Pinsent  Co. During this time they lived at Little Wick in the grounds of Selly Wick House, the home of Hume's brother, founder of the family business. Although Little Wick was demolished when the land was developed, Selly Wick House still stands today in use as offices. It was one of a number of large mid-Victorian houses built across Selly Hill by a series of small lakes. The others included Highfield which, unfortunately, was demolished in 1984. Just over a decade after Ellen wrote to Wittgenstein to inform him of David's death, Highfield was to become a centre of Birmingham's cultural and bohemian life. In her letter to Wittgenstein, Ellen Pinsent consoles him by acknowledging the depth of feeling of her son for his friend:

I want to tell you how much he loved you and valued your friendship up to the last. I saw him the day before he was killed and we talked of you. He spoke of you always with great affection. [p108 DP diary, letter EP to LW 6/7/1918]

When Wittgenstein received the news of his friend's death, he was overcome with suicidal feelings of despair. Fortunately he was at home on leave and was taken in by his uncle Paul. He was also putting the finishing touches to the first manuscript of the Tractatus. He replied to Ellen Pinsent:

David was my first and my only friend. I have indeed known many young men of my own age and have been on good terms with some, but only in him did I find a real friend, the hours I have spent with him have been the best in my life, he was to me a brother and a friend. [p108-9 DP diary, letter LW to EP, not dated]



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Magee, Bryan: Men of Ideas - Some Creators of Contemporary Philosophy, (BBC, 1978)
McGuinness, Brian Wittgenstein: A Life, Young Ludwig 1889-1921 (Penguin, 1990)
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von Wright, G.H. (ed.), A Portrait of Wittgenstein as a Young Man From the Diary of David Hume Pinsent 1912-1914, (Blackwell, 1990)

Waugh, Alexander: The House of Wittgenstein - A Family at War, (Bloomsbury, 2008) ppbk 2009