Outline for an Electronic Apparatus

Outline for an Electronic Apparatus

supplementing the WIENER AUSGABE

An electronic apparatus is to supplement, not to duplicate a printed edition: the unmediated access to the text, to an author’s thoughts is best provided in a printed edition, but this access to the text can be vastly enriched by supplementing a print edition with powerful electronic search and sort tools. This part of the apparatus will be freely available on the Internet.

The electronic apparatus supplementing the WIENER AUSGABE is based on an interactive research platform, which will only be accessible to Wittgenstein scholars and their institutions by subscription. In it the complex variant structure of Wittgenstein’s writings, including his decided variants, i.e. his cancellations, which are represented in the print edition of the WIENER AUSGABE, can be studied in a dynamic variant editor, which is also showing the complex transitions of Wittgenstein’s remarks within and between his manuscripts.

This interactive research platform will allow scholars to extend and supplement the edition and its apparatus with their own findings, leading to fast and continuous improvements of the edition itself and of its apparatus, keeping the edition alive as long as it is being used. It will give rise to a lively community of Wittgenstein scholarship and it will create a kind of critical mass of Wittgenstein scholarship, independent of the locality of the individual scholar or institution.

The entrée into the WIENER AUSGABE through its electronic apparatus is a word (or nominal) concordance accessing the text corpus through a lemmatised dictionary followed by a content (or real) concordance interrelating text content. An example for a word concordance is the Konkordanz zu den Bänden 1–5 of the WIENER AUSGABE; the Register zu den Bänden 1–5 is an example for a content concordance. In electronic form these tools can be much extended: Printed concordances are only usable if based on a limited text corpus and the search of a word concordance is limited to one word only while words of importance, often of high frequency, have to be omitted; due to the limitations of printed concordances content relations can only   be presented as lists.

An electronic apparatus has none of these limitations, it allows the search of word groups or words in different combinations like Raum and Zeit or as occurrences of a word or a group of words within a remark, in groups of remarks, in manuscripts or groups of manuscripts or over the complete text corpus.
Search results are first presented by the frequency of their occurrence, which allows alterations of the search criteria until the result matches the expectation.
In this electronic apparatus the text is not represented as a facsimile of the printed edition but in a layout and a typography optimised for the computer screen. The nomenclature of the WIENER AUSGABE: WA-volume number, page number and remark number provides  a  one-to- one relation between the printed text of the WIENER AUSGABE and its representation in the electronic apparatus; the page numbers in the WIENER AUSGABE provide the link to  the underlying manuscripts of the edition. In the electronic apparatus supplementing the WIENER AUSGABE Wittgenstein’s writings are presented either as:

  1. the prime text including open variants and insertions as well as Wittgenstein’s markings of and within his philosophical remarks;
  2. the visual appearance of the source of the text as well as aspects of its genesis;
  3. links to the underlying manuscripts;
  4. links to biographical data and images and to the wider cultural context of the text;
  5. Links to user-commentary under the names of their respective authors;
  6. links to the publications by Wittgenstein’s heirs, to translations and to secondary literature.

Search results are presented in the context of a remark which can be extended to any number of previous and/or following remarks; these can be further be linked to the facsimiles of the underlying manuscripts which are available on the internet; additional links can be provided, for instance, to text translations as well as to content-related commentary and literature.

The word concordance will be supplemented by a concordance of Wittgenstein’s formal notations in mathematics and logic and by a concordance of his graphical notations, of diagrams and objects as well as his illustrations.

The prime tool to study Wittgenstein’s philosophy is a content or real concordance. This tool allows the study of the multitude of interconnections between Wittgenstein’s philosophical thoughts, between remarks within and between manuscripts; this tool enables the scholar to read Wittgenstein’s manuscripts not only in the linear form of his manuscripts and typescripts but also across them and throughout the whole text corpus, representing and approaching topics, arguments and pictures from all sorts of directions and aspects. It is this tool which lays open the organic nature of Wittgenstein’s work: individual manuscripts no longer appear as fragments but as parts of a larger whole, of an organism where every part is related to any other part, where repetitions show themselves as essential to his thinking and writing, as he told his students in a lecture in 1933:

There is a truth in Schopenhauer’s view that philosophy is an organism, and that a book on philosophy, with a beginning and end, is a sort of contradiction. One difficulty with  philosophy is that we lack a synoptic view. We encounter the kind of difficulty we should  have with the geography of a country for which we had no map, or else a map of isolated  bits. The country we are talking about is language, and the geography its grammar. We can walk about the country quite well, but when forced to make a map, we go wrong. A map will show different roads through the same country, any one of which we can take, though not two, just as in philosophy we must take up problems one by one though in fact each problem leads to a multitude of others. We must wait until we come round to the starting point before we can proceed to another section, that is, before we can either treat the problem we first attacked or proceed to another. In philosophy matters are not simple enough for us to say »Let’s get a rough idea«, for we do not know the country except by knowing the connections between the roads. So I suggest repetition as a means of surveying the connections.