Letters To Wittgenstein

15 October 1923
I had a letter the other day from the waiter in the hotel at Puchberg, containing a bill I had not paid. (It was hardly my fault as the proprietor's son assured me I had paid everything). I sent him a cheque, but I'm afraid he may have some difficulty in cashing it. Would you be so good as to see if it is all right, and if not, let me know and explain the difficulty so that I can solve it if possible by some other method of payment? I'm sorry to trouble you but I don't think it will be much trouble as my cheque ought to do, if he waits till the bank has sent it over here.
I haven't seen Keynes yet to ask him about your degree.
I went to Salome at the Opera in Vienna; it was most beautifully staged and I entirely agree about the Opera House. I stayed in Vienna 5 days and enjoyed myself looking at pictures and buildings.
I haven't started work on numbers yet as I have been busy preparing stuff to teach my women pupils. They pretend to understand more than I expected; but whether they do really, I don't know.
I am sending you my other copy of Tractatus at the same time as this letter.
Russell and his wife have just produced a book on "The Prospects of Industrial Civilisation" and he alone one called "The A.B.C. of the Atom"!
I have been talking to a man who knows Baron von Schrenck Notzing; he had seen the materialisation happening and taken photographs of it which he showed to me; they were astonishing. He is very smart and has detected a lot of very clever frauds but he is sure these things are genuine.
I am afraid the fare from Vienna to London is rather more than I thought. My ticket was Ki,940,000.
I haven't yet found myself out in having forgotten anything you explained to me.
Yours ever

12 November 1923
Thanks for your letter.
I have good news for you. If you will pay a visit to England, there is £50 (=K16,000,000) available to pay your expenses. So do, please, come. I imagine you would prefer to come in your summer holiday, which I think you said was July and August. The disadvantage of that time is that it is vacation in Cambridge, and the time when people in England take their holidays, so that the people you would like to see might be scattered all over the place. It occurred to me that if, as you said was possible, you were leaving your present school at the end of the academic year, you might perhaps leave two months earlier, and come to England for May and June, or longer, or part of those months. The Cambridge summer term is April 22nd to June 13th.
I asked Keynes about your degree, and the position seems to be this. The regulations have changed so that it is no longer possible to obtain a B.A. by keeping six terms and submitting a thesis. Instead you can obtain a Ph.D by 5 years and a thesis. If you could come here for another year, you could probably get permission to count your two previous years and so obtain a Ph.D. But that is the only possibility.
I have not been doing much towards reconstructing mathematics; partly because I have been reading miscellaneous things, a little Relativity and a little Kant, and Frege. I do agree that Frege is wonderful; I enjoyed his critique of the theory of irrationals in the Grundgesetze enormously. I should like to read Ueber die Zahlen des Herrn H. Schubert but haven't yet found a copy only this wonderful advertisement which I'm sure you would like to read again.
"Der Verfasser knüpft seine Betrachtungen an die Darstellung, die Herr Schubert in der Encyklopädie der mathematischen Wissenschaften von den Grundlagen der Arithmetik gegeben hat. Er entdeckt darin eine Methode und ein Prinzip, die vielleicht schon früher von anderen Forschern benutzt, aber, wie es scheint, noch nie als solche besonders in Auge gefasst und ausgesprochen worden sind; die Methode, störende Eigenschaften durch Absehen von ihnen zum Verschwinden zu bringen, und das Prinzip der Nichtunterscheidung des Verschiedenen, wie der Verfasser es nennt, das mit sehr interessanten histrionalen Eigenschaften der Zahlen enge zusammenzuhangen scheint. Indem der Verfasser das Wesen dieser Methode und dieses Prinzips genau in Worte auszusprechen und ihre Tragweite in belles Licht zu setzen sucht, glaubt er den Weg für weiter unabsehbare Fortschritte gebahnt zu haben."
But I am awfully idle; and most of my energy has been absorbed since January by an unhappy passion for a married woman, which produced such psychological disorder, that I nearly resorted to psychoanalysis, and should probably have gone at Christmas to live in Vienna for 9 months and be analysed, had not I suddenly got better a fortnight ago, since when I have been happy and done a fair amount of work.
I think I have solved all problems about finite integers, except such as are connected with the axiom of infinity, but I may well be wrong. But it seems to me too difficult to discuss by post, except that perhaps when I get an account of it written out I will send it to you. I wish you were here; do come in the Summer. Have you noticed the difficulty in expressing without = what Russell expresses by (∃x):fx.x=a ?
I am reading The Brothers Karamazov, I think the scene described by Ivan between Christ and the Inquisitor is magnificent.
Yours ever

Has Ogden sent you my review of Tractatus in Mind? if not, and you would like it I will send it to you, but it is not at all good and you must remember I wrote it before coming to see you.

20 December 1923
Thanks for your letter; I'm sorry you have been ill and depressed.
First, the £50 belong to Keynes. He asked me not to say so straight away because he was afraid you might be less likely to take it from him than from an unknown source, as he has never written to you. I can't understand why he hasn't written, nor can he explain, he says he must have some "complex" about it. He speaks of you with warm affection and very much wants to see you again. And also, apart from that, if you would like to come to England he would not like you to be unable to for want of money, of which he has plenty.
I quite understand your fear of not being fit for society, but you musn't give it much weight. I could get lodgings in Cambridge and you need not see more of people than you like or feel able to. I can see that staying with people might be difficult as you would inevitably be with them such a lot, but if you lived by yourself you could come into society gradually.
I don't want you to take this as endorsing your fear of boring or annoying people, for I know I myself want to see you awfully, but I just want to say that if you have such a fear surely it would be all right if you were not staying with anyone but lived alone at first.
I don't know how long you could live here on the £50, but I am sure it would be long enough to make it worth while for you to come.
I think Frege is more read now; two great mathematicians Hilbert and Weyl have been writing on the foundations of mathematics and pay compliments to Frege, appear in fact to have appreciated him to some extent. His unpopularity would naturally go as the generation he criticised dies.
I was silly to think I had solved those problems. I'm always doing that and finding it a mare's nest. (Moore does the same.) I will write to you about it soon at length, but I am afraid you will think my difficulties silly. I didn't think there was a real difficulty about ∃x : fx.x=a ie that it was an objection to your theory of identity, but I didn't see how to express it, because I was under the silly delusion that if an x and an a occurred in the same proposition the x could not take the value a. I had also a reason for wanting it not to be possible to express it. But I will try to explain it all in about a fortnight from now, because it ought to help me to get dearer about things, and you may be able to put me right and may be interested. If I had anything of importance to say you would, I know, be interested, but I don't think I have.
I have been trying a lot to prove a proposition in the Mengenlehre either 2À0 = À1, or 2À0À1, which it is no one knows but I have had no success.
I made the acquaintance of your nephew Stonborough, whom I like.
I hear Russell is going to America to lecture. I do hope you are better and no longer depressed and exhausted and will come to England.
Yours ever
Thanks for giving me the expression fa. ⊃ .(∃x,y) . fx . fy : `(∃x)fx.

20 February 1924
Thanks for your letter; except that I think you might enjoy it, I no longer want you to come here this summer, because I am coming to Vienna, for some and perhaps the whole of it! I can't say exactly when or for how long, but very likely, next month, so I shall hope to see you quite soon now.
This is for various reasons: I hope to settle permanently in Cambridge, but as I have always lived here, I want to go away for a time first, and have the chance now for six months. And if I live in Vienna I can learn German, and come and see you often, (unless you object) and discuss my work with you, which would be most helpful. Also I have been very depressed and done little work, and have symptoms so closely resembling some of those described by Freud that I shall probably try to be psychoanalysed, for which Vienna would be very convenient, and which would make me stay there the whole six months. But I'm afraid you won't agree with this.
Keynes still means to write to you; it really is a disease - his procrastination; but he doesn't (unlike me) take such disabilities so seriously as to go to Freud! He very much hopes you will come and see him.
I haven't seen Johnson for a long time but I am going to tea with his sister soon, and unless he is ill I will give him your love (last time I went there he was ill). The third part of his Logic is to be published soon. It deals with Causation.
I am so sorry you are using up all your strength struggling with your surroundings; it must be terribly difficult with the other teachers. Are you staying on in Puchberg? When I saw you, you had some idea of leaving if it got too impossible, and becoming a gardener.
I can't write about work, it is such an effort when my ideas are so vague, and I'm going to see you soon. Anyhow (?) I have done little except, I think, made out the proper solution rather in detail of some of the contradictions which made Russell's Theory of Types unnecessarily complicated, and made him put in the Axiom of Reducibility. I went to see Russell a few weeks ago, and am reading the manuscript of the new stuff he is putting into the Principia. You are quite right that it is of no importance; all it really amounts to is a clever proof of mathematical induction without using the axiom of reducibility. There are no fundamental changes, identity just as it used to be. I felt he was too old: he seemed to understand and say "yes" to each separate thing, but it made no impression so that 3 minutes afterwards he talked on his old lines. Of all your work he seems now to accept only this: that if is nonsense to put an adjective where a substantive ought to be which helps in his theory of types.
He indignantly denied ever having said that vagueness is a characteristic of the physical world.
He has 2 children now and is very devoted to them. I liked him very much. He does not really think The Meaning of Meaning important, but he wants to help Ogden by encouraging the sale of it. He wrote a review of it, from which the quotation you saw was taken, in a political weekly.
I had a long discussion with Moore the other day, who has grasped more of your work than I should have expected.
I'm sorry I'm not getting on better with the foundations of mathematics; I have got several ideas but they are still dim.
I hope you are well, and as happy as you can be under the circumstances. It gives me great pleasure that probably I shall see you soon.
Yours ever

Mahlerstrasse 7/27
Wien I
15 September 1924
I wonder if it would be convenient to you if I came to Puchberg to see you next week end ie the 20th. Please say frankly whether you would be bored or pleased to see me. I don't much want to talk about mathematics as I haven't been doing much lately.
I had a letter from Ogden with a large enclosure for you from an American business man, who patronisingly thinks your book not so bad and sends you some stuff of his own, which I will bring or send. There's nothing in it.
Ogden also asked me to get from you, if possible, while I was here any corrections in case there should be a second edition of your book. (This is not really likely.) I have got marked in my copy a lot of corrections we made to the translation, and 4 extra propositions you wrote in English. Obviously I think the corrections to the translation should be made in a new edition, and the only doubt is about the extra propositions; and also you might have something else you would like altered. But it isn't worth while taking much trouble about it yet as a second edition is unlikely. It is merely, I think, that Ogden thought that it might save possible future correspondence for us to talk about it now.
I am here till October 3rd. I don't know if I knew when I last saw you or told you that I have been made a fellow and lecturer in mathematics at King's starting with this coming term.
Yours ever

In: Letters to C. K. Ogden with comments on the English translation of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and an appendix of letters by Frank Plumpton Ramsey (edited by G. H. von Wright). Boston 1983, pp.77-87