Ludwig Wittgenstein spent some of the most productive periods
of his life in isolation in a little cabin beside a narrow Norwegian
Drawing by THREE from a photograph of
Wittgenstein taken by Knut Erik Tranøy in Cambridge
When he died in Cambridge in 1951 the Austrian philosopher had
only produced a single work of philosophy, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
But although he published little, he wrote a great deal. Wittgenstein
left nearly 20000 pages of unpublished manuscripts - the Nachlass
- of which less than a third has been published in book form.
Norwegian editing of the posthumous manuscripts started with
the launch of the Norwegian Wittgenstein Project in 1981. When
this project was forced to abandon its work in 1987, the Wittgenstein
Archive was established in 1990 at the University of Bergen. The
Archive is now located in the HIT Centre (Research Programme for
Information Technology in the Humanities) and is a joint venture
of the Department of Philosophy andHIT.
Wittgenstein was extremely self-critical and he often rewrote
his manuscripts over and over again. They are full of crossings-out,
corrections, alternatives and additions. In order to reproduce
the texts as completely and accurately as possible, the Wittgenstein
Archive has developed its own registration standard - a coding
system. It has also developed special software that allows the
coding system to be utilised in presenting and analysing the texts.
The task of producing a machine-readable version of the posthumous
manuscripts of Wittgenstein (the Nachlass) was completed in 2000,
when the Wittgenstein Archive, in collaboration with the Wittgenstein
Trustees and the Oxford University Press, published "Wittgenstein's
Nachlass. The Bergen Electronic Edition".
Great interest in Wittgenstein
The Archive recently received a positive response from the European
Commission to its application for RI status. This is probably
the first time that a humanities project has been awarded RI status.
Over a period of two and a half years the EU will provide 165,433
Euros (about NOK 1.3 million) of support for research in the Archive.
This will mean that about 30 visiting students of Wittgenstein
will receive fellowships to visit the Wittgenstein Archive.
"This will enable a large number of young researchers to come
to Bergen during the next three years to use the Wittgenstein
Archive, and raise academic awareness of Bergen as a centre of
Wittgenstein research. This means that the Archive will not simply
lie here gathering dust, but will be actively used", says Jan
Petter Myklebust, director of the University of Bergen's International
There is a great deal of interest in Wittgenstein both in Europe
and in other parts of the world. More than 5000 researchers claim
that Wittgenstein is their primary field of interest. European
researchers will now be invited to apply for research fellowships.
A committee of internationally recognised experts in the fields
of information technology and philosophy will choose the successful
Claus Huitfeldt, head of the HIT Centre, led the Wittgenstein
Archive from 1990 - 1999.
"We are obviously very pleased about the recognition that is
implicit in being the first humanities to be given RI status,
and that the University is now being rewarded for the important
investments it made in the Wittgenstein Archive during the 90s".
"This support is also important because we can now build up the
active research group that the Wittgenstein Archive needs to develop.
This will also be useful for projects in the field of text technology
in general, both with respect to other electronic editions that
we are involved in, and to research and development in the fields
of text coding and web technology", says Huitfeldt, who emphasises
that it is Alois Pichler, the researcher who now leads the Archive,
who deserves the credit for writing the successful EU application.