Grazer Philosophische Studien

Volume 49, 1994/95

Investigating Hintikka

Allan Janik
Pages 19-47

How Did Hertz Influence Wittgenstein's Philosophical Development?

In his efforts to demonstrate graphically that alternative modes of presentation of the principles of mechanics could eliminate the difficulties surrounding such problematic notions as "force" in mechanics that tormented scientists and philosophers alike, Heinrich Hertz delivered Ludwig Wittgenstein with a highly original hermeneutic technique, which would influence all of the latter's thinking, and in fact become the cornerstone of his mature philosophical method. All of the features of Wittgenstein's conception of philosophy in fact emerge from his early scientific background only to be complimented and embellished, but in no sense fundamentally altered by his later encounters with the likes of Bertrand Russell, G.E. Moore or Frank Ramsey. The Hertzian origin of Wittgenstein's philosophizing clearly indicates 1) why Wittgenstein was never tempted by positivism and at the same time 2) why he remained a "scientific" philosopher his whole life long and 3) reduce the charges of irrationalism that have been raised against him to absurdity.