“Knowledge is in the end based on acknowledgement.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ludwig was the youngest of 9 children born to Karl and Poldi Wittgenstein. The Wittgensteins were “a wealthy industrial family, well-situated in intellectual and cultural Viennese circles.”[Stanford.edu]
Karl Wittgenstein was one of the most successful businessmen in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, leading the iron and steel industry there. The Wittgensteins’ home attracted people of culture, especially musicians, including the composer Johannes Brahms, who was a friend of the family. [UTM.edu]
Young Ludwig was tutored at home for several years before studying mechanical engineering in Berlin, then aeronautical engineering in Manchester. He went to Cambridge and studied under Bertrand Russel working on the philopsohy of pure mathematics and the philosophy and the foundations of logic.
When his father died in 1913 Wittgenstein gave away some of his inheritance. He moved to Skjolden Norway to isolate himself . There he wrote Logik .
When World War One broke out he volunteered with the Austrian Army. He saw heavy action on the Russian front. He was decorated for bravery and military merit.
He was taken captive in 1917 and spent the remaining months of the war at a prison camp. It was during the war that he wrote the notes and drafts of his first important work, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. After the war the book was published in German and translated into English. [Stanford.edu]
After the war he return to home to Vienna. Always eccentric, now Wittgentstein seemed to cross over some invisible line to unstable. This brilliant man whose work in philosophy was revolutionizing the field suddenly wanted to teach elementary school. (Ironic, considering he had never even gone to elementary school.) He went back to college to get a teaching degree, and he went about getting rid of his fortune. Wittgenstein worked as a gardener and then “as elementary school teacher in rural Austria, where his approach was strict and unpopular, but apparently effective.” [UTM.edu]
He returned to Cambridge in 1929 and began to work on philosophy again, he became a professor a decade later. He took a break from teaching during World War II (when he worked in London as a hospital porter and in Newcastle as a research technician) but came back to Cambridge after VE day. In 1947 he decided to work on his writing full-time and he began to amass his Philosophical Investigations , which was published posthumously.
Wittgenstein died of prostate cancer in 1951.