Friday, June 15, 2007

A fact about the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein # 3

"Of all the animals," Wittgenstein wrote to his sister Helene from the Western Front, "surely the moth is the most perfect. I disdain the company of the other soldiers. God, they are less than vermin! But when a friendly moth flutters by my night-lamp, my heart warms. I put down my book and regard it's beautiful movements. When one alights on me, I cannot forget its touch for hours. Oh, it is the only thing that can ease this loneliness!"

Wittgenstein was obsessed with moths for the rest of his life: Soon after leaving the military in 1919 he proposed a method of telegraphic communication based on the fluttering of moth antennae, based on his view that moths had psychic powers. He wrote an unpublished monograph in 1923 encouraging the rearing of moths to cure depression. The first edition of The Philosophical Investigations was even dedicated to Actias luna, the Luna Moth, or, as Wittgenstein dubbed it, the "Queen of Language". This dedication has been expunged from the book's subsequent editions.

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