Wittgenstein Conferences

We can only hope that digital media and Skype will never replace the face-to-face engagement of conferences.  Not just the talks and moderated discussions, but the informal conversations and connections afterwards.  Here are some conferences I organized or attended:

This is the conference program for my conference "Wittgenstein: Biography & Philosophy" held in March 1999 in Blacksburg:















As part of the conference I arranged for Derek Jarman's film "Wittgenstein" to be shown at the local theatre:



















The cover of the conference program was intended to be a Galtonian composite of photos of Wittgenstein.  This was the best we could do:
















I wanted to use something like this for the cover of the book that came out of the conference, published by Cambridge.  But instead they comissioned a drawing by James F. Brisson.  He was kind enough to give me the rights to his original drawing:


















Given the paucity of Wittgenstein scholars generally, and the fact that they mostly live in Europe rather than in the US, I decided to have a "working conference" in 2007 where I invited all the Wittgenstein scholars I could find in Virginia and the contiguous states.  The idea was not to gather the best and the brightest, but to find who was working on Wittgenstein in this area, and create a community that could get together to discuss work-in-progress on a regular basis.  Here is the program for the first Regional Working Conference on Wittgenstein, in Blacksburg:

Regional Working Conference on Wittgenstein

Virginia Tech Philosophy Department Spring Conference

Thursday, April 12: Hawthorn Suites, 1020 Plantation Rd., Blacksburg, VA
8-9:30pm.        Heather Gert (UNC, Greensboro): “Wittgenstein on the concept of a rule”

Friday, April 13: Hawthorn Suites, 1020 Plantation Rd., Blacksburg, VA 
8:45-10:15am.  Miriam McCormick (U. of Richmond): “Wittgenstein and necessary beliefs”
10:30-noon.     William Brenner (Old Dominion U.): “Wittgenstein’s ‘Kantian Solution’”

Lunch for participants

2-3:30pm.        James Klagge (Virginia Tech): Das Erlösende Wort: ‘Genug’”
3:45-5:15pm.   Susan Sterrett (Duke University): Wittgenstein and Aeronautics

Dinner for participants

Saturday, April 14: Torgersen Hall 1000, Virginia Tech Campus

9-10:30am.      David Cerbone (West Virginia U.): “Wittgenstein and Idealism”
10:45-12:15.    Meredith Williams (Johns Hopkins): “Wittgenstein’s Paradox of Consciousness”

Lunch for participants

2:15-3:45pm.   James Peterman (U. of the South): “Wittgensteinian Thoughts about Moral Particularism”
4-5:30pm.        Christopher Hoyt (Western Carolina U.): "On the Very Idea of a Third Wittgenstein"

Conference Buffet/Reception: Hillcrest Hall, Virginia Tech Campus
7:30-10:30pm.   All invited.

Sunday, April 15: Hawthorn Suites, 1020 Plantation Rd., Blacksburg, VA

8:45-10:15am.  Duncan Richter (VMI): "Did Wittgenstein Disagree with Heidegger?"
10:30-11am.    Final Thoughts: “Tell them I’ve had a wonderful conference.” 


Since then we have met about every 18 months in various locations in this region.  It has turned out to be a very supportive group with a somewhat rotating membership, numbering about a dozen at each workshop.  In April 2018 we had our 8th gathering.

I have been to only two of the annual Austrian Wittgenstein Conferences in Kirchberg--in 1999 and 2009.  Here is a photo from my presentation in 2009.  Given the view in the background, it is hard to see how folks could manage to pay attention to the speakers!









In 2015 there were two conferences devoted to forthcoming publications of notes of Wittgenstein's lectures.  Since that is a sort of specialty of mine, I was lucky to be invited to both.  There was the Colloquium on Wittgenstein’s Whewell’s Court Lectures, Klagenfurt, Austria, March 2015, where I gave a talk on Wittgenstein's thought experiment about seeds; and the Obermann Summer Seminar on Moore's Lecture Notes, University of Iowa, May 2015, where I am pictured with Brian Rogers (l) and Tom Baldwin (r).










Here is a picture of all the assembled Wittgenstein fans at the Obermann conference:









2016 was the centenary of G.H. von Wright's birth.  While I never met the man, I corresponded with him extensively and was honored to be included in this celebration von Wright and Wittgenstein in Cambridge: von Wright Centenary Symposium, Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, September 2016, where I gave the talk “Wittgenstein and von Wright on Goodness."  And here is the assembled multitude of Wittgenstein and von Wright fans at Strathaird House.










In 2019 I attended the conference Culture and Value after Wittgenstein, held at Queen's College, Oxford.  I gave opening remarks on "The Cultural Impact of the Tractatus" and got lots of good suggestions.