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Georg Henrik von Wright

Born June 14, 1916, Helsinki. Died June 16, 2003, Helsinki.

Master of Arts (Philosophy) 1937, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1941, Doctor of Philosophy, 1953, University of Helsinki
Master of Arts, University of Cambridge, 1948

Chancellor, Åbo Akademi, 1969–1977
Member, Academy of Finland, 1961–1986, President, 1968–1970
Professor at Large, Cornell University, 1965–1977
Professor of Philosophy, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, 1948–1951
(Acting) Professor of Philosophy, Åbo Akademi, 1946–1959
(Swedish-speaking) Professor of Philosophy, University of Helsinki (appointed 1946), 1943–1961
Docent of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, 1943

Several spells as acting professor (Practical and Theoretical Philosophy)
Visiting professor at Cornell University, UCLA in Los Angeles, University of Pittsburgh, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Leipzig University

Research interests:
Philosophical logic, theory and ethics of value, cultural philosophy, philosophy of norms, philosophy of the humanities and philosophy of mind.

Publications, research projects and other academic activities
Posthumous publication of Wittgenstein’s works, and related research

Awards and honours
Critical European Prize, 2002
Tage Danielsson prize, 1998
Selma Lagerlöf literary prize, 1993
First Nordic philosopher to be included in The Library of Living Philosophers series, 1989
Karl Emil Tollander prize, 1987
Swedish Academy’s grand prize, 1986
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Research award, 1986
Swedish Cultural Foundation’s culture prize, 1982
Wihuri International Prize, 1976

Photo:Helsingin yliopistomuseo
Written by Bernt Österman (ed. Tomas Sjöblom)
Translated by John Calton

The von Wright and Wittgenstein Archives

Ludwig Wittgenstein only published one book in his lifetime, the Tractatus. He left his literary estate to Georg Henrik von Wright, Elizabeth Anscombe and Rush Rhees. Wittgenstein’s wish was that the three of them would publish “as they saw fit” a sample of his work.

After Wittgenstein’s death in 1951, von Wright spent over fifty years editing and publishing his late colleague’s writing. And his role in shaping Wittgenstein’s contribution to philosophy has proved decisive.

In the 1960s von Wright set up an archive containing copies of nearly the entire Wittgenstein oeuvre. The archive was housed in von Wright’s study in the University of Helsinki’s Metsätalo (‘Forest house’). A substantial part of the correspondence relating to the publication of Wittgenstein’s works form part of the archive. Von Wright bequeathed the archive to the University of Helsinki together with his own literary estate in 2000.

Press cutting preserved in the Von Wright-Wittgenstein archives.​
Press cutting preserved in the Von Wright-Wittgenstein archives.​

Since 2009 the archives have gone under the name the von Wright and Wittgenstein Archives (WWA). It is currently located on the sixth floor of the Metsätalo building, together with the University’s philosophy department. The archive collections have lately increased with further bequests from the von Wright family. The present collection includes unique objects such as Wittgenstein’s walking stick and von Wright’s typewriter.

In recent years the WWA has become increasingly popular. In particular, researchers interested in the posthumous editorial process have made use of the archive. The archive is complemented by the von Wright collection Bibliotheca Wrightiana, which can be found in the Finnish National Library. The collection contains correspondence relating to both his private life and work as well as his personal library. Since 2014 the University has organised the annual Georg Henrik von Wright Lecture, in 2015 delivered by his student Professor Jaakko Hintikka.

 

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