Cane, handkerchief and typewriter donated to the University of Helsinki

Elisabeth von Wright, the widow of Georg Henrik von Wright, made a donation of her late husband’s typewriter and two objects that used to belong to the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: his walking cane and the handkerchief used to cover his face after his death.

Cane, handkerchief and typewriter donated to the University of Helsinki

Thomas Wallgren, lecturer of philosophy, describes Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951) as one of the most prominent philosophers of the 20th century, and Georg Henrik von Wright (1916–2003) as his Finnish counterpart. The donation is a valuable addition to the collections of the von Wright and Wittgenstein Archives (WWA) at the University of Helsinki.

– Their input is still extremely topical, for instance in the research of the philosophy of mind. Both were prominent philosophers and versatile cultural personalities. Learning to know their ideas is one of the most interesting tasks one can imagine for philosophy students today, says Wallgren, who oversees the von Wright and Wittgenstein Archives (WWA).

– Today, the most important task of the WWA is to preserve the material as a research resource for the long term, says Wallgren.

The Archives are managed by the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies at the University of Helsinki.

– von Wright’s role as a manager of Wittgenstein’s literary estate is immensely important for the Wittgenstein reception and, consequently, the Wittgenstein research. For the international academic community, the WWA contains absolutely unique and largely unexploited treasures for basic research, such as the bulk of the correspondence relating to the publication of Wittgenstein’s posthumous works.

WWA also manages von Wright’s personal literary estate and is the most important resource for the research in his philosophical writings. According to Wallgren, one can hardly exaggerate the potential of the WWA.

– The WWA has to succeed in listing and describing the material as well as attempt to publish as much as possible of it, so that this unique resource is made accessible and utilised. The third task is to establish outstanding national and international research projects within the fields of philosophy, history of ideas, and the digital humanities, Wallgren continues.

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Text: Karin Hannukainen
Photo: Ari Aalto
Translation: AAC Global
University of Helsinki, digital communications

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