[Marxism] Wittgenstein, Sraffa, Gramsci [Was: Latest from Rosa Lichtenstein concerning Wittgenstein]

Jeff Rubard jeffrubard at gmail.com
Tue Sep 3 21:41:36 MDT 2013

Re: Wittgenstein and revolutionaries, here one data point in 20th-century
intellectual history which should be quite "accessible" to leftists, even
if they haven't quite thought about it this way. In the Preface to his
major later work *Philosophical Investigations*, Wittgenstein credits
conversations with "P. Sraffa" as the most important stimulus for the book
(outweighing even the influence of the brilliant Frank Ramsey, who made
many contributions to philosophy and mathematical logic before perishing in
his 27th year).

This would be the redoubtable Piero Sraffa, the Italian socialist
economist and editor of the critical edition of Ricardo's works, who *also*
opened an account to pay for the books his other friend Antonio Gramsci
commented on in the *Prison Notebooks* (people are aware the Prison
Notebooks are online in Italian in their entirety at "GramsciSource",
right?) Two geniuses separated by only one link, and if Heidegger showed up
in the early postwar period talking about Marx and the nature of human
action we might assess them joint responsibility for this fashionable

Another piece of info I recently put together about another much-discussed
figure, though with a bitterer aftertaste: literary critic Paul De Man, who
was "outed" after his death as a Nazi collaborator and became far more
notorious than he had been as an eminent admirer of Derrida, was the nephew
of Henri De Man, the famous Belgian socialist who urged former Second
Internationalists to collaborate with fascism. Not quite excusable, but
this background to De Man's "youthful follies" seems lost knowledge --
Fredric Jameson mentions the connection without examining H. De Man's
apostasy, and I think Tony Judt mentions uncle without nephew in *Postwar*,
but you don't see them together right on the page.

Jeff Rubard

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