Blue and Brown Books

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The Blue and Brown Books
Author Ludwig Wittgenstein
Country England
Language English
Subject Philosophy of language, logic
Publisher Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
Publication date
1958 (unofficially available from 1935)

The Blue and Brown Books are two sets of notes taken during lectures conducted by Ludwig Wittgenstein between 1933 and 1935. They were mimeographed as two separated books and a few copies were circulated in a restricted circle during Wittgenstein's lifetime.[1] The lecture notes from 1933–4 were bound in blue cloth and the notes dictated in 1934–5 were bound in brown. Rush Rhees published them together for the first time in 1958 as Preliminary Studies for the "Philosophical Investigations".[2]

Inchoate versions of many of the ideas that would later be more fully explored in the Philosophical Investigations are found there, so they offer textual evidence for the genesis of what became known as Wittgenstein's later philosophy.[1]

The Blue Book[edit]

The Blue Book was dictated between 1933 and 1934, and contains certain themes unaddressed in Wittgenstein's later works, including deliberations on thinking as operating with signs. An early conception of what would later become known as language-games is present in the text, which represents the first period of Wittgenstein's thought after 1932, a method of linguistic analysis which would later become ordinary language philosophy.

The Brown Book[edit]

During the academic year 1934–5 Wittgenstein dictated to Francis Skinner and Alice Ambrose a text of which three copies were typed and bound. Later it became known as 'the Brown book'. Wittgenstein contemplated publishing and attempted a German revision, but ultimately abandoned the project as worthless.[2]


  1. ^ a b Grayling, A. C., Wittgenstein: A Very Short Introduction (1988) Oxford University Press ISBN 0192854119
  2. ^ a b Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Preliminary Studies for the "Philosophical Investigations", Generally known as The Blue and Brown Books, (1958) Blackwell Publishers Ltd.