Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sraffa - An Interesting Guy

The previous post is an expansion on an Usenet post of mine. I received the following reply from "JimF":

Sraffa was, apparently, a rather interesting guy. Keep in mind that Wittgenstein picked him out for a special acknowlegement in his Philosophical Investigations as someone who impacted his own thinking. So Sraffa had close connections to at least two major 20th century thinkers. And since in addition to Sraffa, Wittgenstein had close ties to a number of other Marxists including Maurice Dobb, Christopher Hill, Maurice Cornforth etc., etc., it would be interesting to explore what effects these people might have had on Wittgenstein's later thought.

I hadn't know about Wittgenstein's ties to these other Marxists. I think Wittgenstein found communism attractive on something like aesthetic grounds. This attraction might be related to the impulse that led Wittgenstein to live in a hut in Norway and to later give all his money away.

Anyways, I had already looked for mp3s about Wittgenstein before reading JimF's post. I found a couple of songs, of which only one was somewhat to my taste, namely Kenneth Goldsmith Sings Wittgenstein.

How did Sraffa affect Wittgenstein? And how are these philosophical concerns related to Sraffa's economics? I think there is too little documentation to provide a convincing answer to these questions. But there is a literature. I suppose the most prominent recent article is:

Sen, Amartya (2003). "Sraffa, Wittgenstein, and Gramsci", Journal of Economic Literature, V. 41, N. 4 (Dec.): 1240-1255.

Maybe I'll sometime provide a reference list on this topic.

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