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O. K. Bouwsma
Edited by J. L. Craft and R. E. Hustwit





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Oets Kolk Bouwsma taught philosophy at the University of Nebraska from 1928 until 1965 and the University of Texas from 1965 until 1977. His greatest influence came, not so much through his humorously and finely written essays, but through the many graduate students he trained in his unique style of exploring the borderlands of sense and nonsense in philosophical sentences. Although he wrote incessantly and presented numerous papers, he published only one book toward the end of his career – a co...






“Today I took another walk with W. over Taughannock Gorge. As we sat, he said he had come to see little by little that life was not what it seemed to be. He was silent for a few minutes. Then he said, “You see, in the city the streets are well laid out. And you drive right, and you have lights at intersections, and so on. There are rules. When you leave town, there are still roads, but no lights. And when you go further, there are no more roads, no more lights, no more rules, nothing to guide you. There are only the woods left. And when you come back to town, you can get the feeling that the rules are wrong, that there should be no rules, and so on. ” This didn’t enlighten me much. Later on, as we walked, he said, “That may be summed up this way. If you have a light, I would tell you, "Follow it."May be good. ” »

In the last two years of his life, Wittgenstein became friends with O.K. Bouwsma. The American philosopher regularly recorded their conversations in the form of notes. It is unusual to witness the emergence of a philosopher’s ideas.

Here we discover Wittgenstein among his relatives, we see him react to what they say, to everyday events: on the spot, he would engage in close discussions, improvise a conceptual analysis, or dispel confusion by means of a formula, an image.

An ardent Wittgenstein disciple, Bouwsma has done more than meticulously gather some of the philosopher's last reflections on morality, religion, or literature: he has taken us into the factory of his thoughts. 


“Gives an extraordinarily intimate insight into what Wittgenstein was like as a human being. . . . These notes . . . capture Wittgenstein’s outlook on morality and religion, and reveal some of his personal problems.”      —Alice Ambrose Lazerowitz, Smith College “Remarkable how well Bouwsma understood Wittgenstein’s approach to philosophical problems and how intelligently he was able to recount Wittgenstein’s discussions. The bits about sensation are especially good. And the asides about the other philosophers—e.g. Dewey, Russell, Anscombe—are, while not frivolous, gossipy and titillating.”      —Riley Wallihan, Western Oregon University