The Paradox Box: The Student Book

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Ludwig Wittgenstein was a brilliant, intense, complex man, and this novel, a work of historical fiction but based on fact, explores his early thinking, which led him to publish one of the most important works of logic ever written. The story is told by David Pinsent, a student in mathematics who meets Wittgenstein at Trinity College in Cambridge, England, just before World War I. Despite Wittgenstein's odd mannerisms and difficult personality, David is attracted to him, recognizing his genius immediately and forming a friendship that is as volatile as it is rewarding. Wittgenstein, under the tutelage of the eminent mathematician and philosopher Bernard Russell, has developed a picture theory of meaning to explain human language through the lens of logic, and he is tormented by the idea that he will die before he is able to put it into book form and present it to the world.

Both David and Ludwig are welcomed into the elite intellectual circles at Cambridge, which consist of some of the most notable philosophers, mathematicians, and logicians of the day, including not just Russell but also men like John Maynard Keynes and G.E. Moore, as well as the famous Bloomsbury Set. However, David is troubled by the mysteries that surround Wittgenstein. Ludwig, he learns, has developed an innovative propeller that can be used on a flying bomber, and David finds himself caught up in international intrigue as both England and Germany vie for the design to give them an advantage in the impending war.

But David and Ludwig have become both emotionally and physically intimate, and as war looms, David is forced to confront the role that their forbidden relationship plays in the escalating risks to Wittgenstein's safety. Their story is one of tragedy and inspiration, and it aptly illustrates the deeply human core of philosophical ideas. This novel illuminates and clarifies the complex philosophical, linguistic, and mathematical issues that engaged some of the best thinkers of the early twentieth century.