In Search of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Secluded Hut in Norway: A Short Travel Film

If you like phi­los­o­phy and road trip­ping, then you’ll want to put Wittgen­stein in Nor­way in your YouTube queue. Post­ed this month by Kirsten Dirk­sen, the short film takes through the beau­ti­ful coun­try­side of Nor­way, in search of the hut where Lud­wig Wittgen­stein exiled him­self from soci­ety from time to time, first start­ing in 1913. Dirk­sen gives this pref­ace to the film:

Over 100 years ago, philoso­pher Lud­wig Wittgen­stein went to the fjords of Nor­way to escape the schol­ar­ly world of Cam­bridge. His for­mer teacher Bertrand Rus­sell wrote, “I said it would be lone­ly, and he said he pros­ti­tut­ed his mind talk­ing to intel­li­gent peo­ple.”

Not con­tent with sim­ply mov­ing to the iso­la­tion of rur­al Nor­way- at the end of the Sogne­fjord (the deep­est and sec­ond longest fjord)- Wittgen­stein built his hut across the lake and halfway up a moun­tain from the near­est town (Skjold­en). Mea­sur­ing just 7 by 8 meters, the small cab­in dubbed “Lit­tle Aus­tria” (his native coun­try) became his home on and off through­out his life (his longest stay here was 13 months).

Wittgen­stein was flee­ing the dis­trac­tions and inter­rup­tions of a more social lifestyle and hop­ing to con­front only his own thoughts. “Who­ev­er is unwill­ing to descend into him­self,” he wrote, “because it is too painful, will of course remain super­fi­cial in his writ­ing.’” He wrote some of his most impor­tant work here (a pre­cur­sor to his “Trac­ta­tus Logi­co-Philo­soph­i­cus” and some of his “Philo­soph­i­cal Inves­ti­ga­tions”).

Today all that remains of his hut are its stone foun­da­tion and a very faint hik­ers trail up the moun­tain, though some Nor­we­gians are try­ing to change this. Artists Mar­i­anne Bre­desen, Sebas­t­ian Makon­nen Kjølaas and Siri Hjorth (in col­lab­o­ra­tions with the Wittgen­stein Soci­ety in Skjold­en and fund­ed by Pub­lic Art Nor­way) threw an all-expens­es-paid vaca­tion to bring fel­low Oslo res­i­dents to the ruin. Inspired by Wittgenstein’s argu­ment that “philo­soph­i­cal prob­lems arise when lan­guage goes on hol­i­day”, they are call­ing their art hol­i­day “Wittgen­stein on Vaca­tion”. For part one, they enter­tained their guests with a week­end of lec­tures, meals and a Wittgen­stein inter­pre­ta­tion at the site of his cab­in. We cap­tured some of the show on our own jour­ney to this dis­ap­pear­ing piece of his­to­ry.

Oth­er videos about sim­ple liv­ing, self-suf­fi­cien­cy, small homes, and philoso­phies of life can be found on Dirk­sen’s YouTube chan­nel.

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Relat­ed Cours­es:

Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es

Lud­wig Wittgenstein’s Short, Strange & Bru­tal Stint as an Ele­men­tary School Teacher

Lud­wig Wittgenstein’s Trac­ta­tus Gets Adapt­ed Into an Avant-Garde Com­ic Opera

Wittgen­stein and Hitler Attend­ed the Same School in Aus­tria, at the Same Time (1904)

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Comments (2)
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  • travelyne says:

    I real­ly love this post. Thanks for your shar­ing. Hope that I could read more and more use­ful arti­cle like this. Keep­ing mov­ing for­ward!! <3

  • Rosanna says:

    A spir­i­tu­al friend like Wittgen­stein would nev­er choose to leave a mark behind that could be con­vert­ed into a shrine to mass con­scious­ness, so here we are at his tiny retreat, won­der­ing how, if to applaud his efforts. I am one with his heart entire­ly. It’s an illog­i­cal quest to trav­el so far and get so few rewards from it, but he seemed to thrive on obscu­ri­ty like this. Mean­ing elud­ed him, great strength was all he had left at the end to over­come his need to know any more about the nature of life. It is entire­ly sat­is­fy­ing to know him there.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.