Georg Henrik von Wright

Georg Henrik von Wright
Born 14 June 1916
Helsinki, Finland
Died 16 June 2003(2003-06-16) (aged 87)
Helsinki, Finland
Alma mater University of Helsinki
(1934–1937, 1939–1941;
PhD, 1941)
University of Cambridge
(1939; no degree)
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Analytic philosophy
Institutions University of Cambridge
University of Helsinki
Cornell University
Main interests
Modal logic, philosophy of action, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science

Georg Henrik von Wright (Swedish: [ˈjeːɔrj ˈhɛnːrɪk fɔnˈvrɪkːt], 14 June 1916 16 June 2003) was a Finnish philosopher, who succeeded Ludwig Wittgenstein as professor at the University of Cambridge. He published in English, Finnish, German, and Swedish, having belonged to the Swedish-speaking minority of Finland. Von Wright was of both Finnish and 17th-century Scottish ancestry.[1]


Von Wright's writings come under two broad categories. The first is analytic philosophy and philosophical logic in the Anglo-American vein. His 1951 books, An Essay in Modal Logic and Deontic Logic, were landmarks in the postwar rise of formal modal logic and its deontic version. He was an authority on Wittgenstein, editing his later works. He was the leading figure in the Finnish philosophy of his time, specializing in philosophical logic, philosophical analysis, philosophy of action, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and the close study of Charles Sanders Peirce.

The other vein in von Wright's writings is moralist and pessimist. During the last twenty years of his life, under the influence of Oswald Spengler, Jürgen Habermas and the Frankfurt School's reflections about modern Rationality, he wrote prolifically. His best known article from this period is entitled The Myth of Progress, and it questions whether our apparent material and technological progress can really be considered "progress".

In the last year of his life, among his other honorary degrees, he held an honorary degree at the University of Bergen.[2]


Von Wright's home on Laivurinkatu street, Helsinki: a commemorative plaque marking his long-term residence in the house was fixed to the outer wall in 2006.

Von Wright edited posthumous publications by Wittgenstein, which were published by Blackwell (unless otherwise stated):

Von Wright also edited extracts from the diary of David Pinsent, also published by Blackwell:


  1. "Georg Wrightin jälkeläisiä" (PDF). Retrieved April 24, 2009.
  2. "Nytt om navn". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). 17 January 2002. p. 14.
  3. von Wright Georg Henrik. The logical problem of induction. Acta philosophica fennica, vol. 3. Societas Philosophica, Helsinki. Distributed by Akateeminen Kirjakauppa, Helsinki (Helsingfors) 1941, 258 pp.


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