What we publish here belongs to the last year and a half of Wittgenstein’s life. In the middle of 1949 he visited the UnitedStates at the invitation of Norman Malcolm, staying at Malcolm’shouse in Ithaca. Malcolm acted as a goad to his interest inMoore’s ‘defence of common sense’, that is to say his claim to
a number of propositions for sure, such as “Here is onehand, and here is another”, and “The earth existed for a long timebefore my birth”, and “I have never been far from the earth’ssurface”. The first of these comes in Moore’s ‘Proof of theExternal World’. The two others are in his ‘Defence of CommonSense’; Wittgenstein had long been interested in these and hadsaid to Moore that this was his best article. Moore had agreed.This book contains the whole of what Wittgenstein wrote on thistopic from that time until his death. It is all first–draft material,which he did not live to excerpt and polish.The material falls into four parts; we have shown the divisions at#65, #192, #299. What we believe to be the first part was writtenon twenty loose sheets of lined foolscap, undated. These Wittgenstein left in his room in G.E.M.Anscombe’s house inOxford, where he lived (apart from a visit to Norway in theautumn) from April 1950 to February 1951. I (G.E.M.A.) am underthe impression that he had written them in Vienna, where hestayed from the previous Christmas until March; but I cannotnow recall the basis of this impression. The rest is in smallnotebooks, containing dates; towards the end, indeed, the date of writing is always given. The last entry is two days before his deathon April 29th 1951. We have left the dates exactly as they appearin the manuscripts. The numbering of the single sections,however, is by the Editors.