In The Broom of the System, David Foster Wallace uses the eponymous broom to illustrate Ludwig Wittgenstein’s notion that words do not have meaning in and of themselves. Wittgentstein’s former student Lenore Beadsman asks her granddaughter Lenore Beadsman “which part of the broom [is] more elemental, more fundamental, in my opinion, the bristles or the handle” (149). When Lenore Jr. chooses the bristles, Beadsman sagely exclaims: “’Aha, that’s because you want to sweep with the broom… And that if what we wanted a broom for was to break windows, then the handle was clearly the fundamental essence of the broom… Meaning as fundamentalness. Fundamentalness as use. Meaning as Use. Meaning as use” (150). The meaning of the broom depends entirely upon what its function is in a given context.
- Review of P. Coffey's Science of Logic (1913): a polemical book review, written in 1912 for the March 1913 issue of the The Cambridge Review when Wittgenstein was an undergraduate studying with Russell. The review is the earliest public record of Wittgenstein's philosophical views.
- Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922/1923), German text and Ogden-Ramsey translation
- Some Remarks on Logical Form
- Cambridge (1932–3) lecture notes
- The Blue Book
- Lecture on Ethics
- (A Few) Remarks
- On Certainty