Kirchberg am Wechsel

In April 2001 an Austrian newspaper published an article titled „The philosopher, the cave, and the bats“ referring to Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Herrmannshöhle (Herman’s Cave) near Kirchberg am Wechsel and its bats. It is common to link Wittgenstein to Kirchberg am Wechsel and its neighbouring St. Corona, but it is still rather batty.

For he never spent much time in either town. And he certainly never taught there and only visited these places on rare occasions.

Nevertheless, searching the internet you will come across learned pages claiming that Wittgenstein spent some time as a teacher in Kirchberg, or even that he was born there. In 2000, a local newspaper announced that he (still) participates in Kirchberg’s philosophical symposia. He would have been 111 years old by then.

Wittgenstein visited Kirchberg’s church once with his pupils to have them sing and experience the building’s acoustics. At another time he reluctantly participated in a conference of the committee of primary schools of the Feistritz-Valley. The conference wasn’t a big success and Wittgenstein kept mum while his colleagues debated pedagogical strategies. On his way home, Wittgenstein promised himself never again to waste time at a similar gathering, which seemed to him a perfect example of a nonsensical event.

These instances would hardly qualify Kirchberg to stand for any kind of Wittgenstein-landscape. But being the home of the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society (ALWS) and thus the location for International Wittgenstein Symposia ever since 1976 are reasons enough.