There's an element of truth and of dramatic license in the graphic novel. It is, after all, a work of literature rather than reportage. Russell had lost the Christian faith he was brought up in as a young man and displayed all the evangelical fervour of a man converted to a new creed by writing his book, Why I am not a Christian. As metaphysics is closely connected to theology, this explains the disparaging reference to 'metaphysical boosh' in the extract above. But he wasn't so disparaging about Wittgenstein's intense engagement with logic, after all, Russell was a logician himself. Nevertheless, he was taken aback by Wittgenstein's presumption that he had dissolved the 'problems of life' by showing logic could answer all questions that could be meaningfully asked and what was left, the problems of life, were not questions at all. It wasn't Wittgenstein's early philosophy that he had an issue with, but his later philosophy where he ranged further than the limited horizons of his early work (though he said, those limits were the limits of the world).
While Russell was serving four months in Brixton prison in 1918 under The Defense of The Realm Act for a mocking reference to the American Army he wrote a book on mathematical philosophy where he wrote:
The importance of 'tautology' for a definition of mathematics was pointed out to me by my former pupil, Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was working on the problem. I do not know whether he has solved it. Or whether he is dead or alive.
Wittgenstein was indeed working on this problem and had written a small book on this called The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus whilst a soldier in the Austrian army. When he returned to Cambridge, Russell offered to write an introduction and it was this friendly gesture on Russell's part that prompted the publishing of the book - it had Russell's stamp of approval on it. However, when Wittgenstein recieved Russell's introduction on his Tractatus on 9th March 1920, he was disappointed and later said:
There's was so much of it that I'm not quite in agreement with - both where you are critical of me and also where you are simply trying to elucidate my point of view. But that doesn't matter. The future will pass judgement on us ...
Well, one philosopher did in 2016, Mario Bunge, an Argentinian-Canadian philosopher came to the conclusion referred to in the extract above as he recounted in his autobiography, Between Two Worlds: Memoirs of a Philosopher-Scientist. This is because of Wittgenstein's view of mathematics as simply a collection of tautologies given an axiomatic system. Bunge saw this as being obviously wrong.
Now the main reason Bunge was so dismissive of Wittgenstein is partly due to the conventionally held thought that tautologies don't amount to anything. That they are vacuous truths because they hold simply by logical means. This is a view that roughly came about due to the formalist perspective on axiomatic systems. However, Euclid held that his axioms for geometry were actually true. This was affirmed by Descartes who talked about axioms bring based on 'clear and distinct ideas' And whilst his theorems are in a sense tautologies, nevertheless, what Euclid was doing wasn't vacuous. He arranged a great deal of material on geometry on a systematic basis and founded them deductively and it was an enormous source of inspiration to future generations of geometers, physicists and philosophers. To Wittgenstein too - he based his Tractatus on that of Spinoza's and Spinoza's geometric method of rational theology was directly inspired by Euclid.
Rather than thinking of theorems as tautologies let us simply think about theorems. After all, formally they are equivalent! Not any old theorem will do, a good theorem must enlighten and open up new lines of enquiries. In fact, often theorem's do not exist on their own but interlock and many theorems are generalisations of a primordial theorem whose importance has been recognised by tradition and so belong to a family of theorems, one expanding upon another. Others are variations on a theme. Now, let us walk back to the tautology side of this equivalence and see what we have. Well, we have a set of axioms and rules for their 'logical' deduction. So what do we deduce? After all so many deductions are possible, indeed infinitely many. We don't know where to begin. As Euclid already understood, mathematics does not stand apart from the world but bears witness to it - or rather, the world to it. It is what is called the Correspondance Theory of Truth. Wittgenstein clearly states this as proposition Tractatus 4.25:
If an elementary proposition is true then a state of affairs exists; if an elementary proposition is false, then the state of affairs does not exist.
His 'state of affairs' is a fact in the real world and so a proposition is true iff this fact referred to by the proposition is true. He referred to this referencing as it's sinn or sense. A term he borrowed from Frege. A proposition without a sense is not actually a proposition. Thus the propositions of formal mathematics or of formal logic, lacking sense, aren't true propositions. This is why modern logicians call them simply sentences, and the logical system, a grammar, for building sentences. This is not logic as Aristotle conceived of it, as a process of truth preservation, because no truth is being asserted. Instead, modern logicians think of them as a formal language.
Thus, one might think that this has been retrograde step. Once logic was about truth but truth has been emptied out of it. This is not good news for philosophers who are in pursuit of truth - and this explains Bunge's reaction.
But this is only one half of proposition-world divide. And to be fair to Bunge, it's the only side, roughly speaking, that Wittgenstein worked on. The other side was supplied by Godel a decade after the Tractatus was published. He simply realised that we can have a formal world of reference. For example, an axiomatic theory of number, which by the preceding, is simply a syntactic theory and hence not about number, can be shown to actually be about number, by referencing the set of numbers and validating all theorems about them. This latter side is called semantics for obvious reasons and it's both together - syntax and semantics or syntactic logic and a model - that constitutes a full logic. And the theory of this is called model theory.
But this is again unfair to Wittgenstein, he also worked on the semantic side. In fact, he saw it of such cardinal importance and the natural beginning point of logic that in the first two propositions of the Tractatus, he says:
The world is all that is the case
The world is a totality of facts, not things.
This appears to be exactly the opposite to what we would at first say. The world is made of things and it is the human mind that distinguishes facts and this should not be confused with the world itself. But actually, Wittgenstein was creating a logical space for the facts that held of the world. This is the semantic side - in model theory - of the world. What can be said to hold of it. They are the theorems of the world, it's model or picture.
That this is so little understood has been because of a fetishisation of the formal side of Wittgenstein's work.
So Bunge is right. Wittgenstein did impoverish logic and mathematics. But he was also wrong, in that he laid a seed that later bloomed. It's in the perspective of model theory that we can subvert Wittgensteins view of mathematics as merely tautologies. Here, this is fine, because we are not interested in theorem finding in these systems but taking a bird's eye view and viewing all mathematical theories at once and it's at this new level - that of model theory - that theorems, in the traditional sense, are to be found and have been found. Itvis, in vrief, new mathematics. In a sense, it was not mathematics that Wittgenstein was referring to but meta-mathematics.
But I'll leave the last word to Wittgenstein by way of Russell:
He used to come to my rooms at midnight and for hours he would walk back and forth like a caged tiger. On arrival, he would announce that when he left my rooms he would commit suicide. So in spite of getting sleepy, I didn't like to turn him out.
On one such evening, after an hour or two of dead silence, I said to him, "Wittgenstein are you thinking of logic or your sins?"
"Both he said," and reverted to silence.
Sinful logic, now there's a thought.