Schoenberg and Wittgenstein: the Odd Couple

Eran Guter


This paper is an elaborate response to Stanely Cavell's suggestion that Schoenberg's
idea of the 12-tone row is a serviceable image of Wittgenstein's idea of grammar. I
argue that this suggestion underplays what must be a major premise in any argument
for yoking Wittgenstein and Schoenberg: Wittgenstein's philosophically entrenched
rejection of modern music. I consider this omission in the context of Wittgenstein's
idiosyncratic emulation of Schenker's theory of music in order to facilitate a direct
comparison between Wittgenstein's and Schoenberg's sharply contrasted visions of the
music of the future. I conclude that Cavell's suggestion is ultimately


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; grammar; language; meaning; music

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