Image and Metaphor in the Philosophy of Wittgenstein

Kristóf Nyíri


Between the notions of image and time there obtains an intrinsic connection. Images are incomplete unless they are moving ones – unless, that is, they happen in time. On the other hand, time cannot be conceptualized except by metaphors, and thus ultimately by images, of movement in space. In my talk I will suggest not only that Wittgenstein provides substantial insights that help us to come to terms with the connection between image and time, but also that grasping the philosophical strategy he applies here can make us realize what the later Wittgenstein was actually up to. In two previous Kirchberg papers of mine, I have dealt with Wittgenstein’s philosophy of images (2001) and touched on his philosophy of time (2005). I will now bring together, and radically expand, the arguments of those papers. In so doing, a crucial issue I have to face is the later Wittgenstein’s view on metaphors – his views on what figurative language philosophically amounts to. Those views have undergone a change between the 1920s and the 1940s, and it is essential that we should understand the precise direction of this change. Did the mature Wittgenstein still believe that metaphors, in order to make sense, have to be reducible to their literal meanings? I do not think he did, and will attempt to spell out the momentous consequences of this development.


20th century philosophy; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; flow of time; Hester Marcus; Mesch Walter; Ricoeur Paul; Shibles Warren; philosophy of pictures

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