Wittgenstein 2.0: Philosophical Reading and Writing after the Mediatic Turn

Jos de Mul


One of the crucial claims of media philosophy is that the content of philosophy cannot be abstracted from its mediatic form. According to Nyíri the genesis and direction of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy is connected with the emergence of ‘secondary orality’. Although Nyíri’s claim that form and style of Wittgenstein’s later writings are inherently connected with his cri339 tique of the Platonic culture of the book, is convincing, in this paper, contrary to Nyíri, it is argued that Wittgenstein was not so much on his way back to (a philosophy of) oral culture, but that he was rather struggling his way into a new, post-literate way of thinking and writing. It is argued that an electronic edition of his Nachlass is more appropriate to disclose the proto-hypertextual nature of Wittgenstein’s thinking. However, as Hrachovec has convincingly shown, the Bergen Electronic Edition of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass is only a half-hearted attempt to do so. Discussing the development of Wittgenstein’s conception of the possibility of ‘thinking machines’ in the light of the development of Web 2.0, it is argued that a mediatic re-reading of the Tractatus might not only help us to understand the database ontology that underlies the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein, but also to disclose the Nachlass accordingly. Jos de Mul (* 1956) studied philosophy, art history and law at the universities of Utrecht and Amsterdam. Since 1993 he is Full Professor in Philosophy of Man and Culture at the Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and scientific director of the Research Institute “Philosophy of Information and Communication Technology” (ICT). Among his book publications are: Romantic Desire in (Post)Modern Art and Philosophy (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1999) and The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey’s Hermeneutics of Life (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2004).


20th century philosophy; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; Bergen Electronic Edition; hypertext; mediatic turn; ontology; orality; Hrachovec Herbert; Nyíri Kristóf; Wiener Ausgabe; writing

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