Wittgenstein’s philosophy of pictures

Kristóf Nyíri


The author has in a series of papers since 1989 undertaken to show thatWittgenstein’s later work can be usefully interpreted as a philosophy of postliteracy,and that Wittgenstein’s frequent references to Plato – the first andforemost philosopher of literacy – should be explained as attempts to arriveback at the juncture where Plato took the wrong turn. Throughout its historyWestern philosophy reflected the influence of linear written language;Wittgenstein was trying to liberate himself from that influence precisely at a time when post-literary modes of communication began to transform thecivilization of the West. Written language as a source of philosophical confusionwas Wittgenstein’s real foe. He was not clearly aware of this, perhapssince his insights originated, to some extent at least, in an impairment: dyslexia.He was striving to overcome the pitfalls of written language by elaboratinga philosophy of spoken – oral – language. And he attempted toovercome the barriers of verbal language by working towards a philosophyof pictures. It is this latter dimension in Wittgenstein’s thinking the authordirects attention to in this paper.


20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; aesthetics; language; philosophy; pictorial representation; picture; reading of Wittgenstein

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