Wittgenstein: Philosophy and literature

Brian McGuinness


In studying Wittgenstein’s writings form must be considered alongside content.Logic, aesthetics and ethics (his main preoccupations as they wereWeininger’s) all depend upon the manner of seeing or presenting theirobjects. Even the arguments in the Tractatus are recommended as much fortheir limitations (even their circularity) as for their cogency. The work wasliterary (to Frege’s dismay) and ethical (as Ficker should have seen) as well aslogical. Its ironical conclusion was that the propositions of logic said nothing.Wittgenstein’s second main work, the Philosophical Investigations, is areaction to a certain dogmatism that he himself developed in his discussionswith members of the Vienna Circle and with Ramsey. From Sraffa and fromSpengler he learnt that there was no essence of language and that his workmust consist in showing different language games with only a family resemblance.The willed divagations of his prepared texts in later life are an illustrationof what they argue for.


20th century philosophy; Philosophical Investigations; Spengler Oswald; Sraffa Piero; Tractatus logico-philosophicus; Weininger Otto; Wittgenstein Ludwig; aesthetics; literature; philosophy; writing

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