Wittgenstein's philosophy of pictures

Kristóf Nyíri


In a series of papers since 1989 I have undertaken to show that Wittgenstein's later work can be usefully interpreted as a philosophy of post-literacy, and that his frequent references to Plato - the first and foremost philosopher of literacy - should be explained as attempts to arrive back at the juncture where Plato took the wrong turn. Throughout its history Western 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 the civilization of the West. Written language as a source of philosophical confusion was Wittgenstein's real foe. He was not clearly aware of this, perhaps since his insights originated, to some extent at least, in an impairment: dyslexia. He was striving to overcome the pitfalls of written language by elaborating a philosophy of spoken - oral - language. And he attempted to overcome the barriers of verbal language by working towards a philosophy of pictures. It is this latter dimension in Wittgenstein's thinking I direct attention to in this paper.


philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; 20th century philosophy; picture; picture theory; visual; literacy; orality; graphic; art

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.