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Wittgenstein and the Avant-garde

From the book Aesthetics Today
James Matthew Fielding


With this comparison, I seek to illuminate why Wittgenstein’s post-1930 philosophy took the unusual form that it did, i. e. an “album”, which purposefully lacks hermeneutic necessity and thus encourages isolation, abstraction, and reconstitution according to the reader’s priorities and not those of its author. Like the avant-garde before him, I argue that the new social function of Wittgenstein’s post-tractarian philosophy-which aimed to act as a stimulus to change one’s life outside the rarefied atmosphere of the classroom, like that of the museum for the avant-garde-demanded such a novel mode of production and reception. I end with the suggestion that, even if Wittgenstein sought to criticise the possibility of academic life delivering the kinds of results he was after, this need not mean that we today must abandon the standards of academic discourse in order to do justice to his philosophy. However, neither can we forget that this was a significant part of what he wished to achieve with his work and thus it needs to be clearly kept in mind if we seek to philosophise in a“Wittgensteinian spirit” today.

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston