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Wittgenstein’s Comparison between Philosophy, Aesthetics and Ethics

From the book Aesthetics Today
Oskari Kuusela


Wittgenstein compares philosophical explanations with explanations in aesthetics and ethics. According to him, the similarity between aesthetics and philosophy “reaches very far”, and as I aim to show, the comparison can be used to elucidate certain characteristic features of Wittgenstein’s philosophical approach. In particular, it can explain how his approach differs from metaphysical philosophy as well as clarifying the sense in which there are no theses or theories in philosophy, as Wittgenstein conceives it. In the last section of the essay, I examine certain consequences of Wittgenstein’s view, including the lack of conclusive arguments in philosophy. Rather than implying that philosophy falls short of its rational aspirations, I argue, Wittgenstein’s explanation of why there are (sometimes) no conclusive arguments in philosophy can help us to see in the right light the lack of agreement in philosophy, as well as explaining why this is not a defect.

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