Article

Writing Philosophy as Poetry: Literary form in Wittgenstein

Marjorie Perloff

in The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199287505
Published online January 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199287505.003.0032

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Writing Philosophy as Poetry: Literary form in Wittgenstein

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  • Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art
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Ludwig Wittgenstein, hoping, in 1919, to persuade Ludwig von Ficker, the editor of the literary journal Der Brenner, to publish his controversial Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, remarked, ‘The work is strictly philosophical and at the same time literary’. In Tractatus, Wittgenstein concerns himself with tautology: ‘the fact that the propositions of logic are tautologies shows the formal — logical — properties of language, of the world’. In the much-cited Preface to Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein describes the method whereby he ordered the ‘remarks, short paragraphs, of which there is sometimes a fairly long chain about the same subject’ into the larger structure of the book. Wittgenstein's writings enact their central motive: words and phrases can be understood only in their particular context, their use. Not what one says but how one says it is the key to doing philosophy. And that, of course, is what makes it poetry as well.

Keywords: Ludwig Wittgenstein; poetry; philosophy; Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; logic; Philosophical Investigations; tautology

Article.  7719 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; History of Western Philosophy

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