Beckett after Wittgenstein
Andre Furlani Northwestern University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PR6003.E282Z66548 2015 | Dewey Decimal 848.91409
Among the best-represented authors in Samuel Beckett’s library was Ludwig Wittgenstein, yet the philosopher’s relevance to the Nobel laureate’s work is scarcely acknowledged and seldom elucidated. Beckett after Wittgenstein is the first book to examine Beckett’s formative encounters with, and profound affinities to, Wittgenstein’s thought, style, and character.
While a number of influential critics, including the philosopher Alain Badiou, have discerned a transition in Beckett’s work beginning in the late 1950s, Furlani is the first to identify and clarify how this change occurs in conjunction with the writer’s sustained engagement with Wittgenstein’s thought on, for example, language, cognition, subjectivity, alterity, temporality, belief, hermeneutics, logic, and perception. Drawing on a wealth of Beckett’s archival materials, much of it unpublished, Furlani’s study reveals the extent to which Wittgenstein fostered Beckett’s views and emboldened his purposes.
When social scientists and social theorists turn to the work of philosophers for intellectual and practical authority, they typically assume that truth, reality, and meaning are to be found outside rather than within our conventional discursive practices.
John G. Gunnell argues for conventional realism as a theory of social phenomena and an approach to the study of politics. Drawing on Wittgenstein’s critique of “mentalism” and traditional realism, Gunnell argues that everything we designate as “real” is rendered conventionally, which entails a rejection of the widely accepted distinction between what is natural and what is conventional. The terms “reality” and “world” have no meaning outside the contexts of specific claims and assumptions about what exists and how it behaves. And rather than a mysterious source and repository of prelinguistic meaning, the “mind” is simply our linguistic capacities. Taking readers through contemporary forms of mentalism and realism in both philosophy and American political science and theory, Gunnell also analyzes the philosophical challenges to these positions mounted by Wittgenstein and those who can be construed as his successors.
Is the point of philosophy to transmit beliefs about the world, or can it sometimes have higher ambitions? In this bold study, Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé makes a critical contribution to the “resolute” program of Wittgenstein scholarship, revealing his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus as a complex, mock-theoretical puzzle designed to engage readers in the therapeutic self-clarification Wittgenstein saw as the true work of philosophy. Seen in this light, Wittgenstein resembles his modernist contemporaries more than might first appear. Like the literary innovators of his time, Wittgenstein believed in the productive power of difficulty, in varieties of spiritual experience, in the importance of age-old questions about life’s meaning, and in the possibility of transfigurative shifts toward the right way of seeing the world. In a series of absorbing chapters, Zumhagen-Yekplé shows how Kafka, Woolf, Joyce, and Coetzee set their readers on a path toward a new way of being. Offering a new perspective on Wittgenstein as philosophical modernist, and on the lives and afterlives of his indirect teaching, A Different Order of Difficulty is a compelling addition to studies in both literature and philosophy.
Known for his essays on culture, aesthetics, and literature, Walter Benjamin also wrote on the philosophy of language. For Alexander Stern, his famously obscure—and, for some, hopelessly mystical—early work contains important insights, anticipating and in some respects surpassing Wittgenstein’s later thinking on the philosophy of language.
Approaching the study of literature as a unique form of the philosophy of language and mind--as a study of how we produce nonsense and imagine it as sense--this is a book about our human ways of making and losing meaning. Brett Bourbon asserts that our complex and variable relation with language defines a domain of meaning and being that is misconstrued and missed in philosophy, in literary studies, and in our ordinary understanding of what we are and how things make sense. Accordingly, his book seeks to demonstrate how the study of literature gives us the means to understand this relationship.
The book itself is framed by the literary and philosophical challenges presented by Joyce's Finnegan's Wake and Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. With reference to these books and the problems of interpretation and meaning that they pose, Bourbon makes a case for the fundamental philosophical character of the study of literature, and for its dependence on theories of meaning disguised as theories of mind. Within this context, he provides original accounts of what sentences, fictions, non-fictions, and poems are; produces a new account of the logical form of fiction and of the limits of interpretation that follow from it; and delineates a new and fruitful domain of inquiry in which literature, philosophy, and science intersect.
Table of Contents:
Preface Note on Abbreviations
Introduction: What Are We When We Are Not?
Part I The Surface of Language and the Absence of Meaning 1. From Soul-Making to Person-Making 2. The Logical Form of Fiction 3. The Emptiness of Literary Interpretation 4. To Be But Not To Mean 5. How Do Oracles Mean?
Part II Senses and Nonsenses: Joyce's Finnegans Wake and Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations 6. A Twitterlitter of Nonsense: Askesis at Finnegans Wake 7. The Analogy between Persons and Words 8. "The Human Body Is the Best Picture of the Human Soul" 9. The Senses of Time 10. Being Something and Meaning Something
Bibliography Acknowledgments Index
This is an adventurous and unusual book. Bourbon moves back and forth between literary and philosophical contexts with ease, showing in multifarious ways how the one can, often in unexpected ways, illuminate the other. Throughout these wide-ranging explorations Bourbon uncovers a good deal about both the nature of literary meaning and our distinctive -- if tellingly irreducible -- relations to literary texts. --Garry L. Hagberg, author of Art as Language: Wittgenstein, Meaning, and Aesthetic Theory and Meaning and Interpretation: Wittgenstein, Henry James, and Literary Knowledge
In this highly original study of the nature of performance, Spencer Golub uses the insights of Ludwig Wittgenstein into the way language works to analyze the relationship between the linguistic and the visual in the work of a broad range of dramatists, novelists, and filmmakers, among them Richard Foreman, Mac Wellman, Peter Handke, David Mamet, and Alfred Hitchcock. Like Wittgenstein, these artists are concerned with the limits of language’s representational capacity. For Golub, it is these limits that give Wittgenstein’s thought a further, very personal significance—its therapeutic quality with respect to the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from which he suffers.
Underlying what Golub calls “performance behavior” is Wittgenstein’s notion of “pain behavior”—that which gives public expression to private experience. Golub charts new directions for exploring the relationship between theater and philosophy, and even for scholarly criticism itself.
In Kafka and Wittgenstein, Rebecca Schuman undertakes the first ever book-length scholarly examination of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language alongside Franz Kafka’s prose fiction. In groundbreaking readings, she argues that although many readers of Kafka are searching for what his texts mean, in this search we are sorely mistaken. Instead, the problems and illusions we portend to uncover, the im-portant questions we attempt to answer—Is Josef K. guilty? If so, of what? What does Gregor Samsa’s transformed body mean? Is Land-Surveyor K. a real land surveyor?— themselves presuppose a bigger delusion: that such questions can be asked in the first place. Drawing deeply on the entire range of Wittgenstein’s writings, Schuman can-nily sheds new light on the enigmatic Kafka.
In this provocative new study, Richard Eldridge presents a highly original and compelling account of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, one of the most enduring yet enigmatic works of the twentieth century. He does so by reading the text as a dramatization of what is perhaps life's central motivating struggle—the inescapable human need to pursue an ideal of expressive freedom within the difficult terms set by culture.
Eldridge sees Wittgenstein as a Romantic protagonist, engaged in an ongoing internal dialogue over the nature of intentional consciousness, ranging over ethics, aesthetics, and philosophy of mind. The picture of the human mind that emerges through this dialogue unsettles behaviorism, cognitivism, and all other scientifically oriented orthodoxies. Leading a human life becomes a creative act, akin to writing a poem, of continuously seeking to overcome both complacency and skepticism. Eldridge's careful reconstruction of the central motive of Wittgenstein's work will influence all subsequent scholarship on it.
Philip R. Shields shows that ethical and religious concerns inform even the most technical writings on logic and language, and that, for Wittgenstein, the need to establish clear limitations is both a logical and an ethical demand. Rather than merely saying specific things about theology and religion, major texts from the Tractatus to the Philosophical Investigations express their fundamentally religious nature by showing that there are powers which bear down upon and sustain us. Shields finds a religious view of the world at the very heart of Wittgenstein's philosophy.
"Shields argues that the appearance throughout Wittgenstein's writings of such concepts as ritual, limit, transgression, a change of will, pride, temptation, and judgment implies a relation between religion and the logical aspects of Wittgenstein's philosophy."—Choice
"Of the many recent books about Wittgenstein, Logic and Sin is one of the very few that are well worth having"—Fergus Kerr, Modern Theology
"What Shields has uncovered in Wittgenstein's religious sensibility is something genuine and profound. . . . Shields has not just written an important book on Wittgenstein but an enlightening work that invites further reflection."—Eric O. Springsted, Cross Currents
Ludwig Wittgenstein University of Chicago Press, 1979 Library of Congress B3376.W563N6 1979 | Dewey Decimal 193
This considerably revised second edition of Wittgenstein's 1914-16 notebooks contains a new appendix with photographs of Wittgenstein's original work, a new preface by Elizabeth Anscombe, and a useful index by E.D. Klemke. Corrections have been made throughout the text, and notes have been added, making this the definitive edition of the notebooks. The writings intersperse Wittgenstein's technical logical notations with his thoughts on the meaning of life, happiness, and death.
"When the first edition of this collection of remarks appeared in 1961 we were provided with a glimpse of the workings of Wittgenstein's mind during the period when the seminal ideas of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus were being worked out. This second edition provided the occasion to be struck anew by the breadth, rigor, and above all the restlessness of that mind."—T. Michael McNulty, S. J., The Modern Schoolman
Marking a return of literary study from the remote reaches of abstraction to the realm of the immediate, the particular, and the real in which language and literature truly live, the essays in this volume articulate a productive, new critical approach: ordinary language criticism. With roots in the ordinary language philosophy derived especially from Wittgenstein in the early twentieth century, and in the ideas of American pragmatic philosophy propounded and extended by Stanley Cavell, this approach seeks to return criticism to its grounds in the natural language we all speak; to expose the terms of our engagement with narratives, arguments, and concepts-what Wittgenstein and Cavell call the "criteria" of our writing and reading.
Resisting master formulations and overarching theories, Ordinary Language Criticism does not so much dismiss the excitement of the last two decades of literary theorizing as it reminds us of the excitement of the shared common enterprises to which theory may still contribute. In this, the volume and the model it offers have wide implications for the academy, in which a widespread ersatz-sophistication has shorted the circuit between literary works and the real lives of those reading and teaching them.
With a definitive introduction by editors Kenneth Dauber and Walter Jost, and elaborations and practical examples by major figures such as Cavell himself, Martha Nussbaum, Marjorie Perloff, Anthony Cascardi, and Charles Altieri, among others, this volume clearly shows and explains how ordinary language criticism differs from current trends and what it exactly it can accomplish in theory and practice. These essays prove that by attending more faithfully to what we actually do when we read, we can make reading more productive--can reveal how extraordinary and rich, how really sophisticated, the ordinary actually is.
“I can work best now while peeling potatoes. . . . It is for me what lens-grinding was for Spinoza.”—L. Wittgenstein
More than 250 years separate the publication of Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Both are considered monumental philosophical treatises, produced during markedly different times in human history, and notoriously challenging to interpret. In Peeling Potatoes or Grinding Lenses, Aristides Baltas contends that these works bear a striking similarity based on the idea of “radical immanence.” Each purports to understand the world, thought, and language from the inside and in a way leading to the dissolution of all philosophy. In that guise, both offer a powerful argument against fundamentalism of all sorts and kinds.
To Spinoza, God is just Nature. God is not above or separate from the world, humanity, or mere objects for, as Nature, He inheres in everything. To Wittgenstein, logic is not above or separate from language, thought, and the world. The hardness of the logical “must” inheres in states of affairs, facts, thoughts, and linguistic acts. Outside there are no truths or sense—only nonsense.
Through close readings of the texts based on lessons drawn from radical paradigm change in science, Baltas finds in both works a single-minded purpose, implacable reasoning, and an austerity of style that are rare in the history of philosophy. He analyzes the structure and content of each treatise, the authors’ intentions, the limitations and possibilities afforded by scientific discovery in their respective eras, their radical opposition to prevailing philosophical views, and draws out the particulars, as well as the implications, of the arresting match between the two.
In this volume, Maria Cerezo examines Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus as a response to some of Frege's and Russel's logical problems. In analyzing the tractarian conditions for the possibility of language, she explains the two main theories of the proposition in Tractatus: the truth-functions theory and the picture theory. Cerezo shows that Wittgenstein initially separates the account of the structure of a proposition from the explanation of its expression. However, contrary to his intention, the combination of these theories creates new difficulties, since the requirements of each theory cannot be fully respected by the others. Cerezo also argues that Wittgenstein's theory of language cannot be fully understood unless attention is paid to his theory of expression and his doctrine of projection by the metaphysical subject.
Cora Diamond follows two major philosophers as they think about thinking, and about our ability to respond to thinking that has gone astray. Acting as both witness to and participant in the encounter, she provides fresh perspective on the value of Wittgenstein’s and Anscombe’s work, and demonstrates what genuinely independent thought can achieve.
This radically original book argues for the power of ordinary language philosophy—a tradition inaugurated by Ludwig Wittgenstein and J. L. Austin, and extended by Stanley Cavell—to transform literary studies. In engaging and lucid prose, Toril Moi demonstrates this philosophy’s unique ability to lay bare the connections between words and the world, dispel the notion of literature as a monolithic concept, and teach readers how to learn from a literary text.
Moi first introduces Wittgenstein’s vision of language and theory, which refuses to reduce language to a matter of naming or representation, considers theory’s desire for generality doomed to failure, and brings out the philosophical power of the particular case. Contrasting ordinary language philosophy with dominant strands of Saussurean and post-Saussurean thought, she highlights the former’s originality, critical power, and potential for creative use. Finally, she challenges the belief that good critics always read below the surface, proposing instead an innovative view of texts as expression and action, and of reading as an act of acknowledgment. Intervening in cutting-edge debates while bringing Wittgenstein, Austin, and Cavell to new readers, Revolution of the Ordinary will appeal beyond literary studies to anyone looking for a philosophically serious account of why words matter.
Slow Cures and Bad Philosophers uses insights from the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein to rethink bioethics. Although Wittgenstein produced little formal writing on ethics, this volume shows that, in fact, ethical issues permeate the entirety of his work. The scholars whom Carl Elliott has assembled in this volume pay particular attention to Wittgenstein’s concern with the thick context of moral problems, his suspicion of theory, and his belief in description as the real aim of philosophy. Their aim is not to examine Wittgenstein’s personal moral convictions but rather to explore how a deep engagement with his work can illuminate some of the problems that medicine and biological science present. As Elliott explains in his introduction, Wittgenstein’s philosophy runs against the grain of most contemporary bioethics scholarship, which all too often ignores the context in which moral problems are situated and pays little attention to narrative, ethnography, and clinical case studies in rendering bioethical judgments. Such anonymous, impersonal, rule-writing directives in which health care workers are advised how to behave is what this volume intends to counteract. Instead, contributors stress the value of focusing on the concrete particulars of moral problems and write in the spirit of Wittgenstein’s belief that philosophy should be useful. Specific topics include the concept of “good dying,” the nature of clinical decision making, the treatment of neurologically damaged patients, the moral treatment of animals, and the challenges of moral particularism. Inspired by a philosopher who deplored “professional philosophy,” this work brings some startling insights and clarifications to contemporary ethical problems posed by the realities of modern medicine.
Contributors. Larry Churchill, David DeGrazia, Cora Diamond, James Edwards, Carl Elliott, Grant Gillett, Paul Johnston, Margaret Olivia Little, James Lindemann Nelson, Knut Erik Tranoy
In this highly original interdisciplinary study incorporating close readings of literary texts and philosophical argumentation, Henry W. Pickford develops a theory of meaning and expression in art intended to counter the meaning skepticism most commonly associated with the theories of Jacques Derrida.
Pickford arrives at his theory by drawing on the writings of Wittgenstein to develop and modify the insights of Tolstoy’s philosophy of art. Pickford shows how Tolstoy’s encounter with Schopenhauer’s thought on the one hand provided support for his ethical views but on the other hand presented a problem, exemplified in the case of music, for his aesthetic theory, a problem that Tolstoy did not successfully resolve. Wittgenstein’s critical appreciation of Tolstoy’s thinking, however, not only recovers its viability but also constructs a formidable position within contemporary debates concerning theories of emotion, ethics, and aesthetic expression.
Stanley Cavell is a titan of the academic world; his work in aesthetics and philosophy has shaped both fields in the United States over the past forty years. In this brief yet enlightening collection of lectures, Cavell investigates the work of two of his most tried-and-true subjects: Emerson and Wittgenstein. Beginning with an introductory essay that places his own work in a philosophical and historical context, Cavell guides his reader through his thought process when composing and editing his lectures while making larger claims about the influence of institutions on philosophers, and the idea of progress within the discipline of philosophy. In “Declining Decline,” Cavell explains how language modifies human existence, looking specifically at the culture of Wittgenstein’s writings. He draws on Emerson, Thoreau, and many others to make his case that Wittgenstein can indeed be viewed as a “philosopher of culture.” In his final lecture, “Finding as Founding,” Cavell writes in response to Emerson’s “Experience,” and explores the tension between the philosopher and language—that he or she must embrace language as his or her “form of life,” while at the same time surpassing its restrictions. He compares finding new ideas to discovering a previously unknown land in an essay that unabashedly celebrates the power and joy of philosophical thought.
Although Wittgenstein claimed that his first book, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, was essentially an ethical work, it has been viewed insistently as a purely logical one. His later work, Philosophical Investigations, is generally seen as presenting totally different ideas from his earlier writings. In this book, Michael Hodges shows how Wittgenstein’s later work emerged from his earlier Tractatus, and he unifies the early philosophy, both its well-known logical aspects and the lesser known ethical dimensions, in terms of the notion of transcendence.
Hodges studies the Tractatus in light of Wittgenstein’s own claim that the Philosophical Investigations can only be understood when read against the background of the Tractatus. At the heart of an understanding of the earlier work is the idea of transcendence which structures both Wittgenstein’s logical and ethical insights. Seen in terms of this notion, the rigorous unity of Wittgenstein’s early thinking becomes apparent and the gestalt shift to the later philosophy comes clearly into focus.
The crucial point of Brill’s study is that of fit: which critical methods prove most useful towards opening up which texts? Close investigations into the parameters of the language games of texts, critics, and methods enable us to determine which paths to take towards more complete descriptive analyses and critique. Such an emphasis on the philosophical method of Ludwig Wittgenstein reorients literary criticism to involve a conjoint responsibility to both reader and text as the literary critic assumes the humbler role of a guide who assists a reader in/to diverse literary texts. Wittgenstein’s philosophical approach provides us with a strong means of developing such a method for literary criticism—a method that points the way forward beyond postmodern criticisms and to a categorically new approach to literary texts.
Brill’s work discusses at length the implications of Wittgenstein for literary criticism and theory. The volume specifically investigates the implications of Wittgenstein’s work for a number of contemporary critical orientations (notably poststructualism, feminism, and psychology). In addition, the research includes actual applications of Wittgenstein for literary criticism: diverse literary texts (including a number of poems and stories by Native American authors) are approached via a Wittgensteinian method as a means of discerning which critical approaches might be more or less efficacious. Not only does the book provide a solid introduction to Wittgensteinian philosophy for the critical scholars, but it also provides a clear methodology useful to critics seeking a means to navigate through the entanglement of contemporary criticism and theory.
Brill argues that a reliance upon the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein can enable literary critics to escape the seemingly endless dialectic between modern and postmodern theory. Instead of debating which theory is theoretically best, we need to describe when theories work—and when they do not.
Wittgenstein and Modernism
Edited by Michael LeMahieu and Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé University of Chicago Press, 2016 Library of Congress B3376.W564W54325 2016 | Dewey Decimal 192
Ludwig Wittgenstein famously declared that philosophy “ought really to be written only as a form of poetry,” and he even described the Tractatus as “philosophical and, at the same time, literary.” But few books have really followed up on these claims, and fewer still have focused on their relation to the special literary and artistic period in which Wittgenstein worked. This book offers the first collection to address the rich, vexed, and often contradictory relationship between modernism—the twentieth century’s predominant cultural and artistic movement—and Wittgenstein, one of its preeminent and most enduring philosophers. In doing so it offers rich new understandings of both.
Michael LeMahieu Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé bring together scholars in both twentieth-century philosophy and modern literary studies to put Wittgenstein into dialogue with some of modernism’s most iconic figures, including Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, Walter Benjamin, Henry James, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Adolf Loos, Robert Musil, Wallace Stevens, and Virginia Woolf. The contributors touch on two important aspects of Wittgenstein’s work and modernism itself: form and medium. They discuss issues ranging from Wittgenstein and poetics to his use of numbered propositions in the Tractatus as a virtuoso performance of modernist form; from Wittgenstein’s persistence metaphoric use of religion, music, and photography to an exploration of how he and Henry James both negotiated the relationship between the aesthetic and the ethical.
Covering many other fascinating intersections of the philosopher and the arts, this book offers an important bridge across the disciplinary divides that have kept us from a fuller picture of both Wittgenstein and the larger intellectual and cultural movement of which he was a part.
Marjorie Perloff, among our foremost critics of twentieth-century poetry, argues that Ludwig Wittgenstein provided writers with a radical new aesthetic, a key to recognizing the inescapable strangeness of ordinary language. Taking seriously Wittgenstein's remark that "philosophy ought really to be written only as a form of poetry," Perloff begins by discussing Wittgenstein the "poet." What we learn is that the poetics of everyday life is anything but banal.
"This book has the lucidity and the intelligence we have come to expect from Marjorie Perloff.—Linda Munk, American Literature
"[Perloff] has brilliantly adapted Wittgenstein's conception of meaning and use to an analysis of contemporary language poetry."—Linda Voris, Boston Review
"Wittgenstein's Ladder offers significant insights into the current state of poetry, literature, and literary study. Perloff emphasizes the vitality of reading and thinking about poetry, and the absolute necessity of pushing against the boundaries that define and limit our worlds."—David Clippinger, Chicago Review
"Majorie Perloff has done more to illuminate our understanding of twentieth century poetic language than perhaps any other critic. . . . Entertaining, witty, and above all highly original."—Willard Bohn, Sub-Stance