Did Wittgenstein Write on Shakespeare?


  • Joachim Schulte University of Zurich


20th century philosophy, Wittgenstein Ludwig, Shakespeare William, poetry, Culture and Value, romanticism


It is often claimed that certain remarks by Wittgenstein reveal him to have been an unsympathetic reader of Shakespeare and an unappreciative judge of the latter’s achievements. In the present paper, I attempt to show that this sort of observation is not only wrong but due to an inadequate perspective. An examination of the relevant remarks may bring to light a number of more or less interesting principles of evaluation, or aesthetic maxims and appraisals, but these do not say much about Shakespeare’s works, nor are the meant to be instructive in this way. What Wittgenstein’s remarks are really about is his own intellectual physiognomy: it is by way of contrast, by comparing certain features of Shakespeare with what he supposes to be characteristic of himself, that he hopes to learn about the limits and potentialities of his own personality.

Author Biography

Joachim Schulte, University of Zurich

Joachim Schulte teaches philosophy at the University of Zürich. He has published a number of articles and four books on the philosophy of Wittgenstein. He is a member of the Board of Editors of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass, and co-editor of critical editions of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Philosophical Investigations. In recent years he has chiefly worked on Wittgenstein’s middle period.


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