Hamann's Influence on Wittgenstein


  • Lauri Juhana Olavinpoika Snellman University of Helsinki




Ludwig Wittgenstein, Johann Georg Hamann, philosophy of language, rule-following, metacritique


The paper examines Johann Georg Hamann’s influence on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s late philosophy. Wittgenstein’s letters, diaries and Drury’s memoirs show that Wittgenstein read Hamann’s writings in the early 1930s and 1950s. Wittgenstein’s diary notes and the Cambridge lectures show that Wittgenstein’s discussion of Hamann’s views in 1931 corresponds to adopting a Hamannian view of symbols and rule-following. The view of language as an intertwining of signs, objects and meanings in use forms a common core in the philosophies of Hamann and Wittgenstein. The harmony of language and reality takes place in communicative use, so non-communicative private languages and pre-linguistic ideal forms of representation are not possible. Language is a free response to reality, and it involves belief-systems and trust.


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