Eagleton's Wittgenstein

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Abstract

The prominent literary theorist, Terry Eagleton, is one of a limited number of Marxist theorists to have taken Wittgenstein’s ideas seriously. He wrote the script for Derek Jarman’s film about Wittgenstein and his work in cultural theory is clearly indebted, to some extent, to Wittgenstein. His Ideology: an Introduction employs the Wittgensteinian notions of ‘family resemblance’ and ‘forms of life’ and he also leans on Wittgenstein’s remarks about epistemological matters in it. Among the novels inspired by Wittgenstein there is one by Eagleton—Saints and Scholars—that has a semi-fictionalised version of Wittgenstein meeting in Dublin with James Connolly, Nikolai Bakhtin and Leopold Bloom. Eagleton has clearly both endeavoured to understand Wittgenstein as a person and engaged with Wittgenstein’s philosophical work. In this paper I will argue that Eagleton’s interpretation of Wittgenstein, in his paper ‘Wittgenstein’s Friends’, is defective in various respects, but I will conclude that the project of uniting the insights of Wittgenstein and Marx is nonetheless a sound one.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-276
Number of pages15
JournalCritique
Volume43
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2015

Keywords

  • Wittgenstein
  • Eagleton
  • Marxism
  • Conceptual elucidation

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