Theolologicophilological Investigations: Is Wittgenstein's Tractatus a Modernist Work?

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In her recent book, A Different Order of Difficulty, Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé uses a resolute reading of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus to highlight similarities between Wittgenstein’s work and his contemporaries Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Franz Kafka. On the basis of this reading, she claims that Wittgenstein’s early masterpiece is a modernist work.

This article argues that there are profound problems with the resolute reading that she offers, and it suggests that ‘traditional’ readings of the Tractatus survive the criticisms she makes of them. Nonetheless, a case can still be made that Wittgenstein’s work is a modernist one, and it is a useful exercise to compare the Tractatus with modernist works from the 1920s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-296
Number of pages23
JournalPhilosophical Investigations
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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